Suggested Audio Candy:
 Luigi Blasioli Lost in The Woods
 Woods of Ypres “Sequence of Dreams”
“What now then?”
“I dunno. You want to watch another movie?”
“Not really no. I think I’m all movied out for the time being”
“Well it’s only half ten. I’m not going to bed yet”
“Why don’t we do something a little different”
“Take a walk?”
“You’re kidding right? It’s sub-zero temperatures out there. Whatever could be gained from walking about in freezing conditions other than frostbite?”
“Why don’t we take a walk down by the lake?”
“I remember why I married you now. It was your great sense of adventure that hooked me in”
“Very funny. Well I don’t see you coming up with any better ideas”
“That’s because you haven’t asked”
“Go on then”
“We could finish off that bottle of white rum and see where it leads”
“To the bedroom”
“Not necessarily. I could clear the dining table in seconds”
“Perry I didn’t marry you for your dick. If I had then it would have been a small ceremony”
“So you’d rather have sex in the wilderness?”
“Firstly, it’s hardly the outback. We’re talking ten minutes walk tops. Secondly, who said you’re getting laid anyway?”
“Touché. Alright then, lead the way but we’d better get back quick before your vagina closes up”
“You always have to lower the tone don’t you?”
“You married me”
“And I lay awake night after night wondering why”
Perry and Olivia were just like any other couple. They disagreed on almost everything, liked different series, bickered at one another constantly, but something still kept them together. It wasn’t children, Perry had never been interested in parenting and, despite Olivia getting broody on occasion, she had grown accustomed to the fact that she would never parent her own child. It saddened her to watch her friends talking about little Joshua’s first day at elementary school while she had nothing to interject. However, it had been a long time since the topic had last been breached and that had ended in a blazing row with Perry suggesting she had hoodwinked him into marriage on false pretenses and was now showing her colors. He could be an ignorant prick sometimes. Actually, the more she thought about it, the more instances started springing to mind.
There was the time she beat him at ten-pin bowling in front of their best friends Don and Emily. Upon completion of her turkey, with victory now unassailable, the girl’s team was rapturous. While the guys sheepishly packed up their Brunswick balls, the ladies decided to strut their stuff and remind them who their mommies were. Perry held in contempt until they arrived home and then hit her with the old flirtation card. In truth, he was nursing his own bruised ego but he sure as shit wasn’t about to be the only miserable one in the room. Consequently, the couple never spoke for a week after that. And that, my friends, is why make-up sex became the rage in the first place. It was this dynamic which still kept the wolves from the door all these years on. Some men lick pussy like slobbering hounds and Perry did so as though sipping fine Chardonnay through a flute.
“You ready then?”
“Gimme a minute. I can only find one fucking glove”
“Other one’s by the coat stand. You dropped it there earlier”
“Then why didn’t you think to put the two together?”
“I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’m not your bitch”
“Second thoughts, fuck the lake. It’s a stupid idea anyway”
“Here we go”
“What do you mean here we go? You always have to give me attitude”
“Well maybe if you thought of me once in a while instead of it always having to be about you then we wouldn’t be in this mess”
“What fucking mess?”
“Come on Perry. This is me here remember. We’re miserable”
“Speak for yourself. I’m perfectly okay thanks”
“That’s just it. You hit the nail on the head”
“Did I miss something here?”
“Okay. You’re okay. I’ve seen matador have their arms ripped from the shoulder by raging bulls and reassured the crowd “don’t worry, I’m okay” before bleeding to death”
“Well what do you want me to say? That I’m over the moon? That life is all I dreamed it would be and more? That I’m happy to be stuck in a dead-end job at forty-six?”
“I’d rather you told me you felt like shit”
“Okay Olivia. Just for you. Right now I feel like shit”
“Great. Now let’s go have some fun”
“I wasn’t lying about the walk”
“And you still expect me to want to come along with you now?”
“Yes. Do something that can’t be controlled remotely just for once in your life!
“I don’t know where all of this pent-up hate is coming from”
“It’s not hate. It’s just plain boredom. I’m not tired of you, just tired with the monotony of the time we seem to spend together”
“So I am boring to you then?”
