(This is not written by me, but someone close to me. I read the first draft and made some suggestions to make it better. It is on the longer end of a short story with a little over 6,000 words. I’m eventually going to get back to writing, but in the meantime, enjoy the story. It’s pretty decent read.)
He was almost invisible on the hill surrounded by the dense jungle. Tom stared down the scope of his rifle scanning the seemingly empty village. He couldn’t wait to finish this mission. Clear the village and then go back to camp for some much-needed R&R. He was tired of the sticky heat and the damn mosquitos. His eyes and head hurt. He just wanted sleep. What he was the most tired of at that moment was the bad odor emitting from the hulking man crouched next to him.
“Take a fucking shower, Butch,” Tom said.
“Only if you bring your sweet ass into the shower with me,” Butch replied.
Tom looked at him with disgust. Butch made kissy lips at him and then chuckled. The Sarge’s voice suddenly boomed behind them.
“Alright gentlemen! Get down there and clear those fucking shit shacks!”
The company slowly emerged from the foliage and made their way down the hill. Tom stepped cautiously. The Vietcong were sneaky bastards. He was keenly aware how they liked to set booby traps. He inched closer towards the entrance of one the shit pile bungalows.
What a fucking dump, he thought.
Butch swiftly came up from behind and took position by the doorway. Tom positioned himself on the other side. He nodded at Butch giving him the ok. With the end of his shotgun, Butch slowly pushed aside the dangling curtain serving as a door and moved in. Tom followed behind. The bungalow was a single room. There were several blankets laid out on the floor which indicated a family had been living there. Not much else was in the room except for some half-eaten bowls of rice and a few woven seagrass baskets in the corner that were waist high. After a slow scan of the room, Tom exhaled in relief and lowered his rifle. Butch walked over and picked up one of the bowls of rice. It had been there for a while. Maggots had taken home in it.
Tom shook his head.
He readied his rifle and approached the basket. Nothing seemed out of place at first. There was nothing but clothes inside. Then he saw the fabric of one of the shirts move a little. Tom lowered the end of his rifle into the basket and poked at the shirt. It moved again. He knew what was under there and he didn’t like it. But the urge to make sure was strong. With his rifle he moved the shirt aside. It was what he expected, only worse. A large cobra raised its head and hissed.
“Fuck,” Tom yelled jumping back.
The cobra stared at Tom with its beady eyes. Butch moved Tom to the side and took aim with his shot gun. There was a loud blast, and the snake was no more.
“How about snake for dinner?”
Tom exited the bungalow.
“What the fuck was that?” yelled the sergeant from the other end of the village.
“We’re fine!” Butch replied, “Just some asshole’s pet cobra.”
Tom took out a cigarette and lit up. He took a long drag and exhaled satisfied. Butch tapped him on the shoulder and motioned for the cigarette. He handed it over allowing Butch to take a puff. He watched other soldiers through bungalow doorways. Some tossing the contents around and needlessly trashing the inside.
“I hate this fucking place,” Tom said.
“Oh yeah?” Butch replied.
“Yeah. You don’t?”
“Yeah, I guess I probably do.”
“You probably do?”
“I mean, I get to kill zipper heads.”
Tom waited for Butch to elaborate but there was nothing more said.
“That’s it? You probably like it because you get to kill Vietnamese people?”
Butch shrugged again.
“It relaxes me.”
Tom wasn’t entirely sure if Butch was being serious or not. In the time he’d known him since coming to Vietnam, he had learned the man had a sick sense of humor. He’d also seen him do some questionable things.
“Jesus you’re fucking weird,” he chuckled nervously. “You know most other soldiers say the only calming thing about this place is the cheap pussy. Not killing people.”
Butch shook his head.
“Vietnamese hookers are Petri dishes. Fuck one and your dick will rot off minutes later. Nah. I stay away from that shit. I got a nice clean piece waiting for me back home.”
“Ah, how is Linda? Have you heard anything from her lately?”
“Yeah, got a letter from her. Nastiest shit I ever read. I must’ve jerked off five times to it.”
