HORROR AMONG THIEVES - ROBERT MEADE
When I get home from a job, I unwind by flipping through the channels. They all suck, but I sit there pushing the button on the remote anyway. It takes my mind off things.
So I get interested in this high school flick about some kid who’s still hot for this chick Emily even though she dumped him. He’s talking in this phone booth--where the hell do they still have phone booths, anyway?--and she’s crying into his ear all hysterical, ‘Thigpen’s got no dick!’
So naturally I’m interested in Thigpen and why he has no dick. It turns out to be a good flick. But I’m pretty pissed at the end when I realize there’s no guy named Thigpen, dickless or not. What the chick said was, ‘The Pin’s got the brick.’ I just heard her wrong.
So now I get to thinking, ‘Hey, maybe my hearing’s going.’ Which really pisses me off because I’m the kind of guy who can hear a cat creeping across foam rubber fifty feet away. While there’s a freight train lumbering by.
So I take out my cell and check the time. Damn. Only half an hour left. I pull on my jacket and grab my pocket knife and a plastic sandwich bag and my car keys. This is gonna be close.
I head up Route 9 and pull into the Cabrini nursing home in Dobbs Ferry. I usually park a little south and come in from the back. But this is quicker. At four in the morning, there shouldn’t be anyone else around, but you never know when some pain-in-the-ass night watchman might decide to actually earn his pay.
I trot around back into the woods to the abandoned castle turret that overlooks the river. I kick in the plywood I’d replaced so carefully just an few hours ago, and step inside. A short set of stairs and I’m at the bottom, next to the 300 gallon brine storage tank I keep here. I click on the flashlight I’ve got hanging from the ceiling and I peer over the rim. There he is, strapped to the chair, naked, duct tape across his mouth. The water from the garden hose is up to his chin.
He doesn’t look at me because he’s got other things on his mind. Like how to get out of this tank before the water covers his head. He’s squirming and straining and rocking the chair and blowing air out his nose and sending muffled groans through the duct tape. He’s not going to make it, and he knows it.
I punch him in the head to get his attention, but I must be wired with the moment and I knock him out. I grab the back of his hair and yank his face out the water and pull the garden hose out of the tank.
“Thigpen,” I say, shaking his face in the water, pulling it out again. “Wake up.” He starts coming around. “That’s it, baby,” I say. “Come to Papa.” He glares at me. I rattle his head against the inside of the tank.
“I want you to listen very carefully, Thigpen,” I tell him. “When we were chatting before and I asked you what you did with the money, you gave me a very dissatisfying answer.” His eyes start rolling and I shake him some more.
“Don’t you pass out on me yet. No, no, no. Not yet. When I asked you about the money, I thought you said, ‘I’ll tell you when my dick sprouts wings.’ But maybe you said something else like, ‘Well, I don’t know dick about anything.’
“So here’s the deal. I pull this tape off your mouth and give you one more chance. Tell me where the money is and I let you go. If not, I put the hose back in and walk out. Your call.”
I rip the tape off his mouth and his lip starts to bleed. “Fuck you,” he spits at me. I take out my pocket knife and open it up.
“I can start cutting things off, you know. I promise you they’ll be things you will miss.” I reach in and run the blade across his chest.
“Fuck your mother, too,” he snarls. So I tape his mouth back up and stick the hose back inside the tank. I reach in and grab his dick and slice it off. I pop it into the sandwich bag and hold it up. Behind the duct tape, he’s screaming, his eyes bulging. I stand there looking at him, letting him think about what the rest of his very short life is going to be like without a dick.
I click the light off and leave. In the car, I pull back out onto Route 9.
I didn’t think he would tell me. I’ll toss his apartment tomorrow. Probably stuffed his mattress with the money, or stuck it in the freezer.
We’re supposed to be partners on this Brigham’s heist, but at the last minute, he tells me he got robbed? What’s that all about? He thought I would swallow that? Well, he deserves what’s coming.
Still, Thigpen is one tough son of a bitch. That guy’s got balls. I pick up the sandwich bag and laugh. And still does, I suppose.
It’s getting light out. I turn onto Warburton Avenue and stop at the light and throw the baggie onto somebody’s lawn. I see a cat dart out from under the bushes. Her paws swish along the grass as she tackles the bag, looking for breakfast.
Down by the river, a freight train lumbers by. I laugh and the light turns green and I give her some gas. Who knows? When I get home, maybe there’ll be another good movie on.
BIO: Robert Meade is a transplanted Bostonian now firmly rooted in Mohegan Lake, in Westchester County, NY, with his wife and three children. He teaches at Loyola School in Manhattan. A published author of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, his work has appeared in Bartleby Snopes, The New Flesh, Microhorror, Angels on Earth, Guideposts and Apollo’s Lyre.