Prologue and Chapters I-X
Radu-Chapter XXVII (A Novel by Patrick Kelley)
8 pages approximate
Anytime Marty Evans knew he was going too far, he knew what he had to do to get well. He had to get sicker than hell for a few hours, sometimes for a few days. One time, the withdrawals were very bad, and he thought he would almost die. He might well have died if not for Mary, who looked after him and nursed him back to health as though she were a mother, instead of a younger sister.
Now, of course, Mary was gone, and Marty was having a hard time processing the brutal truth of what Marlowe told him. Debbie Leighton, who Marty always considered his and Mary’s friend, murdered Mary. Now, unfortunately, Debbie was herself dead, so Marty would never be able to achieve even the satisfaction of seeing her punished for the crime.
Milo was dead as well, murdered by Marlowe. Now, with Milo gone, and with Marshall Crenshaw likewise deceased, Marty realized he had no reliable source for heroin, which over the last few months he had become more dependent on than he previously would allow. Now, as he thought of how Mary used to look after him, how she would keep his addiction secret, he knew he was in a real bind. As he checked his syringe and his tourniquet, he remembered his and Mary’s other secret-the most important secret of all.
Moreover, as he prepared the heroin solution, he remembered how Marlowe appeared to him earlier in the night, smiling, giggling-cackling.
“Go ahead and kill me and get it over with,” he told him. “I don’t care anymore.”
Marlowe just looked at him strangely, cocking his head to one side as though pondering a dilemma.
“Why, Marty, you have always been my friend,” he said. “I could never do anything to harm you. Actually, I am here to help you. You might say, I am here to save you.”
Marty was shivering and sweating, and might any moment be going into convulsions. Still, he could not turn his eyes away from Marlowe’s gaze.
“Yeah, you’re here to put me out of my misery, ain’t you?” he asked.
Marlowe crouched down and drew closer to him.
“You really need the Lord, Marty,” he said. “You know-the precious Blood of The Lamb. The sacrifice of Christ, in payment of all your sins-that is what you need. Oh, I know, you are a Jew, your family is Jews. You have to admit, though, you have not exactly been a devout follower of the Law of Moses, have you? Why, just look at you.”
Suddenly, Marlowe turned, as he stiffened, and it occurred to Marty that Marlowe was trying to restrain himself from laughing aloud.
“Holy shit, you’re high, ain’t you?” Marty observed. “That’s it, you’re fucking spaced! Come on, Marlowe, where did you get it?”
Finally, Marlowe just went limp and collapsed on the floor, as he then spread his legs out and then reclined on his right elbow, with his hand under his head, as he looked toward Marty, who was obviously only in the beginning throws of misery. Then, he laughed.
“I would help you, Marty,” he said. “I’m sorry, though, I can’t. Did you know Joseph acquired salvation at the Church of The Blessed Sacrament? It was not an act. Really, it was not. The Blood of the Lamb saved him and sanctified him, through the power of the Holy Spirit. It was actually quite touching. He paid for his sins, of course, but he is in heaven now. I honestly, really believe that.”
“I know all about what happened to Joseph and Sierra at that church, and I have no doubt you were responsible for that,” Marty said, now speaking with great difficulty. “I saw with my own two eyes what you did to Milo. Go away, Marlowe. Leave me alone. If that’s what you call being saved, I can do without it.”
Marlowe looked at him sadly, to Marty’s surprise. Suddenly, he started heaving, drawing himself up on his knees, and then reaching for the plastic lined garbage can into which he tried to vomit. However, he had nothing in him to vomit up.
“Marty, I told you, you are my friend,” Marlowe said. “Joseph and the others were my enemies. I tried to warn you about them, didn’t I? Didn’t I try to tell you what kind of people they were? Didn’t I tell you that Milo, Debbie, and Sierra were no different from Joseph and the rest of them? People do not run around with people that much unlike them. You and me, Marty, we are alike. We have always been partners. That is why I want to help you now. You need to turn your life over to God, Marty. If you want to remain a practicing Jew, that is fine. Just purify yourself, Marty. Turn your soul over to God, and let him turn your life from the pitiful wreck it is now into what it should be. Damn, if he can save Joseph he can save you, or for that matter anybody”
Suddenly, Marty groaned, and then he cried out. The agony was becoming unbearable. Thank God, his parents were away, he thought. If they ever saw him in this state, that would be the end for sure. Of course, he did not believe in God. He suddenly heaved, and to his horror, he vomited up blood. He looked over toward Marlowe, who stared at it, transfixed with what actually seemed desire.
