A TEMPORARY PATCH JOB, PART 3 OF 3 by Kevin Fortune
March 10, 2012 Longer stories Tags: Ireland, Kevin Fortune
I watched as a patch of bog, brown on brown, oozed like lumpy liquid from a drainage ditch. It took me a moment to recognise it as human. I wasn’t sure if it was some lost, crawling corpse or if it was that little teenage waste of space. To my joy it was the latter. I didn’t realise it but I’d actually been looking forward to this. I moved deeper into the shadows and watched him crawl across the open ground and into the trees. The eejit must have thought he was invisible because of the mud; John feckin Rambo. I let him come.
Once again the pine needles dampened my footfalls nicely as I ran at him from behind, but at the very last second he heard me and turned; startled. He only had time to raise his machete in self-defence before I shattered his wrist with the bog oak. The blade went flying. I rotated with the swing and burst his nose flat on the return journey. He hit the ground without bending and didn’t move after that.
I didn’t care that he was helpless; it was immaterial to me. He was the one who’d kicked my little brother when he was down. I looked at him closely for a moment and walked a few paces back. Then I ran up and booted him in the balls as hard as I could. He groaned quietly in his coma which gave me little or no satisfaction whatsoever, so I took another run and kicked him again.
My unappeased anger fed me a very bad idea; a dark plan to hobble him for the duration of my stay hereabouts – or longer – I really didn’t give a shite. I stripped off his fragmenting sneaker and brought the bog oak solidly down on his dirt encrusted foot until things crackled and crunched inside it. Eventually I bent down and lifted his foot to examine my handiwork and I deemed it good. It felt like I was holding a sock full of warm mashed potatoes and sharp sticks. Good, I thought, good, as I gave his foot a friendly squeeze. Finally satisfied I dragged him by the collar back to Silent Bobs tree.
There was something paradoxical about Bob that troubled me. He wore a haunted expression. I tore the duct tape from his mouth, taking some moustache with it.
“Here’s some company.” I told him. “You can look after him now. Tell him not to yell when he wakes. You’d never know what’s lurking round here. I’m off to keep an eye on your other pals until I’m sure my bud got safely away. Maybe I’ll even find him. But I’ll tell you this – as a professional courtesy – if they find him, or hurt him, I’ll kill them. Then I’ll come back here and kill this one. I haven’t made up my mind about you yet. Have you any problems with my little plan?”
He said nothing.
“Okay, come on, I’m dying to know,” I said. “Why do you stay with these criminals? I think it goes against your nature.”
He shrugged. “I save lives, sometimes. I prevent them from doing bad things. Really bad things. They’d happily kill every living creature for fun if I wasn’t there to stop them. They just love this time.”
“Why don’t you just kill the bastards in their sleep, then? Isn’t the world bad enough without the likes of them fouling it up further?”
“I’m no killer. I just can’t do it. Otherwise, I would.”
“What about that pilot? Why is he dead? How come your boss didn’t use him to get to Baldonnell?”
“The chief was furious about that but those feckin kids…” he looked away. “You have to watch them every second, you know? And I just wasn’t there to save him.”
An hour after sundown I was back on the airfield. D4 and his remaining sidekick should be on high alert with half of their little foursome overdue. I gazed at a yellow light shining dimly from the Portacabins grimy window.
I rolled a half filled container of avgas to the 206 and silently pumped fuel until the barrel was empty. It was something to do. I didn’t really believe I’d ever fly this plane again, but it was ready to go if I wanted it.
Then came the moment I dreaded. It was time to see if Greg had escaped. I crept from the shadow of the 206, covered the ground to the Portacabin in a crawl and peeked into the candlelit room through the window. The remaining teen leaned sullenly against the opposite wall eating something messily with an open mouth. His chief, also chewing, sat on the left side of the table; one hand delicately holding up a small piece of meat. He spoke in low tones and nodded sagely; obviously agreeing with some pertinent point that he himself was making.
In the chair opposite him, bloodied and beaten, sat Greg; his chin slumped limply on his chest.
