Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Confessions of a Broken Man

The snow storm had lasted for three days and all the roads were covered in fresh powder that crunched underfoot. As a result the search for Chris Honeywell had been called off. Most had written him off as dead and buried under freshly fallen snow. Larry still held hope that he would find the boy dead or alive. He doubted the boy was responsible for Heather’s untimely demise. His gut never led him astray and often served him quite well as a man of the law.
Owen Elroy had taken off work early. He had hoped to get an early start on Christmas shopping. He didn’t much care for the holidays. He had lost his parents and younger sister to a drunken driver one Christmas eve many years ago and often kept to himself during the more festive times of the year. And this time kept in solitude led him to the bottom of the bottle. That was until he met Kimberly Hales. She was his angel. She was a recent transplant from Barstow. Her aunt had invited her to stay with her.
The roads were clear and the shoulder was littered with piles of slush. And the sun was high in the sky bathing the surrounding area in golden showers of light and warmth. The power company had driven out in force making sure that power was restored. The fallen snow and subsequent ice had plagued the locals. Damaged power lines caused black outs in isolated neighborhoods all over the Ash.
The main roads were clear of ice and safe to drive on at the posted speed limit but side roads were still icy and slick forcing drives to move along at a snail’s crawl. Much like Owen was doing presently. His brand new Capri was shiny and candy apple red. Kim had remarked that the car’s color was festive and fit the Christmas spirit just fine. He merely nodded in agreement and faked a smile. She meant well and he tried damn hard to accommodate her. God knew how much crap she had to endure at his lowest points.
Outside a strong wind sprung to life and scattered loose dying leaves. Pale yellowish green and red similar to the out skin of peaches. If you listened closely enough you could hear the wind howl. The type of sound that caused the hairs on the back of your neck to stand on end and make you jump out of fright and cause goosebumps to form on your arms. Like what was happening to his arm now.
Deputy Elroy was a modest guy who lived well within his means. He wasn’t greedy. Quite the contrary in fact he was known to be very generous. Generosity was a trait he picked up out of necessity. His father had been a cruel and calculating man that mistrusted everyone including his children. When young Owen asked for money to buy a toy or just some spending cash it was met with harsh interrogation and suspicion.
His mother, Jeanette Elroy pleaded with his father, Ted Elroy, to quit being so harsh to the boy and was dealt with. Often being dealt with led to face slaps and back lashes with father’s dark leather belt with the heavy metal buckle decorated with a bright and shiny blue star. He was a Dallas Cowboy fan. The only time the two of them could be in the same room together without the boy being on the receiving end of beatings was when the Cowboys played on the tube.
One night the beatings had happened again and this time they were the worst they had ever been. So bad in fact that his mother’s jaw was dislocated and blood squirted out like string cheese only this was the color of blood. Scarlet syrup ran down her chin and made a streak across the front of her white flower blouse forming a tiny lake on the crotch of her blue jeans. Seeing this transpire he pushed back his fear and wiped away tears from his sore and swollen eyes bloodshot from lack of sleep and one too many crying sessions.
Now if you were thinking that the boy somehow mustered the courage and strength to confront his father and put him out of his misery you’d be mistaken. Instead he ran to his sister’s room still sound asleep and helped her out of bed. His mother rushed in with her purse flopping on her stained shoulder like a catfish out of water having been dropped by a fisherman’s clumsy butterfingers.
They had reached the garage and stopped. Back in the house angry shouts full of profanity and threats of bodily harm echoed out to greet them. The winter’s cold and icy win blew and chilled the bone. And there was no sound but his father’s loud and scary screams and his mother’s keys clanking against the driver’s side of the old dull gray Cadillac. Her hands trembled uncontrollably more out of fear than cold.
Jeanette took a deep breath and got the key into hole and with one swift motion opened the door and got her two children inside and backed out of the garage. The half-opened garage door tore right off its rails. The sound of tearing metal filled their ears and sounded like terrible claws scratching at your front door. Ted appeared just as the taillights vanished around the corner. His face was flushed with fury and eyes bloodshot from hours of drinking and his yellow-stained teeth chatted as he gnawed on the tip of his tongue.
Early the following morning was Christmas day and they had gone to Aunt Joann’s place. She was Jeanette’s sister-in-law but their bond was stronger than anything sisters connected by blood could ever have. was a strong and stubborn lady. Aunt Jo also worked at the sheriff’s office. So Owen felt safe and put all thoughts of his father making true on his threats. He spent the day with his mother, aunt and younger sister, Cate. The day was mostly uneventful and was peaceful.
Then night fell over the Ash and as many bad things tend to happen only when the sun has gone down. The worst fear of darkness was its quiet. The type of quiet that told you no help was coming. That you were all alone and the monsters of your imagination were real. And it spoke soundless words that filled your mind and said death was coming for you.
The only monster that little Owen feared at that point in time was of flesh and blood and was very real. His father was a towering giant standing at over six foot five inches and his meaty arms flapped like over blubber of a humpback whale only this was pinkish color and hairy. Ted Elroy’s hair was wild and stood on end shaped in a weird crown. The man’s eyes were sullen and a milky gray. His mouth was pursed and drool spilled over his lips. His footfalls were steady and made loud audible thuds as he drew closer to the house.
Joann saw him coming before she heard him. Out of instinct she gathered Owen and Cate and took them to her bedroom closet and made them promise not to leave there no matter what and they did. She then went to wake Jeanette but before she could reach the spare bedroom it happened. Ted lunged at her and the coffee table was smashed as he smashed into her body and together they fell to the floor. At first Joann had the upper hand and kept him at bay shouting at the top of her lungs for them to run for their lives.
Ted grew angrier by the minute and lashed out tearing the flesh from her arms. She screamed out in pain and lost her grip and he broke free. Standing over her his empty milky gray eyes were more like a hungry and rabid animal crazed and starved. The still wet saliva coursed down over his lip to the front of his shirt. It glistened in the faint red and green Christmas lighting. Strange how the Christmas tree and the TV and couch remained untouched but the coffee table was crushed and reduced to kindling.
His breathing was shallow and he snarled. The good man that was once her loving brother existed no more. Killed and replaced by something she no longer recognized. What you saw on the outside was a mere shell of the man he used to be. Ted had become a demon incarnate. Only this demon was mortal having taken human form. Before she could process the next chain of thought her mind quieted.
What would happen next was described as unmentionably horrible and too gruesome for words. The mortal beast that was Ted Elroy had dragged his estranged wife kicking and screaming down Elm Street and tied her hands and feet and drove a stake tethered to a harpoon up her vagina. After he violated her he tossed the slack end of the rope over a low hanging branch. After he checked the rope and was confident it would serve his purpose he picked her up and tossed her limp body over his left shoulder and walked to the tree. He tossed her over the branch and sure enough the rope held despite Jeanette’s body’s dead weight.
If that had been the worst of what happened then it would have left with her with a smidgen of respect. But this demon was not happy merely in killing her. Oh no, death would not give her release from his cruel treatment it was just the beginning. He left the broken bloody corpse of his wife and started back to the house.
The radio crackled and a voice filled the squad car and shook him free of his trip down memory lane. Again the voice spoke. This time the voice took on a hint of familiarity and form. “Elroy come in this is dispatch,” the mechanical voice shouted.
Momentary startled his mind snapped free of the hold of the past and he grabbed the handie-talkie and pressing the button down on the side and spoke. ”Hey this is Elroy over,” remembering to keep professional. Auntie Jo made sure to engrain that rule from the first time he donned the uniform.
“Get over to 1420 Elwood Street. There was a report about a man fitting Chris Honeywell’s description prowling around in the woods, over.”
“Roger that dispatch. On my way,” he added.