“Jesus no. Listen to me, I’ll be very clear. You don’t bore me, our mundane existence does. I still want to be with you, just someplace other than the couch for a change”
“Well you could have just said that”
While Olivia despaired, she also knew full well that Perry would invariably have to own the closing statement. She was past caring now as perception wasn’t his strong suit and, even if he knew of his annoying habit, it would be unlikely that he’d ever change on her account. It had been just as painstaking an experience as she had expected but somehow he was taking the bait. He was doing this for a quiet life; something which Olivia never seemed to grant him. Perry fought tooth and nail over ownership of his own study when they moved into their five bedroom house. Considering they had no offspring or even pets, one measly little room didn’t seem like too unreasonable a request. After rebuffing his pleas for months, Olivia finally caved in but the selected poky little chamber had to have open access at all times on account of his secret love of Smirnoff and too much broken trust.
Perry had been surreptitiously sneaking in alcohol for years and treated it like a military exercise. Vodka was his chosen tipple as there was relatively no scent and there were plenty of natural juices lined up in the fridge for mixers. He considered himself a simple man of simple needs and Olivia’s complexity just got a little overbearing from time-to-time thus he needed an occasional sanctuary. There was no sign of solace right now but he estimated that one relatively brisk stroll may enable him just the bargaining tool he required to stay up late and catch up on The Wire. In truth, the moment the bedroom light was off, he’d slide out the porn trunk from beneath his futon and knock one out with the door wide open.
It always ultimately turned to porn. Currently, he had a penchant for watersports and knew a couple of good sites to peruse at will. He was fairly assured that Olivia checked his internet history so needed to retrace his steps and eliminate any incriminating evidence so as not to arouse suspicion. After a while in any new build, you begin to grow accustomed to its nuances; creaks and groans. Should she get up to pee then there would be at least twelve seconds before Def Con 5 would need to be initiated, giving him ample time to return the room to its prior state. It had become something of an art form for Perry over the years and, despite a couple of close shaves, he still remained undefeated.
“I’m sick of waiting. I’ll be outside alright?”
Perry’s mind instantly lurched into overdrive. He knew how to get to his hidden stash of vodka, take a couple of swigs for the road, and make it to extraction with Olivia none the wiser.
“Be right there”
The race was on. If he was fortunate he would have forty seconds to complete his sub-mission and grab a Mentos just to freshen his palate incase she smelt a rat. They’d kissed three times today which was in keeping with their daily quota but what about if she decided to go for a record? He lurched up the stairwell in three gargantuan steps and fumbled the liquor as he frantically scanned the area for breath mints. All the while he could envisage Olivia impatiently tapping her wristwatch in the front yard, growing increasingly irate.
“Are you coming or what?”
“Quick piss and I’ll be down”
Perry took an extra couple of swigs on account of the fact that he felt me may well be needing it tonight. As he passed the bathroom, he leaned in and flushed the chain, then headed downstairs to join his wife in the garden.
“I’m all yours”
“And they say it’s women that procrastinate. Perry, you’re one of a kind you know that?”
“I’m here now. Shall we just get this over with?”
“The words every woman wishes to hear. Let’s get this over with”
“Well I don’t know what the big deal is about going out in the dead of night anyway”
“I don’t know. How about actually doing something together for a change?”
“Well come on then. Lead the way”
“Well I thought we might take the route down by O’Malley’s farm. Ten minutes and we can be at the lake from there”
“You know old man O’Malley shoots first and asks questions later right?”
“I also know that he’s as deaf as a post and a heavy sleeper”
“You’ve never been shot with an air rifle have you?”
“No I’ve not had the exclusive pleasure. But I doubt he’s ever hit anything anyway. The guy’s two parts blind as a bat”
“It’s the lucky ricochet that concerns me”
“Fine. O’Malleys it is. But if I end up with a bullet in my ass you can be the one picking it out”
“Gotcha. Now can we please just go now?”