“Didn’t need to know that.”
“God damn, I love that wom…”
It was less than a second from the time the shots were heard to when Butch fell to the ground. Tom hit the dirt beside him. He could see movement in the trees all around the village.
“They’re here! Everyone get your asses out there and fight!” the sergeant yelled as gun fire erupted.
Tom could see that Butch was hit in his leg and neck. His neck was bleeding profusely and gurgled with each breath.
“Hang on, Butch!”
Tom started to fire back into the moving jungle. Butch reached out for Tom.
The Vietcong emerged from the trees. They were coming from all sides. Tom continued to fire at the soldier running towards him. He dropped two of them before noticing another coming at him from the left. He swung around and took him out. He could sense Butch reaching for him. He reached down and grabbed his hand.
“Come on buddy let’s go!”
Butch held his hand tightly trying to pull himself up. Tom heard a scream and the sound of feet rapidly approaching from behind. He dropped Butch’s hand and swung around with his rifle and pumped lead into the screaming Cong who dropped inches from his feet. It was too close for Tom’s taste.
He reached down and grabbed Butch’s hand again.
“Get up! We gotta go!”
Butch again tried pulling himself up with Tom’s helped. There was an eruption of screams so loud it was audible over the gun fire. It was coming from the jungle ahead and to the left of the village. Tom looked toward the sound. Time seemed to slow. His heart raced faster as he saw men running towards him. There must have been ten men but to Tom it might as well been a hundred. Butch wasn’t in any shape to fight. It was no match for the two of them.
“God damn it, Butch get your big ass up!”
He pulled with all of his might to get Butch on his feet. It was no use. Butch was too big. He watched as the soldiers were closing in. He had to decide fast. He started to loosen his grip on Butch’s hand. He heard Butch trying to gurgle something out, but he was too busy assessing the situation around him to notice what he was trying to say. The Cong was getting closer. For the first time he realized a sizable portion of his company was dead or injured. The sergeant was commanding everyone to retreat. He heard Butch’s voice.
“Don’t… leave,” he gurgled.
It was all too much for him. If he didn’t move soon, he was going to be dead too. He looked down at Butch who was now getting paler by the second. He was a goner and nothing more than dead weight.
“Don’t… leave me.”
Tom let go of his hand, but Butch grabbed his arm with a strong grip. Tom struggled to break free.
“No,” Butch kept gurgling.
Butch held his death grip. Tom was going to die if he couldn’t get Butch to let him go. He did the only thing he could think of. He took the butt of his rifle and tried beating Butch off of him. To his surprise Butch kept hanging on. It was useless. Tom resorted to something he never thought he’d be capable of. He dropped his rifle and pulled out his side arm putting it to Butch’s forehead.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
He pulled the trigger. Butch’s grip released and Tom ran. He ran faster than he’d ever had, up to that point, in his life.
It had been two years since the war had officially ended. While the war was over the nightmares for many weren’t. Tom had survived and earned his ticket back home to New York City. It had come at a price. On nights such as this, he woke up in a cold sweat and short of breath. He had many nights filled nightmares of the horrors he’d been through. The worst were the ones of Butch, replaying the moment he had shot him in the face to ensure his own survival. He had that nightmare a lot since returning home. There were periods where he dreamed less of him. However, they were becoming more and more frequent again. In fact, they were becoming a nightly occurrence.
Tom got up and splashed his face with water from the bathroom sink. He would avoid looking at the mirror. He couldn’t stand to look at himself after having that dream. In the past he would go back to bed and eventually fall asleep dreamless. Lately he stayed up as he’d been finding himself back in the dream if he went back to sleep. He would put on his coat and stroll to the diner around the corner. There he would sit drinking a cup of coffee and contemplate why he was dreaming about Butch so much. The conclusion was always the same. He regretted what had happened. He would tell himself that it was either him or Butch, but that never made him feel any better. He wished that there was a way to get closure.