Twenty minutes later Deputy Elroy parallel parked his squad car along the curb on the south side of Sunset Park and pulled on his heavy jacket. His eyes peered out and across the park and saw no one. The park was deserted and resembled a cake with white frosting. Some sticks and stray weeds and blades of grass popped up of the crust of the cake like unlit birthday candles. The swings coated with snow and ice were themed decorations to top off the cake metaphor. Owen smiled at this thought and let it linger. He relished in moments like these. As quick as it had come it was gone. A voice surfaced at the back of his mind and he shuttered. For he and the voice were well acquainted had been since that night. The broken and formless voice was doubt and held sway over his emotional state. And the voice was bitter and reminded him how weak he was and no matter how hard he tried he’d never change.
Another voice entered his mind and this one bought warmth and reassurance and hope. Hope was something he had given up on ever-since his mother had passed on. Still her love persisted in him and he built a special place for it in his heart. He called it his Hall of Hope. It was the one place he could escape to when in trouble.
The two voices danced around the battlefield in his mind and glared at the other. He could feel the warmth of his mother’s love and the frigid cold of his doubt tugging away at his soul. One second all the warmth of his body was drained like a candle being snuffed out in a fierce wind. And the next his body felt reanimated as if he had come back to life. On and on this went until warmth took hold and pushed back the vile serpent that was his doubt. The battle for his soul lasted mere moments but felt longer.
Outside the cold air rushed up to greet him. He pulled his jacket closer about him and locked his door and headed in the direction of the woods. He glanced once over his shoulder back in the direction he had come thinking he had heard something. But after realizing nothing was there he pushed on feeling foolish for jumping at shadows. The voice from his hall of hope spoke to him and reminded him the beast from his past was long gone.


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