The Devil in the Dark
By L. Crystal Michallet-Romero
© February 8, 2005 L. Crystal Michallet-Romero
All rights reserved
Disclaimer: None needed. This is an original short story. All characters are mine.
Rating: NC/17, because of implied and graphic scenes.
All Feedback Welcomed: CrystalMichallet@yahoo.com
Tweed – also known as "joint," "Mary Jane," "blunts," "Bobby Browns" or "Al Greens." A narcotic leaf, cannabis, originally used as hemp for rope, now ingested by burning in a wrapped paper.
Pues – then
Menso - Stupid
Ranchera music – Traditional Mexican music that is often similar in sound to polka music.
Pappi – Term for Father, or pappa. Often time means, one who takes care of you.
Hombre - man
Amigo - Friend
Si - Yes
Verdad – Truth, as in, "Isn't that the truth," or "Am I right?"
Wedo – white man
pinchie gringo – "expletive" white man
chica - girlfriend
loco - crazy
chingada – curse word, like "dammit!"
Casey Stanton liked to think of himself as a rebel. He would never fit in with the stand-up, straight-laced boring preppy crowd and that's how he liked it. He was a rebel doing his own thing. It never occurred to Casey that his attempt to be different had actually made him part of a crowd. It was not the type that most parents approved of, nor was it the kind that brought anything but fear and loathing from those who saw them passing on the road. Casey, or Shadow as he liked to be called, was a part of the punk underground scene. Even in a sleepy town like San Madrone, their presence was a constant reminder of the teen angst that consumed a segment of the kids.
"Hey, nut-balls, you lost this!" Shadow jokingly called to his friend, Diablo, as he held out a brown, tattered leather wallet. Diablo was not his real name, but a handle that was common amongst their crowd. As if their real names revealed too much of themselves, each teen chose a name that they could hide behind. For Diablo, his name fit him perfectly. With dark long hair, earth brown features and a neatly trimmed goatee pointing toward the bottom of his firm chin, the eighteen year could have looked like the devil himself, or at least his offspring.
The Chicano youth glanced back at Shadow. His torn, faded jeans were held up by a metal belt chain that was jury-rigged with heavy pad locks to hold it together. He wore a leather vest over a simple white tee shirt. With black boxers showing, Diablo smiled, the silver piercings on his face glimmering in the diffused city streetlights. The various tattoos of satanic images were carefully concealed under the Chicano's shirt.
"Hey dude, thanks," the slight buzz slurred Diablo's words and made his pupils dilated. Before retrieving his wallet that had fallen from his low hanging pants, Diablo held the thin tweed to his lips, inhaling deeply. The familiar aroma of cannabis wafted in the air and lingered around the small group. After Shadow took the tweed from his friend's hand, Diablo quickly turned his affections to the lithe brown beauty that was hanging on his arm.
"Hey man, I wanna have some fun," she whined to Diablo as she pulled him down for a kiss.
Shadow smiled at the scene, and then held the smoke to his lips as he inhaled the tangy concoction. At the gentle nudge by his side, he glanced down at his girlfriend. Although only dating for a week, he had spoken his undying love for her, which always resulted in him going all the way. Although Casey might have felt a bit reluctant to lead her on, for Shadow, speaking lies to get some action never bothered him. When it came to Melinda, he would have said anything to get into her pants, and since she required the words of love, he gladly spoke them just to be able to feel her slender body under him.
"Am I gonna get some?" the red-head asked.
As the intoxicating aroma burned in his chest, Shadow glanced down at Melinda. He noticed how her dark lipstick matched the black eye shadow around her eyes. Like him, she had a gold hoop piercing on her eyebrow and another in her nose. When Shadow released his breath and smelled the second hand smoke, he smiled wryly as he lowered himself to the girl.
"Oh, you're gonna get some, alright!" Shadow's whisper promised against her ear was followed by the gentle nibbling of her lobe right before his tongue snaked out and darted into its canal. The stud on his tongue brushed against her skin, promising even more pleasure that would follow. With a soft giggle, Melinda's hand pushed into his back pocket as she leaned into his embrace.
"I know that, stupid, but I want some green bud too," Melinda finally said as she pulled away and took the tweed from him, then began to inhale the joint.
With a smile, Shadow looked around them. At this hour of the night the city streets were crowded with people like themselves. They were outsiders, outcasts discarded and ignored by everyone. Their stories and pasts were not important. All that mattered was that for this moment in time, they were amongst a group of people who understood that sometimes being on the outside of the norm was the only way to exist.
