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The Night I Died | part two | Everett Stillwell | fiction | Lollipop

The Night I Died

by Everett Stillwell
illustrations by Eric Johnson

BANG BANG BANG, Chapter Two

Now I gotta go. Gotta run. Cops coming. Cops coming after me. Everyone coming after me. Gotta go.

Steal a car and drive north. Park it in a Von's parking lot. Steal another car. Moving up Glenoaks Boulevard... Such a beautiful day, Jack. Everyone so chill.

I'm not blind. I'm not scared. I'm not running in circles. I'm in motion. I'm a silent alarm clock vibrating on the vinyl seat.

Head up into Sylmar where there's this state mental hospital. Totally corrupt. Totally evil bullshit out-of-control that I read about in the paper. Totally the best place for a man to check himself in after bad shit spraying out in all directions. Just chill.

Park the car in an industrial lot. Walk to the place. Get all hot and sweaty and street crazy. Bright sun. Dry like death. Eyes moving around everywhere, but it's just the Mexicans up here, Jack. They ain't fucking with shit. They're dirty and clean. Got quiet work to do.

Front gate painted happy-boy orange. Bang my head against it for effect. Gate opens. Two large orderlies. Inside smells like rotting bananas and aged bleach.

Bang my head a lot and yell and try to act demure. Say, "Abba dabba dabba" all the time, hitting a rhythm, sliding to the groove. Totally get hooked up as Jon Doe number four-sixty-five.

Jon Doe number four-sixty-five into pajamas and into the TV room, all dirty white tiles with these dudes with glass eyes and bad haircuts. Sit back against the magazine rack and chill. Try to chill... Wanna wanna wanna...

No cops gonna look for me here. Safe under ill-rotting state mental health bureaucracy. Feel chill 'cause I've done this before, Jack. I know the score.

Look at the other dudes bumping into the walls and take a breath. Slow the shit right down. Wait, wait... turn the corner at thirty-five. Think about the project... Gotta slow it all down. Shit, got too much again. Did things I swore I was trying hard not to do... The project. Fucked with the project. Air conditioning moves the grease in the brain over to the land of the project, the goal. Loneliness, Jack. How am I gonna find the other? How am I gonna find the soul-mate, Jack? Gotta stop being lonely... Lonely's a hole burning through my guts and shaving the flesh off my head. How'm I gonna cope and look for special someone who'll make me all agonizingly tender when the cops and everyone else is looking for my ass again? Shit...

Look up and this lady's standing in the doorway. Boom, this lady hits me, just seeing her, just getting clobbered by looking... Like she's fluorescent and I'm thinking, shit, did they juice me with the meds already when I wasn't looking?

Lord, what a vision... Short brown hair. Blah blah blah. Blah blah blah. Lord. And eyes like slivers of broken glass jamming into me.

And then she looks at me and comes over.

...Eyes eyes eyes...

"You're Jon Doe four-sixty-five?"

"Abba dabba dabba..." I say, all shocked and nervy and feeling the blood start to move south.

Follow her out and down the long hallway, staring at her hard little ass banging back and forth in that tight skirt. Trying to get the brain to unfreeze. Antifreeze the fucker. Thinking about the other and here she is. The feeling. This feeling. So new and always wanted. Don't think. Don't drink. Don't trip. Don't flip. Ride it, Jack. Ride it...

Into a small office and she shuts the door. Sits down behind a desk and motions for me to take a chair in front.

Puts her hands on the blotter. Crosses her fingers. Her nipples are hard through her tight blouse. Everything's all vibrato tingles... Her eyes are arrows, silently rushing through the air.

I'm inside my brain, holding my breath. I'm like, keep it together, Jack, remember, just keep it together...

"I'm gonna spare you the bullshit," she says.

"Abba dabba dabba..."

"Shut up, don't talk. Time is everything and there's none of it. There's none." Clears her throat. "I know who you are. You're not Jon Doe four-sixty-five, you're Everett Stillwell.

"You're not normal. You've only been alive seven years and you hit the ground running.

"You're a triplet.

"The way it works is that there is a good triplet who can only do good actions and who can lie, a bad triplet who can only do bad actions and who can't lie, and a triplet who knows everything – the big picture – and can't do anything.

"You're the bad triplet, honey.

"I'm the same way... I'm not normal either. I also have two triplets. And I'm the bad triplet.

"The reason I know all this is that I was found by my all knowing triplet sister who was trying to kill me, and I got the information out of her before I killed her.

