Evil Walks. Featuring The Sandman.

Al Hartman felt a cold chill run up along his back as he got out of his car. The young black male zippered up his black jacket all the way to the top until it covered the thin white dress shirt that he was wearing. He even felt a cold breeze blowing up the legs of his black pants. It was a most unpleasant feeling. He regret not dressing in advance to deal with this cold night air. But by his estimate he would not be out here for long. He locked and shut the door of his car and stepped onto the sidewalk. He reached into his pocket and brought out the slip of paper torn from a notebook and examined the address that he had written down. The Fallen Angel Tavern. 4010 Oakdale Street. On the North Side. It has to be close, Al thought.

        Al looked about at the row of dark storefronts along the street. Many of them were closed. Understandable in his mind. His wristwatch displaying the time, 11:46 P.M. Al took a few steps to the left towards a storefront with a large glowing neon sign in it’s window. He walked closer to get a better view. The Fallen Angel. This has to be the place. Al was relieved to have found his destination so easily. Half the job was done. Now all he had to do was go inside and conduct his business with the most unusual person who was waiting for him.

        Al walked through the door and entered the dark tavern. It had a gloomy atmosphere with the strong odor of cigarette smoke in the air. At the right side of the tavern were four round tables where several patrons were sitting and engaging in conversation while drinking. He spied cigarettes in the mouths of a few persons. Smoking indoors? I thought that was illegal.

        Al walked over to the bar at the left side of the room and was approached by the bartender. A burly, bald headed man wearing a black Pittsburgh Steelers jersey.

        “What can I get you?” asked the bartender.

Feeling nervous, Al cleared his throat. “Nothing really. I’m here to meet someone.”

        “Oh? Who?”

        Al was hesitant to speak out. “I’m here to see the Sandman.”

        Now it was the bartender’s turn to hesitate before speaking. “You want to see the Sandman. You have an appointment?”

        “Yes.”

         “Ok then. He’s in the back.”

       Al proceeded to walk to the back of the bar, past two billiard tables, until he came to an open doorway. He entered a small room that was illuminated by a dim light bulb on the ceiling. Stacked six feet high against the left, right, and rear walls was a variety of different boxes containing alcoholic beverages. In the center of the room was a lone figure sitting at a wooden table. He was dressed in all black attire. His pants were tucked into his knee high boots. He had a long sleeved shirt and necktie. He held his black gloved hands down in front of a dark beer bottle on the table top. He was also wearing a long hooded cape. The hood, along with the room’s dim light, obscured the features of his face.

        Al received a cold shiver when he saw this dark figure. The thought came to his mind, Maybe this isn’t a good idea. I should back out.

The dark figure gave Al a jovial greeting. “Come in. Take a seat.”

There was another chair on the opposite side of the table. With apprehension, Al sat down.

        For several seconds Al stared at the ominous dark figure sitting in front of him. Then he worked up the nerve to speak. “So, are you the Sandman?”

        “There’s nobody else here except me,” was the reply. “And I take it that you’re Al. And I also take it that you’re supposed to be here at 11:00. You‘re late.”

         “I’m sorry about that. I was going to back down at first. Then I changed my mind.”

        “You were going to back down? Why?”

        “At first I thought that what you said on your website was a bunch of nonsense. You know. What you said you can do. Trade dreams for wishes.”

        “Trade dreams and nightmares for wishes,” the Sandman corrected.

        “Trade dreams and nightmares for wishes,” Al repeated.

        “Occasionally I’ll offer cash,” the Sandman added.

        Al nodded, pondering this information. “And you can grant any wish?”

        “That’s right.”

        Ok. If I wanted you to summon a dragon. Can you do that?”

        “No.”

        “No? Why not? I thought you said that you can grant any wish.”

        “I can, Al. But I’d refuse to do it. I can grant you any wish. But as long as it isn’t a stupid wish. Wishing for a dragon is stupid. What the hell are you going to do with a dragon, Al? Most boroughs in Alleghenny county won’t let you keep a cow in your back yard.”

        “I live in an apartment,” Al humbly admitted.

        “Then you’d really be screwed,” the Sandman told him. “Let’s keep it a little down to Earth.”

        Trading dreams for wishes, down to Earth? Al thought. “Ok, then scratch the dragon. But you can still grant other wishes? Like dealing with my boss?”

        “Like I said.”

        Al hesitated before going further. “And when we make a deal. This won’t be like selling my soul or anything like that?”

        The Sandman sat back in his chair. “Do I look like I need your soul, Al? If you’re putting your soul up for sale you might have to settle for an X-Box 360 game.”

        Al was insulted by that assessment. “Excuse me?”

        The Sandman held up his hands. “No offense. Just saying. Have you looked in the mirror at yourself lately? Your drug problems, abusive to your girlfriend. Sorry. Ex-girlfriend. Stealing money from the accounting firm you work for. And now you’re so self righteous that you want revenge on your boss for not giving you the promotion that you think you deserve. You were so ticked off at the guy that you were surfing the web to try and find a hitman to take care of him. That’s when you found me. Am I right?”

        Al was stunned at these details that the Sandman revealed. “How the hell do you know all this? I mean…I.”

        “I like to get background information on all my clients,” the Sandman confessed.

        “Well. My issue with drugs. It’s not exactly a problem.”

        “It’s a hobby. I get it. We’re wasting time, Al. And I’ve got other clients. We need to step it up. So tell me about your dreams.”

        My dreams, Al thought. He had to dig within his memory to recall the most recent dream that he had. “A dream. I had this one a few nights ago. I saw myself laying in bed and then all these bugs came crawling out of my pillow. I wanted to jump up but I couldn’t move. Then they started to crawl all over me. Spiders, centipedes, roaches. Then I woke up. what do you think?”

        The Sandman crossed his arms over his chest. “Honestly? I think that if your dream were a TV show then the only entertaining part would be the commercials. But it’s good enough for me to take care of your boss.”

        “George Wilson,” Al growled. “That high and mighty ungrateful tin god jackass. He can go rot in hell. And I’m gonna send him there. And I‘d like to go to hell with him just so that I can watch him suffer. The idiot had the nerve to pass me over for a promotion to manager of accounts and give it to this skinny little four eyed witch, Darcy. I‘m ten times smarter than Darcy and I‘ve been there longer. But do I deserve the promotion? Oh no. As hard as I work? Oh no.”

        The Sandman leaned forward to the table and propped his head up against his right arm. He placed his left hand down and began to drum his gloved fingers down on the table top.

        “Excuse me. Am I boring you?” asked an indignant Al.

        “No. Not at all,” the Sandman returned. “I actually enjoy sitting here listening to whiners all night.”

        “Whoa. Hold on. I’m not a whiner,” replied Al. Insulted by the remark.

        The Sandman sat back and laughed. “I wouldn’t exactly call that cheerleading. That’s serious talk after working for the man for so many years. I understand that your ten year anniversary with the company is coming up.”

        Al held that notion in high contempt. “Yeah. I busted my ass for that company. Working under that pig, Wilson. And all I’m supposed to get for it is a lousy lunch and a gold watch.”

        “Don’t forget the gift card,” the Sandman added. “A hell of a lot more that what I get.”

        “Never mind that,” Al snapped. “This is my chance to get back at Wilson for passing me up and not promoting me.”

        “And for giving you a second chance after you failed your drug test.”

        Al ignored the Sandman’s jab. “This is my chance to get even with him. Let’s make it look like an accident. That will be fun. Yeah. Make it a car crash.”

        “A car crash. You got it. You want balloons too?”

        Al nodded and laughed. He was feeling more enthusiastic about making this deal with the Sandman. “Alright. We got a deal. George Wilson gets his ass trashed in a car wreck. I only wish I could be there to see it.”

        “Ok then. It’s done,” the Sandman told Al.

        “Done? Just like that?”

        “Just like that.”

        “What about my dream? Did you get it?”

        “Do you remember it?”

        Al searched his mind for the dream, but the memory was not there. “It’s gone. I don’t remember it.”

        “Then I’ve got it.”

        “I don’t have to sign anything?” asked Al.

        “If it will make you happy then talk to the bartender on your way out. Maybe you can autograph a napkin before you leave.”

        This guy has a rotten sense of humor, was Al’s assessment.

        “Are we done?” asked the Sandman. “I’ve got two more people to talk to after you.”

        Al cracked a smile. “No. We’re done. That’s it. But I‘ve got just a couple of questions. Do you get a lot of people coming to you for help?”

        “Yeah. I do.”

        “People like me?”

        “Yeah. They’re all bad.”

        “What the hell’s that supposed to mean?”

        “Nothing. Clock’s ticking. I’ll see you around.”

        See me around? I doubt that, Al told himself. He rose up from the chair and left the room. Al walked out of the tavern and got back into his car to drive home. He still could not believe that he drove all the way here from his apartment in West Mifflin to make a deal with a shadowy figure who claimed to be able to trade his dreams for a wish. It was like making a wish when you blow out the candles on a birthday cake. The only difference here is that Al’s wish was to kill his boss to gain revenge. It was a fanciful indulgence. But the question that he would take with him into the night would be, will it really happen?

        The next day Al was working in his small office in the accounting firm, Hessman and Associates. The time was 11:30 A.M. Earlier Al had gone through his usual morning ritual of staring at his computer monitor sitting in between two six inch stacks of papers on his desk on his desk. Earlier he consumed a styrofoam cup of hot coffee and then took a morning snort of cocaine to gain the motivation to slog through another day of work at a job that he hated. He was now busy working on his computer when he heard a loud knock on the stained glass of his office door. The door opened and a six foot tall, middle aged black man in a grey suit and short black hair entered the office. Al bristled at the presence of this man. This was the man that he hated the most in the world. George Wilson.

        “Hartman. Are you ready to go?” Wilson asked.

        Al was confused. “Go? Go where, sir?”

        “To you ten year anniversary luncheon,” Wilson explained. “You’ve been here ten years today. Have you forgotten?”

        “It slipped my mind, sir.”

        “Well we’re having it at the Hampfield Inn, on the South Side,” Wilson told him. “I’m driving. Grab your coat.”

        “Yes sir,” said Al. he was not at all enthusiastic about eating lunch at the same table with Wilson. Let alone riding in the same car with him. Al rose from his chair and grabbed his jacket from the tall metal coat stand behind his desk.

        Al felt awkward as he was rode in the car while Wilson was sitting next to him. It was a tense, silent drive between both of them. Al kept his eyes locked forward to the windshield as the white Cadillac drove along through the heavy traffic.