Tom had met Butch early on when he arrived in Vietnam in 1970. He did not like Butch at first. He found him to be an asshole. Like anything in life everyone had their little cliques of people they stuck with. The same applied to the men in the company. Tom was the “fucking new guy” for several months. Butch was one of the old timers who gave Tom that label. There had occasionally been words between them whenever Butch had crossed the line with his shit talking. They had only become friendly a year in when they were sent on a recognizance mission together. They bonded over the fact each was from New York. Tom from Queens, Butch from the Bronx. This also sparked a friendlier shit talking between them as they’d trade shots about how the other’s home borrow was trashier. They both agreed that Brooklyn wasn’t shit though. This led to Tom becoming more accepted among Butch’s crowd in the company. As time went on, they lost more and more friends to fire fights, booby traps, and a few to suicide. Soon Butch and Tom found themselves the only two left.
They often spent evenings in their bunks talking about all the places they’d like to go to once they got back to New York. Butch often read him all the dirty letters Linda had supposedly sent him. Tom would find out later while going through his letters after Butch died that Linda had only sent one letter that contained one sentence of hinted dirtiness. He supposed Butch made up dirty letters mainly to entertain himself. Tom had kept most of Butch’s possessions from his bunk. He wasn’t sure why he did it. An idea had occurred to him that maybe he could return the letters to Linda someday. But what would he say if she asked him how Butch had died? Would she forgive him if he told her the truth? He supposed her calling him a murderer wouldn’t make him feel any worse than he already felt about it. But what if she forgave him? Would that put him at peace? He thought about this for some time. It was on this early morning that he had decided it was worth finding out the answers to these questions.
He had the letters with her name and return address on them. He could find her if she still lived there. Though he thought it might be better to call rather than to just show up. He made his plan. He’d see if he could look her up in the phone book and try calling first just to feel things out. Then if all was well he’d bring her Butch’s things if she wanted them and tell her about how he’d died.
Tom didn’t have a phone book, so he had to rely on the one where he worked at the meat packing plant. Not surprising none of the Linda Shapiro’s he saw lived at the address noted on the letter he brought from Butch’s belongings. It took a few calls before he was able to find her. The first woman was definitely elderly and hard of hearing. Tom didn’t think old def broads were Butch’s thing, so he hung up on the old woman and moved on. The next woman thought she was quite the comedian.
“I don’t know who the fuck you’re talking about honey,” she said in a gravelly voice. “Maybe you should stick your head out the window and yell for the Linda that knows Mr. Butch to please give you a ring instead of calling random Linda’s.”
Tom didn’t have time for sarcastic bullshit, so he hung up on her. The next one didn’t answer. He hoped she wasn’t the one, but he made note of the number just in case. However, there was no need as the fourth one was a hit.
“Hello?” the voice on the other end answered.
“Is this Linda Shapiro?” Tom asked.
“Yes, it is.” Her voice was soft and kind. Maybe even a little sad.
“Did you know a Butch… I mean Bobby Vitello?”
There was a pause. Tom thought for a moment he was going to be hung up on.
“Yes. Who is this?”
“My name is Tom Murphy. I was in Vietnam with Butch… or… Bobby.”
There was another long pause. When it became clear Linda had nothing more to say Tom continued.
“I… I have some of his things. From the war. I wondered if you maybe you wanted them. I could bring them by. Maybe tell you a little bit about…” He took a moment to think about what he wanted to say here. Honesty was best. “About how he died.”
There was another awkward silence before Linda spoke.
“Bobby was a big part of my life,” she sniffled. “I’ve waited so long to have closure.”
She gave Tom her address and they agreed he would come over after work. He thought it was a little naïve of her to be so trusting. He could have been a serial killer for all she knew but who was he to judge. He was about to go tell her how he shot her boyfriend in the face.
Tom hung up the phone feeling a bit satisfied he’d found her. This was short lived, however. His boss Vinnie was right there to chew his ass out.
“Hey, break time is over!” Vinnie yelled. “I ain’t paying you to fuck around on my phone all day! Get your ass back to work, break time is over!”
Tom raised his hands in the air in surrender.
Tom went back to the meat line seething to himself; I can’t believe I spent two years getting shot at by the Vietcong to work for this fat guinea fuck.
