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Under a bright hot sun…#atozchallenge

U2020

     Under a bright hot sun they walked two rows over between high piles of bony people. Bone Hump pointed to a dark opening in a large pile they stood in front of.

“That’s sssan ugly hole,” Bone Hag murmured.

“Looks like a tunnel,” Rocky said.

“Made out of crushed dead people,” growled Bone Hump.

“When I go in, will hands reach out and try to grab me?” Rocky asked.

“Yes, I certain,” Bone Hump nodded. “They’ll want you to pull them out.”

“Damn, I guess I got no choice.”

“We’ll be here waiting for you,” Bone Hump nodded his head.

“Yeah, thanks,” Rocky chuckled. He studied the opening. It looked to be about four feet high and three feet wide. Rocky was six feet. He’d have to stoop or go on his hands and knees, which would make his silhouette lower.

He didn’t know how Arango was armed. Rocky assumed he was. Rocky wore Armani sport coat and shirt and black Levis. He dropped to his knees and began the slow journey through the tunnel.

Once inside he cold hear a chorus of murmurs. High and low, some were male and some were female. Somewhere that was a woof, woof greeting from a dog.

Evan had everything down here. The dog melted his   heart. He thought about his pet pack rat, Dewey back at Bankhead Springs.

Bone Hump was right. Hands reached out for him. Bony fingers ran over his clothes and hair. It was as if they wanted to touch something living and warm blooded. Hisses greeted him. Somewhere he heard Armani hissed. A trail of moans followed his progress.

Woof, woof had become a whine and it saddened Rocky. He kept moving moved to a corner and he saw the tunnel continued on. He picked up crunching and cracking sounds from around the corner. He could hear cries of anguish and frightened whispers followed by sobs. He stuck his head around the corner to see the origins of these sounds.

There was a skeleton in bib overalls wearing a hard hat with a light. It broke bones with a small sledge. The light jerked and skittered with its movements. It hovered over freshly broken bones picking them up dropping them like dust. It seemed proud of it endeavors.

It stopped and turned to Rocky. “What are you doing in my houssse,” it hissed.

These just aren’t…#atozchallenge

T2020

“These just aren’t piles of bones?”

“Noss they are actually piles of dead people.”

“And they all want out.”

“Yepsss. Now maybe I can go find my mother.”

“What’s your name?”

“They call me Bone Hump. What’s your woman’s name.”

“This is Bernice.” Rocky said with a gesture.

“No Rocky, Lucille and Evan gave me another name.”

“What is it,” Rocky asked.

“Lucille started it. They call me Bone Hag.

“Lucille is just getting back at you.”

“These names are just to put us down,” said Bone Hump. “My name was Homer Gibson, but now I’m Bone Hump.

“Well Bone Hump, do you know where I might find Arango Mota. He’s hiding in here somewhere.”

“I’ve heard that name,” answered Bone Hump. “Everyone knows what you say around here. All the bones are complete bodies and they want out of the pile. And here I am.” He did a funny little bone man dance.

“Can you help out this man?” asked Bone Hag. “He’s a killer, but he’s very nice.”

“Thanks Bone Hag,” murmured Rocky.

“I hope I didn’t say something wrong.”

“Not as farss as I’m concerned,” hissed Bone Hump.

Rocky had a feeling something was happening between Bone Hag and Bone Hump.

“The body you’ll want to talk to is Bone Breaker.”

“Where is he?”

“Everyone hates him. He made a cave by breaking up skeleton remains. He just tore them apart. Once bones are broken and torn away you can never be whole again.”

“Okay lets go,” Bone Hag urged her new friend. “Rocky needs to find Arango.”

“Bone Hag, can I walk with you?”

“Oh certainly,” she put her arm under his and they walked away side by side.

There’s something for everyone, Rocky thought. He rubbed his Buddha and his pistol and began to feel really good.

Shoot Me Dead…#atozchallenge

S2020

     “Shoot me dead, Bernice,” Rocky laughed in surprise. ”You snuck up on me.”

“I’m quieter now, because I’m dead.”

