A Tale Of Greed : Matthew

Matthew liked the name his parents had given him. The name of the first book in the New Testament of the Holy Bible. His parents had named him well. He paused a moment, closed his eyes, “Thy will be done, God in Heaven. Thy will be done.”

He checked the three clips for his AR-15, attached to his belt. Fully loaded, 30 rounds in each. “Give me strength, Father, to do what you’ve asked me to do.” He checked the fourth clip, put it in the 15, and turned to the picture of Jesus hanging on a cross on his ball, over his fireplace.

“Tell my Cindy how much I love her. Tell her I did this for her.”

He left his house, got in his truck, and headed toward the city treasurer’s office in town. “They’re taking everything.” He’d watched as they put a big damn road across the end of his property, the land his family had owned for generations. Four lanes of asphalt, separated by a concrete barrier, with ten feet of leeway on both sides. “They took my family’s land.”

He’d watched as they made him stop hunting in the woods a couple of miles from his home. His family had always hunted there, deer, squirrel, duck, rabbit. They were part of his diet, part of his family’s way of life. Then, the city had fenced it off, put property signs on it that said, “Natural Wildlife Preserve”, and stopped him from hunting there. They told him it was because a rare bird lived in that forest. Some damn bird that was nearly extinct. Hell, he’d never heard of that bird. He’d never seen one either. “They made up a damn story to kick me off that land, make it where I couldn’t hunt, like my Daddy, and my Grandpa.”

They’d made him agree to hookup to city water and sewage, they dug big trenches through his yard, ran pipes, and then made him pay to connect to the systems. And every month, they made him pay for using those systems. Hell, his yard had been a mess for over a year after they’d torn it too hell. And the water his family had used for generations hadn’t cost him anything. Water from a well. Damn city officials gave him a report about all the things in that water, how that water was poisoning him and his family. Especially his little girl, and his pride-and-joy son.

He knew better. He’d drank and bathed in that water all his life. They’d made up a lie, and forced him to pay for something he didn’t need. And then they made him pay more for it every month. They measured what he used, how much water, and made him pay for it by the gallon.

That was wrong. What they’d done was wrong.

Then, they sent out an inspector, and had him come up with some phony number for how much the house, and the land it was on were worth. Twenty five acres was worth a lot, it seemed. They told him his property was worth some insane amount. He couldn’t have afforded to buy it if it was worth that much. But he owned it. His family owned it, and had for three generations. And by God, he was going to give it to his son when the time came.

But them lying city people made up some ridiculous number and said that’s how much his property was worth. And then they told him he had to pay taxes on his property every year, and the taxes were based on how much the property was worth. They gave him the bill, and he choked.

He couldn’t afford it. Not every year. Hell, he’d have to have all the gold of Midas to afford that. They’d left him with no option but to sell off most of his land.

Well, by God, that wasn’t going to happen. That land was his family’s, had been for three generations. He wasn’t giving it up to some liars that worked in town, and wanted to get his land, and build houses and stores and parking lots on it, and chase him and his family off it.

Matthew had prayed to God every day. He asked God to show him what to do, show him how to fix this, how to do the right thing, how to take care of his family. And God had shown him, right there in the Bible. “There is a time for peace, and a time for war.”

Matthew knew what that meant. He knew what God wanted him to do.

He patted the AR-15 resting on the bench seat of his truck, next to him, as he drove into town, to the city treasurer’s office. They’d started everything. Now, God was going to have him finish everything.

No matter what.

As he drove, Greed sat in the bed of the truck, and enjoyed the scenery of the drive. It was going to be a glorious day. Another Christian was going to perform the word of God, and shoot people. Innocent people. People who were only doing their job, rendering unto Caesar that which was Caesar’s. Christians were such fun people to play with. They always thought it was God that told them what to do.

Not once did it occur to Matthew that everything that happened was normal. That the town was growing, and as it grew, it reached his property, and his property had become part of the town. That meant he had to pay taxes. And use city water and sewage. That meant he’d have to do what others had done before him, when the town reached them. Sell off what he couldn’t afford, and accept being part of the town.

It meant changes.

Christians, Greed had found, didn’t like changes much. Matthew was no exception. Greed grinned. “Ah, it’s going to be a glorious day, isn’t it.” He peeked into the cab to watch Matthew driving, and got excited when he saw Matthew pat the AR-15 a second time.

“It’s going to be a glorious day indeed. In the name of the Father. Amen.”

