The Mayonnaise Murders Chapter 4, Scene 1

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Sittin in the dark waitin.

I knew Vee was comin back, it was just a matter of how long she felt it was gonna take to make her point. One thing I’d figured out sittin for close to an hour on my butt in the middle of the Dregs; you don’t talk bad about a woman’s hair when she’s doin the drivin. Especially when you know that hair don’t belong to her.

Still, it was kinda fun while it lasted.

Musta been another hour, maybe two, before Vee showed up again. Her horn sounded like the noise a male critter makes when he gets kicked in that certain region. Now that I’m thinkin about it, I realize that shoulda told me somethin about Vee the first time around. I can’t believe she chose that sound by accident.

I stood up, dusted myself off, then lit myself a smokey. Her transport started gettin close, and I just stood there glarin at her through the windshield. She pulls up in front of me, I drop my smokey to step it out, and then she pulls off down the road. I can hear her laughin, and I’m imaginin my hands wrapped around those pretty little gills of hers.

She didn’t show up again for what felt like another 15 minutes. This time she turns off the motor, then lifts open the door. I lean down to peek inside, wanting to see her face, see if this was gonna be another game. She’s grinning, motioning with her forefinger for me to step inside. Tryin to make it look sexy.

It was workin.

I get in the seat, strap myself in, then pull the door down.  I’m thinkin there isn’t a thing for me to say that isn’t gonna get me shot right out that side door again, so I keep my mouth shut. As for Vee, who knows what she’s thinkin? Probably waitin for me to give her an excuse. She’s lovin it, I can tell.

Finally, she says to me, “So did you learn a little lesson tonight, Mr. Vid?”

“Yeah. Next time I do the drivin.”

Still grinnin, she shakes her head, then reaches down to start the machine.

“You’re just never gonna change for me, are you? Always have to play like you’re so hard, hey?”

“If I wasn’t hard, I wouldn’t look this good after landing on my ass in the middle of the dregs after bein shot outta your transport at top speed. Cut it, Vee.”

“OK. I guess that’s enough fun for one night. So aren’t you gonna ask me what happened to our friends?”

“What happened to our friends.”

“C’mon, Vid. You can sound more interested than that.”

“Vee, I’ve been sittin in the dark for two hours with nothin better to do than compare how pissed off I was at you from one minute to the next. Just tell me what happened to those idiots, all right? Do we have to worry about them anymore or not?”

“You’re no fun, but that’s OK. I love you just the same. No, I don’t think we’ll be seeing them soon. They had a bit of an accident.”

“Accident?”

“Yeah. As in running into the side of a mountain. Go boom. I guess I kinda zigged when they were tryin to make me zag, and they got a little confused. I was pretty proud of myself, though. You should have seen it, Vid. I kinda thought you might have heard it. Made a lot of noise.”

“Noise doesn’t carry far in the Dregs. Atmosphere’s different.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. I remember reading that somewhere. Say, how long did you leave me out there, anyway?”

She looked at her watch.

“All told, looks like about 20 minutes.”

“The whole time? Even when you left the second time around?”

“Yep. That’s for everything, sweetie.”

Damn. That atmosphere was more different than I thought. I figured I probably ought to recalculate how mad I was at her.

“Oh, and I found the chicken shack.”

“You found…?”

“Yeah. It is up that little road that Mr. Cluck Deep was pointing to, and…”

“That’s Deep Cluck, doll, not Cluck Deep.”

“Whatever. Anyway, I took a peek inside, just to see what kind of place this is gonna be he wants us to wait for him in, right? You’re not gonna believe this.”

“Believe what, Vee?”

“OK, first though, he was right about all the chickens. I mean, there are just so many chickens at this place, and it got me wonderin…”

“Vee. The point, Vee. Where’s the point?”

“Johnny Beardy.”

“Johnny…wait a minute, you don’t mean…”

“YES! And he’s fuckin GORGEOUS!”

Geez.

Just then, we reached the turn-off road. Vee was goin too fast, but it didn’t stop her from swingin her transport around. She was gonna kill me. I didn’t know how, but she was workin on it, I could tell.

