AL BRUNO III
Thursday November 8th 1996
At the house on Pine Stump road Warren tried to speak as gently as he could, “You know maybe we should slow down with the drinking, or even just wait. I mean it is pretty early in the day.”
"Shaddap and get me another beer!" Tim hurled the empty Heineken can- his fourth- into the fireplace.
The slowly growing mound of debris in the fireplace reminded Warren that he had to figure out a way to get more trash bags. Unfortunately he had already spent most of the large housekeeping allowance his parents had left him on things that had seemed like a good idea at the time. "Look I know the night could have gone a little more smoothly…”
“Smoothly? Smoothly?” Collin stormed out of the bathroom, “Smoothly?”
“Did you flush?”
“No I did not Mr. ‘Hey ladies can I borrow this chair’.”
“It was all I could think of. You guys had me working under a lot of pressure.” Warren darted into the bathroom flushed and ran back out again- but it didn’t matter, the thing was plugged and the odor seemed to be following him everywhere.
“Everyone makes mistakes.” Tim said, “You making a fuckin’ career out of it.”
“I don’t think-”
“You got us maced.” Collin shouted.
Warren shouted right back, “You said I should be more aggressive!”
Collin rolled his eyes, “Get out of our sight.”
“It’s my house!” Warren tried to protest that this was his house but a barrage of beer cans both empty and full drove him out the front door. Princess followed at Warren’s heels. Warren sat down on the front steps and watched the cat bound out of sight. Even my pet has a more interesting social life than me. Figures. The sun offered little warmth against the deepening fall chill.
How did I get here? Is this really more mature than wasting away my afternoons playing D&D?
Somehow he'd become trapped in the place between high school and the real world. For some people, his sister was a prime example, it was an easy crossing, like stepping over a crack in the sidewalk, but for him the distance was a yawning chasm.
Ever since last year he had been functioning on autopilot, losing so much so fast- friends and weight- had left him wondering if there was a point to anything. What did it matter if you made your fortune at 40 only to die of a heart attack a few years later? What did it matter to cure a disease when a new illness just came along to replace it? What was the point of anything when you could die just like that? Die and no matter what you accomplished everything would just go on without you as though you had never existed, as though you had never mattered at all.
It was enough to make him want to scream. Whoever had thought life could make you claustrophobic? Warren thought that maybe if he had a girlfriend he might be a little more confident but when you look like a poster boy for anorexia the girls stay even further away than they do when you’re morbidly obese.
And if only what was wrong with him was simple anorexia. Or even cancer. But no, his grotesquely shrinking waistline had been just another parting gift from Tristam Bloom.
A car pulled into the driveway, a man and a woman got out. They strode side by side up the walk, "Warren Talbot?"
He sat up straight, “Oh you guys again?”
“I almost didn’t recognize you.” the man flashed a badge, the woman did likewise, "I'm Detective Connelly and I’m sure you remember my partner Detective Myles. We need to talk to you."
There was something in their voices that made him realize that some new disaster was looming on the horizon. Did he escape? Warren wondered before saying, "It's cold out here, come-on inside."
“How did you loose all that weight?” Detective Connelly asked.
Warren shrugged, “Stress not-eating.”
The three of them walked in the house just as Tim and Collin were trying to right the flipped over recliner. Collin said, “Oh Jeeze he brought back up.”
The young Marine quickly sat back down, he knew cops when he saw them. "What seems to be the problem officers?"
Detective Connelly looked questioningly around house and Warren felt compelled to explain, "They're my friends, they've been spending the week....."
Detective Myles said "The police have been trying to call all night and day, isn't your phone working?"
"It should be."
Collin politely raised a hand, "I turned the ringer off last night."
"You what?" Warren goggled.
"I was trying to sleep man."
“Look,” Detective Connelly said, “I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but there was an incident at your sister’s apartment.”
Warren found a place to sit, “Incident?”
Detective Myles nodded, “W need you to come down and answer a few questions… and there’s a body. We need you to see if you can identify it.”
“Body?” Warren found himself dumbly parroting everything they said, “What the Hell is going on here?”
“I’m sorry but there aren’t a lot of details beyond what was on the news.”
“This was on the news?”
Detective Connelly said as he kicked aside an empty beer can, “I think we should drive.”
Collin and Tim looked at each other for a moment, and then Collin said “We’ll stay here and watch… things?”
Warren got his coat from the back of a chair, “Yeah that’s fine. Could one of you guys please unplug the toilet?”
“Sure man.” Tim said.
Looking pale and like he was about to burst into tears Warren followed the Detectives out of the house. He hoped that it was all a mistake; that something awfully hadn’t happened to Isobel.
Detective Connelly asked, “Where are your parents anyway?”
Warren shrugged, it took him a moment to find his voice, "They're off on a world cruise, how do you call a ship?”
“We’ll take care of that.” Detective Myles, her ordinarily hard expression softening as she got the door, “Don’t worry.”
A man and woman were waiting on the doorstep. The man wore a torn stained suit, the woman a damp ski mask.
“Who the Hell?” Warren said.
Detective Connelly shouted a warning. Detective Myles went for her gun. “Step back.” She ordered, “Hands in the air.”
“This is turning into a comedy of errors Ms Ginnmett.” When the man turned his head there was a broken sound.
The woman in the ski mask nodded, “More stains Mr. Sauno, I can see it now.”
Mr. Sauno sent Detective Myles flying backwards with a single shove. Detective Connelly and Warren went falling over each other. An endtable toppled, an heirloom crashed to the floor. Tim was on his feet nearly as fast as Collin was on the floor.
Detective Myles fired three shots managing to hit the man in the stained suit three times in the chest before he was standing over her with a single foot raised in the air above her face. He said, “Warren Talbot, I hope you’re paying attention.”
Mr. Sauno brought his foot down with force that set the floor shaking.
“Barbara!” Detective Connelly shrieked at the sight of his partner’s skull shattering.
“Motherfucker!” Tim screamed and fired three shots of his own but the man Mr. Sauno stayed on his feet.
A cloying smell was filling the house; it reminded Warren of an overfull cat box and something that had been manufactured burning. Mr. Sauno grabbed Detective Connelly up by the collar of his shirt and threw him headfirst into Tim. Both men went down in a tangle of limbs. “So many guns.” The woman in the ski mask said.
Mr. Sauno retrieved the gun from Detective Myles still twitching hand. “When in Rome.”
With three well placed shots he killed Tim, Detective Myles and Collin. Warren was screaming and blubbering but when the woman pulled the ski mask from her face to reveal a nightmare of tattered skin, hydraulics and leaking fluids he fainted dead away.
“Perhaps we should have done that from the start.” Ms. Ginnmett said.
“Perhaps.” Mr. Sauno nodded, “Perhaps.”