Please note that this is a partial work of fiction totally owned by CH Butcher III that you are free to excerpt but not copy. Publishing in this method is not a release of rights.
Fawn David made a deal with the devil or perhaps not that but a twisted fallen angel. There is no simple way to make the acquaintance of such a being, the route to an encounter with such an entity by needs be complex and unlikely – it might even involve a cardboard refrigerator box moving of its own accord and a heart too soft for its own sake. The box was twitching and rustling as Fawn rounded the corner into the alley that held the door to the staircase leading to the upper story of the unsuccessful appliance store housing her mean apartment. She had a gait that was not quite a waddle, a heavy set woman of a light chocolate color remarkable only for a smile that expressed sweetness to any on whom it was bestowed and soft eyes that could deny no injured creature they held in their gaze.
“Lord save me, what?” she swore, in the manner of swearing as severely as she ever did and regretted immediately whenever it slipped forth. Fawn was not a churchly lady, but as she noted frequently, “my Momma raised me up right.” The box twitched and moaned softly, an astonishing thing for a box to do but not so surprising for the bloody ragged man revealed as she squatted at its open end. The alley was not fragrant in a bouquet sense, but it didn’t account for all the odors wafting out the opening to the box. Alcohol, a lack of bathing, and something sharper – a something an experienced nose would recognize as burnt gun powder were layered over the usual unpleasantness that was the alley. A reasonable fat black woman would have waddled down the block to the possibly working pay phone and dialed 911. Fawn was fat and she was black, but she did not qualify for the adverb reasonable. Instead she cooed, “Oh, you poe thing,” and reached in to touch the man’s calf.
The man raised to a half sitting position, his head bowing the up side of the box and peered at her through squinted unfocussed eyes, “Wha,” no doubt intended to end with a ‘t.’ Some sort of consciousness drifted into his face, “Lady, I’m hurt.” “Let me help you out there,” and she gave him the smile touched with concern one gives a small child who has fallen somewhat hard. It was more due to his fumbling efforts than hers that they got him out of the box and leaned on her shoulder. It was a stumbling and awkward affair to get him up the stairs into her apartment and onto the plastic covered kitchen chair at the small table. A sense of himself had returned to him and he pulled up his torn shirt and frowned at the ragged gash crossing his belly just below his navel.
“Goddamn prick almost killed me,” he growled in tones full of throat. He shook his head in anger and a frustrated regret. “Now you hush that kinda language,” she corrected in bemused motherly tone. His mouth dropped open for a second as he rolled his eyes up to her his chin still nearly on his chest. “Jeeze lady, he shot me.” “The good Lord don’t appreciate that kinda talk, no matter,” she retorted, “and takin’ his name in vain twicet don’t make it no better.” He lifted his head, shaking it twice and smiled wryly showing to her surprise glowing white even teeth where she’d expected rotting gaps and looked intently at her. “I reckon disputing what the good Lord likes and doesn’t isn’t going to fix my belly.” She straightened from her schoolmarm position taking her hands from her hips and crossing them under her breasts, “I ain’t a nurse, but mebbe I got some rags for bandages.” He looked thoughtful for moment, “That would help but it would be better if you might have some white silk thread and a curved needle.” She squinted her left eye and pursed her mouth, “What you aimin’ at doin’ mister?” He gave a short tight laugh followed by a wince, “Well, this needs sewing up before bandaging and if I don’t do it I’ll have to go to a doctor I don’t want to go to who’ll have to tell that to the police I don’t want him telling. So it’s pretty simple, if you’ve got what I need or can get it I can sew this together even though I won’t like doing it, because I’ll like that a whole lot more than I’ll like talking to the police about anything and particularly getting shot and there’s no way I could sell this as an accident. I doubt I’ve got a cent on me, but I’ll make it right by you, I’ll swear that to you and you seem like a lady who’d take that seriously.” Fawn let a doubtful look move across her face, “If I go down to the corner store and get what you need you ain’t gonna up an’ die here in my place are you?” “No,” he assured her, “it looks pretty bad but it isn’t all that bad and it won’t get any worse if I don’t go trying to move around before I take care of it.” “I don’t like leaving you alone,” she muttered as she went out the door.
Pain and movement had sharpened his mind; his intense hazel eyes surveyed his surroundings. The place displayed poverty, but it showed the fierce pride of ownership, the cleanliness and order brought to poor cheap belongings bought at a high price in effort and cherished for that effort. Regret was replaced by earnestness in his thoughts, ‘Damn it Jamie, if anybody hears about this it’ll be bad for her and she’s got not a damn thing to gain. I swear I’m going to do right by this lady.’ He blew air through his lips, ‘This was a damn fool thing to do, I knew better than come down here for high stakes poker. Maybe one day I’ll learn … yeah, now that’s about funny.’ He continued to survey his surrounding and his interest was caught by an old box type phonograph and a stack of record jackets. He couldn’t make out the titles, ‘Later,’ he thought.
