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Sunday, December 11, 2011

SANTA'S BAG copyright m.s. 2011

On a lonely street corner, off Main and 3rd, a bag lay on the opposite side of the trash cans scattered in a dark alleyway. Once in a while a street light would shine it's florescent blue light on the pavement to reveal movement inside that bag. Just tiny inklings that something was definitely inside it. The sound of scratching, and a low growl. But the bag never moved from it's spot.
On other street corners in the city, the hustle and bustle of people and cars making their way to their destinations. On one of those particular streets, Dave Lomax was fighting his way through a crowd outside an Adult theater to find a seat to spend his third night of restless sleep while men in trench coats explored themselves watching people have sex on the screen.

Just as he was sneaking through a side door, a hand grabbed him. The hand belonged to extremely large black man in a leather coat.
"You don't think you were goin' in there without payin', were you, Chief?" He said pushing Lomax into a brick wall outside the theater.

Lomax felt the pain in his back surge. He shook his head no. "I actually got confused what door to go through." Lomax smiled.
The black man's nostrils curled up. He sniffed the air. "Shit, man. Go get cleaned up. Look, I don't want to be a hard on, but you can't keep sneakin' in my house smellin' up the place. You need a place to sleep, I know the Boys club has some beds open for the holidays. If I give you a twenty, you promise not to drink it all up?"
"You'd do that?" Lomax was stunned. The couple months he'd been kicked out of his house by Lisa, he'd witnessed the dregs of humanity. He'd gotten a place at hotel with a roommate, Charlie Day...a real scumbag-drunk---stole the last fifty from him, then kicked him out when Lomax couldn't procure the rest of the rent.
The black man smiled. "Dude, I know what it's like on the streets. I might run a movie house that shows tits and ass, but I still follow the laws of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Here you go. Don't--" He placed the twenty in Lomax's hand, pulled it away, Lomax still had a piece of it. "Don't drink it up. Understand?"

Lomax nodded quickly. "Yeah, yeah. I don't usually drink, just lately--"
The black man shoved Lomax into the gutters. He fell into the icy snow caked on the vents.
"Merry Christmas. Get cleaned up," The black man wagged a finger.

Dave Lomax just sat there. "Merry Christmas," he whispered, his spirit crushed.
Lomax picked himself up and headed down the street the opposite way. He stopped a minute to stare at the many HD Tv's that were in a store window. On the screens was the Charlie Brown Christmas.
Christmas is not what it used to be, he thought.
He shuffled along, kicking snow with his boots, letting some of it ride on the top for a few feet. Before he realized it, Lomax was down an alley that had no outlet. He looked up and he was on Main and 3rd. He heard a noise behind the trash cans. He saw a stray dog sniffing at a yellow bag that resembled potato bags at grocery stores. The bag moved to the left and the dog jumped at it, wagged it's tail.

"I'm not drunk," Lomax said to himself. "I haven't even started. But that's cat in it." He rubbed his tangled, greasy hair. He laughed, walked toward it. "Hey, you dumb dog. That's just a cat in that bag--"

A thin green arm reached out. It's three fingered claw took hold of the stray dog by the back of it's neck and pulled it inside the bag. The dog gave out a yelp and disappeared into the dark opening of the bag.
Lomax stopped dead in his tracks. Stunned, he staggered back a few steps. "What the hell?" He cried out, his voice bounced off the cold dark night.

Lomax looked behind him. No one there. No one saw it. He rubbed his three day old stubble, put a hand in his pocket. His eyes grew wild. He felt in a once empty pocket and found paper there. He pulled his hand out. Lomax was holding several hundred dollar bills. A few minutes before the event with the dog and the bag, he was thinking about having money--lots of money---so much, in fact, his pockets would never be empty. The twenty was still in the other pocket.
Lomax knew this to be strange. I'm not dreaming, he thought. Because he'd just pinched himself. He looked behind him, no one standing there. He trotted to the bag, which was still moving on the pavement. He heard rustling, a low growl. He hesitated at first. Then decided to scoop up the bag.
"Funny," He said. "On Christmas eve I find Santa's bag." He slung over his shoulder and heard the thing growl louder. The stray dog yelped. "Hey," Lomax yelled at the bag. "I don't know what you are, but you be nice to that dog."
He walked to the other side of Main and hailed a taxi.
The hotel room was dingy and smelled of garlic salt. That was because Lomax's roommate , Cedric, cooked everything with garlic salt. Even toast. Lomax didn't need a key to get in, the lock never worked. All he had to do was jiggle the door knob and the door was open.
Cedric was sprawled out in the middle of the floor, a bottle of Jack Daniel in his hand.

