Dan Horlicks came out to the humidity in the middle of the night, waiting for the paper to arrive on the front door. The guy that brings the papers goes by the name of Vernon Durst that is fifteen years his senior, living in an old Streamliner and driving a Chevy Citation that is more than thirty years old with one of the brake light dimmers busted out from a rogue rock some time back. Dan Waited as he noticed that his right shoe is undone, knowing that his shoelace length is supposed to be 36 inches when the factory shoelace broke from the many tensions of tying it. He replaced it with a 56 inch that he got from another shoe as it slightly matched the color of his original shoe lace color as the night only contained the images of pace that only dwelled in the mind of someone witnessing it, relishing it, foreseeing the darkness that blends it all in shades that cannot be noticed in dark corners.
Dan is a god-fearing boy, a boy with grace as he shines his smiles upon everyone as he went to church every Sunday and prayed over the Psalms that he learned every Wednesday after the basketball conferences that is held in many school gyms around the tri-state area. Dan only stayed up on this night for this much is that it is Friday and he likes to get the papers out before the light of Saturday morning comes over the eastern horizon when the night gets colder than what it was an hour ago.
He stayed in his spot on the porch, tending to look over at his neighbors lot that is on the opposite side of the street where the flowers bloom in the wooden box that is chest high that hung on a lantern hook that he bought in a dollar store somewhere. The only light that is on over in his house is the porch light that burns all night as he kept the door closed but not locked.
There are no worries here. We are in the light of the lord.
Dan flushed his hands into his pockets, beginning to whistle a tune that stretch across the quiet night with the fireflies out circling about, making shapes in Dan’s field of vision as they angled and danced, angled and danced with no movement being the same. Mere incidences happen in the night as Dan could only hear the sound of his breathing, coming in and going out as he heard the sound of a car in the distance that drove slow, hoping not to wake the neighbors when Dan waited for Vernon Durst and the square headlights that come into his vision for the papers to be released so Dan can breathe a sigh of relief as moments before the sun came up. He checked the air in his bike tires and the pads on his brakes so they are not worn down to the point that they almost fall off.
The sun, he didn’t realize that the sun will be the last time he will ever see the sun in his life as he took that instance for granted, not knowing the future of our lives in ten years or in ten days as Dan only took the thought of doing this job so he can get some sleep and then a couple of hours in on his online video game that is all the rage on an international scale. He didn’t know that He will come, the traveler from the past with the uniform and the gold watch that is tucked into his breast pocket. The shoelaces are a little different in the shade of color when everything is coated in black in the night where there is no moon among the atmosphere. It is the beginning of the month and the month is the newfound glow of change as Dan Horlicks became lost within the loving warmth of his mind, thinking of the Bible stories that are rolling along in his head, meeting with his long time fling by the name of Sue Quinn that lives with her little old grandmother at the end of Charlotte Lane. Sue Quinn is a good woman, hoping to go to college so she can indulge herself in the basis of writing so she can hope someday she can be a well-known novelist. Dan didn’t mind and either did the future of what it holds. He too has seen too little of it but know too much to talk about it to anyone else. Sue Quinn on the other hand goes way back when they first met in the afterhours of catholic school when Dan is met on the sidewalk when two girls came upon him while reading The Boy That Came Back from Heaven. Dan’s nose is stuck in the book when the girl met him with growing discourse about them with both of their hair styles a little disheveled.
“Help our friend, please?” The girl who is later named Carrie Lacy expelled her distress as Dan dropped the book from his prolonged vision that doubled before it singled again.
“She is being cornered by a couple of boys that goes to public school. They look like they are going to start some trouble.”
I knew who the public school boys are. Dan inclined to roll his hands into fists.
They are the three boys that liked to jimmy up against the brick walls and waited for the shadows to come upon the sidewalks that is intended to height for the prey that is casually walking their way, waiting for the prey to make a mistake when the prey turns their heads, knowing it is too late when they feel the steamroller roll over their hearts when the fear binds over their eyes to the evils that rumbled through the darkness to see what weak people they are to fork over something that is no longer theirs’; the three boys against the sight of the lord, the three cretins of the fiery depths of hell itself that picks on the meek again.
“O-Okay,” Dan stumbled with his heart molding sludge in his chest, being afraid against the evils that are not casted past the bay of safety.
When they arrived at the fencing corner on one lonely street with the sun shining in the sky, he met the three cretins with his back to him as Dan felt like his fingers are going to break from his sockets. The drowning of sweat poured over his forehead as he tried to be the David amongst the pool of Goliaths that are towering in front of him, pushing around a little girl with her books cresting against her breasts like a life-line.
