The Skinvite by Richard Bell
When you get to my age and the snow is starting to clip the edge of your chin whiskers, the morning pee is a slow crawl through traffic at rush hour! Coffee is a great ‘de furring’ device for a coated tongue and breaks up the white deposits at the side of the mouth from a Chinese meal the night before. And to add insult to injury, I had sex with another sad drunk from that bar and I think she’s robbed me? The coffee is good though and the day is spitting shards of a warm sun through the drapes, tickling my feet with the kisses of fireflies. There’s a thud at the door and the post is crammed through the letterbox like a fat guy gorging at an ‘all you can eat’ buffet and I curse the postal service and all their ham-fisted delivery monkeys. Ok…junk…junk…porn junk…charity junk…pizza…chicken…missing people…a bill and a brown bubble wrap envelope with no address… Right!
Open the brown envelope and it’s quite heavy.
Shit in my mouth and punch me in the gut!
My wallet and this plastic bag filled with…
Good lord…this is human skin with a tattoo! I know this tattoo…it’s my ex-girlfriend’s back tattoo and this paper has co-ordinates on it and…of course…’no police, no surveillance, no security or the rest of her will arrive daily by FedEx!’
My car is two short flights of stairs away and I punch the co-ordinates into the sat nav with the panache of a boxer trying to set the microwave with his gloves still on.
The highway today is a litany of truck processions being woven in and out of by impatient SUV’s and bikes. All of industry seems to be mobilised on my route and the sat nav has no free will to get me past all of this via a sneaky detour.
Finally, I’m off the road and my snake-skin cowboy boots are heavy with the two hunting knives tucked in the sides. If this freak wants to play, then I’m game. My ex-girlfriend was the love of my life and we broke up when I hit the skids in my career and our life became the song ‘Up the junction’ by the band, Squeeze. But she left before we were stupid enough to make a life. Her tattoo of the butterfly, with our initials wound into the wings, is beautiful and horrifying all at the same time.
What pain is she going through?
What went through her head when she was taken?
Are they treating her wound?
Why do they want me to come and get her?
The woman in the bar, that I can hardly remember, took my wallet and it was returned with the skin and note. She must be one of them? It can’t be money because all my cash is still inside and my cards have no recent activity.
What’s up with this picture?
Finally, I pull off the road and onto the Great Pines mountain road as the smoky black clouds smother the sun, highlighting my sinister journey to the unknown.
The snaking mountain road is so gorgeous set against the humdrum and unappreciative voice of the Nav and, as I round a sharp bend, her dulcet tones announce the destination to be 100 yards ahead.
Pulling into a clearing, I see the ramshackle log cabin. It is overgrown with animal hide and assorted skulls nailed around the roof and over the door. There are no vehicles and the whole scene looks like I’m visiting Marsha Quist’s place in The Howling.
Ha! A werewolf. Now that would be a great song ‘A Lycan stole my ex-girlfriend’s tattoo’! Got hit written ALL over it. I’m sarcastic even with myself and my own worst critic which is why I’m in my dry spell and my piano had a layer of dust over the keys a half-foot thick.
I get out and take a greedy lungful of this rich mountain air infused with pine and horse shit.
“Hello!” I call “I believe I have something of yours and you have a former something of mine?” I shout sarcastically.
The door swings open on its own and I can see the place is in candlelight inside.
Ok, I’m going in but I need a nip of red stag from my hip flask that I won in a card game with members of the band Danger Danger on tour. Mmm…delicious. Lets do this.
“Leave the knives outside, curly sue!” A voice cuts though the clean air and jars my senses. It’s Em, my ex but why is she giving the orders?
I walk into the main room and see another part, a finger on the couch with a note ‘upstairs, bright boy!’ How the hell did they know I had knives and to quote The Howling?
“Ok, you got me, the Amazing Randi. What do you want?”
“Upstairs!” seethes her voice in an almost mechanical tone.
I climb the stairs two at a time and stop still.
Her head is hung over the door at the end of the hall and her voice growls from inside the room “You found me then, Mr Ivories, come and see!”
I walk slowly past a door that suddenly flies open to reveal her arms and legs in a pile on the floor.
This is carnage and I’m unarmed and with no alibi. This could get rough but life on the road with no roadies and arseholes for club owners has made me a tough SOB and I’m ready for this fight now. I loved Em and she’s been butchered like a pig for sick kicks. Time to meet iron jaw, butchers!
I kick open the door like the spirit of Chuck Norris is coursing through my veins and inside is a table and two chairs and at the table, a young boy. He’s eating a raw heart which must be Em’s and over his back is a cape he made from the flesh from her back. He has scrawled a big bloody ‘S’ on his white tee and, with a big bloody smile, he invites me to sit.
I throw up a little then a lot and stagger to the chair, holding onto the table for balance as I struggle to stay conscious.
“Why have you done this to Em and who are you? Where are your parents? Wh…”
“Shh…let me finish my heart and liver. A boy needs his nourishment If he’s to run with the pack! Your ex-girlfriend was a shape shifter and the mother shape shifters sacrifice themselves for their children when they are old enough to hunt. Em brought me here to her families cabin to finish the ritual. But I also have to eat my dad too which is where you come in. I’m your son, Jake and I’m sorry to have to tell you this but you’re a meal for a werewolf now and…oh yes…thanks for giving me life, Dad.”
My vision is hazy but the boy changed in a blink and I don’t remember much else after that. I just heard his howl as he cut me open to get to my heart.
Damn, would have been a great song too!
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