The Dent

Here’s a little story I wrote recently.  It’s called “The Dent”.  It’s more of a thriller than anything else.  BUT!  I also have some publishing news to share!  My short story “The House in the Woods” will appear in the Halloween issue of Lovecratiana: The Magazine of Eldritch Horror.  The magazine is published by Rouge Planet Press and is a Lovecraftian horror magazine.  I’m excited for this publication, and I hope you all pick up a copy when it comes out.

Now, without further ado, here’s my story “The Dent”


The Dent

 “I made an appointment with the body shop for tomorrow morning, honey.”  Rick MacIntyre was talking on the phone while driving home from work.  On the other end was Mrs. MacIntyre, or Wendy as her friends called her.  “I’ll be home in twenty minutes.  Love you, bye.”

Rick hung up and continued to drive.  Last Sunday an idiot backed up into his gray Focus and dented the front left bumper.  Now, five days later, he was less than twenty four hours from getting it fixed.  Wendy waited at home for them to start their weekend.

Work was always hard for Rick to find.  He never could do anything with his history degree.  The only job he was able to land was his current one at the mill.  He had to take a day off to drive up to Alabama for an interview for the office job with FireTech.

Rick was in his late twenties, and had the average Dad bod: soft in the middle and hairy all over with a beard.  He covered himself over in a nice white button up shirt and khaki pants.  He dressed for the job he wanted to get.

Coming home meant driving through the same old towns that dotted the back roads between Effingham, FL and the interstate.  Life in the little places was worth it, though.  Rick didn’t envy those who worked in the cities.

As Rick drove by a rusted mailbox, an equally rusty pickup barreled out of the driveway behind him.  The old beater then picked up speed, tailing Rick.  From his rearview, Rick could see the driver put a flashing red and blue light on top of the truck.

Rick thought the man must be drunk.  He was barreling down the road with a strobe light on his truck.  What other explanation was there?

Rick didn’t think to pull over until he heard the gunshot.  He didn’t actually pull over until the bullets started to hit his Focus.

The back window and side rearview mirrors were reduced to shards.  Broken glass covered the inside of the car.  Rick put on his four ways and then hit the brakes.  He slowed to a stop on the road.  He didn’t pull off the asphalt.  If some person came flying by, he’d rather this idiot get hit trying to walk up to his window.

Once stopped, Rick turned around to see if the guy was stopping too, and he was parking behind him like a State Trooper.

The guy got out of his car and was skinny as a rail, wearing a cut off denim vest and dirty blue jeans.  He had a ball cap on that look liked he washed the dishes with.  Rick saw the man spit a wad out of his mouth and approach his Focus still holding the gun, which turned out to be a pistol of some sort.

The stranger walked up beside the Focus, looked at the front of the car, and then leaned into the window.

“Howdy,” the man said.  “Name’s Josh, but everyone calls me Birdy.”

“What is this all about, Birdy?” Rick said.  “I’m just going home.”

“You’re coming back to the scene of the crime, son.  Don’t think I’m stupid.”  The stranger waved the pistol around.  “Why else would you come back here after killing my boy?”

Rick paused.  He couldn’t have heard him right.  Killed his boy?

“Wh-”

“I’ll tell ya in one word: admiration.  My boy was just trying to come home for some chow and you killed him.  I told him not to play around on the asphalt.  That jerks like you drive way too fast down the road.  Little pups like him don’t listen to nobody though, I suppose.  You did your part.  Now I’m gonna do mine,” Birdy said.

Rick was still processing what he said.

“I didn’t kill any kids,” Rick said.  “I’ve never drove this road before!”

“HA!” the stranger laughed.  “That dent on your front bumper is from my little boy.  I can still see his hair in it.  It’s a fresh dent too.  You got it last Friday.”

“That dent is front some asshole in the Walmart parking lot on Sunday!  I don’t even know what your kid looks like.”  Rick hit the steering wheel to punctuate his statement.

Birdy huffed and then drew his wallet out of his back pocket.  Instead of peeling out, Rick watched the man pull out a little clipping of a golden retriever in his arms.  In any other scenario, it would have been a nice picture of a dog.

