The Trunk

Hello. Is this the reporter that wrote the piece on Jack “Wheels” Martin? Good. Shut up and listen, cause I don’t have much time left to tell the real story.

You got that he shot himself right. And you got that he wrote the word “trunk” on a piece of paper just before he did it. You then ask what trunk? What was in it? Who has it? What happened to it? Give it up, there is no trunk of evidence or anything like that. That’s not what it means at all.

It starts like this. Remember the reporter who went missing and they only found his arm? He was a good reporter, I’ll give him that. He started looking into an unsolved murder. Where the cops found no clues, this guy dug one up. He started asking certain questions of certain people, questions that made me nervous, the kind someone might ask me.

So Butch says, “We gotta teach this guy a lesson, make an example out of him. That message has gotta be don’t stick your nose in other people’s business, it’s not healthy for your nose, or your life, in general.”

We paid a pretty hooker to lure the guy to a hotel room, her saying she has information on the murder, but will only talk about it in a place she knows is safe. He falls for it. We gave the broad enough money to leave town, so don’t look into it.

We were waiting in the room, beat the hell out of him. Then, Knuckles gets a little too enthusiastic. He hits the guy so hard, he drop’s like he’s shot. We kick him, but he doesn’t move or even make any noise. We didn’t really mean to kill him, but we weren’t broke up about it, you know?

But now, I think he wasn’t dead, but maybe paralyzed or something. He might have been awake and aware the whole time. He could have been screaming in his mind for his body to move… but it wouldn’t.

We rolled him up in a blanket and tossed him in the trunk of the car. Wheels drove over to the “Butcher Shop” and Butch did his thing. He’s a real sicko, you’d have to be to use a chainsaw like that. At least it’s quick.

I wonder if that guy was still alive when Butch cut his arms and legs off. Was he still there when the head came off? Still trapped in a body that just wouldn’t move… Could he still have been alive until the end? The chainsaw works so fast…

It was Butch’s idea to let the arm be found, so the message would still get out. It backfired spectacularly. I already thought Butch was a psycho, but now he was looking like a dumbass, too. You see, the cops looked into the reporter’s death. They came across the reporter’s notes… And then the cops were looking at me and the crew. There’s nothing they like to stare at more than dirty cops.

They had nothing really, an idea, sure, but no evidence on any of it. All we had to do was stick together and keep our traps closed. I could feel the pressure, still, and then Knuckles goes missing. We thought he might have turned state, or was thinking about it, so we went looking for him. He wasn’t hard to find.

He was at his home, sitting in the living room, stone cold dead. As an ex-fighter, he was not a good-looking man, but the look on his face was a hideous distorted mask. It was fear. There were no bullet holes, stab wounds, or garrote marks. We figured a stroke or something, so we got the hell out of there. I wasn’t too shook up, that was just one less liability.

Then Wheels went missing. He had half a dozen places across the city and had visited almost every one. Folks said he came in and tore out as quickly, something scared him. We heard this at each place, but the fifth time was the charm. He went in but never came out. We found him, hole in his head, the word ‘trunk’, just like the cops would later. There was no trunk, we looked for it.

Now it was just me and Butch. I told you I thought he was a looney, and when he started babbling nonsense and blubbering like a damn little girl, I was sure of it. I got him to his place, and fixed him a strong drink. I didn’t listen to what he said, though I know what he meant now. I let him have his drink, then I pulled out my .44 snub-nose. I plugged him three or four times in the belly.

I didn’t know that by killing him I only shortened my own time. Maybe only by a day, but it’s a day I can only wish I still had. It seemed like I had it made… No liabilities and I wasn’t going to say a thing. But I was doomed.

It took me time to notice it, really, to notice that I kept noticing it. It was a sound, a kind of meaty plop, like slapping a steak on a countertop. I looked around when I realized something was going on but I didn’t see anything. It bothers me now to know that it was there.

I just tried to go on with things, because I didn’t know what was happening. But there would be nothing I could have done, anyway. I just went inside, had a couple of drinks, and went to bed. Right as I was falling asleep, I heard it again, a plopping sound just outside my window. I’ve never been so scared in my life. I asked myself what could be so bad that my .44 won’t work? But I didn’t even look. I was afraid of what I’d see.

Like Wheels had done, I meant to run, hop in the roadster and get out of there. I got dressed and grabbed the bag I have for these occasions and stepped out into the hall. Then I heard it again, plop, plop, but on the hardwood floor. It was inside. I just stood there, this noise getting louder and closer. And by God, I saw it. It came squirming and wriggling across the floor.

I had a gun in my hand, and I didn’t even shoot it. I knew it was no use. So I came back in the bedroom, locked the door, and I decided I’d tell you the story while I still had time. I get a kick out of the idea that no one’s going to believe you.

I can feel it messing with my heart, it’s skipping beats. I’m starting to lose my breath. It’s fear. I’m scared, more and more, the closer it gets. It’s outside the door. In a minute or so, it’ll be in here. There’s nowhere to run or hide. It will wriggle and squirm and plop across the floor and I’ll die.

Oh my God, the door just opened, a locked door just opened. I see it! I see it… Maybe Wheel’s meant it was in the trunk of his car, or maybe he was describing it. He shouldn’t have written ‘trunk’. He should have written ‘torso.’

Note: His horrific screams marked the end of our communication. They were the most pathetic sound I’ve ever heard. When they ceased, I was certain that he was dead. I didn’t buy his story, though. I thought he was crazy, that his crimes were too much, even for him.

Then, in the silence, in the deathly stillness, I heard it. It was a wet, meaty sound. Plop, plop, plop…


story by Joe Stanley

artwork elslucker 

The Ghostly World Fictional Ghost Stories

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