A dark story about murder, and also, complacency.
The first time I saw him for what he was, it was nighttime.
I was out for a smoke on the porch. Enjoying the summery breeze. Listening to the cicadas scream and the owls give the occasion protest. I was smoking, imbibing in my worst habit.
One of my worst, anyway.
When I was halfway through my smoke, he pulled up in his red pickup. Pulled up, parked, turned off his headlights. Got out with a fire under his ass, moving real quick, his movements clipped in a way that showed his focus. His extremely narrow intent.
He pulled something out of the back. Slammed the tailgate down, dragged something out, then slammed it back up.
And dragged it.
A burlap sack that was large. Quite large. Probably weighed a buck fifty or so. Maybe more. A sack that, as he dragged it up to his porch, was illuminated by his motion sensor light. A sack that, once in full view, looked as though it might stand at about five foot five. A sack that looked long as he dragged it. Lumpy. A sack that was not just the dingy brown of burlap.
But it was blotched with shades of red.
Red that ran out of the sack, up his porch.
Red that stained the ground with dark streaks of pooling liquid.
Red that was coming, most certainly, from whatever was within the sack.
I saw what he was then.
Saw him for what he truly was on that humid summer night.
At his front door, he paused. Turned sideways. Noticed me.
I nodded to him, nearly done with my smoke.
“Hot out tonight, ain’t it?” I asked him.
His face was… hollow then. Shut off. As if none of his skin were real. All of his bones were blades under the thin facade.
He nodded to me. “Too hot, I’d say.”
“Definitely,” I agreed. “I best be getting inside, much too hot out here for me. Not like anything interesting is going on anyway. Goodnight.”
I put my cigarette stub in the ash tray.
Locked my door.
And, that night, I shut my eyes. Went right to sleep. Because, even though I saw him for what he was, I figured:
Why poke the dragon? Continue reading “Dragon’s Fire”