Authors: Bruce Blake
Tags: #homeless, #horror fiction short story, #psychological horror, #psychopath, #teen violence
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Tim made a
special trip to buy the shovel he used to bury the nameless man. It
was easy: an older lady in a blue vest directed him to the proper
aisle without a second thought. A fifteen-year-old buying a spade
doesn’t raise concern in anyone; it’s not like purchasing a gun or
a hunting knife, though a shovel could be as deadly. But the shovel
didn’t kill the man, Tim merely used it to dig holes to put bits
and pieces of him in, a task for which it was made.
In the end, his
father’s garden shears finally killed the nameless man.
probably had a name, everyone did, but Tim didn’t care to know it,
didn’t ask or wonder about it. The moment he found the man sleeping
in the shed, recovering from the abuse of whatever substance he’d
imbibed to put him in that state, Tim decided the less he knew
about the man, the better. If the need to call him anything arose,
maybe it would be ‘opportunity’.
When Tim opened
the shed door, it creaked on its rusted hinges like it always did.
Autumn sun streamed in, splashing across the rough surface of the
poorly-laid cement floor. Dust motes stirred and spider webs
shimmered. In the rafters, the remnants of a nest poked out over
the edge of an unpainted beam, but no birds lived in it anymore,
he’d taken care of them in the spring, their tiny, brittle bones
long since carried away by neighbourhood cats. The rake hung
between two spikes Tim’s father drove into the wall a couple of
years ago in an attempt to keep things tidy. The man lay curled on
the floor below it.
stood in the doorway, his shadow falling across the floor, touching
the prone man. “Mister?”
No answer. He
took a step closer and the smell hit. Besides the shed’s usual
smell of must and fertilizer, he caught a whiff of the acidic
stench of fresh puke, and beneath it, shit. Tim put his hand over
his nose and mouth, blocking the smell.
“Are you all
The man didn’t
so much as twitch. Tim held his breath, listening. Yes, there it
was: the slow rhythm of his breathing. Alive -- not in good shape,
probably, but alive. Two more steps brought the boy halfway across
the shed, his eyes adjusting to the poor light. The man lay on his
side, facing the wall, a tattered overcoat on his shoulders. The
feet protruding from beneath the long coat wore boots wrapped with
duct tape to hold them together.
A shiver of
excitement stirred in Tim’s chest.
“Tim, are you
going to rake those friggin’ leaves or what?”
A lawn chair on
the deck provided Tim’s father an ideal spot to situate himself --
beer in hand -- to watch his favorite sport: his oldest son doing
yard work. Tim poked his head out of the doorway to make sure his
old man hadn’t gotten up to see about the hold up. He hadn’t, of
course. It would take a lot more than impatience for him to put
down his beer and remove his ass from the plastic cushion of the
“Sorry, Dad. I
knocked over the recycling. Just got to clean it up and I’ll be
grunted, took another swig of MGD, and grabbed the newspaper from
where it lay on the deck beside him, using the delay to browse its
pages for fodder for tonight’s dinner table diatribe. Tim went back
into the shed and crossed to the rusted steel shelves his father
installed as part of the clean up job. On the first three shelves,
a variety of gardening tools and implements -- many of them unused
-- lay arrayed in orderly rows awaiting their opportunity to shine
while his father’s worn spank mags stuffed the bottom shelf full.
He easily found the length of rope and roll of duct tape for which
he searched. Finally, his father’s fastidious nature -- a
disposition only displayed in the interior of the shed -- came in
The man was
passed out and unlikely to awaken for a while. Tim knew this
because he’d seen his father in a similar state enough times, but
he crept toward the man anyway, taking no chances. He crouched at
his side, pulled out a strip of tape and used his teeth to tear it
off the roll, then spit the gluey taste out of his mouth. The smell
of the man threatened to overpower him as he leaned in to press the
piece of tape over his mouth: puke and shit and booze. His finger
brushed the stubble of the man’s cheek; it scratched against his
hand. He jerked away.
Tim unwound the
loop of rope as he wondered what would happen if the man heaved
again with his mouth taped closed. Would it kill him? Or did only
rock stars die choking on their own vomit? This man was clearly not
a rock star, so maybe he’d be okay. It’d be better if it didn’t
play out that way, but what the hell. He knotted the rope around
the man’s ankles, using two fingers to grip the ragged hem of his
pants and lift his leg as he wound it around then tied it off. The
other end of the rope he snaked behind an exposed stud and fastened
the man’s wrists, effectively hog tying him to the wall. The man
let out a snort while Tim wound the rope around his wrists, halting
the teen’s breath and stopping his fingers mid-knot, but it turned
out to be no more than a snore.
the job, stood and took a step back to admire his work. He’d
learned a lot in the two months he’d stuck in boy scouts before
they kicked him out for lighting things on fire. The man wouldn’t
be able to free himself of those knots. He didn’t remember which
was which -- sheepshank, square knot, fisherman’s knot -- it didn’t
matter, as long as they held.
“Tim, what the
fuck are you doing in there? These leaves aren’t going to rake
shouted back trying to sound like the enthusiastic, helpful son --
an act he always put on though not always convincingly. He stared
at the man for a few seconds, excitement and anticipation swirling
in his stomach, tingling his limbs. His dick stirred in his pants
the way it did when he broke the twittering birds into pieces, the
way no female ever made it stir.
