Nelson stepped back, bruising his left ankle, his fragile bones nearly shattered when they hit against the metal frame of the plant stand. He crossed his arms above the tiered plant shelf, and his narrow foot came out of the dress shoe. “Bill?” Nelson said and shoved his foot back into the slippery pocket of the one-inch square German heel. “I thought I lost you back in the baked ugliness of the Utah Desert, taken by Silverback. Or the Desert Moon, the prince of eerie desolation.”
No. Remember who I am; the finisher and the mailman of death. Now, a talented escape artist. The desert is anybody’s enemy. Sure.” Although my doom, it will not possess credit, Bill thought.
Neither the desert stars nor Silverback and his Gray Wolf can destroy Bill, Nelson thought. He stepped back again, his right ankle nearly folded like his tongue, and his other narrower foot came right out of his tightened dress shoe.”Bill, it’s really you?” He repeated a third time and heard not Bill’s voice but the awful sound of his teeth chattering within his jaw.
With the last push, Nelson slipped his narrower foot back into the German leather plush sole and block heel’s slippery pocket. “I seriously thought you expired in the hellish heat of the Utah Desert.”
Bill padded away like a panther from the sergeant’s back office into the middle of the hallway. “I told the head investigator of the Missing Person Unit you assuredly would come again and encourage a further search. No surprise.” Bill examined Nelson. Then Bill’s attention skipped from the police sergeant behind him.
Nelson said: “Of course, brother.”
Bill touched the edges of the corner bookshelf at the end of the corridor with his bandaged finger; the wall above it was wallpapered with crime alerts beneath the bright ceiling lights. “I got confused and was trapped in that singular desperate feeling from the sun’s lashing heat,” Bill said while he turned over his post-surgery, recovering hand. “Finally, I found the closed-down motel again, and it saved me.”
“There was still water dripping from the base of the shattered aquarium. The double dresser’s flat table moved the remaining water down to the carpet. I sucked the damn navy carpet; it tasted decayed like the dry desert air.” Bill’s eyes went inky-black like the piranhas.
The other sergeant, Kirk, overheard and decided it was more fascinating than his unread files on the Beast of the Utah Canyon’s latest victim. He put down his cell phone and placed some files in his laptop case.
“I passed out for at least a few days from the sedative effects of the painkillers and weed.” Bill then secretly saw the sergeant inching toward the ajar door and peering out at a pale and numb Nelson. Bill expected such interest whenever they were brought together. “Outside the dusty medicine cabinet was my full grace.” Bill lowered his voice with true relief, scratching between his dark eyebrows with his thumb. “Then I awoke from doors opening and closing in ghostly rooms that bookend mine. Suddenly, there were many crashing voices, but that only meant my rescue.”
The police sergeant opened the door wide and interrupted Bill: A group of excited foreign journalists obsessed with the Maniac of the Utah Canyons. No doubt.”
“Yes, one of which helped me climb into the back seat of their news media van; they took me straight over to the Overland Hospital.” Where I discovered the lonely and vulnerable wildflower, Ivory. Bill thought. A delicious vision raced about his creepy mind of him scraping Finisher on her buttocks with a can opener blade.
“You are, indeed, alive. It’s good now, sergeant; we’re going home.” Nelson turned his unusual scaled stare from Bill to the sergeant.
“Thank you, sergeants. Sergeant, Kirk, I hope our extra tips about the maniac will help guide your investigation, and the town can have some rest from this horrible case and no longer be their concern,” Bill said and walked to meet Nelson. “And bizarrely, that concern is responsible for my being united with my only family.” Bill turned to Nelson.
Nelson said, “The Utah Desert and its bad canyons are more savage than the mystery surrounding the Utah Maniac that the summer has born us. I, my dear brother, and the entire town are exhausted from all this terrifying activity we’ve seen.”
“I believe you are both lucky men. thanks for coming back with more information. It will stay recorded as anonymous civilian tips; the Utah Maniac would have cut your heads off for finding his hideout, an inconceivable collection of evil in and around that hotel property,” Kirk said.
The shorter sergeant came out of his office and down the hallway and shook Nelson’s cold hand. He nodded at Bill glancing a moment at his bandaged finger. Then he quickly left to a closed area in another office.