The room was a mess. Take-out boxes from various places littered floor along with dirty laundry. The TV was on, the weather man showing a map where Santa Clause was last spotted, Turkey it seemed.
Lomax sat on the torn sofa, bag beside him. He kicked Cedric a few times. Cedric looked like a gulley dwarf from the latest Peter Jackson movie. His brownish-red beard hung past neck, inching toward his chest. He must have grown it to make up for the lack of hair on his head. His round, plump body heaved and he coughed every time Lomax kicked him.

Cedric shot up, ready to run. He yelled out something inaudible, waved his hands around wildly.
"Cedric," Lomax said. "It's just me. Cedric, It's Dave."
Cedric looked confused, staggered where he stood. Clarity came to him. He looked at Lomax, snarled.
"I kicked you out, you bum," Cedric tried to pick up the bottle twice without falling. The third go was success. But he soon tossed the bottle when he found out it was empty.
"Yes, you did, my so-called friend. I'm here to pay my share of the rent," Lomax threw down a hundred dollar bill on the floor. Cedric's eyes grew big, he leaped for the money, fell on his face.
"Oh, yeah, and tell you to fuck off." Lomax stood grabbed his bag. Cedric held on to his legs. "Get off!" Lomax shook Cedric off.

"Don't go, my friend! Please take care of your Cedric! He will do anything--well almost anything--for you! For you!" Cedric was on his knees, pleading, praying to Lomax. "I don't care how you get financial aid, even if you sell yourself on the street--"
"I don't do that, you idiot."
Cedric's eyes moved back and forth, he was thinking. "No?"
"No. I think it's this bag."
Cedric stood. He only came up to Lomax's chest. he scratched his bald head. "A Santa bag?"
"I thought the same thing when I saw it," Lomax said happily. "I found this bag---I was thinking of money---oh, you wouldn't understand."
"Stay. Explain it to me. I know I could relate--we'll order a pizza. Yes?"
Lomax thought about it. He was hungry. Oh, Cedric was alright.
"Yeah. Okay."

Lomax turned his back to call from Cedric's cell phone when he heard a scuffle and Cedric screamed.

Lomax turned back around. On the phone a voice kept repeating "Hello, hello?" His Santa bag dropped to the floor.
Lomax sighed. "Shit," He said, pressed a button on the cell phone and the voice disappeared. He threw the phone on the sofa and picked up the bag. He heard a low growl from the bag and more scuffling. Then he heard Cedric call out for help.
"Hi," he heard a female voice.
Lomax nearly jumped out of his skin. A short brunette was standing in front of him. She was wearing a blue halter top and and short mini skirt. Lomax dropped the bag. His mouth was hanging open. He couldn't believe it. Just as he was calling for pizza his mind roamed. he began thinking about sex, then his thoughts became a lot more specific.
"You called for a date," the brunette kissed Lomax.

Later on, Lomax just sat in the hotel room, bored out of his skull. It was eleven pm now. The brunette had long disappeared. He was sick of hearing the dog whine, Cedric cry and beg for help, and whatever that thing was in the bag growl and terrorize the dog and Cedric.
"This is shit," He said. He should be with Lisa and her kids, getting smashed, opening presents. He should be with Lisa. Yes. She should not had kicked him out, settled in with Jack. All because he lost his job at the plant and he couldn't handle her taking his spot as the breadwinner.