“It’ll be yours if you don’t get a wriggle on”
Perry often pondered as to when the swing of power in their relationship changed. For the first few years he had been the one in the ascendency but, since they married, his manhood had been steadily neutered to the point where she held most of the cards. It didn’t help that she pulled in a three figured salary while he was trapped in a job he hated which had steadily being going nowhere for the past decade. He dreamed of being a college professor, teaching History, but their mortgage payments were too severe for him to act on that impulse despite them having over fifty grand in savings. Again, they were at loggerheads about this; in Perry’s mind you can’t take money with you when you die, whereas Olivia was far more respecting of currency, to the point where she prefered to see it on a bank statement than feel it in her hands.
Olivia meanwhile had grown increasingly frustrated with his inability to see beyond the end of his nose. If it had been down to him then there would be no savings; he’d have frittered them long ago on signed pictures of Neil Diamond and flat screen televisions that turn on via vocal command. She had worked damned hard to get them to where they were now and felt totally within her rights as her parents had grown up with precious little after her father was caught up in the Wall Street crash of 1972. Struggling hadn’t been much fun and she was not about to repeat that. In that respect, she had become a product of her environment and Perry knew this only too well.
“Would you say that you’re happy?”
Trick question Perry. Answer correctly.
“Well I’m not”
“So this is it is it? You’ve brought me out here to tell me I suck?”
“I’ve brought you out here so we can actually talk for once”
“We talk all the time”
“No Perry. I talk, your eyes glaze over”
“So come on then. What’s so bad about our life? Sock it to me”
“We haven’t been to bed together in three weeks”
“That’s because you’re ready for bed at nine thirty and you know I’m a night owl”
“I know about your stash of porn”
“Don’t act all surprised. Do you think I’m an idiot?”
“I was hoping you were yes”
“So you admit it then?”
“Okay so I have a little porn”
“A little? I haven’t been able to vacuum beneath that futon for six months on account of all the smut under there”
He should have known it. It was the Hoover’s fault.
“So I jerk off. Big whoop. Maybe if you didn’t live in those Godawful pajamas night after night, I’d try my luck”
“Maybe that’s why I wear them. Look, it may seem like I got you out here for an argument but I didn’t. I’m not strong enough for another slanging match. I just want talk about it”
“What is there to talk about?”
“Oh I don’t know. Us maybe? Neither one of us is truly happy if we’re honest”
“I do love you”
“And I love you too. But things have gotten stale and if I don’t mention it, you never will”
“So what do we do?”
“We’re doing it. Just spending some time together not cooped up in the house is a start”
“So this isn’t about busting my chops then?”
“God no. Do you think I actually glean any pleasure from always having to be the bad guy?”
“You do look like you’re enjoying it more than me”
“That’s because you’re the one getting caught red-handed. If you were just honest about it from the offset…”
“So would you mind if I spend thirty bucks a week on pornography?”
“Yes I’d mind. You’re missing my point entirely”
“Fill me in, please”
“If we actually interacted a little more then maybe you wouldn’t need that smut to get yourself off. I may be in my forties but I’m not dead beneath the waist”
“Okay you understand, Or okay, somebody get this crazy bitch to shut up so I can return to my quiet life”
“Both. But I do see your point”
“Well that’s a start”
Perry and Olivia were now five minutes from their house and coming up alongside O’Malley’s cabin. He slept with one eye open so conversation would need be kept to an absolute minimum if not to rouse him. Bernard O’Malley was known around town as the one to cross the road for when you see him advancing. Since his wife Beryl had lost her twelve-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, he had grown increasingly distant and appeared to exist in his own little world as he meandered the high street each morning like clockwork.
More the fool you for engaging him in conversation as little of it made sense and his rambling invariably become heated as he ultimately worked himself up each time. He also had a tendency to take his morning stroll clad only in long johns, wife beater, and hiking boots which was far less than a pleasure to witness. At seventy-nine, his junk resided near his knees than his abdomen and a number of times he had been pulled up for public indecency although even the police had now given up trying to change him. He was just O’Malley, too long in the tooth to rehabilitate, just another grave waiting to be dug. That saddened Olivia.
“Look, his front door’s open”
“Yeah. That probably means he’s loading up shells as we speak”
“His door is never open”
“This isn’t filling me with confidence”
“Let’s check it out”
“I wanna see what’s up”
“What’s up is going to be an ass full of shrapnel”
“Stop being so melodramatic”
“You’re kidding right? This is old man O’Malley we’re talking about remember? The one that spent six weeks in county jail for beating three trespassers out of their senses with a tree branch. I’m turning back”
“What’s wrong Perry. Getting a little yellow are you?”
