was leaning against a tree unbuttoning her blouse. In the clear twilight, he
could see her breasts roll out like caramel apples. Her
hair was impossibly blonde, and her lips were unnaturally
past, he had watched, stopped, and gotten out of his car a few yards from her.
The roadside was deserted except for the two of them on this warm spring
evening in Suffolk, Virginia.
He looked at himself in the rear view
mirror, salt white face, pepper black hair, closely cropped.
tailor-made suit fit his frame in a business-like fashion. At 6 feet, he was
trim, not muscular. He adjusted his tie.
she headed towards the woods looking back at
him invitingly. He followed. He didn’t lock his car. Still, he took his time to
catch up with her.
was confident of the easy sex being offered to him no questions asked. Yet, his
eyes were lasers. From where he watched, he could see she had the breasts of a
woman who had nursed children. He estimated
that her hips were a little wide from childbearing. She wasn’t bad looking, but
she’d clearly seen better days. She was aging fast, probably her lifestyle; he
took his slowness for indecision. So, she lifted her skirt. He stopped a few
paces from her. She dropped her hem and
looked at the man provocatively.
woman’s eyes went wide as he smiled then turned to look behind him. He
listened for the sound that he knew so well. It would be something inaudible to
the human ear, a footfall on a twig, gravel crunching, the sound of a man approaching.
would be her pimp or accomplice.
dropped to one knee just as a bullet whizzed past his right ear. A fat, dark
skinned black man took aim again.
he was infinitely faster than the man firing at him, the target had his teeth
in the attacker’s throat and ripped it out before the man could pull the
trigger a second time.
intended victim could hear the woman breathing heavily as she turned to run. “A
real professional,” he thought. “She didn’t bother to scream.” Yet, he was on
her in an instant. He held her tightly and ascended to the highest
tree branch lit by the brightest moonlight. Now, she couldn't scream because
she was terrified.
was exactly what he wanted. He tore the silly and cheap blonde wig she was
wearing from her head and threw it to the ground. Her hair smelled of sweat and
dandruff. It stood up in small nappy kinks all over
clamped her head in his hand. Then, he looked into her blood shot irises and
scanned the broken veins tracing her face.
you want to live?” He asked her. He could see his reflection in her eyes, the
whiter than white man with the gleaming black hair. His mouth was slicked over
was going into shock. She thought, “He’s wearing a suit. Sweet Jesus, like one
of them office punks.”
tightened his grip. “Answer me bitch,” he snarled. “Do you want to live?”
choked out, “Yes. Please, please...don’t kill me.”
nodded, flung her over his shoulder, and flew down to the ground.
where she hung, she had a grisly view of her partner, his nearly severed head
twisted to one side.
me and live. Disobey me and die. Can you remember that?” Her captor said
patronizingly while setting her on her feet.
your name?” He asked her.
wasn’t listening: she was staring at the corpse of the man. His killer could
smell the urine running down her legs.
she stammered out, “Wha…What did you do to Tyrone? How did you get up the tree?
asked you a question,” he said calmly.
You’re joking right?”
That’s my stage name. Um a actress... Only...only.”
struggled to remember why she had become a prostitute instead.
didn’t want to hear the story. It was an old one anyway, and he’d heard it
countless times in a myriad of countries over the centuries.
your real name?”
better. Listen, Janice. Go to my car. On the back seat is a sack. Bring it to
me, or I’ll rip your head off.”
thought of Tyrone and walked quickly to the car. She was on automatic pilot and
did as she was told without thinking beyond the task at hand.
she gave him the canvas bag, he pulled out a bottle of water and two wash
cloths. He poured some water into a cloth and cleaned his face. He gave the
other cloth and the rest of the water to Janice.
yourself. You stink.”
she did that, he took an ornately carved shovel and a small oil can out of the
bag. He dug a deep trench and threw the body into it. Finally, he poured the oil in the ditch and
struck a match.
Janice, both fascinated and disgusted, had watched the process that took less
than ten minutes as she washed herself in full view of him.
