Monday, January 1, 2018

Moonlight Sonata, With Scissors by Darrell Z. Grizzle



Moonlight Sonata, With Scissors

I was jolted awake by what sounded like a gunshot in my front yard.

I lay in bed for a few seconds, wondering if I’d heard an actual noise or if it was part of a dream I couldn’t remember. I can’t always tell when I’m awake or dreaming, especially in those liminal moments before I’m fully awake. I looked beside me and saw my black cat, Wolfbane, sound asleep and snoring beside me like a small panther. Maybe the gunshot noise had just been a dream.
    
But then came the banging of a fist on my front door. “Zed! Wake up! Zed!” I recognized the voice. Shit. That would be Corey, a former – associate, I guess would be the word. I knew him from a couple of years back, when I’d gotten involved in some business with some shady characters and then, thankfully, got uninvolved. Corey was not someone I’d choose to associate with socially. Especially not at 3 o’clock in the middle of the night.
    
I got out of bed and pulled on some khaki shorts. Wolfbane stirred and stared at me indignantly for waking her up. “Sorry,” I said. She glared at me like she wasn’t accepting my apology.
    
I went to the front door and flung it open. “Was that a damn gunshot I heard?”
    
Corey started to answer but stopped and stepped backwards abruptly. I guess this was the first time he’d ever seen me without a shirt on. Yeah, I lift. And yeah, I got those tattoos in prison. Most of them, at least.
    
“N-no,” he stammered. “That was just the car backfiring. But I’m in a bad jam, Zed. I really need your help.”
    
“What is it?” I demanded, hoping he had taken note that I hadn’t invited him inside.
    
“I’ve got a—” He lowered his voice. “Well, I’ve got a dead body in the trunk of my car.”
    
A dead body. In the middle of the night. Great. “Anyone I know?”
    
“No. It was – a job. It was supposed to be a collection job, just scare the guy, you know, but he must’ve had a heart attack or something.”
    
“And you had the bright idea to bring his dead body to my house?”
    
“I didn’t know where else to go, Zed. Honest. And I thought with you living out in the woods like this, with nobody around—” 
    
“There are people who live on the other side of those woods, Corey. And your car backfire probably woke them up like it did me.”
    
“I’m sorry about that, Zed, really I am. But please. I didn’t know what to do. I still don’t know what to do!”
    
“Did you call whoever hired you and tell him what happened?”
    
“No. I didn’t want to wake—” He stopped and grimaced when he realized what my response would be to that.
    
I said it anyway. “No, of course not. Me you can wake up in the middle of the fucking night, but the gangster wannabe who hired you for the collection job? No, let’s not bother his beauty sleep at all.” I sighed heavily. 
    
“Listen,” said Corey, “I freaked. I didn’t know where to go. You know I’m still on parole. I can’t get caught with a dead body.”
    
“Something you probably should have considered before you took the job. Let me put on some shoes and I’ll come take a look.” I closed the door, leaving him outside in the moonlight.
    
The moon was full so I didn’t need a flashlight to walk past the kudzu to my driveway where his car was parked. It was a big old Buick LeSabre, about twenty years old and nearly rusted out. Big and bulky, with a trunk large enough for the cargo he was carrying. “OK, pop the trunk and let’s see what you got.”
    
What he had was the body of a man about fifty years old. His legs were folded behind him awkwardly, jammed into the trunk, and his arms were at a weird angle to the body. I wondered if rigor mortis had set in. There was a strange look of surprise and bewilderment on the man’s face. A face that looked familiar. “Holy shit,” I said. “Do you know who this is?”
    
“I know his name, that’s all. Charles Gandy. I don’t know anything else about him, except he owed some bookies fifteen grand.”
    
I turned and stared at Corey. “This guy was my parole officer. He helped me get my first legit job when I got out of the pen.” I’d been off parole for five years but Officer Gandy still looked the same as he did back then.
    