Well, all that has changed now, Lomax thought. I've got money. Endless money. Now I can take Lisa back, buy her anything she wanted. Jack can be out on the street, like Lomax was.
"Yeah....I'm going over there and bring loads of"

Lomax stood in the driveway of his ex's trailer, the only trailer in an upper-middle class neighborhood. Her father had left it to her, never thought of building a house because he thought it was too much work and a waste of money, he already had a home. The trailer was old, at least twenty years, and the aluminum siding was not silver anymore but a depressing rust color.
Good, Lomax thought. Lisa is home. He could see her Toyota in the driveway, but he also saw Jack's Prius.
"Shit," He said to the thin layer of Christmas lights on the telephone pole. The lights blinked on and off, telling Lomax not to worry about Jack. It told him he was in charge of the situation. Plus, he had two plastic bags of groceries and his Santa bag.
The trailer was lit up with way too many lights, at least ten strands crossing each other. And in the front yard was a snowman missing an eye and his plastic carrot meant for his nose, was now comfortably in his crotch.
Lomax knocked on the screen door.

Lisa opened the front door. She stepped outside on the step, shut the door. Her short brown, wavy hair was stirring slightly in the cold breeze. She was cold, the Christmas sweater exemplified her best assets, but those green eyes always melted Lomax's heart.
"Hi, Lisa," Lomax grinned at her.
"What do you want, Dave?" She said coldly, folded her arms.
"I wanted to see you and the kids," Oops. I didn't get the kids anything. He thought. Trish, 9, Cory, 6, what would I get them anyway? I never took time to get to know them---
"You know Jack is here. And after the last shenanigan you are not welcomed here." She turned to open the door, Lomax touched her shoulder. She shot a cool look his way that was like a knife through his heart. Lomax withdrew his hand.
She was referring to a drunken incident when Lomax climbed through their bedroom window and passed out in their bed. Jack beat Lomax with a baseball bat, thinking he was burglar. After the ER room, Jack was apologetic.
"Who is it, Lisa--Oh, it's Dave. Let him in, Lisa." Jack was the best looking guy Lomax had ever seen and the nicest. That's one of many reasons he hated him.
"He was just leaving--" Lisa's nostrils flared up, and that cold stare--all Lomax could do was avert his eyes.
"Nonsense, Lisa. Come inside, Dave. God, the kids really miss you. They will be glad to see you."

oh yes, they were glad to see me, Lomax thought. He'd been there thirty minutes and the kids said hi, rushed off to bed. Lisa went to her bedroom. Jack was the only one happy to see him. loads of endless fucking questions. It was a slow death. Being with a man who stole your life and he was happy to eat his cake too. The fucker.
"So, what's with the bag? Are you playing Santa this year?" He was smirking. Thinks he can tell a joke. The fucker. "Is my present in there?"

Suddenly an evil grin overthrew a depressing scowl on Lomax's face. " is. Would you like it now?" Lomax stood from the couch and walked toward the corner where the Christmas tree was. Jack followed closely on his heels.
"You didn't have to--yes. Yes. I'm honored....look I really want to be friends, Dave...could that...?"

The bag was gone.
They heard a noise in the hallway to the bedrooms. Something loud hitting the tin floors of the trailer. Lomax and Jack rushed to see, they found the bag there. It was inching across the floor. They heard Lisa's voice, the kid's, of course the dog and Cedric. All of them simultaneously making a horrible mash of noise. Then there was the growling, the sound of something scraping the inside of the bag, followed by them screaming.

Jack backed away from the bag. "What's in there, Dave? You've got the devil there haven't you?"
Lomax didn't know what to say. He shook his head half-heatedly. "I don't know what's in there. I don't...maybe it is...but I don't think it hurts anyone...all I know is it takes things, then whatever you wish for...magically appears..."
There was a knock at the screen door, very loud pounding.
Someone has called the police on us, Lomax thought. Jack ran to answer it. Lomax pushed him out of the way. They found a short, over-sized man in a monk's frock. The Monk bowed, removed his hood.
"I'm sorry to bother you so late. I think you have something that belongs my temple." The Monk said.
Lomax was pushed aside as the monk made his way through the front door. The monk smiled. He nodded. "Yes, you surely do have it."
"Is that the devil in that bag? Your here to do an exorcism, right?" Jack came to the monk, wild-eyed.
The Monk laughed. "No, far from it. Gumar is not a devil...but a poor unfortunate creature that seemingly tricked one of my brothers to take him into the city."