She had never seen anybody with strength or speed like that. When she was a
child, her grandmother had told her stories about haints and spirits with supernatural
Although Janice had outgrown those stories, her fragile mind now accepted them
As an afterthought, he retrieved the wig and burned that too. He poured more
oil on the makeshift pyre and turned to Janice.
“I’m Jack Dawson, or just Dawson. You belong to me. Go get in the car and
Janice went to the car and curled up on the back seat. By the time Dawson got there, she was
asleep. It was a warm southern evening, so he didn’t bother to cover her up.
drove the car to his enclave and parked. Once there, he honked the horn loudly.
Janice bolted awake.
“Honey, we’re home,” he joked sardonically.
got out of the car and motioned for her to follow. As they walked into the
house, lights came on above and around them.
gasped at the sight of the huge open space. A desk, a table, some chairs were
scattered about. She saw no bed. There didn’t seem to be any other
rooms. She thought about the Planters Peanuts factory warehouses she had played
in as a child.
door slammed behind her, and she heard a lock click. Dawson sat down and outlined
what he called her new situation.
was to bathe--always with the soap in the bathroom--and dress twice a day. She
would have a check up every six months.In a couple of days, she would have a tubal ligation. Janice wasn’t sure
she understood the word ligation, but she knew the first word sounded like female
tubes.Afraid of being slapped or worse,
she didn’t question him.
Dawson continued. She would eat
what was given to her and at regular intervals. She would go where she
was told and return when she was told.
that way,” he pointed to her right. “Put your clothes on the chair. Wear the
dress behind the door, for now.”
was neither a large nor a small bathroom. It was a harsh, hard white from floor
to ceiling. Everything looked new, but there were no windows.
soap had no smell. The towels were almost too soft to feel. The dress, a
multi-colored wrap around, was a little tight.
she came out of the bathroom, he asked “Where are your children?” His back was
to her, and he was typing on a laptop.
was starting to get the shakes. It wasn’t from fear. Her pimp had been her
dealer. Without him, she couldn’t maintain, much less get high. She needed to
Dawson was something she didn’t
want to believe could exist. Janice already had trouble with reality; the
supernatural was pushing her sanity to the limits. She wanted to find a window,
some opening to escape. There was one exit that she could see--the garage, and Dawson was directly in front of
warning, he was right in front of her. She hadn’t seen him move. The slap was
so quick that she heard it before she felt it. Her ears rang.
are your children?” He thundered.
own know. ACS took ‘em,” she wheezed. It dawned on her that he didn’t ask her if
she had children. How did he know?
Now, he was back at the computer.
live in New Yawk....but they calls me all the time.” She tried to sound like a
person with people who cared about her.
Dawson held up her cell phone
and shook his head.
the first time, she thought, “God, let him kill me quick. I don’t wanna suffer.”
Dawson flicked a switch and an
examining table rose up through the floor. He motioned for her to undress and
get on it. He examined her with the same precision and attention to detail as
any doctor she had ever known. She stood when he was done and put the dress back
she remembered her crack pipe.
baby...” She was about to turn on the charm, get high, get up.
slap. This one knocked her to her knees.
“Dawson. The name is Dawson.” He went back to
she muttered straightening herself up. “Okay.”
She wiped tears from her eyes and cleared her throat.
Dawson. We could have a good time. I mean I
could make you feel real good. Let’s have a party. You know a little fun, some
party favors. I bet you got some real good mood enhancers,” here she gave him
her best wink, “around here.”
wouldn’t fuck you if you had the only pussy until the end of time,” Dawson said without looking up
was the last straw. She was terrified. She was going to die, and she needed to
fix. Janice collapsed into tears.
Dawson paid no attention.