As it turned out, according to Vee’s tale – once I got her off of talkin about how good Johnny Beardy’s ass looked – ole Johnny boy really wasn’t dead. Instead, he was holed up inside this chicken shack, which really was a front for some other kinda operation. Somethin having to do with the suspected illegal mayonnaise operation, I’m pretty sure. Vee said she didn’t bother talkin to him, mostly because he was kinda preoccupied in a wrestling match with one of the chickens, which meant he woulda had a hard time answering any questions. She said the chicken had him in a headlock at the time, callin him all kinda ugly names.

“Then I remembered that I’d forgotten all about you, Vid. But he is just soooooo fiiiiiiiine. I mean, he even looks better alive than he did butt- naked out there in the street like we saw him that one time.”

“Gee. Imagine that. And even with an angry chicken tyin him up in a headlock. Now that’s somethin, Vee. Really is.

“By the way, exactly what kinda chickens are these, anyway?”

“Just wait until you see them, Vid. They’re the cutest things.”

“Cute…”

We reached the chicken shack in another couple minutes. Soon as we got out of the transport, I looked around scoping to find any sign of Deep Cluck. Suddenly I was wondering just how long Dr. Ugly expected us to wait for him. Nobody’d miss me for at least a month, but I knew if Vee missed showin up at the Daily Screamer for more than two days without callin to check in then somebody was gonna come lookin.

“C’mon, this way. See it? Right over there,” she said.

What I saw made the word `shack’ seem like a close relative of the word `great big palace’. It hadn’t even managed to reach the distinction of being termed a dump yet. It was just…there. Looked like somebody’d bought some building materials, tossed them all on that spot, then walked away. Somethin was wrong with this picture, and I was aimin to find out what it was. No way was a famous rock star who was used to folks givin him homes just to mention their name in some ear-splittin song suddenly feeling right at home in a trash heap gettin familiar with aggressive poultry.

“I don’t hear anything,” I whispered, wondering why I was whipering since we’d just pulled up out front in a souped-up pink transport.

“Me either.”

“So? Where are the wrestling chickens you was tellin me about? Gettin a beauty rest?”

“I dunno. But they gotta be here somewhere. I mean I was just out here a few minutes ago peepin through that window right over there. That’s where I saw Johnny in that headlock.”

“Yeah, well now it looks like Johnny’s gone and so is super chicken. See, that’s the …”

“Hear that?” she asked.

I nodded.

“It’s comin from inside of there somewhere. Or maybe…” I stomped the ground. “Down there.”

What we both heard was a series of soft thumps, like somethin heavy fallin down.

“I’ll go knock on the door,” said Vee.

“What for? You think maybe one of the chickens might answer? C’mon, use your head. The reason they ain’t in there where they were before is they heard us comin this time.”

“Well how come they didn’t hear me comin last time? I was drivin the same car, Vid. Maybe you’re the one needs to use his head.”

“Now ain’t the time for this, Vee. Listen, all I’m sayin is there’s gotta be a reason for this. Look around, all right? Ain’t like they decided to go check out one of the local clubs. Ain’t a damned thing out here but nothin. See, now the way I’ve got it figured…”

“Yo! Can I help you folks?”

The voice, which was comin from behind us, was familiar. I knew I didn’t have time to reach for my piece, so I just stood there quiet, hopin this voice had a conscience.

“All right. Suit yourselves, people. But I’m tellin you now I bet you’re Vid and you’re Vee? Don’t need to tell me if I’m right. I already know. Gotta love that Deep Cluck son of a bitch. But those CLOTHES.”

“How did…”

“HEY! What the fuck did I just say? Can you say LISTEN, man?”

“Sorry.”

“Dude. It was a joke. Lighten up. So are you folks gonna turn around, or do I, like, have to jump out in front?”

We turned around. Yep. It was him.

“You’re dead,” said Vee.

Johnny Beardy, standing there in front of us with his hands on his hips, long brown hair pulled back tight in a ponytail, cocked his head fulla hard angles and snickered. He was startin to grow one of those beard things.

He pointed his finger dead at Vee, then cranked his snicker up a few notches to a pretty damned loud laugh. I started to tell him to turn it down, but then had to ask myself why. Except that he was already startin to get on my nerves.

