Another Draft?

Part I

After a long day of work, Mark enters the elevator of his building. He punches the number of his floor and attempts to breath as little as possible while riding up with the unmistakable smell of human urine. He looks to the floor and is not quite sure what the piles of brownish-grayish substance was spread all over the elevator. He tries not to move. No doubt it was the rest stop for a homeless. The walls are covered in graffiti. Each name was at war with the other among crazy zigzagging letters.

He reaches his floor and it comes as no surprise that the cracked walls of his thirteenth floor are covered in shadows. A group of punk teenagers and hooligans must have broken them again. Typical. It was most likely done in order to conceal a mugging. Or worse. Maybe they just did it to plain ol’ mess with the superintendent of the building.

The sounds of muffled yelling and crying from the adjacent apartments welcome him home. He thinks to himself, “What could that poor woman have done to deserve what was probably another brutal beating?”

Mark takes solace that at least he hears her crying. It is the silence that would scare him most of all.

He fumbles in his pant pockets and finds his keys. Lucky for him today, the door was not busted in. “One point for the good guys”, he mutters to himself.

Home, sweet home. Where the paint job is cracking off the walls, where his only company are the roaches, where the flickering fluorescent light bulb shows his sofa bed, 10 inch television set, and an old carpet spread across his studio apartment. It reminds him that he needs to buy another light bulb. More problems.

He moves towards his sofa and turns on the television to the news channel. A very young and very attractive reporter comes on. She says, “Police are still on the lookout for Charlie Bates, a man guilty of kidnapping, raping and brutally murdering three children several days ago. The man had picked up the children at P.S 12 posing as an uncle for the children. Police have lost custody of the assailant and have no leads on his current whereabouts. Any and all tips would be appreciated-”.

Mark turns off the television.

He walks to the bathroom and turns on the light. He makes his way to the hand wash. As he runs the water and rinses his hands, washing away the grime of a hard day’s work, he looks at himself in the mirror.

He begins to talk to his reflection on the murky mirror, “Those were just children, Charlie. Their whole lives ahead of them. Just children and you cut them short.”

Mark begins drying his hands on a cruddy towel he picked up from the bathroom rack barely attached to the wall. He then tosses the towel to the ground and begins searching the cabinet beneath his hand wash.

“Why do the scum of this city prey on the weak?” he asks. From the far end of the cabinet he pulls out a duffel bag. From the sound of it, it is heavy with tools. He stands up and takes a deep breath. “Can you tell me why, Charlie?”

He stares at the curtains covering the bathtub. He then pulls the plastic curtain to the side and reveals a man with his arms and legs bound together. His mouth was gagged and he appeared to have suffered a heavy blow to the head. There was blood stained on his clothing and there was a tear on his head still protruding blood steadily.

The man struggled to maintain focus but as he strained to concentrate his eyes on Mark, Mark was busy putting on plastic gloves. Mark crouches closer to the man lying in the tub. He looks straight into his eyes, which were now wild and blood shot, and says to him, “You, Charlie, are the evil that roams free in Metro City. You are the scum who preys on the weak and it is your wickedness that has brought pain to three innocent children and countless other lives.”

Mark pulls out a drill from his duffle bag and grads hold of a very large and rusted nail. The whirring of the drill out shouted the muffled screams of Charlie. He shut his eyes and braced for the impending pain to come. He could only imagine what death was already decided for him. Mark, with a righteous demeanor, was going to make sure he took his time. He wanted Charlie to suffer for as long as his body could take it before his last breath escaped his bloody and beaten body.

Part II

I am making my way home after work through the heavy rain. The day at P.S 12 was long and tiring one. Three children went missing over the course of a week. They were from separate classes. No one really knew where they went or with who, but the principal drilled into our heads that the teachers make sure the students went with their real parents. Some lunatic had been posing as a distant uncle or something and picking them up. Somehow, Metro City looked even sadder than usual that night.

I had to stay late today. My student’s parents hadn’t shown up for over an hour. In this city, a missing person could mean just about anything. The parent showed up, thank God, but not without smelling like rum. My guess is that the Father of Year was at some local bar and forgot to pick up his child. Hey, it could have been much worse. A check surely followed to see if he was the real father.

