Continued from Marblecake
The door to the house is neatly crossed corner to corner with yellow police tape, those five words “Police Line – Do Not Cross” explaining in no uncertain terms “this is where civilization failed”. The door is closed and locked, and the puddle of antifreeze out front is the only clue to what happened. Breaking into a crime scene isn’t a new thing for me, but I don’t like it. Besides the fact that if I get caught Ben may actually shoot me next time he sees me, a crime scene at the home of a guy I’m looking for is rarely good news. It means the guy I’m looking for is in jail, on the run from the cops, or in the morgue. All three of these things make it hard for me to get back to drinking beers in the park.
I decide against going in the front door. It’s too open, somebody is bound to see me, and I’m not particularly good at jimmying locks, so it’s gonna take some time. A sliding door around back, maybe. I listen quietly at the fence for the telltale sounds of a dog. Either Ricky wasn’t a canine lover, or there’s a perfectly trained attack dog waiting to jack me as soon as I get into the yard. I give a glance around, make sure nobody is looking, and vault the short fence into the back yard.
Somebody was a little housekeeper out here. The plants look neat as a pin, all the flowers in neat rows, the trees trimmed, the grass is green and thick as carpet. The fence is narrow pickets painted white, immaculate. The fully-made bed that’s under the tree in the corner is even immaculate looking, except for the few leaves that have fallen down onto the comforter.
Why can’t shit ever be normal?
Nobody with a dog has ever had a yard this nice looking. Nobody who was not batshit insane has ever had a bed on the ground under their tree. Thankfully the police tape PROBABLY means I’m not gonna walk in on a methed out drug mule scraping off his skin and trying to find some fingernail scissors to go trim the yard again, but I pull out my little pistol just in case.
I quietly, carefully step toward the door, the pistol held low. I’m staring through the sliding door, trying to figure out how hard it’s going to be to get inside. No bar in the door. I look over to see if there’s an alarm or anything. I don’t see anything. I don’t see any cameras, there’s no bars on the windows. This isn’t like any distribution hub I’ve ever seen, so apparently Ricky really lives here. I turn an eye back toward that crazy ass bed, in the yard, and imagine the black-and-white man in the pictures coming at me with a soldering iron and a beard of foamed spittle. I steel myself against it, and grab the door handle, to see how hard the lock is going to be to break.
As the door unexpectedly slides, effortlessly back, the hairs rise on the back of my neck. We’re there now, this is disturbing a crime scene. Even with Ben doing everything he can, if I get caught here, I’m going away for a while. No more beers in the park. No more breakfast for dinner. Adrenaline dumps and every nerve is on fire. I step forward onto the carpet, and before I can even get my body into the door, three sharp clacks sound off. I drop to the ground, pointing the gun right, left, right, and trying to figure out what I missed. What have I missed?
No noise. No voices. Nothing. The house is still. A warm, fetid smell roils out of the house, and I start to gag on the smell, backing out quickly to the patio, I kick something with my heel.
I sigh, and reach down to retrieve the tin magazine which fell from my pistol, and shove it hard and fast back up into the gun, smacking it with the butt of my hand angrily. I really should buy a good gun someday.
I breathe the now sweet-seeming air of the back yard, and turn back toward the screen door. I set my jaw, brace myself, and walk into the hot wet smell of something which has suffered long in the misery of decomposition.