|The Story||The Authors|
|Police Officer Matthew J Hickey stared deeply into his sixth refill of his
bottomless cup of coffee. To an outside observer he might appear to be deeply
involved in perhaps unraveling the mysteries of some as unspeakable and as yet
unsolved crime. Perhaps ruminating on the fragility of life and the darker side
of human nature. Or maybe even pining for a lost love.|
In reality, he was trying to decide if he wanted a third piece of Luby's apple pie.
|At times, he found it difficult to determine whether he was eating to pie for himself, or just to keep Luby happy. Allison Hill was a hard beat for a man to work alone. A cop like Hickey needed friends, sometimes Luby was the only friend he had. Even the boys in the precinct seem distant since the Ann Brinkly incident. Luby refilled his coffee agian without asking. "Hey Luby, what ever happened wit your old man. He still sell'n cars for Aggie, or did he get outta the joint. Last I heard he wanted out."|
|This last comment, voiced in soft tones bespeaking faux-boyishness and genuine interest, ultimately only served to alert the subtle eavsedropper to Officer Hickey's pathetically immature attitude towards women: they were little more to him than robots which refilled his coffee... But what was to be expected of a man who, through a four-times-decorated police officer, at the age of 35 still lived with his widowed mother, a saintly, selfless angel of a certain age who waited on her only son hand and foot, up to and including the abomination of bringing him a sumptuous breakfast-in-bed of steak and eggs and home fries and decrusted toast-triangles and coffee and fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice 365 mornings a year, including the morning of her own birthday!!! It was truly an abomination, a mooncalf flying in the face of the nuclear family.|
And the thing was, this thoroughly reprehensible bad-habit-of-the-soul was the
selfsame trait which had gotten Hickey so far in the police force at such a
young age: his very passivity almost encouraged criminals to continue
the nefarious undertakings within range of weak-eyed Hickey's diabolically
accurate nose... It was almost as if he were emitting some sort of epitomal
police-pheromones, to which criminals were helplessly drawn, even the shrewdest
of them sometimes nearly seeming (but no, it simply could not be!) to parade
their crimes directly under Hickey's nose, to openly rob banks, tease Carmelite
novices, and sell crystal methedrine to elementary schoolchildren with no
regard for their own safety but only when on Officer Hickey's beat!
as if responding to him in a sort of grotesque flirtation: cobra and mongoose,
or the dance of the hippo and the crocodile in Fantasia... Whatever it
was, their was something strangely unnatural at work, but the only one who
eveer seemed to notice was Chubby Estrada, the town's chief coroner. To the
rest of them his superiors especially, Police Chief Llefty Llewellyn and
Sergeant Oink Hickey was a model officer who never had to be hounded to get
his reports in on time... |
...That's because Officer Hickey's saintly mother typed them for him, too, and corrected their grammar and spelling, and added here and there little flourishes when she found her son's writing style assuming that same bland ambiguity of tone and utter lack of style which had so distinguished the letters her husband (god rest his decent soul! she crossed herself)had dutifully sent home (once a week, like clockwork) from the training base while she was pregnant with Matthew... (she sighed)
... And this led to the only complaint his superiors had yet found cause to speak to Officer Hickey about:
"What the hell's this, Hickey?" they'd demand, holding up his perfectly typed report.
"This?!?! In paragraph 3 you refer to Boss "Crusty" Drawers killer of dozens, the man you shot down in cold blood that night in the raid on Luigi's after he had nine of his boys working you over with live jellyfish you refer to this skunk of a human being as and I quote 'Such nice hands he had! And that abundant grey hair I just wanted to run my fingers through it! And like a good boy he was wearing his St. Christopher's medal...' I could go on, Hickey, but I don't want to lose my fuckin' breakfast, eh?"
"Sir, I've been well, I haven't been sleeping well, Sir?" "Hickey I don't even wanna watch, and I don't wanna know! What I do want is this report, rewritten, every bit a funny business cut out of it, on my desk when I come in tomorrow morning: capiche?"
|Hickey thought to himself, "What's gotten over mother? Ma would never write such things. Is Ma losing her mind? It may just be Ma's time to go see Dr. Ludwitz again"./n The station house was busy as usual, so no one noticed Hickey slipping out before his shift was over. He could get suspended again, but there was no alternative./n Ma lived in an aged white house at the old square uptown. The house needed wrok, and with dad gone, it just wasn't getting done. Hickey entered the house, and he knew something was wrong. Hickeyfelt the same way he did the night of the Brinkly incident. A chill ran down his spine, and made the hair on his arms stand on end. Why would ma leave all the lights out on a Friday night, Friday night she would always pay the bills. He drew his night stick and reached for the lights. It was too late.|
After years of selfless, thankless motherhood, saintly Widow Hickey had had
enough after pinning a terse suicide note to the front of her simple gingham
dress "Dinner in fridge. Don't forget to pay the gas bill
before next Thursday. Eat your vegetables. Love, Mom." the poor woman
had tied a deft noose (all those years as a Cub Scout Den Mother finally paying
dividends) with a length of clothesline, tied one end to a heavy light fixture
in the double-high front hallway ceiling, placed the other end of it about her
skinny neck, and leapt off the balustrade into space and swinging death. |
Gasping heart thumping madly, irrationally Officer Hickey took out his knife and sawed through the clothesline, nearly falling off the balcony in the process. BAMMMMP! Mrs. Hickey plummeted ten feet and hit the floor...