“That is a low blow. I’m no man’s poultry”
“Then prove it chicken boy”
“Oh it’s on”
Worked like a charm. One doesn’t use sixteen years of marriage not learning how to pull their partner’s ripcord. Perry liked to think that he was still manly; still the buck who could bench press 80lb before his hernia. Nobody could tell him otherwise, least of all her. He’d had the final word, now it was time for him to display the courage of his convictions and be alpha. He would, of course, negate to mention to Olivia the fact that he had already touched cloth in his jockeys and wasn’t relishing taking the lead on this particular mercy mission.
“I’m really not sure we should be doing this?”
“Step aside Perry”
“No I got this. Jesus, you’re techy”
“Curious enough to plunder the house of the town crazy without formal invitation?”
“He may be hurt”
“Of course. When I leave the front porch door ajar it is to warn passers-by that I have suffered a fall and am in dire need of medical attention. Makes perfect sense”
Just then, Olivia stopped in her tracks.
“Can you smell that?”
“Yeah I can and it ain’t pretty. Smells like something has died in there”
“We gotta go check”
“No we don’t. We gotta get the hell out of here before the old codger wakes up and perforates us”
“I mean it. I get the feeling that something isn’t right”
“In your head? Yeah I’m getting the same inkling”
“You just stay there clutching your vagina. I’m going in”
“Alright. Alright. I’m coming”
Perry covered his face with his scarf as the pungent aroma was a lot more potent once they made their way into the kitchen. On the table was a half-eaten chicken dinner and discarded beer. The chair had been knocked over and there was a vague trail of blood leading directly into the living area.
“You see this?”
“Yeah and I think we should turn back now and let the police deal with this”
“I want to see”
“Why? What could there be to possibly gain by seeing what messed up shit is waiting in there?”
Olivia didn’t grace his question with a reply and instead cautiously shuffled to the partition and peered around to the opposing side.
“Holy shit. Perry you got to see this”
She didn’t wait for a response and instead bolted in, leaving Perry between a rock and a decidedly hard place. Eventually, he drummed up the resolve to go and join her and, as he entered the lounge, his bulging eyes could barely facilitate the sight that greeted him. Olivia was there, stooped over O’Malley who appeared to have consumed his last chicken wing. The old man was torn from throat to abdomen; sheared unevenly by something which lacked any form of precision.
“Oh fuck. Is he dead?”
“I’d say so yes. Careful not to slip on his kidney”
Perry glanced at his feet and the deep red organ was just inches away from his boot.
“We gotta call someone quick”
“What do you think caused this?”
“Right now I’m not particularly concerned. Olivia, we have to leave NOW”
She took a few more seconds to run her eye over the callously compromised cadaver. The one thing which struck her was how little blood there was, despite the fact that his entire torso had been prised wide open. It was as though whatever had done this had quenched itself fully before passing on and hadn’t wanted to spill a single drop.
“Olivia. Come on”
Still she marveled at the grotesque sight before her. His eyes were stone cold dead, pupils fully retracted, but it appeared as though he had still been screaming something out in his death throes. The only live dead person she had ever witnessed prior was her grandmother during an open casket wake. She remembered Nanny Pat looking remarkably serene, albeit a little ethereal on account of the embalming fluid. O’Malley wasn’t peaceful; his gnarled look suggested that he hadn’t seen his end coming or felt as though he had led a good life and was ready now to move on. His life had been crudely snatched from him while he felt every twinge of agony. Moreover, what had achieved this clearly wasn’t human.
“Olivia please get your head in the game. There’s a sound in the hallway. I think whoever did this might still be here. We need to go”
Despite Perry’s impassioned pleas, Olivia still wouldn’t leave the old man’s side.
“Come on. Look, I’m getting the fuck out of here alright. Olivia? Olivia?”
Perry actually turned away and started to the door before thinking better of it and stopping in his tracks. He took his vows seriously and, despite the fact that his spouse was currently brandishing a death wish, he couldn’t simply leave her. He started back towards the lounge but, before he could reach his destination, the door swung wide open right between them. Whatever had been shuffling around out there had cottoned on to their presence and was about to make itself known.