“That makes sense.”

“Even told me to help you and give your support if you needed it.”

“Evan is an interesting guy.”

“He likes you. You give him a lot of work.”

Like old friends they walked down a lane between piles of bones. Some lay in their path, fallen from the higher mounds. They were careful not to step on these wayward fragments.

Occasionally they would see a walking skeleton. It’s clothes hanging in scraps. “You see that?” asked Rocky.

“Even told mess we would seess such things,” Bernice hissed a little. Her change was near completion. “They don’t want to be dead and they don’t want to be alive. Even said sometimes it takes centuries to decide.”

“Are they dangerous?”

“Yesss, because they’re angriesss.”

“Then they were never happy,” Rocky commented.

“Who’s Julius Caesar?”

“A great general and emperor of Rome, very long ago.”

“Evan told messs he still walksss in the streets of Bone.”

“I think you mean Rome.”

“Whatever,” Bernice shrugged her shoulders and rattled.

“You seem happy.”

“I’m okay. I just wish I were alive.”

“Where do you think Arango is?”

“Where he can hide and if possible put up a fight.”

They turned into a corridor that headed north. His eyes darted back and forth looking for possibilities. Arango might be dug inside one of these bone piles.

Something touched his shoulder. He had bumped into a pile and a bony hand had his shoulder. He spun and pulled out a complete skeleton.

“I’m free, I’m free at last I’m free,” it screamed.

Rocky thought he had even seen a possible smile.

Pulling out his gun he was about to fire.

“Hey pal, you can’t kill me, I’m already dead. Ha, ha, ha.”

“Just keep back,” Rocky said.

“No problem, I owe you.”

Rocky…#atozchallenge

Rocky R2020

     “Rocky, don’t disappoint me.” The man in black with the cape held Ricky’s arm and smiled.

“Who are you,” Rocky asked.

“Evangels, I’m an avenging angel from below. I deal with the nefarious humans you send to us.”

“If this is true those guys needed to be sent to you.”

“That’s true. We are actually old friends and you have kept me pretty busy.”

“I’m sorry then.”

“No, no it’s been a good busy.”

“It’s not really in my nature to do what I do.”

“I understand. Your consideration of others is very commendable. But in your work you cannot have a considering option.”

“No, that’s true.”

“So go now and give me Arrange. And please, you may just call me Evan.” He gestured with his hands, signaling Rocky to leave.

Rocky turned and looked over the area. Dirt lanes bordered high piles of bones. Human rubble was everywhere. Past lives were piled in high white monuments. Even though Rocky was used to death it was disheartening. He heard a quiet rustle and rattle behind him.

 

Quirky…#atozchallenge

Q2020

     Quirky as Bernice was she apparently had a plan. She was as entertaining to Rocky as she was dangerous. She danced around holding the shotgun as if it were a human partner. Her dress was speckled with her drool.

Rocky leaned back on the fence and wondered what was happening on the other side.

It had gotten quiet. Suddenly a gunshot broke the quiet. “Ohhh yeah,” a male voice yelled.

“I’m going in there Lucille might have shot Arango and I want to do that.” Bernice bristled with frustration. She raised her gun and blew away the clasping hands that held the gate shut.

Rocky still leaned against the wall rubbing his Buddha to maintain in spite of Bernice’s insanity. “Go ahead, Bernice and make a mess of things.”

“How would I do that?”

“You haven’t see Lucille lately, have you?”

“That’s okay when I see her I got this.”

“But she’s already dead. How is that going to improve your situation?”

“I’ll find that out when I find her, screamed Bernice.”

Bernice ran through the gate yelling and shooting. The shotgun was a double barrel rig. That was her last shot. Rocky hope she didn’t bring any extra rounds.

Rocky felt he better get in there. He ran through the gate. He could see no one. A semi stood at the entrance. It carried a carried a big horn skull and horns in the grill. Hair was still on the skull. Not a very good tanning job. Still running he turned around the end of the rig’s trailer and saw Bernice trying to load her weapon She had the barrel broken open but was fumbling with the loads. She dropped one and Lucille had her by the hair and was spinning Bernice around.

