Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chapter 94: Macaulay Stares Down The Barrel

Fri, December 11, 2074 7:21 pm-- Caliente Manor; Middlebourne, Pleasantview

Macaulay sank his fingertips into the beveled edge of a wall pannel while Ian positioned his shot. He thought of seeking out a wood grain whose lines would match up with the creases in his knuckles. Maybe he could camouflage his hand into the wall, and the rest of his body would follow. There were things about Pleasantview that Macaulay was not going to miss-- the conflicted blend of progressive and obsolete social attitudes that kept him teetering like a tightrope walker, the way that all of downtown stank like an old penny just before dusk, the black cloud of mosquitoes over that swelled Arbormoor in summer, and this most of all-- billiards night at Caliente Manor.

Macaulay did not dislike his friends. He did not even dislike Enoch who spent the first two weeks of their acquaintance refusing to acknowledge his presence. Even Enoch had his moments of virtue, which were made all the more poignant for his widespread priggishness. When Macaulay thought about it, this was probably why Laurie liked Enoch. It was why Macaulay liked him, in any case. Macaulay had a certain appreciation for all of them, he was just too used to being on his own to know how to be a pack animal like other teenagers.

This failing was not so desperate as it sounded. Most of his life had been spent alone or close to it. He found ways to engage himself. There were always new worlds to be explored within the walls of his own home, books to be read, puzzles to be solved, model cars to be built, music and languages to be mastered. He would never have characterized his childhood as lonely, merely separate. If not for Laurie, Macaulay would not be here at all.

As their circle expanded to accommodate Madeline and Warren Burb, Macaulay felt himself disconnecting further, so much so that he had begun to forge a physical distance from the main action of the room without his realizing. This did not go unnoticed. Earlier in the evening, Madeline threw her arm around his shoulders and subtly coaxed him forward. He had drifted back into the corner since then. Madeline began throwing questions at him to keep him involved. Ian was giving him that whipped puppy look of his at intervals. Ian's empathy was starting to grate on Macaulay's nerves just as much as Enoch's sexist jokes about the maid ever had. Warren sat by the fireplace with his nose buried in the Pleasantview Examiner, too preoccupied to wonder whether or not he should be respecting Macaulay's distance. Enoch, meanwhile, was finding ways to hit Macaulay with his pool cue while making it look debatably accidental. He felt like roadkill. He felt like absolute roadkill with a crowd of children hovering above him poking and prodding, consulting one another about whether or not he was dead.

Laurie left the room some time ago to study for a Physics exam. The game went on without him, and would probably continue until Mr. Caliente kicked them all out, which could take hours. According to him, Spartan citizens began military training as early as age seven, and the only modern corollary for the upper casts was billiards or golf depending on which of the two Mr. Calliente was advocating on a particular day. Far be it for him to interrupt young people engaging in such a core enterprise as billiards. Mr. Caliente had a certain sense of humor that often went way over everyone else's heads. Macaulay did not think that it was funny, not when he found himself staring down the barrel of the long night ahead of him. When Laurie left the room, a piece of Macaulay left with him. It sounded trite and overly dramatic in his mind, but it was true. Laurie was Macaulay's confidence, his connection. Laurie made Macaulay's presence felt, even when Macaulay said nothing at all.

"You going to join the land of the living or what?" Macaulay turned around, slowly peeling his hand from the wall. Everyone but Warren was looking at him. Enoch nodded his head towards the table. "You're up, hotshot." Macaulay looked at the table, losing himself in a sea of green felt. He would scratch on purpose, just to get the others out of his hair. He picked up his cue from against the wall. Leaning over the table, he could almost feel Enoch breathing down his neck. He picked an angle.

"Anyone ever tell you that you look just like a girl from behind?" Macaulay gritted his teeth at the remark while Enoch chuckled low in his throat.

"Give him some room, man," Ian chastized. Macaulay could hear Enoch stepping back. He searched for a clear path for the cue ball to land directly into a pocket.

