Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Killing Spring, Part 4

The cop actually made Gene walk in a straight line along the side of the road, along with a breath test.

Fine, Gene thought with relief when he realized this cop was only hoping to make a DUI or drug bust, not expose him as a killer. Test all you like. Wanna pee test, too? You’d probably get a better sample if I gave you my mattress pad.

At the time, Gene had to stifle a sinister giggle. Now as he pulled into his driveway, hit the garage door remote and carefully guided the car into the garage, he couldn’t contain himself any longer. Watching the door slowly lift up, spit sprayed from his lips and splattered the dashboard as a loud, hearty laugh exploded out of him.

He lost control again, but in a good way. This was a loss of control one feels when they knew they were in control.

Then his eye caught the traffic citation, lying face-up and accusingly on the passenger seat.

Great. A ticket. Dad’s gonna love this.

But Dad’s wrath over his son’s careless driving was a week away from coming. An eternity during which Gene had plenty of time to engage in more pressing matters. Yeah, the ticket would be a problem when Mom and Dad got home, but what mattered now was regaining control.

And, who knows, maybe the plane will splash down into the Pacific and I won’t need to worry about it.

That thought brought on another torrent of laughter. Fresh sweat broke all over his skin as he guided the Lexus into the garage, his hands literally trembling like a junkie’s as he killed the engine and climbed out. Not bothering to click the key-chain alarm - Dad would have screamed blue murder if he’d known that - Gene bolted through the door leading to the kitchen. Relief swam over him in soothing waves. The silence of the empty house embraced him, providing reassurance and comfort, and he began to breathe easy.

For a few short minutes, when the cop threatened his killing plans, Gene’s control had slipped away. But now it was back. The ticking of the grandfather clock in the nearby dining room did his heart a world of good, reminding him he was back in control.

There’s nothing standing in my way now. I can take my it right...and it will be wonderful.

Plopping the keys on the nearest counter, Gene shuffled from the kitchen into the dining room, then dropped to the hardwood floor. He eased his back against the wall, just underneath a painting Mom just had to have after seeing it in some downtown gallery a few years ago. Gene knew nothing about art, but assumed Mom and Dad probably paid more for the painting than it was really worth. He never really paid attention to it until now, when he craned his neck to notice the colorful garden in the painting was remarkably similar to the one in their back yard, which his parents toiled endlessly over during the summer months.

Gene briefly thought of Mom and Dad, probably sitting uncomfortably in their seats by now, waiting to take off. Dad was likely checking his watch every thirty seconds, while Mom counted down the minutes before she could order her first Bloody Mary from the flight attendant.

Exhausted, he exhaled slowly, concentrating on the soothing tick of the clock. That warm feeling of being back in control returned, relaxing his muscles. He was exhausted, and too much had happened already. Soon after, though he didn’t mean to, Gene dozed off...


“...Gene’s not answering his phone.” The concern in Donna’s voice didn’t register with her husband, who continued swearing to himself as he fumbled with the headphones in his hands. “Maybe I should phone Delana to make sure he got home okay.”

“He’s fine, Donna,” Larry replied, not looking up from his task. “Stop worrying. It ain’t like he’s Indiana Jones and everyone’s out to kill him. Probably stopped to visit that girlfriend of his...Rhonda.”

“Rachel,” she corrected, hitting the redial button on her cell.

“Whatever.” For the sixth or seventh time since they took off, Larry reached up and pressed the call button. Seconds later, a young flight attendant, obviously trying her best not to look impatient with his incessant demands, flashed a toothy white grin.

“Yes, sir?” Her smile may have said how can I be of service?, but her eyes said Jesus Christ, what’s wrong now?

Larry thrusted the headphones at her. “These things don’t work. How can I watch the in-flight movie if I can’t hear it?”

“Here sir...” Using a tone one might use when instructing a retarded child, the flight attendant took the dangling cord and plugged it into the jack built into Larry’s armrest.

“Still no answer,” Donna snapped the phone shut, slowly shaking with head as she stared out the window, beyond the plane’s starboard wing, at the blue Pacific Ocean below. “This isn’t like him. He always has his cell turned on.”

Preoccupied with maintaining his pride after displaying his technical ineptitude, Larry placed the phones over his ears and focused on the TV screen hanging from the ceiling a few isles up.

Donna gripped the flight attendant’s arm, eyes wide. “Stewardess-”

“-Flight attendant,” she corrected, again speaking like she was dealing with simple-minded idiots.

“Oh, yes...sorry.” Donna helplessly held out her cell. “My son won’t answer and I’m oh-so-worried about him. I know it’s an inconvenience, but could you ask the captain to turn the plane around and go back? I just want to go home and make sure he’s okay.”

“Your son?” The flight attendant flashed another brilliant smile. “You mean your son, the killer? Oh, don’t worry. He’s fine, but I can’t say the same for you or his father or your neighbors or his friends-”

She was suddenly cut off by a sudden ear-shattering explosion.

Donna whipped back to the window, watching in horror as the starboard wing erupted into flames. Screams of passengers filled the cabin; the plane dipped right before beginning its plunge downward.

Next to her, Larry continued tweeking with his headphones.

In a panic, Donna flipped her cell back open and hit redial. Tears filled her eyes as the phone rang and rang and rang.

Why doesn’t he answer?” she screamed, just before the plane disintegrated as it hit the ocean surface...

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