The man had to show I.D and prove to us that he was indeed the girl’s father. He checked out. The school had been working with the MCPD to get any possible leads on the kidnapper. Turns out he was an escaped convict who was imprisoned for sexual assault on minors. He was a bit crazier than normal. His name was Charles Bates or something. I couldn’t really remember. On the way home, I stopped by at Mike’s Dinner to get a sandwich. Any kind. It did not matter. The rain had kept all the customers away. I was the only one sitting inside.

“What are ya havin’ Mark,” asked Mike. He was a big and burly guy. He kept his mustache but never the beard. Mike was a good guy. He was a little hard on the eyes, but good nonetheless. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. He has been feeding me for quite some time now.

“Ehh, give me a ham and cheese sandwich. Ketchup. Mayo. Everything on it.”

“It’ll be out in a minute. Hey, would you mind keepin’ an eye on the place for me? I gotta take a wicked piss.”

“Yeah, sure. No problem.”

Mike left for the bathroom. While he was gone I was sitting around waiting for my sandwich. I got to thinking about the missing children. I had none since I lived alone. My girl friend Sally had dumped me a while back and never looked back. She is with some good looking guy who took her away to the suburbs. Brandon, I think his name is. I bet her life is going real swell right about now. I never even got the chance to ask her to marry me. Not like she would ever go for a loser like me. Her new boyfriend was a cop. A real hero. I wonder if they have any children yet.

I began thinking about what I would do if I was one of the parents who came to pick up my child and found out he or she was missing. I would do terrible things to a person. The thought alone made my blood race. But why?

Maybe it was the actual thought of what it would feel like to have missing children. Or maybe it was the thought that I could never have some of my own since I am all alone. Maybe it’s the thought that Brandon was giving it to Sally.

“If I ever get my hands on that bastard, I swear…”, I whispered to myself.

Mike comes out from the back, “Hey, Mark, here is your sandwich. On the house”.

“Thanks. I hope you washed your hands”.

“I did, asshole.”

“Yeah, with soap this time.”

I left the Diner. On my walk home the rain came down harder. This day couldn’t get any worse. My sandwich was probably soaked by now. Great.

I live in a shithole apartment, in a crappy building, on a sickly part of town. My job doesn’t pay me nearly enough money to live down in the suburbs like precious Brandon. I got to deal with scum bags day in and day out on my way to work. The winters are particularly bad because it gets dark really early in the day. By five p.m I should be locked away in my studio apartment to avoid the worst.

I barely own anything since Sally took most of it. Almost all of it was hers anyways. I have a small sofa bed, a small television set, some food in the fridge. That is all I need.

I spend my days thinking of ways I could get Sally back. The lottery would bring me lots of needed cash, but the chances of winning that are astronomical. I could try and get a better job in Metro City. But where? Everything here is going under, everyone here is looking to lay off a couple hundred people just to stay in business. I could be a cop…I could be a hero and maybe save a few couple of people. Maybe that would bring her back.

I get home and eat my sloppy sandwich on the sofa. I’ve had  a long day and turn on the television.  I don’t really watch it, but the noise keeps me company. It can get pretty boring here and as we all know: Idle hands are the devils tools.

If I was a hero like that Brandon asshole, people would look up to me, people would respect me and people would love me. I would have friends call me; I would have people to hang out with. I would probably have loads of money and best of all I would have Sally back in my arms!

But how do I become a hero? The question circled in my head for the remainder of the night. I snoozed off with the sound of the 11 o’clock news playing in the background.

“-Police still have no leads on the escaped Charlie Bates.”

Last night I had a dream where I was some sort of super cop. The man from the news had been trying to break into my apartment with me still in it. He managed to break inside while I hid in the bathroom. When he was in looking through my apartment, I jumped out and attacked him. I managed to wrestle his gun away from him and performed a citizen’s arrest. Afterwards I was in City Hall receiving a medal for my courageous act of heroism. Later, Sally was in my arms apologizing for having left me before.

I woke up that morning with a loud bang at the door. Who the hell could it be this early morning anyways?

“Exterminator!” I hear him shout.

I was having the best dream ever. I get up reluctantly and sleepy eyed I shuffle to the door and open up.