The cab arrived outside the apartment building sometime around seven that evening. Tom paid the cabby asked him to pop the trunk before getting out. He went to the back and retrieved the large duffle bag full of Butch’s old belongings. The cab drove off leaving him standing in front of an old rundown apartment building. The neighborhood was not the best. Drunks milled around on the trash bag lined sidewalk. One of them strolled up to Tom. He sized up the drunk who looked like he hadn’t showered in quite some time. Smelled like it too.
“Got any money for fellow vet?” the drunk asked.
“What war were you in?”
Tom gave him a funny look. He looked like he was in his late fifties. Maybe even sixties. There was no way he was in the war.
“You were in Vietnam huh?”
The drunk nodded.
“Uh yeah. Yeah.”
“Were you a dishwasher in the barracks?”
“Nah. Nah. I fought gooks.”
“That a fact?”
“Fifth… uh… Fiftieth.”
“Get the fuck out of here.”
The drunk gave him a dirty before shuffling away. He then turned back.
“Yeah, yeah,” Tom replied as he waived him off.
He shouldered the duffle bag and walked up the steps to the entrance. He checked the tenant roster next to the door and found Linda’s name. He rang the buzzer next to her name. After a few seconds Linda’s voice came through the intercom.
“Hi. It’s Tom Murphy.”
“Come on up.”
He heard a buzz and the door unlocked. One hundred and thirty stairs later he was on the fifth floor. Linda was in apartment 5D. He stood in front of the door and took a deep breath before knocking. He was committed now.
The door slowly opened. He could see the door chain was still attached. Tom was taken back when a beautiful blonde woman’s face appeared in the opening.
“Tom?” she said.
“Hold on a sec.”
She closed the door. He could hear her undo the door chain before opening again.
Tom entered. The apartment was a small studio. Not a lot of space and made even less by the clutter of hers and he suspected some of Butch’s belongings. There wasn’t much furniture. There was a small table with two chairs, a bed, and a television set.
“Please,” she motioned to the table and chairs. “Have a seat.”
Tom made for the table. He set down the duffle bag and sat in one of the chairs. Linda sat in the chair opposite.
“I’d offer you coffee but, I’m out of grounds.”
“That’s ok,” he said.
There was an awkward silence for a moment.
“So how long were you in the war?”
“Two years. I got there in 70. I got out in 72.”
“Hm. Bobby went in 69. When did you two meet?”
He thought her voice was angelic. It was calming to hear.
“It was right after I got there. I was dumped into the company fresh out of boot camp.”
“Hm. I bet Bobby gave you endless amounts of shit.”
Tom chuckled. She definitely knew Butch.
“He sure did.”
“He was such a big dumb asshole, but he was my big dumb asshole.”
She smiled and laughed a little. Tom liked that. He thought she looked absolutely radiant in the last bit of sunlight coming through the windows. Her smile disappeared. Her eyes became sad.
“I miss him.”
He nodded in agreement.
There was another awkward silence. Tom thought it was time to tell her about how Butch died, but sitting, there looking at her, he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He opened the duffle bag and reached in to pull out a stack of letters but stopped. He figured maybe she would like to go through the bag herself. Perhaps it would be therapeutic. He took his hand out and handed the bag to her. She took it from him and looked inside. She smiled once again which made Tom smile too.
Her hand reached in and pulled out a small Babe Ruth bobble head figure.
“I bought him this and sent it to him for our anniversary.”
She pulled out a stack of letters and set them on the table.
“We wrote a lot back and forth. Or rather I wrote him a lot.”
“He talked about your letters all the time,” he said. He didn’t mention Butch’s tendency to embellish them with pornographic imagery.
She reached in again and grabbed one of Butch’s green army t-shirts. She brought it to her nose and took a long whiff. Tom was a little grossed out by this considering all the times he had to smell Butch without intending to. He hoped the stench had faded after the last few years of being kept in the duffle bag.
Linda suddenly began to cry. Tom wasn’t sure at first whether he should comfort her.