“Babe. Yeah, you, beautiful. Yo, I think YOU may need to ask yourself a question. Question: Does this man look dead to me? Quick. What’s your answer? Take a wild guess.”

“You’re dead,” she said again.

I glanced over at her, wondering if maybe her tongue got caught in a groove or something. And that’s when I figured it out. She was struck. I could tell by the way her gills were startin to flare that this Beardy character was revvin up her motor somethin fierce. I figured if Beardy knew what was good for him, he’d cool out the charm school routine just a touch. That is, unless he was the one human around who still hadn’t heard what happens when a female critter jumps some Earth-boy bones.

Judgin by the looks on their faces once it was all through, I’d have to guess it was a hell of a way to go. But damned near every case I’d ever seen wound up bein spare dust for the Dregs. Those few that didn’t weren’t exactly themselves ever again. Just stumbled around in V-5 with a crooked grin on their faces makin these funny groanin noises. Sad.

Beardy was lookin at me, square white teeth flashing out at me bright enough to light up a room.

“So Sherlock, you think I’m dead too? ”

“Just a guess, Mr. Beardy, but I’m thinkin maybe you’re knowin a little more about what’s got my friend here confused than you’re lettin on. I know you’re a big rock star back on the Big Rock and all, but try and not play us space bumpkins for dummies, all right? Remember, us critters were you folks’ idea in the first damned place. The Big Experiment and all that. I bet even rock stars know a little bit of history. What I’m sayin is we may be a different species from you, in a way, but we’re closer cousins than you know. See…”

“Dude. You’re borin me, all right? I just asked a simple question; Am I dead. HEY! End of question. So.”

This guy thinks he’s such a piece of work. I’m clockin him. Right now this is a promise I’m makin to myself. I gotta clock a guy like this just on general principal. Somehow it just feels like the right thing to do.

“Last time Vee and I saw you, yeah. You were dead. Butt-naked layin face-down in a mayonnaise sandwich. Then, next thing we know, somebody tosses some kinda smoke device, we hear some feet slappin around, then the next thing the smoke is all gone and so’s your body. And now here you are standin up straight, power wrestling the chickens, and actin like an asshole. It’s all a little disconcertin. That’s not too big a word for you, is it? Disconcertin?”

“Chickens,” said Vee.

“Huh?”

“Chickens,” she said again.

“Babe. I know what a chicken is, OK? So what’s your point? And stop drooling.”

Johnny Beardy had long brown hair, a jaw like chiseled granite, and was built tight and compact like a stretch of rope with muscles attached. As much as I hated to admit the facts, the facts were the kid was pretty much a show- stopper for the girl critters.

“What Vee’s tryin to say – I figure I better finish this for her since her mouth seems to be incapacitated at the moment …”

“Happens all the time, my friend. Just that vibe I put out, you know?”

“Wonderful. I’m sure you’re makin your folks proud. Now. Like I was sayin about Vee, she told me she saw you up here a little earlier, and she said there were a whole lotta chickens around. Said she saw you gettin yourself in a headlock with one of `em.”

I put my hand up to my ear, just to add a dramatic touch to what I was about to say.

“Hello? I’m not hearin any chickens.”

“Yo. Dude. You’re a natural comedian, and I love it. But why don’t you good folks step on inside. Not good standin around out here for too long. Especially with this light shinin by the door. Sooner or later, trust me, the wrong folks are gonna see it and, like, they’ll come a-runnin.”

“Chickens…” said Vee.

Beardy flashed her a dangerous grin. Dangerous for him.

“Inside, sweetheart. We can talk about the chickens inside.”

Beardy moved past us to open the door, and we both stepped inside.

“You know, I think maybe some of those wrong folks were followin us not long ago.”

For the first time all night, Beardy gave me an uncomfortable look. As in scared. He stood there holding the door open looking me dead in the eye.

“You gonna come in?” I asked.

“When did this happen?” he asked.

“Earlier tonight. When Vee and I were followin the illustrious Mr. Cluck out through the Dregs. One minute it looks like we’re all alone. Then, next thing you know, we see some lights comin from a distance. Cluck gets this look on his face. Kinda like the one you got on yours now. Tells us we gotta come here and wait for him to contact us. Then he splits, and we ain’t seen him since.”

