Turning a bit darker in this chapter as we meet back up with Rag and Bone. The usual caveats apply: First draft, bad language, worse punctuation and grammar. Hope you enjoy reading!
By the time they’d left the little scribblers apartment, Mister Bone was in a state. Rag knew he’d wanted to kill the reporter from the first time they had visited him five years ago. Since then, the homicidal impulse had matured and grown in complexity like a fine wine, cellared away to be opened on some special occasion.
Today, the cork had nearly popped. Only a calming hand from herself had saved the man from becoming an assortment of parts. Rag imagined she could fairly see the visions of bloody violence rear projected like happy gore-splattered sugar plum fairies on the back of her enormous husband’s eyeballs.
She’d almost let Mister Bone indulge himself, after all, it would be good for a laugh if it was done just right, and Madame Rag felt that she could use a chuckle today. Wasn’t it said laughter was the best medicine? Rag herself had yet to experience laughter’s medicinal qualities. She’d always considered a fistful of oxycodone followed by bloody slaughter to be a far better balm for her soul, but she’d be willing to try.
With Doctor Knox’s most recent instructions to avoid random acts of violence not an hour old though, she steered Mister Bone’s arm gently away from the word hack's apartment in Senak. No sense in tempting the poor man with what he couldn’t have. Bone let himself be led, staring back in the direction they’d left, trailing in Rag’s wake like a balloon in the sociopathy pride parade. They made their through the city to the unsanctioned gate in the basement of a small warehouse owned by a shell corporation Rag had set up.
The basement had a twin in Vancouver outside of which Madame Rag found the rental car where she’d parked it. The husband and wife were soon making their way through the rain-soaked streets of East Vancouver. Mister Bone rode in the back as he always did. All but the largest cars were much too small for him to comfortably fit in the front passenger’s seat.
Madame Rag loved her Mister Bone with the pride and affection of animal owners everywhere. Bone was her companion, attack dog, and Abrams Main Battle tank all rolled into one; he was her pet with benefits.
Bone was just fine with this arrangement. Through their long marriage they had more sex, and murdered more creatures than an orgy in an abattoir. Sharing your interests and hobbies with the one you love just made a relationship that much closer.
Under Doctor Knox and other like-minded employers, Madame Rag navigated her Bone from grisly murder to grisly murder. Madame Rag loved to watch her enormous husband at work as much as he loved to do it.
Long ago Madame Rag had trained hunting dogs, and she’d discovered that the key to training a good hound was to discover what motivated it and use it as a lever. Some dogs would do anything for food, others craved affection and a kind word. Above all other things, Mister Bone craved sex. She’d happily applied the training techniques that had worked so well with canines to her husband and over the years she’d taken Bone’s genius for brutality and lovingly reinforced it, building layer upon layer of psychological conditioning until violence and the reward of sex were so mixed there couldn’t be one without the other. He would now inflict the most horrible physical violence to man, woman, animal or vegetable with no provocation whatsoever, but with the firm knowledge that he’d be rewarded with a good post-murder bonk.
In Rag’s opinion, things couldn’t have been going any more smoothly. Together they were a well-greased steam engine of hot throbbing death, running on a limitless supply of sex and violence. Then, the unthinkable happened, and what should have been a nice easy murder, followed by a spirited conjugal interlude, went straight to hell when Bone failed to capture that reprobate, Stirling Haig. It was the first time in centuries that Bone failed in completing a contract and Madame Rag was having a hard time not taking the whole thing a bit personally. She’d made her displeasure with the situation known to Mister Bone, not that you’d ever be able to tell it from the slack look on his face.
It was a side effect of all the conditioning, Rag decided. In the last century, Mister Bone had gone through life, head clear of active thought until physical wants and desires caused his consciousness to surface like a breaching whale in a wide, empty ocean. Coincidentally, Bone’s mindset was a state very close to what Buddhists called, “No Mind,” and if Mister Bone could be said to have embraced a philosophy, it would have been, "The Zen of the Ravening Cockmonster."