“Nice try.  That’s a dog.  Not a kid,” Rick said.

Birdy smashed the butt of his gun into Rick’s jaw.

“That’s my boy.  His name was Spark and he loved to hunt in the woods for God knows what, but you killed him, sonny.  And don’t think that he didn’t come from my wife doesn’t make him my own flesh and blood.  That dog is my child.” Birdy tapped his chest.

Rick was beginning to think that Josh got the nickname Birdy because his thinking was crazy as a loon.  He didn’t dare mention it, though.

“Look, I’m just gonna get going.  We obviously have a misunderstanding,” Rick said.  He then reached his hand out to put the car in drive, and that’s when Birdy’s pistol whipped Rick in the face knocking him out cold.

###

“My boy was just trying to come home for some chow and you killed him.”

Rick heard the line two more times before he opened his eyes.  He was staring at a tranquil pond surface, but the whole world was inverted.  All the blood in his body was rushing to his head as he hung upside down in a tight cocoon of rope.

If Rick would look straight up, or down as he was, he could have kissed the pond water.

The sky below him was a burnt orange, and the last minutes of sunset were flooding the sky.

“Wanna atone for all your wrong doing?” Birdy laughed.  He was sitting on a stool beside Rick on the pier, and had on the same clothes.  “Well I ain’t gonna hear it.”

Rick tried to think, but he was starting to get light headed and his pulse was sounding more like a bass drum in his ears.

Birdy stood up and walked to the edge of the pier.  He then bent down on his knees and started to slap the water.  Rick watched the ripples.

“Come on over, boy!  This murderer here is ready for ya!” Birdy yelled.  Then he looked Rick in the eyes.  “You know, if a gator is gonna eat a man, he’ll want to see the fear in your eyes when he closes them jaws on you.”

Rick’s stomach flopped.  He now understood what was happening.  That crazy man was going to feed him to a gator for killing his dog.  Rick thought about Wendy for a second, and knew he had to free himself.

“Yes!  Wiggle like a little catpillar!” Birdy screamed again.  The crazy man hit the water with an open palm.  “The gator will enjoy gobbling you up!”

Rick kept wriggling in his bonds, but he was bound too tight.  The rope wasn’t loosening.

Think, Rick thought.   He watched Birdy slap the water again and again.  Rick then did half a crunch, something he’d never in any other situation, and saw that he was tied, with just as much rope around his body, to the wooden beam that held him out over the water.

That was a lot of weight on the beam, and the wood looked weathered.  Old.

Rick tried to get himself to jump around more.  He could feel the sweat bounce off his face as he tried, but he felt more like a fly stuck in a spider’s web than a man achieving freedom.  He paused to catch his breath, and when he did, Rick saw a dark shape in the water ahead.  It moved slow, rippling the surface.

“Oh lawdy! Here he comes!” Birdy screamed.  He slapped the water two more times and then held onto the edge of the pier.

Rick watched as the long shape of the gator materialized in the murky water.  It never rushed, staying slow and meticulous.  The closer the animal got, the more he could make out, until it dove deeper below the surface.  Rick’s heart pounded in his chest as he scanned the water for the gator.

He was helpless hanging above the water.

He knew that even Birdy couldn’t help now.  No one could call off a hungry gator.

Rick thought of Wendy once more.  He tried to picture the face he’d never see again.

“My boy was just trying to come home for some chow and you killed him.” Birdy said.

Drops of sweat fell from Rick’s face into the pond.  Drip, drip, drip.

Then the gator shot out of the water.  Rick saw its open jaws land firmly on Birdy’s arm, and then pulled him head first into the dank water.  The pond turned white for a moment from all the slashing, before foaming red.

Rick took a deep breath and let out a scream.

The gator took Birdy.  It left him swaying in the wind like a dead man.

Rick heard a car engine to his left.

“Oh my god,” someone yelled.  It sounded like a woman.  Rick could hear people getting out of the car and running his way.  “Birdy got another person!”

Within minutes, Rick MacIntyre was cut down and helped away from the water.

He was going to be able to see Wendy’s face again, and get that dent in his car fixed.

———————————————————————————————————————————————

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