        After several minutes of silence Wilson spoke out to break the ice. “You know, Hartman. This entire anniversary lunch wasn’t my idea. It’s just the policy of the firm and I’m simply following that policy. It’s my job. But personally, do you really think you deserve a free lunch?”

        “I don’t understand, sir.”

        “You don’t understand? I asked you if you think you deserve a free lunch from the firm. You should be able to comprehend the concept of free lunch. It seems that you’ve been getting one your whole life.”

        Al was at a loss as to how to respond to Wilson’s charge. All he could do was sit and listen.

        Wilson continued to admonish Al. “I’ve been keeping an eye on you, Hartman. And I must say that I’m very disappointed with you on several levels. Your character as a person and your performance as an employee have both declined. And it’s all on account of your drug use.”

        Al sank down in his seat as he continued to listen to Wilson.

        “Out of the goodness of my heart I saw fit to support you and give you a second chance when your recent drug test came up positive. I figured that if you’ve got some kind of problem then we can try to work with you to help make things better. And help you keep your job. And how do you repay me? By showing up late on a regular basis, by calling off from work for several days when you feel like it, turning in sloppy work. And you’re probably unaware that I’ve been keeping an eye on your work very closely. I have no solid proof, but I suspect that you’ve been skimming money from several different accounts that you’ve been working on. No doubt to support your drug habit.

        Al felt his entire body petrify with fear when he heard Wilson’s accusation of his theft. And it was indeed true. He was taking small amounts of money from several of the firm’s clients for his own use. Small amounts that he hoped would not raise and red flags. But amounts that were enough to get him fired and land him behind bars with criminal charges against him. He was at a loss for words as to what to say in his own defense. “Mr Wilson. I…I mean. I…Don’t know what you’re talking about.”

        “Of course you don’t. That’s because people like you can do no wrong in your own little minds. There’s never any personal responsibility. And you expect me to give you a promotion in your sorry state?”

        “Hey. I deserved that promotion,” Al snapped back in anger. “I had seniority.”

        “Seniority,” Wilson scoffed. Turning his head to face Al. “What you deserve is to be fired.

        The car approached an intersection. Al barely noticed the blue SUV as it approached from the right and blew through the red light. The vehicle plowed head on into the right side of Wilson’s car. After the loud boom of the impact Al felt an over whelming sensation of pain penetrate his entire body. Cold metal sliced into his frail flesh. His bones snapped. A shower of broken glass from the passenger’s side window sprayed into his face. Looking through the now cracked windshield Al could only watch as the car skidded to the left and headed straight for a thick utility pole. Then there was another loud boom. Then Al’s vision went black.

        Al awoke, still feeling intense pain surging through his body as he lay in his hospital bed. The thick neck brace that he was wearing was so tight that he had difficulty breathing. His right arm was covered by a tight, white brace. There were also braces on both his legs. Looking down at his legs he also saw a figure dressed in black. The hood of his long flowing cape concealed the upper portion of his face. Al could only see the dark skin of the lower portion of this person’s face. Al recognized this shadowy figure from a previous meeting. “Sandman.”

        “You’re awake. How are you feeling?” the Sandman asked.

        Al tried to lift his left arm. This action caused pain to shoot through the rest of his body. “How do I feel? I feel like crap. I have two broken legs, my right arm is broken in two places, my neck is broken. And all I feel is pain. It even hurts to blink.”

        “That’s too bad,” said the Sandman. “That’s understandable. That other driver tried to park his SUV inside your sigmoid colon. You’re lucky to be alive. Too bad you didn’t end up like your boss, Wilson. He was thrown from the car and landed in this grassy field. But funny thing. The grass was unmowed. And it was so high that it provided a cushion for Wilson and broke his fall. He walked away without a scratch.”

        Al’s mind was balancing the sensations of pain and anger after hearing about Wilson. “Well whoop de friggin do to that. Is that supposed to make me feel better? The doctors say that I may not be able to walk again.”

        “That’s tough.”

        “That’s tough? Is that all you have to say? You’re the one. You caused this.”

        “What? The crash? Well sure I did. It’s what you wanted. Remember? We made a deal and I did what you asked. I put your boss into a car crash. So what’s the complaint?”

        “I didn’t want to be in the car when it happened!” Al shouted.

        “Then why the hell did you get in, Jackass? Who’s fault is that?”

        “I…You…Dammit!” Al’s legs and arm were throbbing. “I’m in too much pain to argue.”

        “Well don’t jump all over me just because you woke up on the wrong side of the bedpan.”

        “Bedpan. I wish you hadn’t said that. I really need to go. Can you help me-”

        “Oh, look at the time,” replied the Sandman. “I have to get moving. I have other appointments to keep.”

        The Sandman headed towards the door.

        “Hey wait. You’re not going to leave me here are you?”

        “I’ll tell the nurse to come in and help you out,” the Sandman told him. “But in the meantime if you ever have any more dreams that you want to trade me then just send me an E-mail. I’ll be sure to get back to you.”

        The Sandman left the room. Leaving the battered Al Hartman to wonder if his sleeping mind can ever conjure up a dream that would be worth bartering to get himself out of this dire situation.

 

 

Evil Walks, Part 2

 

Phil Jones drove his car down the dark road and turned to park next to a mailbox near the curb at his right. The young black male turned off his engine and looked out of his driver’s side window to see the blue two story duplex across the street. Phil had come to this quiet neighborhood in Pittsburgh several times to view this house. He would come here only late at night when the traffic was low and less people were walking the streets. Late at night was the time when he would come here to fantasize about entering the apartment upstairs and paying a visit to the resident. Sandra Williams. Sandra Williams. The tall, long haired, attractive black female that rejected Phil’s offer for a date three weeks ago. She stated that she was not interested in Phil’s advances. She even had the nerve to slap his face after he made a comment about her appearance. Her rejection and the assault did not sit well with Phil. He was determined to get even with Sandra. So one day he followed her home. Now that he had her address he came here late night after late night to watch her house and fantasize about going up to her apartment and spending an hour or so slapping her back to teach  her a proper lesson. The same type of lesson that Phil had to teach to a few other women that he dealt with in the past. But tonight was going to be different. Tonight Phil was actually going to carry out his fantasy. With a little help from his passenger in the back seat.

          Phil shuddered when he looked up to his rear view mirror to see the dark reflection of the Sandman. The black hood of his long cape, along with the darkness, concealed the features of his face. Phil received an eerie feeling when he first met the Sandman. A mysterious figure dressed in black pants ticked into black knee high boots, black shirt and necktie, and the hooded cape. Phil was also dressed in black shoes, pants, and shirt. But he did not blend in with the darkness as well as the Sandman did. Phil sensed that there was something unnatural about him. But the Sandman was someone that Phil needed to help him to set his plans with Sandra into motion. So Phil decided to set his apprehension aside and drive the Sandman here and see if his claims were true.

          “So this is the place?” the Sandman asked.

          “Yeah. This is the place,” said Phil. “She’s upstairs. Probably asleep. Are you sure that you can help me pull this off?”

          “I wouldn’t be out here if I couldn’t,” the Sandman replied. “Plus the fact that there’s nothing on TV tonight and I felt a little bored.”

          Phil turned his eyes back to the duplex. “I’m looking forward to this. She really had a stuck up attitude when she blew me off. Women don’t blow me off. I dreamed about going up there and putting her in her place.”

          “There’s one question that I have to ask you. Why do you need my help to pull this off? She’s alone. It’s dark. No witnesses. You can go up there right now and spank her with a paddle.”

          “I’ve thought of that. I could. But there’s only one problem. Her dog. She’s got a rottweiler the size of a grizzly bear.”

          “I can understand your apprehension. A dog like that can make a chew toy out of your liver. And I’m understanding that you want me to get rid of it?”

          Phil gave a smile as he nodded. “Yeah. I want the dog gone so that I can go up there and take care of business.”

          “Alright then. Lets make ourselves a deal,” the Sandman replied. “What do you have for me?”

          The Sandman trades dreams and nightmares for wishes. At first Phil did not believe that claim when he read it on the Sandman’s website. But for some reason Phil was compelled to give it a try. What do I have to loose? Phil thought. Feeling stupid was his worst case scenario if the Sandman proved to be a fake.

          Phil had a dream on his mind to share with the Sandman. “I had this dream last night. I was out in the jungle someplace. I had a camera with me. I saw this zebra. I snuck up and hid behind a tree so that I could take a picture of it. Then I started walking and saw this elephant. So I took a picture of that. Then I saw a monkey up in a tree. I took a picture of that. Then I started walking and I saw this lion heading towards me. I took a picture of it. Then I started to run. It started to chase after me. I was still running and I turned around to take another picture. That’s when it jumped on top of me and knocked me down. That it started to rip me apart. And all I could do was keep taking pictures of it. What do you think?”

          “You watch a lot of Animal Planet?” the Sandman inquired.

          “No.”

          “Just wondering.”

          “What do you think a dream like that means?”

          “It means that if you try to go lion hunting with a camera instead of a gun then you’re an idiot. It’s not my job to psychoanalyse. It’s my job to just grant you your wish. And we’ve got a deal. So go ahead, killer. I took care of the dog for you. Go get her.”

          “The dog’s gone?” asked Phil. Gleeful of this news.

          “That’s what I just said,” replied the Sandman. “And when you deal with the girl I just hope that you’re carrying ammo that’s a little more potent than Fuji film. Have fun.”

          This guy is a real smart ass, Phil thought to himself.

          Phil looked to his left and right to see if anyone was coming. So far the street was still dark and clear of other people. Perfect, Phil thought. There would be no potential witnesses to see what he was about to do. He grabbed a roll of duct tape laying on the passenger’s seat. He was going to use this to bind and gag Sandra. Then he got out of his car and rushed across the street, keeping his eyes fixed on the windows on the apartment up above. They were still dark. An indication that Sandra was still asleep. He walked onto a small porch where there were two doors. The door on the left was to the upstairs apartment where Sandra lived. Phil expected the door to be locked, but he came prepared. He took a small lock picking gun out of his pocket and was about to insert the tip of it into keyhole in the middle of the doorknob when he noticed that the door was ajar.

