One thing led to another and the boys finally got around to telling us what we were here for. Joel said they’d found something strange up on one of the dry beds out there.
“What the fuck you own about, Joel.” I wanted to sound pissed even if I wasn’t.
“Well, I was getting to it, if you’d let me finish,” he looked at me quizzically. “Oh, hell, let’s just show these boys. Don’t matter much now, they done spoiled the fun and all.”
So we proceeded to follow these pecker-heads into the flat boats. They did it the old way, too. No fancy trolling motors on these rigs. No. Just long poles to push and push and push. Sometimes when one is floating through the swamps things begin to pop up around you, things in the murk. Old things that seemed to have been there from the beginning, as if God had said on that last day before he rested: “I seem to be forgetting something. Ah, yes, evil crawly swamp things, mud creatures and slime monsters. I’ll just set them all down here. That’s good. Now multiply and grow and keep reminding these little mortal gods of their sinful nature.” Now of course such fables are full of holes, but I’ll tell you that ever since my Paps told me that story when I was a kid I keep looking round just in case. Only thing is I don’t mind such things as one finds in these muddy waters, it’s the things that crawl around in the cesspool of civilization that worry me. The one’s that walk on two feet are truly evil incarnate.
We must’ve pushed in and out of old cypress stumps and gully inlets for two hours or more when Joel said: “It’s up here boys.” Course, what the hell it was would soon be known.
We got out of the flats and slurped in some soft mud pulling them up with us. I knew I should have brought my sloshing boots with me. I looked at Caleb. He shrugged. Be dammed.
We followed Joel through the brush. He had a machete and beat back some of the overgrowth, clearing things as he moved ahead. Finally we came to a makeshift clearing in some scrub pines, thin as my legs. The we saw it.
Hanging from the trees was this cocoon like thing, all wrapped up in string and tape with wood dangling out of it, and ribbons flowing down all black and red. Strangest concoction I’d ever seen. Couldn’t make heads or tales of it till I noticed it had eyes, or should I say, “missing eyes”. Then it dawned on me, my dream. Was that a premonition of this? Dam. What was going on inside me, anyway? Maybe I’m finally going mad. I doubted that, but one could never be sure in these weird times.
I looked at Joel, saying, “Did you boys tell the local parish sheriff or wildlife about this yet?”
“Nah, knowing Caleb like we do, we figured there might be some kind of reward for such things. So we figured best to let him in on it and figure all that out for us.”
“Good thinking, Joel.” I wanted to smack Caleb up side the head now, but refrained. He’d been dealing with these swamper’s, Redbones, Cajuns, and all for years, feeding them a little money and stipend now and then just to keep them on a chain.
What was odd as I walked around this thing, this dead thing that had been a human at one time was not the way it had been wrapped or even the wrapping but the pose; it was somehow all too familiar, as if it had been set there in that pose specifically for me to see, as if it were trying to tell me something, a message. It was posed like that little piece of origami I had stuffed in my pocket now. I took it out and lifted it up examining it more closely, walking slowly around this human death in front of me. The stench was almost too much even for me, and I’d always prided myself how much of it I could take in like the odor of death was a poetry only an old detective could savor. But the truth was death is not an aesthetic substance to be savored, its a horror to be forgotten.
“Well this wasn’t some poaching affair, that’s for certain.” Caleb was always obvious.
I looked at him, shook my head. “I think this one’s too big for us, Caleb, best let the Baton Rouge boys have a run at this one. I suspect serial, and that means it’ll go State and Federal most likely.” He nodded.
All I hoped for now was to pick up the crumbs they’d leave behind till it lead me to that Big X I had in my mind’s map.
Caleb talked to the boys while I looked around the perimeter. Nothing here. Didn’t expect as much. Whoever this was worked alone, methodical, and was intelligent; and, most of all, had been raised in these parts somewhere close by. Made me begin to think. Who did I piss off? Then I began running all those old cases through my mind’s computer.
* * *
– Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.
Comments are welcome and needed. This is my getting wet in noir, a first stab at this genre, and all the insight I can gather (likes, dislikes, whether its too sentimental, gritty, etc.) will help out. Obviously as I’ve said before this is a fast storyline mode for the first run through. Just getting the ideas and story down day by day. I’ll come back on the 2nd draft and start filling in details of character and setting, but for now the story itself is driving things. So if you’d be so kind drop me a comment, tell me honestly what you think.
Read more: Flowers for Lobelia – Noir Novel in Progress