Fawn returned and showed him what she’d purchased, heavy white silk thread and a curved carpet needle. He winced and directed her to pull a couple feet off, thread the needle and put it in a pot of boiling water. He washed his hands thoroughly and took the needle and thread from the fork she had used to scoop it out of the water. He licked his upper lip and bit it as he looked down at his stomach. “What’s your name, mister?” she interrupted him. He licked his lip again and looked up at her and smiled with tightly pressed lips, “Jamie,” he said, “and more than that would bring you trouble. You never saw me, you don’t know anything about me, and then you’ll be fine. Look here Fawn, I’m not playing – I mean this, I’m serious as a heart attack about this, nothing at all, not ever.” For a second Fawn regretted her kind nature and it passed as quickly as it came, “OK, Jamie,” and she smiled that smile that refused the nature of the world she inhabited and a piece of the cold hardness of a man who could expect to sew himself up was broken off and lost and gone.
It is an excruciating process to poke a large needle through torn flesh and knot and cut it and repeat and repeat and on and on. Beads of sweat stood out on Jamie’s forehead, cheeks and neck. He grunted softly with every thrust of the needle and his dirty face took on a ghastly hue, like a tan painted onto a corpse in a funeral home. By the time he’d finished he was breathing in hard gasps and his eyes had taken on a demented appearance. Fawn had turned her back to him after the first stitch, placed a record on the turntable, and Etta James began to break your heart through the inadequate speaker.
He asked her for antiseptic and something for a bandage, she brought him an old pillow case and Merthiolate. He looked at the bottle; half chuckled, and muttered, “Sometimes it just never seems to stop.” After helping him with the bandaging she helped him to her small couch where he stretched out, feet on one arm and head on the other and went to her small bedroom, closing the door softly and they slept.
Jamie Fahrney woke confused for several moments and remembered and sniffed and was displeased. Fifteen hours of poker, drinking whiskey, a great rolling brawl followed by a gunshot wound had taken its toll on his clothes and his smell. He stripped and began bathing with a washcloth and old lady perfumed soap. As he washed he reflected on the events of the preceding day and night. He and Little Nicky had eliminated the table and he’d whittled at Little’s stack of chips for hours until Little Nicky, all six feet and 360 pounds of him, went all in on a pair of tens down and one on the river. He was not a graceful loser to Jamie’s pair of aces with one on the flop, and neither was his crew. He’d been doing better than holding his own in the crowded fight when he saw the .357 snub nose as it cleared Little Nicky’s pocket and he whirled to his left as the gun bellowed. The bullet struck him and tore across the flesh of his stomach and he fell striking his head on something very solid on the way down and entered darkness. He assumed they’d seen the hole in his shirt and the blood and figured him for gut shot and dying. There was a patchy memory of crawling out the door of the dump and into the alley and not much until Fawn had spoken to him in the box.
He’d known Little, as his crew called him, fancied himself a hot poker player and looked for patsies to take big scores from; to the extent of staking his crew to have friends at the table. He’d known all that and Jamie knew how good he himself was at the game and just how much he’d enjoy busting up a prick like Little at the table. For some reason he just hadn’t accounted for a gun and that had ruined a perfect score. He didn’t need the money; he’d done it for the fun of it and he hadn’t even tried to bring in heat. Jamie hadn’t needed the money, but now he’d been robbed and that just couldn’t stand. There also wasn’t a lot he could do about it with his belly torn open. Fawn knocked at the door offering him some clothes that might fit. He struggled into a pair of khakis and a black and white plaid cotton shirt and then made his way to gingerly sit on the couch. He looked puzzled at his custom built sixteen inch stacked heel logging boots, he didn’t remember taking them off, bent to put them on and stopped abruptly – that was not even going to happen. Fawn looked at him for a moment and kneeled and shoved them on, struggling with the laces and hooks and that broken and gone piece inside him bled a little.
Jamie looked at Fawn as she stood and spoke softly, “Fawn, I’ve got to get away from here clean and I’ve got to get away from you. I know it’s asking even more, but I want you to call my friend Duane and tell him to take a cab to your door, have it wait, and come up and get me. Oh, and tell him to bring two bills with him.” Half an hour after she returned there was a knock at the door. Jamie put his finger to his lips and hissed, “Ask.” “Who’s there?” “Duane,” came the answer. She let him in and as he entered Jamie barked, “No talk,” and wiggled his finger. He held out his hand and Duane placed two one hundred dollar bills into it, “Fawn, take this and my deepest thanks and good-bye.” To Duane he said, “You’ll have to help me down the steps and we’re out of here – now.”
Two weeks later someone ordered the delivery to Fawn Davis of a high end stereo and sixty blues CDs including every one Fawn had on vinyl. An hour after the stereo was delivered someone kicked in the door of Little Nicky’s penthouse and shot the place to pieces with what the police later determined were two sawed off 12 gauge shotguns loaded with double-aught magnum buckshot. The penthouse wasn’t actually too badly damaged beyond blood, broken glasses, and spilled dope but Little Nicky and his crew were beyond repair. A day later two very nice Browning Auto 5s had been cut into very small pieces, mostly with a cutting torch, and distributed in dumpsters all over the city and a cheap rain coat was burned in a vacant lot. The police investigated the crime as the outcome of a drug deal gone bad, dragged in the usual suspects and came up dry. Jamie Fahrney discovered that heavy silk thread stitches could take quite a beating, but hurt like hell to pull.
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