(inblue) Chapter 9: Christopher

The gunmetal gray BMW pulled off the road and traveled slowly down a gravel path barely wide enough to fit the luxury sports car. Dense foliage umbrellaed by a variety of rigid pine trees hugged in and made the detour a claustrophobic decision. It was darker and cooler there, the sunny day left shining bright on the main road.

 

Christopher eased off the gas pedal and went gently to a sedate coast to prevent any pebbles from kicking up and nicking the perfect paint. The air conditioner was on high, Christopher liked it chilly. The interior smell was of European leather seats and expensive men’s cologne. He coasted for a good ten minutes on the unpaved cut in the woods before coming to a stop with nothing there except a wall of twisted shrubs on either side and pines for as far up as the eyes could see. The sun flickered through the branches above, creating patches of light interspersed with shadow on the ground.

 

He lowered the side windows, the warm outer air colliding with the frosty air conditioned interior, turned up the volume on the stereo to Aesop Rock, the sound from the sixteen speaker system flooding the space and pouring over to the outside, popped the trunk, slipped the Bluetooth in his ear and got out of the car.

 

“Call Samuel.”

 

The phone rang while Christopher circled to the back. He was in a snug golf shirt that accented his muscular physique, tight kakis, and loafers. Not a strand out of place on his hundred-dollar haircut, manicured fingernails, clean shaven and evenly moisturized skin.

 

He slipped off the loafers, tossed them in the trunk and replaced them with a pair of rubber boots.

 

“Sammy Sam, what’s the score.”

 

The music was loud in the background, intentional. The bass shook the inside of the trunk, and the bloodstained plastic sheeting. The rhythmic vibration made the body, blurred under the plastic, look as though it still had some semblance of life left.

 

“I know it is. I’m at a pool party. Can you believe they are playing Aesop? What’s that about?”

 

Christopher’s side of the conversation was boisterous. He smiled a lot, laughed at times when he heard something funny on the other side of the line. All while dragging the wrapped corpse out of the trunk and into the woods. He had to muscle his way through the dense and sharp vegetation, coarse branches scratched exposed skin, leaving blood trickles. Biceps and forearms were flexed against the weight of the dragged body, straining like doing reps in the gym, barely breaking a sweat.

 

“We are talking top notch. Bikini row. I already got a phone number.”

 

He dragged the body twenty feet or so, through mud and wet leaves, until boots hit a small and sandy clearing. He continued to pull the dead weight, plastic sliding more easily on the sand, a few more feet to the center of the clearing, and walked back through the mud and wet leaves to the car.

 

“You may be ranked higher on quantity, my friend. That’s because I hold out for quality. Are we still meeting for beers at six?”

 

Christopher grabbed a gas can from the trunk and trekked back through the woods to the clearing, a slightly smoother trek after the corpse had ripped through foliage. He was still smiling, pulse even, no more than a bead or two of sweat at the back of his neck under the collar, unaware of the scratches on his arms or of his own blood clotting on a few.

 

“Bring Monika, I don’t care. See if she has a friend.”

 

He drenched plastic in gasoline and dug into his pockets for a lighter. Aesop stopped playing, the birds chirping above took over.

 

“You can hear me better? I am walking out now. I will stop home to get a shower and change, and meet you at Sullivan’s at six. Don’t be late, Samuel. The ladies don’t pay attention to schmucks who sit alone in bars, even if they have a twelve thousand-dollar Rolex.”

 

He glanced at the pricey watch on his wrist and for the first time noticed the scratches. ‘Shit,’ he thought. ‘Now I have to wear a long sleeve tonight.’ No chance to show off his arms.

 

The price of the watch mattered a lot to Christopher. He never said “Rolex,” it was always “twelve thousand-dollar Rolex.” The car mattered too, and the expensive clothes. He was a long way from being that angry young boy in the little rancher in the country.

 

But Christopher missed woods behind the house. He breathed deep and took in that familiar scent around him – wet earth and pine.

 

Christopher hung up and stared at the face, blurred through the plastic and he tilted his head slightly as if confused by the image and studying it for answers. He always stared at their faces, looked into their eyes, when first deciding they were the ones, just before they died, and when life drained from them. There were never any answers.

 

He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket, knelt down and soaked it with gasoline from the corpse, lit it with the lighter, and dropped it on the soaked plastic.

 

Christopher was meticulously careful during every step: the finding, the killing, the cleaning up, the location of disposal. That is, except for the very last part. He had to stay and watch the body burn, because it was the most important part.

 

He knelt by the fire for as long as he could stand the heat, in awe of the licking flames.

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