When the traffic light turned green, his group made their way across the pavement to the local hangout. If the sight of the Chicano gang banger and his girl friend walking with a blond teen and red-head girl surprised the people, none showed it. Instead, they continued on their way as the four youths walked toward the all night establishment. The blue neon sign flashed its last burst of light within the window of the Taqueria. As they entered the small brick building, the sudden scents of chili, meat, and herbs assaulted their senses.
"Hey man, you got some cash? I'm hungry," Diablo looked back at him.
"Dude, why do you always look at me?" Shadow exclaimed as he reached into his back pocket and took out his wallet.
"Pues, you're the one with a rich old man, not me," Diablo grinned as he snatched the wallet and took out a crisp bill.
"Get me a taco, man," Shadow called to his friend as he, Melinda and Yolanda, Diablo's woman, took up a booth. Those nearby who were not a part of their crowd suddenly grabbed their stuff and left, casting wary glances back at the leather clad youths.
"Anything you want, Dude, my treat!" Diablo held out his arms as a sign of generosity before going to the small window to place their order.
With a glance over his shoulder, Shadow noted the time, and then leaned against Melinda's warm body. While a part of him knew that it was late, the drugged out part of his brain thought that it was actually morning. Both of his dual senses were right, yet nothing would have deterred him from his night of fun.
"Did you sneak out again?" Melinda asked.
"Did you?" Shadow raised a questioning brow before they both began to giggle uncontrollably.
Casey was rebelling against his father, that is what every psychologist and family therapist had told him. In his ever pressing need to find his own balance to becoming a man, he had chosen to turn against everything that his father stood for and this was how he did it. By becoming part of the underworld scene, mutilating his body with piercings and tattoos and choosing a way of life so contrary to his father's, he was finding his path to manhood. For Casey, it really didn't matter what they said nor did he particularly care. He simply went to those appointments because he had no other choice. So while he sat in the drab, closed off space he listened to the litany of complaints from his old man and remained stoically silent. Every once in a while he might snicker, or sigh, but he allowed nothing more than a mild interest in what they spoke to reveal in his mannerism. This is how Shadow, the new man he was becoming, preferred it. And who could blame him with the father that he had?
Doctor Wilfred J. Stanton, Ph.D, professor of criminology, forensic anthropology, famed lecturer at various prestigious universities, part time consultant to the FBI, and other foreign law enforcement agencies and now a Dean of Criminology at the University of San Madrone, a position he held since becoming a widower. If this information wasn't enough to scare Shadow's friends away, then the man's tall, foreboding nature kept them at arms length. Only by donning the standard uniform of the day could Casey, now known as Shadow, blend in with the people whom he chose to align himself with, and this disturbed his father. But it didn't bother Shadow. He had no problem with sneaking out at night, or forgetting about his school work until he was border line with his academic standing. At sixteen, he wasn't very concerned with anything except the immediate. His future and his father meant very little to him.
"Hey, why don't we go to the park, huh? You always like it in the park," Shadow whispered to his girlfriend as he leaned into a kiss. Her lips were always soft and inviting. Her tongue, pierced like his, was eager to dance against his. As their kiss lingered, he felt the all too familiar stirring in his pants and knew that if he could, he would take her here and now.
Before he could get more excited, Diablo's voice broke the mood. "Hey, menso, don't get your gears all revved up yet, man, we just got a job."
"A job?" Shadow frowned as the taco was dropped in front of him.
"Yeah, Tazer said that he's got a good place for us, real easy, in and out, no problem," Diablo's voice was punctuated by the sound of the burrito he was chewing. The girls each took their food and began to eat as they talked about the latest things that girls talk about. Ignoring their mindless chatter, Shadow dug into his food and shook his head.
"Man, I ain't doing anything for Tazer! You know him, he always wants to do high profile things and I ain't that stupid!" Shadow exclaimed as he grabbed the large soda and took a gulp. "No liquor stores for me!"
"Liquor stores? Man, when have I ever done a liquor store? No way!" Diablo spoke quickly before devouring his burrito. In between bites, he spoke softly so as not to be heard by anyone nearby. Shadow didn't think that anyone cared to listen nor could they with the sounds of the Ranchera music blaring through the corner speakers on the wall.
"Listen, Shadow, I'm your Pappi, right? Your man, your hombre and amigo, right? I'm the one who always looks out for you, si?" Diablo asked with a serious tone.
