A Book for Every Body – Excerpt 1
Chapter 1 – Earl Thomas
You did it again, didn’t you? Thought you made a promise… one you wouldn’t break. What’s your excuse this time, Mister? Was it because he called your mother a cunt, a bitch, or a whore? No, no… it can’t be that simple. It’s never that simple. Whatever’s going on must run deep and red as the clay. You’re going to keep doing it, aren’t you?
Shut up, shut up, shut up! Please shut up.
“Topping the stories this hour, a beloved pizzeria owner was murdered late last night after closing shop in Plains Park, a small unincorporated township located along the interstate. Mr. Ray ‘Earl’ Thomas, the owner of In-N-Out Pizza Pie, was pronounced dead on the scene by the county coroner at 7:26 a.m. behind closed doors at the pizzeria. Loyal patrons and employees gathered together to mourn as the paramedics wheeled the body from the pizzeria to the ambulance.”
“The restaurant had been closed for several hours when the murder is thought to have taken place. There are no reported witnesses, and sources inside the Department say the Sheriff has yet to identify any leads. Prompted by this murder, the second murder this month in the once quaint community, the Sheriff has dispatched a special task force to Plains Park, spearheaded by a highly competent forensics unit that Atlanta Police trained during a recent visit to our state’s capital.”
“Sheriff’s Officials made no further comment.”
Quaint my ass. These big-town news fellows never get anything right, yet they all aspire to make it someday to Atlanta, Georgia’s Mecca, where each would work for large affiliates just like the jobs promised to them by their junior college professors.
Maybe these amateurs got it right this time? We do have the small-town feel one gets from two stop signs, two gas stations, three sprawling trailer parks and a brand-new McDonald’s – all three nestled comfortably along the interstate. Each chock-full of the finest white trash the South can offer, except for the unsuspecting tourist who finds themselves staring at yellow eyes or toothless jaws while waiting in line at the McDonald’s, or even a clipped side-view by one of those gummy wonders while turning into the restaurant from the highway.
Travelers only pull off the interstate to refuel or buy a Big Mac, but the seasoned passerby will visit the In-N-Out Pizza Pie with ample truck parking out back. Most patrons will forget it in time, but it will certainly linger in the minds of the help, especially the ones who did the dirty work. Even the title may live on, spawn legacy of its own, as another “reputable” establishment scoops it up to be advertised in some other shithole like ours along the interstate. In-N-Out Pizza Pie. Simple code, folks. Simple. Or at least it was for the astute trucker, or for any one of the many perverts making their way to Ohio or Florida.
For the naive, the code could be broken easily by shifting their eyes to the business out back, the one “rented” but more spacious than the pizza parlor itself. A strange place with some Asian name that none of the locals could understand, a place where they gave massage treatment to weary travelers from all over these great states. Even Earl, the proprietor of In-N-Out Pizza Pie, pretended not to know what the name meant, yet any fool could look up the County records to find that he owned both.
I’m sure you’ve seen billboards along the interstate yourself, for joints like Earl’s or maybe his very own. You know, the ones that sell spa treatment, typically featuring a sexy Asian woman silhouetted by the chromed nose of an 18-wheeled rig?
Our highly touted big-town investigative news team never saw the billboards, nor had they investigated the new “company,” else they wouldn’t have gotten the following wrong while reading from the teleprompter. Good ole’ Earl wasn’t closed for business at all, for business had just begun. I should know, because I was there. There were other witnesses too, but I doubt any of them could put into words what happened to poor ole’ Earl when he saw me.
The storage room wasn’t empty at all. It was full when I found it. And pretty soon a handful of “highly competent” forensic deputies will be collecting hundreds, if not thousands, of hair follicles that have been left behind over the years, hoping that just one will link these bright men to the killer of poor ole’ Earl – a large, grotesque man who laid lifeless just outside the storage room with his blood tracked all the way to the back door by a pair of large boots and a troop of small footprints, toes and all.