“Her figure sure is fine.” One of the boys - whom is the credulous idiot of the bunch giddied like a sufferable idiot as he retracted his elbows to push his weight against the thin-stripped woman with her eyes bugged out with her mind possibly running a thousand miles an hour. Her lips are twitching, her breath is getting close to hyperventilating, and her mind is suffering. The idiot boy pushed him against the masochistic boy, who in turn shifted his weight to the boy that is the ring leader of the band by the name of Weston Vunne with a father that is never around and a mother that likes to shoot up the cotton swab of death in the filter that is always found in the middle of the kitchen table.
Weston grabbed her and tended to do something that made even Dan render shock through his circulatory system when his hand moved down towards the center of her chest, moving on down until it found Dan’s voice as Sue Quinn uttered a disgusting plea of help that sounded like a dying rabbit that is caught in the jaws of a coyote.
“Hey!” Dan roared as Weston dropped his hand to his side, turning his head to the voice that never spoke up to him before.
“Why don’t you do that to me, you slime.”
Weston Vunne continued to look at him with a dead expression while the masochistic boy nudged the idiot boy that brightened up to the instance of connecting two-and-two in his memory. Weston Vunne. What a peace for that boy to even to be breathing right now. Weston continued to stare at him before he started laughing, helping himself by grasping the girl on the arm that would take the world for him to let go.
“Hey, what’s the matter slim? Did you run into your momma and sucked on her tit, you a big boy now?” Weston mocked him as the idiot jumped on the balls of his feet like a five-year-old, looking like a mild retarded patient that is locked away in a sanitarium with no family to take care of him.
“Are you going to let her go?” Dan dimmed his eyes down to the point that they no longer register as Weston cocked his head a little, acting like he is thinking in deep thought before he turned his head to him and says:
“Nah, I think you better run on home before we cart you on your way to the hospital.” Weston scoffed when he turned his attention to Sue that is crying harder, looking into that despicable face that is smiling in rage as she tries to back away, and moving her arm to break his grip.
“Please…don’t!” She cried in despair.
“No, thank you today; maybe I should buy you dinner first.” Weston snarled in delight when the light flashed before the pain as Weston flung back against the fence as he placed his hand upon his cheek like it caught him to phase in light for a split second in confusion.
“What the hell?” Weston moved his cheek against his complexion, forgetting Sue Quinn as she ran out of the hell’s circle with her skirt jumping to the pumping of her legs. She let go of her cries as she continued to run past her friends towards home, almost dropping her books on the sidewalk as she ran and ran.
A good sign, Dan sighed in his mind.
“Okay, you faggot. You asked for it.” Weston flinched his mild muscles as the idiot boy grabbed him by the nape of his hair and hitched him up a little.
“What do we do with him, Wes? What do we do with the little homo here?” He giggled like a boy near the frayed ends of sanity as he pulled harder; feeling like his hair is leaving his body in almost an ounce of pulling that make his hair almost a dream where he has his hand at.
“I know what we do with him; a car ride is first to impress if he has the guts to see where he is going to go that is. But hey, if you don’t have the guts then don’t piss in the trunk or I’ll get a straw and make you suck it up.” Weston came forward and grabbed Dan by the navel of his shirt. Where he went to, Dan knew as the light continues to burn in the sky before it is snuffed out by the deck lid that closed him in that metal coffin.
The engine started and the green flag is set in the mindset of his thinking as he rocked and rolled in the trunk, almost busting his teeth out on the rim of the donut when the ride took forever as Dan knew he was in a pickle for a very long time now.
For the time that he lost, he could never calculate as the car finally stopped as the only objects that kept him for company is the white lights of the brakes that burned on over the plastic cowling before the lights ceased and the car died. Dan is curled in a position in the trunk of the car, waiting for the next thing to happen when the doors open upon the car with a couple of scraps happening on each side of the car, followed by the scuffing of feet impacting on the ground with pebbles making popping sounds with the feet coming to the base of the deck lid.
For what Dan knew where they were going by the shifting gravitational pull of the car, he knew the place when the car stopped as he thought of the place being Stanton Grove, the place where all dreams of childhood are explored and all dreams of nightmares that are born in the Grove of stories that Dan does not want to repeat from word-to-mouth. He waited for the light to come through the cracks as Dan Horlicks caught the glimpse of a spider making a web in the frame of the car. Where the spider came from, he didn’t know when the deck lid opened, revealing the face of Weston Vunne and his other two cronies that is standing around in an odd half-circle, touching the deck lid like the edge of the table waiting for dinner scraps upon a long and important meal.