          Phil opened the door and walked up the dark stairs. At the top of the stairs he entered a large living room with a kitchen area at the right. He looked about to see if he could locate the bedroom. That was where he would find his target. Through the darkness he could barely make out a desk sitting at the left side of a doorway at the far side of the room. He took slow and careful steps to avoid making a sound as he made his way past the kitchen counter at his right, and the sofa at his left, to reach the doorway. Phil paused for a moment and took in a deep breath. Here goes, he told himself.

          Phil walked through the doorway and entered the bedroom. It was also dark. But he could still make out the furnishings. A bed positioned against the far wall. A nightstand with a small white lamp was at the bed’s left. At the right was a dark dresser with three drawers and a large, square vanity mirror attached to it’s top. Phil’s attention was focused on the bed. Neatly made. And no Sandra.

          Where the hell is she? Phil wondered. He turned to a closed door at the right side of the room. He crept over and opened it. Inside there was a typical bathroom. Toilet, sink, bathtub with an open shower curtain. But no Sandra. Where the hell is she? Phil asked himself again.

          Phil walked over to the bed and gave it a strong kick to it’s side. “Dammit! I went through all this trouble and she’s not even home!” he grumbled. He wondered what to do next. “Maybe she stepped out to get a pizza or something.” Phil raised his left arm and pressed the small button on the side of his wristwatch to activate it’s light. The time, 12:25 A.M was displayed. It was unlikely that Sandra would have gone out at such a late time.

          Phil jumped when he heard a sudden ringing sound coming from the living room. The phone? Phil walked back into the living room and followed the ringing sound to the desk next to the doorway. Through the darkness he could make out an answering machine sitting on top of the desk. It’s handset propped up and it’s touchpad glowing.

          Phil had no intention of answering the phone, but was curious to hear if the caller would leave a massage. After five more rings the recorded sound of Sandra’s soft voice kicked in to instruct the caller to leave a message, as she was unable to answer the phone. A crisp female voice gave a reply.

          “Sandra. This is Cyndi. I’m sorry to get back to you so late. And I don’t know if you’ve left yet for your business trip to Cleveland. But I just want you to know that I’ll be a bit late picking up Bruno to take care of him while you’re gone for the weekend. I’ll have him back to you on Monday when you get back. I’ll see you then. Bye.”

          “Monday?” Phil gasped. This was early Saturday morning. “Dammit! Dammit! I did all this for nothing! I can’t wait here until Monday. I have to be at work Sunday morning.” Phil had to think on what to do next. His only option was to leave and hope that the Sandman can help him enter Sandra’s apartment at a later date when she would be home.

          Phil left Sandra’s apartment and stepped back outside. He turned to close the door, making sure that it was locked so that Sandra would not become suspicious. When he turned around he was greeted to a frightening sight. A huge black furred dog was standing before him. An angry rottweiler. The dog let out a low growl and bared it’s sharp teeth. Phil backed into the door and had nowhere to run. He raised his hands but only had a roll of duct tape to use as a weapon to defend himself.

          “Easy boy,” Phil said in a quivering voice. “Easy. Take it easy. Want something to eat? I’ll buy you a pizza.”

          The dog barked once, then lunged at Phil. Biting at Phil’s face the dog slammed him back into the door. Phil screamed and raised his hands to shield his head. The dog sank it’s massive jaws into his right forearm. Phil’s entire arm burned with pain as the dogs teeth bit deep into his flesh. Struggling to escape Phil tried to bolt forward, only to fall onto his face. Phil screamed again as the dog bit at the left side of his head, his left shoulder, and his arm. Phil was helpless as this massive beast was bearing down on him with it’s weight. All the while biting and chewing on any exposed part of Phil that was available. Phil lost consciousness after the dog mauled his right hand for the third time.

          Being mauled by Sandra’s dog, Bruno, was Phil’s last memory before he woke up in the hospital. His injuries were extensive. He suffered several deep lacerations along his back and arms, and across his face. He lost his left ear and three fingers on his right hand. After he awoke in the hospital he was arrested for breaking into Sandra’s apartment. Sandra’s neighbor living in the apartment downstairs was up late that night and was just about to go to bed when she spied Phil entering the apartment. She called the police, who came and got the dog off of Phil. From there Phil was taken to the hospital and had his injuries treated. And then charged with breaking and entering, and stalking. Phil was also implicated in stalking, attempted assault and battery, and burglary incidents against four other women. Phil’s arrest resulted in a mountain of legal troubles that ultimately ended with his conviction and sentence of twenty years in prison.

          Two months later in the yard at Western Penitentiary Phil regained consciousness after getting a brutal beating by a gang of his fellow inmates. He awoke on the ground with his nose bloodied and his left eye swollen. Blood ran down from cuts on his now scarred face. His entire head was burning with pain. He rose up and saw a figure dressed in black standing over him. Black boots and pants. A black shirt and necktie. And a black hooded cape that concealed the features of his face. The Sandman was the last person that Phil expected to see here in the prison yard.

          The Sandman gave Phil a cheerful greeting. “Phil. I haven’t seen you in a while. Thought I’d pay you a visit. How’s it hanging?”

          Still in pain from his beating, Phil sat up. “How’s it hanging? What do you mean how’s it hanging? I just got my ass kicked by six guys. Open up a bottle of champagne. I’m havin’ a ball.”

          “Yeah. you did get one hell of a beat down. Good thing that those guys decided to stop for a cigarette break. If you want my advice, the next time a guy with a skull tattooed on the side of his face asks you if you’re eating your oatmeal, I’d say let him have it.”

          Phil was not grateful for the Sandman’s advice. In fact, it angered him. “You think your helping me? Where the hell were you when I was getting my ass kicked?”

          “What did you want me to do, Phil? Put on a striped shirt and play referee?”

          “I expected you to help me,” Phil shouted. “I wouldn’t be in here if it weren’t for you.”

          “Ok. It’s complain time. How do you figure that?” the Sandman asked.

          “How do I figure that? I asked you to get rid of Sandra’s dog. But you didn’t. The damn thing was waiting for me outside. I thought we had a deal.”

          “Hold on a second, Phil. I did what you asked. I got rid of the dog for you. Was the dog in the apartment when you went in? No. You wanted me to get rid of it, I got rid of it. I wasn’t gonna take it home with me.”

          The Sandman’s explanation only served to make Phil angrier. “I thought you were going to kill the damn dog. You know. Kill it. It’s dead. Kill, kill, kill.”

          “You didn’t tell me that you wanted me to kill it. You just said get rid of it. You know, Phil. You’re pretty ungrateful. I get rid of the dog for you so that you can break into your girlfriend’s apartment. I even give you a freebie by opening the door for you. And how do you repay me? By bitching and whining like a little girl.”

          “Whining like a little girl? Have you seen my face? Look what that dog did to me,” Phil bellowed. He turned his head to display his missing left ear. He held up his right hand to display his remaining thumb and pinkie finger.

          For a moment the Sandman studied Phil’s hand. “Ok. I can see where this will be a problem. Your hand has been converted into a pair of chop sticks. I can fix that for you.”

          “You can?” Phil asked. “Ok then. Do it.”

          “Am I running a charity here, Phil? You know how it’s set up.”

          “Yeah. I know,” Phil reminded himself. “Dreams and nightmares for wishes.” Unfortunately for Phil, as he searched through his memories, he had none to offer. “Can I make something up?”

          “No, Phil. That will be like putting a $20 bill onto a copy machine and cranking out a few hundred bucks in fake bills. Try taking those fake bills to Macy’s to go on a shopping spree. I work on the same principle. I don’t take fake dreams.”

          “Well, I’ve got a real dream right now,” said Phil. He heard the shouts and laughter from several male voices from behind him. The gang’s smoke break was over. And now they were returning, no doubt, to resume their beat down session with Phil. “My dream is to get the hell out of this place.”

          The Sandman turned to slowly walk away. “Can’t help you there, Phil. This will be your new home for the next few years.If you live that long. And that reminds me. My most recent client is a friend of yours.”

          Phil was confused. “A friend of mine? Who?”

          “Your girlfriend. Sandra Williams. I granted her a wish about you.”

          A feeling of dread came over Phil. “She made a wish? About me? What was it?”

          “Client confidentiality, Phil. You’ll find out.”

          Phil shuddered with fear. Not from the gang of muscular thugs that were now drawing near to him. But from the unknown threat that was still to come.

 

 

Evil Walks, Part 3.

 

Berlin. April 12,1945. Waffen S.S. Colonel Hans Gruber sat against the wall in the dank cellar and cowered in a near fetal position as the thunderous sounds of the Russian artillery shells exploded up above. The impact from the blasts caused a shower of debris to rain down on him. His black cap and uniform had a heavy coating of white dust that was falling from the ceiling. With the sound of each explosion the 40 year old, blond haired, blue eyed officer wondered when the next one would go off on top of his head and wipe out his life.

          Looking across the cellar floor, littered with fallen bricks and shards of lumber, was a small kerosene lantern that provided a flickering light for the room. Sitting on a small wooden stool at the opposite side of the cellar was a most unusual person that Hans came to see. A mysterious male figure dressed in dark attire. His black pants were tucked into his black knee high boots. He wore a matching black shirt and necktie under his black hooded cape. He was sitting with his arms crossed against his chest. Between the shadows in the cellar and the hood Hans could not see the features of this man’s face. All he knew about this man was what he heard through rumors and stories that he picked up in various beer halls and curio shops throughout Germany. Now after following several leads Hans had found this mysterious figure that he was hoping would be able to help him survive the fall of Nazi Germany. This person was known as the Sandman.

          Another loud boom went off over Hans’ head, causing his already trembling body to jump. Another shower of dust and debris dropped down on his head. He looked over to the Sandman, who was sitting calm and quiet. As if studying Hans. “You seem to be quite composed under the circumstances,” Hans said to him.

          “The way I see it why get upset because of what’s going on upstairs,” replied the Sandman. “I’m just relaxing here while enjoying the show.”

          Hans was confused. “Show? What show are you talking about?”

          “You,” the Sandman replied.

          “Me?”

          “Sure. I mean, just look at you. Four years ago you Nazis were at the top of the food chain in Europe. And now today here you are hiding in a cellar, just barely able to control your own bowel movements when you hear a shell exploding.”

          Hans was insulted by the Sandman’s observation. “Are you implying that a soldier of the Reich is a coward in the face of the enemy?” he snarled.

          “Sorry. My mistake. You’re obviously hiding here to lure the Russians into a false sense of security. When are you gonna spring your trap? Is that the same trap that you guys sprung at Stalingrad, France, North Africa?”