Bill sighed. He put his hands below his loose bulleted belt with a horse face buckle in black brass. “The local reporters are like fleas waiting to follow and feed on dismembered corpses. Their names printed up huge on a penned article in a mega newspaper. Although, if it weren’t for their miserable ambition…”
Bill’s bandaged finger appeared dipped in blood yet failed to veil his surgically sewn finger.
Nelson stopped him from his approach to greet him; he pointed to his hand and the finger that the Gray wolf bit off weeks earlier. Though likely, that detail was not recorded on audio tape when requestioned; no, it was just an ordinary camping accident.
“Bill, be very careful.” Nelson parted the top of his thinning hair with his moist palm. Bill hit back with a hard look and combed his bloody fingernail across his lips. A successful home run; the gesture scared Nelson.
“The entire police department is worn of those nasty ambitious reporters. However, they are like ticks rather than fleas, smelling around and not doing their job identifying bullshit from information the public needs to be given,” Nelson added. He pushed the sergeant to return with his manner of voice.
“Yes, an intelligent conclusion. Get your brother to the drugstore or doctor. Since I am in the fucking mood for pumping advice. Get some damn gauze on that finger. We have closed the missing person’s case. I wish the others were as easy and as fortunate.” The sergeant went to talk privately on his cell phone, and the brothers knew he was distracted by another high-ranking investigator in a related department, like the FBI. Because he had vanished.
“Where did you stash the Scarlet Ring, Nelson,” Bill growled as they walked toward the Jeep Wrangler with a significant dent on the hood from the large Gray Wolf.
“I don’t have it!” Nelson unlocked his driver’s door and saw the walnut bag he was eating from before, at lunch, had an obvious new shade to it.”
“I didn’t poison the fucking walnuts, alright.” Bill got in the Jeep Wrangler, and when Nelson started the engine, Bill threw out the walnuts; the squirrels came down the trunk of a chopped tree but strangely didn’t eat any of the walnuts that fell there on the ground.
Nelson stopped at the streetlight and lingered seconds after the light changed to green.
“Like to see your Ivory again?” Bill took out his smartphone and swiped the front glass with his nude bloody finger. Then held the red-streaked portrait of Ivory in front of Nelson’s interested eyes.
Ivory was lying on an adjustable hospital bed watching a game show on a small TV attached to the wall.
“Power it off; you promised the Boss, not me, that he’d have the Owl Ring. Unless you leave Ivory and Silverback alone, that, I promise, will never happen.” Nelson’s eyes glowed with confidence.
“The Boss owns us. I persuaded him not to order me to kill you. All the leverage I needed was the rare breed of snakes kept at home, your babies. My revenge on you. The Boss wants to feed his wife’s pair of gifted Persians to your monstrous snakes. Damage her brain by forcing her to watch them die in person. Bill grinned.
That darkness oozing from Bill was colored in the Boss’s white haunting rage and subtle fear that he often camouflaged, Nelson thought.
Bill said, “You can’t pull something on the Boss. Because if you do, it doesn’t matter; we’re related. Because I am the fucking finisher, you never forget that, okay? I’ll make a deal on whatever I choose. I want Ivory dead like I want Silverback. I will make you a hero for capturing the Manic of the Canyons. Many women look like Ivory and your ex-wife. It bothers you much, showing that the sergeant is an idiot.”
Nelson looked down at his swelling ankle and reluctantly nodded.
“When you escaped, Nelson. I found a driver’s license for that long-haul trucker who recently went missing. His skull was defleshed and later that day discovered by some honeymooning hikers going up a popular trail. It was hidden in the wall behind the mirrored medicine cabinet; it must’ve loosened after I punched it to use the shards to cut nice chunks out of Silverback’s face.
Nelson wiggled his eyes shut.
Bill continued using a flattened tone, “Of course, now we know he wasn’t fully unconscious. The driver’s license fell into the bloody water of the sink basin. I saw it. After I gave a slight alternation to Mr. Handsome’s profile. And after I finished eating the rest of the Piranhas, I concluded he fits the serial killer. Silverback, the leader of the glorious Mountain Gorillas.”
“That doesn’t mean Silverback is The Beast; it could be anybody in the Mountain Gorilla Gang,” Nelson said.