"Will he--does he hurt anyone in the bag with him ?" Lomax interrupted the monk's jolliness.
"No, by all means. Gumar loves to have fun---well his fun is scaring people, holding them in the darkness. He harms no one. He is a bit aggressive. It was terrible for Brother Sella. He apparently was robbed at gunpoint, beaten and left in an alley. He came back to Temple with that story."
" How did you know where the bag was? " Lomax said. "Can you get them out of the bag?"
The Monk shrugged smiled. "I followed the smell. Do you not smell the terrible stench?"
"I thought it was Dave, since he is homeless." Jack said.
Lomax cut his eyes at Jack.
"As far as releasing everyone," The Monk sighed. "That depends on you," He turned to Lomax. "Would like to keep receiving presents from Gumar? Or...give the bag back to the Temple. It's up to you."
Lomax thought a minute. "Yeah...I'd like to give the bag back to the Temple."

The Monk smiled. Lisa appeared, as did the children. They immediately clung to, she hugged them nervously.

Then Cedric appeared, the dog ran from one person to another, happy it was out of the bag.
The Monk threw the bag over his shoulder. Lomax saw him to the door.
"Look, " Lomax placed a hand on the Monk's arm. "I don't get it. Where was my last present when Lisa and the kids were in the bag?"
"Remember," The Monk walked outside. He turned to Lomax, laughed. "You wished this would be over. And it is."

Monday, December 5, 2011

SIN-AWAYcopyright 2011 m.s.

Otis Brinkley walked confidently in the offices of Cromwell Industries, a five story building on Pinkerton ave., demanding to see the head of operations.

The secretary looked at this old tramp with a beat up suitcase and stifled a laugh.
“He's not in Mr...?” Ms. Jeffers fiddled with her blouse lapel with a hand. She kept the other hand over her mouth as so Brinkley couldn't see her smiling at his presence.

The little old man beamed. He pushed the mismatched frame of glasses back on the brim of his nose. “Otis Brinkley,” He said proudly.

Ms. Jeffers cleared her throat. “You can only see Mr. Cromwell by appointment,” She crossed her legs, still fighting back her giggles at this ridiculous little old man.

Brinkley opened his suitcase. He smiled at her, pushed his glasses up on his nose. “I've been exchanging letters with Mr. Cromwell.” He tossed a small stack of envelopes on Ms. Jeffers desk. “We've discussed my new product at length.”

Ms. Jeffers rummaged through the dusty papers, mystified. She opened the first one, unwrinkled the yellow paper.

Brinkley stood briefly. “That one has told me to come to the office....” Ms. Jeffers threw him a look, Brinkley sat back down. He put up his hand apologetically.

“Well, the office is closing in a few minutes as you can see it's nearly five---”

“Mandy!” A man screamed from the adjoining office.

Brinkley looked toward the office, smiled. “He's in after all.”

A second later a man with a receding hairline, dark circles under his eyes and a girth hanging over top of his belt waddled in the lounge. Immediately Ms. Jeffers sprung from her chair and ran in her stockinged feet to Cromwell, still holding one of the letters in her hand.

“Mr. Cromwell, a Mr. Brinkley is here to see you.” She flashed an uneasy smile.

“I don't remember any Brinkley--” Cromwell looked at his digital watch that hung snugly to his wrist. “It's nearly five--”

Brinkley stood, rushed to insert himself between Cromwell and Ms. Jeffers. “We exchanged letters a few weeks ago. To discuss a new soap product?”

Cromwell looked at Ms. Jeffers. “Oh,” She shrugged. “It says it all here, Mr. Cromwell. Your signature is at the bottom and I suppose I forgot to schedule the meeting.”

Cromwell's upper lip curled up. “Oh, for cryin' out loud. Okay, okay.” Cromwell stormed off to his office. Brinkley smiled sheepishly at Ms. Jeffers. She resigned, her face fell.

She walked toward the adjoining office. “If you'll follow me.” She said.

