Rooting out Pests - September Short Stories
“That Ralph Peters is one cheap fuck”
Looking up from her entertainment magazine –some article about Arianna Grande leaving a health clinic with a tell-tale baby bump- Jennet Evans held her gaze on her husband.
Stanley, her faithful spouse of 38 years, was sitting in their kitchen. It was night time, and other than the absent ticking from the clock on the wall the only sound in the kitchen had been Jennet’s page folding and the dull hum of fluorescents.
He was in his usual evening attire. Boxers exposing his pasty white calves, dress shirt that was buttoned just enough to expose the side of one of his man tits, and sensible loafers. In his hand rested a glass of beer, which was undoubtedly warm at this point.
He always opened a beer in the evening, but never managed to finish it. Many nights had passed when she would be the last one in the kitchen, and his glass would still have the ‘bottom swill’ as Stan had once described to her.
“It’s the shit part of the beer, so it doesn’t matter if it’s wasted.” He told her one summer morning when she berated him for his carelessness.
“Well how so?” Jennet asked him.
She knew what his general answer would be. Ralph Peters was a local townie, and had recently sold them a car for their eldest daughter: Jeanie. They had been planning on buying her one for quite some time, and with her recent acceptance into grad school it seemed like the time was ripe for a gift.
“Well I know he skinned me for $400. That car out there is worth 2k, tops. And that cheap son of a sea cook wouldn’t budge one bit.” He grumbled while looking out of the dark window. “And I know for a fact that he bought those tires two years ago, not last spring. I was in the shop when he ordered them for Christ’s sake.”
This was typical Stan behaviour. He hated spending money, and even if it was for their family he always seemed to believe that he could have gotten what they needed for less.
“Then why did you budge on your offer?” She asked, lifting her magazine back up at the same time.
“Because I’m a sucker I guess,” He sipped his beer and then turned to Jennet “besides, Jeanie needed the car. I’ll be damned if I’m going to a car lot in Tinlou to get ripped off by some snake oil salesman.”
She pursed her lips and said nothing. It was easier to let him simmer in his own discontent.
“I just wish I didn’t get taken by that ass hat. You know he’s a Jew right?”
It seemed like he truly was annoyed with the purchase. Stanley Evans rarely went for slandering language, and tended to save it for raunchy jokes. Jennet wasn’t one to offend easily, and the one about the priest, the German and the Spaniard always managed to make her chuckle.
“Hmpf..” Turning her page and not looking up “Well, like you always say, they’re not all in Palestine, dear.”
Sitting in silence they continued their evening ritual.
Stan grew bored of staring out at the black night. With a groan and sigh he lifted himself unceremoniously from the kitchen chair. Made a move to leave the table, and then looked back at the glass he had left behind, an inch of amber liquid still resting safely at the bottom. Turning back, he grabbed the glass and gulped down the remainder, rinsed it in the sink then left the kitchen without saying anything.
His afterthought made for a mini-victory within Jennet. It only took a few years, but he could finally rinse his own glass. Now, he would continue with usual nightly tradition and pass out in front of the evening news. Sometimes he would shout out to her about an earth quake on the west coast, or some bomber in a foreign city. However it was never long before he managed to dose off. Head tilted to the side and soft snores escaping his wind pipe.
Later that evening, Jennet slipped into bed turning the lamp off as she did. The glow from the moon had made its way to their bedroom window, and illuminated portions of the room.
It was normal these days, for the two of them to sleep in separate rooms. It wasn’t that they fought, or disliked each other’s company, but after so many years there are bed time habits that are just too hard to curb and in order to get a proper night sleep one had to accept reality.
While dosing off, she thought she heard glass break outside of the house. At first she assumed it was a part of her sub-conscious ready to slip into dream mode, but then she heard what sounded like a car door closing.
Creeping out of bed, wearing her flowery night gown and slippers, she slowly stepped towards their bedroom door.
She opened the door to the main hallway. Jennet cursed her husband as the door made a creak when opening. Four years he had been promising to replace the darn thing and still it remained half hinged.
She crept through the hallway. At this point she wasn’t sure why she was so apprehensive. It was likely some racoon or coyote that had simply managed to push over their garbage bin.
Still, she couldn’t help but weigh the advantages of going into the TV room and waking Stanley, the old man, as she had begun to refer to him as, who wasn’t the heroic type. Possibly back in his young days, but now it seemed like he was more content sighing heavily about something or just letting it sort itself out.
The poor guy would probably let a bear eat him if caught in the woods, the whole time assuming that they had a common language.
The alternative was to simply go straight to the gun cabinet, which was mounted to the wall close to the door.