“I hope I didn’t rattle your brain out of your pan,” Weston shifted the weight upon his feet with his eyes looking rather cold.
“You seem quite delicate. I should have placed a strap back here to hold on but what the hell, bruises do have a stretch to heal.” Weston smiled in eerie praise as the masochistic one by the name of Noah Walker brought a comb out of his back pocket, tending the cowlick on the top of his head.
“So what are the results on the little pipsqueak?” Noah cleared his nose with the awful sound sucking in his nostrils.
“Are we going to tool him over?”
“Yeah, let’s do it!” The idiot boy by the name of Shade Brinkley nodded his head like it was going to fall off his pivot. His father beats the crap out of Shade a lot for reasons of him being around him. Daddy likes to take the drink to the point that it almost makes him happy to beat his idiot boy for the rest of his life. He felt crazy happy and violent when he his drunk.
“Let’s give him a pressure cooker of an ache!”
“Nah that would be too easy; say, let’s tie him up against the wood and have the birds knock his noggin for a while.”
Dan couldn’t say anything as he heard the sound of the bird call’s outside the trunk of the car and the circling of clouds that are shifting with the wind in the blue sky above. He remembered the girls getting to safety and that is not half bad. It would be better for someone to get away from these cretins and that made Dan feel a little better.
Weston dropped into the trunk and pulled Dan Horlicks out of the coolness of it, dropping him onto the deck as Dan made a hoof from his mouth as he swore he could feel the bone on his upper leg cry out the pain-stake chorus. He looked at the clearing of Stanton Grove as the tree line held nothing but empty beer cans, dried up condoms, and little piece of paper that have weathered from the rains that made the point of pens wiped clean from the paper that is nothing but sludge, nothing but passing notices that cannot be rewound again from who was here before.
“Hey, he looked like he peed himself Weston.” Noah Walker knelt down, tisking his tongue as he touched his knees with his hands.
“What a shame for this to be.”
“Well, he does have needs to be punished so punished he shall.” Weston grabbed him as he noticed that the air around him feels a little stale, like the musty smell of an attic before the knot string is pulled so the ladder can appear from the ceiling. It is the smell where the living is warned and where there are notices that should not be entered without a strong stomach to see what is to be concluded on the other side of those trees. The sounds of the wilderness frittered to the frequency of his hearing, becoming disorienting when he dropped his hands upon his ears, hoping for the pain to go away as Shade looked at him with his smile turning into a form of desperate calculation that is proven to the question that he is about to ask.
“What is the matter, Wes? You didn’t take your migraine pill today?”
Wes doubled over behind the back of the car as his eyes clenched closed, trying to focus on where this blaring whine is coming from when everything bleached into white as his eyes surmised to it, becoming consciously aware of the events that conspired in his senses that are dulled and controlled, weighted and sceptered into a void that he dared utter not go in the depths of his own mind.
“Where are my keys?” Weston spoke in a dull tone, like he was in a trance when Shade wondered if he can touch him. The last time he did that was the time he landed on his back as Noah watched all of it, knowing that it was a mistake to do that in the first place when Noah backed up a little, feeling the same sensation of what Weston is going through in his mind now. Then Shade went through the same pause in general.
What in the name of god is going on? Dan dusted off the ground, meeting his knees like the angels lifting him up from the depths of hell that he was about to subdue as Weston looked like a guy who is slapped by his own mother.
“My keys,” He said dumbfounded, swaying a little as Noah looked at him like he just found out the question of life from sleep that he awoke just minutes ago.
“Hey, what is that over there?” Shade spoke like a guy who gained 30 IQ points when he plugged his index finger towards the clearing of the woods, sounding like he is in a trance, all three of them as Weston mumbled something in his mouth.
Dan got up upon his knees, trying to figure out why this is happening with his eyes trying to rectify it all with his mind not afraid anymore, just confused with the conspiring events that are happening now as Dan felt invited to the scenes that are playing out in front of him. Dan was not tied when he sees the scenes that are happening as Weston stumbled towards the driver’s side of his car and dropped in. Noah and Shade looked like walking robots when they straddled into the clearing, looking like their minds are shot with the impression of all free-willed matters that ceases to exist. They walked in unison as Dan watched this, hearing his breathing becoming sensual to the majestic tide that is moving with his eyes to the two bodies that are bumbling in the clearing, moving over the thistle brush and crabgrass as they continued through the tree line of the woods, never looking back as he didn’t realize that Weston started the car and put it in drive, leading the car away from Dan as it straddled the ruts that are on the ground of Stanton Grove.