After Brinkley went inside, Ms. Jeffers closed the door. She looked at the upper right hand corner of the letter. The date on the letter was March 15, 1985. She was taken aback.

Brinkley sat gingerly in a small plastic chair opposite Cromwell's desk. Cromwell sat there in silence, a finger on his lips, sizing Brinkley up. Cromwell swiveled his heavy set body in his leather chair. The chair squeaked in pain.

“So what is it your selling, Brinkley? Make it good, make it fast. I'm almost out of time.” Cromwell snorted.

Brinkley nodded, “Yes, yes.” he opened his battered briefcase and retrieved a a small square cake wrapped in green paper. “This,” He tossed it on Cromwell's desk. The hard shell of the square clanged on the desk, bounced a few times, slid toward Cromwell.

Cromwell picked up the square, turned it a couple of times in his hand. He then unwrapped the green paper to reveal a bar of soap. He looked at Brinkley, scouring. Cromwell laughed heartily. He balled up the paper and tossed it over his shoulder.

“Soap?” Cromwell lifted an eyebrow. “Your selling me soap, buddy? I already own Hand print who makes several scented soaps---”

“My soap is not scented, Mr. Cromwell.” Brinkley adjusted his glasses on the bridge of his nose.

“Then what can you possibly have to interest me, little man? The market in gutted with all kinds of soaps from body wash to your baby's ass-wash. Soap is nothing new.”

Brinkley waggled a finger. “Oh, my soap only clenses one thing.” Brinkley nodded his head. Cromwell started to get seasick from watching the old man's head bob up and down so much. “It cleans the soul. But only use it three times....or it will be too much.”

Cromwell glared at him for a few seconds, blinking rapidly. His disposition turned sour. He no longer thought the joke was funny.

“Get the fuck out of here!” He railed at Brinkley.

“Wait, hear me out,” the little man put his hands up.

“Don't come in here and tell me some bullshit to con me!” Cromwell tossed the soap at the little man.

“Look, I'm telling the truth. I stumbled on it. This soap---i swear to you, Mr. Cromwell. You have committed a discrepancy of some kind---”

“I did what?” The large man stood from his desk in a threatening manner.

“Only saying it as an example--- bathe in my soap and all is not only forgiven, but forgotten. I call it SIN-AWAY.”

The color of Cromwell's face was a bright red. His eyes were strained, cataracts
and veins were definitely showing. “Get out of here,” He whispered at first.

“Mr. Cromwell...”

“Get out of here!”

Brinkley hopped out of the chair and grabbed his briefcase. “I'll just leave you a sample,” Brinkley said as Cromwell rushed him out of the office. Brinkley scooted past Ms. Jeffers in the hallway. She sniggered and leaned against the wall, watching the little old man disappear around the corner.

Cromwell stood outside his office, wiping sweat from his forehead with a handkerchief. “Can you believe the nerve, tryin' to swindle me.”

“I take it the meeting didn't go so well,” Ms. Jeffers said.

“If I ever see that candy-ass again, I'll break both of his legs.”

Ms. Jeffers reached out, took hold of Cromwell's tie, pulled him toward her. “Shh...” She said. She touched his face with her fingers, touching his cheek and slid down to his chapped red lips. Ms. Jeffers felt Cromwell's hand steal up her skirt. She leaned in and kissed him soundly on the lips. She turned, still holding his tie, led him inside his office.

She was adjusting her skirt, re buttoning her blouse. Cromwell was trying to catch his breath and zipping up his fly. He'd backed away from her, when he realized the best way to have sex with a woman like Ms. Jeffers was to bend her over his desk just he'd done.

The theme to the GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY sounded off, Cromwell's
cell phone lit up.

“Who the hell could that be?” Cromwell tucked his shirt in.
“Maybe it's Don to tell you about Singapore,” Ms. Jeffers rescued the cell phone from under scattered papers and files. Her smile disappeared when she read the name to herself. She sighed, closed her eyes. She handed Cromwell his cell phone. “Delores,” She said solemnly. “A missed call from Delores...”