#FlashMobWrites 1×43 : Legend & Legacy

I was there, watching, when the woman’s mother verified the body was her daughter, missing for twenty-three days. I was there to see her hands shake, hear her voice whisper, “Yes,” and see the loss in her eyes.

A mother should not see her daughter’s remains on a cold, unfeeling, sterile steel table. A mother should see her daughter grow, get married, start a family.

All I could do was watch. I didn’t have to be there, and according to all the procedures of the Armor Corps, I wasn’t supposed to be there. Nothing was to be personal, everything was to be objective. But, I never followed the rules, which was how I got things done. How I knew what to do, what needed to be done. I was still human.

And I watched Mrs. Theresa Whitson stand beside that cold, hard table, as she looked at what was left of her only child.

I knew from the DNA results, who the victim was. I knew from a records check, how old she was, where she’d worked, what church she’d attended on Sundays, where she’d lived. I’d visited that church, visited her workplace, found her car, visited her apartment. I told myself I was looking for anything to help track down who’d murdered her, and that was partly true. It was also true, as I searched, I became more determined to keep my promise to her soul.

I would find those responsible.

I remembered another woman from years before. When I was… Different. When I was… Normal. I remembered how she died. How my heart broke in half when she did. It broke in half, and never healed. Then the pieces died. All that was left were scars. I’ve got scars that can’t be. Scars where my heart once was.

No one should have to feel their heart break that way. No one should have to feel their heart die, and leave them nothing but a shell. And empty, dead soul.

I knew Mrs. Theresa Whitson’s heart died in those moments she stood beside that table. I felt it happen. And I couldn’t stop it.

But I could tear the hearts from those who’d caused such pain. And I would. I would find them.

And not even God could help them when I did.

384 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote a second story for #FlashMobWrites 1×43, hosted by Ruth Long and Cara Michaels.  Please, go read all the stories for #FlashMobWrites 1×43. You might find something you like. But if you don’t read them, how will you ever know?

#VisDare 120 : Appearing

4ab61b0827925ab7ecaef465b898db2bIt started with a crack in the wall of my reality. The fabric of reality wasn’t supposed to crack. There wasn’t supposed to be anything beyond reality, reality ended at the wall. The world filled everything inside the wall, there was nothing else.

But one day the wall cracked. And I wondered, “If there is nothing beyond the wall, and the wall is cracked, why doesn’t the world get sucked through the crack, into the nothing?”

Each day the crack grew. Soon it was so long I could not see either end of it. “Is it becoming wider? Is it becoming deeper?” Each day, I shined a flashlight into the crack, and peered inside. For days, there was only darkness, only the blackness of the crack.

Until one day, something outside the wall began appearing.

And I, being curious decided to find out what it was.

146 Words
@LurchMunster


Another story idea, triggered by Angela Goff’s Visual Dare, Week 120. Please read the other entries in this week’s Visual Dare challenge. Be amazed at the magic people can put into 150 words or less.

#MWBB 3.13 : Call Me Satan

The Old Dominion University football game had not gone well for the home team. ODU lost by three touchdowns. If that wasn’t enough, their season became a lost cause when their quarterback got sacked, and wound up with a separated shoulder, and their best wide receiver went down with a torn ACL.

I sighed, “Gonna be a rough night.” I had the heads up display run pictures of 31 girlfriends and wives across the screen. I could have had the system pick one by random number, or I could have picked by closest to the social security number of the dead person I supposedly was, or the one matching the day of the month.

I looked at the eyes of each picture. One set caught my attention, “There’s my starting point.”

The armor plotted the shortest path to her residence. I didn’t bother with her name. According to the Norfolk Police Department’s computer records she was a domestic violence victim. That’s all I needed to know.

The car was waiting where I’d left it, in the parking lot, surrounded by countless others. It looked normal, like an old, cheap Toyota. The door would only open for me, and even then, only when my hand pulled the handle, and only if my hand still had a pulse. If someone borrowed my hand, the door wouldn’t open.

The computers managed the car’s audio system so it sounded like an old, cheap Toyota. I drove the car to the home of the victim, parked on the street a block away, and waited until I saw his car. Once he’d driven past, I exited my car, and walked into the shadows beside one of the buildings which lined the street. “Activate.”

I walked out of the shadows, knowing no one could see me, no one could hear me, my breathing, my footsteps, my pulse, were all silenced by the armor.