What happened next is only with himself when the car revved up in speed that is gaining, gaining, gaining towards the tree line of the woods as the transmission sends it to the base of the trees as the car’s hood edge changed shape as it rammed into the trees, turning the bottom of the trees into splinters. What happened next is only possible if you believed in what may come. Weston’s face went through the windshield as his own permanent skin turned into bloody rags, riding through the air as the top of his head met the tree as his spinal column snapped like sugar cane that bend until it broke.
“Holy God,” that is all Dan could say as he came from the deck and watched all of this, unable to do what is necessary when through the clearing, Noah and Shade returned to the car with no expression but the expression of cold callousness, like walking zombies with the intent to do the unspeakable of what is next.
Before Dan left he saw what they were doing with the glass as he ran away, not knowing that he can run that fast when Noah and Shade grabbed the shards of glass from the hood of the car and commenced to swallow them with their faces never changing to the agonizing pain that is unbearable to believe.
Dan ran from Stanton Grove, jogging to the point that is shoes are about to fly off when he met Crock Street and ran down it, not looking at the faces that clocked his earnest movements of getting away from the horror that is going on in Stanton Grove with his mind trying to piece it all together again, only to be cut by the shards that are digging in his skin. He left Crock Street and veered right as the pain in his lungs started to take hold, making him quiver in his stride as he almost felt like he is about to drop on the cracked sidewalk as he started the water works. He doubled over as he stopped when he placed his hands upon his mouth, stifling back his tears when somewhere the clouds formed past the sun, turning a day into a tint of shadow as Dan looked up to something striking that is playing out in front of him now.
What he saw is a guy in the uniform of a convenience strikingly similar to that of an airliner pilot with a gold watch tucked into his breast pocket. The aviator sunglasses is riding on the bride of his nose as he overlooked Dan like he is looking at something else in the horizon past Dan that is majestic within the odd figure’s own grace. He looked like a pilot that blew from the 60’s as he clicked his heels together and then purged his watch from his breast pocket, looking at it through his glasses as the pilot smiled before putting the watch back into his pocket.
“Right on time,” He spoke in a deep, dark voice with a horrible smile cresting upon his lips.
“Did you enjoy the show?” The pilot continued not to look at him as Dan turned his head, wondering what he is looking at.
“Your time will come and I’ll be happy that you will be free.” The pilot did not hesitate when he clicked his heels together as his face changed, like it was melting into another face like tender butter melting on a hot corn cob from the boiling water pan.
“You will see what I see.” The face changed into a vision that is resembled to the unrelieved to the crushing blow of his sanity by one look. The face changed into a being that is raged by one look when Dan shrieked back like a blow coming to him.
“You will become what I become.” His voice changed into a tone that is unreal, like a corpse that came from the dead to greet him welcome.
“You will inherit what I destroy.”
Then the day got darker as Dan shrieked when the first time he was six years old, he peed his pants for the first time since then.
This time was a time long ago when he got back on the fling of Sue Quinn. He wanted to ask her if she has a boyfriend – or she is interested in the sight of girls for the reason of that maybe, thereof. Dan started through the night with no cops coming to question him about that day when they ruled it out as some odd cult that the three little monsters shared when one of the cops that arrived on scene wound up eating his gun eleven days later in his little apartment housing in another town that Dan rarely went to.
The scene could not be exemplified by actual happenings that go on in cities all over the world. The scene is something eerie, like death that came to the party to claim some pride and joy that could only be refined with the scum on the bottom of some shit-kicker boots in a landfill foundry.
Dan still waited for Vernon Durst as he wondered how he saw what he saw as he remembered the name that is on the pilot’s chest when he tried not to remember that name when he thought about Greek mythology in the name of Charon…Charon. He is the one to bring souls from the living to the dead as Dan tried to think why? Was it a dream or the happenings of reality upon a dream? The three did die in that circumstance but is it really true that it was the cause of some myth that streamed into the modern realm for wince all was not found on any scroll in modern fiction or non-fiction titles?
Dan couldn’t idolize the reasons anymore as the Chevy Citation pulled into the distance of Dan’s vision when he felt the papers that he had to mail feel heavier when he remembered that day. It’s like putting the weight upon his shoulders when he prayed for the ones that had died on that day. They didn’t mean it and either did he? God, he didn’t pray for it.
For that querulous event that happen in his life, he did not venture back into Stanton Grove ever again as time passed into winter, into spring, into summer, and repeating again and again. Time passed as Dan continued to pray as he became not a newspaper delivery kid but a pilot, a pilot of planes and a pilot of his own fate as well in the future that comes.