An unmarked Ford Granada cruises the empty streets of Unthinkable Cramps, alternating between paved and dirt. Smoke clouds the windshield. For a moment it reverses back into Hank Murky’s cigarette. The cigarette regains its former state from moments ago when he lit it. Blood drips from the steering wheel. Blood always drips from the steering wheel.
A phone rings in the passenger’s seat. Sanchez uncrosses their legs, pulls out the phone, looks at the number. Silences it. Stares at it half confused/half pissed. Murky watches Sanchez’s puzzled look. The sun highlights their small nose and narrow jawline. Too pretty for this line of work, Murky thinks. Dispatch radios in disrupting Murky’s deep philosophical ponderings about the nature of man.
“We got a ten, double O, 3, 9, Hector, 12, FDR, spam, 3,7,9,2, bam bam, 66, bubba, A2 to H6, checkmate.”
Sanchez pulls out a manual of police codes from the glovebox and fumbles frantically through the pages.
Murky grabs the radio. “Copy that.”
“You copied that?”
“It’s a talker.”
A woman with over seven decades experience in Unthinkable Cramps converses with her toaster when the door yells. She looks at the refrigerator.
“Surprised you don’t have something to say too.”
The door thumps and yells again. “Miss Benton, it’s Detective Murky! Can you open up?”
“I guess that would be alright,” she says to the toaster. “I won’t be using them.”
The door shouts again. “Miss Benton, Detective Murky here! It would appear my partner is about to put their foot through your door if you don’t open!”
The front door stops yelling and flies off the hinges. Sanchez screams as they march over the fallen door. Murky watches them and thinks, “They’re too barbaric for this line of work.” He follows Sanchez to the kitchen.
Murky: Miss Benton. Step away from the toaster. It’s coming with us.
Miss Benton: Oh. But I’ll be so lonely. You’re getting blood everywhere. Oh my look at that. You’ve got blood all over you.
Murky: It’s fine. I’m always this way. It’s my job. Now I’ll just take that toaster.
Miss Benton: Here take this instead.
She reaches in a cabinet and hands Murky a chainsaw.
Murky: Is the chainsaw also talking to you?
A phone rings. Sanchez pulls it out of their pocket. Silences it. Grumbles.
Murky: What is it?
Sanchez: It’s nothing.
Murky: You can answer it.
Sanchez: Rather not. It’s my biological father. Haven’t heard from him since I was four.
Murky: Maybe it’s important.
Sanchez: Doubt it.
Murky: Maybe he wants to give you money.
Sanchez: Well he can leave a message. Third time he’s called today. Won’t leave a message.
Murky: Miss Benton, was the toaster speaking to you before the visitors arrived?
Miss Benton: No. Just started talking today. I told my neighbor and he says I’m crazy. You know what they say, all the great people…wait…no. What is it? There’s a saying that goes with that somewhere. Have you seen it? You should look for it. I probably put it in my medicine cabinet when I was taking my pills. Did you need to take a bath?
Murky: I don’t bathe. I’m self-cleaning.
Miss Benton: Listen, I told my neighbor if I’m crazy maybe I’m a crazy genius. Like Einstein. Did you know he was crazy? That’s why he had that hair he had. I always thought I was like him. We’re both Aries you know.
Sanchez: You’re not crazy. Or a genius.
Miss Benton: Well I’ll have you know Mr. Toast Toast thinks I’m quite brilliant.
Sanchez: Ma’am, anyone who’s encountered the visitors has been chatting like low level morons with their appliances. Not just you. But so far it’s old folks like you with not much to live for.
Miss Benton: I’ll have you know I have plenty to live for. Every morning I make dance movies for my TikTok students. Once you leave here I’m going to slip into —”
Murky unplugs the toaster and hands it to Sanchez.
Sanchez: We gotta take Mr. Toast Toast in for interrogation, lady.
Miss Benton: No. No. Please. I told him he could have my bones. Here take this instead.
She reaches behind the refrigerator and hands Murky a shotgun.
Murky: Has the shotgun also been talking to you, Miss Benton?
Miss Benton: Oh come on now. Don’t be silly.
A warehouse. The Granada speeds into the empty parking lot with fuzzy dice swinging from the rearview.
Murky and Sanchez walk to the rear of the car.
“This almost makes up for missing my daughter’s wrestling match today.” Murky drools over Miss Benton’s shotgun as he fondles it with his bloody hands.
Sanchez pops the trunk. It’s littered with dozens of small appliances. They grab the toaster.
Murky takes a few steps back. “Hold it up, Sanchez.”
Sanchez props the toaster on their head.
Murky takes aim.
*** ** *** ** ***
For table of contents or to start from the beginning of Unthinkable Cramps click here, right here and nowhere else.
Leave a Reply