This seemed like the best bet. It would give her a chance to peek through the front window, if there was in fact a coyote in the front yard, it would make a funny story retelling how Stanley had jerked awake to his wife killing a wild animal.
Walking towards the front door with a little more gusto she reached it and carefully peaked into the front yard, hoping not to scare anything that may be out there.
Five tall figures surrounded the new-to-them Ford that was parked in the yard.
Jennet ducked down. Terrified by what she had seen, but not quite believing it. Cautiously she looked out of the door’s window to try and understand just what she thought she had seen.
The Ford was indeed surrounded by a group of people. On the other end of the drive way a van had pulled up and was blocking the exit. Their long driveway, a blessing for not having close neighbours, was actually a death sentence it seemed.
Two more figures were walking towards the front door. It was possible they had seen her.
Jennet prayed they hadn’t.
She crouched low and walked backwards. The early bouts of old-age pain that would usually limit her from being nimble and fast had almost all but disappeared thanks to the current situation. The mounted cabinet had a combination lock, she was suddenly happy that Mr. Evan’s had made such a big deal about getting her to help set the code. It made remembering while under pressure a fairly easy task.
Three rifles were tucked into their individual locks. She knew there was a hand gun in the lock box at the bottom of the cabinet, but time was of the essence, and the .22 would do.
Mary unlocked one of the rifles as quietly as she could, and then grabbed a box of shells. She remembered from Stanley’s instructions that one should always refer to them as shells, not bullets.
Looking back at the door, Mary saw the face of a young woman staring back at her. Except, there was something maniacal about this woman, she had beautiful, terrifying features.
“Oh, god-” She gasped and backed down the hallway. Hoping her room would mean safety “Stanley!”
A crash came from the TV room, Mr. Evan’s cried out, and then a loud noise followed, ending in silence.
Slamming the door to their bedroom behind her, she sobbed, hoping the lock on the knob would provide some sort of protection.
Remembering what her husband had taught her, she checked the rifle, and carefully loaded shells into it. To her surprise it came quite easily, despite being two years since she had last touched a loaded fire arm.
A loud crash came from outside the house, along with screams of delight from unknown voices. She was certain this was the sound of the Ford’s window and tires being broken and slashed.
Suddenly, a loud thud came from the bedroom door.
“Jennn-“ A familiar yet demented voice came from the hallway of their two story home.
“Please no.” She whispered to herself. The voice from the other side, it sounded like her husband, a certain accent and tone had taken over his pronunciation of her name. “Leave me alone!”
She couldn’t explain it, but there was something off. Something that meant Stanley wasn’t there.
Leaning against the end of the bed, Jennet cocked the rifle, hoping against hope that this was all a terrible nightmare.
The door to their bedroom made a final crash, the handle splintering where it met the wood frame. Instead of it swinging open from the force, it merely cracked the frame, and then swung at an even, gentle pace.
Stanley came through first, a portion of his head was bloody, but that was where his eyes had been, it disappeared quickly as he head dived into the hardwood floor.
The door swung open revealing a man wearing gloves, and robes, something about the man’s features suggested he was of an old age, or very young. Upon his lips was blood, which Jennet noticed trailed down his neck.
“Ahh, Jenn.. I believe that is what-“ The strange man looked toward Stanley’s body “-he would have called you. I hope you do not feel put out. It took some time finding a suitable resting place.”
“Alex!” A woman’s voice came from the hallway. “I will take care of this loose end. You’ve had enough. Get out and start sending you’re messages I’m hungry and you’re in the way.”
Beside the tall, ageless man, now stood the woman with the maniacal face, Jennet knew now that it was her smile that terrified her. It was a smile that could creep in, almost overcome the defences and then reveal a true demon.
She took aim and landed a shot in the woman’s left eye. Cocking the rifle again, she took another shot at the man before a reaction would cause her to freeze up.
The woman screamed in rage. Where her left eye had been, a bloody wound had emerged, stumbling and grasping for her head she began walking towards the terrified Jennet.
Before loading the rifle for a third shot, it was wrenched out of her hands by the woman and thrown across the room. Blood dribbled onto Jennet’s face as the wound bled out.
Looking back up, she saw that the tissue in the woman’s face was slowly mending itself together. She was certain that she could see the veins beginning to form from within the woman’s destroyed eye.
“You bitch, that shit hurts.” The woman looked down at Jennet. “I thought you would do for a nice top up, but now I’ll have to bleed you dry. I could have kept you alive too.”
Outside of the country house, three people were using shovels and axes to smash in the Evans’ new Ford. Two other individuals were pouring a clear liquid around the tool shed where Stanley kept his ride on lawn mower and gardening tools.
Under the light of the moon they looked like they could have been doing some late night gardening of their own. Two people watering the flowers, long after the evening pests had gone to sleep.