Bone’s simple existence brought her to mind of the late Mahatma Gandhi, of whom Rag had been at one point contracted to kill. Like Gandhi, Mister Bone was a man of few wants and simple tastes. Sadly for his many victims, that was where the similarities ended.
Throughout his life, Gandhi promoted nonviolent opposition and went through periods of fasting and celibacy. Bone, on the other hand, considered sex, violence, and violent sex, as others might good food and friendship. They were the things that made his very long life worth living.
Gandhi was a small man, barely reaching five foot four in height and just a hair over a hundred pounds. Mr Bone was nearly three feet taller and a single one of his mammoth legs weighed more than the civil rights leader, even tossing in his glasses, cotton wrap, and a packet of sea salt.
Gandhi taught inclusiveness for all religions, races and sexes. Mister Bone embraced a homicidal dislike for humanity in general and, from his upbringing in Pre-Industrial Ireland, a fiery disdain for all of those who weren’t either white, Catholic, or his wife.
Gandhi lived a rich inner life, exploring philosophical matters with the likes of Tolstoy, pulled abstract ideas from thin air, and translated them into practical political action. Mister Bone, by contrast, had yet to have his mind violated by anything that could be called abstract.
Had Mister Bone ever met Gandhi, sitting and spinning yarn, he would have probably stolen his salt and broken his spinning wheel, then broken the man himself. Thankfully, for independence in the Indian subcontinent, at the time of the Salt March, Mister Bone was employed in other pursuits.
Madame Rag parked their car in a sparsely lit gravel lot and the two entered through a metal side-door into a darkened warehouse. Fans hummed somewhere in the building circulating refrigerated air rank with a nauseating mixture of formaldehyde, brine, alcohol, and old meat. She wrinkled her nose at the smell. It was a smell she’d become familiar with, but one she could never get used to. Mister Bone stopped and stood next to her, a massive shadow in the darkness of the warehouse.
She found the large breaker box bolted to the wall next to the entrance and snapped the little switches over until the refrigerating fans began to wind down and the giant heater on the ceiling rumbled to life. The fluorescent house lights flickered on revealing that the floor of the warehouse was stacked with old wooden pallets atop which were hundreds of blue plastic barrels. They formed rows the entire length and width of the warehouse.
Madame Rag strode over to the closest of the barrels and pried off its lid. The cloud of stink that followed nearly caused her to gag. Inside she could just make out the grey and naked form of a young teenage boy resting against the bottom of the drum. Looking back over her shoulder she called to Mister Bone who stumped wordlessly over.
“Pull him out,” she told him.
“Stinks like shit,” Bone observed, peering in, but otherwise not moving.
“Your arms are longer than mine, pull him out.”
Bone eyed her blankly for a few seconds, then took off his jacket and began rolling his sleeves.
The process didn’t take long, and soon the body was out of the drum, laying on the cement floor. A puddle of preservative leaked out of it from both ends to run into a nearby drain. The body was stiff and its back had taken on the same curve as the inside of the barrel. The skin on the body, corpse, or whatever it was at this point, was wrinkled, thick with dehydration, and lacked hair of any sort.
Rag guessed that the lack of hair was due to an unsuccessful round of chemotherapy prior to the body making the fifty-five gallon drum its home. She’d been around Doctor Knox for enough years to have seen a few of those weak and dying people with their bright hopeful eyes and kerchief-covered bare scalps before they checked into the cold drum of reeking brine.
Once the flow of foul-smelling fluid from the body had reduced to a trickle, Madame Rag approached and squatted down, doing her best to not to get the various liquids on her overcoat or skirt.
“Hold open his mouth,” she commanded. Bone obliged, and from the inside pocket of her jacket Rag pulled out an old green medicine bottle of the type that had a dropper on the inside with a rubber nipple on the cap. The washed-out fluorescent light from overhead filtered through the contents of the bottle, and came through on the other side a vital, sinister, red. She unscrewed the bottle and drew out the glass dropper. She carefully let three drops fall to the back of the boy’s throat and nodded for Mister Bone to let him go. The body sagged stiffly back down to the floor and the two moved off a distance to wait.