“Hey,” he said. “It’s ok.”
She dropped her hand to her lap still holding shirt. He watched as the tears rolled down her cheeks. She was somehow even more beautiful. He felt like a creep just sitting there admiring her beauty while she cried. He slid his chair close to her and put his hand on hers.
“It’s ok. I miss him too…”
She suddenly leaned over and kissed him. She retracted leaving him stunned for a moment. His heart raced. He looked into her soft weeping eyes. Those gorgeous blue eyes. He wanted her bad. He went in to kiss her. She met his kiss with hers. She wrapped her arms and legs around him as he picked her up and took her to the bed.
It was around three thirty in the morning when he sat up awake from his nightmare. He dreamed again of Butch. For a moment he was disoriented until he realized he was not in his apartment. He was still a Linda’s. She was in a deep sleep beside him. She lay naked with her back facing him. He laid back down feeling a strange sense of dread. What had he done? He only had the intention of confessing to her that he had done to her boyfriend. Somehow, he had wound up sleeping with the girlfriend of a friend he had killed. He thought about waking her up and confessing to her what had happened. He immediately dismissed this idea. It would be odd to wake her up for such a horrible thing. No. This would have to wait until morning when she was awake.
It suddenly occurred to him it was already morning. In fact, he was going to have to get ready to go to work in a few hours.
Shit, he thought.
He couldn’t call out sick. That loudmouth prick Vinnie would surely fire him. He felt like a piece of shit for just leaving her though. He weighed his options for a moment. In the end looking like an ass was better than losing his job. He could at least call her later and explain everything.
He slowly got up from the bed silently moving so as not to wake her. He slipped into his cloths and quietly exited into the hallway. He made sure to turn the lock on the doorknob so that she’d be safely locked in.
The hallway was not a welcoming place to be this early in the morning. Tom suspected the landlord of the building didn’t like to put much money into maintenance. Most of the lights didn’t appear to work leave a dim few illuminating the hall. He made his way down the dark corridor towards the staircase. He didn’t like the spooky atmosphere. He reminded himself if he could survive Vietnam, then this wasn’t shit. He was not prepared for the strange shadowy figure he saw at the end of the hall. Silhouetted by the otherworldly red glow from an exit sign, the figure stood motionless. Tom felt that it was watching him. He couldn’t tell for sure but thought it might be holding a pistol in one hand. Unnerved, he picked up his pace and went down the steps checking over his shoulder periodically to see if anyone was coming. Once at the bottom he made for the front exit. After exiting the building, he looked back at the stairs and waited. The figure had not followed.
He turned and started for the sidewalk. He was a good block away when he looked back at the apartment complex. He was startled when he accidentally bumped into one of the old drunken bums aimlessly wandering around.
“Watch where you’re walkin’ pal,” said Tom.
The bum started singing an old song in Italian to him. His vocal was all over the place and sounded deranged. It only added to the uneasy feeling Tom had. He took one last look Linda’s apartment building and shook his head. He was letting his nightmares get the best of him.
It was just some weirdo who lived there, he thought. Or a bum off the street.
He took a deep breath and exhaled. There was no way he was going to get a cab in this area this late at night. He’d have to start walking towards downtown or until he could find a payphone to call one. Maybe he would get lucky and there would be one coming back from dropping off a fare somewhere nearby.
The city was unusually quiet. He had been walking for nearly an hour without a single cab crossing his path. He was tired of walking. He needed to rest for a moment. He took a seat on a nearby stoop and lit up a cigarette.
He replayed what had happened with Linda. It felt good to be with her. He wanted to see her again. Thinking of her made him feel happy. Then Butch crossed his mind.
I’m such a piece of shit, he thought. Kill the man and then sleep with the woman he loved.
He was so deep in his self-loathing that he didn’t notice it at first. He realized he had been hearing what sounded like someone walking with a bad limp. There was a step, and a pause followed by a dragging sound.
Step… Drag. Step… Drag.
It echoed off the buildings and was getting closer.
Step… Drag. Step… Drag.
Tom stood up from the stood and looked in the direction where it sounded like it was coming from.