Madly sobbing Officer Hickey raced down the stairs and put his ear to her chest and heard...
Nothing. Nada. The poor woman was already cold and stiffening and turning blue, and on top of that the fall had broken her shoulder, so that the jagged collarbone stuck out through the skin leaking cooled, viscous used-to-be-blood all over the hall carpet.
For the first real time in his overprotected sheltered existence Hickey felt
afraid. He cradled the still lightly warm corpse close to his chest and cried.
Salty bitter tears. How could she abandon him like this? Why did she do it?
Why? Oh Why? He still needed her. |
What was he going to do? Who was going to take care of his special needs which only a mother could understand? Who would cuddle and coddle him when he felt blue. Who was going to accompany him to the Policeman's balls and holiday parties. Who would shave his back hair so that the other officers wouldn't make fun of him in the showers? Who would polish his badge and tell him how smart he looked in his dress blues? How would he manage? Did she leave him detailed heating instructions with his dinner?
With great effort he managed to lift his bulky frame from the floor and gingerly avoiding the spot on the carpet where Mother Hickey's bowels had spontaneously evacuated made his way to the phone. He was still a police officer dammit, there were procedures to follow.
|Hickey had to wonder, what was it that drew Ma to this drastic act. Just the other day he made a comment that Luby's pie was 'even better that yours'. Was it the thought of her son eating pir from a strange woman, a woman he wasn't even courting. Or was it the thought that she was holding him back. It could have been that she was six weeks late for her psychiatric appointment with Dr Ludwitz. Ma has been dealing with depression since Pa died, but it was nothing that a little Prozac couldn't fix.|
|Officer Hickey's mind reeled... "How could ya do it, Ma? How could ya leave me? Aw, I can't take it anymore I gotta say them words I ain't supposed to: shit-piss-fuck-cunt-cocksucker-motherfucker-and-tits! There! Wake up, Ma, wake up and wash my mouth out with soap, Ma, I sweared, I said the Bad Words, Ma, wake up wake up wake up wake up wake uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup!!" At which point he ceased kicking his mother's corpse there on the floor and began to weep, sobbing in great heaves and monsoon-seasons against the rickety old banister as the ambulance spinning its red globes like UFOs but with the sirens turned off in respect of the fact that so many of the neighbors were sleeping.|
Such small-town decorum, however, did not prevent the arriving ambulance from
pulling up lickety-split in the epicenter of the Hickey lawn and slamming on
its brakes, leaving tire-gouges in the moist green expanse of the grass and
lethally uprooting the entire row of Mrs. Hickey's prize hydrangeas! "Yo!
Hickey-Stickey! What up?" hallooed the driver, leaping out of the front seat
without waiting for an answer and commencing a series of gawky leaps and
cartwheels which took him up the walk and front steps and into the front hall
of the Hickey house in a manner more befitting a character out of Dr. Seuss
than an EMT. "Ta-da!" he exclaimed, bowing theatrically and the
grief-immobolized Officer Hickey. "Never fear, the Crink-ster's here!" |
Jeremy Crink: eldest son of the Morton Crink, Proprietor, Morton Crink & Sons Funeral Home, the twon's oldest such establishment. Jeremy Crink moonlighted as an EMT: of course he did: what else would he do but lurk across the town's collective midnights only to show up first at the scene of every murder, suicide, accident, and death... And "crink' as a word was how he moved through the often-unyielding world, how he spoke, how he gestured, all nervous energy gone awry, adrenaline transformed into anxiety like starch into sugar... He was a speed addict without the speed being necessary... And then there were those stories than Diane Amano, the own town girl who'd ever been brave or deperate enough to date him (she'd spurned Officer Hickey's adolescent advances) told about what he showed her with the corpses in the morgue's so-called "Pickling Room" and what he'd confessed, later, when drunk... A fiend, that's what he was; a slow-jerk fiend. With which thought Officer Hickey resumed his sighing, gesturing helplessly at the stiffening form of his mother on the hall floor.