“You mean I – you mean he’s—”
    
“Law enforcement. Yes, you have a dead peace officer in the trunk of your car.”
    
Corey started breathing heavy and mumbling “Oh shit oh shit oh shit” to himself.  I started to go through Officer Gandy’s pockets but realized I should put on some gloves before doing so. 
    
“Wait here while I go get my gloves.”
    
“Gloves!” he exclaimed. “I shoulda worn gloves when I carried him out to my trunk! My prints are prob’ly all over him!”
    
By the time I got back, my camo hunting gloves on both hands, Corey was almost in a state of panic. I ignored him for the moment and went through the dead man’s pockets. “Yep, here’s his badge,” I said, holding it up. Corey looked like he was about to faint.
    
I noticed some sort of netting was wrapped around the back of Officer Gandy’s clothes. “What’s all this?” I asked.
    
Corey collected himself enough to answer, “That’s some mosquito netting for when I go camping. It was in the trunk when I put in – the body.”
    
“It’s starting to get tangled up in his clothes,” I said. “Do you have a knife or something so I can cut it off?”
    
“I think I might have something. Here.” He pulled a pair of scissors out of the front pocket of his pants. I took the scissors and started to cut the netting but suddenly I stopped and looked at the scissors in my hand.
    
“Wait a minute. Where did you get these?”
    
“From my pocket just now.”
    
“But why are you carrying a pair of scissors in your pocket? That doesn’t make sense.”
    
“I just – I don’t know.” He looked dumbfounded.
    
“Do you remember putting those scissors in your pocket?”
    
“No,” he said. “I have no idea how they got in my pocket. I just – somehow I knew they were there. What’s the big deal?”
    
I stepped away from the body in the trunk. “I think I know what’s happening,” I said. “I think this is all a bad dream.”
    
He looked at me like I was crazy. “What?”
    
“A dream,” I said, calmly. “This is a nightmare. We can control it. We can even choose to wake up and end it. Do you know about lucid dreaming?”
    
“Lucid what? No! I have no idea what you’re talking about. All I know is I have a dead parole officer in my trunk and I’m in a buttload of trouble.”
    
I closed my eyes and concentrated. For a few seconds we were both silent and all I could hear were the crickets in the forest surrounding my house. I opened my eyes and said, “No. No you don’t. You don’t have a body in your trunk.”
    
“What!” He pointed to the trunk. “Have you lost your fucking mind? I know there’s—” He stopped when he saw that the trunk was empty except for the mosquito netting and an old camping tent crammed into the corner.
    
Now he really did look panicked. “Where did he go? What happened to the body?” His eyes were wide and wild-looking.
    
“Lucid dreaming. I chose to make him go away. Just like I’m about to choose to make you go away, and then I’m going to choose to wake up.” I held the scissors in my hand like a weapon and started advancing toward him. I could see the confusion in his eyes as it was quickly replaced by terror. He was terrified – of me.
    
He started backing away from me. “Listen, Zed, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have bothered you with this. I’ll get out of here, honest I will. Just tell me where the body went and I’ll take it somewhere else.”
    
“How can you do that when you’re not even here?” I swiped the scissors at his face but before they made contact, he vanished into thin air. And so did his car, and so did the scissors in my hand.
    
I stood alone in the middle of the moonlit driveway. I closed my eyes tightly and concentrated on one thing: waking up. Next thing I knew, I was back in my bed, with my cat Wolfbane snuggled up beside me, gently snoring or maybe purring in her sleep, or both. I hoped she was having a better dream than the one I’d had.

#

The next morning I wrote down what I remembered of the dream in the notebook I kept by the bed. I could remember it so vividly, it felt like it had actually happened. I started to wonder if it had. But that was crazy, of course, especially the way the dead body, and Corey, and Corey’s car had all vanished into thin air in the dream. 
    
