As Abe stared blankly at the suited, faceless men and clutched his umbrella to his chest, all he could think to say was to tell them that there was no smoking in his apartment. Even without faces, they looked skeptical for a moment, but they conceded and stamped their buts out in a silver ashtray that they themselves had provided. Once the butts were out, the one on the left opened the suitcase and carelessly tossed the tray and smoking butts inside.
Abe decided to push his luck and demanded to know how they got into his home and what they wanted. The one on the right casually assured him that they meant no harm and repeated his request for Abe to sit down. He told them to leave or he would call the cops. The man on the right asked with what phone he was planning on calling. On queue the man on the left pulled Abe’s only two phones out of his suitcase with cut chords dangling from them. Unceremoniously, he tossed them on the floor at Abe’s bare feet. Now the man on the right wasn’t asking anymore. He told Abe to sit down.
The panic began building in Abe’s chest as he pulled up a chair a small amount of distance away from the men. The man on the left introduced himself as Mr. White and his colleague as Mr. Black, who didn’t say anything, only nodding at his mention and annoyingly flicking a metal lighter open and closed. Very nonchalantly, Mr. White said that knowingly or not, Abe had crossed a very old line that had been drawn between lay folk and the kenning. Abe asked what that meant, and Mr. White instructed him not to interrupt.
Mr. White explained that they had done extensive research on Abe and they were certain they knew just about everything there was to know about him. Abe told them that they had him at a disadvantage. Mr. White again, instructed Abe not to interrupt, this time with a little more edge than he had before. From the case, Mr. Black produced a stack of papers and placed them in front of Mr. White who began to casually skim through them. He began reading off dates and times followed by descriptions of events that Abe hardly remembered. But they were all of the strangest nature, such as when Abe was in college and he hit a dog when he was driving home drunk from the bar. Another time when he was in middle school and his friends dared him to masturbate in the bathroom. Another incident was from when he was a small boy and he punched a kid for sitting next to the girl he liked then lied to the teacher about it.
Abe was growing more impatient than frightened by now. He said aloud that he wasn’t being intimidated by this display and that any kid have could have done these things. The idea that he would remember the dates and times of these events was absurd. Mr. White spun faster than Abe’s eyes could track as he whirled around to dig a fountain pen deep into Abe’s leg. The featureless face of Mr. White split across the middle to reveal long, jagged, white teeth across a huge mouth that ran the width of his head. He told Abe that he reminded him twice not to interrupt.
The shock prevented Abe from feeling it right away, but burn crawled across his leg and the warm blood rose up through the fabric of his pants. Abe let out one exacerbated yell, but Mr. White told him to be quiet as he concealed his gigantic mouth once again beneath the flat skin of his face. Mr. Black let out a soft chuckle before he reached back into the suitcase for the ash tray. He pulled another cigarette from a white box in his breast pocket and lit it with a black lighter.
Abe demanded to know who they were. Seemingly ignoring him, Mr. White apologized for his temper and told him to prevent excessive blood flow, that he shouldn’t try to remove the pen without the aid of a professional. He wiped his brow and returned to his documents, flipping forward several pages. He began reading the exact time and date that he met Luna, and the chronology of events that happened after.
This drew Abe’s attention away from the pen lodged in his leg. Mr. White continued to read the events of every kiss and the bill from every date. He went so far as to repeat things that they had said to one another. In an outburst, Abe told him that they needed to get the fuck out of his house. Mr. White’s reading continued to march onward.
The pieces began to fall into place. Luna had made references to the fear she had of her family’s business. She would stay up so many nights fearing if they found out about them. She wondered how they already didn’t know. Abe had always comforted her that they were going to get out of this place. Coming from the home that he did, he never wanted to take her away. But he surely had no idea how deep this could have gone.
He told him that they didn’t own her and what they were doing was criminal. Mr. Black chuckled again and blew smoke at Abe. His breath smelled like rotten meat and, combined with the blood smell coming from his leg, made Abe intensely nauseous. Mr. White ceased his reading and quietly flipped to the end of the document. He began reading the events of last night, describing grotesquely in detail the events of his and Luna’s lovemaking.
Abe tried to stand, but Mr. Black raised his hand and Abe felt a force push him back down. The pain in his leg was immense. He could only protest loudly as Mr. White read through the document. Eventually, Mr. White stopped and asked if he should continue. Abe told him that he could go fuck himself. Mr. White asked if he was beginning to conceive what Abe had taken from his family. Abe cursed at him. Mr. White reminded Abe that he was a good Catholic and that Catholics don’t steal. He asked Abe if he was willing to pay the price for what he had taken.