“Please, Marty,” he said, actually almost begging him. “Pray! God will help you right here, right now.”
“Marlowe, I don’t know what kind of trip you’re on, or what your angle is, but you know I never believed in that crap. What in the hell is the point of this? If you’re trying to torture me, fine, I get it. Just please get out of here now, or kill me, one of the two. My life is hell, so I’m used to hell. If Joseph is in heaven, I’m not sure I want to be there anyway. Of course, he’s not in heaven because there ain’t no heaven, and there ain’t no hell. So drop this shit, because I ain’t going for it.”
Marlowe shook his fist slightly and turned as he cursed under his breath.
“You always were stubborn, Marty,” he said, and then he threw a packet down at him. Marty looked at the grayish white powder in surprise.
“What the hell is this?” he demanded.
“What do you think it is?” Marlowe replied.
Marty reached out for the packet, but Marlowe grabbed it before he could get half way to it.
“There is a catch, though,” he said. “I want to prove something to you. There is just enough there to straighten you up for a little while. Then, I want you to clean yourself up. You don’t want Mary to see you in this shape, do you?”
“Marlowe, that’s not cool, and it sure ain’t funny,” he said. “Mary is dead. It’s bad enough your pervert of an uncle did what he did to her body, but for you now to talk about her like she is”-
“Do you want to talk to your sister or not?” Marlowe replied in obvious exasperation. “At least take the shit so you can think calmly about what I have to say. She’s waiting for you, Marty, and she wants to talk to you.”
“Well, Mary has seen me like this before,” Marty said, amazed he even encouraged the conversation to this extent. Of course, he really wanted that heroin.
“It’s not that simple Marty,” he said. “We have to go somewhere, and you damn sure can’t go like you are now. You would never make it that far, for one thing, but mainly you would never make it through the door if you did. The people there would send you away, if you were lucky. Now do it. Trust me, just this once.”
Marty was past arguing, and almost past caring. He wanted the drug, so he took it, and then he took the syringe proffered by Marlowe, and the tourniquet. At this stage, Marty did not even care if the syringe was a used one. He wrapped the tourniquet around his arm, he puffed up a vein, and by the time that he was finished, Marlowe already prepared the warm concoction.
“Good, you have a good vein there,” Marlowe observed. “You always managed to keep a good vein, didn’t you, Marty? Mine are worthless to me. Oh, the veins are good, but the blood just stays in one place, though it multiplies until il spreads, slowly, until it breaks down and dies. That is what Doctor Chou told me anyway. You do not know how lucky you are. Well, in a way you are lucky.”
Marty ignored Marlowe’s babblings as he injected the heroin. He could feel its effects almost instantaneously. Already, he felt calmer, more relaxed, and though he still was sick, the pains gradually ceased, until they were no more. Marlowe handed him a chocolate bar.
“Chocolate is kosher, of course,” Marlowe said, “or I assume it is. Oh, that is right, though, it does not matter to you anyway, at least not yet. Oh, but it will, my friend, it will. Now, go get yourself cleaned up. Put on some clean clothes. You smell like my last supper, and if you knew what that was, you would know that definitely is not good. Damn, but she sure was a feisty little thing.”
“Marlowe, what in the hell are you talking about?” Marty asked. “What in the hell has happened to you?”
“Just take a shower and put on some clean clothes,” Marlowe repeated. “I’ll go try to scrounge up something for you to eat. We don’t have a lot of time.”
