Don't Try This at Home

Padgett Arango

The dark man opened the front door slowly, allowing the harsh sodium light of the streets to mingle gradually with the smoke-refracted blue neon lighting from within the bar. The man glided slowly into the room and had made it halfway to the pool table before eliciting a response from the other patrons.

The dark man had expected whispered comments, perhaps even an immediate, direct, pressing confrontation, as had happened countless times before; however, these people just placed down their drinks and stared. Conversations drifted off into silence and jaws froze in mid-word. The dark man did not smile but continued his smooth steady walk towards the bar.

He had been on the road for twelve hours, across the desert roads that dropped out of the tail end of the Rockies like paratroopers storming the small roadside communities that dotted the western Arizona landscape. He had not stopped for a drink since the northeastern suburbs of Phoenix, and, having made it past the desert, he decided it was time to pull off and look for some fun.

He had found the perfect place somewhat south of Los Angeles, a sleepy, sheltered community called San Guinefort. The dark man thought of the towns along the southern California coast, each named for their patron saint, each begging for protection from some antiquated deity that would shelter them for eternity. He wondered how many people in this bar knew the story of Saint Guinefort, how many prayed to him regularly, how many talked to him and expected a response. He did not laugh.

Glen stopped staring at the dark man just long enough to bring the beer to his lips and take a long slug. He turned to his left and tapped the face he found there lightly on the cheek with the back of his hand. "Shut yer mouth. You look like a fish."

Glen's companion stirred to life. "Sumbitch think he is? Come in here and act like he owns the place!"

Among the clique of workers who manned the lathe at the factory, Glen's companion, Will, was generally considered one of the least intelligent fellows in existence. Their estimation was not far off, as Will did have trouble grasping the most simple of concepts. Beyond lathe operation, only certain primal instincts were able to assert themselves in his general world-view.

It was the basic instinct of territorial possession that now seized control of Will's emotional state. Glen, having heard the particular pitch and timbre of Will's voice in previous similar instances, realized immediately in which direction Will's train of thought, such as it was, was headed. Glen glanced briefly at the dark man. He was slight, couldn't have weighed more that one hundred and fifty pounds. He wore an outfit entirely of black, his long, wiry black hair blending seamlessly with the heavy black of his trenchcoat. In a fistfight, he didn't think the dark man would give Will much trouble. That was not what was worrying Glen.

What was disturbing Glen was that the dark man had kept his hands deep in the massive pockets of his coat, concealing anything from a bad case of leprosy to a semi-automatic pistol. San Guinefort was a fair drive from Los Angeles, but it wasn't uncommon for an occasional gang member to drift down on a joyride and try to mess with the locals. It had been a couple months since the last incident, and the town was just about due.

None of this seemed to have any effect on Will, who was still working up a vicious case of righteous indignation.

"Look at this piece o' city trash! Wearin' all black! Won't even take his hands out of his pockets! Hey, Joe!"

Will signaled to the bartender, a prematurely graying paunchy fellow, and placed his hand on Joe's shoulder.

"That guy down there, what did he order?"

Joe grinned slightly. Like Glen, he has been through this routine before. "Carrot juice. With a straw."

Will laughed. "Well, better get the man what he wants!"

He released Joe, who went about fixing up a tall, cool glass of carrot juice. Will nursed his beer and glared at the dark man. The dark man had yet to pay Will any attention, which Glen figured was probably for the best. He wasn't quite as cocky as Will, though, to be fair, he hadn't had as many beers as Will. He figured he had better make up for lost time and motioned to Joe to give him another tall, cool one.

Glen sucked on his beer bottle as he watched the dark man approach his drink. He leaned forward and drank through the straw, never once removing his hands from his pockets. Glen realized something was definitely wrong here. He leaned over to Will and whispered loudly in his ear.

"Hey. You notice that guy hasn't taken his hands out of his pockets since he got in here?"

Will obviously hadn't noticed, as the comment nearly knocked him off his feet. "God damn!" he shouted as he stood up. "You are some kinda freak, aren'tcha boy?"

Will had taken a couple uneven steps toward the dark man, who had yet to acknowledge the man's existence. Will stepped forward again.

"I'm talkin' to you, boy! Why ain't you showin' yer hands? You some kinda freak?"

Will was nearly a yard away from the dark man and seemed prepared to take another step. He swung out his right leg and shifted his body mass onto it. The dark man, who had, up until this point, successfully ignored Will, suddenly sprang off his barstool. His right hand flew out of his pocket with a blood-curdling high-pitched scream.

Glen had initially assumed that the scream had come from the dark man, despite the unnaturally high resonance the scream possessed; however, upon looking closely, he saw that the man had somehow wedged a live rabbit onto the fist of his right hand and was rapidly shoving the rabbit in Will's face.

Will moved backwards, throwing him off-balance and to the ground. The dark man fell on top of him, now with both hands of out their pockets, each with a screaming rabbit affixed to its end. The dark man shoved the rabbits in Will's face and the rabbits began to gnaw ferociously on Will's flesh. Their sharp front teeth raked across the skin, peeling it and revealing shining white patches of bone underneath.

With a sense of disgust, Glen realized the screaming of the rabbits had stopped as the carnal pleasure of the feast out-weighed the searing pain of the dark man's fist rending their anal cavities. Glen watched as Will writhed on the ground, struggling to move, but pinned by the dark man as his rabbits dragged his eyeballs from their sockets.

After a few minutes, Will stopped struggling and lay motionless on the ground. The dark man removed his weight from the body and, placing one foot on the back of the rabbit mounted on his right hand, pulled his fist from the rabbit's rectum. The rabbit squealed momentarily, then happily hopped around, searching for fresh bits of corpse on which to munch. The dark man repeated the process with the other rabbit, then rose to his feet.

The dark man's hands had returned to their pockets, where they appeared to be searching for some new object of importance. Joe cowered as the dark man walked towards the bar. The man's right hand slowly removed itself from the pocket, and, in one swift motion, deposited a fifty dollar bill on the bar, then, before Glen or Joe could register the sight of the blood stained hand, it had returned to its pocket and the dark man had glided out the door, leaving it open. The bright sodium light spilled in, across Will, across them all.