The Plan by Frederick K. Foote, Jr.
The Plan by Frederick K. Foote, Jr.
Dusk is settling like doomsday creeping on clawed feet. I slip on human and animal shit as I’m scrambling toward the House. The House is safer, and I have a plan.
The Night is alive with transgressions against nature squeezed from the dark madness descending on the land.
The Night is gaining on me. Something behind me screams in agony. I slip. Fall, again, slam my face against the shit-slick fractured pavement. That knocks the plan out of my head.
A mongrel howls as it stumbles pass me, biting at the white leech-like things sucking the life from it–two more steps and the canine collapses with whimpers and moans.
I can’t tear my eyes from the bloodsuckers—they hum as they fatten–a hymn of pure evil.
There are cries, squeals, bleats, whines from every direction.
Something falls from the dark onto my jacket sleeve—a bleached leech scrambling toward my hand’s bare skin. I smash it to a pulp with my fist. That fist flares red with pain from the acid-like blood of the creature.
Parasites land on my shoulder, on my right shoe. I pull off my left shoe and club both bloodsuckers to mush.
A town car at the curb in front of me offers hope. I smash open the driver’s side window and pull the lever to pop the trunk. I race back to the cargo space and leap in, pulling it closed as I smash at leeches on my chest and shoulders.
I flick on my lighter in time to crush a leach on my knee. I find another on my cap.
I check myself as best I can as I hear the leeches falling like rain on the car’s trunk.
I’m whimpering, crying as the outside sounds of distress drown out all other sounds.
I sleep. I dream of a kind and a quick death for me, and I can’t remember who else. Is that my plan?
I wake up. A bolt cutter on my mind. Is that part of the plan? Is it my plan? I don’t know. It is quiet now. Too silent. Is everything dead? I should stay here safe in this cozy cave. Is that my fucking plan? No! No!
The House. I must get to the House. To get to the House, I got to leave my new womb. That’s part of my plan—I think.
I reach for the lever to open the trunk. “Ouch!” My hand is fucked up. How did I mess up my fucking hand?
I push the lid of the trunk open, and I’m blinded by the sunlight. Disinfectant. I feel the rays cleansing my body. Refreshing my soul. Raising my hopes.
On the ground, outside of the trunk, the leeches, dry as fallen leaves, litter the ground like a snowstorm.
I laugh and do a happy dance on their crispy carcasses. I chuckle all the way to the House.
At the House, I encounter a 6-foot Cyclone Fence with four barbed wire strands and a gate with a combination padlock. I don’t recall this fence. I spin the padlock dial–“30R-15L-45R.” I’m in. How did I remember that?
The 170-pound Mastiff charges me from one side of the House. A bigger Russian Wolfhound Mastiff mix sprints from the other side.
They reach me at the same time knocking me to the ground. We are overwhelmed to be reunited. Kisses and hugs all around. They joyfully escort me to the door.
I’m pounding on the door of the House.
She opens the door a crack with the safety chain on. “Ross, what the fuck are you doing here? Banger will kill your black ass.”
“Fuck Banger. Open the goddamn door.”
“Fuck you, Ross! I don’t care how much money you got, or how hard you beg. I’m not giving you no pussy, motherfucker.”
“Open the fucking door.”
She closes and reopens the door without the chain. She steps back and looks at me. “You look like shit. You smell like shit. Leave those fuckin’ dogs outside.”
I step in and slam the door.
“Who’s Ross? You called me Ross.”
“Don’t play with me, Ross Reeves. I got no time for your nigger games.”
She is peanut butter brown, with limbs like twigs and a head of black hair going grey, styled by a hand grenade. Her above-the-knee slip is filthy, torn, and dripping some sludge-like fluid from her right breast.
Her smile reveals teeth spaced like fence posts covered with black-green mildew.
“I’m Ross Reeves? Bullshit!”
I whip out my wallet, stare at the driver’s license with the Ross Reeves name.
She staggers toward the kitchen, and I follow.
“I need a shower, a change of clothes.”
“And your fuckin’ bolt cutters.”