“But what about…?”

“You gonna come inside, pretty boy? ”

He stepped inside, then folded his arms on his chest. There were huge white feathers scattered all around the inside of the shack, and claw scratches marked up the floor. There was a ripped up sofa and some chairs, but that was about it for the furniture. I saw a crooked doorway toward the back and wondered if they led to anything like a bedroom. I damned sure wasn’t gonna sleep on these feathers.

And the smell…

“Vee took care of `em,” I blurted out, realizing I’d taken a little long to respond. Guess the shack took me a little bit by surprise.

“Chickens,” said Vee.

“Right, right. Chickens. If you ain’t never seen this woman drive, you’ve been missin out. She ran `em right into a rock wall. Blew `em up. That’s my Vee.”

Beardy looked at Vee.

“Where?” he asked. “Where’d you blow `em up?”

“Chickens?” asked Vee.

`Enough with the chicken language, Vee. Talk normal. Answer the man. Then you can go back to droolin or whatever else you got in mind.”

She pointed off at an angle just to the left of the window in the shack.

“About three clicks past the turnoff we took to come here, hey?”

“And you know for sure they’re dead?”

“Well…yeah. I mean how’s anybody gonna walk away from somethin like that, Johnny? I can call you Johnny, right?”

“Fine. Now go on.”

“Not much else to go on to. I could see `em gainin on me through the rearview, so I gunned it for the rock wall up ahead. Makin like I was gonna take myself out. Last sec, just before I reached, I pulled a reverse maneuver my Daddy taught me once. They blew right by me. Then they blew up. I was right there, Johnny. I saw it happen.”

“Just like you saw me dead, right?”

I pulled off my hat and scratched my head a few times. Seemed like my head always itched in situations like this.

“You know, Johnny, I been meanin to ask you about that.”

“I’m sure you have, but now’s not the time. Folks, we may be in a little bit of trouble.”

Just then I could feel a rumblin under my feet. Kind of like what I was feeling outside just before Beardy popped up from behind.

“Chickens?” asked Vee.

Beardy grinned, then nodded.

“You got it, babe. The chickens. And I think it’s time you met.”

“We’re gonna meet some chickens? Did I hear you right?”

“Dude. These birds would fuckin kill the Colonel, all right?”

“Who’s the Colonel?”

“…oh. right. Forgot where I was for a sec. Never mind. Now follow me.”

He headed for that crooked door in the rear that I was hopin led to a decent bedroom. It didn’t. It led to some crooked stairs, which led to a cramped, crooked little room beneath the house. Actually, the room was probably bigger than the shack upstairs, but all these jail cell-lookin’ cages fulla critter-sized chickens made the room feel a lot tighter. A couple of `em were smokin smokies, and givin me and Vee the evil eye. Imagine that. Chickens givin critters the evil eye.

“Fellas!” Beardy yelled, raisin his arms up in the air like some kinda conquerin hero.

“Who’re the critters?” one of `em asked. He wore a patch over one eye. That was one chicken I wouldn’t wanna run into in a back alley. If the subject came up, I was tellin `em I’d sworn off fried chicken years ago.

“Some friends of Cluck’s. And mine. Listen, it looks like we may have ourselves a bit of a situation here…”

“Hot damn, Beardy. You mean we gotta move. Again?”

“Aw wow. This is cluckin ridiculous. See, you promised us last time…”

“Wait, wait, don’t go rufflin your feathers, girls. I didn’t say that. Yet. Look…”

“How the hell you chickens get so damned big?” I asked. I just couldn’t hold it in any longer.

“And, like, where’d you learn to talk?” asked Vee. “I mean, you talk real good and everything, but…hey?”

Just for sayin that, all beaks were focused on us. Nobody was sayin nothin. Beardy was lookin pissed as a room full of critters in dry weather.

“Your timing? It SUCKS, man.”

How were we supposed to know that chickens were the sensitive type?

“Might as well tell his dumb ass what’s up,” said one of the chickens. “We ain’t goin nowhere with him, or his little cutesie wootsie, until they know the errors of their ways.”

 

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About the author
kaoblues
Writer and musician.

1 Comments

Etta

2016-05-17 14:12:26 Reply

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