Lost Cause

For Mia Chainsaw

I know what you did. 

Oh, it was clever. Those kids came in, on their fancy bus, with their millennial friends, and they were going to take away what was rightfully yours. Ssh. Don’t speak. You can’t speak now anyway. I always had a suspicion, you see, about this town. About Harlow. But I never had proof. I never had proof about this place, or the areas surrounding it. They came into that homestead, you know, to that window into hell, and they found all the toys. All the “art.”

But they didn’t find them. Any of them. 

That’s when this town started to die. Oh, I bided my time Ginny. Can I call you that? I feel like we are connected somehow, you and I. Viscerally. No no. They had you on that ambulance too long. I know the distances. The heat. We’re in Texas, and many people just die on the way here. This town never dreaded sundown, or maybe that’s not accurate, is it? No. See, this small place here? Right. This place, where you were born, where you grew up, and where you are going to die soon — very soon from what the doctors tell me — is more of a sundown town. I guess it makes sense. I had of time, and some contacts here: like the one who phoned me up. It figures your family came here from East Texas after the Civil War. None of you like outsiders, of any kind. 

I guess that’s why it took so long for people to go to that property when my friends, and my brother were slaughtered by your local heroes. Your unsung boys. Your glorious dead.

No no. I know. The time they got there, the whole family was gone. A regular old Sawyer Adventure, am I right? 

And Tom Sawyer is running around again.

You’re probably not one for liberal Seventies culture, right Ginny? My friends and I were. We just wanted to see if my grandfather’s remains were safe. The irony, or the poetry I guess, is that I did have family here. In this land. In this place. I took it over again. Refurbished it. I came all the way over from the old Hardesty place, from my land, and I waited here. I wanted you all to be nervous. I wanted to be patient. I was wanted you to slip up. 

The problem is, I found the others. Seventies counter-culture. One was an easy rider, but he got run over. The other, Sawney Bean, was a cackling, mean son of a bitch. Not surprised you don’t understand the reference, but he liked to cook too, and trick people off the road. And that old man .. you know, he was apparently one hundred and thirty-seven years old. It reminds me of a short story I read in college. “The Picture in the House,” even heard of it? By Lovecraft. No. You probably think he was a queer, but anyone was Grandpa, the character in that story would’ve been him while he was still up and about.

There were few other freaks, too. But I’m not interested in them. 

I want Tom Sawyer. I want Ed Gein. 

The Moonlight Killer had a sack over his head like some of your great-grandpappy’s friends, I’m sure. But that … piece of shit had many faces. I studied about him, after I got my mind back, such as it was, as it is. Austin University had a good Law Enforcement Program. I studied all kinds of killers too, and how they work. The problem is, Ginny, is that I never saw his face. He was large. Tall. I never doubted for a second he could still be a threat in, what his seventies, like us? He’s not like us. His whole inbred cannibal family of killers are mutants. His fucking Grandpa lived over a century. No. I know he’s going around, killing those kids. 

You told him to go into your room. 

They didn’t get all the evidence. He’s the only one that came back. He had no where to go, after his whole family was gone. I know. Between me and Lieutenant Boude Enright, my Uncle Lefty, we exterminated those sons of bitches. My uncle didn’t make it, but I continued what he started. 

And he is the only one left. 

I’ve been by the old place. Oh, I’m sure you never had a tacit deal with the Sawyers. You just looked the other way. It was silent. Implicit. Strangers came into town, or undesirables, and they’d just disappear. I don’t need to go into who they are, or were, right? I think it’s pretty clear. 

Your last boy. The one in the orphanage. I can’t believe how many teeth I had to pull, to find anyone who’d talk about someone so large. So easy to see. He was in that house. Wounded. You took him out. You brought him to town. Got him as your ward. Adopted him. The town found him “mentally incompetent,” or nowadays developmentally delayed. He was nothing without them. I remember that now. They always bossed him around. Beat him. Told him what to do. I’m sure he enjoyed it, but he couldn’t so much as take a shit without their approval. He played when left to his own devices. We went into his playground, and we had no idea we stepped into hell. And then his family unleashed him and hell on a DJ named “Stretch” Brock. She’s a hard-ass now, despite them. Told me a lot more about that son of a bitch than I knew. 

How long did you keep his chainsaw in that room? Oh when those kids came in with that deed, you were already planning it, weren’t you. How long did he have, to take those rusted pieces out, oil them, put them together again? Putting the gas inside? Does he have some kind of workroom under your house? 

It doesn’t matter, really. Because, you see Ginny, you did me a favour. Before all of this, he didn’t have his mask anymore. It, and the rest, probably rotted away ages ago like all the corpses of all his family’s victims that were left. He’s been killing those city kids, and anyone in his way. He’s fast now. Cunning. Playing. But he’d never do it himself. He’s just an empty, blank thing on his own. A whimpering animal. He was all docile and placid for you, for years, taking care of your kids, and you. No one knowing who he is, but suspecting. No evidence. No proof. 

But then these fucking kids come in. Poor kids. I knew their grandparents, too, you know. We all know each other here now, don’t we, around these parts. They should’ve listened to their grandma. 

I’m not a grandma, Ginny. I am the last Hardesty thanks to your ward. And he is the last Sawyer. And you are the last McCumber. You could’ve handed him into authorities. You could’ve avenged the lives he and his family had taken. You could’ve made up for all the people you turned a blind eye towards as they went to their deaths. You could’ve saved young lives. 

Oh I know. I followed the paperwork. They didn’t have the deed. Yes. They fucked up. You could’ve come here. Challenged them in court. Even won. They didn’t have a chance, even with that fancy city money. But you got angry. They threw your sweat tea right in your face. They disrespected your great-grandfather’s memory. They intruded into your home. Into his lair. They woke him up, out of that puppy docility, out of dormancy. They brought him out of hiding for me.

You brought him out of hiding for me. 

You know, I think he loves you. The sick thing is, I think despite you using him as a killer, you treated him better than his entire family ever did. I’d almost feel sad for him, pity if he weren’t a mad beast that needs to be put down. 

No. Don’t struggle. You’re done. Your heart is too weak. Broken. He’ll find out. He’ll know what’s happened. He’ll lose his cool, and he will rage like a wild animal. More people will die, like those city kids, I expect. But they were going to die anyway. But then he’s going to get sloppy. Careless. He’s going to want his “Moma’s” body. Sawyers honour their kin by mummifying, or wearing them. But I got you first. 

I got you, and I will play all Little Red Riding Hood but, this time, I will be the Big Bad Wolf. And that sick bastard is going to suffer a long time before I’m done with him. Maybe he’ll really know what it’s like when someone takes away the only people you love left. Go to sleep, Ginny McCumber. The South’s not going to rise again.

Doctor! Doctor! Come quickly! Her heart stopped! I don’t think —

*

Yeah, she’s gone right? I’m sorry to hear that Doctor. Yeah, this letter is legit. I have custody of her body, and I will take charge of the autopsy. Yes, it is part of the continuing investigation into the killings. Is the suspect her ward? He ran when the ambulance picked her up at the orphanage, yes? 

Right. 

I’ve been reactivated for this case. Thank you for your time, and cooperation. I will do my best to find this killer for the State of Texas. 

I promise. 

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