Snap, Crackle, Pop / Pile, Flat, Pat

                                                                                by J.A. Von Schinzel - Reynolds

     It was an odd day. Getting hotter out. Irratable yet relaxed. Ready to leave the house, but running late of course. 
Let the dog out. Chased him back in. Got in the truck, laughed about how it seemed cooler than it had been in the house.
Senses keen for the drive, heading down Cemetery Road and headed to the chiropractor's, I noticed him for some reason.

     Maybe I let off the gas a bit, as there was a mild turn in the road, a bit of a veer to the left. Disquietingly, 
this lent to the illusion I was driving right towards...him. I'm going to call him Brian. 

    It seemed like the turn was in slow motion. Brian was just sitting there minding his own business. Or maybe everyone's.
Not to judge, but he looked really simple-minded. Black t-shirt, sweat-stained. Black gym shorts like the ones you'd be embarrased
to wear in middle class gym. A bit tubby, blubbery even. Maybe 6 foot tall, 200 lbs. But not a man. Somewhere lost on the way to
being one. Ruddy, pale face and dark eyes looking at nothing as they tried to bore a hole in my head. 

     My hands gripped the wheel and I remembered to move that right foot down a bit. Running late. What the hell was it about this
guy? Curly, sweaty black hair and eyes. Almost rocking a bit as he sat there on the bare patch of grass. Freaky, it's like
I could amost smell him. And it wasn't good. 

     His hands though. Pale, left hand, grasping dirt, piling it into little piles. Like little ant hills. Childishly making, flattening,
 making. But that's not all. It's his right hand. On his lap. The handle is wooden, but I can't really focus on it. Because the steel, 
it glistens in the sunlight. It looks so, so sharp. That axe. It's razor sharp. 

     That left hand is moving a mile a minute, piling, flattening, patting the ground. Pile, flat, pat. But that right hand is
stock still. It's like the hand on the gun taking aim. And then he is behind me. Staring at nothing but taking aim.

     I got to the top of the road and stopped to take the turn. My lumbar locked up a little and reminded me of what I was going
to ask my chiropractor to address. He generally knows anyhow. 

     Brian stood up and swayed like there was a wind blowing in from Hell itself. There was a storm in his mind at the least. 

     I got to the chiropractor's on route 9 and walked in, said Hi to the secretary. Made my appointments for the following week,
had a nice talk with her, sat down. Favoring my back, sitting sideways like I do. 

     Brian walked into the back door of his Momma's kitchen and didn't even wipe his feet. And he was walking sideways. She didn't
see his axe he had found on the ground by the neighbor's toolshed. He knew how to keep a secret, and he knew how to get what he
wanted. He'd been wanting this a long time. 

     I laid down on the adjustment table and my chiropractor and I made a few jokes like we do. Nothing like a few F-bombs thrown
around to help a patient patient like myself relax. Figured it was time for a TENS unit treatment, been awhile. He goes to get warm
towels for my back, I tell him it's fine, I don't like the extra heat.

     Brian does though. That's why when Momma tells him to go clean up before dinner, like he's a dummy or something, he decides
to just throw the spaghetti pot in her face. It's boiling. So is his blood. 

     It's nice to be out of the heat. The electric feels awesome, almost painful, but I like the TENS unit cranked. I've got such
an abnormally high tolerance for pain, I like to just allow my back to cramp. Feels better after. I relax a bit and tire of reading
on my phone. Throw it over to the chair. Drops off. So what, I'll pick it up after. 

     Brian didn't drop his axe though. He drops the pot and Momma's wailing at him. ''Why'd you do that, you son of a bitch! You ought
to be locked up!'' He lets her scream. That bastard of a step-father might wake up. And he does...Brian's going to get what he wants.

     I lie there on the table and the tension leaves me. Feeling a bit better. The timer bell goes off. 

     The timer on the stove goes off and startles Brian. He wanted this to last longer, but he's jumpy and just swings the axe. Hard. You can hear
the crunch as it pierces Momma's chest. The sucking as he pulls it out, the deep crimson of the arterial blood just missing him as it squirts
viscously into the air. He smells it in the air along with the spaghetti, always the spaghetti for dinner. And now seared flesh. But he hears his
step-father screaming and this is going to be what matters the most for the next few moments. 

    The chiropractor comes back in and pulls the pads off, puts them away. Applies pressure to the trigger points. Not too bad today, I can
talk. ''Don't scream, new patient out there.'' ''Haha, I probably won't.'' He notices my phone on the floor and puts in on the shelf. ''Thanks,

    Brian's bastard step-father really did try. Running tackle at him and he trips backward a little bit. But he and Momma were right. He's big.
He just doesn't need to be good anymore. Knocks that bastard flat on his ass and laughs. ''Dad'' picks up the pot and tries to hit Brian in the
legs with it. So what. Brian hits him with the axe. Axe to the side of the head. So mad, didn't even cut him. Just hear a crunch. And now the
bastard's scared. Brian beats him with the side of the head of the axe like he's a dog learning to fear the newspaper for a good long minute.