"Three, side pocket," Macaulay mumbled. Enoch crept up next to Macaulay, wide-eyed and innocent as a lamb. He leaned his backside against the table and kept talking as though he had never been interrupted.

"I don't suppose that's something Lawrence would ever say. Then again, he's probably never been in a position to say it, has he? I think he'd tell me if he had, seeing as how I'm his best friend and all. Speaking of, you might want to act on that soon, Cull. Wouldn't want our man Laurie looking elsewhere for what he can't get at home, am I right? See, older guys expect certain things, and--"

"If I take the shot, will you shut-up?" Macaulay could feel his face growing hot. It was obvious that Enoch was trying to distract him, but the more he ignored it, the tighter his stomach wound in upon itself. Enoch was not saying anything that Macaulay had not thought of. Worse, Enoch must have now known that he had struck a nerve.

"Hey, why the long face? Just a little friendly advice," Enoch cooed.

"God Enoch, you're so pathetic sometimes. Can't you just lay off him?" Finally, the only person in the world with any influence over Enoch whatsoever had spoken. Enoch opened his mouth to protest when Warren cut-in.

"Whoah, that is so fucked-up!" A general puzzlement fell over the room. Macaulay could tell from his friends' expressions that they were all of one mind-- That yes, Enoch was rude beyond measure and yes, Madeline was not shy about cracking the whip when necessary, but these were typical behaviors. Warren's reaction, on the other hand, was completely out there. "Did you guys hear about this?" Warren snapped the paper straight. "'Dead Townsman Uncovers Scandal At Tellerman Manor'?" He was met with blank stares. He folded the paper in half before reading aloud.

"The body of Earl Gozanga, age forty-six, was found by a jogger yesterday in northeast Arbormoor. Gozanga, a caretaker at Gothier Green Lawns Cemetery was reported missing on November 20th after failing to return home from work. According to the Arbormoor Coroner's Office, the victim's cause of death was blunt trauma to the neck, possibly by the edge of a shovel or spade. The family of the victim reports that Gozanga had been hired by Mr. and Mrs. Jean-Luc Tellerman of Gothier to disinter over a dozen bodies found in a mass grave on the Tellerman property, to be reburied in Arbormoor Forest."

"Let me see that." Ian snatched the paper out of his brother's hands. Madeline screwed up her face incredulously.

"I don't believe it," she said.

"Man, this is serious. The Tellermans could be doing jail time if it's true," Warren added. Macaulay wanted to throw in, as well they should but held his tongue. Madeline pressed further.

"What else does it say?" Ian shook his head, his eyes working furiously across the page.

"Not much," Warren said. "There was a second grave digger on the site that the police now have in custody. Apparently, he was the last person to see Gozanga alive and is the chief suspect. The police found the burial plot in Arbormoor. Evidence suggests that Gozanga's body was moved after he experienced significant blood loss. The bodies that they were burying are thought to be anywhere from eighty to one hundred years deceased. The Tellermans were unavailable for comment. Locals think it was something called the Trike-yoo curse."

"What's the Trike-yoo curse," Madeline asked. Ian made a fluttering, dismissive motion with his hand.

"Tricou," he corrected. "It's to do with the family that built the house. Almost all of them died horribly or disappeared or went crazy back in the mid 1990's. People say that the family participated in blood rituals and orgies and the like. Urban legend." Enoch bowed his head, pretending to fall asleep.

"I'm sorry," Enoch yawned, stretching his arms wide. "Must have just dozed off there. Remind me again why we should give a gnat's ass about a bunch of eighty-year-old Townie bones?"

"Probably something to do with a man dying as a result of your aunt and uncle dumping human remains in the woods to make way for a swimming pool," Warren scoffed. "Anyway, the article didn't say the bodies were Townsmen. It doesn't identify them at all, actually." Everyone turned to Enoch, each wondering whether he knew something that they did not. He crossed his arms over his chest, reading their faces.

"Oh come off it, of course they were Townie! The only way that no one would notice a person burying twelve plus people in their backyard is if everyone looked the other way while it was happening. Besides, it's always the same story, isn't it? First Townies are born, then they go missing, then their mangled corpses are found in the woods. Isn't that right, Cully?"

