This page copyright 1999 The Shrubbery
*Warning: This story contains violence and some graphic scenes. If you do not like to read things of that nature, please refain from reading this story. Please don't mail the Shrub with complaints. You were warned.*
The Thin Line- Part 1
by Jessica Brandt
Drake lay still, and closed one eye to line up the sights on his rifle.
The buck, nearly twenty-five feet away, silently munched on the tall weeds
that seemed to grow around him. Drake stopped breathing. He fired a shot
that landed deep inside the buck's shoulder and sent him sloping to the
ground. A flock of crows resting in a nearby tree exploded like fireworks
and flew away. He cocked and fired again, this time sending a bullet right
through the animal's still-pulsing belly.
"No, no, oh God no, Justin."
"Fucking bitch! Whore!"
More shrieks. A crash. The boy rushed to the kitchen door. There, he saw his father standing over his mother, knife raised above his head. The boy stopped breathing. The knife came slamming down into his mother's back. His father's eyes were mean and filled with rage; his mother's eyes and mouth wide open, as if she wanted to say something but couldn't. Seventeen times the boy's father stabbed his mother. The boy was forced to watch, as fear had paralyzed his whole little body, there in the doorway. Blood splattered over his father's face, the kitchen sink, the floor. It became part of the picture the boy had made that now hung on the refrigerator.
When it was over, the boy's father slumped back, and slid down the cabinet face until he was sitting on the floor. His mother, eyes still wide open, did not move, but stayed hunched over the kitchen sink, head on the draining board.
The boy, mouth agape, suddenly turned and ran. He ran out the door and blindly into the street, where he was almost hit by a car.
"It's all right," Drake said. "I really want it."
"Is this your first?"
"Yes. I want it."
The man measured Drake's back and made the necessary enlargements on the copier. The dragon was to cover most of Drake's back, with its tail wrapping around his side and continuing onto his belly. Its wings would cover his shoulder blades, and the long neck and head would creep up his right shoulder to his arm. Drake's masterpiece - his dragon.
He wanted it for the aesthetic purposes, sure. But there was more to it. He was curious about the pain, the feeling of thousands of needle pricks. He wanted to know where the pleasure was in this.
Drake removed his shirt and lay down on the cushioned table. The man told him to stay still but he could grab the handles beneath the table for support. The man wiped Drake's back clean with a cool alcohol swab. His hand stopped and poked at the long, raised scars on Drake's back.
"You can cover those up, right?"
"Yeah. No problem, we do it all the time, kid. It won't get rid of them, but we can cover them up." He made an imprint of the dragon on Drake's back, and then began filling his needle with black ink. "You ready?"
"Mhmm…." Drake stopped breathing.
The needle began bussing and it pierced Drake's back. He squeezed the handles beneath the table until his knuckles turned white. He clenched his teeth. "Keep breathing, kid," said his artist.
Drake had to think about it. In, out. In, out. He concentrated on that for a long while.
The pain was so great, that after an hour of relentless uncomfort, it was gone. He had passed the threshold that he had wondered about, if it stopped hurting after a while. He felt something, but pain was not the constant and no longer the issue. Drake almost began to like it. He smiled.
After four-and-a-half-hours, it was over. The dragon's outline was mostly done. The man told him to come back in three days so he could do the tail and the head. A couple of weeks later, he would do the color.
Drake didn't dread coming back. He almost looked forward to it. Not too much, though. He didn't want to seem masochistic. He wasn't. He wanted to know what that pain was like.
Drake. Dragon. That was him.
Mr. Owen, We regret to inform you that your father, Justin Owen, has passed away after suffering a heart attack while serving time in the Montana State Penitentiary. Please contact us if you wish to claim his belongings, which include: One pair denim blue jeans, one pair black leather boots, one navy shirt, one pair socks, one gold watch, two cigarettes, one comb, one Holy Bible. Your father's lawyers will be contacting you shortly about any legal matters. Regretfully, Warden John Thomas Montana State PenitentiaryDrake dropped the letter and fell to his couch. Shit. This was not supposed to happen, this was not part of his plans. His father had four more years of his sentence to serve, and then parole. Twenty years was all they gave him. Drake was there at the trial. Drake testified. He said that his father was crazy, looked crazy.
So they sent him away for being crazy, not really for being a cold-blooded murderer. But Drake would take care of the rest. He would find his dad, and then do the same thing he had seen his father do to his mother. Seventeen times.
His muscles tensed.
What the fuck am I going to do now? He unsheathed the hunting knife that lay beside him. As he thought, the knife rose above his head, and then slammed down into one of the pumpkins with a "thud." He calmly pulled it out of the gourd's thick skin.
I can't go on like this forever. He rose to his knees, and the knife lifted up once more. He stopped breathing. With greater force than before, the knife went into the pumpkin. He stabbed it over and over. The rind cracked and bits of sticky pumpkin insides covered his arms and chest. He turned to the second pumpkin and brutally mutilated that one as well.
"Ludwig Van!" he said in time with the movie's lead character. Drake whistled Beethoven's "9th Symphony" as he shifted the piles of pulp and rind to the side.
The idea struck him at that moment. He knew what he could do now, to quench this bizarre obsession. He needed to kill his dad, that's what. But since the bastard had beaten him to it, he had to find someone else. Sixteen years of planning didn't get thrown out the window over some minor detail. He would find someone else, someone who (like his dad) wouldn't be missed. A girl, perhaps, just so he wouldn't seem queer trying to gain her trust. Trust was important to Drake. His mom trusted his dad, and look what it got her.
"Tsk, tsk," he said. He moved the third pumpkin in front of him and cut a hole in the top. He scooped out the insides as he whistled, piling them on top of the two other pumpkins' remains. Drake began carving into it. A dragon. A happy dragon, with a winking eye.
Continued next month in The Shrubbery