Step… Drag. Step… Drag.
He couldn’t see anything but an empty street. He thought he caught movement further down but dismissed it as steam emitting from one of the manholes. Still, he wondered what that noise was. Then he saw it.
The shadowy figure limped through the steam and into view. It was clearly holding a gun. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He was pretty sure it was the same shadowy figure from the apartment. He wondered how this guy followed him this far with a limp like that. His heart began to race like it did in the war. He wasn’t sure if he should run. He continued to study it until it stopped and shakily pointed the gun in Tom’s direction.
“Fuck!” Tom yelled.
He pitched his cigarette and went into a full sprint the opposite direction. He heard the gun go off behind and the sound of the bullet hitting the stoop he was sitting on. He ran diagonally across the street unsure of where he was going. Anywhere away from where he was. He heard another shot go off behind him as he was nearing the intersection.
If he could just get there and turn the corner, he thought. That would give me some cover.
There was another shot as he ran up onto the sidewalk. Another shot went off hitting a mail drop box as he passed.
That was too close.
Luckily Tom was at the intersection. He turned the corner and ran down to the end of the next block where he turned the corner onto the next street. He did this for a few more blocks in a zig zagging pattern hoping to lose the psycho. With the turn of each block, he checked over his shoulder to see if the shadow was there. When he was confident, he’d left it behind he stopped to catch his breath.
He must have run six blocks. It was a long distance for anyone to run. He was out of breath, and it took a while for him to slow his breathing. He was sure he had time to do this. There was no way the shadowy man would catch up. Not with that limp.
After several minutes Tom continued. He walked slowly so he could catch his breath but remained alert. He wasn’t sure where he was. He spotted an intersection and moved towards it. When he arrived at the corner, he stopped to take a look at the street signs. Before he could process the street names his attention turned to the sound that sent shivers up his back.
Step… drag. Step… drag.
He didn’t know how it was possible, but it was close and closing in on his location. He looked around frantically. He could keep running but it seemed no use. This guy was going to be on him soon. He couldn’t run all the way to Queens. He thought for a moment he could try to take the son of a bitch on. The gun was a problem though. Clearly the guy had no problems using it out in the open. He needed somewhere to hide. He looked around searching for where he could possibly go. There was nothing but apartment buildings around. Most of them would have the entrance locked. With the sound getting closer he didn’t have time to start going door to door trying to find one unlocked. There was an alley way between two buildings. It was the best option he had.
Before he made for the alley Tom’s eyes caught a young man getting out of a parked car. He walked toward one of the buildings nearby. Tom checked to make sure the shadow man wasn’t in sight before jogging across the street. The young man was in the process of unlocking the front door when Tom flagged him down.
“Hey buddy. I forgot my keys.”
The young man shot a skeptical look at him. Tom was sure he was going to tell him to go away. He must have decided he didn’t want to deal with it as he held the door open for Tom.
“Thanks pal.” Tom said as he entered.
The young man let the door shut behind him and strolled up the stairs. Tom acted like he was going to one of the mailboxes until the young man was out of sight. He made note of the door at the back of the hall with an exit sign above it. He positioned himself against the wall by the front entrance hoping it would make him less visible. He scanned the street outside. Nothing was out there. Still, he held his breath listening for the sound of the dragging steps. A few moments later he could faintly hear them. They were approaching from the left getting closer. He breathed shallowly and waited.
Step… drag. Step… drag.
They were nearly outside the door. Tom pressed further back against the wall. Hoping he wouldn’t be seen. Yet, he wanted to see. What did this fucker look like?
Step… drag. Step… drag.
The steps stopped. There was a foul smell. Tom thought it reeked of death. The door handle turned slightly and then returned to its original position. The steps then continued and passed. Tom peered out the window and caught sight of the figure. The light above the door revealed that there was a lot of things very off. The first thing Tom noticed was that there was a shininess to him. As Tom looked closer the shininess was from a layer of black slime coating its body. Almost as if it was covered in old motor oil. The next thing Tom noticed was the very worn-out green shreds of clothing hanging off the figure.