I fought against my panic and rage. If I was to be of any use to him I needed to remain calm and wait for my chance. They had to come out to pee sometime. Mind you, the teenagers smelled so rank I think they just did it in their pants.
I didn’t have long to wait but it felt like a lifetime. When the door finally opened I almost jumped out of my skin with the fright. It was the kid. Good. He stepped to the ground and strode off into the darkness, the arrogant little shite; without a care in the world. The cabin door squealed shut by itself. He undid his pants and squatted in the grass. I waited till he began grunting before I detached myself from the shadows. I hit him hard with the intention of killing but I failed, jarring my wrist as the bog oak impacted his head. So instead, I trussed him and gagged him with duct tape and left him to die under the stars with his pants round his ankles. I hoped that some overlooked cadaver would loom out of the darkness and give him a taste of his own cannibalistic medicine.
I discarded the bog oak – it would be useless in the confines of the Portacabin – and pulled my knife. It was time to deal with the D4 guy while my blood was still boiling. I stepped up to the Portacabin door, opened it, and breezed right in.
“I very much hope that you washed your hands after you.” D4 murmured quietly without looking up from his nails. I rested the point of my hunting knife against his lower eyelid but he hardly flinched.
“My hands aren’t dirty.” I said.
“Why, Richie!” He purred. “Richie Byrne! But this is simply splendid! I’m so delighted you decided to join us. Your little brother here just wouldn’t stop talking about you. Isn’t that so, Gregory?”
“You better stop talking now.” I ordered through gritted teeth. Greg raised his battered head groggily at the sound of my voice. His eyes were swollen shut and his arms and legs were bound to the tubular chair with dirty lengths of rope.
“Richie? Is that you?” He whispered weakly. “Get me out of here.”
Should I, shouldn’t I, ram this blade into D4’s eye socket. I stared down hard at him and he gazed calmly back. His mouth was smiling but his eyes were a blank abyss. The equanimity with which he regarded me was chilling.
“Richie?” cried Greg. “Are you there? Rich?”
His voice broke the spell. My resolve wavered as I eyeballed my enemy. My murderous moment passed. Without taking my eyes off him I backed cautiously to Greg’s side of the table. It was only then that I discovered with a sick shock that three fingers from his left hand and all the toes on his left foot, had been amputated. A rusty wire cutter rested by his heel in a puddle of semi-coagulated blood. He was in obvious shock from pain, fear and blood loss.
“I’ll have you out of here in just a sec, Gregers. Okay?” I said in a choked voice. “There’s something I need to do first.”
D4 stood quickly to his full height; a large hunting knife in his hand. I deeply regretted not having stuck him in the eye when I had my chance.
“Did you know that your brother tastes absolutely delicious?” He taunted.
I was still in the throes of shock as he assumed a combat stance. He was coiling up and preparing to spring. A wonderfully cold, calm anger suffused me. It freed me from all responsibility, fear and consequence. My thoughts were crystal clear. Whatever might happen to me was immaterial provided I could strike this bastard down.
“Now Richie, I’d like you to listen to me just for a moment.” His voice was a study in soft understanding; a sympathetic and reasonable man. “I appreciate and respect your good intentions in regards to your brother, it’s only natural. I had a brother once. But I’m afraid I can’t just let you walk out of here with tomorrow’s din-dins. The boys will be starving by the time they return.”
It was coming. I tensed up, the knife held out in front of me.
“But I’ll tell you what,” he continued. “Let’s suspend this unpleasantness for just a moment. This is too tiny a space for us to be waving big knives about. One of us could lose an eye and that just wouldn’t do. So let’s negotiate. For my part I’m prepared to offer you this; I’m willing to guarantee your baby brothers safety; with absolutely no further harm to his person, if you agree to fly me to Baldonnell first thing in the morning. His life for a short little flight, eh? Now there’s a fair deal. What do you say?”
“I’m not negotiating with the murderous likes of you. I’m taking him out of here anyway, and I’ll gut you if you try to stop me. I might just gut you anyway for what you’ve done to him.”