After Marty was through bathing, he felt much better, though he still felt an overpowering urge for more of the drug, and knew Marlowe was his only chance of getting it. He dressed, and found his gun. He placed it in the pocket of his coat. Marlowe was going to give him what he wanted, or one of them was not going to survive the night, he decided. He made his way down the steps as casually as he could, to see Marlowe waiting with a grilled cheese sandwich and a Coca-Cola.
“Here, this should pep you right up,” Marlowe said as he turned, and then stared at the gun that Marty pointed straight at him.
“Oh, good, I see you have your gun,” Marlowe said. “You might well need it. Now, how did you know I was going to suggest you bring it?”
“Marlowe, shut the fuck up,” Marty said. “Give me the fucking heroin now, and then get the fuck out of here. These are hollow point bullets, so don’t fuck with me.”
Marlowe just looked at him curiously.
“Of course you know I would just come back and kill you while you were wasted, right? You do not seem to care though, strangely. Really, Marty, I would hate to see you waste a perfectly good bullet on me. You might need them, every single one of them. Otherwise, I would not mind. I rather enjoy the look on people’s faces when they shoot me. The last person that tried that, I just looked at her and said ‘Hey, that’s what she said!’ She did not seem to think it was funny, strangely. I guess she wasn’t an ‘Office’ fan.”
“Marlowe, just shut up and give me the fucking drug!” Marty demanded, now starting to tremble and once more perspire, while actually on the verge of tears.
“No,” Marlowe replied simply, whereupon Marty fired one into his chest. Marty could see the movement of the shattered bullet exiting through Marlowe’s back, as threads of the back of the shirt he wore flew out from behind him.
“Oh, damn you Marty-ugghhh! That hurt like hell!” Marlowe shouted loudly as he crumpled over.
“Oh, shit, Marlowe! I’m sorry, but god damn, I warned you to stop fucking with me. Give me that fucking drug now, and”-
Marty just then noticed, however, that only a little spot of blood gathered around Marlowe’s chest, no more than if he’d been pricked with a safety pen, though the entrance wound was considerably large. Then, the bleeding stopped. Marlowe then stood upright and looked at him. He smiled.
“Thank you, sir, may I have another?” he asked. Then, he laughed. He giggled. He cackled.
“Marlowe, I’m sorry,” Marty said with desperate pleading. “Are-are you all right?”
“No, I feel like hell,” Marlowe replied, as suddenly his features contorted, and began to transform in front of Marty’s eyes. His purplish black dyed hair was now almost as thick as it was long, and now was blonde instead of dark, and though at first his face looked to be merely that of an older man, it soon became dried and leathery, as the green eyes peered into Marty’s soul.
“That is where I am going to take you tonight, Marty,” he continued. “I am taking you to hell. After all, I made you a promise, and I intend to keep my word. I told you I wanted to let you talk to your sister. Well, she is waiting for you.”
The entire room was dark, but now filled with fog, and the room became stiflingly hot, as Marty could hear what sounded to be the crackling of flames, and in the distance, the rumbling as of an active volcano fed by streams of lava. He could hear the sounds of tortured screams. They cried and they begged piteously, but nothing prepared Marty for the sight he was about to see.
He looked in horror at the sight of Debbie Leighton standing before him, a bullet hole wide and bloody at the front of her skull, as her dead eyes pleaded for mercy from an eternity of torment.
“Marty, is that you? Please get me out of here. Please”-
Marty backed away from her as she began to remove her clothes.
“Fuck you-stay away from me Debbie,” he said as he backed away in desperate loathing, though mixed with a sense of overwhelming shock and terror. “I know what you did. You killed my little sister, you fucking cunt.”
“You remember how good I was, don’t you?” she pleaded while seemingly ignoring his accusations. “You remember how we used to fuck, don’t you? Don’t you want to fuck me again, Marty?”
Marty looked down at the pussy he had many times savored, but now he saw it infected, festering, and swollen. It was rotten, and it stank. Marty could see by the dim lights of distant flames that it swarmed with an infestation of maggots.
“It hurts so bad, Marty, please fuck me,” she pleaded. “I can’t go on like this. I have to be fucked. No one will fuck me here. They just laugh at me. Please, Marty”-
Marty backed away in horror, but Debbie advanced, becoming angry in the face of his repulsion.