Shadow glanced up at him and studied his face for a long moment. He noticed the way that the eighteen year old stared at him intently with dark, piercing eyes. The thin mustache on his upper lip was a direct contrast to the slight peach fuzz that gathered on his cheek and his skin, as brown as earth, seemed to glisten under the bright yellow lights of the Taqueria. With something akin to a grunt, Shadow averted his eyes and continued to eat his early morning meal.
"Verdad, I told you, I always look out for my homeboys, and even though you're a wedo, you're like my brother," Diablo's smooth sounding voice coaxed. "I would never do anything to put you in danger, trust me man, this is going to be smooth, in and out, no fuss at all!" he promised as he lit a cigarette, completely ignoring the No Smoking sign on the wall.
"Ok, Diablo, so what is it exactly?" Shadow asked as he bunched up the wrapper and leaned back in his chair.
"A place, a house, some rich pinchiegringo who is never there. Tazer said it would be smooth, in and out, some computers, TV's, DVD's, maybe even an Xbox! Man it's going to be ripe pickings!" Diablo's his eyes grew to slits as he nodded in pleasure before leaning back to release a puff of smoke.
"Oh! An Xbox, Diablo, I want it! Get me an Xbox!" Yolanda squealed at first, then cooed as she snuggled against her man.
"Anything for my chica," Diablo smiled at his woman, then leaned in for a kiss. As they began to make out, Shadow sighed in contentment.
An easy job, in and out, no problems and with some cash for the goods. Money was never an issue for Shadow, but sometimes he liked to have the ready cash. It always gave him a sense of pleasure whenever his old man noticed him flashing the wads yet knew that he had no job. Yes, pissing off his father is what gave Shadow immense pleasure, and something that would not bring too much to risk to himself.
Later, when they walked together through the silent streets Shadow should have known better than to proceed with his plans. When the sound of the lone owl hooted high in the trees, he should have told his friend that he'd rather go and bust his balls against Melinda's smooth opening, but he didn't. Instead he followed through with the plans and on the surface it looked like an easy job. Tazer was right, in and out, just like a good fuck, with no troubles.
While they were removing their haul from the dark empty house Shadow had time to look around the place. It was a nondescript house, like the one he lived in. It was located in some middle class, white bread neighborhood and surrounded by a large yard with trees nearby. The furniture was nice, better than the middle income variety, and all along the walls hung framed pictures. Family photos showed the occupants to be the normal all American variety of 2.5 kids.
As Shadow glanced at the family photo he noticed the easy going smile of the father and the love in the teenager's eyes. The older man's appearance was average and the smile was wide and inviting. For a moment, the teen wondered if this man was as uptight as his own father. But as he remembered the stern lectures from his old man, Shadow knew that no one could be as strict as his own father. With a shake of his head, he moved to the second floor and looked around the place as he picked up things that might be worth selling later.
"Hey, menso, psst," Diablo's whisper was urgent. After leaning over the balcony, Shadow saw his friends arms loaded with a CPU, a small television, and the wires of an Xbox. "Hey, loco, get down here and help!"
"Yeah," was all Shadow said as he skipped down the steps, and then grabbed a lap top that was sitting by the door as well as other equipment. One by one they carried the items out of the dark empty house to Tazer's waiting van. When Shadow turned to gather more items, he noticed his friend's wallet on the sidewalk and picked it up. When Diablo returned from the van, Shadow handed it to him.
"Man, you keep losing this," he whispered with a shake of his head.
"Oh yeah, thanks Dude," Diablo smiled as he waved the thin wallet, then put it back into his front pocket. "Wouldn't want to lose it now that I'm gonna get some cash to put into it," he winked and ran into the open door in the back of the house.
Shadow grabbed more items and quickly ran out to the van. With each haul, they carried electronic equipment, silver, jewelry, and coins until there wasn't anymore room in the van. With a satisfied grin, Diablo climbed into the passenger seat and leaned back as Shadow jumped into the back and closed the sliding door. As the old battered VW van rolled out of the neighborhood, Diablo grabbed his seatbelt and buckled up, then glanced back at Shadow with a grin.
"Wouldn't want to break any laws, would I?" the teen mocked as all boys broke out into hoots of laughter.
Everything had gone smoothly...too smoothly. But this didn't concern any of the boys. Once Tazer took what he wanted and paid his two accomplices, Shadow and Diablo sat in the basement of the old house that belonged to Diablo's mother and boyfriend. With their booty around them, they celebrated their good fortune. The bong in Shadow's hands was filled with a crystal meth that sent a sweet smell through the room. With a deep inhaling on the pipe, the teen closed his eyes and allowed the smoky drug to consume him. In the corner of the room Melinda and Yolanda were busy playing a game on the Xbox that they had just acquired, while Diablo fiddled with a camcorder.