“Gut me?” he recoiled in pretend shock, smiled, and shook his head sadly. “Oh Richie, Richie. That’s not how you negotiate. I’ll tell you what…” He stopped suddenly and glanced over my shoulder, his eyes opening wide in shock and alarm.
“Look out!” he yelled, failing miserably at the oldest trick in the book.
We both moved as one. His knife arm arced towards me and as I dodged its sweeping tip my hip hit the table and knocked it clattering against the back wall. His blade sliced ferociously back again. I leaned straight in the instant it hissed by my belly and pushed my blade into his neck. I felt it sink into the muscle and sinew below his beard. I got him!
Neither of us moved, but then he coughed suddenly. He reached behind and gripped the backrest of the seat. He wavered on his feet before slowly and laboriously sitting down, his eyes bulging. He coughed again and blood flowed over his slack lower lip and into his beard. The knife slid from his fingers and clattered to the floor as he raised his hands to his throat.
I laughed triumphantly! I had nailed the dirty, stinking bastard!
I stepped forward to finish the job. I was going to slice his balls off and make him eat them. Suddenly the door burst open and there, framed against the night, stood Silent Bob; huge and menacing, his facial hair savage and unkempt. With a frustrated snarl I turned my knife on him but he caught my wrist and twisted it with sudden force. I grunted in dismay as the knife slipped painfully from my fingers. He kicked it deftly into the shadows and released me.
As we stared wordlessly at each other a huge tiredness engulfed me. All of the fight; all of my blazing, vengeful wrath – so vital just seconds before – simply evaporated. I felt like sitting down. I wanted to lie down. This weakness confused me but my opponent didn’t seem confused by it at all. He simply pointed at my midriff and turned away to attend to his boss.
Puzzled, I looked down and discovered to my surprise that somehow – don’t ask me how – but ropes of thick, purple sausages had become stuck to my belly.
“Ah…” I said, realising the truth of it. “Okay so, just a moment here, just gimme a moment.” I put my back against the damp Portacabin wall and slid slowly down into a crouch, holding in my oozing guts with one hand.
Silent Bob held the candle in his fist and examined his boss’s injuries by its feeble light. He tore a strip from a thin, filthy blanket and wrapped it tightly around my enemies’ bloody neck to staunch the blood flow, being careful at the same time not to choke him. He left him slumped to one side in his seat and brought the candle over to me. He helped me lie flat on the floor and he put his soiled jacket under my head for a pillow. A surprising heat radiated from my entrails as I stared up into his face. All I could think of was how, at the end of all of this, I had finally failed Greg.
“Take your hands away and let me see,” he growled as he held the candle over my wound.
“How’s he?” I inclined my head towards the D4 guy. “Did I get him?”
“Yeah. You both got each other good. But he’ll live.” He muttered. “Maybe.”
“Bollocks. How am I, then? How do I look?”
“Have you any medical supplies? Can you stitch me up?”
“No. No point.”
“He cut through your guts, too.”
Cold terror ran through me in frigid sheets at this news, but it passed quickly, shouldered aside by a fierce wave of anger and frustration. That Dublin 4 bastard had maimed my brother and murdered me for fun, and I only managed to wing him.
“Bollocks!” I spat. “Kill him now, why don’t you? Kill him while you have the chance!”
“You didn’t listen,” he grumbled. “I’m not a killer.”
The thought of Greg’s fate chilled me even more than the certainty of my own imminent death.
“Listen,” I said, unashamedly noting the pleading tone in my voice, “do me a favour, will you? I know you’re not like these others. I accept you can’t help me. So will you please help Greg get away from here? Will you? He’s my brother. He’s all that’s left of five of us. Please.”
“Get him away to where?” he grunted impatiently. “He’s crippled. He can’t walk, he can’t fly. Besides, where could he go?”