"Yo, dude-a-roonski, yer old lady hung herself! Fuckin' cool-o-reeni! Was her
tongue, like, hangin' out like this " here Jeremy demonstrated what he meant
"and like all black an' shit? Whoa, dude! That's heavy..." |
Officer Hickey's sobs had by then reached a truly bovine pitch, the wailing of a guernsey bossie trapped in a thicket of barbwire. Police Chief Llefty Llewellyn heard the sound five blocks away as he sped to the scene of the suicide in his cruiser. "Christ, what the be-fucking-jeezus is that, my wife screwing the milkman again or something?"
When he got to the Hickey House, the Chief pulled up on the lawn too, right of Crink's ambulance, thereby destroying the other half of Mrs. Hickey's justifiably famous hydrangeas...
|Hickey couldn't take it any more, "Would you people show some respect for the dead. Ma aint no spectacle, never was, and never will be. Got it? You all just leave me here alone with Ma, and I'll wait for the coroner. Talking to these people was like trying to tell the crows to stop picking a dead cat on I-81. Having his fill of grief Hickey, just left the building. Dont you birds be fightn over her eyeballs now. Without even warming up his dinner, Hickey took off like a gangbanger out on parole for the first time. This would mean a new life for Hickey. No more mammas boy, no more home cooked meals or hospital corners on his bed. With all this in the past, Hickey made one last promise to his deal mother. Sitting in his squad car, with his fists clenched on the black leather steering wheel, he muttered, Ma, I love Ya, and I promise, Ill make Ya proud of me, Im gonna solve that Brinkley case and clear ya good name.|
|That decided, the grieving dinnerless Hickey went for a drive. A long destinationless drive in the countryside. He needed a taste of freedom. He needed to drown out the guilty little voices in the back of his mind that were blaming him for his Mother's suicide and to drown out the equally guilty thoughts that he was actually happy about it. Free from the endless ministrations of the castrating bitch who pampered and coddled him for the express purpose of never letting him out of her beady eyed buzzard sight. What other high school senior had ever been guilted into taking his mother to the prom as his date? The teary threats when he'd tried to accept a police post in another town. The not so subtle ways she had of burning his dinner and starching his socks when she was angry at him. He tried to remember the names of all the pets he'd had that disappeared or died mysteriously or accidentally when he hadn't been home. All that gone now. He was free and it felt good. And then there was the guilt about feeling good. It was all so confusing really. Hickey turned on the sirens and lights and stomped the gas. Opening a window on the chill Spring air he let it run through his thinning burr of hair. In some ways it was good to be alive.|
|Thus preoccupied by sorrow and the growling of his stomach, Officer Hickey sped through the night unhindered until the deer got in the way of his cruiser... at least, he thought it was a deer as he felt it ka-moof-kah hit the car and go under and he slammed on the brakes cursing swearing at too much death already in one day and now this, goddamnit, mother, taking the heavy flashlight from his belt and flicking it on and squatting slowly down on his haunches, about to peer beneath the car, when all of a sudden the most undeerlike of groans followed by a series horribly squishy flopping sounds escaped from the dark space under the car.|
|He shook his head, gulped, turned the luminescence on the flashlight to High, took a deep breath, and looked under the car...|
|and he saw a hideous face. It was green with orange teeth. He screamed and jumped back. He turned and ran down the road to his house. The green monster under the car...|
|ran after him. He was afraid that the man would run away and he would not be able to explain who he was. He wasn't really an alien. He was just an experiement gone wrong. His name was Alferd and he just wanted help.|
...a pair of yellow eyes blinked brightly back at Officer Hickey... |
"BOO!" came a voice...
Hickey leapt back as if from a striking snake,
tumbled over on his ass, smarting himself painfully on the forehead with the heavy flashlight.
"Sonofabitch!" he swore. "Scared you, didn't I? Nyuck nyuck nyuck nyuck nyuck." Jeremy Crink leapt up giggling from beneath the police cruiser. "Learned that trick offa CIT at Camp Komahnawanalaya Summer of 1978. Heh heh heh. You silly bastard, Hickey. Just ran off like that, leavin' yer poor Mammy on the floor..."
"What the hell are you talking about you goddamned looper?" exclaimed Hickey, leaping to his feet, slightly woozy from the flashlight's blow (which was already growing into a large discolored goose-egg protruding from Officer Hickey's sweat-streaked brow
"Hey is this, like, that police brutality thing I keep reading about in the newspaper, dude? You guys need to chill out... I bet you get too much red meat in your diet..."
"What in Christ's name are you talking about, you, you, you nincompoop? My mother just hung herself and you're playin' goddamn pranks on me! I oughta haul your ass in..."
"Your mother's why I'm here, Matthew. I can't do anything with her body until you sign the death certificate in triplicate, not to mention the necessary release forms and other paperwork, so that we can get started on the complicated process of Bereavement Type-D Plan # (Indicate Client's Choice Here) Fulfillment. Not to mention the important factor of your personal formaldehyde selection."