"This is the information, what the all-knowing triplet told me. Who knows where we come from, who put us here, all that... The dope is that we have the power to do crazy, great things if we get together, and I mean, get together...

"This is how it works...

"If you and I were to fuck right now – right here – we would become Gods or something...

"If my good triplet sister and your good triplet brother were to fuck, then everything would become one and everything would end.

"If my good triplet sister and you or your good triplet brother and me were to fuck, then we'd all just disappear. I guess it's like we'd cancel each other out. Got it?

"That's why I've been looking for you. Crossing and recrossing the country and paying detectives lots of money trying to find you.

"Feel a little paranoid? Like people are after you? Your memories probably aren't so good, but I'm sure you feel like people are after you and that's because they are. Your brothers and other sisters are trying to find you and kill you so you and I won't end up fucking and becoming Gods, which they think is bad. Fuck them, right? I've been paying detectives to follow their detectives but I haven't been able to find them... Or my good triplet who I also know is looking for you. It's all very slippery... I caught onto your idea of putting yourself in mental hospitals to hide out about two years ago and have been paying off the right people since... That's how I found out you were here, which is great because this is where I've been living. It's like fate. I hope you like fate because that's exactly what this is like...

"So much money spent, but whatever... Apparently, you're the only triplet who doesn't know the big picture yet. Did you know the big picture yet?"

"No."

"Right. And if you really are the bad triplet, you can't lie."

She licks her lips.

"Now you've got the skinny and I know you wanna fuck me..."

...And I do, I do. The flood gates are open, Jack. The flood gates are open and the salmon are flopping madly. I've got a fuckin' hard-on like you wouldn't believe. The flood gates are open wide. No more trying to hold back. Release, Jack. Everything's on release now. Fuck trying to maintain a level of operant goodness. Fuck everything. Wild and shit and soul-popping, head-vibrating teeth-chattering holy mother of God...

There's a sound outside and she jerks her head toward the door, but it passes. Man, she's so tense and I just noticed...

"And I wanna fuck you right now – God, do I wanna fuck you – I've been waiting so long. It's been the focus for so long, but first, I gotta know you're really the bad triplet... You can do that, right? You're acting all crazy and I know the bad triplet likes to commit himself after he's done bad things. But... But, but, but... Maybe you're the good triplet lying and trying to trick me. Maybe... I need to see you do some bad things. Just something bad, and then we can fuck like animals and become Gods. C'mon, lemme see something..."

Everything she's saying is true. So true it's fire, and I'm almost gonna explode, like blue ice shattering... "I'll show you. I'll show you, Jack. I've been holding it inside, trying to control it, but now I see I was just waiting, just waiting Jack..." I'm screaming.

"Do it..."

"Oh, you bet I'll do it. Try this out... you're the Goddess, oh my God, you're the Goddess I've been waiting for. You're the project and holy shit, no little deed will suffice, baby. Jack, I'm gonna kill everyone in Sylmar. Everyone. Tonight."

"You..."

"Hush, sweet pea. It'll be simple. It'll be fast. I have it all figured out. Snap snap snap, Jack. Just now. In the blink of an eye, I'm not even kidding. Stop off at an Albertson's and get a fuckload of bleach and ammonia. Hit the police station and kill them all. Pop pop pop. Bang bang bang. Pick up guns and ammo as I go. Then totally fucking kill everyone at the fire station. Grab a fire truck and load it up with the ammonia and bleach and spray the town and hose everyone down before they know what fucking hit them..."

"But..."

"Sure, Jack, sure, it'll take a little fancy footwork. Some cabaret moves, perhaps, but..." I stand up, flushed with it all, feeling my hard-on flopping around in my PJs, "You'll see. You'll see I'm the one..."

"I think you're going a little overboard, baby..."

"Gimme your number!!! Some way I can fucking reach you after you've seen it all on the news!!!" And she hesitates and then quickly pulls out a card and hands it to me and I stuff it in the breast pocket of my PJs.

"Okay, hot stuff." And she's giving me this pissed/desperate/resigned look and that's fitting perfectly in the groove, in the groove, in the fucking gorgeous groove, and it's all together, it's all perfect and no one can stop me... Superman, I'll kick your fuckin' faggot ass back down the block, just watch me...

Opening the door and running out into the hallway where there's this orderly already running toward me...

Crouch, then jump up and hit him real hard in the throat, grabbing his keys, my brain already at the exit, where there's another orderly, but he's too slow...