Army Fatigues, Tom thought.
As the figure started to pass the door Tom saw the most disturbing thing of all. The man’s spine and rib cage were showing through the ripped back of the uniform. It was at this point the figure stopped and turned toward him. Tom’s eyes went wide when he saw its face. Rotting oily flesh hung from an exposed skull. The lips were gone revealing a menacing grin. The nose was also missing leaving a gaping hole where it used to be. Then there were the eyes. The eye lids had long since rotted off, yet the eyes were still in the sockets giving a chilling stare which Tom’s eyes were now in lock with.
Oh Jesus, he thought.
The corpse climbed the few steps up to the door. Tom turn tail and ran to the middle of the hall. He didn’t want to go for the exit just yet for fear that it would meet him in the alley. He watched as it tried the door again. It jiggled the handle a few times with no luck. Tom felt a moment of relief until it smashed its way through the glass window. It reached in and unlocked the door letting itself in. As it limped towards him, he saw its bad leg leaving a trail of slime and rot behind as it dragged across the floor.
Tom made for the back exit. He heard a shot go off behind him. The bullet missed his head hitting the door in front of him. He threw his body into the door and spilled out into the alley. He got to his feet and ran. Turning the corner, he sprinted toward the street. A shot went off behind him and ricocheted off of a dumpster.
As he exited the alley, he saw a taxi driving by. He ran into the street after it waving his arms.
“Hey! Heeeeeeeey!” he screamed.
He saw the red brake lights come on and the taxi slowed to a stop. Quickly he ran to the back door and jumped in slamming it shut behind him.
“Where to?” the cabby asked.
The cabby put it in gear and started to drive. Tom turned and looked back out the cab’s window. The corpse was standing there in the middle of the street. It got smaller and smaller as the cab drove away. Once it was out of view Tom turned around and sunk back into the seat. He let out a relieved breath.
“If you don’t mind me asking, you runnin’ away from something?” asked the cabby.
Tom shook his head.
“You’d think I was crazy if told you.”
“Are you crazy?”
“I’m begging to think I might be.”
The taxi arrived outside of Tom’s apartment building just before five in the morning. After he paid the cabby, he took a minute to look around and listen. He didn’t see the corpse anywhere. Nor did he hear the dragging footsteps. Daylight was rising over the tall buildings to the east. Lights were on in some of the nearby apartment windows. People were starting to get up for work. They would be in the streets soon. He felt comfort in that.
He spent what was left of his energy climbing the stairs to his apartment. He entered, set the dead bolt lock behind him and slid in the chain. For good measure he double checked the lock. He looked at the time. He would have to be at work in few hours. He felt rough. He was sore and tired. He felt like he would wind up sleeping the whole day away if he laid down. The thought of going to work just made him feel more tired. He decided he’d risk it after all. He couldn’t go to work after what he just went through. He picked up the phone and called Vinnie. Predictably Vinnie chewed his ass and told him he better be at work tomorrow. After he hung up the phone Tom laid down and was asleep in seconds.
The stench woke him. It was strong enough to make him want to gag. He tried to ignore it and go back to sleep, but he was hit with a bone chilling realization. It was the same stench he smelled just before the corpse appeared by the door. Death
He didn’t want to open his eyes. He could feel its presence. There was no escape. He opened his eyes. The corpse was looking down at him from the end of the bed. Daylight revealed a hole in the forehead of the corpse’s skull which Tom had not noticed before. He shivered with fright as his eyes drifted down to a name tag on the corpse’s uniform. It said Vitello. Bobby Butch Vitello.
Tom began to weep uncontrollably.
“I’m sorry.” Tom pleaded. “I’m sorry.”
Butch’s corpse stared at him. Quickly it crawled onto the bed and grabbed Tom by the shoulders pushing him down. Tom tried to fight Butch off him but was no use. The corpse leaned in, and Tom let out a blood curdling scream as Butch sunk his teeth in. He began ripping chunks of flesh from Tom’s neck. Tom felt every painful bite until he felt no more.