Though I should say tracked to the side door, because the back door leads to the massage parlor, which nobody knew about except for Earl and his inner circle of cronies. That is, until I found it. I had known for a while that a private passageway existed, but I didn’t know where.
The last thing good ole’ Earl touched before leaving our sacred Earth was the doorknob leading to the secret corridor – with the exception of a rather large duffle bag that he didn’t lose grip of until his veins bled dry. I took the bag but decided to leave the door open, so it could later be discovered by a band of stringy white fellers wearing confederate-gray uniforms and a badge.
I left the side door open too while I was at it, and right now this same band of sheriff deputies are hot on the trail of countless little red footprints that lead outside and disappear into the gravel parking lot. Countless more lead to the massage parlor, none of which are visible to the naked eye and will never be discovered, along with most of the people who left them.
What initially caught the politicians’ eyes was Earl’s unwavering desire to lure more business to Plains Park, to make it an interstate rest stop that would rival Georgia’s best, to provide more reasons for a tourist to pull off the interstate and buy a slice of pie. Earl lobbied heavily for the Mickey D’s long before anyone thought it possible, and in spite of the competition a McDonald’s would bring. “But no competition to my Pizza Parlor,” he would say. And Earl was right. He also said it would increase the sales at his parlor. And it did.
And what blew the county commission away was his ability to come through so soon with his word, by convincing not McDonald’s, but rather a Chinese company to open its doors in Plains Park. A company that would occupy the empty premise behind his, a place Earl had renovated at taxpayer expense to draw in such a business. Earl sold the renovation idea to the commission with the promise that the “Chinks” would draw in trucker revenue, which would mean even more tax revenue from out of county and out of state.
And just days after milking the commission out of a hundred-grand or so, Earl already had contractors hard at work renovating the extension out back. Earl may not have been a card carrying member of the “buddy system,” but he had become buddies with those who were.
Either way, Earl is dead and both of his establishments are closed. No one has been arrested that we know of, but word has it that some of Earl’s lieutenants went for a ride – in the back seat if you know what I mean. I just wish I could give them all what I gave Earl.
When I stuck the knife in, Earl couldn’t speak.
When blood painted the floor red, I did not care.
When Earl cried for help, no one listened.
When Earl begged for mercy, he received none.
When I finally pulled the knife out, I had to yank.
And that last part was my bad all the way, but it had been a while since my training. I had planned for a stealth kill, but I had to stab Earl without thinking and struck him between two ribs, sideways.
Earl had surprised me just as much as I had surprised him, and I soon realized why he had caught me off guard. For I had found what Earl had come looking for, the keys to a storage room in the pizzeria that I happened across just before my first and last meeting with Earl – a meat locker that pulsed with fear in strange foreign tongues.
I didn’t know if the voices were real or if they had come from inside my head, but then I noticed that the meat locker was padlocked. From what I understand, meat lockers shouldn’t need a padlock – and from what I’ve been told, Earl’s pizzas were not layered with any kind of meat worth stealing by the crew – so my pounding curiosity and suffocating paranoia drew my feet towards the door.
The voices seemed to stop by the time I reached the door, and that brought me close to DEFCON ONE. I managed to unlock it after sifting through several keys on a giant ring I found earlier in the pizzeria. Once open, I could see that it was indeed a meat locker. Tucked inside were maybe a dozen or so half-naked Asian women, some just children. They were packed in tight with neither food nor water, and no toilet except for a bucket. Not one spoke a lick of English, and I couldn’t woo them out of the compartment despite the kindest gesture or persuasion this white man could muster. But I was surprised to see them all file out willingly after watching me take Earl’s life.
They didn’t care that I was still holding a knife dripping with blood, or that they were treading through a puddle of it. They just knew that I would be in their hands or soon in the hands of their distant relatives – the relatives promised to them by the ship’s captain, not the ones they had prepared to meet in the afterlife.
But they were not in my hands, no Siree. Nor were the women I later freed from their cells. I simply guided them all to the side door and left them scattered in the wind. Sheriff Deputies must be picking them up by now, one by one.
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