“I’ll make you fuck me, Marty,” she warned.
“Marlowe, where the fuck are you?” he demanded. “Get me the hell out of here!”
He turned again, wanting to run but afraid to move, as the darkness afforded him no surety of his footing. The heat, along with the surrounding stench of death, was becoming unbearable. There were unimaginable cries of horror and agony. What were even worse were the howls of demonic laughter that surrounded him, piercing him like a thousand needles, as Debbie suddenly grabbed him in a desperate attempt to rip his jeans off as she grabbed for his crotch.
He pulled away from her and ran without thinking, but he suddenly slipped on the wet surface under him and fell to the cavernous, stony floor beneath him. There was a slimy, sticky substance under him, and he knew immediately it was blood and gore. Then, he felt the body of the person next to him. Even through the darkness, the features of someone began to take shape. He soon looked upon the despairing, pain-wracked eyes of Milo Richmond, unable to rise from the filth of his own rotting blood and the gore from his spilled intestines that covered him from head to toe, as he strained in agony to speak in what seemed an effort born of desperation.
“There is nothing but pain and suffering here, Marty, worse than you can ever imagine,” he said. “You’ve got to help me. I need a fix. Oh God, I need it so bad. I can’t take this pain. Please help me Marty.”
“Milo, I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do,” Marty said, now in the throes of despondency at the sight of his dead friend, begging him for the help that Marty understood he was completely helpless to give him.
“All of us are down here, except for Joseph,” Milo said as he cried in agony. “He should be here too, more than any of us, but because he turned to God at the last minute for forgiveness and trusted him, he got out of it. Jesus saved him. He is in heaven now while the rest of us have to suffer forever. It is not fair. Oh, God, it’s just not fair.”
Milo’s words pierced into Marty’s soul, formed as they were in the face of almost insurmountable pain and anguish. He looked away from his friend, as he rose. Debbie, still there, tried desperately to climb atop a protruding rock, as her legs spread open in a futile attempt to garner some sexual relief. Yet, though it was an effort that brought her only more pain, she could not stop. What horrified Marty more than anything did, however, was the sight of Sierra Lawson, screaming in agony though unable to stop continually plunging what appeared to be a sharp black handled blade deep inside her abdomen, repeatedly thrusting as she groaned in horrible pain.
“Well, do you get it now?” Marty heard Marlowe’s voice say to him, almost soothingly.
Marty was now somewhere else, out in the cold night air. He looked down around him. He was in his car. He had driven somewhere, but to where? Marlowe was beside him, looking as serious as Marty had ever seen him. To Marty’s consternation, Marlowe now busied himself with the act of putting on an overly thick layer of what looked and smelled to be sunscreen.
“Not a pretty picture at all, was it?” Marlowe asked, as he continued the application of the thick, pasty substance on his arms and his face, as though readying himself for a day at the beach, or a tanning salon. Yet, it was now the dead of night. It was well past midnight, in fact.
“Where are we?” Marty asked. “How did we get here?”
“I changed my mind,” he said. “I didn’t want you to see Mary in the state she’s in. Your reaction to the others was more than enough. If you saw what Mary was destined to go through for eternity, I am quite afraid it would drive you insane. This is better-much better.”
“Mary-is in that place?”
“For all eternity, I’m afraid,” Marlowe said plainly. “One good thing about it, though. At the rate you are going, you will be joining her soon enough. I doubt that you or her either one will take much solace from that, unfortunately. Come, let us do this thing and get it over with.”
They got out of the car, and as they walked toward the building in the distance, Marty realized, finally, where they were going.
“We’re going to the fucking morgue?” he asked. “Why?”
“Your sister has not yet been reburied”, Marlowe replied. “Your parents have been fighting tooth and nail to prevent any kind of autopsy from determining whether her corpse was abused by my late uncle, and so she yet is there, her body in cold storage until the matter is resolved one way or another.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he continued. “They are expecting you here. An appointment has been made for you.”