But I found myself going online and looking up Charles Gandy. I found his Facebook page and saw where he had posted, just that morning, a rambling complaint about traffic on his way to the parole office. So he was still alive and well, and still a parole officer, and apparently doing OK except for a bothersome morning commute to work.
    
I clicked over to Corey’s Facebook page and saw where he had posted a photo of himself, trying to look cool as leaned against his “vintage” Buick LeSabre. I had probably seen that pic and that’s why the car had shown up in my dream. I started to send him a message, asking him how he was doing, but I decided against it. It was time to let the strange dream go.

#

Two nights later I was jolted awake from a sound sleep by what sounded like a gunshot in my front yard.
    
Not again, I thought. I lay in bed for a few seconds, and sure enough, there came the knocking at my front door. “Zed! Wake up! Zed!”
    
I got out of bed and pulled on some khaki shorts – and this time I put on my shoes before answering the door. There it was, the same indignant glare from Wolfbane, and when I opened the front door, there was Corey, startled at the unexpected sight of my pec muscles and tattoos, then stammering about the dead body in his trunk.
    
He probably wondered about the bored expression on my face when I followed him out to his car and said, “OK, pop the trunk and let’s see what you got.”
    
Yep, there was Officer Gandy, the same strange look of surprise and bewilderment on his face, the same tangle of mosquito netting on back of his clothes. I found myself feeling amused at Corey’s growing sense of desperation as I told him this was the body of my former parole officer. I interrupted his nervous stammering and said, “Hand me the scissors in your pocket.”
    
“Hand you the—? What are you talking about, Zed? I don’t have any scissors in my pocket.”
    
“Yes, you do. Take a look.”
    
He patted both front pockets with his hand and looked surprised as hell to find the pair of scissors. He handed the scissors to me and asked, “How did you—? Where the hell did those come from? What the fuck is going on?”
    
“What’s going on is, this is all a bad dream. I’m going to choose to wake up. I’m going to choose to make you – and this body in your trunk – go away.” I held the scissors in my hand like a weapon and started advancing toward him. There it was again, the confusion in his eyes, quickly replaced by terror.
    
He started backing away from me. “Listen, Zed, I’m sorry. I’ll get out of here, honest I will.”
    
“Yes, of course you will,” I said. I swiped the scissors at his face but this time he didn’t vanish. “What the—?” I stabbed at him again and he stood there in shock as I stabbed him yet again. It slowly began to dawn on me: this wasn’t a dream this time. I backed away and saw that I had cut up Corey’s face and part of his neck with the scissors and he was bleeding profusely. He was on his knees now, shaking and pleading with me, “Please, Zed, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” His face was sliced to ribbons and blood was soaking into his shirt. One of his eyes was gashed in and I watched in horror as the life went out of the other eye and his body slumped down to the ground.
    
This can’t be happening, I thought, as I felt the sense of panic begin to overtake me. This is a dream, I told myself. I wrote all this down in my dream journal. This isn’t real. I need to wake up!
    
But there I was, a pair of bloody scissors in my hand, alone in the moonlight, staring at Corey’s dead body on the ground. I stabbed the scissors into my thigh and sure enough, I could feel them. They were real. The pain radiated through my leg like an electric shock as the crickets continued their night chorus. This wasn’t a dream this time.
    
This time I was stone cold awake, and this time I had two fucking corpses to deal with.

-End-

Bio Darrell Z. Grizzle is a former parole officer who now works as a counselor in private practice. He writes horror and crime fiction in shadow-haunted Marietta, Georgia, where he lives with two cats and way too many books. His fiction publications include “The Bag in the Corner” (Shotgun Honey, May 2016), “The Last Confession” (Near to the Knuckle, February 2017), “The Lazaretto Ghost” (Mad Scientist Journal, Summer 2017) and “Under the Blood” (Skelos: The Journal of Weird Fiction and Dark Fantasy, Number 4).  You can find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dzgrizzle and on Twitter and Instagram as @existentialbear.
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