Saturday, June 25, 2016

15. mitch

by nick nelson

illustrated by palomine studios

for previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here

the train had been delayed at several stops, and when larry finally got home he was tempted to take a coors light out of the refrigerator and chug it down, before he had his sandwich and glass of milk.

his feeling of general frustration was compounded by his not having been able to do the crossword on the train - something he was able to do nine out of ten nights.

larry closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

he was a disciplined person.

discipline had gotten him this far. he was not going to lose it over a couple of little things like the train being late and not being able to do the crossword puzzle.

he forced his mind to go blank, and began making his grilled cheese and tomato sandwich.

he felt that he deserved some sort of treat after his difficult day and decided to add a couple of slices of mortadella to the sandwich.

with his sharpest chef’s knife he carefully sliced the cheese, the tomato, and the mortadella and was just getting ready to slice the bread (he always bought unsliced loaves) when the doorbell rang.

who could that be?

it could not be mike barber, or anybody else from work - they never visited him and probably did not know where he lived.

he did not know any of his neighbors, even to nod to.

it could not be geraldine, because she was dead, and buried in the basement.

could it be that bitch, detective fletcher? she had not bothered him for four months. larry had thought, a whole year after he murdered geraldine, that he had seen the last of fletcher.

the doorbell rang again, held down a little longer.

larry put his knife down and answered the door.

it took him a couple of seconds to recognize the man who had approached him on the street earlier that evening, on his way to the train station.

what was his name? mitch? had he given a last name?

but before larry could remember the man’s last name - if he had given one - the man pushed past him into the house.

and larry saw that he had brought a companion along, who also pushed past larry.

at first larry thought the companion a smooth-faced, punkish looking young man, but realized it was a young woman. the most solid-bodied woman larry had ever seen, and maybe the meanest looking.

as the young woman passed him, larry had the impression she was blowing smoke in his face, although she was not actually doing any such thing.

“this is a nice place, billy,” the man - mitch, or whatever his name was - was saying.

billy! that was the name the man had thought was larry’s when they met on the street.

or - pretended to think was his? he had somehow followed larry or - learned his address - or knew it all along.

larry’s mind raced. surely there was something other than an honest mistake here?

could there be some connection to geraldine? maybe he was geraldine's brother, or ex-boy friend. not that she had ever mentioned such a person.

could they be some sort of police, sent by detective fletcher? although larry’s non-movie and tv experience of police and criminals was limited - actually non-existent before he had killed geraldine and been interrogated by fletcher and other police persons, he immediately felt certain that mitch and his lady friend were not from the police.

mitch and the young woman were going through the rooms as if checking to see if anyone else was there.

the house was one story, with just a front room, a kitchen, a bedroom with a bathroom off of it, and a tiny “office” partitioned off from the front room. there was a basement - with its body underneath it - but no attic, just a crawlspace.

mitch went into the kitchen and larry followed him. larry made one last try at laughing the whole thing off.

“ha, ha. i am sorry, but i really don’t know you or billy, or have any idea who billy is.”

mitch glanced at the sandwich makings on the kitchen counter but made no comment. he sat down at the kitchen table and assumed a classic “relaxed attitude” .

“come on, billy - or lawrence, or whatever you call yourself, let’s cut the shit. i tell you what -“

the young woman came into the kitchen. “nobody else here,” she told mitch.

mitch pointed to the door to the cellar. the young woman approached it.

“it’s just the cellar,” larry said in an even voice.

“take a look,” mitch told the young woman.

larry managed not to take a deep breath. “there’s a light switch on your left,” he said.

“oh by the way, billy, i haven’t introduced you. this is donna - donna, billy. or lawrence, or whatever.”

“charmed, i’m sure,” donna replied. she sounded even nastier than she looked. she opened the cellar door and went down the stairs.

“now as i was saying, billy, or lawrence - we don’t have to argue, we can cut the shit right here.” mitch leaned back and smiled. “now if you don’t know me, and i’m sitting here and you tell me to leave and i don’t - then i'm a home invader, right?’

larry didn’t answer.

“i see a phone over there on the wall. and you probably have another one in your pocket. if i’m invading your home, why don’t you just call the police, or 911? hey?”

larry thought about it. he was tempted. he really had no idea who mitch was. surely he had no connection with geraldine.

or did he?

mitch was smiling at him. the moment had passed.

“i don’t like calling the police,” larry said.

“ha, ha! i didn’t think so. i didn’t think so.” mitch looked over at the kitchen counter. “i see i was interrupting something. why don’t you go ahead and finish making your sandwich? you wouldn’t happen to have anything to drink, would you?”

“there’s some beers in the refrigerator. help yourself.”

“well, that’s mighty neighborly - lawrence.” mitch started to get up.

donna returned from the cellar. “nothing down there.”

mitch sat back down. “there’s some beers in the refrigerator,” he told donna. “you want one for yourself?” he asked larry.

“no - no, i always have a sandwich first, and a glass of milk.”

donna laughed, as if larry had said something funny.

“that’s good, billy, that’s sound very healthy,” mitch said, as donna opened the refrigerator. “and like you have a plan, and stick to it. ha,ha! that’s what i always liked about you. that you always had a plan, and stuck to it.”

maybe he does know me somehow, larry thought, as he turned back to the counter to finish making his sandwich.

the complete absurdity of the whole situation suddenly hit him.

but they didn’t seem to know anything about geraldine, or even that she had ever existed.

maybe i should have called the police, he thought.

but he knew it was too late.

16. it will help you