“You killed me once, but not again, you bitch.”

Bernice screamed and dropped her weapon, shocked at what she saw Lucille had become.

“I was beautiful and look what you’ve made become.”

“I’m gonna do the same to you, sweetheart.”

Rocky ran and was going to help Lucille.

“Stay away Rocky, she’s mine. I’ll deal with her.”

They fell to the ground kicking and scratching. Bernice’s face was molded in shock. She squirmed and rolled with Lucille in a futile frenzy. “Go find Arango and kill him. That will bring him to me.”

A figure in black appeared behind the couple. It looked like a priest, but wore a black cape. Was this the devil Hector was talking about? He moved around the women like a dancer in a ballet.

Lucille jabbed her clawed hand inside Bernice’s chest.

Bernice squealed and arched back in pain. “Die, my lovely, die.” Lucille seemed to purr out the words. “I welcome you to your new world.”

The black figure glided to the prone ladies and laid his cape over them, quickly lifting it away.

“Rocky, my friend, because you have provided many recruitment opportunities, would you like to join them?”

“Not really. Not sure who you are? One of his angels?”

“No, I am the one you serve. I am the master of your seeking and finding, killing profession.”

“Thank you, but no”

“Then find Arango for me and I will owe you a future favor.”

“I’ll find him.”

“Good because he’s the only one I will trade for Hector.”

Please… #atozchallenge

P2020

“Please listen to me, Arongo,” the female voice pleaded.

Rocky sat back and listened to the conversation on the other side of the wall. The lady was in love.

“I will, you know I will,” the male voice argued.

“When.”

“Maybe sooner than you think, I have a feeling.”

“Rocky?”

“Not sure.”

Rocky looked in the distance toward town. A flash of pink disappeared behind a building. Was that Bernice? His eyes moved back and forth trying to get a complete picture.

The pink appeared again and Rocky knew it was Bernice. He never locked his truck. Maybe he should start doing that.

Because of his reputation in Mexicali people were afraid to steal from him. The saying was: don’t fuck with the man in black or he’ll eat ya like a snack. It held an underlying meaning that Rocky didn’t want to think about.

Bernice carried the shotgun. Rocky wondered if it was for Arango or himself. He didn’t want to kill her, but for Hector, he would if he had too. Saving Hector from the Dead Truckers was top of mind for Rocky.

Bernice was getting close and she was a mess. Her pink dress was soiled and spotted; the fabric was ripped and hung off her like dead skin. Every thing about her looked decayed. Her hair hung everywhere. She had been crying. Her eyes were black rings of mascara. Blotched skin smeared her face. Her hands looked like claws. She reminded Rocky a little of Lucille.

She moved at a rapid pace and she swung the weapon to the cadence of her gait.

She held Rocky in a state of awe. “You make me think I should lock my truck.”

“Wouldn’t have mattered, I’d just broke a window.”

“Glad you didn’t.”

“I know where Arango is, for sure. Just let me kill him and you and I will be fine.”

“Can’t let you do that. That’s my job.”

“I’ll save you the trouble.’

“Right now he’s working something out with some woman. You may know her.”

“That’s why I’m gonna kill him and her.”

“I think you already have.”

“What.”

“Killed her.”

“Who.”

“Lucille. At least that’s what I’m picking up.”

“She’s here?” A look of fear covered Bernice’s face.

“Is that you, Lucille?” Rocky yelled.

“Yes, Rocky.”

“How’s my pal, Hector?”

“He’s fine, he offered one of my girls a job.”

“You know what he’d want her to do?”

“Yes. She didn’t like it and that’s what got her killed.”

“That you, Lucille,” screamed Bernice. “I’m sorry I did you.”

“I doubt that, Bernice.”

“You took my Arango from me.”

“You never had him, sweetheart,” Lucille chucked.

“I’ll kill you both for that.”

“You can’t do that Bernice. I need Arango to trade for my friend.”

“Know all that, but I want Arango.”

“You kill him I’ll have no one to trade but you.”

“So what do you want me to do?”

