Mark held the flashlight over the crudely drawn diagram. Tilly and Fletcher flanked either side of him and I stood just off of Fletcher’s left shoulder. We were squatting on the ground, underneath a copse of trees. Sunrise was not too far off and we had to be inside the crypt before our fallen friend made his appearance.
I didn’t want to do this but I knew, for everyone’s sake, that it had to be done. I just don't like the idea of ambushing someone I used to ride bigwheels with.
Archie got infected with some sort of “virus” and his condition went undetected for almost a year. We figured it happened during his trip to Florida over Spring Break because he dropped out of school before the week was out and that was the last we saw of him.
At least, the Archie we knew and grew up with.
Archie’s “condition” was eventually passed off as some kind of mental illness but he had been seen attacking Jennie Mason right after prom night. Her family had been paid a lot of hush-money which they'd used to leave Keller's Point.
No one saw him during the day, only at night and then only in the seedier areas of the town. There were whispers of Archie attacking some of the addicts, the ladies that worked the streets and the occasional drunk, rolling them for whatever change that they might have had. Nothing could be proven, of course.
No one said anything against Judge Dillon’s son.
Everyone just shook their head and muttered under their breath about how Archie got away with everything. Judge Dillon turned a blind eye to his son and expected everyone else to do the same. He knew people, the judge was fond of saying. Anyone messed with Archie, he’d say, and there would be hell to pay. And everyone believed him, too.
I admit it. We couldn’t figure it out at first.
When the freights rolled in, a worker or two would disappear. Several of the local farmers reported that “a pack wolves” were killing off their livestock. Mrs. Turner’s poodles, Samson and Delilah, went missing from her backyard while she was watching Jeopardy. Even Gramps saw something outside his window one night and swore it was Archie Dillon.
He’d called me to complain about it.
“Why was that fool-ass Dillon boy outside my window at ten o’clock at night? I don’t know what’s going on, but that sonsabitch is lucky I didn’t shoot him. Ain’t gonna be no indecision on my part next time, you hear me, boy? Ima shoot, Judge Dillon or no Judge Dillon.”
What the hell was wrong with Archie?
No one made the connection until he was caught feeding off a girl behind the seven-eleven by a young employee who’d been taking out the trash. The boy, curious about the rocking car and slurping sounds, sneaked up to the car but Archie growled and bared his fangs, his mouth smeared with blood. The boy then screamed and Archie had panicked. He’d pushed the girl out of his car and tore out of the parking lot.
The boy had waved down a passing patrol officer who called for backup and an ambulance. He was unable to give a description of the car but it all came out when the paramedics reported that the girl gurgled and blubbered about some “pimply Vampire” in a blue Mustang. Her neck had several gashes in it, the flesh quivering and oozing with milky-white pus. The infection crawled across her skin, spreading right before their eyes. One of the techs had vomited on the girl after seeing that and had to be sedated.
It would’ve been swept under the rug right then and there but everyone knew the Dillons owned such a car. But, then again, who would believe such a tale?
The next day, the mutilated remains of the freight workers were discovered in the junkyard. Jarvis Clayborne, owner and third generation junker, called Sheriff Roberts, wailing up a storm, and told him that he’d seen that crazy Dillon boy there a couple of nights ago, in that fancy car of his. Jarvis, mindful of the rumors about the boy, had stayed in his trailer where he was safe.
While Sheriff Dillon and his team cordoned off the area, Jarvis had snuck in a call to Maisie Hubert, owner of The Tribune, giving her an all-exclusive. He'd told her that Archie had lugged some dark-colored bags from the trunk of his car. He didn’t think anything of it at first until he did his daily checks and made the grisly discovery. Maisie had been properly horrified and promised it would be front-page news that same morning.
Once it hit the stands, all hell broke loose.
The girl in the hospital was immediately put under police protection. Other people, emboldened by the news story, told of seeing Archie lurking around their homes at night, especially if they let their pets out. A town meeting had been held over at community center to discuss it. During the meeting, a lady claimed she was attacked as she left the bingo hall, but she was too fearful to report it.
"It was that nasty Archie Dillon, that's who it was!" she sobbed to the eager Maisie Hubert.
Children were kept home and Hank’s Gun Shop sold out in record time, everyone armed and waiting for Archie to make an appearance. To add fuel to the fire, there was talk of other people, in the surrounding counties, either missing or turning up dead, with the same savage wounds.
It was also said that all of them had been seen with someone in a blue Mustang.
According to gossip, Judge Dillon had been enraged and threatened Maisie with defamation of character, demanding that The Tribune issue an apology or he will see to it that they were shut down. Maisie and Dennis, her husband, wrote that up in the papers the next day. Sheriff Roberts, seeing his opportunity for re-election, immediately distanced himself from the judge and assured the townsfolk that his department would be making an announcement shortly regarding the arrest of their suspect. One by one, all of Judge Dillon's "friends" abandoned him. The stress of it all became too much for him and, as fate would have it, he suffered a heart attack and died in his sleep.
This was all that Sheriff Roberts and every ignorant vigilante in the surrounding counties needed to hear. The judge was still on the slab down at the morgue but now with him out of the way, they planned on tearing the Dillon house apart until they found Archie.They wanted to put our friend in the ground before dinner. Enough was enough.
We knew though, if our friend was caught, he would be tortured, if not killed on the spot. No trial, no jail time, no nothing. They would make an example out of him, parade him down Main Street like a trussed up Christmas pig.
We thought about it and decided that we would be the ones to take care of him. We’d seen enough CSI and vampire flicks to know how to handle this.
It would be quick and easy, without all the fanfare.
What other option did we have?
*to be continued*
© copyright 2011 by Ren Thompson July 14, 2011
3 Word Wednesday - Indecision, Fate and Option