          Hans was now humbled by the Sandman’s question. Facing the truth, he had only one answer to give. “I’m not here to fight. I’m here because I understand that you can help me escape.”

          “Escape? Ah. Another rat jumping ship.”

          Hans was insulted again. But ignored the remark. “I heard through certain circles that you have special talents to help people get what they want. I followed several leads around Berlin in order to find you here in this tavern.”

The sound and impact of two exploding shells from up above were heard and felt. The entire cellar shook. Hans’ body jumped. He trembled as he continued, “I was skeptical about what I heard you can do. But I decided to come see for myself.”

          “Yeah,” The Sandman replied. “When we first met upstairs I noticed that look on your face.”

          “What look?”

          “The, he’s a fake, look. I’ve seen it before.”

          “You claim to grant any wish in exchange for a dream. That sounds highly far fetched.”

          Another boom from a shell went off. More dust and debris rained down onto Hans’ head.

          “I trade dreams and nightmares for wishes,” the Sandman corrected.

          “Dreams. Nightmares. What’s the difference?” Hans asked.

          “If you go to sleep and see yourself walking across a field with several bunnys hopping around, that’s a dream. Now if you should see those bunnys pull out machine guns and start shooting at you, then that’s a nightmare. Are you following me?”

          “Sounds like fanciful nonsense from a carnival fortune teller,” Hans charged.

          The Sandman’s hooded head returned a nod. “I can understand your skepticism. But then again, here you are. Sitting in a dark cellar while artillery shells are going off over your head. You should be out fighting with your troops.”

          “Fighting? It’s hopeless!” Hans shouted. “The Russians have us outnumbered twenty to one. They have us completely cut off and encircled by massive armies of troops and tanks. I’ve seen men next to me get cut down. I’ve watched hordes of Russian troops run up to men and slice them to ribbons with their bayonets. You don’t know what it’s like up there.”

          “I should have read the brochures before I came here. So you’re not one of those airheads that are still confident that victory is just around the corner? You’re going to re-group and throw the inferior enemy back. The enemy forces will collapse any time. Yadda, yadda, yadda.”

          “Yadda. yadda, yadda?”

          “So you want out?” asked the Sandman.

          Another shell exploded from above. Hans nodded his head as rapidly as his heart was beating. “Yes, yes. I want you to get me out of here. Out of Berlin. Out of Germany. Out of this war altogether.”

          “I can do that,” replied the Sandman. “But you know how I work. What can you give me as payment?”

This charlatan wants a dream? Hans thought. I’ve got one for him. “I keep having this same damn dream every time I sleep. Night after night. It just won’t go away. It’s so damn vivid. When I close my eyes and nod off it grips me and takes over my mind in seconds. It’s the most-”

          “Can you spare me the critic’s review and get on with it?” the Sandman grumbled.

          “Alright,” said Hans. “In this dream I see the faces of these wretches. Wretches dressed in grey rags from head to foot. Men, women, children. They’re all looking at me from behind a barbed wire fence. There’s hundreds of them. All staring at me with their huge dark eyes. I want to run. But for some reason I’m compelled to go closer to the fence. And when I get close to the fence I shout at them to go back where they came from. To get out of my sight. Then they all reach for me. Dozens of these skeletal hands reaching through the barbed wire to grab me and pull me in. I can hear myself screaming as I’m being pressed against the barbed wired. They’re pulling me in. The barb wire rips at my clothes. Tears the skin away from my face. Then I find myself being buried under a mob of these wretched creatures as their filthy hands all reach for me. After that I wake up screaming. I always wake up screaming.”

          “I’m glad I don’t have you as a room mate,” the Sandman told Hans. “A pretty decent nightmare. And it sounds like it stems from some sort of guilt complex.”

          “Guilt complex?”

          “You were commandant of the camp in Strasselborg. You were charged with processing and eliminating hundreds of these wretches, as you call them, when they came in. Taking their valuables. Money, clothes, jewels, gold teeth. Then separating the ones who will live, at least for a while, from the ones who would be marched off right to the gas chambers. And let’s not forget the medical experiments that you ordered. Quite a few of your test subjects didn’t survive. Yeah. You’ve been quite a busy man at Strasselborg. Maybe that’s why the Russians are so eager to get their hands on you. They’re got a fresh length of rope and a noose with your name on it.”

          “And that is why I’ve got to get out of here,” Hans bellowed against the sound of another explosion from above.    

          “I want to get as far away from this damn war as possible.”

          “I can get you out. But you know that even after the war they’re still gonna come for you,” the Sandman told Hans.

          For a moment Hans said nothing. He knew that the Sandman was speaking the truth. Between all of the Allied forces now caving in on Germany he knew that no matter how far he ran he would eventually be caught. And for his extensive war crimes his execution would be inevitable. But he still had to try and find some means of escape. A means where even all the allied forces combined could not break through. Then the magical solution came to Hans. “You can grant me any wish in exchange for my dream? Fine. I want to go back in time.”

          “Excuse me? What?”

          “You heard me. If you have the power, like you say, then I want to go back in time. Past this war. Far past. Where no one can find me. That is, unless you can’t do it.”

          The Sandman leaned forward, placing his gloved hands on his knees. “Oh, it’s doable. A bit complicated. But doable. I’ll have to tweak a few things here. Tweak a few things there.”

          “Tweak?”

          “But first let me give you my opinion. This is a really stupid idea.”

          More explosions were going off from above. A large beam of lumber fell down from the ceiling. Hans felt as though the entire ceiling were about to finally cave in on top of his head. Another explosion went off. Then another. And another. Fearful of his life Hans buried his face into his hands and waited to die either by being crushed under the rubble of this building or blown apart by the next Russian shell. He cursed himself for following the fanciful idea of coming here and talking to a carnival charlatan who claims to be able to grant wishes. I’ve trapped myself here! I was so damn stupid! Hans scolded himself. I did the Russian’s work for them. I’ve trapped myself! I’m trapped!

          Then the sounds of the explosions faded in his ears. Hans looked up. To his astonishment he was no longer sitting on the floor of the dark cellar. He was now sitting in the middle of a dirt field in broad daylight. He was amazed as he turned and looked about at his new surroundings. He was surrounded by several small round huts with thatch roofs. In front of one hut he saw several men and women sitting around a large fire as they watched an animal that Hans could not identify being cooked on a pit over the flames. Dressed in their ragged, dark dresses the women stood and pointed at Hans while having wide eyed and gaping mouthed expressions of fear on their faces. The men, dressed in their dark tunics and their pants tucked into crude animal hide boots, also stood and backed away in fear. Hans noticed that other men and women near the huts around him also began to stare and point at him. Suddenly a pointing woman shouted out in a high pitched voice, “Witch! Witch!”

          “He’s a witch!” a man holding a pitchfork shouted as he pointed at Hans.

          “He’s a demon!” cried another pointing man. “He just appeared out of nowhere! He just boiled up from hell!”

          “Witch! Witch! Witch!” screamed another woman.

          Hans stood up and looked about at these primitive people and their crude dwellings. He could not yet believe what had just happened. One minute he was trapped in a cellar. The next minute he was here. Where ever here was. Then he recalled his deal that he made with the Sandman. He wanted to escape the war by going back into time. Could it be? he wondered. Am I really here in the past?

          More frantic people began to shout out the word, Witch, while pointing at Hans. Hans looked about and noticed that the mob was growing. Two burly men dressed in dark baggy pants tucked into their black boots, shiny breast plate armor, and chain mail hoods pushed themselves through the crowd. Both men were carrying swords strapped to their sides. For a moment they stopped to examine Hans. Then they both drew their swords from their sheaths and advanced.

          “Get back,” Hans warned. In own time Hans was used to being obeyed by villagers. But now in this time the situation was different. Hans had no power and authority over these people. No armed troops to back him up. He was alone in their time and at their mercy.

          The two armed men pointed their swords at Hans’ throat while men behind him pounced on him and grabbed his arms.

          “Let me go! Get your hands off me!” Hans demanded. “I am an officer of the Third Reich! You will release me at once!”

          The men did not comply. They continued to hold him fast while the other villagers continued to fill the air with their shouts of, Witch, and Demon. Hans tried to struggle, but he was their helpless prisoner. One of the armored men raised his sword and brought it’s hilt smashing down between Hans’ eyes. A painful impact jolted through Hans’ face and he soon lost consciousness.

          Hans awoke later in a dungeon cell that was twice as dank as the cellar that he was cowering in. He was stripped naked with his legs chained to the wall. But he would not be here for long. Two more burly men dressed in the armor and chain mail hoods entered the cell and unchained him so that they can drag him off to a frantic courtroom where he was commanded by the magistrate to confess his crimes as a servant of Satan. Not mentioning Hitler’s name, Hans insisted that he was no servant of the devil. His defiance did not sit well with the magistrate, who ordered Hans to be dragged off for extensive questioning for the good of his soul. Hans soon learned that extensive questioning in a witch trial meant being subjected to the most painful and gruesome tortures that a Human being could endure.

           Hans was put through a session with the thumb screws, a red hot iron pressed against his face, and several hours having his arms and legs stretched on the rack. After a few hours of extensive questioning Hans was eager to confess his crimes of being a servant of Satan. Again, without uttering the name of Hitler to his tormentors. Hans was hoping that his confession would put an end to his suffering and send him back to his cell. He was unaware that making his confession only served to put his worst fate into motion.

          Hans was dragged to the center of the village and tied to a thick wooden pole while a cheering mob of villagers watched on. Hans knew that he was in serious trouble when he watched several men pile bundles of sticks around him.

Hans found the strength to panic. His horrific fate was obvious. “You can’t do this to me! I’m no witch! I’m no witch! You’ve got to listen to me!”

          The men continued to pile the bundles of sticks around Hans until they were up to his waist. A man in armor poured oil from a wooden bucket onto the sticks. Then another man tossed down the torch that he was carrying. The oil ignited with a faint whoosh. Then there was the sharp crackle of burning wood, soon drowned out by the mob chanting, “Burn the witch! Burn the witch!”

          Hans began to scream as the heat around him began to increase. Smoke from the burning wood filled his lungs. As he cried out for his life he looked at the crowd and saw a familiar figure. A man dressed in black. His black hooded cape hiding the features of his face. The Sandman. The only person that could possibly help Hans out of this fate.

          “Help me! Please help me!” Hans cried out in desperation.

          Hans’ view of the Sandman was soon obscured by the flames and they grew higher to consume him.

 

Evil Walks. Part Four.