Marlowe told Marty what to say when they were ushered into the viewing area by the lone forensic examiner, a man named Peyton, who informed him that Detective Berry advised him of his, Marty’s arrival. Marty looked around to see Marlowe nowhere around. Every fiber of his being screamed out to him to get the hell away from there as fast as he could, but instead, the words just flooded out of his mouth.
“I’ve been getting these calls from this girl claiming to be my sister,” he explained. “It really sounds like her, and she knows things only me and Mary knows. I still think it is a sick joke, but I just want to look one last time, to satisfy myself. Otherwise, this crap is going to gnaw at me from now on.”
“That’s perfectly understandable,” Peyton said as they moved down the hallway past one lone guard, who seemed to be more interested in watching the clock that hung from the wall down the hallway than in the comings-and-goings of a person he saw almost every night.
“What has this person been saying to you anyway?” Peyton asked.
“Just that someone killed somebody else by mistake, and that she’s been in hiding, and it has something to do with some kind of drug ring,” Marty said. “There was some really crazy shit about the mafia and the government being out to get her. If it did not sound so much like her, I would not think anything about it. I guess a part of me is hoping she’s telling the truth, that it is really Mary, but like my friend Marlowe said, I shouldn’t get my hopes up.”
The man chatted with him casually as they made their way into a big room, where metal tables waited, some of them upon which some cadavers were lying, all of them covered. Marty noted that Peyton had no reaction to his mention of the name Marlowe. If this guy was involved in some scam of Marlowe’s, he certainly wasn’t letting it out. After what Marty saw tonight, however, nothing would surprise him. He was not at this point sure if he really was at the city morgue. He almost did not care. He was starting to feel the effects of withdrawal once more, and wanted to get out of here as quickly as possible. He wanted a real fix this time.
Peyton uncovered a cadaver, and Marty looked, and then quickly turned. It was Mary. He forced himself to look at her one more time.
“As soon as Detective Berry told me you were coming, I had her brought out here. I know this is difficult, so if you would like a little time, I can leave you alone for a while.”
“I would appreciate that,” Marty said weakly.
Peyton walked toward the door, where he pointed to a round metallic knob.
“When you’re ready to leave, just press this buzzer,” he said. He then left, as Marty turned once more toward the still easily recognizable face of his sister, dead now for over a year.
Marty tremblingly raised up the sheet which now covered Mary’s body, and saw plainly on her stomach and abdomen, as well as her thighs, the remnants of the rashes with which she for years was afflicted, and which brought her no small degree of embarrassment and unease.
“Mary, I’m so sorry,” he said. Suddenly, Mary opened her eyes, and stared out in pain and horror.
“They will never leave me alone,” she said. “The demons are always torturing me-raping me and tearing away at me, and biting me. Please, Marty. Listen to Marlowe. Get saved.”
“Mary,” he said in despair, but it was too late. She once more closed her eyes. He looked up and saw Marlowe Krovell.
“Now do you believe me?” he asked.
“Yes,” Marty said almost in a whisper. “I believe you.”
He looked down at his sister’s body and started to cry, quietly at first, and then loudly. He closed his eyes, and tried to block out the thoughts of Mary’s despair. Then he heard it.
“Our secret”, said a voice.
Marty almost shouted. It was Mary’s voice, but he looked at Mary’s body, her eyes yet closed.
“Remember our secret,” he heard her voice say yet again. He looked up and saw Marlowe, standing off in the distance, his back now to Marty, morosely looking down toward a body likewise covered on a separate table.
“Marlowe, I can’t be saved,” he said. “I can never get off drugs, and even if I could, I could never live a good Christian life or a good Jewish one either. It’s a waste of time.”
“As long as you have faith,” Marlowe said, yet looking down upon the yet covered body that rested before him, “God can accomplish anything. Even if you fail, as long as you try and have faith, God will forgive you.”
“So I can still go to heaven, regardless of how I live?” he asked.
“Of course,” Marlowe said.
Marty walked up to him, as Marlowe turned to face him.
“What is wrong, Marty?” he asked.