“Maybe, but relax. If it’s not Silverback, we’ll solve who The Beast is. That long-haul trucker was the Boss’s favorite second cousin on his father’s side of the family.” Bill put his injured hand out. “Take his ID. The trucker is also connected to a powerful client, the very grandson of a giant company.”
“You’re fucking crazy. I thought for longer than an hour while with you in the motel room’s lavatory tying up Silverback that you were The Maniac responsible for the littered skulls in the Utah Canyons. I want my Persian cats returned, meowing and healthy. With its tail, head, and feet softly brushed! Perhaps I’ll consider negotiating with you then!” Nelson had wondered where his cat had gone, taping posters at Veterinarian waiting rooms around the entire city.
“Sure, I can accommodate you. However, your ex-wife will finally pay for not being interested in staying in a marriage when your disease developed to what it is. Oh, she was cruel. She left you. Remember. She loathed being your constant damn caregiver?”
“Look, you meet my terms and lose your plans with Ivory. Also, my ex-wife. Find a new flavor, like you do e-cigarettes, rose wine, or mango. I don’t give a fuck.”
“Ivory is just another hot broad; nothing rare about her. You still want to protect her. What’s that all about?” Bill asked.
“Never mind; you’ll never see the Owl Ring; I have limited time. Plus, Silverback is not like the others, you know.”
“Let’s get a cold drink. I will buy you a bunless burger,” Bill was silent then, minutes later, answered him. So giving up was never an option.
“What is unique about this fucking Scarlet Owl Ring anyway? It sparkles, yes. I got to wear my old Italian sunglasses when I studied them carats.” Nelson had to keep his sugar at a specific level, and Bill would remind him on rare occasions. That, or offer to buy him a drink that he shouldn’t have.
Nelson recalled when he went to exit the police department, He had yelled over his shoulder: “I take that everyone is tired of them pests reporters sniffing and not doing their job correctly in identifying bullshit from factual information that the public needs to be given, sergeant. They are right here outside waiting for a statement.”
Nelson’s memories of the desert went when he turned the Jeep Wrangler into a little fast food franchise.
“Where did you stash the Scarlet Ring, Nelson?” Bill growled again as they got out of the Jeep Wrangler.
“I don’t have it!” Nelson locked the gear into the park position. He swung closed the Jeep’s door and saw the empty walnut bag on the dashboard.
“I already said I didn’t poison the fucking walnuts.” Bill got back into the Jeep Wrangler, and when Nelson returned with their take-out food and started the engine, Bill threw out the walnut bag with the few remaining walnuts; the squirrels came slowly down a prune tree but didn’t eat any that fell on the potholed lot.
Nelson crossed several yellow lights as he went to the nearby drugstore.
Bill said, “I’m not going to execute you, especially with something as lame as poisoning. So slow the fucking Jeep down.” Bill ate his fries with barbecue sauce.
Nelson admitted he didn’t want to run over the squirrels crossing the road. He couldn’t save the others. Not from the omen of stomach pain, diarrhea, and death if they got starving enough in town.
“Miss your Goddess of the Utah Basin?” Bill took out his smartphone and swiped the front. He removed his finger; the phone screen was dim, and blood smeared. Bill held the portrait of Ivory in front of Nelson’s nervous eyes.
Ivory was still lying in a hospital bed. Now watching a soap opera on a small TV attached to the wall. She was in a new room shared with another patient.
“Power it fucking off!” You promised the Boss, you know. He would be wearing the ring. You leave Ivory and Silverback alone.” Nelson’s eyes glowed like an inferno; he was increasingly assured and comfortable with a sharp curve away from his measured personality.
That familiar darkness in Bill had gotten worse, Nelson thought.
“Look, you meet my terms. Alright?” Nelson said.
“Ivory is fucking a broad, nothing rare, maybe nothing plain looking. I will confess. You still want to protect her, though. Ah, I can’t understand.”
“Let’s get some drinks. I will buy you a chicken dinner tonight,” Bill laughed, thinking of visiting Ivory after Nelson fell asleep.
“First, what is unique about this fucking ring anyway?”
“Familiar with The Bermuda Triangle? Where ships, planes, and boats constantly disappear. A frightening doomsday to any unlucky idiot to be in its hot spot. Well, it’s the Owl Scarlet Ring’s origin. A plane passenger was with it, had it inside their carry-on luggage when the aircraft dived into its doomsday web. I guess, he was going to make a deal with a jewelry collector in Paris. Never made it. The co-pilot got it, the clever work of a flight attendant; they were involved in an affair. I’ll tell you the rest later. Give me this damn ring, Nelson.”
