“Hey fat ass, watch where you’re going”, the man yelled as Budd slipped on the ice and bumped into him.
“Sorry”, Budd mumbled, regaining his balance.
It had been snowing for the better part of four days, a real doozy of a blizzard. The temperature had climbed above zero only once during that time. The roads were glare ice and the sheriffs department had warned everyone to stay at home. Most people didn’t listen. Accidents had been occurring about as often as hugs at the Special Olympics.
None of this mattered to Budd, as he didn’t drive. He walked where he needed to go. If the distance were too far he’d just take the bus. In all honesty anything farther than two blocks was too far for him. The store was definitely too long of a walk, however there were no buses running today and he needed something.
So he had decided to brave the cold. It was a long, cold walk but he had made it.
He walked into the store, heavily out of breath. He paused for a few seconds before deciding to have a seat in the deli lobby. You know. Where they had the fried chicken, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese and other foods. The food in the glass displays always looked dried out and nasty. Still sometimes you couldn’t help yourself and you’d decide to eat it. It was cheap and quick. You always ended up paying for it later. What would start as a feeling of being full would eventually lead to a heavy knot in your belly. No matter how much you shit it would still sit there, reminding you of your stupidity. As nasty as the food was Budd usually ate a full tray of it before shopping. It was the only thing that kept him from ripping open the packages of food and eating right out of his shopping cart. Today there would be no snacking. He didn’t want to spoil his appetite. He came for one thing and once he had it he would be on his way. After a few minutes he felt rested enough to shop. He got up and walked to the canned goods aisle. On the way he passed the fruit and vegetable display. They held nothing he’d like. A little past them were a stand he did like. Peanuts. He stopped in front of the giant display. There were bags and scales you were supposed to use to weigh what you wanted. His stomach groaned. They smelled so good. Budd looked around. No one was watching, as the store was almost empty because of the weather. He grabbed two large handfuls, stuffed them in his coat pockets and hurried towards the canned goods.
He walked up and down the aisle looking for what he needed, spaghetti sauce. There were so many. He picked a can of spaghetti sauce up. Barton’s Favorite it was called. Sounded good to him. He reached out to pick up a second can, hesitated, and then decided that one can was going to be enough.
He brought the can to the front register.
“Little cold to be out. Don’t you think?” The old lady behind the counter said as she rang up the sauce. Her front teeth were stained yellow and she reeked of cigarettes.
“Yep”, Budd replied digging his wallet out.
“Paper or plastic?” The woman asked handing him back his change.
“None. I’ll just put it in my pocket.” He blurted taking the can from her.
He went to stick the can in his pocket and remembered the peanuts. He unzipped the front of his coat and instead put them into an inside pocket. He walked towards the exit.
The automatic doors opened and Budd winced as the cold, stinging wind slapped him across the face. In the short time he had been in the store the temperature had dropped another ten degrees. He stepped forward, turned right, and began walking back home. The wind, which had been to his back on the way there, was now pummeling him straight on. He felt some tears leak from his eyes. They froze on his cheek before they could spill all the way down. He trudged forward, head down and began the journey home.
There were two ways to get there. The first way was the way he had taken to get to the store. It involved walking in the direction he was going for five blocks. At the corner, next to Tony’s Flower Shop, whose sign proudly proclaimed “World’s Biggest Pansies” you took a left and crossed the street to the park. The park sat next to Silver Lake. From there you’d follow the bike path around the lake. It was about a fifteen-minute walk around the lake during the best conditions. With the wind and snow blowing, they were anything but optimal. It had taken him close to a half an hour to walk around the lake on the way to the store. Budd had a feeling it would take much longer going back. Once you got around to the other side of the lake you’d take a right on Dawson Street and his house was the seventh on the right.
He stopped in front of the flower shop and leaned against a wall under an overhang. He was shielded slightly from the cold, but that was only part of the reason he stopped. He needed a rest. He was already breathing heavily. He guessed it would take at least an hour to get home if he took the way he got here. There was only one place to stop and rest between here and home. Once you got halfway around the lake, the bike path ran next to a glass-enclosed bus stop. He had seeked refuge there for a few minutes on the way to the store. It was empty, since buses didn’t run on Sunday. He guessed it was a half-hour away. He was already out of breath after five-minutes. It seemed miles away. He thought of the other way home. It would also be thirty minutes before he could rest going that way too. The big difference was instead of resting in a glass box, hoping the wind died down a little, he’d be sitting on a couch in his living room. It would cut his trip in half. He took a deep breath, stepped into the cold and crossed the street.
