Indian cracked his knuckles and lit a smoke. Around him, bodies lay strewn in the aftermath of what he guessed was very probably his latest job. By the look of it, these people had been having some kind of party – over there potato chips and sausage rolls lay in the already congealing blood of Elvis Presley. He’d had the misfortune of falling through the glass coffee table in the center of the room and was sliced to ribbons, but judging by the half of his head that was shot off, Indian guessed he hadn’t felt much.
Over there, Cleopatra lay face down in a scattered mess of soil and fern with three wide holes punched through her back. Her whisky glass lay on its side, just out of reach of her outstretched hand, its contents spilt in a way that perfectly illustrated the trajectory of her fall. Only heavy caliber rounds could do that to a person, thought Indian, hope the neighbours didn’t mind.
Indian crossed the floor, picking his way carefully through the wreckage and examined himself in a mirror that had somehow survived the onslaught. He was covered in smudges of something green and greasy and was wearing a rubber Richard Nixon mask, which he pulled off and stuffed in his belt. The right side of his face was swelling up something fierce, it hurt when he smiled and his teeth had that chipped feeling like he’d been on the receiving end of a couple of heavy blows.
Otherwise it was the same old sallow face staring back at him – heavy bags under watery red eyes, ten o’clock shadow, tinged with shades of grey, various scars he only dimly remembered getting. He rubbed his face, exhaled a heavy lungful of smoke and wondered how much longer it would be before Marco spoke to him through his molar and told him what to do.
I’d better count the bodies, thought Indian, and try to find where the hell my gun wound up. Indian lumbered down the passage toward the front door, which was still splintered from where he’d kicked it in. Lying spread-eagled in the entrance-hall with a broken face and two holes in his right lung was Hugh Hefner.
He must have let me in, he looks kinda surprised, thought Indian. A little further down the passage Indian found Madonna dead under the table, the pointy cones covering her breasts had come off, revealing almost equally pointy breasts underneath. In the kitchen, Indian found the Incredible Hulk, and knew in an instant this was the man who had roughed him up.
The man was lying on his side with a large steak knife protruding from his throat. He’d painted his entire upper body green and was naked except for a pair of tattered purple pants. He was a handsome man, and looked like he’d been carved out of a six and a half foot tall block of granite. Indian found himself staring at the man for a long time.
Some guys had the best luck on the planet, this guy looked like one of them, a prime specimen, grade-A stock. Indian imagined this guy’s entire life, from the private school where he’d been captain of the rugby team to the beautiful, popular, teenage princess he’d lost his virginity to in the back of his Dad’s 4×4.
Indian pictured this man’s mansion of a house, his corporate three-piece suits and polished leather shoes, his mahogany desk and emerald green lawyer’s lamp. He had a trophy wife who got wasted every night on expensive Champaign and industrial strength tranqs, and a horde of little brats who were spoilt and rotten to the core.
This guy had his life handed to him on a platter, he thought, but he was wrong. Had he looked closer, Indian would have noticed the scars in the places where the green body paint had come off, and the darker patches of green which hid tattoos. Indian left the kitchen without giving it another thought, but had he looked closer, he would have noticed that the real monster lay underneath the paint.
Outside, a balmy summer wind breezed its way through the open bushveld that surrounded the property on all sides. The sky was silver with consolations and galaxies that Indian could never remember the names of. I must be miles away from civilization, he thought, guess I won’t have to worry about those neighbours.
The patio extended to a pool of gargantuan proportions in the middle of which a dark-haired woman floated in a fuchsia halo. She was naked, and after staring at her while he lit another smoke, curiosity got the better of Indian. He fetched a pool pole, hooked the brush end under her arm and pulled her toward him.
She was an exceptional kind of beautiful. He laid her out on the bricks by the pool and finished his cigarette, staring unashamedly at her naked body. He wondered what kind of person she had been, how she had moved, what her voice sounded like, if she had kids.
She looked like she was in her late twenties and though her body was a work of art, it was her face upon which Indian’s eyes rested. It was gentle, and there was a warmth to it, a luster that lingered even in death. Indian imagined her smile, in his mind he saw her face brighten and her eyes light up and the thought of it made him smile even though his face hurt.
Back inside the house, Indian was rummaging through the kitchen to find something to eat when he heard what sounded like footsteps upstairs. He pulled the steak knife from The Incredible Hulk’s throat and cautiously mounted the staircase. Halfway up, James Bond was lying with his one hand blown off and his insides clutched desperately in the other and in the passage upstairs, Marilyn Monroe lay in a crumpled heap with her wig half-off and a gaping hole where her heart used to be.
Indian scanned the passage; to his right it branched out to a bathroom and an adjacent bedroom, to his left it ended in a master bedroom where he was pretty sure the sound had come from. He moved soundlessly down the passage, his knuckles fading to white as he tightened his grip on the steak knife and focused on keeping his breathing deep and even.
He checked the on-suite bathroom first and found Johnny Cash slumped on the john. He was wide-eyed and his head dangled precariously from the few sinews that still held it attached to the rest of him. Next to the startled corpse was his driver’s license and three thick lines of cocaine. Hmm, thought Indian and dipped a finger in the blow. It tasted good, it was definitely cut with something, probably speed, but not too much.
Indian rifled through Johnny Cashes pockets for his wallet and fished out a twenty rand note. Someone had written ‘32 B/More 22h00’ on it in pencil. Indian scratched his head, something about this note was familiar. He plunged into the stagnant quagmire of his mind and trawled the soupy mess of his memory, but as usual, came out with nothing but a handful of slime.
His thoughts were interrupted by the unmistakable sound of a wire coat hanger rattling lightly in the master bedroom. His heart lurched in his chest and he felt the flush of his blood rising. He quietly left the bathroom and crossed the master bedroom to the closet against the far wall. His reflection in the full-length closet mirror was fierce and dark. He looked every inch a killer; the cold glint in his eyes matched the moonlight sparking off the steak knife as he readied himself to gut whatever was in the closet.
His fingers crept into the steel groove used to slide the cupboard door open. Outside, the wind suddenly dropped and died. Indian took his cue. In one furious motion he swept the cupboard open, swore loudly, swept it shut and dived to the floor.
Indian rolled backward out the master bedroom and slammed the door shut behind him. He slumped against the door and slowly sank to his haunches, breathing heavily. He lit another smoke and tried to think what to do. Fuck, he thought, fuckfuckfuck. A familiar screeching reverberation tore him from his thoughts as Marko made contact.
“Marko?” said Indian.
“Polo,” said Marko. “What’s the count?”
“Eight, but I might have missed some.”
“No, eight is right.”
Indian chuckled, “Is that a fact?”
“What’s so funny?”
“I followed this noise.”
“There’s a girl, looks about eight or nine years old, I found her in the cupboard upstairs.”
“Well what the fuck? Kill her!”
“Small problem chief.”
“She’s got my gun.”
“And she just shot me.”
(c) Tony Niemeyer 2009