“Put down the gun.”

“No I won’t do that. I can see I may have to kill you.”

 

Outcomes…#atozchallenge

O2020

 

Outcomes like this were not unusual for Rocky. He had just killed a man, but he was more concerned about getting something to eat. The air was fresh and clear. There were no food smells. No tortillas, eggs bacon, no carne asada, beans, nothing. His stomach growled. He hadn’t eaten since he left Hector and this was day two. The only scent was the dry acid odor of sage. He was walking out of buildings and looking at grassy, bushy, boulder strewn open hills.

He reached a high wall compound that did not appear to be a building, but consisted only of thick wooden walls. He reached an opening wide enough for a truck to pass through. The door opened in two halves, which were held together by two bony arms in a clinch-fisted grasp. It was a dead man’s grip that reminded Rocky of the Dead Truckers in the La Rumorosa Mountains.

On each side every wall appeared to be about fifty yards long. The ground around the structure was clean. There were no rocks, grass, brush and it looked cultivated by a furrow. It was flat clean earth.

Rocky spent time inspecting the structure, he pushed pulled and found nothing that would provide a way in. It appeared solid. He looked and listened.

Finally he sat down and leaned back against the rough timbers. What was inside was still a mystery. He thought he heard arguing voices between a man and a woman. At first the conversation was distant, but now was getting louder. They were walking inside the walls and approaching where he was sitting.

“Can’t talk about Lalo,” he killed Lalo. “He was the door for my recruits,” The womans voice was filled with frustration. Rocky dropped him in the grinding stones.”

“What about his people, what did they do?”

“Nothing, they were stupefied with the bone syrup.”

“I hear Rocky is good,” said the male voice. “He’s after me. I’m a little nervous.”

“If he got you, then you could come to me.”

“You know I will, but I’m not ready now.”

“You don’t say that when we’re making love.”

“That’s because I’m only thinking of you.”

There was a feminine sigh.

“What about Beatrice? Have you any thoughts of revenge?”

“Yes, but that may take some time.”

“Did Lalo say where I was?” The male voice sounded nervous.

On the other side of the wall Rocky was guessing who they were. But where was Beatrice? Arongo was just a job. But Beatrice had an insane edge of sinister. And Rocky knew she was dangerous.

“Not that I know of,” said the feminine voice. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know.”

Now…#atozchallege

N2020

     Now here’s Lalo wanting to play games. Rocky wondered if these strange people would help Lalo if he needed it. If   he screamed would they go against Rocky. He had to do something. Time may be running out for Hector and he was babysitting a possible murderous psycho. Beatrice acted nice with Rocky, but was she?     Rocky never turned his back on her.

Lalo gave Rocky a challenging look. His hands were hidden behind his leather apron. Was he holding some kind of weapon? Beatrice was edging closer and behind Rocky. He could smell her feint waft of cologne. It smelled sweaty. Would he have to deal with her and Lalo? They had a history of some sort.

Lalo walked along the edge of the pit between two beams pushed by his slaves. He kept pace with the movement of the turning bars. Rocky jumped up on the space next to Lalos and stood between two spokes pushed by what appeared to be a groggy crew. “So here we are rocky,” he chirped out and pulled a stevedore’s loading hook in each hand.

Rocky’s reaction was instant. A slap across Lalo’s face sent him over the edge and into the concaved depression. He tried to slow his descent with the hooks scraping against the metal surface that let to the grinding stones. His scream and wild look over his shoulder was rewarding for Rocky. Tired of the cocky misfit’s attitude he felt refreshed in a strange way.

Lalo involuntarily spun around the grinding stones. His workers were oblivious to their masters plight.

“My apron’s caught between the stones, help me out.”

“Where’s Arango?”

“Help me and I’ll tell you.”

“I’m not buying that.”

Lalo’s hooks left circular marks in the metal panels of the dome.

“You’re not going anywhere without my help.”

“Okay, okay, he’s staying at the boneyard.”

“Where’s that.”

“Take the street out front down to the end. It’s there.”

“Okay thanks.”

“Now help me, please.”