“Do I have to
come in and drag you out?”
A dose of
scalding rage doused Tim’s arousal. The man shifted a little and
farted: a long wet sound making Tim grimace. He grabbed the rake
from its place on the wall before the odor found his nostrils, then
planted a solid kick in the man’s lower back, imagining his father
lying bound on the floor instead of some homeless man.
The man still
abandoned the rake in the middle of the lawn so he’d have an excuse
to go back into the shed after dinner. His father wouldn’t let one
of his precious implements -- precious, though he never used them
himself -- remain outside overnight. Rust belonged on shelves and
hinges but deserved no place on a man’s tools.
on with you?”
He raised his
eyes from his half-eaten dinner where he’d been log-rolling limp
asparagus from one side of the plate to the other and looked at his
mother. The corners of her mouth tugged up into the sad half-smile:
the closest she managed these days to an expression of
said fidgeting to the other corner of his chair for the hundredth
time. “Just enjoying dinner, Ma.”
his statement, he popped a chunk of over-cooked roast into his
mouth, chewed it with visible effort, then followed it up with a
fork full of lumpy mashed potatoes.
patronize your mother,” his father grumbled behind the sports
section. “Eat your fucking dinner.”
Tim fought to
keep from fidgeting right off his chair, occupying himself with
thoughts of what it would be like for the man to wake and find
himself bound. He played it over and over in his mind, a different
scenario each time as he struggled to finish the almost-inedible
meal. First, he pictured the man terrified, eyes wide and staring,
screams bulging the duct tape sticking his lips together. Then he
imagined him angry, thrashing against the ropes, banging his head
on the wall in an effort to get free. Finally, Tim pictured the man
delighted, happy the boy had played right into his trap.
sent a thrill shivering down Tim’s spine.
With the last
fragment of tough meat still torturing his teeth and tongue, Tim
slid off the chair, stacked his dishes beside the sink and headed
for the door.
“Where the hell
do you think you’re going?” A piece of asparagus flew out of his
father’s mouth and landed on the dinner table as he spoke. Everyone
pretended they didn’t notice. Tim’s soles squeaked on the linoleum
as he skidded to a halt.
“To finish the
yard work,” he said with a nervous smile.
“You got to do
the dishes first.”
“But I did the
raking, Dad. It’s Kyle’s turn for dishes.”
lowered his fork and fixed Tim with a ‘don’t-fuck-with-me’ look.
“Do as I tell you.”
Tim opened his
mouth to protest but the scrape of his father’s chair pushing away
from the table killed any objection before it emerged. He needed no
more threat than the sound of chair legs on floor: if his father
was willing to get up, things wouldn’t go well for Tim. He hung his
head and slouched to the sink, cleared dishes from the bottom and
wiped out the garbage collected in the drain: potato peelings,
coffee grounds, left over rice and chicken rinsed from someone’s
lunch plate. The Palmolive bottle wheezed a last gasp of liquid
soap into the running water as the rest of the family finished
their meals and piled their dishes on the counter beside him. Kyle
-- a year younger but two inches taller and ten pounds heavier;
built more like their father where Tim developed a slight and
dainty frame like their mother -- cleared their father’s plate for
him, provoking a grunt of thanks. He smirked, whispered ‘pussy’ in
Tim’s ear and prodded him in the ribs with his elbow as he set the
plate down. Tim frowned but kept his mouth shut.
, he told himself.
Get the dishes done. Then the fun
rose and excused herself, headed for the worn chair in the living
room which provided her haven. She’d sit there for the evening
pretending to read a book or knitting a sweater which she never
seemed to finish while their father watched reality t.v. and news
programs. Occasionally, he’d curse what he saw but neither of them
would speak other than when he commanded her to get him another
beer. She’d do it without protest. Kyle made a beeline for the
basement stairs, making for the Nintendo Wii meant for the boys to
share but which Tim rarely touched.
“Go finish the
The muscles in
Tim’s arms and legs froze, turning him into a statue, a half-washed
plate in one hand, the other hand dipped in the water, rinsing the
washcloth. Kyle stopped, teetering on the edge of the top
“Yes, you. Your
brother’s doing the woman’s work.”
“No buts, Kyle.
My rake can’t stay out there all night.”
loose Tim’s paralysis. He let the plate slide into the sink with a
clunk and faced the other two, his throat tight.
Dad. I’ll do it.”
“Like hell you
will. You’re a lazy little shit. You always forget.”
forget. I started the job, I’ll finish it.”
glared at him over top of the paper. He pushed his chair away,
folded the newspaper and set it on the table, then stood. His belt
made a hissing sound as he pulled it through the loops of his pants
and set it menacingly on the table beside the paper. Another time,
the implicit threat would have made Tim nervous, scared, but not
tonight. No way he’d forget to go back to the shed.
“Bring me a
beer, Kyle. Your sister will put the rake away.”
He slouched out
of the kitchen and down the hall to the living room where he’d sit
on the chair close enough to their mother’s she’d be able to hear
him speak but not close enough to touch. It would be no more than
ten minutes before he drifted into his after-dinner nap. Tim turned
back to the sink, intent on finishing his chore quickly so he could
get back to his secret in the shed. Kyle went to the refrigerator
and plucked a bottle of beer off the shelf in the door then crept
up behind Tim. He jammed the long neck of the bottle painfully into
his older brother’s ass and leaned toward his ear.