She lived in a one bedroom apartment on the third floor. The lights in the stairway, and hall were eyeball searing bright. “Security by illumination.” I waved at the video cameras in the hallway as I walked toward the victim’s apartment, then giggled at my joke. The video cameras couldn’t detect the armor. I could have stood in front of the camera and danced a jig, and no one would have known.

Of course, someone might wonder how an apartment door opened and closed by itself, but that wasn’t my problem. I stopped at the door, and used the sensors to see the apartments contents. The victim was prone on the apartment floor, the sensors recorded her physical condition. He’d struck her several times, according to the heat signature, her pulse, and blood flow. “Her condition?”

“Recommend requesting medical assistance.”

“Place the call.”

The armor called 911, reported our address, and requested medical assistance for the victim.

I didn’t bother opening the door. I went through it. No bruises for me, the armor took the beating. The male raced toward the door, then stopped when he realized no one was there. I kicked him in the groin, hard enough to lift him off the floor. He formed a little ball on the floor, so I rolled him into the nearest wall. By the time I finished, I’d added a concussion, three broken ribs, a separated shoulder, a broken arm, and four broken fingers on his right hand, to his list of injuries.

The armor reported the male was in a great deal of pain, but not at risk of death.

You can call me Satan. Call me evil. Call me violent, heartless, soulless, uncivilized. Call me whatever you want. I don’t care. I was there to fix things. Things the law, reason, the courts, the police, and society weren’t able to fix.

Invisible, I whispered in the male’s ear, “I’m Armor 17. I am the violence. And I’m watching you.”

When the medical assistance for the victim arrived, I walked away, back into the shadows of the building I’d started my walk from. “Off.” I walked out of the shadows, got into my car, and drove off, knowing there would be more violence in the days ahead.

Much more violence.

693 Words
@LurchMunster


And so goes year 3, week 13 (Week 3.13) of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. This week the prompt is the song, “Call Me Satan” by Omnia. Please, go read the other stories in this week’s challenge.

#MidweekMusings 1×14 : Way Down We Go

“If Heaven and Hell exist, if God and Satan exist, then I know I am going to burn for the life I’ve lead, the things I’ve done, and what I will do before my time ends. Down is where we’re going. Way down.”

Carson O’Leary’s head rested on his desk, leaking blood and brains on the expensive hardwood. I’d shot him, killed him dead, in cold blood, eye-to-eye. “Nice to know I’ll see you there.” I left the same way I’d arrived. I waited for the door to open, and walked through. Unseen. Undetectable.

I am Armor 17. And O’Leary deserved far more than death.

The trail started in Peru, in the mountains East of Cedropampa, with a cell of the Shining Path. The cell received a special arms shipment from a man named Rafael Smith. Rafael received the four cases of AR-15 rifles from a shipping company in Bonaire. “Thor Shipping. Not even the worst storm can stop us.” Great saying. Always made me smile.

Thor Shipping received the cases from Amos Black’s Merchandise in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico, where everything and everyone was going bankrupt, and you took money where you could find it. Amos Black’s received the cases from a couple of cigarette boats that headed south from Miami, through tourist stops in The Bahamas, Turks and Caico, and The Dominican Republic.

The cases were packed on the cigarettes in Miami at 0300 hours on a Sunday morning. A Ryder truck dropped them off. That truck picked up the guns near Carrizo Springs, Texas. Several Mexican Police near Piedras Negras, Mexico borrowed the guns from the evidence lockers of the police station.

Everyone along the way got paid. The police officers made enough cash to pay the ransom for their daughters. That cash came from a man named Thomas Champlain. Champlain got orders from a burner cell phone he received in the mail, from the US Postal Service, in Del Rio, Texas. A man named Sal Houston mailed the phone from Froid, Montana. Sal received orders to mail the phone, with instructions for its use, from a letter mailed from a post office box in Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania.

An administrative assistant named Cynthia Armstrong, mailed the instructions. She’d received a phone call from Kevin Holmes, in New York, New York, who’d received his instructions verbally from Carson O’Leary’s best friend, Owen Clark.

The money from the sale of the arms followed a reverse trail, ending at Carson O’Leary’s bank.

