A Night In Denver:


 

"Will you help me?"

"Ah, I don't know what I can do."

"Lemme tell you about it `cause I've got to tell somebody. I've been living with a corpse for two days and it's freakin' me out, man. I don't know what to do."

For the next hour and a half he discussed in detail what he did with the body.

"So we stretched him out on the bed, right there, right where you're lying."

"Here?"

"Yep. Exact same place." He watched me closely as he said that. A sick feeling inside me, but I gave no response, did not even move.

"We laid his head on the pillow and he bled on it. I washed it but still couldn't get the stains out. It smells. Smell it?"

"No."

"Here, smell it."

He picked the pillow up and pushed it against my face.

"Now you smell it? Kind of stinks."

A rancid odor in my nostrils. I pulled the pillow away, put it back on the sofa-bed.

"Yeah. I smell it. Bad."

He showed me a pair of shoes. "They fit so I took them."

"What do I do?" he asked me.

I had only one thing in mind and that was to get out of there. But I had to be careful. In an attempt to be cunning, I tossed out a few ideas, all of which involved getting outside.

"Well, I dunno. You got any `Drano', or `Lysol', or anything like that? Maybe some lye?" I asked.

"No. Nothing. Why?"

"I don't know anything about it but there's gotta be some 24 hour drug store around. We could go get some lye, or some `Draino', put this guy in your bathtub and disintegrate him. Think that'll work?"

"Wouldn't that smell? How long would that take?"

"I dunno. Never done anything like this. Maybe a couple days."

"I don't think I've got that long. He's beginning to stink already."

"Look, maybe we should take a walk, clear our minds. Go out and get a cuppa coffee and think about this."

He didn't want to do that and fended off the suggestion with an oblique response.

"There's more I gotta tell you. You don't know it all, yet."

(More? It gets worse than this?) "What?"

"I didn't tell you the worst part, yet. Are you ready?"

"Not really."

He said nothing, but walked to the hunting knife hanging in it's sheath. It was large, the kind used for skinning deer - thick, heavy handle, and a six inch blade. He pulled the knife from the sheath and then turned to me holding the blade upward and gleaming one of those psychotic smiles that isn't really a smile.

Facing me, he crouched to his knees. His eyes were level with mine.

 

"Do you know what the worst part was?" he asked.

I said nothing. Did not look at the knife. Looked directly into his eyes waiting for him to continue.

"We cut him up," he said. His grin was frankly carnivorous.

He put the point of his knife at the pit of my throat then drew it slowly down over my sternum. The blade touched the buttons on my shirt and I still remember the feel of those buttons as the knife stumbled past them. One, two, three four buttons snapping against my body. I remember the scraping sound of the knife - small, insignificant, haunting. The blade glided over my stomach to my pants zipper.

"We cut him here," he said.

Numb. I was numb. (A hundred thousand screams locked up in my throat.)

He put his knife at my left hip and drew it across my waist, slowly and obviously with great relish. I expected to see him salivate. He let his knife linger again at the zipper of my pants. His eyes watched mine.

"And we cut him here," he said.

"And then," bringing the knife upward again, sliding it over my stomach, pushing the point inward just slightly as it reached my sternum - the knife traveled upward until it touched the pit of my throat. With a leer, he drew the blade across my throat, "And then we cut him like this."

I said nothing. As long as that knife touched my throat I did not trust myself to speak.

A long, agonizing moment, and he at last drew the knife away.

A life-saving remark popped into my head, and I gave it utterance.

"Sounds like you got the hardest part of the job done already," I said.

He leaned back, a confused shadow ran past his eyes. Apparently, he didn't know what to make of that remark. Silence for a moment.

"So, you're going to help me?" he asked. "We've got to dump him. You can help me carry him out to my car, and we'll dump him in the mountains. You have to do it now, you know. Since I've told you, you're an accessory. An accessory after the fact. It's your secret now too. You'll go to prison too."

I knew that was a lie. But if this guy had really committed one murder he could commit two. I let him think he had convinced me.

"Yeah. I'll help you. I dunno about dumping the body. The cops may find it."

"No. I think dumping him is best. We can get some trash bags and just dump him in different places. I know a good place up in the mountains. Nobody ever goes there."

He was still holding the knife in his hand while we talked, and I was acutely conscious of this. We discussed various methods of disposing of his corpse for the next hour. All this time he sat on the floor playing with the knife as he talked, running the blade of it up and down his pants leg, cleaning his fingernails, balancing it on his fingertips.

"If you're going to help me get rid of this guy you'd better take a look at him," he said.

"I don't think so. Not right now."

"Have you ever seen a dead body?"

"Once. San Francisco. A drunk. He died in a bus station."

"Well, you'd better take a look at this guy. I've got him in my closet."

He stalked over to his closet with the knife clenched in his fist.

"Not right now. Tell you what. Let's go get some fresh air. Clear my head out. Then I'll look at him."

"No. I think you should look at him now."

This little game of `Look at My Corpse' dragged out for an immeasurable time. He acted for a moment as if he were going to drop the matter, then changed his mind, insisting that I look. He was playing with me and I knew it.

"You ready?" he asked.

"No. Look, I'm really not ready for this."

"Maybe not."

"No."

"Well," he said, opening the door a crack, "Then maybe you should."


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A Night In Denver ęGreg Bryant 1998 All Rights Reserved.  Any reproduction of this material is prohibited.  Unless authorization is given via Knighmayor Productions.