"Hey man, there is some sick mother fuckin' shit on here!" the older teen exclaimed as he quickly began to fumble through the room searching for something.
"Wha?" Shadow felt his eyes growing heavy as he leaned back into the overstuffed chair.
From the window in the far corner he saw the first signs of the sun and knew that, once again, he would not make it into his first class. Actually, when he was totally honest with himself he had to admit that he would not make it to school at all. At this thought a fit of giggles escaped his control when he imagined the image of his father's livid face. Maybe this would be the time when he would push the old man over the edge. Perhaps this is what would finally make his father act on the threat of military school. If this at all bothered Shadow, he did not show it. He only laughed as he watched his friend frantically moving to the television the girls were using.
"Aye chingada, get out of my way, this is important!" Diablo screamed at the girls.
"Not as important as getting to level five!" Yolanda countered, her head bobbing back and forth as her body language dared him to start a fight.
"Man, this mother is one sick bastard, look at this," he said as he began to play the tape after the connections were hooked up.
At first Shadow didn't understand what he was watching. Through the drug induced haze of his vision, he watched the scene unfold. Both girls began to squeal as they turned their heads in shock. A pallor covered their faces.
"Turn that sick movie off," Melinda face held a look of disgust as she turned away from the hideous images on the screen.
"Yeah man, that is some sick stupid slasher movie! Turn it off so we can play our game," Yolanda agreed.
"Loca's, it's not a movie!" Diablo shouted. "Man, this shit is real!" his voice grew low as he kneeled in front of the tube, his eyes glued to the shadowy scene of a solitary man in front of the camera. The image was hazy and distorted and although they could not see the face on the screen, what he was doing to his captive was clear.
"Dude, it's just a fucking movie," Shadow said with a slight chuckle.
"No man, no. Look, it's real, it ain't no slasher movie!" Diablo's voice was barely a whisper as his gaze was transfixed on the images that played out.
Shadow's brain, still muddled from the drug, did not realize what he was watching at first. But as his friend began to shuffle through storage media his mind slowly cleared. Somewhere during their previewing of the movies, their girlfriends left in disgust as the images, sounds of screaming a gore became too much for them to handle. Even though Shadow found his stomach lurching, he tried to convince himself that it was not real, that the images were just a clever film student's indie project. At one point, he convinced himself that he was dreaming, that he was safe in his home fast asleep under the heavy comforter that kept him warm at night, and soon, at any minute, his father would knock on the door to wake him up. But none of this was true and what they were seeing was something that he could not fathom clearly.
"It's gotta be fake," Shadow said as if to convince himself. When this failed, he softly whispered, "we need to tell someone."
"Tell somebody? What are you loco?" the panic caused Diablo's voice to crack as he slammed the television off. The screen grew suddenly blank and the only sound that could be heard was the leaky water pipe and the distant voices of Diablo's family who lived upstairs.
"What are we gonna say, that we stole this stuff from this sick motherfucker?" Diablo turned on him, his eyes held terror. "Man, they're going to lock us up for sure. You've never been to juvi, but I have. And don't forget, I'm eighteen now, they wouldn't send me to juvi but with the big guys. I ain't going there, no fuckin' way!"
"B-But..." Shadow shook his head in hopes of clearing the last remnants of his haze. "What are we going to do?"
"I don't know, man, I don't know," Diablo began to pace the length of the room. His agitation grew with each second that passed. "Gotta think, that's all, I just gotta think," he mumbled, then turned on Shadow.
"Listen, you go to school, you hear, you get your books and go finish out the rest of the day with the girls," Diablo knelt in front of Shadow, the dark-haired teen's eyes were stern and intent.
"But we can't just..." Shadow's words were cut off by his friend's touch. Firm hands took a hold of his shoulder and gently shook him.
"Keep your head, man. Just keep your head. Let me think about it, ok?" Diablo's voice grew deep.
"My father, we could tell him," Shadow offered, but was quickly silenced by the bigger teen's groan of frustration.
"No, not your old man!" Diablo shouted. "He'd go right to the FBI and I'd be locked up for sure!" The boy shouted, then turned on Shadow, "listen, just do as I say and I promise to figure something out, ok? Just listen to your Pappi, ok? I promise, I'll figure something out."
Shadow had a moment of doubt. A part of him felt like his father should know, but another part reminded him that his old man was the enemy. Ever since their falling out when his mother died, he had never talked openly with his father. How could he? The man was more interested in his work than he was in his family. As she lingered away in the hospital, his old man was no where to be seen. In the end the boy was left alone to hold his mother's hand until she finally died. The part in him that still called himself Casey never forgot this moment, but the new person, Shadow, shrugged it off as just another part of life.