As Tyrell Clayton lay on his back on the top bunk in his jail cell he stared up at the grey painted ceiling and the small round light that was there. His hands were resting on the chest of his orange jumpsuit. For a moment the thirty two year old black male’s mind drifted away from the light and changed to a scene outside the walls of his confinement. The scene where he was involved in a drive by shooting in a Pittsburgh neighborhood. He was gunning for a rival drug dealer, Joe Anderson, who was not only turning his attention to encroaching upon Tyrell’s drug territory, but turning his attentions to Tyrell’s girlfriend, Brenda. Neither of these facts did not sit well with Tyrell. So he convinced his cousin, Jake, to drive him past the Big Fish Diner, located in Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood section at the time when Anderson was having lunch there.

          Tyrell instructed Jake to drive slowly past the diner’s window. Through the window Tyrell could see Anderson sitting at the counter. As the car made it’s pass Tyrell leaned out of the passenger’s side window and Took aim with his .45 pistol. Tyrell’s first two shots shattered the diner’s window and struck an unintended male target in the back. Tyrell’s third shot struck Anderson in the neck. His next two shots tore through Anderson’s head. Satisfied that the job was one Tyrell ordered Jake to drive off with great haste. He did not want his shooting in broad daylight to draw too much attention. Although like so many crimes of violence committed with impunity, Tyrell was confident that no witnesses would come forward and talk to the police.

          Tyrell thought wrong. Four witnesses who were at the scene came forward and identified Jake’s car and Tyrell as the shooter. The key witness against him was the diner’s owner, Albert Caldwell. Tyrell bristled at the thought of Caldwell’s name. His testimony could possibly help to send Tyrell to prison with a life sentence for the murder of two men as the result of his drive by shooting incident. Tyrell had been confined here in the Alleghenny County jail for two months while he was awaiting trial. In his opinion it was two months too long. He was finding the restrictions of prison life to be too unbearable. He had no intention of being locked up for the rest of his life. Or allowing Caldwell to get away with testifying against him. He was hoping that the mysterious individual sitting on the bottom bunk would aid in a plan of escape and revenge. That individual was known as the Sandman.

          “So, Mr Sandman. Thanks for coming,” said Tyrell. “ But I still don’t understand how you got in here.”

          “I’ve got my ways of getting in and out of places,” the Sandman’s voice replied. “And don’t call me Mister. You make me sound like I’m a school teacher.”

          “Ok,” was Tyrell’s answer. He heard the sound of a loud boom coming from beyond the wall of his cell. He rose up and peered out of the small one foot wide, one foot tall window that had two metal bars and was sealed with glass block. Through the glass block he had a blurry view of what was going on outside. Several yards away on the property near the jail a huge construction project was taking place. There were several bulldozers and backhoes clearing away tons of dirt and rocks from an enormous square area. There were two cement trucks backing up close to the site. Tyrell theorized that they were getting ready to start pouring cement for the foundation of whatever building that was being constructed here. Save for the noise that was disturbing his sleep for the past two weeks now Tyrell had little interest in what was going on there.

          Tyrell jumped down to the floor and looked over at the mysterious figure. The Sandman was sitting on the bottom bunk. He was dressed in black pants tucked into black knee high boots. He had a black long sleeved shirt with a black necktie. Black gloves were on his hands. Tyrell admired the black hooded cape that the Sandman was wearing. The cape was spread across the bottom bunk while it’s hood obscured the features of his face.

          “So, you can really help me get the hell out of this place?” He asked.

          “I don’t false advertise,” was the Sandman’s reply. “I mean what I say.”

          Tyrell nodded. “Ok. Cool. And do you help out a lot of guys in jail?”

          “I’m here all the time. So much that I should have an office next to the warden’s. In fact I get more letters than Santa Claus. That’s probably why we’re not on speaking terms.”

          “What?”

          “Call it professional jealousy,” said the Sandman. “His loss.”

          “I didn’t believe it at first when I read your ad in that magazine,” Tyrell told him. “You know. That stuff about how I can sell you my dreams or nightmares to get what I want. Then this old dude on the next cell block told me that he made a deal with you a while back. And that you were on the level. So I told myself, what the hell? Why not try him out? So what kind of a deal did you make with the old dude?”

          “Believe it or not he wanted a birthday cake.”

          “Tyrell smiled. “Yeah. I get it. You gave him a birthday cake with a hacksaw or a Glock hidden in it.”

          “No. All he wanted was just the cake.”

          “What? Just the cake?”

          “My guess was that he really loves pastry.”So let’s make a deal.

          There was the sound of another boom coming from the construction outside.

          “It must be a real pain in the ass trying to sleep with that noise going on,” The Sandman commented. “So where were we?”

          “You want to hear about one of my dreams?” Tyrell asked. He searched through his memory for his latest one. “Here’s one. I’m walking down the street with a bunch of my friends. Big Reece, Brick, Moody. These dudes are my boys. So we’re walking down the street and we pass by my house. Or really it’s the house where my folks live. My mom and dad always gave me a hard time about the way I run my life and the people I hang out with. It’s like they know everything, but they really don’t know nothing. So anyway, we pass by the house and for some reason I go up to the front porch. And then I see my dad looking out of the front door at me. Then he slams the door real hard. Bang. Then I walk up to the front window next to the door and I see my mom looking back at me. Then she reaches up and pulls the shade down. Then I go to the front door and I start to knock on it real hard. But there’s no answer. I keep knocking and knocking. But they don’t let me in. What do you think about that?”

          “My guess is that either your parents are big on privacy or you really pissed then off. But overall it sounds like your dream is sending you a message.”

          “What kind of a message?”

          “That your life sucks.”

          Tyrell was insulted by the Sandman’s jab. But he knew that to a degree the Sandman was right. “My life really will suck if I let that prick, Caldwell testify against me. I gotta get my ass outta here. And the first thing I do will be to take care of him and his family. I gotta teach him a lesson about what happens to you when you’re a snitch.”

          “So I imagine that you’re not planning to wash this guy’s car or mow his lawn when you get out.”

          “You’re kidding, Right? I’ve got a real serious lesson planned for Mr Caldwell. Mr upright citizen. He’s gonna watch when I take care of his wife and daughter. I’ll take my time with them. Then it’s his turn. So are you gonna help me or not?”

          “You want me to bust you out of jail. Right?” asked the Sandman. “Done. Just don‘t expect a limo to drive up to the prison gates”

          Tyrell smiled again. “You can really get me out of here? If you can do that then I’ll be your slave for life. All I have to do is get the hell outta here and away from the jail property. Then I’m on my own. And then it’s me and the Caldwell family. And one more thing. This aint‘ like I‘m selling my soul to Satan or something like that?”

          Tyrell heard a faint sigh com from the Sandman. “You know how many times I have to hear that question? If you want to sell your soul then you’re better off putting an ad in the newspaper. Along with a Buick. And I think you’d get a better price for the Buick.”

          Tyrell heard a loud buzzing sound coming from outside his cell. Recognizing the sound he turned to face the bars of his cell door. “The breakfast buzzer. This is one meal that I’m gonna miss.”

          Tyrell turned back to the bunk and was surprised to see that the Sandman had disappeared. He had departed as mysteriously as he arrived. And Tyrell feared that the Sandman had taken with him the hope of escaping the jail.

          “Hey! Where the hell did you go?” Tyrell called out. For a second he waited for an answer. But none came. “Hey! We had a deal! So what? You’re a fake?”

           In frustration Tyrell kicked the bottom bunk. How the hell could I have been so stupid? he asked himself. He was just messing with my head. He tells me that he can bust me out of here and then he just vanishes and leaves me. it aint’ right.

          Tyrell resigned himself to the harsh fact that he was now going to be confined here for a longer duration. And that the only real help that he can depend on now was the work of his public defender.

          Tyrell joined the other jail inmates in the cafeteria located on the jail’s ground level. His mood was somber as he lined up with the other inmates in their orange jumpsuits and grabbed a plastic fork and spoon, and an aluminum tray to receive a helping of oatmeal, two over cooked strips of bacon, and a waffle. At the end of the line he received a small cup of black coffee in a white Styrofoam cup.

          “Another day of this slop,” Tyrell grumbled to himself.

          Tyrell passed by several crowded tables where inmates were eating and chose a less occupied table near the wall. There were only three other men sitting there. He was wishing that he could have an entire table to himself, as he was in no mood to speak to anyone.

          Tyrell sat down and stared at his tray. He was about to plunge his spoon into the oatmeal. That was when he felt a powerful tremor shake the table. He felt a strong force shaking beneath his feet. Dozens of men at the other tables rose up and began to panic. Tyrell heard the word, earthquake shouted out three times. The sound of a loud rumbling noise filled the cafeteria. Tyrell jumped to his feet and saw a large crack appearing across the grey painted ceiling. Large chunks of plaster dropped down onto the tables. The other men began to run. The jail guards stormed into the cafeteria and conducted a quick evacuation. Tyrell was about to run and join the group when he heard a loud crash coming from behind him. He turned and looked. To his amazement he saw that a hole, three feet in diameter, had appeared in the concrete wall.

          A hole. it’s a damn hole in the wall. Tyrell could not believe what he was seeing. But there it was. The tremor had indeed caused a hole to appear in the wall. Tyrell spun from left to right to see if anyone else had spotted this. So far everyone was too busy trying to rush out of the cafeteria to give notice. And the guards were at the far side of the room while being occupied with the crowd. No other thought came to Tyrell’s mind except escape.

Tyrell rushed over to the hole and dove inside. Once inside the hole he found that it was dark. The ground was muddy and cold. But these conditions did not stop him from crawling forward. Tyrell felt another strong tremor. He stopped crawling as he feared that a cave in might take place. There was a loud boom coming from behind. Then the dim light from the entrance was snuffed out.

          Holy crap! This aint’ good. Tyrell thought. His heart began to race at the thought of being trapped in the dark. But before he was thrown into a panic he remembered that he was carrying a useful tool that could help him in a situation like this. In the darkness his right hand fumbled across his waist to find the right pocket of his jumpsuit. Tyrell let out a sigh of relief when he reached into his pocket and brought out the small plastic cigarette lighter that was there. He pressed the switch on the lighter. The glow of the small flame was enough to give Tyrell a dim view of his surroundings. He was in a tunnel with a muddy floor. Clumps of dirt and small rocks were dropping down from the ceiling. Looking behind him Tyrell saw that his fear came to life. A cave in had taken place. The entrance had collapsed. And now he had no place to go except forward into the darkness. He looked ahead, not knowing how far the tunnel would lead. But he knew that one thing was for certain. With the entrance now sealed noone would come after him very soon. Then a certain notion came to his mind.