I was at a loss – but then it hit me! There was a place! There was somewhere for him to go! But only I could get him there: Baldonnell. I felt the weight of eternity lift from me. I decided that my dying efforts must be expended in saving the life of the last of the Byrne boys. This big man could load us into the Cessna and I would fly us to Baldonnell. I could stay alive for that long, surely? If they really made the Stuff over there then they could easily fix Greg up. It was the only chance he had. If I succeeded, well; he’d live on and I’d have all the time in the world to die.
“You’re right.” I agreed. “Greg can’t fly. But I can.”
“Don’t be stupid,” the big man rumbled. “You can’t fly, either.”
“I can. If you can fix me up, I can. Nothing fancy like; just a temporary patch job. Just enough to hold me together in one piece for an hour, maybe two. There’s stuff in my plane you can use.”
I explained what was needed and he shrugged and left. Five minutes later he was back by my side to organise the surgical equipment; mainly the stapler and the duct tape. There was no messing around. Sterility and subtlety didn’t enter into this – nor did anaesthesia. I bit down on the hilt of my knife as he got clumsily to work. There was something I wanted to ask him but the question fled like mist in the sun as bolts of pain paralysed my thought processes.
I held my coiled guts in like a blood drenched Bonaparte as he pulled the upper and lower flaps of my bisected belly together. He stretched them until they overlapping outwards and he roughly stapled both slippery halves together. The resultant meaty ridge was crude and ugly. Silent Bob reinforced the whole squelchy mess with strips of duct tape applied directly to the wound and the surrounding flesh. He dressed the lot with ripstop cut from the pilot’s parachute. Gangrene was assured, but that was of no consequence.
Afterwards, as he wrapped Greg’s wounded hand and foot, I lay in a smeary puddle of my own sticky fluids; hyperventilating, shivering and retching. I felt a staple tear free but the duct tape held everything together surprisingly well. Lastly, he went to work on his unconscious boss with my stapler and my duct tape despite me telling him that he feckin well couldn’t.
Silent Bob sat me gently into the pilot’s seat of the 206 and fastened my seat belt. He had already duct taped Greg to the aluminium floor to prevent him from sliding out of the door during flight.
“Why don’t you come with us?” I wheezed as I sat hunched over the control column. I couldn’t stop shivering.
“I told you already.”
“He’s not your responsibility; that bastard. Just leave him here to die.”
“I can’t do that; I don’t expect you to understand. Maybe I owe him a life, but I do my best work right here, policing them. Listen, I hope you make it, I really do, you and your brother.”
He ducked out of the aircraft and I watched him walk away. What’s his name? That’s what I meant to ask him earlier. I didn’t know his name. He stooped and lifted two large, teen shaped bundles off the ground and dragged them after him. He hoisted them into the Portacabin and the door swung shut behind them. He didn’t come out again.
A spectacularly red and sullen sky blossomed through the cabin window; a sailors warning dawn. It was so bright and vivid I thought I was delirious. My pain was… indescribable. Every movement was a flaming agony. I could feel the poisons from my severed intestines spread like a cancer through my body cavity. My seat was wet from the vile smelling liquids leaking from my wound, but my desire to save Greg kept me motivated and determined. It was time to get into the air before I ran out of time myself.
“Greg!” I called weakly. “Gregory, are you awake? Can you hear me?”
“Yeah.” He mumbled weakly. “Richie, I can hardly see. I can’t move.”
“Your eyes’ll be fine. Don’t worry. You’re duct taped to the floor of Oscar Bravo. Greg! We’re off to the Stuff factory. I know where it is.” I hoped his poor condition would prevent him from noticing the strain in my voice. “Are you ready?”
“The Stuff factory?” he wheezed. “Wow. Okay.”
“But listen, this’ll be a bumpy take off, alright? It might hurt.”
“Wait, Rich?” he wheezed. “Did you re-patch the plane? The wings are in tatters!”
He knew from my silence that I hadn’t.
“Um…d’you think the remaining duct tape’ll hold, then?” he asked querulously as I flipped the master switch to ON.
“Well, brother…” I muttered as the engine fired up. “Mine feckin better…”