Tell Me WhybyHeathen Hemmingway©
The fat man was out of breath, and in a bad way. It had been years since he walked any considerable distance, and he was in sad shape as he ran for his life. His breath came in harsh, ragged gasps. Each time he inhaled his lungs seemed to scream with a bruised agony. He could feel his heart throbbing hard in his chest. Each heartbeat brought with it a fast, stabbing pain. His face had turned a shade of sickly bluish-purple and he was sweating profusely.
But he couldn't stop running. He didn't dare.
Minutes before he was sitting at is kitchen table indulging in two of his favorite luxuries; a heaping plate of Pierogi and a huge snifter of Port. His kitchen led to the back door of his house, and he sat there facing the back door as he relished in the Port. He was a wary character, and over time he developed the habit of always keeping his eye on the door. The fat man liked to indulge in other luxuries as well; some that had unwittingly earned him unwanted attention.
A huge Rottweiler lay in front of the door on a tattered patchwork quilt. The fat man got him as a pup, naming him King on sight. To anyone else it seemed like an entirely generic and unremarkable name, but the fat man regarded the dog's name with a secret delight. It held a deeper, secret meaning to him. To the rest of the world the big Rottie's name was all too common, unknowing that it was actually an abbreviation for the dog's true name; Kinjite.
And thus the fat man had earned the attention of a very dangerous man.
The Rottie lifted his head suddenly, his short docked ears standing up like a soldier snapping to attention. He looked at the fat man uneasily and gave a low whine. The dog stood and clawed nervously at the door. The hackles on the dog's neck rose and he managed one loud bark, and then suddenly the door flew inward with an explosive crunching sound. The door struck the kitchen table, upending it and sending the fat man sprawling back to land on the floor. The glass of Port fell to the floor and shattered, sending a small red geyser upward. Lying there stunned on his back, the fat man's eyes fixed on the red liquid. It seemed to hang in the air for an eternity before falling to the kitchen floor in a blood-colored splash.
The dog yelped once then fell silent. The fat man rolled over onto his side, kicking and squirming as he tried to stand. He finally made it to his feet, and for several seconds he couldn't quite comprehend what he was seeing. A man, dressed in black from head to toe, was squatted over the Rottie, straddling the big dog and holding it down with his body weight. He wore black leather gloves, fit so tight that the knuckles stood out. The man's left hand was bunched into a closed fist held tight against the dog's neck. In the other hand was a gun, pointing right at the fat man. The barrel looked like it belonged on the bow of a battleship, long and menacing. The man in black opened his fist and the fat man saw a needle protruding from the dog's neck.
"Damn shame I had to do that." The man in black said morosely. His voice had a peculiar drawl to it that the fat man couldn't place.
The stranger stood slowly, the gun still leveled on the fat man. He stepped over the dog and took a step forward. Suddenly the dog lifted its head and bit at the man's pants leg, clamping onto the fabric while uttering a feeble growl. The man faltered and staggered forward. Acting instinctively, the fat man bolted past the man in black and charged through the ruined door. He ran blindly down the stone path dividing his lawn, and moments later he was thrashing heedlessly through hedge rows and stomping his way across well manicured lawns as he ran for his life. His mind was racing as he fled, trying to place the stranger in his memory.
The man in black put his gun away and knelt down. He patted the dog on its head with no apparent fear of the big animal. The dog's eyes rolled lazily in their sockets and the big Rottie let out a long, labored sigh. A thick rope of saliva trailed from its mouth. The man in black continued to pet the dog's head, talking to him in a low and soothing tone.
"Don't you worry boy." He said. "It'll wear off in a couple of hours and you'll be just fine."
The dog released its grip on the man's pants leg and went limp. The man in black reached into his jacket pocket and removed a white envelope, dropping it to the floor carelessly. He removed the syringe from the dog's neck and pulled a small orange cap from another pocket, and then gingerly capped the needle and put it away.
Minutes later and almost a mile away, the fat man collapsed in a shuddering heap. He had managed to regain some control of himself despite the mad panic that gripped him. As he lie there in a dense thicket of scrub brush, his clothing torn in a dozen places and a riot of scratches in his skin, he tried to make sense of what had just happened. The man in black was a total stranger to him. He hadn't the faintest idea who he was, or better yet how he had managed to knock the heavy door off of its hinges. Maybe plastique on the hinges and the bolt, he wondered? The fat man was racing to find some memory or inclination that might lead him to who the man in black was. The fat man's greatest fear was also the foremost one; whoever the man in black was, he knew.
He realized he was panting loudly, almost hyperventilating. Slowly he began to pace his breathing, inhaling deeply and then exhaling in low breaths. Whoever the man in black was, he might have followed him after he killed the dog. Suddenly he remembered the dog, lying there prone on the kitchen floor with a hypodermic needle jutting from his neck.
"He killed my dog." The fat man wheezed. "Bastard."
"Your dog ain't dead Mister.' A voice replied from nowhere.
The fat man started, and then he felt a sudden slap against his neck, followed by a moment of numbness then a piercing pain. He reflexively put his hand to his neck and felt something slender and cool there. He tugged at it and saw he held a syringe in his hand. He made a desperate attempt to stand and run, but his legs wouldn't respond and his body felt impossibly heavy, as if it were made of lead. Before darkness took him he heard the voice again.
"I wouldn't kill a dog." The voice said, moments before the world went black.
