(Warning: Contains strong language that may offend some. Probably all. Enjoy!)
The Night, That Stood the Longest
By: Antwan Crump
“And, so I tell her, ‘Bitch! If you don’t wanna’ call me back, then I won’t call you back.”
Rick jokes with the morgues new hire -Jacki, in an attempt to calm her debilitating anxiety. Rick-a ten-year veteran- was one of those people who took life a bit too lightly.
He snickers to himself, blind to the look of disgust on Jacki’s face. Rick brings her to the “main room” – which is covered wall to wall with what looks like cabinets. He pulls a small piece of paper from his lab coat – and locates the body that coincides with the name it reads – John Doe.
“Well, this is original!” Rick yells to Jacki – trying to change the subject. “John Doe!” he yells again, looking at Jacki with a smile. She’s unamused. Noticing this he offers, “Wanna’ pop the can?”. Jacki walks toward him stopping a few feet away from drawers. A tear rolls down her left cheek, her mounting nerves becoming more obvious with every breath of air she exhales in the freezing room.
“Ehh. You broads. Always wanna play the man’s game, never wanna’ wear the man’s pants.” Rick jokes. As he unlocks the drawer he asks again “You sure?”. Jacki nods her head in certainty. Rick knew she’d deny the offer.
A Week Earlier…
“Ay, Pauly! Pauly, you fuckin’ queer! What the hell’s taking you so long?” Vinny screamed as he polished off another pint of Grappa. ” Ay, you know I could get you killed for makin’ me wait. What’s the hold-up?”
Paul returned from the downstairs cellar. Infuriated he hides his anger – a tantrum wouldn’t be worth the repercussions (Vinny, could indeed have him killed). Paul slammed the bottle in front of Vinny and replied as calm as he could, “Here you go, boss. Vintage reserve.” Paul retreated to the end of the bar – to avoid a drunken Vinny – as was their weekly ritual.
“Ah! Pauly! Pauly! Pauly! You know my father got these from Sinatra, himself. The two were boys after all. Paisano!” Paul, looked back briefly in disbelief, before returning his attention to cleaning the bar. “Okay, okay. It was Sinatra Jr. But hey! Es mi Sinatra, es su Sinatra, huh?” Vinny joked – as he poured himself a glass of the aged Allegrini Grappa.
“We oughta be closing up soon Vin.” Paul insisted.
“Alright, alright. Calm down. Hey, Pauly! Is this because I called you a queer?” Vinny said – speaking with his hands and spilling the drink all over the bar (that Paul had just wiped down). Paul remained facing away from him – as to contain his mounting rage.
Vinny repeated – this time with bass in his voice, “Hey look, is this because I called you a queer?” Paul did his best to ignore him, as his hands began to shake.
“C’mon. C’mon, let’s see a smile. You’ve been working for my father since I was no taller than this bar.” Vinny gulped down his drink and threw the glass on the floor – shattering it. “C’mon!”
Unable to resist Paul rushed over to a sitting Vinny. Just as he’d begun to chastise him, he heard the click of a gun cocking.
“Come closer.” Vinny antagonized, as he slowly revealed the gun that he had been holding under the bar-table. “That’s right. Closer.” Paul came face to face with Vinny – separated only by the bar. “Closer.” Paul lowered his elbows in the bar in front of Vinny, interlocked his hands, and leaned in. Vinny raised the gun to Pauls’ left temple.
“Pour me another.” Paul complied.
“Do you know why the call me Vinny?”
“No. I can’t say I do.” Paul answered.
“Vincenzo. My father’s name. My father’s, father’s name. And his father. I think his name was Frank. But, that’s not the point. I come from a line of badass, no shit-taking, real-life, gangster motherfuckers. I don’t, take no shit. My father don’t take no shit. You know the rest.” Vinny chugged his drink – again throwing it on the floor, he laughed as the shattered glass scattered across the once clean floor.
“Pour me another,” Vinny demanded. Paul adhered.
Vinny proceeded “And you. You’ve got the balls, the utter disrespectful, old, wrinkled, nigga’ nuts, to treat me like some hobo? You’d better… Apolo…” Vinny struggled to hold up his gun. Paul watched as his grip loosened and his body began to fall limp.