Gradually, she cried herself to sleep on the floor.
dreamed she was sliding down a mountain. The rocks were flaying the skin from
her body. Then the mountain turned into a giant snake and kept biting her over
and over again. She woke up screaming.
was nobody there.
first, she didn’t remember where she was. When she did, it didn't matter
because she needed something to get her straight. She lurched to her feet.
yo!” She called. “Where you at?” Her voice echoed. She had to get her head
right. She would suck Satan for some blow. That guy Dawson. Maybe he was Satan. He
must have something, anything to get up. Right? She was sick. He must see that.
stumbled off to find him. Her entire body was trembling. She wasn’t hot or
cold. She had flashes of Tyrone’s ruined throat.
started off in one direction and kept going.
to Janice, it was a gorgeous sunny day outside. Dawson was sleeping in the
crypt under the warehouse.
she happened onto the kitchen. She didn’t noticed how immaculate it was, almost
like no one used it. She didn't care that all the flatware was plastic or the
plates made of paper. There were no pots and pans.There was a sink with a faucet; a long table,
and light-weight folding chairs. There were no drinking glasses.
she saw them, lovely little vials packed with white powder next to homemade
pipes. “Better than Christmas,” she said.
Dawson came up from the crypt, it was the next night.
He went immediately to the kitchen and knew what he’d find there.
in a corner, Janice was in a stupor.
picked her up and put her in one of the late model cars that he owned. The
vehicle was plain enough to be quickly forgotten if seen.
later, he joined her dressed in what he called his best hunting togs. These
were new jeans with just enough swag to get the attention of homies, and all
the tags on his clothes were designer.
strapped on one of hundreds of his watches and drove to an abandoned factory
complex that even the cops avoided.
he turned the radio volume up loud enough to be heard for half a mile.
awake, Janice began to sing along, off key. Abruptly, she began to
complain of stomach aches. Minutes passed, and a shiny red Mercedes pulled up a
few feet away. Its piercingly bright headlights pinioned Dawson's car. He cut the music
black men in their early 20s got out. One stood on the left and the other on
the right of the car. Identical in shape and height, they were as dark as the
night around them. They wore matching jeans and T-shirts. The bright yellow
bandanas on their heads were crudely painted over with skulls and crossbones.
Guns drawn, they said nothing.
short thin man the color of a penny got out last. Similarly attired, he roared,
“Motherfucka, what you think you doing? You don’t sell no shit round here. Dis
our turf.” He further illustrated by pulling out a large gun. “Git the fuck out
that car.” The other two men trained their guns on the area around the vehicles.
Dawson fell out of the car on
he pleaded. “It aint like that. My girl is sick. I just need a little someum. I
can pay. It aint like that.”
if on cue, Janice leaned out of the car window and vomited.
leader considered for a moment. Then, the three inched closer to Dawson.
was a fatal mistake.
slit the throats of the two bodyguards and skewered their boss within seconds.
Janice was passing out, she saw Dawson fasten himself to the
skinny man’s neck and heard the gurgle of blood in the killer’s mouth.
End of part A
After he glutted
himself on their blood, Dawson took his victims’ money and searched the
car for more. Satisfied he gotten all the cash, he cut a finger from each man’s
hands and pocketed the bloody digits. They had never been as useful to anybody
as they were to him, he thought. Janice, draped over the car window, looked
like a poodle.
Dawson picked up the bodies of the guards and
put one near the driver’s seat and one in the passenger side of the Mercedes.
Next, he drove the dealer’s car the half hour to Dismal Swamp and parked out of view of the highway. He
placed the dead man in front of the wheel. With lightning speed, he walked back
to his car.
He switched the places of Janice and the
body of the copper-colored dealer and drove back to the parked car. Once there,
he rammed the Mercedes. The collision mangled the corpses of the pusher and his
Dawson was untouched. He wedged his way
effortlessly out of the wreck and went back for Janice. She wouldn’t be awake
until the following day, according to his plan.
He carried her, firefighter style, to the
enclave. This time, he put her in a room.
Sensor lights came on revealing a world of
monochrome beige, bed, chair, night table. He laid her down and walked over to
check the surveillance cameras hidden above the door jamb. Satisfied that they
worked, Dawson checked his pockets and walked out into
He had always been a purposeful man. Many
had and would call him amoral. Now, he walked miles and miles from his home to
a crossroads. When he stopped, he sat and waited.
the world of Jack Dawson, time and everything else were relative. So, at some
point, a shimmer materialized that looked vaguely human. Although rigid, it had
the height and width of a human being.
Dawson threw the fingers at the statue. It
caught them and turned to leave.
“Wait! You son of a bitch. How many more?”
Dawson rasped at the receding figure.
