No Good Deed
Mr. Hare hooked tubes into Linc’s veins. One to pump in the embalming fluid and the other to drain the blood. He switched on an electric pump and it grumbled to life. Linc scrunched his face.
“It feels like…” Linc said.
“It’s very important that you remember. I don’t care,” Mr. Hare said, as he left the room.
“Hey, where you going?”
Mr. Hare didn’t answer.
“Miserable ghost,” Linc grumbled and settled in.
The feeling was neither pleasant nor unpleasant. He could feel the pressure rising and falling with the action of the pump and a little rush through his body. Thick red liquid oozed through the outgoing tube, while a pink liquid rushed through the incoming one.
“Pink?” Linc thought as he watched the embalming fluid pushing its way up the hose, “I thought the shit was brown. Is this guy fucking with me? Hey,” he shouted at the open door, “You aren’t filling me with dish soap are you?”
After a few seconds, Mr. Hare appeared at the door and closed it. Linc could hear his footsteps receding away.
“Burke is friends with this guy?” Linc mumbled to himself.
After about an hour, Mr. Hare returned. The contents of both tubes were now pink as the embalming fluid had flushed the blood out of Linc’s system. Hare frowned and shook his head.
“Why didn’t you tell me the process was complete?” Mr. Hare said, “You never shut up about the trivial and mundane, but for important things you’re suddenly mum.”
“How was I supposed to know?”
“You can clearly see that the outflow is full of fluid and not blood, correct?”
“Just let me up out of here,” Linc sat up and pulled the tubes out, pink liquid streamed from the slits. Linc wiped it up with his hand, “Can you fix that?”
Hare pulled out a heavy duty staple gun and stapled the wounds closed.
“You can go now,” Hare said walking away, “I have a week’s worth of DVR’d Jeopardy to watch.”
Linc stepped out of Hare’s funeral home in a suit he had given him. It was mismatched. The blue pants were too small and the cuffs rode up to an inch or so above his ankles. The black blazer was too big and it’s cuffs hung below his thumbs. The green shirt fit just right. Even though he had been in this body for a few hours, it still felt strong and fit. However, his walking felt strange, like his left wanted to turn the wrong way. He looked at his feet and saw that Hare had given him two matching right shoes.
“Asshole,” he mumbled and wobbled on.
As Linc approached the busy intersection he could hear the sounds of sirens and roaring engines approaching. A red Mustang was being pursued by three patrol cars, zooming through the narrow gap between lanes. The Mustang was approaching the red light and showing no signs of slowing. Pedestrians with earbuds jammed in were crossing at the light.
“Okay,” Linc thought, “Let’s do this.”
He stepped in front of the Mustang and stared down the driver.
“C’mon man, you gonna hit me or what?”
He could hear the gears of the Mustang ratchet up.
“There’s my answer,” Linc braced for the pain of impact as a reflex he still hadn’t shaken, “I liked this body.”
As the Mustang struck him he balled himself up into a cannonball and crashed through the windshield. He landed face sprawled across the laps of the two men in the front seat. A man in the backseat leaned forward and aimed a gun at his belly and fired. Linc grabbed him by the neck and tossed him through the windshield. The man clung to the hood. Linc rolled to his side and punched him in the face until he lost his grip, slid off and got caught under the tires. The car bounced as it rolled over the ejected passenger. The passenger pulled a gun and Linc elbowed him in the nose, crushing it. He grabbed the wheel and maneuvered around the pedestrians at the crosswalk that were fleeing from the oncoming vehicle. As the car passed through the intersection, Linc noticed something he only thought existed in myth and legend; a stretch of Philly curb that didn’t have a row of cars parked along it. Signs hung on the parking meters.
TEMPORARY NO PARKING ZONE
BY ORDER OF PDP
Linc looked up at the driver, “Time for some Uber-style parking.”
Linc jerked the wheel toward the plastered over concrete walls of the buildings along the road and pushed his hand down on the knee of the driver, flooring the accelerator. The Mustang wrapped itself around a parking meter, ejecting its passengers. The erstwhile occupants were sent through the windshield. The two men and Linc splattered against the wall. The men slid down in bloody streaks and settled on the hood. Linc left a splotch of pink on the wall and the hood of the car. He snapped his head a few times and regained his bearings. As he assessed his form, he noticed a few odd angles that needed to be worked out. He spent a few moments popping joints back in place and realigning snapped bones. His arms felt like wet rags. The police patrol cars screeched to a halt near the accident site. The officers hopped out, their guns drawn Linc raised his hands up, but they flopped to the side. One officer ran to him.
“What were you thinking?” he yelled.
“Just doing my civic duty officer,” Linc replied, “They were going to hit those people back there.”
“Get down on the ground,” another officer yelled, “Hands behind your head.”
Linc flopped to the ground and attempted to put his jellied arms behind his head, but they wouldn’t cooperate.
“Hands behind your head now,” the officer barked.
“Here we go,” Linc grumbled, “Is this for illegal parking?”
“This guy has jokes,” another officer said, “Hand behind your head.”