I'm down the stairs and past a puddle of stale brown piss and out the door and in the back parking lot and there's four thick guys who're sweating like they just got there and one of them raises a shotgun and I'm like, holy shit, these guys don't look like cops... I just go for it, running real fast at the shotgun guy and then jumping high at the last second with shotgun shells exploding all around me, but I faked him out and I'm on top of him, hitting him really hard five times in the face and neck.

Grab the shotgun and do a twist and pound two or three rounds, hitting one of the other guys, I think, and then run like a bastard.

Police sirens blaring from some obtuse direction. Running across the boulevard. Behind an abando

ned Jack In The Box. Across a vacant lot. Dead grass and popsicle sticks.

Thinking, well, shit, Jack, the cops got here awfully goddamn fast and those other dudes didn't look or act like cops, acted more like the monsters from my nightmares, always after me if I'm not lying low...

Did that woman set me up? Could it be? Oh Lord could it be?

If I'm going to do anymore moving, I've got to get the lay of the land. Got to get a police scanner or something.

Turn the corner and there's a Winchell's Donut shop. There's a motor bike cop hurrying for his bike.

Turns to see me as I'm running. I pound a round, snap and crack which knocks him back into the gloom and destroys the top of the bike.

Well, fuck, there goes the scanner plan.

And, of course, now I've gotta dust the place. Hurrying through the front door and popping the kid behind the counter and the older trucker-looking bastard sitting in the corner. Dipping in back and beating to death this older Asian woman who's covered with donut guts and powdered sugar. Using the butt of the shotgun.

Take a breath and lick my lips, thinking, Huh... how'd I get here? Gotta retrace the goddamn chain here.

Stepping into the front of the shop and seeing myself in the greasy glass, all barefoot and in the state PJs.

How'd I get here? Shit, motherfucker, think.

A black Lexus screeches to a halt out front, and I'm hurrying outside, pumping another round and my dream woman comes out all frantic and pissed. Shaking her head.

Different clothes. Short brown hair. Eyes like volcanoes at night. Got a gun in her hand pointed at me.

"I just got here. I just fucking got here. I was at my studio, Avalon Studios. I don't know what you know but I'm sure you've been in contact with the good triplet. I'm not the good one. I work in the porn industry. I've got my own studio. Back at the hospital, right? There's no time. We gotta fuck right now. Make it fast. Come quick. Right now." Pointing that gun at me.

And suddenly I'm in repose. I'm frowning, Jack.

"You're saying YOU'RE the bad whatever-the-fuck? What about all those fucking guys back there trying to blow me away? Fuck."

She shakes her head. "I don't know those guys. C'mon, it'll be fun. Let's just fuck right here. C'mon baby..."

Pulls up her skirt and her crotch is wet and dripping and I'm like, oh yeah, but I'm also like, hey now, kid... hey now, Jack... Things are just, things are just...

"I don't know what the fuck's going on but, but I think you need to do something for me, Jack. You need to do something bad. I just, I don't know. Know what I'm fucking saying?"

Like whatever, I'm just trying to ride now. The groove has gotten all bumpy.

She gives me this heavy duty fucking look. Points the gun and shoots the dead cop on the ground by his bike.

"I don't know, baby... He's already dead and shit."

She looks around. "Well, what the fuck? What am I supposed to do? Listen, just get in the car and we'll work this out."

But it feels too good. Too easy. I'm horny, I'm so fucking horny, but this is all just a little too weird. Where are the fucking cameras, Jack, you know what I'm saying? And that's not good, right? Thinking like this. But if it's not good, it's bad, and that's good, right?

I'm shaking my head. Everything's going double.

And then a cop car swerves around the corner and a helicopter cruises overhead and I turn, I turn, I turn. I turn and jam what I think might be the last round in the pump. I'm fucking dealing, Jack. I'm fucking dealing. Abba dabba. Abba dabba dabba...

THE DREAM BODY, Chapter Two

Five days in Bear Springs, Arkansas was generally an eternity, especially in February, even if you had a satellite dish. However, the next five days for Dolores went by in a rush and a flutter that was unlike anything her sixteen years had ever known. It was light, then it was dark. She was at work, staring at the beer cooler on the other side of the store, then she was at home in the bathroom staring at herself in the mirror. She was everywhere at all times, mentally trying on all of her underwear in different combinations, going over all the cruel and disgusting positions she so hoped for in such a desperate, miserable way. She was thinking maybe she shouldn't masturbate, shouldn't exhaust herself, so she stayed away from her vibrator and her brother's speed. She smoked more and ground her teeth and late into the hole of night, scrunched into a ball of sweat at the bottom of her bed, listening to the devils ride the wind outside, chasing all the good and dreaming Christians. The whole time wondering what it would be like to actually come.