“Hey, I’m the Exterminator. I’m here to spray the house down,” he says. He is wearing overalls. He looks a bit unhappy, probably because he has to work so early in the morning. Who knows.

“Come on in,” I say. “Can I help you with anything?”

“No man, I’m good,” he grunts.

“You sure? No coffee? Nothing or anything?”

“Look, Buddy. My names on the tag and I am not here to socialize. I’m here to just do my job and get the hell outta here. Now excuse me while I go in and fix this hell hole.”

“Alright, just do what you gotta do, man. No need to get so aggressive.” Asshole. I look over at his name tag to try and get a read on his name. I’ll just report his ass for being such a grump so early in the morning. I was having such a good start with the dream and all and this guy isn’t going to come and just ruin it for me.

I look at his name tag and see that it is almost falling off. I can barely read the company name. I think it says “Bob’s Delivery” on it. The name is a bit scratched up and I can barely make out the letters. I see his first name. It looks like it spells out “Charlie”. The rest is just a blur. Are the last few letters T, E and S?

How odd. What kind of Extermination service has “Delivery” written on their company name? Is this guy really an exterminator? Or is this just and old suit he is wearing?

“What did you say your name was, again?” I ask.

“I didn’t say. My name is Chuck. It is written right here on my name tag. See?” He swipes are his name tag. “Why the hell are you so interested in my name for anyways? You like me or something? I’m just here to do my job, not take you out on some date, weirdo.”

He begins spraying all over the kitchen.

“And your company name?”

“Are you serious? What is with you, man? Read the tag. It is right on here. ‘Mark’s Extermination’! Now can you let me do my job in peace? Quit sweating me.”

He showed me the tag and it said “Mark’s Extermination”. How did he change the name? This guy doesn’t seem right to me. Look at him. He is all nervous and stuff. Could he be the man everyone is looking for on the news? It can’t be. How could he end up in my apartment at seven in the morning? And why would he end up in my apartment? What is he trying to do?

“Listen man, I have got to get to work soon, so can we speed this up?” I tell him. “I work at P.S 12. I’m a teacher there and I need to be there by eight in the morning.”

“Okay,” he says. He begins to speed up his work.

Am I going crazy or is this guy really Charlie? I need to call the police somehow and have him detained or something. I cant just let him walk out of my apartment. But I don’t have a phone. What am I going to do?

Wait a second. The bad guy is in my house. Just like in my dream. This could be my chance to stop him and become a hero. Maybe that dream was a sign from God or something. Maybe I am meant to stop him.

“Hey, you know where there is a real rodent problem? In the Bathroom. You mind taking a look in there and checking it out, Charlie?”

(Once again to those who read, this is yet another draft. Since we were given an extra week to work on them, I re-did my entire part two and tried to do something a bit different. I am not happy with how it is coming out yet, but I will keep working on it. Let me know what you think.)

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2 Comments so far

  1.   Samantha on December 16th, 2011

    Hey Richard, your story is excellent! I love what you did with ending in the beginning. You started at the end, which Poe would say is “where all good works of art should begin”.

    So Mark is a teacher who lost this girl to another man and wants to prove himself a hero to get her back. It’s apparent that he is emotionally losing it inside but is able to keep a normal life until he starts seeing things that aren’t there. Like the Exterminator’s name tag. Very clever. I also liked how you delayed the story and brought us inside his head while he continued to rationalize his life and why he was unhappy.

    I’m interested in reading more of this story. If you continue to keep adding to it, please let me know. Very well done.

  2.   jenny abeles on December 16th, 2011

    I have to applaud you for trying something different, Richard–you’ve taken this in an ambitious direction. You’ve certainly posed some explanations for Mark’s vigilante-ism, but I have to conclude nonetheless that Mark is a wack job. Is he going to turn in Charlie’s brutalized and tortured body to the police? He’d be an idiot to do that, but if he doesn’t, how will Sally ever hear of his “heroism”?

    Since you’ve already made Mark seem really mentally unstable, why not take it even further? Maybe Charlie is a a facet of Mark’s personality? Mark, who really is a decent bloke, has this deranged part that is actually responsible for the children’s disappearances…

    …or, the whole scene in his apartment with the exterminator (ha! Mark’s Extermination–got it!) is still a dream?

    Eager to see how you resolve all this noir weirdness!

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