The Man Who Said Nothing: A Pulp Crime short story serial by Steven Krage

The Man Who Said Nothing: A Pulp Crime short story serial by Steven Krage

Sam entered the room, his breath smelling of cheap scotch and even cheaper women. His head was spinning, a veritable carnival of the senses. His mouth, dry and chapped, struggled to form saliva.

Falling down on the bed, he was rudely greeted by a rather sharp object. As he pulled it out it took all of his strength to focus on the object. When was able to focus, alas, he had wished he'd died in the car on his way home on the way home from the tavern.

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The bartender gruffly slid another cheap scotch in front of him. The elder man's brow raised when the downtrodden, soggy man ordered his fourth libation of the evening. In all his years of bartending, almost thirty-seven, he had never seen this particular look of melancholy on a human face. It reminded him of that damn basset hound his ex-wife had, the one that always used to escape under the fence and have to be escorted back home by the police at fifty bucks a pop.

As the bartender furtively looked at him, the thoughts going through Sam's head promised him that this night would be like any other. His eyes were starting to lose focus now, a light haze creating a cloud in his sight line. But, as he scanned the room, he noticed a figure that seemed at once mysterious and terrifying.

Standing in the doorframe was a figure of about six-and-a-half feet, a trench coat covering every inch of his body and an odd three-cornered hat obscuring his head. The only visible parts of his body were his eyes, which were solid red, and his hands, which were long, gangly and more reminiscent of the claws of a bear than a human hand. The figure stood without showing emotion or any movement whatsoever.

Sam looked at the freak and chuckled to himself. This creep looked more like Nosferatu than a guy who'd come to a crummy joint like this on a Tuesday night. When he was younger, Sam's Mother told him that any man who drank on a weeknight was weak-willed and a dumbass. Well look at me now Ma, he thought, it looks like you left a dumbass to rot.

The figure slowly started to advance into the soiled sanctuary of the filthy tavern, his steps calculated and mannered. The figure looked more like he was about to do a courtly dance than sit in one of the shit-stained booths lining the wall of the small establishment. Sam turned back towards the bartender, chuckling under his breath. "Who invited The Count?" Sam said in-between gulps of his now perished scotch. "He comes in here every Tuesday and never buys anything," the bartender said, "and I wanted to call the cops on him but I'm afraid he'd shoot up my clientele."

Sam turned again to see where Mr. Mysterious went and, when he turned gently on his stool, he saw the man staring directly at him. The look in his eyes made Sam want to run, but he knew that would be utter folly. The man may look like a freak, Sam thought, but I bet the sucker can sprint like a cheetah.

After another scotch, and another after that (and another after that) Sam took his leave from the establishment and walked down the sidewalk and through the small park next to the tavern, trying to remember where he parked his old jalopy. The hair stood up on the back of Sam's neck, an odd sensation as the July night air was as humid as his grandmother's trailer. He remembered those nights after his foster parents were killed when he was shoved off to lived with a woman who was not his grandmother but insisted all her little inmates to call her as such. The smell of Vicks and Camels permeated the walls of the small coven, choking him to sleep every night until he was eighteen when he finally had the sense to run away from all he knew.

Turning his head, he was greeted by a pair of red eyes and all at once he knew that his life was going to end. Happily the scotch had destroyed his inhibitions and fear, so he sprinted to his car, fumbling in his pocket in vain for his keys. He decided to check on the progress of Mr. Personality and, turning his head slightly, he saw the man standing where he was before, not having moved an inch, his arms pointing to the heavens. Sam knew it was time to go, shoving his key into the lock and peeling out down the deserted street.

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In the dark of his apartment, Sam didn't see the object he sat on but immediately deduced that it wasn't his cat, thank God. Feeling it, he noticed in was encased in a paper bag, the kind the pimply teenager at the supermarket shoves your cold cuts and beer into. He looked around the darkened room, his heart pumping with adrenaline from the mad chase to his sanctuary. Who the hell was the guy and why the hell did he follow me, Sam thought in vain. The only man to be feared in his world, he thought, was the man who said nothing.

Forcing himself up, he grasped at the light switch, which greeted him with total darkness. I've got to learn to pay the electric bill, Sam sighed in frustration. Banging his knee into the bureau, he opened the drawer and pulled out a flashlight. After tonight, he just wanted to unveil this mystery and pass out.

The beam of light hit the bag and he used his hand to rip it open swiftly and decisively. What he saw made him drop his flashlight and stumble to the bathroom, dropping to his knees and realizing he would soon be sick.

And, you may ask, what was the item in the bag that caused our hero such grief?

It was "Grandma's" rotting, severed head.

To Be Continued...

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(Thank you all for reading! If you like this story, which is quite a departure from anything I've ever seen on this site, please comment, share with your friends and family and talk it up! I love writing fiction and it would mean the world to me if you all like it! So hit that Facebook share button, post to Twitter and tell me what ya think!)

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