He walked through the empty park to the bike path. The footsteps he had left in the snow earlier could no longer be seen. It was as though he had never even been there.
He stood on the bike path for a quick second before making his decision. He wasn’t going to go around the lake. He was going to go across it. He normally wouldn’t even have considered it. But he was in a hurry and it would defiantly save time. Plus he wasn’t worried about falling in…or at least that’s what he told himself. His thoughts drifted to a news story he had recently seen.
Ice fishing was not allowed on the lake because of a city ordinance. Every year, like clockwork, it would be brought up by fishermen, who would bitch and complain. This was normal. It really wasn’t very newsworthy. However this was:
Two weeks ago, in an act of defiance or stupidity, depending on how you looked at it, someone drove his SUV to the center of the lake. They parked, drilled a hole, sat on a camping chair, and dropped a line in the water. By the time the police got there he had caught three fish. It was all over the local news.
Surely if the lake could hold a two-ton truck it would hold him.
Budd walked down the slight embankment and stepped onto the frozen lake.
He began walking tentatively at first. Listening for a crunch. The only sound he heard was the wind howling. His other concern was how slippery the ground would be. In truth he thought it provided better footing than the sidewalk. He made slow but steady progress. About a third of the way across he stopped. He shoved his hands in his pocket, to try and warm them up, and looked around. People must have finally taken the sheriff’s advice. He didn’t see a moving car anywhere. He looked back at the path he had taken. The snow was filling in his footprints nicely. He continued walking.
He heard the first crunch a little over the halfway point. It was very quiet. At first he kept going trying to figure out if his mind was playing tricks on him. When he heard another crunch, this time a little louder, he stopped. His heart began to beat very fast in his chest and it felt like his stomach dropped. He began to sweat, despite the biting cold. The crunching started again. He whimpered and began to walk more briskly.
“Oh shit, oh shit”, he began to mutter to himself between heavy breaths.
He began to run.
Budd didn’t get very far before he fell. He immediately felt a heaviness on his chest and couldn’t breathe. No matter how much he tried no air would fill his lungs. He opened his eyes and all he saw was white.
He landed hard on his back and it had knocked the wind out of him. He was finally able to get a breathe.
The sound of his labored breath, his heart beating out of his chest and the crunching created a horrific cacophony of dread as he lay on the cold ground.
“No one knows I’m here”, he thought, “The snow will fill my footsteps in, and I will be covered in a snowy death shroud. No one will find me.”
He added another sound to the mix, the sound of him crying.
Budd pulled his still numb hands out of his pockets and wiped the falling snow and tears from his face. The crunching had stopped for the moment.
As he wiped his face he began to feel hungry. Budd was a fat ass. He knew it. There really was no denying it. Still he felt a pang of fear and deep sadness that in a life or death situation it would still be one of the first feelings he would have.
He realized then why he was feeling hungry. He smelled something, on his hands. He slowly reached his hands back into his pockets. The crunching began again. This time he wasn’t scared. He smiled, pulled his hands out of his pocket and sat up. He shoved his hands in his pockets again, and when he pulled them out, he held a handful of peanuts. His hands had been so numb that he didn’t even feel himself crunching them in his pockets. He laughed out loud, shoved a few peanuts into his mouth, shell and all, and stood up. The rest of the walk home was easy.
Budd entered his house still smiling about what had happened.
“What an idiot I am”, he thought as he shut the door behind him and locked it. He took off his coat and hung it up on the hook by the door. He kicked his boots off and then slid them in front of the radiator. He took the can of spaghetti sauce out of the inside coat pocket and walked through his living room to the kitchen.
The kitchen was small. There was no table. Just a countertop covered in cookie jars. He set the sauce on the counter and opened a cookie jar that was shaped like a dog. Inside were his favorite cookies, oatmeal raisin. He took three out and consumed them quickly. He put the lid back on the jar and walked over to the refrigerator. He opened it up and took out the gallon of one percent milk. He unscrewed the lid and lifted it to his mouth. He didn’t take a swig right away. First he smelled it. Nodding his head, he began to drink directly from the jug. He belched loudly as he put it back. He closed the fridge door and went to the sink. He bent down and opened the cabinet underneath the sink. Inside was a gray bucket.
Budd squirted some dish soap in the bucket and began to fill it with water. As the water flowed his bladder cramped. He squeezed his legs together, wanting to finish filling the bucket before he had to go to the bathroom. When it was full he quickly carried it to the bathroom. He set the bucket on the floor, next to the bathtub, raised the toilet seat and began to urinate.