The thing opened the same hand and the
number 1,000 appeared before Dawson.
No words were exchanged. There had never
been any between them. After Dawson killed, the thing came to him sooner or
later. That’s how he knew he was satisfying the contract.
The contract had been given to Dawson after the storm.
He had been the captain of the slave ship Toro. It had been a lucrative career. He
had risen from cabin boy, being buggered more times than he could count by
drunken and sober captains. Despite this, he had stayed with the slave ships.
The work was the easiest option for a boy with no money and 10 siblings. For a
while, he sent money home. After several years, he began to save it. The
letters from home decreased with his visits. He married, and moved to another
Dawson’s wife, Elsie, would never come to sea.
Consequently, he had taken numerous African captives as his mistresses. He sold
them and his children with them as soon as the ship docked. Of course, he
promised not to sell any of them. To Dawson, promises made to heathens, especially
black ones, weren’t to be honored. He profited greatly from these sales.
His visits to his family were once or twice a year.He left money and provisions for the upkeep of Elsie and
their children. She asked nothing more from him. This had been the life he had
led before the worse storm at sea he’d ever seen.
The navigator saw it coming and warned
that it might be vicious. The ship’s officers agreed with Dawson that it was best to lighten the load as
much as possible. Dawson knew throwing valuable merchandise into the ocean would anger the
insurance company. However, he was responsible for the lives of his crew and, especially,
for his own life.
Everything on deck was tied down fast.
Using what weapons they could keep hold
of, the men forced the captives overboard. The adults were first. Next, the
crew just flung the children into the sea.
With the captives gone, most of the men
discarded their personal weapons. Dawson kept his sword, held in a leather sheath
that he had stolen from one of the captives.
The storm hit the ship like retribution.
Men vanished into death from her quickly waterlogged decks.
Twenty years as captain of a slave ship,
and Dawson had never seen a storm like that one. A
once firm vessel began breaking into boards in a few hours.
Some of the torn and broken bodies of the Africans
were washed back onto the ship. The remaining crew members scrambled to push
the corpses off the sinking vessel. Most of the seamen were swept overboard in
Dawson swore to serve anyone or anybody that
would save him.
End of part B
were falling victim to the storm and the flying debris of the ship. Dawson clawed and crawled his way to the life boats. One was
already smashed to bits. Because the battered ship protected it, another life
boat was somewhat steady. It was quickly filling up with officers and crew. Where
the other life boats were, he didn’t know or care. Now, everything in him was
bent to survival. He would not give up his life. When he finally got to the crowded
boat, he drew his sword and began hacking away at the defenseless men seated
there. He didn’t stop until they were all in the water dead or drowning.
got to the oars and just pulled with all his might, away from the carnage he
had caused and from the storm. He steeled his nerves and rode the waves. If men
called to him for help or mercy, he ignored their pleas.
some point, the storm subsided. Dawson fainted from exhaustion and slept. In his dreams, he
was running, but the more he ran, the hotter he got. The heat was unbearable.
He awoke to find himself floating on a calm sea under the hottest sun he could
remember. He had no water, and he had to relieve himself. He sat over the side
of the small craft to ease his bowels. He urinated into the sheath and drank it.
to summon his courage than anything else, he looked up and mouthed to the
sky.“I am not going to die, goddammit!”
He cursed God, his mother, all living or dead, the storm, and his current
manner of speaking, he was right about not dying. His tirade produced the
A human-like creature appeared in the
first, Dawson thought it was a trick of the light. He squinted at
it. It moved closer and held up what looked like meat and a cup. Dawson, now sure he was delusional, laughed. When he stopped
and looked again, the figure was still there. Thinking he would touch air, Dawson reached for what was offered. The cup was cold. The
meat was hot. He was desperate for hope, even false hope, even hallucinations.
He drank and ate.
He never knew how long he was at sea on the
lifeboat. Over time, the image only came to him at night.He ate and drank. It never spoke; nor did Dawson. He took off his clothes and slept under them during
the day because the sun became completely, unbearable to him.
he was awake, he rowed. Where didn’t matter. He was determined to find land.
One evening, he lost his footing while changing position and fell into the water.