“You’re lying,” he said. “Mary ain’t in hell. She became a Christian, and was saved and baptized. She joined the Catholic Church, and took the Eucharist whenever she got the chance. Whenever she sinned, no matter how silly or insignificant I thought it was, she always went to confession. She prayed. She did that stupid fucking rosary bit every day, sometimes several times a day.
“I just remembered, the priest told her the same thing, that as long as she tried and had faith, her sins would be forgiven, whether she sinned or not. Well, she tried, Marlowe. She tried her hardest, and when she failed, she never lost her faith.
“It was our secret. She did not want mom and dad to find out, because she knew they would not approve of her turning from our Jewish faith. She was afraid they would disown her. Just two nights before she died, she finally broke down and told them. She was still upset over breaking up with that jackass from school. They told her it was not only all right, but they approved. It was her decision to make.”
Marlowe was silent. He said nothing, keeping his attention focused exclusively on the body under the sheet.
“You’re a real asshole, Marlowe,” he said. “I don’t know how in the hell you pulled all this stuff tonight, and I don’t really think I want to know. I’ll tell you this though-I never want to see you again. Whatever so-called friendship we might have had is over. Keep your drugs, you fucking creep!”
Marty walked off, and hit the buzzer at the door, but he heard no sound. He waited, as he heard Marlowe mumble something from behind him. He waited, until he realized no one was coming, and as he tried the buzzer again, he heard the sound of something moving. He ignored it for a while, but when the movement stopped, he turned. At that exact instant, the lights went out. He turned around, and shouted for Marlowe, but Marlowe gave no response. After an interminably long number of minutes, during which Marty felt the urge to shoot up growing ever more pronounced, be began to become fearful. He could see but very little, and heard no sign of Marlowe. Now growing more fearful by the minute, he reached for the buzzer, but heard no sound.
He drew his gun from his coat pocket at the sound of what seemed to be something dragged as from off a table, and then across the floor. It seemed to be something heavy, though muffled. Within a short number of minutes, as Marty stood transfixed in abject terror, the lights came back on. Marlowe was gone. Not only that, but the table by where Marlowe stood last now was absent the unknown, sheet-covered cadaver that previously laid upon it.
He tried the door, and to his surprise, it opened easily, as though never locked. He made his way out into and down the hallway. It was darkened, and as he made his way cautiously toward the exit, he walked in horror up to the desk guard, who sat there slumped over his desk, as though asleep.
“Oh my God,” he said. “Mr., are you all right?”
Marty shook the man, but he crumpled over, and Marty Evans saw then the grisly sight of the night guard, his throat slashed open in a horrendous wound. He cried as he made his way down the hallway to the left that lead to the exit door. To his horror, he then saw the body of Peyton, sprawled out on the floor, a pool of blood under his back and his head, his throat likewise ripped open, as his eyes stared out in what had to be one final moment of living hell.
He hurried past Peyton’s corpse to the exit door. He opened it and hurriedly made his way out. By the time he made it to where he parked his Subaru, he had to fumble for over a minute before he found his car keys. He got inside and hurriedly shut the door, but there was something in the passenger’s seat. It was a packet. It looked, in fact, to be a packet of heroin.
He started the car and drove hurriedly away. By the time he made it to his house, he remembered how Mary used to talk to him when he was hurting, when he was withdrawing from the heroin, during those times when he became a little more hooked than he intended. Most of the time, he knew the right time to quit. It was hard, it was painful, but most of the time he made it all right. He always survived, even the worse of times. There were times, however, when he went through sheer hell. All of those times, Mary was there for him, looking after him, talking to him, protecting him, consoling him, reading to him, joking with him-and, when he seemed to need it most, berating him.
“Promise me you will never do this again, Marty,” she would say. And so, he would promise her. He would intend to keep that promise, but he never would. Now, as he took out the packet left in the car, and eyed the syringe and the tourniquet that lay waiting for him, almost taunting him, he realized the truth. His whole life was a lie, and as he prepared the solution for the final time, he finally understood. He never intentionally lied to her-only to himself.
“I’m sorry, Mary,” he muttered, as he inserted the syringe into his veins. Within a matter of seconds, he was out.