Five days rushed and fluttered and were no more. Dolores found herself at work with a dry throat and no appetite, with shaky hands that constantly fucked it all up on the register.

After work, she walked on stiff legs through the cold, windy nothing, ignoring the big trucks that zoomed passed, all four miles to the Super 8 motel.

She stood looking at it for a few minutes. Suddenly, it occurred to her that he hadn't said when he was coming. It occurred to her standing there on the frozen grit and asphalt, amongst the dead Big Gulp straws and beer cans and Hershey Bar wrappers which garnished the highway, that she'd just assumed it would be in the evening, just something that would happen after work. She hadn't even assumed, she'd just... What if he'd been there earlier, gotten bored and left? What if he'd looked for her and come into the 7-11 and seen her and not been impressed and split back to L.A.? What if he'd been lying. Of course, he had to be a liar. She was. She'd lied about her name. What if he was a liar and nothing was different?

She made it to the Super 8 with her toes and fingers tingling. What if he wasn't going to arrive until much later? Could she wait in the lobby? What if the person at the desk knew her mother? Most people in town just ignored her, but what if? What if?

All of these thoughts rushed sudden and large at her and she didn't know what to do with them, so she forced herself to the side of the motel, found room sixteen, stared at the door, and then looked around. The sun was dipping over the edge of the ugly freeze. The light was deep yellow, it was frantic and lazy.

Dolores licked her frozen, dry lips and shuffled about on the concrete walkway. She knocked on the door, her knuckles turning sharp red.

There was no response.

The light was molding into a whisky tint. A streetlight twinkled on and everything was suddenly very thick and heavy and somehow dreamy and much colder than before. Dolores checked the number on the door again, touched it with the tip of her index finger, going down the stem of the six and whipping around the loop at the bottom.

She stood very still, her mind involuntarily bloated with whips and leather and yucky shadows and sharp nails and creamy white skin and holy crosses like vibrators and ropes yanking arms and legs wide, yanking everything apart...

She knocked on the door again. Then again, with more force, watching the skin on the knuckle of her middle finger crack and split bloodlessly.

Still, no response.

Dolores sighed and allowed herself to face thoughts of her house and supper and maybe then TV and definitely then the meth and her vibrator. And so on. She sighed. And. So. On.

She turned around, her shoulders slumping forward, the joints groaning in the cold, looking at the ground a few feet in front of her shoes as she walked into the parking lot.

...when a car turned on its lights...

I'm a little girl, she thought. I'm a little fucking girl and that's it. I should go home and play with my dolls and bake biscuits for mamma when she gets off second shift. I'm just a little girl and I should stay in my room.

When the car turned on its brights, everything became luminous and sharp. Dolores looked up and as she did the car turned its brights off, allowing her to see that it was parked on the other side of the lot. The lone driver motioned with a hand for her to come over.

Dolores took half a quick breath and hurried across the lot, almost slipping twice on patches of black ice.

It was a white Ford Focus.

The person inside popped the passenger door open as she approached, and Dolores slide inside – into the clean, vinyl car smell and suffocating dry heat.

The man in the driver's seat looked like he was in his forties with strawberry blond hair cut short and parted down the middle on top and then cut short over his ears and then snaking down to his neck in back. He had glasses, the kind that George W. Bush's father wore, that some of her mother's boyfriends and a lot of their friends wore, which rested on a puffy nose and stood over faded little boy blue eyes. He had buck teeth with a little gap between the two top front. His clothes were like something out of the TV soaps, but the colors weren't as bright. Dolores could tell that he was short.

He turned to her, grinning, his faded eyes twinkling.

"Hey, how you doing?" he said, his voice husky and goofy.

"Uh, hi..."

His grin deepened. "Amber, right?"

She nodded.

"That's what I thought. I'm Rick – of course, right? I probably sound different... People tell me I sound different on the phone, God knows why."

"Huh."

She was aware he was minutely yet anxiously looking her up and down in the bad light.

"Yeah, so I'm sorry I made you stand outside and bang on the door, but see, I'm not a paranoid guy or anything, but shoot, the risk of getting stung by the FBI or what not, well, that would like, really blow, you know what I'm saying?"

Dolores was thinking, FBI? Thinking, handcuffs and billy clubs covered with K-Y jelly dripping through fingers. She took a deep breath feeling something incredibly large inside open, feeling it open wider and wider. Was she falling into it? Was she falling out of it?

Rick rubbed his hands together excitedly. "Hey, how about we motor somewhere and like get... a cup a coffee, or pie. I'll bet you like pie, am I right?"