Immediately, Cromwell panicked. He ran to the window of his office, opened the blinds, looked out. Delores was standing at her BMW smoking a cigarette. She was a tall blonde, dressed to the nines, and although no one could see her eyes for the sunglasses, Cromwell could see she was furious from her body language.

“You have to get out of here,” He swallowed hard, closed the blinds again.

Ms. Jeffers was already playing back the message Delores left on his phone. “Oh, you snaky son of a bitch! I know you and that slut secretary are carrying on in there. You idiot. You didn't think I'd find out---Ms. Jeffers shut it off.

“You better go take a shower. Say your getting ready to come home to take her out,” Ms. Jeffers ushered Cromwell to the Men's room in his office.

Nervously, Cromwell did as he was told. Out of haste, she tossed him the open bar of soap.

Ms. Jeffers ran out of Cromwell's office only to meet Delores in the hallway. Delores back into the office, right into a chair, where she promptly sat.

“I know exactly what's going on, you slut.” Delores actually had forgotten, but ten years before, she was in Ms. Jeffers shoes. She'd been the other woman, working as Cromwell's secretary. She was being screamed at by his third wife. But that didn't mean she would cut the whore any slack, she knew for sure someone was gonna pay for her unhappiness.

“He's not all that,” Delores snarled. “He's a lousy father. All his kids hate him. He pays through the nose to three ex-wives, all of which he's cheated on. You wont be the last if you win him.”

Ms. Jeffers was unemotional. “I don't want to win him.”

“Don't try to sell me on a crap campaign, Missy. I know how good that fat man is in the bed. For what it's worth, he always said I was the best piece of ass---” Delores suddenly stopped speaking. She looked as if she was in a daze. Her thoughts were far off. Then she seemed to loose balance and Ms. Jeffers was quick to help, placing her in a chair.

Cromwell appeared, drying what was left of his hair. “Hello girls,” He said with a nervous giggle. “Talking about anything interesting.” He was ready to face the firing squad named Delores.

“I don't think she feels well,” Ms. Jeffers said, taking a few steps back.

“You okay, Delores? What happened?” Cromwell pretended to be concerned.

“I felt faint is all. I don't even remember why I came here.” Delores put hand to her forehead and massaged.

“You don't?” Cromwell and Ms. Jeffers said together.

Delores blinked a few times. “No...I don't. Someone called me and in no time I was in my car driving here...for what...I'm not sure of.”

Cromwell was confused for a minute. It dawned on him and a big ugly smile crawled on his face, the kind that frighten children. “Ms. Jeffers, tomorrow, get a hold of that nutcase I saw today. I think we can do business.”

“Are you sure?” She said.

Cromwell shrugged. “Yeah.. I'm sure. In the meantime, I'm taking my wife out to dinner.”

On the other side of town, through the heart of the city of iron and steel, high rises and subway system; was a broken down house with no windows and the top floor almost completely gone. Cromwell stood in the middle of the street staring at the weather beaten black house, avoiding a game of stick ball. He approached the house with much disparagement. His phone went off.
“Hey, sugarlips...what? Some men...police...oh. Yeah. They in the room with you...good....your in the toliet...oh, yeah, don't let them hear this. I did move some funds from the company bank account to my account. Yes, I know that's stealing from the company. It doesn't matter. Look, baby, with this soap all my sin's will be washed away. Yes. I do believe it. You saw what happened...Delores forgot about us...yesterday morning hit someones car and drove off. That afternoon I fired Benchley's son---yeah I know the twirp is on the board of directors....everything will be fine. In the morning we can hop a plane and off to the Carribean, baby! I gotta go.”
He stood on the porch, briefcase in hand, stepping in a black oil slick of some kind. Cromwell cursed under his breath. The door swung open. The little old man peeked out. He was delighted to see Cromwell.

“You came!” Brinkley stepped out on the porch. He pointed at the oil slick. “Watch your step. Another interested party tried to steal my soap and was caught in the rain.

“Did I have a choice?” Cromwell snarled. Brinkley ushered him inside the house, slammed the front door shut. Cromwell looked around the drafty house. Cobwebs at every corner, very dim lighting. Cromwell felt uneasy.

Brinkley locked the door. He smirked at a surprised Cromwell. “Can't take any chances.”