          “Sandman,” Tyrell gasped. He became overjoyed. “You did this. You did it. You came through.”

          Tyrell was tempted to let out an overjoyed yell, but he was fearful that even within this tunnel the sound might attract the attention of the jail guards. He was not going to do anything to jeopardize his new found freedom. Still smiling, Tyrell held his lighter out in front of him as if it were a lantern and began to make a slow and careful crawl forward. He continued to crawl. The legs of his jumpsuit were now soaked from the mud. The skin of his legs took on a clammy chill. His left hand was caked with mud. But Tyrell continued to crawl forward. He heard a rumbling sound behind him and turned to see that a second cave in had taken place. Tyrell hoped that there would not be another cave in before he had a chance to exit the tunnel. Where ever the exit was.

          Tyrell continued to crawl. He was thankful that for now he still had air to breathe. As he continued to crawl forward his driving force was the thoughts of his freedom. And reaching Albert Caldwell and his family. He was eager to see the terror in their eyes. After he dealt with them he would go to his cousin Angelo’s house to hide out for a day or two. Then make his way to his cousin Bertha in Detroit. From there he could establish contacts within the drug trade there and start over. He would build up his life again. Tyrell had every detail of his future planned out. All he had to do in order to make it all come to fruition was to get out of this tunnel.

          Tyrell continued crawling for several more minutes. Now he was starting to fear that he would either run out of air or fluid in his cigarette lighter first. There was another rumbling sound from behind. Tyrell stopped. He was fearful as he turned to look. Another cave in. This aint’ good. The next one might come down on top of my head. But how in the hell far does this thing go?

          Tyrell resumed crawling again. Then the ground beneath him gave way and he fell down into a large muddy pit. Tyrell panicked when the lighter went out and he was plunged into darkness. He was fortunate to be able to keep his grip on it as he rolled across his back twice and then struck his head on what felt like a large rock as his body came to rest. Tyrell’s body was wet, cold, his back and head were both sore. But he was still alive. And if he could help it, still free. He sat up and raised his hand to turn on his lighter. That was when he noticed a thin shaft of light shining down from above. Tyrell was frantic with joy at this sight. Daylight! he told himself. I did it! I made it! I’m free!

Tyrell looked about at the pit he had fallen into. It was not deep. By his estimate it was only seven feet to the top where the shaft of daylight was coming from a small opening. Tyrell knew that it would be an easy task for him to climb up to the top and dig his way through in order to reach the surface.

          “This is it. So long county jail,” Tyrell declared with joy.

          As Tyrell was about to begin his short climb to reach his freedom a torrent of thick, grey sludge began to drop down on top of him. Fearful, Tyrell cried out as the sludge washed over him. He held his lighter high over his head to try to preserve it’s flame. His light enabled him to get a better look at What this thick sludge was. “Cement? What the hell?”

Tyrell was being drowned by a now steady stream of cement that was flowing down through an expanding hole above his head. As the cement began to rise up to his knees, then to his waist, he wondered where it was coming from. Then he remembered the construction project that was taking place next to the county jail property. He remembered earlier on when he peered out from the small window of his cell to see the cement trucks backing up to begin pouring the foundation for the new construction. Tyrell had gotten what he had asked the Sandman for. A way to escape the jail and get free from it’s property. Now Tyrell was free. And as the flow of cement began to rise faster until it was now reaching his neck he realized that he was about to become a permanent part of the new building next to the jail.

          Tyrell panicked once again. “Hey! Somebody! Hey! I’m down here! Help! Somebody!“

          As Tyrell was crying out for help the cement had now risen up to his head. He tried to climb out of the pit, but it was a difficult task using one hand while holding the other over your head to keep a lighter burning. The sides of the pit were too soft and muddy for him to gain a firm grip upon. Tyrell decided to drop his lighter and take his chances in the dark. Now the cement was rising past his mouth and up to his nose. He opened his mouth to gasp for air. But he only took in a mouthful of cement. Tyrell’s arms thrashed about. His hands clawed at the side of the pit, but to no avail as the level of cement was now rising up to his eyes and he was no longer able to breathe. As the cold sensation of the cement began to wash over his body Tyrell was at least confident that Albert Caldwell would never get the chance to testify against him in court. Because Tyrell Clayton would never be seen again.

 

 

Evil Walks. Part 5.

Off Season. featuring Shipwreck Sammy. Part One.

This is a new special feature that I'm starting. A series of short stories. The first ones deal with our favorite media sensation. Pittsburgh Pirates official team mascot, Shipwreck Sammy.

      Sammy was awakened from his deep slumber by a sharp pressure poking into his ribs. He opened his eyes and looked up to see the bright white flourescent light tube shining down on him from the ceiling. He turned his head to see a young blond haired woman in a dark blue dress standing over him. She was wearing a pair of yellow rubber gloves and holding a mop. She used the mop to jab Sammy's left side. Then she spoke.

      "Are you awake? MR Sullivan will see you now."

      "Ok. Thanks. Sammy replied. His mind still in a groggy state.

      He sat up on the Black leather couch that he was laying on in the small waiting room. He looked down at his sailor's hat, sitting on top of a black, oval shaped coffee table.  Across the room were two black leather reclining chairs. He could have sat in one of them, but he found the couch to be much more comfortable to sleep on.

      Sammy reached for his hat. He remembered a time when it used to be white. Now it was marred by a variety of brown and black stains. Just like the tattered sailor's uniform that he was wearing. "Man. I gotta stop using this thing as a napkin," he muttered to himself.

      Sammy noticed a blue aerosol can at the woman's feet. She kneeled down to pick up the can and propped the mop up against the wall. "Follow me, please."

      The woman took a step back as Sammy stood up. He followed her as she opened a glass door with the name, Arthur Sullivan, painted in bold black letters. The woman held the door open, allowing Sammy to enter. They passed through a small office that had a desk with a computer keyboard and monitor. At the right side of the desk was a small table that held a printer and a short stack of blank paper. Behind the desk was an open doorway to another office.

      "Go right in. He's expecting you," said the woman.

      As Sammy walked through the doorway he noticed a hising sound coming from behind. He turned to see the woman spraying the contents of the aerosol can into the air while stepping back. Sammy took in a whiff of the air. A familiar scent caught his nose. "Disinfect. Wintergreen," he said.

      Sammy entered the large office, with it's tan carpeting and dark wood paneled walls. On the four walls were several portraits of baseball players wearing Pittsburgh Pirates uniforms. Positioned in front of a large dark wooden desk was a plastic lawn chair sitting in the middle of a large sheet of clear plastic. Sitting at the desk was a middle aged man with dark hair, wearing a black suit. This was Arthur Sullivan. Director of marketing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was also Sammy's boss.

      Sullivan was typing in data on his computer keyboard. Keeping his eyes on his monitor. He addressed Sammy in a cheerfull manner. "Sammy. Good to see you. Please take a seat."

      Sammy sat down on the lawn chair.

      Sullivan stopped working and stood up. He walked over and stood in front of his desk. "Thanks for coming. Even though it's still hard to get ahold of you. Ever think about carrying a cell phone?"

      Sammy shrugged his shoulders. "It's kind of hard to keep a phone charged up when you're living on the street, sir."

      Sullivan nodded. "I can understand that. And I find it hard to believe that you're still homeless. We pay you enouth as the Pirates team mascot. Surely you can afford to get yourself a small apartment."

      "It's not that simple, sir. I have trouble holding onto my money. I still like to gamble. Especially on the team. That's sort of why I'm always broke."

      Sullivan nodded again. "I understand. But I believe that in the past I have advised you, in strict confidence, against betting on the team. Not that I'm so much against gambling. But like the old saying goes. Always bet on a sure thing. The Pirates aint it."

      Sammy returned the nod to Sullivan. "Finding that out the hard way, sir. But I'm also saving what little money I have so that I can get my own boat."

      "Your own boat. And I recall from your resume you want your own destroyer. That's a far cry from a simple boat."

      Sammy gave a smile. "Never think small, sir."

      "I see," returned Sullivan. "Regardless, I'm glad you could come. Even though you were here a bit early. About 3:00 A.M early."

      "I slept on the couch outside. I didn't want to be late."

      "Yes. I noticed the odor when I came in," Sullivan's reply. "Don't worry. It was time to have that sofa taken out and burned anyway. But we did see a rat come out of one of your pockets. It's still running around here someplace. A pet, I take it?"

      With reluctance, Sammy shook his head. "No sir. That was my breakfast. It must have chewed through the duct tape I used to tie it up. Did you see where it went?"

      "No clue."

      "Damn. Took me an hour to catch that thing."

      Sullivan waved his hand. "We'll worry about that later. Right now the reason why I called you here is to go over a list of criminal complaints against you." Sullivan picked up several papers from off of his desk. He began to read them off to Sammy. "Disorderly conduct. Public drunkenness, fighting."

      "I can explain everything, sir."

      Sullivan's eyes shifted fom Sammy to the paper in his hand. "How can you explain this incident that took place on June 12 of this year? You were involved in a fight in an alley with another homeless man."

      "I can explain that one, sir. It was self defense."

      "Self defense? According to this report you tried to eat the other guy's face."

      "I wanted to check to see if he had any concealed weapons."

      "Where? Under his eyelids? And what about the complaints that I get from residents and business owners in Oakland stating that you dig through their garbage?

      "A man's gotta eat, sir."

      Sullivan gave Sammy a long stare. "So what are you telling me? That McDonalds is out of your price range?

      "I've sort of been banned from McDonalds,sir," was Sammy's nervous answer.

      "Banned? from all of them?"

      "I guess they like to hold grudges. All I wanted to do was use their stove. I didn't think they'd have a problem with it."

      Sullivan gave Sammy another long stare. "Are there any homeless shelters that you can go to if you get hungry?"

      "I've sort of been banned from them too, sir,"

      "Banned? Why? What the hell did you do?"

      Sammy hesitated for a brief moment before giving his answer. "I guess it was that incident with the deer."

      "A deer?"

      "I found it on the side of the road. I figured why let it go to waste? They wouldn't let me use their stove either."