I was Armor. For us, there is no law. I followed the trail, verified who did what, who played what part. I documented everything with photographs on old-fashioned film. Film still worked in the US legal system. It couldn’t be faked as easily as digital images could. Of course I remained invisible, undetectable, contained in my armor during the entire search. I looked over Owen Clark’s shoulder as Carson O’Leary as he gave Kevin the orders about the guns. I watched Owen tell Kevin Holmes what to do, then watched Kevin call Cynthia Armstrong. I watched Cynthia write and mail the instructions to Sal Houston, and Sal place the order for the guns. I traced each step of the deal, from top to bottom. I did it twice, to make certain I knew every player involved.

Carson O’Leary was the head of the snake. To kill the snake, start with the head.

I watched him sit at his desk, smoking Cuban cigars all afternoon. I watched him fuck his secretary, who hated it, but liked the pay. I watched him plan his trip out that night, to the golf club, where two girl caddies would take care of him.

When he got ready to leave, I disengaged the armor’s cloak, and suddenly popped into existence. I can’t imagine what he thought, looking at a human shaped hole in the universe. The armor wasn’t black. It had no color. It reflected no light, like a black hole. And then, I spoke, and he got angry.

“Carson O’Leary. You’re guilty of arms shipments to Shining Path rebels in Peru. I also have evidence you’ve shipped arms to drug cartel units in Mexico, arranged the kidnapping for ransom, of multiple Mexican police officers as part of your weapons shipment process.”

“Who are you? What are you doing in my office!” He pounded on the alarm beneath his desk. “You’ve got some nerve coming here!”

I didn’t respond to his comments. I placed a packet of pictures on his desk, sealed in a brown, manilla envelope.

“What’s that?”

“You’re going down, Carson.” I shot him. In the face. “We’ll meet again, in Hell.”

It only took 20 seconds for the security forces of the bank to arrive at his office. The door swung open, and I calmly walked out, past four armed guards, and Carson O’Leary’s secretary.

All hell broke loose, of course. After all, the bank president’s brains were leaking out of his face on to his desk, and no one knew who killed him, or how. And then, there was the envelope full of pictures, which the police happily took into custody.

Another day on the job. Another dead body. Of course I still had to take out the rest of the players in the chain. I’d spare the Mexican officers, it wasn’t really their fault.

“It’s what I do. I’m Armor 17. I am the violence.”

892 Words
@LurchMunster


For week 1×14 of #MidweekMusings, a flash fiction adventure hosted by #FlashMobWrites (Ruth Long and Cara Michaels). Please, go read all the stories for this week’s prompt.

#MidweekMusings 1×13 : Freedom

I sat in my recliner, watching the TV. Some stupid show about how aliens had visited Earth in the past, and shared science and technology with us, and that’s how we started advancing as humans. I’m sure it all made sense to some people, but to me, it was flat silly.

As I watched, I thought about everything. My job. My art. My life. I was old enough, the kids had grown up, and left the house. I wasn’t sure if I was proud of them standing on their own, as a sign I’d been a successful parent. Or if I was sad at the struggles they faced daily, a sign of my failures as a parent. It was one of those questions you ask yourself, but can never find an answer too. Always, you wonder how you did, and what that means about you, what that says about you.

I doodled. I did. I drew things on paper. Stupid things. Fairies with butterfly wings, bugs with big eyes and stupid grins. I even had this idea for a bug civilization, where big bugs were busses, with advertisements on the sides, and windows, filled with little bugs looking out. And bug traffic everywhere, with bug street races, and bug old people. I know. Silly, right? It wasn’t a serious thing, just something I did, something fun.

I must have had three dozen notebooks of doodles, sketches, drawings. It was a hobby for me. I’d never taken it seriously, never thought of selling any of my sketches. Hell, I’d never thought of finishing any of them, cleaning them up, making them worth looking at.

I doodled. That’s what it was. Something fun, something to pass the time, something to help me relax. It wasn’t real, after all, I wasn’t doing that for a living.

What I did for a living was work. Full time, like a grown up’s supposed to. Work a full-time job, be responsible, be grown up, be professional. All that stuff you learn in school. That’s what school was for, wasn’t it? You went to school to learn how to get a job, and earn a living. A decent living. Where you could buy a house, get married, have a family, send the kids to college. So they could do the same thing.

I suppose my work defined me. Or, you know, maybe I let my work define me. I let what I did at work define me. That old question, “And what do you do for a living?”

I worked. I worked for a good company. They paid me well, gave me medical insurance, two weeks of vacation every year, five days of sick leave if I needed them. It was good money, a good deal. We’d done well with my work, we had cars (three of them), a roomy house, and all the trappings. TVs everywhere, computers, smartphones. All that crap.

