© 2011 by David L Nelson, All Rights Reserved
It’s raining. There is a lot of movement in the other room. They are finally taking the Christmas tree down. I enter the bedroom and see the Christmas tree falling towards me from the corner directly opposite where I stand. It misses my feet. Suzie and Lina tell me to be more careful. Against the far wall is seated my boss on a folding chair. The card table in front of her has a semi-circle row of dominoes on it and a pile of books in the center.
“Mr F.” she says, “have you read Carlos Davis Smith’s Regt und Rent?”
“No I haven’t, not yet,” say I.
“This is your homework then, read it by Monday and hug your boss.” I lean forward to hug her, but she cringes, crossing her arms over her chest and recoils. I stop short. “And move this bed and that night stand away from the fireplace.” I turn the bed and night stand she has mentioned.
“What a stupid place for a bed,” I think to myself. Lina comes and helps me. “Move this bed towards that wall.” I say. We leave just enough room to stand on the side of the bed. I am leaned over the bed and as my butt touches the wall I see Lina drop away at the other end of the bed. Through the floor, a hole in the grate allows her to fall into the basement. Her face holds for a fantastic instant, a look of surprise. I come around the bed and glance at my boss; she is playing with her dominoes.
“Can you find Lina for me Mr. F thanks.” She asks. I turn my head to the floor; there in front of the fireplace half of the floor grating is gone. It had formerly covered a floor heater, which is also gone. In fact the metal casing underneath and around the floor heater is missing too. The cellar is exposed and a cool draft floats up to my face. The only sign of Lina is the blood spot and bit of hair stuck to the half remaining grate. I drop a lighted match, as it hits the floor it ignites a small pocket of methane, a little fireball lights up the whole cellar. The familiar eight doors, two per wall show up quite clearly as well as Lina’s clothes scattered and strewn about the floor most of which has now caught fire from the small blast. Then comes the faint smell of burning hair. I finally see a clump of smoldering blond hair all by itself in the middle of the floor. At least Lina is not attached to it. I turn to my boss and explain the situation.
“Sure okay fine,” she says, “just read your book and make sure to air out this place it stinks, thanks.”
I walk around the hole and lie on the bed. The book has a tan leather cover and on the top left of the front the words, Lines and underneath that, Regt und Rent have been burned into the soft skin. I open to Lines. In tiny hand written letters I read: “Davis Smith tore my throat out and left me to die which was just as well because my life was worthless and I would have ended it myself, but now it has taken on new meaning, I WANT REVENGE ON DAVIS SMITH!” On the inside of the front cover is written: “It was the sad story of a young man who begged his best friend to end his life, because he felt so depressed and hopeless, wanted to die and end it all for good. Such sadness. But how could he do it himself, so he had enlisted the help of his best friend. His best friend however had a mean streak and no pity for the wretched, so he picked a painful way to die for the man he had loved as friend and confidant for so many years.”
A mouse running along the baseboard stopped and voiced his tiny complaint: “I WANT REVENGE ON DAVIS SMITH!”
“Perhaps Regt und Rent is a better story,” I say, I turn to it and find only pictures. Distorted blackened bodies are nailed to a wall around a doorjamb. Bright red blood drips down the door, and one bright red hand print glistens off the door handle. On the next page is a picture of Lina, her feet and hands tied to the bed posts. He her bald head rests on a plank. A white plastic sheet covers all but her hands and feet. Tears are streaming down from her tight shut eyes. Momentarily a nun walks in, kisses the index and middle fingers of her left hand and touches the cross above the bed. She has a straight razor and a pan of water. Steam comes up from the water. Lina shudders and begins to squirm under the white plastic sheet.
“There there now,” says the nun, “you wouldn’t want to make things worse than they are, would you?” I watch in horror.
“You have to have your neck shaved dear; Davis Smith likes them that way.” Lina sees me, she screams at me to do something.
“Khoda Hafez!” I scream at the nun. The nun turns to me wide eyed, mouth open and runs out the door. I turn the book over and bang on the back cover with my hand. Lina falls out onto the bed. She is bald, tangled in the white plastic, eighteen inches tall and sobbing. I turn the page. The view is from below a table looking up from the floor. A man with a fish bowl over his head is looking down from the top. There is a gaping whole where his larynx should be. Rot and puss drip from its edges.
“I WANT REVENGE, I WANT REVENGE!” He is screaming from inside the fish bowl. Every vein in his face forehead and neck pops out. Maggots crawl out of the festering hole and fall up, out of the page. I just barely get out of the way, they stick to the ceiling. I slam the book and throw it down the grate in the floor. Left over smoldering hair catches fire to the book. Lean over the edge of the grate I see a Surgical masked face followed by a bloody butcher’s apron is crawling out of the open page. Quickly I light a match and drop it down. Methane explodes again. The man’s hair is on fire. He drops back into the book and tries to shut it, but it is too late the pages are already burning. I turn to my boss who is still sitting at the card table.
“I found Lina,” say I.
“Good” she says, “tell her to answer the phones for a while. Have you read Carlos Davis Smith’s Regt und Rent?”
“I am sort of . . . looking over it” say I, “but it’s hard to read.”
“Well read it before Monday and hug your boss.” I lean forward to hug her and she strokes my hair, kisses my cheek and puts her index finger in my ear.
“By the way Mr. F. please move that bed to in front of the fire place and shut the windows it is getting chilly in here.”
“You know,” I say, “I have to go home early today, I have an appointment.”
She looks at me angrily then smiles, “okay,” she says, “but remember to take one of these with you, and you can download it from Amazon if you lose this copy.” She hands me a tan leather book with the words Lines and Regt und Rent burned into the cover.
I leave the book and my Android on the bed and pick up Lina on the way out; “my niece’s Barbie Doll clothes might fit you now.”
“Really?” says Lina, “I think I might be too tall.”