Beneath your feet
I was proud of the meeting results: it seemed I was cleared, and the murderer – whoever it was – had been identified. While walking through the city, I began whistling softly to myself. Ms. Asunción watched me from her basket, which I dragged behind me on the dusty road. People looked at me – the man covered in the red mud – with curiosity, but no one stopped to ask anything, and I began to forget that I was an enemy of this land (as well as the killer) just an hour ago.
“You are quite a celebrity here, Doctor Harmless,” said the voice from the stairs. “Would you like to come in for a bite of fresh bread?
“How very kind of you, Mister…?”
“Everybody calls me FuzzyPie,” he added, holding out his chubby hand to me.
I checked the gothic doors and signboard over the shop, carefully washed and gleaming in the sun, with the strange name on it – ‘The Biscuit’s Grave.’
I picked the basket with a sleepy snake and, absurdly light-hearted, as though anything else mattered in the world, followed an odd man inside, where the smell of delicious homemade chicken pie came to my nostrils. What can I say? I’m only a human whom its hunger had again defeated…
Mr. FuzzyPie had a balding head with grey hair on the sides, combed neatly below his ears. He wore a floral shawl dropped over his waist. Despite my disappointment (I hoped to see a curvy young lady with pies in each hand), the man invited me to the unique bakery hall to “take a trip through time,” as he explained it pushing me in.
The hall was dusty, with the scent of wet dogs and rainy summer. I noticed a wall with a beautiful drawing of Parthenon, a glowing hill against a night sky lit with stars, the constellation of the Apollon’s Head (or the one and only Alphonso Beard), which was clearly visible above the eastern part of the room. Mr. FuzzyPie waved the remote control in his hand, and the illusion was gone.
Behind that wall with a drawing, all manner of weapons, blades – triangular and quadratic – axes, scissors, spoons, tools for gardening were arrayed on the desks, shelves, chairs, and plates. A boyish man of seventy-nine (or older) shouted, “Gee, one more… that should be fun!” Then he picked up a hefty ax blade, and I held my breath.
“Ah, my poor Mr. Harmless, I thought I’d never see you again,” a sweet voice came from the depths of a hole dug in the middle of the room. It was Ms. Sedative and her crazy gang: Dinkie Dow, Blanca Speed, Spider Blue, Holly Terror, Candy de Beast, Tootsie Heavens, Peth Backwards, and Drowsy High.
They sat near the hole in the floor, surrounded by the cheap tequila bottles, and smiled in solidarity. Ms. Sedative crawled out of the hollow opening and told me they planned to rob the bank across the road. She winked and added: “Mr. Alex Raphael hired me to do the job, but shhh… Alphonso’s wolves don’t know we are here.”
“Hm, Alex Raphael didn’t strike me as a criminal.” I replied. “Well, what are you planning to steal? Cash, jewels, documents? I don’t think it’s possible. If you believe you can do it, then you all are too high or bonkers.”
Ms. Sedative thought for a moment, then she pulled out a note from her Gadino bag (made of exotic crocodile skin, its clasp incrusted with 39 white diamonds), lowered her voice and whispered, “We are planning to steal a safe deposit box № 9. It’s something very important…”
“Listen, you! I worked in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Stony Leak, and Black Beluga. I’m a Forest Gump of the successful robbery, boy… When you sucked your mom’s tits, I already was running around killing for a living,” yelled the boyish older man, smoking a cigar.
“There’s an element of truth in his tales,” chuckled Ms. Sedative, chewing some green mushrooms. Then she complained of exhaustion after a long working day – which was true enough – and said she had to take a nap. The rest of the crowd systematically dug the ground with their bare hands, completely forgetting about the helpful tools.
“I just wanted to remind you all of what can happen if Mr. Alphonso Beard finds out!” I said aloud.
“Shut up and eat your chicken pie!” I heard the bark behind the counter and was swept from the crowded circle into a lonely folding chair in the far corner. The physical discomfort had discouraged me from asking where my basket with Miss Asunción was. It might be for the best if she got lost or ended up in the pie, I sighed.
The late afternoon light filtered through the windows of ‘The Biscuit’s Grave’ bakery. Ms. Sedative and Mr. FuzzyPie shared the bottle of martini; their heads bowed toward each other. I giggled. As a result, Ms. Sedative handed me the rusted fork and ordered me to dig a new hole near the trash bin. I asked her why on earth I had to do it if I didn’t belong to their crew and got the clearest answer of all: “because somebody has to do it, and that somebody is me.” The engaging and cruel manner of the boyish man with an ax helped bridge our views on the matter – I grabbed the fork from the floor and started to scoop like a madman.
To my amazement, the girls took a break: they passed the pies, wine, olives, bread, and long sausages through the room, each of us – hardworking criminals – taking a bite. Our appetite woke up the maggots. Or, perhaps, they were activated by the heat in the room. When Mr. FuzzyPie noticed the fresh worms around my feet, his face shone, and he said proudly, “I usually mix them with sugar and bake them inside of the eyeballs you tried on the day of your arrival.” He licked his lips and continued, “I buried 866 rats under this building, mostly to study. I was always fascinated by the ways nature recycled its dead and, of course, by the process of decomposition.”
I groaned involuntarily after his horrific revelation but explained the howling sound by the stiffness in my limbs.
After a short meditation, I got back to my work. Suddenly, my bent fork stumbled upon a piece of dark blue cloth. I pulled the fabric, and after a few seconds, the partially decayed female body of The Sherriff appeared on the surface. The sick smell from the flesh rose like a powerful repulsing wave. I opened the window and looked outside in the hope of getting a breath of fresh air. The military of Warrior Farm was there in full force on the steps of the bakery – the Army, Navy, Air Force, and special assistants in black suits with sophisticated guns.
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