“Chances?” Cromwell looked around himself.

“Someone stealing my ingredients. No one can know the recipe...” Brinkley laughed. He took the stairs to the top floor, Cromwell following close behind.

“Where are we goin', pop's?”

“To my lab—where I make that wonderful soap.”

Cromwell stepped in the dank room. Half the floor was missing, one could see the downstairs. Ceiling was coming down, the beams were barely holding it up. Books littered the floor, several animal parts lay on a counter beside a knife stained with crimson. Jars on shelves lined the walls all around. He could only guess, but Cromwell wasn't sure, more animal parts. In the middle

of the room was a large black cauldron, steam rising from the top. A black book was next to the cauldron on a stand, opened to right page.

“You gotta be kiddin' me,” Cromwell said. “This is a joke.”

“No, Mr. Cromwell. This is serious business.” Brinkley looked into the cauldron,began stirring with a wooden plank as long as his arm. The water simmered, boiled to the top. It turned an orange- white when he popped in what looked like the foot of a dead dog.

“Oh, no,” Cromwell shook his head. “This is bullshit. You can't mass produce this soap this way.”

“I'm afraid this is the only way to make my soap. No other way, Mr. Cromwell.”

Cromwell rubbed his face with a hand. “I guess we can start slow. Go for the Organic market. Specialize in small shops first.” Cromwell opened his briefcase. “Get these signed. How much you want for this?”

“Two million.”

“What?!” Cromwell screamed. “We're not that big of a company..” It wasn't true, he was just cheap.

“I guess I could take it somewhere else..” Brinkley was smirking at him. “For my troubles.”

“What troubles? Hey, you never said where you came up with this--”

“No, no, Mr. Cromwell. I didn't come up with anything. You see, this recipe is an old family recipe...thousands of years old...I believe Jesus knew one of one of my family members.”

“Your crazy...but I think I can make something of your product. I need to know what does the trick.....tell me the recipe.'

Brinkley laughed again. This time the sound cut right through Cromwell. His face grew even more red with the look Brinkley was giving him.

“Your small mind wouldn't even comprehend it's concoction.”

“Your gonna tell me, you little fart.” Cromwell grabbed Brinkley by the throat with both hands. He squeezed as the little old man struggled to finish the last of his merriment. He squeezed until Brinkley's lips had released his last sigh. Cromwell let go of the old man, his limp body hit the floor.

Cromwell stared at the cauldron. Then at the book. “Shit,” He rubbed his face with a hand. “He's right. I don't understand it. Should have let him finish more soap, then killed him. Oh, well. Just hire someone to finish it.”

Cromwell's phone went off, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly echoed throughout the house. It was Ms. Jeffers. He answered it quickly.”I'm comin',” He said.

Cromwell walked through the offices, through the lounge, past Ms. Jeffers and a plainclothes officer with two uniformed policemen. Ms. Jeffers tried to speak just as the all three policemen, all simultaneously. Cromwell put his hand up for quiet. He went into his office, smiling at them. They followed him in.

“Hey,” Cromwell said. “Can you give a guy a little time in the john?”

“Mr. Cromwell, I need to speak---”
Ms. Jeffers said, following him to the bathroom.

“Don't even think of any funny stuff--” The plainclothes officer said.

Cromwell slammed the door shut in every ones face. There was the sound of water running from the shower.

The plainclothes officer sighed and folded his arms.

“Mr. Cromwell needs several showers a day,” Ms. Jeffers flashed a smile.

“I'll bet he does,” One of the uniformed officers said sarcastically.

Cromwell screamed. They rushed to the door. Ms. Jeffers banged on the door, called out for him. The plainclothes officer nodded to the other two policemen. They brushed Ms. Jeffers aside. It took three tries, but the bathroom door was Jarred. The officers went inside, opened shower curtain, turned the shower off.

“What the hell?” One of them said.
Ms. Jeffers rushed in. Cromwell was no where in sight. Ms. Jeffers peered in the shower. All she could see was a large oil slick spread out on the shower mat.

Wide eyed, she threw both hands over her mouth to stifle a scream.