Nelson’s cell phone rang.
“Thank you, sergeant, for your great efforts with the search and rescue of my dear brother. You initiated it, the most concerned over my brother and the desert’s savagery. If it weren’t for that kind of caring and the abnormal activity out there. The Utah Maniac could’ve cut our throats, as you said. For securing his dreadful collection by summoning the whole Goddamn state crime scene forensic units.” Nelson spoke into his cell phone.
Bill sighed. Though, his appetite and patience were unsatisfied. He put his hands inside his loose gray belt with a horse face in black brass.
Nelson and Bill arrived home after the stop at the drugstore.
“A death sentence was the sacrifice of a regular father for the Owl Ring,” Bill explained. “They say dolphins don’t play around there; they avoid it entirely, ” Bill mumbled as he wrapped his finger with gauze.
“Where was I? Okay, A yacht had drifted into the ocean’s mouth, the Bermuda Triangle. They were caught in its outer edge. And they found their yacht bouncing in its meanest waves. The guests were half loaded, and they got into their dingy and went toward the brightness on the water’s surface that overwhelmed the co-pilot’s emergency beacon.”
Bill continued, “The ring disappeared for decades until it was sighted again. It’s a natural, magnetic substance like the Bermuda Triangle; a computer genius put in a microchip that works beautifully with the magnetic force. And it became a top-secret military project. A fortune whoever controls its communication with stones, minerals, alloys, and wavelengths. Everything to weather, radium, atoms to one-of-a-kind platinum.”
“We’re talking a lot more than a single Billion. The Boss can own the fucking universe. However, the only person who knew how to use it was murdered by an underground society, and they wanted to destroy it by sending it into a black hole. They were unlike the Mountain Gorillas.”
Nelson coughed, struggling to swallow his saliva with all that he understood was possible and wasn’t on earth, and he couldn’t stretch his belief like Bill that The Boss would be a better overseer of The Owl Ring.
“Well, the Boss believes that he can figure it out. But in the way, it was the Mountain Gorilla Gang. They have enormous members, but The Boss is much more savage; he’s deadlier and invisible like a jellyfish man of war,” Bill finished.
“So the Bermuda Triangle is a man’s death sentence. And I may also agree that the Scarlet Owl Ring was taken and in possession of the plane’s co-pilot, who was reckless.” Nelson couldn’t believe what he was saying and repeating. “Dolphins are too intelligent and won’t go near the Scarlet Owl Ring or its bitch mother; they’d avoid it.”
Nelson wasn’t persuaded to believe Bill. “An unusual spot for a yacht that just drifted there, though. The outer edge of the mouth must’ve got their energy somehow. They were half-loaded yet also lucid and went toward the brightness of an emergency beacon alerting these men riding on the dingy. And the Owl Ring simply disappeared for decades before it was sighted again?”
“Right, and we’re talking a lot more than a Billion. It owns the fucking world. Not the Bermuda Triangle but the Scarlet Owl Ring. However, the only one who knew to use it was murdered by the society, a foreign government agency. They wanted to destroy it by sending it back into the Bermuda Triangle or a Black Hole.”
Author Selected Quotes and Editor’s Cut:
“I will make you a hero for capturing the Maniac of the Canyons.“
“The Boss owns us.”
“Your revenge for leaving my emergency?”
“That doesn’t mean Silverback is the Beast; it could be anybody in the Mountain Gorilla Gang.”
“The co-pilot needed the money to save his only child from prison: A complete death sentence. The Scarlet Ring was stolen and became in his possession when the plane he helped fly went down.”
“About the mysterious Bermuda Triangle, some say dolphins don’t go there; they avoid its darkness.”
”We’re multiplying a billion until someone vomits first or bursts their twisted intestines. You or I or anyone can own the whole fucking world. Yet, whoever learns how to use the Owl Scarlet Ring was almost instantly killed.”
“Well, the Boss believes he can figure it out and master its powers. In the way are the fucking Mountain Gorillas.”“Ivory is fucking just another hot broad. Nothing at all rare about her. You have a severe crush, my brother. What’s that all about?”