“Why don’t you ask your people.”

“What, they won’t listen, they can’t”

“Then I’ll just let you figure something out.” Rocky turned away and climbed out of the slow spinning disc and walked for the outside door. Lalo’s painful screams were like music to his ears. They got louder and then abruptly stopped.

Rocky turned and looked for Beatrice. She was nowhere in sight. He wondered on side she was really on? It didn’t matter to Rocky, because he felt he knew. He knew she was a deeply troubled woman.

He rubbed his hand over the grip of his pistol. It gave him the same comfort as his Buddha. And he found his brass friend and gave him a few caresses, and it was soothing.

He immediately forgot about Lalo, but Beatrice remained in the back of his mind.

May we get serious? #atozchallenge

M2020

“May we get serious, you sure you want to go in there? This place is dangerous. You seem so nice.” Beatrice chuckled and winked at Rocky.

Rocky said nothing and walked though the open door. Empty tables and overturned chairs declared a party or a fight. A pool of blood surrounded an overturned chair. Against the wall there was a single faucet with a red handgrip. There were no bottles on rack, bartender, or waiter. It didn’t matter, because Rocky wasn’t thirsty.

A grinding and the gritty sound made the building shake.

A portly man with a thin mustache in white filthy clothes a butcher would wear cam out. He wore a greasy leather apron. “Hola, Beatrice how’s your virtue?”

“Very funny, Lalo! ” Beatrice sounded flat and angry.

“Have you seen Arango Mota?” Rocky asked.

“Who’s this?” asked Lalo.

“This is Rocky, he works with Roberto Cruz.”

“Am I supposed to be impressed?”

“Follow me I’ll show you what I’m doing now.”

Rocky and Bernice followed Lalo and the grinding sound became more intense.

“You haven’t answered my question,” growled Rocky.

“No I haven’t,” Lalo chuckled.

The room was filled with people who pushed at beams that radiated from a central stone that turned on a stone beneath it. Male and female people pushed at the timbers that made the stone rotate. Others gathered bones and dropped them into a saucer shaped hallow that dropped to the central stones. Clattering down to the central stones bones were ground into pale dusty compound that dropped down between the revolving stones.

“I’m making bone syrup, it’s quite addictive and will give you a great inner bloom.”

Beatrice rolled her nose. Rocky said nothing. The workers were automatons appearing to be numbed, like walking somnolents.

“Where do you find the bones?” Rocky asked.

“Graveyards we dig them up,” Lalo smiled. “And we have other sources.”

“So where’s Arongo Mota?”

“I’ll tell you, but you have to make me tell you.”

“Lalo, be careful,” Beatrice spoke in a quivering voice. “This man is seriously dangerous.”

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Let’s Get Moving…#AtoZChallenge

L2020

Let’s get moving Beatrice. Give me the name of Arongo’s best friend. Rocky was nervous thinking about Hector. He was running out of time and he knew it.

Beatrice was acting strange. She made Rocky nervous considering what had happened to Clavio. She could not be the sweet thing that she pretended to be.

“Oh Rocky, I’m so embarrassed that you had to watch me protect my virtue.”

“He was going for it pretty good wasn’t he.”

“Yes, he was,” she moaned out her voice as if she had lost her virtue to Clavio.

“You seem to keep it pretty well intact.”

“Yes it’s safely hidden between my legs.” She looked at Rocky and winked. “My virtue is to be given, not taken.”

Rocky didn’t like where she was going. There was something about her that Rocky felt wanted to spring out and damage. “Right now Beatrice, I need information. Where would Arrange hang out?”

“He goes to some very bad places.”

“You must know where these places are, so take me there.”

“We go to go to the down side of town.”

“Let’s go,” Rocky urged.

They passed boarded up doors and windows. Businesses that once were, but now no longer. Walking in shadows they passed a crumpling ruin of dead businesses. Boarded windows and hanging doors created a morgue-like atmosphere.

“Here,” Beatrice pointed to a metal door with a barred window. The sign said Dead Sweetening. “Are you sure you want to go in? You seem so nice.”