Although a strong swimmer, he knew he was no match for the ocean at night. All
of a sudden, he realized he could see perfectly underwater. Plus, he wasn’t
breathing. It was as if he was dancing. His movements were agile; his hearing
shot to the surface. “I’m dead,” he thought. “I died at sea, and now my soul is
trapped here.” Just as quickly, he was ravenous. Looking around him, he saw a
school of fish. He dove into it and began biting and sucking the fish dry. When
the other fish tried to escape, he swam after them. Once he was sated, he
lost, he thought he’d gone mad. He had been underwater the whole time. He came to the surface sure he’d never find
the boat, but he saw it about a mile away. Swimming to it was no strain.
in the back of it, his mind had accepted what he had done to the captives and
to his own men. He was a murderer, but that didn’t disturb him.
figure was sitting in the boat when Dawson climbed back in. This time, it held out a sheet of
paper, a quill, and a small knife. He had come to accept the wraith as his
savior without question. He had allowed himself to believe in a miracle just
for him. He read the sheet of paper by the light of a luminous moon.
serve the powers of darkness, in darkness. For each life taken, mine will be
lengthened by days. Like unto like.”
he thought. “Life is what I asked for.” He cut his finger, dipped the quill
into the blood, and signed.
he realized the meat had been that of his victims, and the cup hadn’t been
filled with water. It had been filled with their blood.
the boat touched land sometime maybe days or weeks later, Dawson knew what he had to do.
was approaching as Dawson hastened back to his crypt. Once there, he checked the motion sensors
around the property making sure there had been no intruders. Then he checked
Janice’s room to make sure she hadn’t tried to escape.
of the women, (and they were always black women because Dawson felt they were malleable), who managed to escape went
straight to the authorities. In the 19th and early 20th
centuries, the police never believed black women who accused a white man of
necessary, he had bribed the police into silence about his “Hottentots.” If
bribery didn’t work, he killed police officers. As time passed, killing them
became too dangerous. It attracted attention to him.
had to move hundreds of times to avoid investigation and arrest. An added protection was he began to choose
poor Black women with the kinds of problems that kept people away from them.
Few, if any, would look for women like Janice.
times changed. More and more often, the police believed these women. Dawson had to devise ways of eluding capture. When the authorities
got there, he’d be gone. No trace. If he couldn’t pack a house in time, he’d
vengeful man, Dawson would track the woman through the soap he made her use. He
had designed it to create a permanent change in body odor. The smell was imperceptible
to 99% of all humans.
he’d stage an elaborate accident and kill her. His plan meant no escape from him, except in real
was in a drug-induced sleep. Dawson had been mixing her “chemicals” to wean her off the crack/cocaine.
She was useless to him on drugs. He wanted her addicted to him--rather to the
fear of him. For all intents and purposes, he was immortal and impregnable.
unending supply of money enabled him to turn any place he lived in into a
fortress. He settled in. Because his
body reverted to a state of semi-consciousness while he was in the coffin, he
could react to stimuli.
the beginning of his “new” life, he had pretended to be a recluse. He’d hired
actors or writers to come and read the newspapers aloud in a room that he had
designed. He told them that he was on the other side of the door listening. As
long as he paid them, they never inquired about the arrangement. Over time, he
began to use the new technology, radio, television, the Internet. He had installed
devices that streamed information into his tomb.
even piped in languages. Eventually, he had become fluent and literate in 20
languages, especially Latin. He listened to newscasts from around the world for
12 hours during the daytime. He used a cell phone with an altered voice to
gather information. He had a discrete network of people who worked for him
though most rarely saw him.
Dawson was making himself comfortable, Janice was trapped in
a recurring nightmare. In her dream, she was a little girl. Her father was
beating her mother. Janice stepped between them to protect her mother and the
world suddenly went black.
later, she woke up on the couch. Her mother, a mass of black and blue bruises,
was gently placing an ice pack on Janice’s head. For some reason, Janice
couldn’t remember what her mother was saying to her. She could hear her father
in the background.
little bitch. You just like your mammy. Now you know what happens when you get
in grown folks’ business.”
the dream, Janice wanted to say something, but her head hurt too much to speak.
