They zoomed in from above.
A cul-de-sac development posing as a neighborhood. Surrounded by nothing, producing nothing. Desert inconsistencies, layer cake sideshow of red, yellow, and a dusty blue sky. A row of houses that bordered on the pre-ordained. White siding, windows in perfect sync, lawns like decorative tongues, sprawling. Falling just short of sidewalks that never saw much use. Two stories apiece. Thatched rooftops that ended in double pyramids, pointing towards the occasional cloud. Didn’t matter if the backyard made a difference; blocked from view by a sidecar garage. Meant for two, maybe three if you didn’t mind parking in the driveway, and most never did. Just to make sure the neighbors could see what kind of luxury wheels were turning the tides.
Just the kind of moment or tiny twist in the wind that had Louis putting his in park.
Back home from work a little earlier than usual.
Stepping out. Pressing that remote, beep, chariot on lock, because you never knew.
Took his accustomed stride towards the entrance. Straightening his tie, tucking aviators into his breast pocket.
Interrupted by another beep.
Took a look around.
Down just anther house or so, he caught Robert doing the same.
Securing his ride after another day of another day.
Enough of a distraction to get Louis second-glancing. Eyes catching the mailbox, little red flag still raised. Wondering if the outgoing hadn’t made its way into the right satchel that day. Blades of grass cut across his black dress shoes as he lowered the flag, opened, and found himself confronted with
Taped to a pair of hedge clippers.
Curiosity hadn’t convened on which one to go for. Remembered he had two hands and compartmentalized his decision. Hedge clippers now hanging by his hip, he stared at the note. Stared, because reading wasn’t doing the trick. Like the seconds after a surprise party, T-boned at an intersection, this wasn’t part of the plan, a piece from another puzzle.
He looked down the road, and there was Robert.
Mimicking him, reflecting the same initiation, same note.
Only in his left, Robert held a foot long crescent wrench.
And Robert glanced over in his direction.
Their eyes locked.
Louis took one last look at the note, another instant to corral reality into a neat, little pen.
Louis, the note read. “Robert has been given an instrument and an order to kill you. Unless you kill him first. He will kill you. He has to. He knows, otherwise, you will kill him. One of you will die today. You have been told. You have been warned. You have been given the chance to act.
He looked up in time to watch reality crashing down around him, fair warning, along with a side screen shot of Robert swinging the crescent wrench, triggering a gut reaction that sent him dipping, feeling the bash of his left shoulder screaming, falling back and taking the sharp metal of his mailbox against his back. Hardly had time to thank the note, before he caught sight of Robert recovering, coming back at him.
Louis wasn’t ready to commit. He stumbled back, into the street, waving his right arm, hedge clippers extended outward like a crucifix. Useless. They were almost knocked out of his hand as Robert advanced, checkered button up soaked with endorphin sweat, swinging the wrench, each arc of the silver rainbow accompanied with a huff, huff, huff.
Flecks of white sullied his neighbor’s lips as the wrench collided with Louis’s shears, an industrial clunk echoing through his body that rang like a bell, alarm clock, up and at ‘em, time to rise and realize.
Time to Kill.
The Arizona sun beat down on them as Louis took hold of both handles, two sides of the oversized scissors and swept his way west. The tip sliced its way across Robert’s stomach, exposed for the moment thanks to arms raised high, ready to bring blunt force onto Louis’s skull, and a small smile of red made note, added first blood to the record, and with the sight of this wound, what Louis had managed to create, a door opened.
And now, the sun was smiling, as houses watched, surrounding the cement swimming pool of their lives as Louis got his arm good and dislocated while shoving the spear tip into Robert’s thigh, so the sound of bones saying goodbye was accompanied by a femoral gush across both their faces, onto the concrete, where it sizzled, bubbled, reduced itself to a low boil as Robert swung low with a scream, crushed the starboard side of an unprepared ribcage, and Louis removed the shears with an inhaled shriek, pulled on the handles, finally figuring out these things could slice, and sent those razor jaws wide just long enough to bring them together in a kiss that sent his neighbor’s guts, late lunch tumbling from his body as Robert’s own weapon of someone else’s choice came crashing down the left side of his opponent’s skull, dragging half Louis’s face off, and when the neighbors finally came out from their white fashioned doors, into the streets, they would find Robert smashing his neighbor’s head into a pulpy mess while Louis dug through his poker buddy’s body, searching for his heart, looking to clamp, shut that shit down, because both of them still thought there was a chance either one of them could still win.
Misty woke up with a start, and I was already living in this conscious universe, so I had the chance to wrap my arms around her, ask what was wrong. Ask about her nightmare.
She told me, face a sweaty combination of enormous eyes and floppy dirty blond.
Then made me promise never to tell anyone about it, because she was certain as the whitewashed portrait of dawn against the low ceilings, that there were other mailboxes elsewhere, being fed, and that her vision was only the first of many.
I made my pledge, sealed it with a breakfast of a blueberries and a single nectarine.
…and this broken promise is now secret 43.
or for fucking free in digital
so long and thanks for all the pish.