    The trigger points are done and we go right to the spine. Breathe in, feel the crunch between the shoulder blades. Breathe in, feel the pop
at the base of the neck. The table lifts and drops under my hips. Nice to feel a bit looser already. 

    Breathe in, feel the crunch in the handle. So neat, can hear it too. Landed it right in the bastard's neck. Can barely make out the words he
thinks he's going to scream. Big man, always screaming. Brian wants it quiet. Twist the handle, hear a pop as vertebrae dislodge from tendon and
disc slightly and then hear not a breath more. Finally. He falls limp and Brian stands tall. A bit more of a man, now. 

    I straighten my legs out, chiropractor checks to see if my hips are level. They are, I roll over to get my neck snapped. Nice, clean adjustment.
I hear that snap, crackle, pop I like to hear. Sometimes it's like a gunshot. My worst joke about it is how it sounds like the sound of breaking a fish's
neck before you put it on the keeper's line, because it's not cool to let them live once you've got them. They might try and get away. You've got to be
quick with the slimy buggers or you'll be trying to break their necks for a good long while. 

    Brian wants to go outside. Got to maybe clean up a little bit first, though. He puts Momma up on the table, drags her up there by her legs.
Her head comes off in three quick blows. He's big. She always said so. It's easy. Puts it in the sink. Grabs the old bastard to continue.

    I lie there for a moment like I always want to. The chiropractor laughs at me, ''come on, get up.'' I slide down to the end of the table, prepared
to roll back, do so. Lot of movement, the pops are a little louder than usual. All good, feels better for now. Time to go. 

    There's a thud and a crunch when Momma hits the floor. Brian's using the bastard to push her off and make room for him up there on the kitchen table.
Oh, getting it dirty now. They ain't yellin' now, though. He almost drops him but gets the bastard up there finally. Pushes him by the feet, up higher so
his head slips off the table a bit and walks up closer to his face. Looks him in the eye. Pulls the axe back. Bastard starts trying to get away, hits him!
No more! Another whack to the neck and another and he stops moving. Blood's getting on Brian's arms. 

    ''Thanks man, see ya next week!'' I say bye to the secretary, walk out to the truck a lot quicker than I walked in. Change the CD in the deck, put it in
reverse. Wait on the light, think about how quickly I got out. I don't ever mind time spent there, but it's pretty awesome how I can at times get in and out
of there inside of fifteen minutes.

     Brian's mad again. Swings the axe again but it must've landed square against a vertebrae, as it flips out of his hand and into the spaghetti water.
So he does another thing they always tell him not to do. He uses his hands. His fingers slide into the axe hole he made in the old bastard's neck. Kind
of yuchy but he knows what he wants. He can hear the clicking, popping, grinding, swinging the head back and forth. Grabs an ear and holds the bone in the
neck hole. Twists and twists. The neck straightens before the head pops off of the bone. Push downward, slams, slams, slams. And it's ripped off clean.
Or almost. 
     He rinses off in the spaghetti water. Years of conditioning kick in. After all, they're still watching him.
    Always wanted the house so neat and perfect, but a nice Stewart's bag is good enough for the both of them, now. Momma always did made a big deal out of
those dumb stores. So he wraps their heads up in one of their bags. She's right, they're heavy duty bags alright. ''Come 'ere, Fluffy.'' 

    I'm on Cemetery Road and I'm thinking maybe I'll go get started on weeding the rose garden. Lot to do before dark, tired of feeling tired. 
Past the cemetery, half way down, and I see that manchild again. Still sitting there with that axe in his hand. Pile, flat, pat. 

     Funny, the bare patch he's sitting on looks a lot bigger than it did a half hour ago? Heh, he must've got busy. He's still got that axe; where the hell
are his care providers anyhow? 

     That black truck drives by and that guy was watching Brian again. That's OK. Brian knows where he lives, maybe. I've seen him up and down my road almost
every day for ten years now. I've got to sit here until maybe tomorrow though. Gotta let the dirt settle. Momma and bastard step-dad's heads aren't going anywhere
but I can still hear her stupid cat under me. 

The end, for the moment. 

     ''He's so tough...he's so tough that when he walks into the kitchen in the morning for a bowl of cereal, the Rice Kripsies elves don't say ''snap, crackle, pop!''
They say ''Shhh, here he comes! Shhh.'' 


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