Linc being physically unable to comply didn’t. An officer pulled out a taser and shot him.
Linc’s body vibrated for a moment before he remembered this was supposed to hurt, “Oh...uh...ah, no, please, officer, no.”
Another officer put his knee on the back of his neck and pulled his arms behind him for cuffing. They bend it unsettling ways.
“What the hell?” the officer said, “This guy’s arms are like jelly.”
“Is this another one of them?” another said, “I’m getting sick of these freaks.”
“I can’t catch a break,” Linc thought.
Linc sat in a holding cell, his noodly arms dangling at his sides. He could overhear the police discussing him, just out of view. They spoke in hushed tones, that he was sure he was supposed to hear.
“I think he’s another one of those scumbags,” the male cop said.
“Which scumbags?” a female cop responded.
“Those goofy costume assholes.”
“One of them saved my mother’s life. They totaled her car...and every other one on the block, but they still saved her.”
“Speaking of totaling cars, this guy jumps out of nowhere and crashes through the windshield, is fighting them off, taking gunshots and still manages to steer the car around pedestrians, but then, get this, he plows it into a parking meter. The all go flying into the wall and splat. The three perps are dead. This nut survives. The guy’s blood is pink fercrissake.”
“Sounds like he did good, no innocents got hurt. Why did you take him in?”
“You can’t go around doing that. Plus a freak like that is too dangerous to walking around. He could go off like a bomb,” the cop snapped his fingers, “Any time. If you ask me they should rounded up and tagged or something.”
“That’s a little extreme. He was only helping.”
“I don’t need help. I can…”
“Excuse me, officer,” a familiar voice said.
“Oh, lookie here, everyone. Doctor Death has crawled from his tomb. What are you doing up here? Aren’t you allergic to light or something?”
“I’d like to see the man you brought in.”
“The one who was in the car with the three other perpetrators.”
“The two that impacted with the wall are about half the width they should be. I want to see the man who walked away from that.”
“He didn’t walk away, I locked him up,” the cop laughed.
“Officer, open mic nights are Tuesdays at Helium, can I see your arrestee, please.”
Linc saw Burke and the officer come into view. He sat up and almost smiled, but Burke shook his head. Linc settled back.
“Have you run his prints?” Burke asked.
“It gets weird. His name is Djimon Blanc. We had his prints on file from when we picked him about five years ago. He got into a bar fight and won.”
“Not very strange. He’s obviously a hardy fellow.”
“The whole bar. But that’s not the weird part. This guy died three days ago. He was a patient at Abington Memorial. He didn’t have any family, so the city took care of it. He should be in your dungeon, right now. But here he is, survived a wreck and everything. He’s gotta be one of them.”
“One of who?”
“You know who I’m talking about.”
“Didn’t you notice you were short one stiff?” the cop squared off on Burke.
“Necro attrition rate,” Burke glared up at him, “May I speak with him?”
“What’s stopping you?”
Burke looked at the officer and gestured with his eyes for him to leave. The cop shook his head, slow and deliberate.
“Doctor-patient confidentiality,” Burke said.
“Fine. Two minutes,” the officer walked out and closed the door.
Burke regarded Linc for a moment.
Linc stood up and loped to the bars, “Mr. Hare is a friendly guy,” he said.
“We can talk later, for now, drop dead,” Burke said under his breath.
“Where’d that come from? You sound like Hare now.”
“Drop to the floor and play dead. Then I’ll get them to take you downstairs and you can trade in your current, worn out model.”
Linc stuck out his tongue and dropped to the floor.
“Pull your tongue back in. You look like a cartoon,” Burke said.
Linc retracted his tongue.
“Officer,” Burke called, “Officer.”
The cop returned with a scowl on his face. Burke gestured to the holding cell. The officer opened the cell and crouched beside the body.
“What happened?” he asked.
“He got up. Walked toward me and just collapsed,” Burke said.
The cop put his fingers on Linc’s neck, “No pulse.”
“Probably finally succumbed to his injuries.”
“I wouldn’t count on it. He’s a weirdo.”
“Let me take him back downstairs.”
“So you can lose him again?” the officer looked up at Burke, locked eyes and stood up, “No. This one’s one of those creeps and I know a creep who would be dying to get ahold of him. Especially, this one.”
“He’s got no one. No one’s gonna care. No one’s gonna know. And I get a little extra scratch. This job pays shit.”
“You can’t just sell a corpse. I have to…”
“You have to go back down in your basement and shut the fuck up.”
Burke gritted his teeth and stormed from the room. The cop pulled out his cell phone and dialed.
“Yeah, you still looking for dead freaks?” he said, “I got one. One you’ll like a lot.”
“Is it the one all over the news,” a withered, gray man said, clutching a phone with bony hands, like ancient tree branched, “Very good. You’ll be well paid indeed. Drop off the merchandise any time.”
The knobby hand placed the phone down on a dark, oak desk.
“Brian,” the old man said.
“We’re receiving a delivery tomorrow. Prepare for it and make sure the courier is well compensated as well.”
“Yes, sir, Mr. Ehrlich.”