Macaulay could not have said what came over him then. Whatever it was, it moved at an instant and was as involuntary as his heartbeat.

By the time he realized what he was doing, Enoch was lying on the floor shielding his face with his arms while Macaulay squatted above him, dealing blow after blow. Enoch's ink-black hair lay sopping upon his forehead. His nose was caked with blood and snot.

Macaulay could feel his pulse racing just beneath the skin. His fist throbbed with pain, but he could not reign in his need for more. He needed to make Enoch hurt more. There was nothing but the communion of his knuckles with every part of Enoch's head that he could reach, and when that was insufficient, he grabbed Enoch by the hair, striking the back of his skull against the floor. Some distant part of his brain heard Warren swearing, and felt Ian's hands pulling him away. Macaulay continued to kick and swing ineffectually while Enoch rolled onto his side. Unable to inflict more damage, Macaulay howled in frustration.

"I'll kill you! I'll kill you! Don't you ever talk about my mother, you bottom-feeding piece of shit!" The door flew open then, and Laurie strode in.

"Maddie, did you-- Oh my god." Laurie drew back when he noticed Enoch in a puddle on the floor. Madeline rushed over to inspect the damage. Laurie looked up at Macaulay, who was still fuming. "Oh my god."

"I think he might have a concussion. He's definitely going to need stitches. Enoch?" Madeline was patting Enoch's cheek. His lip had burst and his nose might have been swollen, but who could tell? Macaulay was not sure if it was enough, but it was a start. If anyone deserved worse, it was Enoch. Arrogant, tedious, horse-faced little weasel. Macaulay was done putting up with Enoch fucking Goth.

"Cully, what the hell?" Laurie seemed to be pleading more than anything. Macaulay felt a little ashamed, but no more. When he did not respond, Laurie bent down to help Enoch to his feet. Ian pulled Macaulay back against him by the collar and murmured heatedly in his ear.

"I'm taking you home." Ian pushed Macaulay roughly forward. "Maddie, get him to a doctor. Warren, you're coming with me."

Macaulay glanced over his shoulder as Ian lead him out of the room. Laurie was dabbing Enoch's nose with his shirt sleeve and saying something that Macaulay could not hear. Enoch nodded in response. A fresh surge of bitterness chilled Macaulay to the core. Laurie never asked if Macaulay was alright. He had hardly taken his eyes off of Enoch from the moment he walked through the door. Macaulay had never been angry at Laurie before, but he was now and the feeling was undoubtedly mutual. Maybe it would take a while for things to be the same between them again. Still, Macaulay was not sorry that it happened. It was the first time that he had ever felt truly satisfied to be his father's son.


  1. Woah! Enoch definitely shouldn't have gone there (especially if he knows. Does he know?)... but I would have expected better self-control from Cully. Granted, maybe things have just piled up so high over the past couple years and it was only a matter of time before he snapped, and Enoch just happened to say the one thing that would most likely set Cully off.

    In other news, Ian and Madeleine don't look different at all! Nice work with the recreation :)

  2. Heck yeah, Enoch knows. He might have heard that story long before he ever met Cully. It was pretty sensational news. People still talked about it years after the fact. If he hadn't heard it through the grapevine, he definitely would have heard it from Laurie. Enoch was hitting below the belt just because the situation was opportune. Unfortunately, Enoch has trouble with boundaries and had no way of knowing that Cully would snap like that in any case. He's usually so mild.

    Cully tries very hard not to hate Enoch, but he has been storing up a lot of resentment over the past few months. Enoch can be outright nasty to Cully at times. Truth is, Enoch doesn't like Cully very much either. He doesn't like Cully's birth. He doesn't like Cully's class standing at school. He doesn't like that people tend to like Cully, and he really doesn't like the fact that Cully is stealing his best friend. It's trifling, but there it is.

    Hey, thanks! Ian and Madeleine have easy faces.

    *hehehe* That was a fast response, Van!