What did the hand say to the bloody bucket?

When you wake up sticky, dried blood glued to your pillow, remember we’re all just animals lifted from the ooze, dropped from the trees and our most primal urges are natural not malignant. Check your fingernails. If they’re clean then the other one is likely dead. Dirty? Check the trail to your bed. It’s no doubt seeded with mud, twigs and leaves from you dragging your wounded self out of the misty forest.

Either way, there’s work to be done. You’ll need to clean that gash, at which point you’ll instinctively reach for help. Don’t. Involving anyone but blood-kin will raise the curiosity of the village. If they find out, it’s a fifty-fifty chance you’ll end up dumped in the vagrants’ grave, a victim of mob justice. Dress your wound as you can and wear a hat. Of course, if you had any kin left alive, they’d be loyal-bound to assist. But you don’t. So get to it.

The slab-planked floor won’t clean for shit. Every stain, every fluid leaked from holes top and bottom, remain as record of the foul deeds done upon your person. Or, as was more often the case, evidence of your self professed righteousness upon those wayward lambs who have wandered into your care, guileless, needy.

Outside, Merle calls with his strangled coyote voice. “I hear you failed the test.”

At the word “test”, the prior night’s activities come pouring in from the shallow memory pit you’d dug and failed to cover. The initiation hadn’t gone as planned. The initiate balked at the ceremonial incision that they all had had to endure. What was the point of a torture club if the hazing didn’t include pain?

Yeah, the village was in on it. Spirits need to feed. What better to sate their appetites than the gore of innocents. The fact that the tiki torches that surround the glade carried as much weight when filled with kerosene was no longer lost on you. You finger the tender, tacky spot on your scalp. But the gore the plebe would have had to endure was slight. A tickle, a trickle, a tease of a scar to show drunk women in bars. Proof of an ignoble membership.

Last night they’d left the cutting up to you. Your first. And now, most likely, your last.

“Screw you, Merle.” Your voice feels like another is yelling on your behalf, from another dimension, a half-second later than your mouth reports to your brain.

“Let’s see the damage,” Merle adds, his boots stomping up the steps of the cabin. He stomps because both his Achilles tendons had been cut by his father when he was just a boy. They grew back, mostly. It did have the desired effect — stopping him from running away.

“I fixed it myself. No need to make a fuss.”

“The fuss is on you, son. I just as soon imagine a sunny day full of geese honking just out of sight, the smell of the ocean drifting in on a breath of wind no harder than the whisper of Maude tellin’ me she’d needs additional shaggin’.”

“Did they catch the boy, Brack or Brace or whatever the fuck his name is?”

“Brick, and I don’t know what the hell you remember, but he didn’t run off. After he walloped you, he dropped the torch and helped you into your cabin. Shit, you were swinging and yellin’ and he and I just left you to your flailin’ at ghosts. In fact,” Merle finally opens the door and looks inside. “he’s right here with me. I believe he’s got an apology lined up. But, you can imagine he might be a bit hesitant.”

“So, I’m the one to get tortured. How the hell does that make any sense?”

You press Merle back out of the way and hold onto the door jam. Down the steps and gripping a young sapling white pine with one hand is this boy, Brick. You look at him, a big ol “well, what the fuck do you have to say,” look upon your face.

Brick releases the tree and takes one step forward. From behind his back he pulls out a club, the end of it snarled with bent nails and barbed wire. “Mr. Tollben, I come to finish the job.”


7 thoughts on “What did the hand say to the bloody bucket?

  1. Second person with first person dialog, without a ‘you’ as antagonist makes ‘me’ no longer audience but participatory leaving a whiff of an arrogant, accusatory authorial tone, as well as some initial confusion. What happens when ‘you’ shifts from ‘me’ to the antagonist? As in “You! With the fuckin’ club!” Who, me you or him you?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Whatever. Here’s some 2p dialogue that takes I out of you (me) for consistency.

        “Show me what you hide behind your back,” you said.
        Eve shook her head. “Nothing.”
        You couldn’t let her get away with that. “Show me.”
        “I will show you nothing! But you can have a bite…”

        I know why you even bother, because 2p works in narrative heavy pick your adventure story. Your feet are like iccyles and you say to yourself “build a fire” but the world lies under a blanket of month old snow so you say to the dogs “dig” and after they wander for a frigid eternity they dig, unearthing the carcass of a moose, and the man it gored. His boots are good. But there is no wood for a fire. YOu raise your eyes to heaven. “Great Oozok, where is the wood?” Oozok answers you with “Second person is good for porn and erotica, too. Go there to find your wood. Only an idiot would be wandering in the fucking snow looking for a story.”

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          1. Why bother? Six million new authors a year? I write for fun. You could say I’m afraid of Virginia Woolf. Because that sort of skill is the bar, so comparatively, most of us write drivel. The tricky part is writing well crafted, entertaining drivel with a voice, not the cornpone shit I keep tripping over reading inside these author circle jerks. Meet John, a good friend and talented author from the Writing Impostors with an excerpt from his latest sophomorically executed book about overworked angels chasing souls that don’t belong to the devil. I.e. a profanity free buddy road-trip written in the Hardy Boy’s tradition with Christian overtones.

            Liked by 1 person

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