“You called yesterday screaming about bringing the dogs in before dark and getting your bolt cutters. Don’t you remember?”
“Fuck you. I’m taking a shower. Is the power still out?”
“You better hurry up. Banger could come in here any minute now.”
She grabs my arm as I try to move by her.
“Hey, Ross, if you got a Franklin for me and don’t use all the hot water, I will let you fuck me a little bit, Okay?”
“Hot water? The power is out.”
“Gas, Ross, we got a gas water heater. You insisted.”
“Who are you again?”
“I’m Eve. And you ‘are the man with the plan.'” Eve laughs until she is gasping for air and collapses on the floor. “Nigger you can’t even remember your own name. Plan my ass.”
I step over her.
I use every drop of hot water.
Banger’s clothes are too big for me, and even clowns would be ashamed to wear his rags.
A box in his closet marked, “ROSS” has my stuff.
I dress quickly. I’m putting on my shoes when Eve yells down the hallway, “Banger in the driveway. Run, nigger, run.”
I open the window, unlatch the bars, grab Banger’s red leather jacket, and jump out the window. I toss Banger’s jacket on the barbed wire.
Banger’s shotgun blast shreds his jacket as I drop into the drainage ditch outside the fence.
I stoop over and race down the ditch to the Owl Inn. Why? I think that’s part of the plan.
As I enter the Owl Inn, the stout, black bartender points at me and screams, “Fuck no! Ross, get your ass out unless you got money. You got money?”
I pull a twenty from my wallet and start toward the bar.
The bartender snarls, “Put your money on the bar and sit at the table over there in the corner.”
“That’s a messed-up table, man—it has uneven legs. It rocks. I need a menu.”
“Fuck you, Ross. Sit where I tell you. Eat what I bring you or get your ass out. You got that, nigger?”
She/He/It enters boldly, beautifully, dramatically, crosses to my table, kisses me, fondles my dick, sits on my lap.
“God, I missed you, Ross. I’m ready. Just like we planned.”
“You know the plan? Do you know the fucking plan?”
“Meet you here. That’s my part. I wrote that down 100 times so I wouldn’t forget. I love you, Ross.”
“I love you too—”
“Annabelle. I’m Annabelle, your Annabelle or Romeo, your Romeo. Or Madison—”
The bartender serves us a platter of four over-easy eggs on a bed of buttered grits with four slices of thick bacon, four link sausages, and four sausage patties, and two cups of boiling black coffee. He also provides two biscuits and cornbread with a mismatch knife and fork.
Annabelle asks for a spoon, and the bartender goes off, “Fuck you, Stella. I saw you eatin’ out the garbage, bitch. Don’t go all high and mighty on me. A spoon is not part of the fuckin’ plan, and you know it.”
I yell at the bartender, “How do you know about the plan?”
He shouts back, “In your pocket! In the pocket of your jacket, Negro.”
In the pocket of my jacket are a small notebook and a pen. I open the notebook—the bartender crowds in to get a look.
The nighttime creatures hate the cold
We will be safer
Our memories will come back (I hope)
“Borrow” Banger’s truck
Pick up my dogs
Cut off the lock if necessary
Pick up Cooke and Annabelle
At the Owl Inn
Drive like hell
Live a “normal life.”
I’m laughing. We’re roaring with mirth. We found the plan!
I ask, “Who’s Cooke?”
The bartender bellows, “I’m Cooke! That’s me—I think. Stella, am I Cooke?”
“Yes, you are and have always been. God is good. We got the plan. Thank God. When was I, Stella?”
Annabella/Stella and I swap spit.
I stand. “Let’s go, ‘borrow’ Banger’s truck.”
Cooke says, “Wait.” as he races back to the cash register and returns and slaps two twenties on the table. “Your change.”
I stare at the bills on the table.
Cooke looks worried.
“Did I get your change wrong? Oh, shit! I forgot your tip.”
He flies to the cash register again and returns with another twenty.
Annabelle scoops up the cash–smiles nervously.
There’s something wrong here. I think we all sense it but can’t put our fingers on it. But we have the plan. Thank God for our plan.
Copyright Frederick K. Foote, Jr. 2020