Vinny did his best to fight it. His head wobbled for a moment – before it fell it on the bar. Paul took the gun from his hands. Leering into Vinny’s panicking eyes, he smiled.
“Is this what you wanted, you guinea fuck?” Paul placed the gun on a shelf behind him and untied his apron.
“Twenty- Eight years. Twenty- Eight years I’ve run this bar. No problem. Your father and I, we went to college together. Did you know that? Since before you were born, he used to refer to me as his ‘right hand’. These hands.”
Paul stared at his hands while he put gloves on. “The same hands that put arsenic in your favorite drink. All I had to do was wait – for you to piss me off enough. Congratulations. You did it!” Paul picked up the gun, checking the clip – he laughed.
“Tisk.Tisk. Tisk. This isn’t even loaded. Don’t worry. I think I’ve got some ammo, just the right size.” Paul opened up a compartment in the floor (where he kept his protection).
“Yep, right here. Perfect.” Paul loaded the gun, as a mixture of foam and drool began to run from Vinny’s mouth. Leaving his station behind the bar, Paul sat next to Vinny’s limp body and searched through his pockets – removing every form of identification.
Vinny grunted and groaned as loud as he could. Realizing his death was imminent, Vinny closed his eyes to hold back his tears.
“Oh no! Not yet. I want you to hear this.”
Paul retrieved the bar’s phone and called the police.
“Hello, officer? A man’s just killed himself, at Pauly’s pub on Eighth St. His name?”
Paul grabbed Vinny by the hair. Lifting his head up, he paused – until Vinny’s eyes opened, and rolled down from inside his skull. With Vinny watching, Paul concluded –
Paul hung up the phone. Dropped Vinny’s head. Placed the gun in Vinny’s hands. Aimed it at Vinny’s right temple, and pulled the trigger.
Paul grabbed the bottle Grappa, took a sip, poured it over Vinny’s dead body, and said a small prayer – before lighting him on fire; and fleeing the bar.
“Alright. If you insist” Rick continues to joke, as Jacki nervously rubs her arm. Rick pulled the drawer open. “What the? Alright, alright, very funny Jacki. I knew you had a sense of humor beneath those glasses of yours. So what is this a fake card or something?”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Jacki answered.
“The body newbie-” Rick points to the empty drawer, “Where’s the body?”
Mustering up the courage to approach, (what she now knew was), the empty drawer, Jacki snatches the card from Rick’s hand.
“Three Dash B. It says, Three Dash B, you idiot! Please stop trying to be funny! This is creepy enough as it is.”
“Hey princess, I know what the card says. I’ve been working here a third of my life.” Rick, retorts.
“Fine if this is how you’re going to be, I’ll request a transfer. And you’d better pray to God that I’m nice enough not to call Human Resources, for all of your misogynistic bullshit!” Jacki storms out of the room.
Uncaring, (as was his way), Rick continues to focus on the empty drawer. How the hell does a body go missing? He thinks.
He hears a scream in the hall. He hesitates for a moment, presuming it may be some sort of elaborate prank. He hears another scream, then a bang. Stricken by worry he rushes out the door and down the hall.
His screaming is cut short by a gulp and small whimper. He sees Jacki’s body laying bloodied on the floor – her intestines falling onto the tile. His eyes water, as he reaches for his cell phone and dials 911.
“911, what is your emergency?” the dispatcher says.
“Hello officer, I’m calling from the city morgue. My co-worker is on the floor covered in blood. I don’t know what happened.”
“Sir, calm down can you describe what you see?”
“There’s blood, and her intestine’s and, God! (he shrieks) It looks like a machete cut her or something!”
“Sir, may I remind you that prank calling 911 is a Federal offense, and we have gotten this call at least a dozen times this week.”
“No, please! You’ve got to believe me!”
“Okay, Sir. What’s her name?”
A voice whispers into Rick’s ear “No one.” Rick feels a chunk a flesh excavate his back. He drops the phone as yet another chunk is torn from his body. As he lays dying – in an accumulating puddle of his own blood, Jacki’s corpse rises from the floor and proceeds to feast on him as well.