The next thing the fat man was aware of was a metallic scraping sound, then being lifted up by strong hands and propped upright. He heard a plastic screeching sound, and then recognized the sound of tape being pulled from a roll. He felt a detached sensation of pressure on his wrists and feet. A bolt of realization struck him and his eyes opened wide. Harsh light stabbed at his eyes. He shook his head to gather his senses. He looked down to find his feet were bound together with wide transparent tape. In desperation the fat man uttered a weak "Help!" As if in response, a fist came from nowhere and struck him squarely on the nose. The pain was instant and agonizing. He almost fell backward to the floor, but a hand caught him and righted him again.
"Who the?" He tried to plea, confused and panicked.
His vision resolved itself, and to his dread he saw the man in black standing over him with a piece of the transparent tape held between his hands. The fat man recognized it as medical tape. It looked strikingly familiar to him, identical to a roll he kept in his basement. He reeled with the irony then the realization that he had used the same type of tape when he earned the attention of the man in black.
The man placed the tape over his bloodied nose and then clamped his left hand on the man's neck, squeezing and pulling upward so hard that the fat man felt the chair creak and groan beneath him. He hacked and gagged for air, trying to speak and beg for his life. His eyes bulged from their sockets and the light in the room seemed to run a surreal shade of grey. His abused lungs screamed for oxygen.
"Not yet." The man in black said. "I ain't done with you yet Mister."
His accent was thick and deep, the words almost forming one long pronunciation.
"Na'ht yet. Ah yain't done with you yet Mista." Echoed the man's voice in the peculiar dialect.
"You see, the problem I have here is this…" The man in black rasped under his breath, his voice hoarse and hectic. "I want to kill you so bad it hurts, but I'm kind of obligated to take my time with it, you fat bastard."
He released his grip on the fat man's throat and the hapless man gasped for air instinctively. With his mouth open wide he managed to take in a good breath of air. The tape held fast over the fat man's shattered nose, tinged red with blood. The lights seemed to dance about the room and leave ghostly vapor trails across the fat man's field of vision. He swam in and out of consciousness. He felt his thoughts slip into a blinding grey oblivion and his head lolled forward. The man in black drew his right arm back and then slapped him mercilessly with his out stretched palm. Sweat flew from his victim's damp hair and his head rocked back. His eyes bulged from their sockets, moments from unconsciousness and then suddenly he was alert again, the pain bright and exquisite as the man's hand clamped down on his neck again like an iron vice.
"I gotta admit, man. I'm not sure how I'm going to handle this from here. All's I know is that you're gonna be dead 'fore I'm done." The man in black said angrily. "I just can't seem to get it out of my system by just killing you easy."
The man in black stood there looking at him for a few moments, what felt like an eternity to the fat man. He seemed to be studying him.
"I suppose it's time to show you what pain is really like." He grunted. "And you'll have to forgive me if I'm a little hard to understand. My South tends to come out when I lose my temper."
"Ah s'pose it's ta'hm to show you what pain is really la'hk."
Again he let go of the man's neck and with an angry swipe ripped the tape from his nose. Blood spewed down his face in a sickly thick red gush. His chin was plastered with blood so red it was almost black. The fat man was in a dire state, no doubt about that. A hard chill ran through his entire body and a deep spasm struck his gut. He instantly felt as if he were about regurgitate his entire body through his nose. A bolt of white hot agony shot through his head, the pain so sudden and brilliant that he thought he had been shot. He had never imagined a person could endure such pain and remain conscious, much less alive. But he was alive, and for all he could hope he genuinely wished he wasn't. If only the crazy bastard would just kill him and be done with it.
But he wouldn't. Not yet.
"You see…" His tormentor suddenly said. "I just don't get it, man. I've been doing this heinous shit for years, and I still just can't understand. Every time I put one of you animals in the dirt I like to believe that there is some small justice to it all, but there ain't. Not a lick of it. She's still dead and gone. Her mama still keeps her picture by her bedside and her daddy still plays the violin for her even though she ain't there to hear it no more."
The words were lost to the fat man. His heart was pounding away like a trip hammer. Blood was pouring freely from his nose and his vision was growing red. The capillaries in both of his eyes had ruptured and the irises were ringed with dark red. The man in black's voice was like a shout from across a canyon; a muffled echo lost in the vastness of his pain.
"I used to entertain the idea that I understood people like you. I even convinced myself that maybe I knew why you turned out the way you do." He said, and then paused as if in deep reflection. "But I don't. I just don't. Nothing like this makes sense to me."
Suddenly he grabbed the fat man by the shoulders and shook him. The fat man lurched upright and found himself staring into his captor's eyes. Through the veil of blood and sweat clouding his vision, the fat man could see that the man in black was crying. A creeping horror overtook the fat man. Any faint hope if living through his ordeal faded away. The man in black wasn't only crazy, he was hurt.
"Tell me why you do it." The man in black barked at him. "Tell me WHY!"
"I… don't know." The fat man gasped, looking up at the man in black through oblivious pitiful eyes. "I don't kno…"
Without warning the man in black screamed in rage and grappled the fat man's head, placing one hand hard under the chin and the other palmed hard again the back of his skull. He leaned forward with all his body weight and wrenched the fat man's head around with a sickening crunch and a grisly snapping of tendons. He pulled the man to him in a grisly embrace as he twisted his ruined neck around. Blood spilled onto his jacket and trickled down his front. A single traitor drop fell and landed on the toe of his right boot. With a shudder and a sigh the man in black let the fat man go. He fell to his knees in front of the dead man, tears flowing freely down his face.
"Tell me why." He whispered into the silent room.
"Please tell me why."