“Ahh”, he said as his bladder emptied. He chuckled to himself, thinking of what had just happened. He really thought that was going to be it for him, the end of the road. How fucked up would it have been if the end of the road was located at the middle of a lake?
When he finished Budd zipped up, flushed the toilet and then washed his hands. He wiped them on a fresh towel. As fat as Budd was, he was really anal about hygiene. He still felt sweaty and would have loved to take a shower but he couldn’t. Not with the body in the tub.
Budd pulled the showerhead down and let it rest on the man’s chest. He turned the water on and began to spray the dead man with luke warm water. The showerhead was attached to a ten-foot hose so he could stretch all the way to their toes. After the man was soaked he turned the shower off and reached into the bucket of soapy water. He pulled out a towel and began to wash the man. He did it gently, cleaning all of the dirt off of him carefully. He had brought the man here a week ago. He tied him up and kept him in the tub. He fed him a little and wiped dirt on him daily. Budd had strangled him early this morning.
After cleaning the body Budd went into his kitchen again. He opened the oven. Inside was a cooking pan. He took it out and set it on the counter. Next he went to the cupboard and removed a large glass bowl and a fork. He set it them on the pan. Budd walked over the freezer and took out three trays of ice cubes. He dumped them into the empty bowl and then filled the bowl three-quarters of the way to the top with cold water. He went to the fridge again but this time what he wanted wasn’t in it or the freezer. There was a small box on top, above the freezer. He took it down, carried it to the counter, opened it up and took out what was inside.
Budd held the scalpel up and looked at it closely. The blade gleamed underneath the kitchen light. It was immaculate. He didn’t think there was anything worse than using a dirty knife. He smiled and ran his finger across the side, feeling its smoothness. He set it on the pan, with the fork and bowl of ice, and carried it back to the bathroom.
He set the pan on the closed toilet seat. He picked up the scalpel, pushed the blade into the dead man’s forehead and made a slow downward slice. He pivoted the knife and cut to the left. Blood began seeping out of the wound as he put the blade to the spot he first began cutting. He sliced to the right and then down. He set the scalpel down and looked at his work. He had cut an almost perfect square. He picked up the fork and pushed the prongs into the right side of the wound. He lifted the one-inch slice of flesh off of the man’s forehead. Blood began to pool in the open spot. He carefully moved the fork to the glass bowl filled with ice water. He lowered the meat into the ice bath gingerly. The skin floated with the ice cubes. The ice and water kept the flesh from losing any of the fluid it held.
He began meticulously cutting little one-inch squares of flesh out, first on the face, and then down the body. After twenty minutes or so he set the scalpel down and looked at the man. In all there were over two-dozen chunks of flesh missing. All the same shape. All perfect. To the average Joe they would look random. Not to Budd. He had a purpose and it was exact. He rolled the body over so he could begin working on the back. The back always held some fine cuts. He was not disappointed. Budd added another dozen squares to the bowl from the upper back alone. The buttocks were ripe. While he only was able to get four squares from there, they most certainly looked the best.
Budd dropped the last of the pieces of meat in the water and sighed. He stood up and carried the pan back to the kitchen.
He opened the can of spaghetti sauce and dumped it into another bowl. It plopped loudly and a little of the sauce splattered on the counter. He used a wooden spoon to get every bit of the sauce out.
He fished out one of the pieces of meat from the ice bath and held it in his hand. It felt cold, and slightly rubbery. The red bump on the center still peaked. He dropped the flesh into the spaghetti sauce. He dropped a handful more in before he used the spoon to gently stir the sauce and flesh together. He continued this until there was only one piece left in the ice bath.
The only piece left was one he had saved for last. It was a piece taken from the hind end. Budd held it in his hand. It defiantly looked the juiciest; the mound in the center was large. He hoped he wouldn’t be disappointed. He popped it into his mouth and savored it for a second. He rolled the cold flesh around on his tongue, savoring it, before biting down. The zit in the center of the flesh popped open, filling his mouth with pus. Budd smiled as the saltiness engulfed his taste buds. He chewed it down, licking his lips as he finished. It was as good as he hoped. The zit had been filled with the thick, cream cheese looking pus that he longed for. He harbored no delusions of grandeur; most would be filled with less pungent, clear pus.
He stirred the zit-centered-flesh and sauce together as he carried the bowl into the living room. He liked to eat his dinner while he watched TV. As was his routine, he popped in his DVD of August Underground Mordum and sat down to eat his favorite dish, homemade ravioli.
Visit Joe Online