Despite his foreboding feelings, the blond youth listened to his best friend. Diablo was right, no one had stood by him except his best friend. Confident that Diablo would find a way out, Shadow nodded acceptance and rose on wobbly legs. He would go to school, sit through his classes and wait for his friend to contact him.
This was how Shadow spent his day. When he returned home he went through his usual routine. Although the disturbing images were always in the back of his mind, he was able to forget them enough to go about his business. Only when he heard his father enter the house late in the evening did he grab his coat. He hadn't gotten what he wanted last night from Melinda, so he decided to go to her tonight. With Diablo working on the problem, he could take his time to be with his girl and if he could get her in the mood, which was not very hard to do, then he'd be able to get some satisfaction.
Shadow bounded down the steps two at a time. Before his father could even call out to him, he was out of the front door and making his way through the dark city streets. With a slight smile, he passed through the suburban streets and made his way toward his girlfriend's house. As his mind wandered to the night ahead, he felt a familiar stirring begging for release. Soon hewould be with his girl and then bang the night away. A slight smile tugged at the corner of his lips. He was so enthralled in his own fantasies that he never saw the danger looming in the shadows until it was too late. By the time he felt the strong arm around him and the firm clasp over his mouth that held a smelly cloth, it was too late to even fight. The only thing he could do was allow the blackness to cover his senses as he was dragged from the dark city streets.
Shadow awoke later in the pitch blackness of a cold dark room. Bound and gagged, he looked around but could see nothing beyond the light that hung overhead. As if hearing his thoughts, a form loomed into view. Although he could not see the face, he recognized the man's body clearly and began to panic. In a feeble attempt, he fought against the rope around his wrists.
"Funny how we all feel safe and secure in our homes, isn't it?" a strange voice came from the form moving around him. "I take my family on a vacation and what did I find when I returned?" he asked, but did not wait for the gagged teen to reply. "You and your friend stole my things. I couldn't get everything back, but I did get back what was important to me," the man almost whispered as he walked in the shadows, only his lower body showing.
"I bet you're wondering how I found you, aren't you?" the dark figure asked as the sounds of his footfalls registered in the darkness. "First I found this," he held out Diablo's tattered wallet. "Once I found out who your friend was, it didn't take too long to find you too. Your friend, he told me everything. Strange, I didn't think that a thug gang banger would wimp out so quickly," the voice spoke almost to himself.
"And what is this name of his, the name on the tattoo? Diablo?" his captor asked as his pacing continued in the cold, dark room. "Devil, isn't it?" he chuckled out loud before moving closer to the teen. "Don't you think it's ironic, I mean, some punk kid calling himself Diablo when he has no clue who it is? After all, neither one of you is even old enough to know the true meaning of evil or the devil, are you?"
Shadow felt the tears well in his eyes as his heart raced out of control. Fighting back against his fears, he struggled to break free of his confinements, but only brought a chuckle from his captor. When the man moved into full view, he looked up and was surprised to see the familiar face from the photographs on the wall. He was balding, wore glasses and was dressed in an ordinary white button down shirt, dark pants and black suede shoes. At first glance, the man looked like any ordinary father figure but upon closer inspection, Shadow saw the large knife in the man's hands that dripped blood.
As if discussing the weather, the older man glanced down at his own hands. His brows arched for a moment in thought before he looked back down at his captive. A satanic smile played across his lips as he took a step closer to the teen.
"You think you know Diablo, the devil?" he asked in a hushed voice. "You haven't even begun to dance with the devil, boy. But you will...yes, you will," a smile crossed the man's lips as he menacingly moved toward the captive, his hand reaching up to turn the hanging light so that it flashed upon the lifeless, bloody body slumped in the farthest corner.
Although the corpse was so mangled that it could not be identified, the clothes lying in a bloody heap nearby told Shadow more than he wanted to know. The metal belt and locks had been casually discarded to one side along with jeans, shorts and shirt. The wallet that was always falling from an overly large pocket was now sitting on a nearby table top, Diablo's identification lying next to it.
The youth felt the bile rise in his throat but was unable to vomit. Instead, he began to weep openly as he struggled in vain to get away from his tormentor. For the first time since his mother died, Casey regretted not talking to his father. He felt the guilt and remorse of his actions weigh heavily on his soul. But he was unable to do anything beyond cry because he knew, for the first time, that he was looking into the eyes of the devil in the dark.
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