      Sullivan placed the papers back on his desk. "Sammy. When I agreed to let you be the new mascot for the Pirates it was my understanding that there wouldn't be any issues. To be frank, you can't try to eat a guy's face in some alley while at the same time represent the Pirates. I need you to try to tone down your activities during the off season. We don't want you to do anything to reflect badly on the team. Going to the local funeral home and asking them if they have take out simply doesn't look good."

      Sammy lowered his head. "Yes sir.

      "During the off season I want you to try to straighten yourself out. Get some new clothes. A tooth brush. And most of all a place to live. I get a lot of complaints about you sleeping in trash dumpsters."

      "Living out on the street doesn't give me too many options, sir," Sammy confessed.

      Sullivan heaved a loud sigh as he looked back at Sammy. "For the time being we need to get you off the streets. I tell you what. Go talk to Johnson, the maintenance supervisor. Tell him that I said it was ok for you to sleep in one of the mop stations."

      "A mop station?" asked Sammy.

      "For you that will be like sleeping at the Hilton," Sullivan pointed out. "And you've got a sink already handy. You can finally bathe every morning."

      Bathe every morning. That concept was almost alien to Sammy. "I'll give it a try, sir."

     Sullivan smiled. "Great. Just don't try to use carpet cleaner as a mouthwash."

      "You can't?"

      "I would'nt."

      Sammy was disappointed. "It always makes the rugs smell fresh."

      "I'm glad we had this little talk, Sammy. And I'm also glad that we understand ourselves now. That's all for now. But just remember to try to stay out of trouble and clean yourself up. You're the Pirates official team mascot. People are looking up to you. They can't do that when they see you on the news asleep on the floor in Macy's mens room while using a dead raccoon as a pillow. I'll keep in touch with you."

      Sammy rose from his chair and left the room. As he walked out the blond haired woman rushed in behind him and sprayed the lawn chair down with the aerosol can. Sammy walked out of Sullivan's office feeling that he had a new lease on life. For the first time since he was discharged from the navy he now had a firm roof over his head to sleep under. But the question now rang through his mind. How long can he keep it?

Off Season. Part Two.

Sammy left Sullivan's office and looked up to the blue sky as he stepped out onto the sidewalk in front of PNC Park. He now had a renewed sense of pride and purpose. He had not felt this way since he first enlisted in the Navy. For the first time in many years he had a stable roof over his head. A roof without rain water dripping on his face while he slept. Or a visit from an accasional stray cat. He realized that sleeping in a janitor's mop closet was a far cry from having an actual house like a regular person. But it was better than sleeping in a trash dumpster.

        Sammy walked over to a parking meter near the curb and gave it a gentle pat. "I got a roof over my head. Man. can you believe it? I feel like a king. Maybe you can come over sometime and we can have a few beers."

        The parking meter did not respond.

        Maybe I should have put some money in this thing first, Sammy thought. He searched through his pockets and came up with two hand fulls of lint, a hair ball, a dead mouse, and several dried leaves. But unfortunately no money.

        A man in a brown suit walked past Sammy. Sammy extended his hands out to him. "Hey buddy. You got a quarter?"

        The man continued walking. No bothering to look at Sammy. "Get a job you bum," was his blunt reply.

        Sammy became indignat to that comment. "Get a job? Hey, I got a job you jackass. I'm team mascot for the Pirates, jerk. Where the hell do you work flippin burgers, pal?"

        It was then that Sammy remembered Sullivan's words. The Pirates needed a mascot that was kinder and gentle. A more suitable role model than what he was in the past. He promised Sullivan that he would try to be that person. Sammy ran over to the man and placed a hand on his shoulder. The surprised man turned and stared back at Sammy. Sammy struggled to find something apologetic to say. "Bah, humbug. Thanks," he sputtered. Then he turned and crossed the street and headed for the heart of town.

        It was a long walk for Sammy as he finally reached the alley behind Macy's. The trash dumpster there was his most recent residence. With his new residence in PNC park Sammy intended to take his personal belongings and move into his new home. As Sammy approached the dumpster he noticed a strange gutteral sound coming from inside. He opened the lid and was shocked to see a sleeping man wrapped up in newspapers. His snoring was loud enough to be heard from several feet away. He had long black hair and a long beard. He mouth was gaping open to expose his brown teeth.

        "What the hell is this?" gasped Sammy as he looked down at the unknown man. An intruder sleeping inside a dumpster that was his private residence. Sammy began to pound his fist on the side of the dumpster to wake the man. "Hey! Get up! Get the hell up! Get up!"

        The man began to stir. He opened his eyes. "What? Who the hell are you?"

        "Who the hell am I? I live here, you scumbag. This is my dumpster."

        "Your dumpster?" the man asked. "Does it have your name on it?"

        Sammy pounded his fist against the side of the dumpster again. "Your ass will have my name on it if you don't haul it outta there," was his dire warning.

        The man rose to his feet. "Is that a fact?"

        The man climbed out of the dumpster.Dressed in dark shoes and pants, along with a ragged brown overcoat the husky man stood four inches over Sammy's six foot height. His eyes sent a narrowed gaze at Sammy. "So you wanna sign your autograph on my ass. Think you're man enough, Popeye?"

        Sammy was confused. "Popeye? What the hell are you talkin about? I never ate there."

        "I meant the sailor you idiot."

        "Yeah. That's what you meant. I knew that."

        "You still think you're man enough to kick my ass?"

        Sammy's only reply was to send a strong kick into the man's groin. The man let out a howl and folded over. Sammy let out a loud yell and leaped on top of the man, forcing him to the ground. The two men rolled across the ground back and forth before Sammy managed to wrestle on top of the man and began to hammer him with repeated fists to the face. The man retaliated by poking a finger into Sammy's left eye. Sammy recoiled and the man shoved him off. The man scrambled to his feet and reached to the ground to grab an empty beer bottle. He moved too fast for Sammy to defend himself and smashed the bottle across the top of Sammy's head. Sammy collapsed to the ground and lay stunned. Pain shot through his head.

        "It that it?" the man shouted down at Sammy. "Is that all you got? I thought you were gonna autograph my ass."

        The man staggered towards Sammy and placed his foot down on his left hand. Sammy yelled out as the man's foot smashed down on his fingers.

        The man continued to taunt Sammy. "WHat's the matter, Popeye? I thought you were a tough guy. Want me to get you a can of spinach?"

        "I hate spinach," Sammy shouted back.

        Sammy pulled his hand out from under the man's foot. Then he grabbed the man's leg and pulled it forward. The man fell back and struck the ground with a loud thud. Sammy then clamped his teeth down onto the man's ankle. The man let out a loud howl in pain. Sammy took another bite out of the man's leg. His teeth penetrating hairy skin and drawing blood. Then Sammy released his bite and climbed on top of the struggling man, then he delivered a sharp punch to the man's face. Sammy looked up and saw that a small crowd had now gathered in the alley to watch the fight. Sammy would not disappoint them. He gave the man four more punches to his face. Then he leaned down and bit the left side of the man's face. The man screamed in agony and struggled to break free but Sammy had him weighed down and held his arms down on the ground. Sammy pulled away a mouthfull of hair from the man's beard. Then he went for another bite.

        "Get him off me!" the man pleaded for anyone to hear. "Get him off! He's biting me!"

        Sammy took a second look at the gathering crowd and remembered his vow to Sullivan. Be kinder and gentler. be kinder and gentler. Sammy released his hold on the man. But the man shoved him aside and jumped to his feet. With his face bleeding he turned and ran towards the crowd.

        Sammy rose to his feet. The hair from the man's beard stuck in between his teeth. "That's right. You better run, you stinkin loser. Who's the man?" Again Sammy remembered his promise to Sullivan. Kinder and gentler. "But maybe now we can be freinds. You want to buy me a beer?"

        The man did not reply and continued to flee. Sammy was alone with the crowd of people staring on. He had to think of something to say to them to defuse the situation. "A pal of mine. We both go way back. We were both in the navy together. He's running off to buy me a beer."

        Sammy hoped that would help smooth things over with the crowd after they had just witnessed the violent spectacle. As for the unknown man who was sleeping in the dumpster, Sammy hoped that he would think twice before he would issue a challenge again.

                                                   TO  BE CONTINUED.

Off Season, Part Three.

While sitting at the crowded bar in the Grant Street Tavern, Sammy looked at his reflection in the panoramic mirror before him and watched himself smile. He looked at the long line of liquor bottles below the mirror and raised the small shot glass in his hand.

        "A toast to me, Dudes," Sammy shouted. "At last I'm hitting the big time. I'm finally moving up in the world."

        At Sammy's left was Jake the bartender. A burly middle aged man with receeding black hair. Wearing a black Pittsburgh Steeler's jersey. Jake approached Sammy. "WHo the hell are you talking to?"

        "My pals here," Sammy replied. pointing a hand to the collection of bottles.

        "Your pals? There's nobody there except the bottles."

        "Yeah. I know that," said Sammy. "I just thought that somebody was there."

        "You're not gonna go bonkers on me like you did last week?" asked Jake. "The last time you went into the men's room and asked the urinal to marry you."

        "THat was a mistake," said Sammy. "I'd rather stay single. And besides. Stuff like that is all in the past. I'm a changed man."

        "How so?"

        "I've got my own residence now," Sammy stated with pride. "No more sleeping in trash dumpsters. I'm moving up in the world. This is a time to celebrate. Drinks for everybody. On me."

        "You hear that everybody? The drinks are on Sammy."

        Jake reached under the bar and brought out a plastic gallon jug of water and a handful of shot glasses. He placed a glass in front of the patrons at the bar and began to pour water into them.

        "Nice gesture, Sammy," said Jake. "But I can't wait for the day when you can really afford to buy some actual drinks."

        "Or a bar of soap," a male voice from the back of the bar called out.

        Sammy turned and jumped up from his bar stool. "Who the hell said that? WHo the hell's shootin his mouth off?"

        There was silence from the rest of the patrons.

        "Calm down, Sammy," Jake said in a stern voice. "Just sit down,"

        Sammy was hesitant to follow Jake's order. His anger was still burning.

        "Sammy, Sit down or get out," Jake said. His finger pointing towards the door.

        Still angry and with reluctance, Sammy turned back to his bar stool and sat down.

        Sammy looked up at Jake. "I shouldn't let jackasses like that get to me. I'm a changed man."

        "So you said. You've got your own place. What happened? You find a homeless shelter that will take you in? Especially with your reputation?"

        "WHat reputation? I just had a few accidents," Sammy's innocent reply.