Abe told them that he didn’t have any money because he was already basically enslaved to the company as it was. Mr. White calmly asked then what right a street rat like him had in taking something as precious as the virginity of a princess if he knew he couldn’t afford it. He said that Abe had stolen from the company. Abe sardonically told them to fire him.
On the contrary, Mr. White said that he was here to offer a promotion. Mr. Black produced another document, this one on vellum paper. Mr. White told him that he could repay the company with the work of his own hands. They could make him a prince worthy of their princess. They could give him a fake story for his life, he would never speak to his mother again (she would be greatly recompensed financially), and he would become a happy and proud member of one of the great American families. The sentence would continue on after his death as well, but at least he could spend his life with the woman he loved and could live to be a prominent and successful man.
Abe thought about how unhappy Luna was in her own life and family. He thought about his mother and how even with all the money in the world, how lonely she would be without him. He wanted to save them both, but this awfully felt quite the opposite. He what the other option was.
Mr. White was visibly displeased by this and nodded to Mr. Black, who replaced the vellum document with another one. Mr. White said that now bearing one another’s mark, without Abe in the picture Luna was useless to them and she would be disowned and he would agree to take responsibility for that. There would be an additional cost of an asset for damages to the company. Abe asked if he could be recompensed for the pen throbbing inside his leg. Mr. White apologized again for his temper and that he could consider that in negotiations. However, he said that the damages to the company were exponentially greater than he could possibly earn in his entire life. The repayment would be more symbolic than practical.
This option seemed like the obvious one. Then again, obvious hardly meant what it used to. His mind was clouded by the blood loss, but he knew that he needed to get Luna away from these people. Even if it ruined her life. If she would have him back, he would take responsibility for his decision and provide everything he could for her. He wasn’t sure that she would feel the same way, but he needed to take a leap of faith. He isolated his disfigured leg from his mind and said a small prayer to himself for guidance. Mr. White and Mr. Black hissed while he was doing so, but he did the best to ignore them.
Abe finally announced that he would take the second option.
They eyed one another, visibly displeased. Mr. Black reluctantly replaced the vellum document in the suitcase and produced another similar one. Abe pushed himself out of the chair and balanced himself with his stifled leg. He approached the document and asked if they had a pen. Mr. White responded that they only had one. In one quick jerk, he pulled the pen from Abe’s leg. It felt just as painful as it did on the way in. Blood spit out after it, but it didn’t spit. Mr. White explained that if he wanted to hit an artery, he would have.
Abe gave a toothy painful smile and offered a sarcastic thank you. In blood and ink, Abe signed the paper. He dropped the pen and let it roll across the page. He returned to his seat to get off his leg. Mr. White’s teeth were visible again in a grim and inhumanly wide smile. Through his uncountable long, sharp, crooked teeth, Mr. White assured Abe that it was a pleasure doing business with him. Abe asked if they were done here. Mr. White assured him that they would leave as soon as they acquired the asset. Feeling slightly foolish, Abe asked what it would be.
As he asked, he saw creases forming in Mr. Black’s face. They ran vertically and horizontally, eventually opening into a circular mouth with six jaws opening and slathering with drool. The sudden transformation frightened Abe so greatly, that he pushed back with his good leg and knocked his chair backwards. He tried his best to crawl backward away from the monster, but it was too fast. Mr. Black was on him faster than he could see. He pinned Abe down as his jaws opened wide down in to the vast, dark worm-like maw going down into Mr. Black’s body, lined with teeth. The smell was unbearable and the heat was heavy and wet. Abe screamed into the maw as the saliva from its teeth dripped onto his face.
A tendril-like tongue emerged from the back of its throat and as quick as a whip, it shot out and grabbed Abe by his left eye. It began to pull, drawing a pain that ran across his entire skull. His screaming only increased as the jaws of the worm closed around Abe’s head. He couldn’t see what it was like, but he felt the tongue tearing his eye ball from its socket. He felt it dangling by the nerve and eventually the long, slow snap as it separated from his head. Inside the creature’s mouth, Abe saw an eerie blue light emerging from its gut. The beast’s jaws tightened and so did the pain. The blue light rushed up and blinded him.
Unable to bear witness to the madness and the pain, Abe gratefully slipped from consciousness.
[To be continued…]