• Dzama


Jamie rolled the rickety wheelbarrow with two cases of beer down the cobblestone streets around to the cellar entrance. There he lifted up the metal doors and rolled the wheelbarrow down the ramp into the cellar. It reeked of spilled, rancid beer and there were only a few lights that weren’t broken. Jamie always caught himself staring into the shadows, thinking he saw crouching figures or dogs but there was never anything down there with him. He’d unload the beer into the freezer room and load up whatever they were short on, sometimes throwing in a few bottles of wine from the wine room.

Today he took one of the beer bottles and popped off the cap by banging it against a brick that stuck out from the wall. He took a long swig and strolled along the cases in the freezer, looking at the beers and champagnes. He could see his breath. There were a few pig carcasses hanging from hooks and some paper packages from the butcher. After finishing one beer he opened another. He walked between the walls of reds in the wine room, inspecting one or two, checking dates for something really old.

Then he walked down one of the dark hallways to see what was down there. He went slowly, letting his eyes adjust. Occasionally he pulled out his cell phone to light up the immediate area. The hallway was cement and dank. His footsteps echoed. The hallway turned a corner and he could see a light far down at the other end and heard what sounded like voices.

Soon he made out a set of wooden steps that ascended upwards to a lit doorway. There were female voices but he couldn’t make out what they were saying. When he got to the stairs he put a foot quietly on the bottom step. Then he very carefully ascended the stairs, trying hard to minimize creaking. The door at the top was slightly ajar. “Pull it tighter,” a girl’s voice said. “Are you sure?” asked another. Jamie leaned forward slightly to peer in through the crack. Two girls, dressed like French maids, knelt on the floor, wrapping the body of a man wearing a suit tightly in plastic. They tightened what looked like large zip-ties up and down the body- there was even one around the neck. Jamie took another sip of beer and then went back to watching.

With some effort, the girls rolled the body onto two furniture dollies and rolled it over to what looked like a loading dock into the back of a truck. The truck was full of maybe ten or fifteen bodies wrapped similarly in plastic. The girls wiped sweat from their brows as they came back in Jamie’s direction. He took another swig of beer. “Hey,” he said, stepping through the door. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” The girls froze, looking like twins in their maid costumes. They looked at each other. Then they moved toward Jamie. When they got closer he saw that there was something wrong. They didn’t appear to have eyes, just dark openings. He turned back toward the exit but they took hold of him with their little hands. He fell back through the doorway and crashed down the stairs, hitting his head hard on the cement below.

When he came to the girls stared down at him with their dark eye sockets. One of the girls put a cold, claw-like hand on his face. Then he passed out and they dragged him back up the stairs. They rolled him in plastic and tightened some zip-ties around him. “Wait,” said the younger girl. “Let him go. He didn’t do anything.”

“You know,” said the other one. “I think he’s already dead.” They cut some of the ties and felt for a pulse. There was none so the older girl tied him up again. The younger one stood, unmoving. She watched as her sister struggled to roll Jessie’s body onto the furni dollies, finally getting him aboard and rolling him into the truck. “Maybe they won’t eat that one,” the younger girl said.

“I wouldn’t count on it,” the older girl said. “Come on.” She went back down the hall but stopped when she realized the younger girl wasn’t following. “Come on, Chichi!” Finally the younger girl caught up to her and they both put on their sunglasses and continued on down the hall, holding hands.

Copyright © 2008. All Rights Reserved.

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