        "The last shelter you were in you started a fire. You tried to cook a rat in a tin can under your bed."

        "So was it my fault that they wouldn't let me use the microwave?"

        "Let's hope you don't accidently burn down this new place you're living in," Jake told Sammy. "So where is this place? Can't be the county jail. I think you were banned from there too."

        "Nope. PNC Park,"

        "PNC Park?"

        "Yeah. They gave me one of the janitors mop closets."

        "You're living in a mop closet?"

        "Yeah. It might be a little cramped for sleeping. But it beats sleeping on newspapers outside next to a stray dog. Maybe You can gather a few of your buddies and come over to check the place out. We can have a few beers."

        Jake scratched his head. "I don't know, Sammy. I'll have to look on my calandar and see if I have anything planned for that day. Like a haricut, major surgery, a bowel movement."

        "Well if you ever get a free day then let me know," Sammy told him. "You'll have a hell of a time."

        At that moment, to the far left, the twin stained glass tavern doors burst open. A tall man with long dark beard and hair, wearing a grimey dark overcoat and pants stepped inside. He was accompanied by a portly middle aged man wearing a black sweater with a blue jacket and dirty blue jeans. His unkempt shoulder length black hair hung down from under his black Pittsburgh Pirates ball cap.

       The two men looked about the tavern. Then the tall bearded man pointed a finger towards Sammy. "There he is!" the man shouted.

        The two men walked towards Sammy and then stopped just six feet away from where he was sitting. Sammy turned to face them.

        The bearded man pointed a finger at Sammy's face. "So, look who we got here. You forget about me?"

        Sammy was confused. "Do I know you, Dude?"

        "Of course you know me, idiot," You tried to bite my damn face off in that alley an hour ago."

        Now Sammy recalled the man's face. "Oh yeah. I kicked your ass. You were supposed to buy me a beer. Weren't you?"

        "Hell no I'm not buying you no damn beer, you stinkin leech," the man bellowed. "I'm here to kick your ass. And I brought a freind to help me get the job done."

        Sammy looked over the man wearing the ball cap. "Oh. So you brought a nurse maid to help you out, Huh? Is this guy gonna change your diaper before I get to kick your ass again?"

        The man in the ball cap stepped closer to Sammy. "I hear you're some kind of major smartass. That's what my pal, Greaser here tells me. And you know what? I don't like smartasses."

        "Well then I guess your momma don't get too many Christmas cards at your house," Sammy jabbed.

        "What You say?" the man asked. His eyes narrowed with an angered look.

        Jake held up his hand. "Take it easy now. You bums wanna take this outside?"

        "You heard the man," Greaser said to Sammy. "Let's you and me take our unfinished business outside."

        "Yeah. I'm ok with that," Sammy spat out. He rose up from his stool. "You gonna buy me that beer first?"

        "No!" Greaser shouted.

        Balling his hands into fists the man in the ball cap stepped even closer to Sammy. "Are you tring to stall, Mr tough guy? Are you scared to go outside and get your ass kicked?"

        "You know what, Johns? I think the little sailor boy really is scared," said Greaser.

        Sammy was indignant to that insult. "Scared?"

        Sammy reached over to the bar and grabbed a dark bottle of beer that was sitting in front of a male parton. He swung the bottle down and shattered it against the top of Johns head. John's let out a howl in pain and folded over as he grabbed his head. Greaser grabbed Sammy's left arm and shoved him into the bar. Sammy countered by sending his right fist smashing into Greaser's nose. Greaser staggered backward and crashed into a nearby table. The young couple sitting at the table barely managed to rush away before Greaser collided with it and then shattered it into peices.

        "Hey, dammit. That's enough!" Jake shouted. "I'm calling the cops."

        Sammy ignored Jake's threat and stood to confront John's, who had recovered from the bottle attack and was now lunging at Sammy. Sammy grabbed Johns right hand and bit down on a mouthful of his fingers. Johns let out a loud scream in pain and struggled to break free from Sammy's grip. He managed to jerk his fingers out of Sammy's mouth, but Sammy pressed the attack by leaping on top of Johns and forcing him to fall to the floor. John's struggled. Thrashing his arms about in an attempt to knock Sammy off. But Sammy, in his rage, was tenacious. He began to grab hold and bite down hard on Johns hands and arms until he was able to work his way up to his face. Sammy clamped his hand down on Johns face and was about to bite his nose when a sharp impact, then an intense pain sting through the top of his head. Stunned by the pain Sammy's body went limp.THen he felt himself being shoved aside and he collapsed onto his back. Fighting to remain conscious Sammy looked up to see Greaser standing over him with a broken table leg.

        Greased looked down at the now helpless Sammy. "Not so tough now, Mr Smartass."

                                                TO BE CONTINUED.

Off Season. Part Four.

Sammy awoke with a throbbing pain shooting through his head. For several minutes he was slipping in and out of consciousness. His last memory was being in a bar fight with the two thugs, Greaser and Johns. Now he was awake again and found himself crammed into a shopping cart with his hands and legs bound by duct tape. The same tape was stuck to his mouth, preventing him from speaking. He looked up to see Greaser pushing the shopping cart at a brisk pace, while his partner, Johns was walking along side.

        "Hey. look. He's awake," said Johns as he looked down at Sammy.

        Greaser laughed. "Time to rise and shine, sleepy ass. I want you awake and alert for what I got planned for you."

        "I thought you were some kind of a tough guy," John's said to Sammy. "I thought you were some kind of Mr Big Shot. You being mascot to the Pirates and all. Now it looks like you're just a bum like the rest of us."

        "I wonder how a loser like you got to be mascot for the Pirates," said Greaser. "Maybe you won some kind of lottery."

        Johns laughed. "Maybe I can win the next lottery and be the new mascot. Because it looks like the Pirates are gonna lose their old one."

        I don't like the sound of that, Sammy thought. I don't think these guys are planning to take me to the movies.

        Sammy struggled to try and pull his hands apart from the duct tape. But it was wrapped too tight. He took a look around at his surroundings. He was being wheeled down an alley.The red brick street that the shopping cart was rolling across gave him a bumpy ride. At the left and right was the rear of several buildings that Sammy failed to recognize. As well as several trash dumpsters. At his right he approached one dumpster that had a bright green paint job.

        Man. Will you look at that. That sucker looks brand spankin new. It would be an honor to sleep in something like that. I bet it has that new dumpster smell, before it get loaded up with too much trash. Hold on. I don't sleep in dumpsters anymore. I got residence now. And I'm gonna loose it if I don't get loose and take out these two jackasses.

        Looking up ahead the cart approached a six foot tall, oblong object with a grey paint job. It had a door on it's side. A port-A-Potty, thought Sammy. Man, I could really use that thing now. I wonder if these guys will give me a time out and let me go.

        Sammy also noticed that in the distance beyond the port-a-potty was the flowing river.

        "There's our destination," said Greaser. He gave Sammy a sharp slap on the top of his head. "And your new home."

        "Ever spend the night in a port-a-potty Mr Tough Guy?" John's asked Sammy. "It's not exactly sleeping at the Hilton. But you'll get used to it."

        "And he'd better get used to it really fast. This is gonna be his coffin, " Greaser added.

        Greaser shoved the shopping cart forward, giving Sammy a rough ride down the bumpy street until it crashed into the port-a-potty, then toppled over and fell onto it's side. The impact of the fall jolted Sammy's body. A sharp pain began to burn through his head, only to be quickly replaced by rage as he listened to Greaser and johns laughing at him.

        Greaser kneeled down, bringing his face closer to Sammy's. "Here's our plan. We're gonna send you on a little cruise. We're gonna shove your sorry ass into this port-a-potty and then nail it shut. Then we're gonna push it into the river and send you off on a cruise down the Alleghenny River."

        "Too bad there aint no windows in this thing. You could try to get a tan," Johns told Sammy. He grinned and then laughed.

        John's laughter only served to increase Sammy's anger. He struggled to part his lips as they were sticking to the tape. Then his teeth were able to bite down onto the duct tape covering his mouth.

        "You got the hammer and nails?" Greaser asked Johns.

        "No," John's replied. "I told you I don't have any tools and stuff. Do I look like I work at Home Depo or something? I thought you had all this covered."

        "If you want something done right then do it yourself," Greaser fumed. "I'll go get the damn hammer and nails. You keep an eye on this idiot. I'll be back in a few minutes."

        Greaser walked away, leaving Johns standing over Sammy. Sammy looked up at Johns and wondered what Johns would do. He was completely at his mercy.

        "Might as well put this thing to good use before you get to it," said Johns. "Don't go nowhere."

        Johns opened the port-a-potty door and went inside.

        This might be my only chance, Sammy thought. In a rapid fury his teeth bit down onto the tape until he had chewed a small hole into it. Then as he continued to bite the small hole grew into a large one. Then he bit through the tape completely.

        OK. My mouth is free, Sammy told himself. Now for my hands and feet. I gotta get free.

        But the question was how? Sammy struggled against the tape, but it was too strong. He needed to tear it off somehow. Sammy looked about the alley in desperation for someone or something to help him. But there was nothing. All he could see was the street, the trash dumpsters, and a pigeon that had just landed a few feet away from his head.

        A pigeon. My one chance, thought Sammy. He raised his head. "Hey little guy. Hey fella. Come here little guy."

        The pigeon began to walk down the street towards Sammy. Then it stopped.

        "Come here pal. That's right. Come here. Come here."

        The pigeon looked at Sammy, then turned it's head.

        "Listen. This is very important. I want you to go find a pay phone and call the cops. You understand? Go call the cops."

        The pigeon turned it's head back towards Sammy. Then it resumed walking towards him.

        "What the hell am I talking about. Where the hell are you gonna find a pay phone these days? You got a cell phone, little buddy? Can you call the cops for me?"

        The pigeon continued walking towards Sammy. It passed by Sammy and continued walking down the street.

        "Hey. Where the hell are you going? You gonna call the cops for me or not?"

        There was no reply from the pigeon.

        "Then get me a knife and cut me loose, you little creep."

        The pigeon flew up into the air and soared off.

        "Hey. Hey. Where the hell are you going you little backstabber? Come back here."

        The pigeon was gone. Leaving Sammy laying in thew alley next to the port-a-potty. With Johns inside. Sammy heard Johns voice booming from inside. "WHat the hell's going on out there? I'm coming out there and stomp your face."

        Sammy was running out of time.

                                             TO BE CONTINUED.