The icepack felt cool, and it made her drowsy. Then, in the dream, Janice
couldn’t wake up. She couldn’t move her arms or legs. She could hear, but she
couldn’t move. It was as if she was dead.
was started to suffocate. “Why doesn’t Ma help me?” She thought.
she woke up--sweating and panting--but grateful to be alive. Several seconds
passed before she remembered where she was. The realization made her scream. Without
the crack clouding her awareness, she was terrified. This was worse than her
father, worse than anything she could image. She was in hell.
were no neighbors for miles, but the noise irritated Dawson.He exited the
crypt and came into Janice’s bedroom through a panel he’d had installed.
some crack?” He yelled at her as the sensor lights came on. She stopped
screaming and stared at him astonished.
I bet you don’t. When did you last have some?”
She swallowed hard and in a shaky voice, “What
did you do to me?”
got this cure for addiction. But it comes with a price.” He smiled. It was the
deadest smile Janice had ever seen.
walked to the nearest wall and leaned her forehead into it.
What did I do to you? What you want with me?”
starters, I need a partner.” He said.
that kind of partner. A business partner. I have a very specific kind of
a freak that kill people and eat ‘em or whatever you do with ‘em. It’s disgusting.”
She turned to face him terrified but resigned.
you’re alive. And apparently, you’ve got a brain.”
ignored that remark. “Listen. You’re not leaving unless I get what I want.”
“I aint gone help you kill nobody.”
“I think you’ll be glad to help. Although I didn’t know you
had a conscience. Interesting.”
As he walked out of the room, he opened a panel near the
“Take a look. Then tell me if you’re sure you can’t be my,”
here he made quotation marks with his fingers, “partner.”
Janice slid down to the floor and hugged her knees to her
chest. She sat there and tried to bring some order to her thoughts. All she
felt was fear. Because she couldn’t figure a way out and had nothing else to
do, she went to the panel Dawson
Inside was a television screen. She flicked the switch next
to it. Instantly, there were pictures of her two children—twin girls. She
hadn’t seen them in several years, but she knew their faces. They were dressed
in school uniforms walking with a group of children. It looked like a school
outing. She didn’t recognize the surroundings and understood it was not Suffolk.
Janice loved her daughters. She was a troubled mother, but
she didn’t want the state to remove the girls. She didn’t consciously make a
choice between her children and drugs. Crack just pushed everything else away. She
missed her babies. The more she missed them, the more she wanted to get high.
Now she had to make a decision. What was worse, being a
partner to Satan or losing her daughters? If it meant saving her babies, she’d
be Satan’s anything.
She turned from the screen to find Dawson sitting on the bed. This time, she didn’t flinch at
the thought of him creeping around noiselessly.
“Okay.” She said looking at him solemnly.
“That will make it easier,” was all he replied.
He left the room leaving the door wide open. Janice kissed
the screen pictures of her girls and followed him.
It was breakfast time. There were not windows, so she
couldn’t see the sunlight. She knew because her stomach was growling. She
hadn’t eaten regular meals in years, but her body remembered breakfast time.
what she’d seen on the television screen that morning, Janice didn’t think she
could eat anything again. Yet, she was ravenous, so she went to the kitchen.
Clearly, Dawson was controlling her appetites. The table was set for
one, as always. This morning, he came in and sat at the far end of the table.
She ate silently, taking as little notice of him as possible.
she finished a second helping, she threw the paper plates away. Then she turned
to go back to her room.
As she reached the door, Dawson said. “Starting tomorrow, you exercise ½ an hour each
morning before breakfast. Tonight we’re going to see a man about a dog.”
thrugged back to her room and instantly feel asleep. Her dreams were a muddle,
but mostly they were about her daughters and their father. His addiction killed
him a few years after the twins were born.
had been years since she’d dreamed about her babies. The drugs wiped out most
of her dreams and hopes for herself and her girls.
woke her. The dreams faded, but she remembered snatches in which she was
playing in the park, bathing them, breaking up a fight over a stuffed toy.
drugs took her children away. Then those same drugs helped her to forget how
much she loved and missed her kids.