My reflection in the TV screen spoke volumes when I noticed it. And I tried not to notice it. The tubby, balding white guy sitting on his lazy ass, drinking a zillion calorie soda, eating peanut butter fudge cookies, watching some stupid TV show in the middle of the night. The old white guy at the end of his life.

I didn’t want to see that, didn’t like my reflection in the TV screen. I grabbed the remote, and started surfing the channels, mindlessly clicking through them, until I stopped at the music video channels. I figured I’d watch some of the women sing. You know, one of two of the girl bands, where they dress in skin-tight outfits, with barely present skirts, and push up tops that make their boobs look bigger than they are. And they shimmy their hips, and shake their boobs lots while they sing and dance around. That was always fun to watch, right?

But that night, it wasn’t. I kept thinking how I was probably older than their parents were, or at least as old as their parents. About how my daughter might be older than the girls in the group. How those girls dressed up, and shook it, for money. How they took advantage of the truth of men spending money to watch them, and have fantasies about them.

Hell, I hadn’t had any sex with anyone in ages. I couldn’t remember the last time I had, and it didn’t matter. I wasn’t really interested in that anymore. I was too tired, too old. I’d outgrown it, I supposed. But, it was everywhere on that music channel. The ads between the videos were for women’s sexy underwear, bras and panties, always lacy. And the models had big tits, and big asses. The kind of woman a twenty something guy wants to get naked with.

All those reminded me of was my daughter being older than the models.

I changed channels, and stopped at one where a guy in jeans was singing. Lots of scene changes, of course, it was a music video. But he was singing something about freedom. And that got me thinking.

Yeah, my reflection was still there, in the TV screen. My fat, lazy ass was still there, collecting dust. Hell, if I was a car, I’d have been a Junker in the back field somewhere, with weeds growing out of my front end, where my hood was gone, and the engine too.

That’s when I kept hearing that damn song echo in my head. That word, freedom.

I started drawing that night. And for once I finished a picture. Maybe that was where I’d find the freedom the guy in the song kept singing about. And that got me thinking. And thinking would change everything.

950 words
@LurchMunster


For week 1×13 of #MidweekMusings, a flash fiction adventure hosted by #FlashMobWrites (Ruth Long and Cara Michaels). Please, go read all the stories for this week’s prompt.

#FlashMobWrites 1×23 : Carrion Flowers

I turn the volume up and listen,
As the music screams inside my head,
“Criminal
The Suffering
It makes me think like a
Criminal
When we’re alone.”

And I am alone.
I’m always alone.
I walk, in silence.
One mile down.
Two to go.
I embrace my isolation.
It’s all I truly have.

Gray clouds fill the sky.
There is anger in them.
Bottled up.
Trapped.
Seeking a way out.
An escape.
Release.

I can taste the water in the air.
Feel it on my skin.
Thick.
Clinging.
It would push most people indoors.
Not me.

I feel the grin on my face.
The gleam in my eyes.
“Bring it!
Bring the pain!”

The music changes,
Then changes again,
And again.
Never ending.
I hear the words once more.
I more than hear them.
I feel them.

“This is where I redeem myself
When I show that I’m not blind.
Can’t follow the cattle people.
Not one of the Kine.”
The beat,
The rhythm,
Drives each step.

Who cares how many steps.
Who cares how long it takes.
Who cares what I have to do.
What the day brings.
Work.
Life.
It all falls away.

And I feel.
Escape.

The second mile falls.
With it, the damage in my shoulder
Begins to talk to me.
Another would take the five-pound weight
Hanging on his wrist
Off.

I’m not another.
I hold on to the pain.
I know what it means.
Why it’s there.
And I know,
Like the walk.
The pain is all I have.

I focus on the music,
The rhythm,
The beat.
Walk to the beat.
To the beat.
To the beat.

I hold on to the pain.
Knowing the truth.
It won’t kill me.
Unless I let it.

And come the next day,
As I walk once more,
That pain will be gone.
All that will remain is a memory
Of what it took,
What I had to endure,
To survive.

In a life
On a world
I never made.

333 Words
@LurchMunster


This is my entry into #FlashMobWrites 1×23, hosted by Ruth Long and Cara Michaels. Please, go read all the stories in for #FlashMobWrites 1×23. You might find something you like. But if you don’t read them, how will you ever know?