Olivia was startled too and span around to assess although the door frame obscured her view of what was beyond it. Perry, however, wasn’t quite so fortunate. His contorted features told their own story right now; one of tremendous consternation.
“Don’t move an inch”
“What? What is it Perry?”
“JUST…don’t move okay?”
“Gotcha. What is it?”
“I’m not sure yet. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. It’s looking right at me Olivia. What should I do?”
“Grab something sharp. There’s a knife on the table, use that to stick it with if it decides to attack”
“It doesn’t look like it’s preparing to make friends and influence people”
“Then keep calm. Don’t show it fear. If you do, we’re in trouble. Now what does it look like?”
“I don’t know. A small bear or something. But it’s not a bear. It’s about the same size. And there are rows of spikes from the top of its head running down its back”
“Okay now it sounds like you’re explaining a Chupacabra”
“A contemporary legend. There have been eye-witness reports of this ‘goat-sucker’ as it’s commonly known. Apparently it eviscerates livestock and drinks their blood”
“And what’s the good news?”
“There’s no bona fide proof that they even exist”
“Well whatever is grinding its teeth at me now is definitely real and you ain’t filling me with confidence with this goat-sucker business either”
If there was one thing which Olivia was already aware of that tonight had truly cemented then it was that she was more calm in a crisis. She edged across to the right slowly and steadily, so as not to arouse the creature’s interest, and gained herself a better vantage. She was a biologist by trade so the reported legend of Chupacabra made up any lunch break small-talk on numerous occasions. What she saw as plain as the freckled nose on her face was indeed either a Cryptid or something doing a rather splendid impression of one. This presented discouraging news for both of them.
“What do you think?”
“I think you need to slowly back up to the door. No sudden movements. Hold its eye contact and wait for me there”
“Then you slam that shit like a tequila chaser and we run like hell. Sound like a plan?”
“But it’s moving towards me”
“That’s because it can sense your fear. Try calming down”
“Calm down she says. I’m about to become this beast’s hors d’oeuvre and I’m supposed to be tranquil”
“I mean it. You’re angering it”
Perry’s chance to see sense had now passed and, because of his procrastination, the creature was now just feet away and in his direct line of sight. Olivia surveyed her surroundings for something that she could use as a blunt weapon but O’Malley had never been one for clutter and a rolled up copy of Mad Magazine sure as shit wasn’t going to banish this particular threat. Acting on impulse was a concept far less alien to Olivia so she lunged to the kitchen table, whipped off the cloth, and used it to ensnare her enemy.
“Now Perry. Now, drive it into it head”
“I can’t do that”
“It’s getting free. If you don’t do it now, we’ll both be sushi”
“I’ve never stabbed anything before”
Perry couldn’t stand to watch. He had fainted dissecting a toad back in ninth grade and couldn’t bear the sight of blood. Traditionally, he left the Thanksgiving turkey to Olivia and feigned some man affliction or another. Killing something, even in a kill-or-be-killed scenario, didn’t come easy to him.
He drove the serrated blade down with sufficient force to embed at least three inches of its girth into the cranium. Direct hit; he felt overwhelming pride and celebrated by twisting the knife within its brittle access point just to dislodge a little more matter and make things final. Who would have thought that Perry Chapman would come good? He’d been regarded as a wuss his whole life; spineless and lacking in true grit and this had proved any doubters wrong in one swift, assured, and most conclusive motion. Death to the beast. Now to save the damsel in distress and reconvene the marriage no longer a fragmented mass of pathetic excuses but the slayer of Chupacabra.
Alas, for Perry, he had suffered from Dyspraxia since childhood and one of his ailments was that he struggled to judge distances. His blow had indeed been final; there was no coming back from his reckoning. However, as the table-cloth slid from his enemy’s unscathed head and Perry drank in the undesirable sight of his wife housing the carving knife straight through the top of her crown, pleading eyes still stunned by his clusterfuck rearguard, hero status swiftly ebbed away. Meanwhile the Chupacabra’s mind wasn’t cluttered by any of this wasteful human emotion and was simply feeling parched.