Dolores looked across the parking lot at the motel.

"But, but I thought we were gonna get a room?"

Rick was already nodding. "Sure, sure we are. I just wanna talk to you a little first."

"Can't we talk in the room?"

Rick did this thing where he smiled and winced at the same time, looking down and somewhere else.

"Ye-ees, yes we could, but I'd rather play it in stages. Wouldn't you rather it was like this? Like, gradual? Why rush it, right? Know what I mean? I'm sure there's a place around here you can recommend for us to like have a cup a coffee in..." He gestured toward the motel which was now a dark silhouette, gestured to the dead frozen fields surrounding and the occasional roads cutting through, dogged with telephone polls.

Dolores stared. She had an urge to pinch him, to feel his gut through his button down shirt.

"I don't wanna go where people will recognize me. I don't wanna get coffee."

"Fair... Totally fair. I can totally understand that. How about just a cup somewhere... uh somewhere like... Hey, I got it... There was this little greasy spoon type of place out by the airport. Out by that route..."

"Route one-twenty-eight."

"Right, yeah... And you could show me how to get there and everything, which I'd need to know anyhow, seeing as I have to go there and catch my plane."

He glanced nervously at his watch, touching the little button that made the face turn sea green.

"Yeah," and then he laughed, putting the car in gear.

You can take me there, Dolores thought. You can take me there because I don't want to go there. So there.

They were silent as they drove out to the airport. Dolores looked at the turned off radio, then looked out the windows at the flat blackness that rushed around them, then peeked at Rick, who seemed to keep his eyes on the road, looking like he was thinking, but not about anything too complicated.

The place was called Kathy's and served breakfast and veal parmesan and had a salad bar with baked beans in a black pot at the end.

They sat at a table in the corner. From where they were sitting, Dolores had a view of the only other customer; an old man sitting at the counter sipping coffee and staring at nothing.

Rick made a big show of taking off his glasses and wiping them down, then got up and went to the bathroom. When he came back, there was a green booger sticking out of his left nostril. Dolores stared at it and didn't say anything.

The waitress came over and gave them coffee without asking, then put menus in front of them.

"Get whatever you want, totally on me," Rick said, opening his menu and staring hard at the one page inside. The booger fell out of his nose and onto his menu. "Huh," he said, and flicked it away.

There was something sticky and dark on the side of Dolores' menu that she guessed was probably once jelly.

"I'll have two more cups of coffee," she said to the waitress.

"Three, no kidding? You're making me look like I'm in the slow lane, lemme tell you. I'll have a cup of coffee and a slice of whatever pie you got."

"We don't got pie."

"No kidding? Huh... I'll have a slice of whatever you got that's like desert. Ice cream or chocolate milk, or whatever... You get the idea, right?"

He turned his attention to her, and waited until the waitress had shuffled off. "So yeah, like I said, I just wanted to talk to you a little before we get down to the wild and crazy stuff." Nodding as he had some coffee.

Dolores emptied the sugar container on their table and reached over and grabbed the one from the next table.

"Wow," Rick said. "So, yeah, anyway, five days ago when I spoke to you on the phone... Well, I've listened to a lot of people on... that number, on other numbers, through other venues, and I've heard a lot of things... Lord knows I've heard a lot of things... But there was something in your tone, call it tone – I'm not sure what else to call it – something about how you were talking that made me stand up... And that's why I'm out here... And that's why we're here now, 'cause, like, I wanted... It was important for me to see if whatever was there on the phone was something that was still gonna be there when I met you in person."

Dolores was finishing her first cup. Her hands were shaking and still red.

"So let's go get that room. Or we could even do it in a bathroom. Here."

Rick stared at her. The waitress came back with more coffee and a cheese Danish which he gave half a look to her and said, "Fine."

When the waitress was gone again, Rick said, "Patience, alright?"

Dolores was overwhelmed with the urge to throw the rest of her coffee in his face and then beat his skull in with one of the ceramic cups. "But you do wanna fuck me in the bathroom? I mean, I really want to get fucked, what's it called? Doggy-style, like leaned over the toilet..."

Rick chewed a piece of Danish. He swallowed, and distractedly checked his watch. "Bathroom, yeah... You wanna go to Vegas?"

Vegas? What the fuck are you talking about? Vegas? Vegas is the last place I wanna go. You can take me to Vegas, you can take me precisely because I don't want to, especially if I say no.

Her throat thick and swollen. She forced a swallow and said, "Vegas? Uh, yeah. I guess so."

to be continued...  


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