A SMALL PILE OF BONES By Sébastien Doubinsky
The evening had sucked. Dumb “Buffalo” Doobie was mad as hell and the collection of pills he had swallowed in the past three sleepless days, chased down his gigantic stomach with Bourbon and beer, added electric fuel to his rage. Yeah, sucked big time. The streets of New Mumbai were still crowded although it was past two in the morning, but the passers-by carefully changed sidewalk when they noticed the huge form stomping their way. For Dumb “Buffalo” Doobie, although stupid, as indicated by his nickname, was also formidable. His large shoulders and fur-like hairs made him look even more monstrous. That’s why he had decided that he would wear the image of a buffalo’s head crowned with flame horns on the back of his leather jacket. So that everybody knew what kind of a beast he really was.
And yet, with all these qualities, Vince had…
Doobie still couldn’t get over the humiliation. Humiliation! How could such a word ever be applied to him? After all, Dumb “Buffalo” Doobie was a known figure of the New Mumbai underground – he and his gang of Raging Demons had been in control of most of the Lower City’s gambling, drug and prostitution for at least ten years now – although it felt like a hundred, or a hundred thousand years, centuries, millenaries, you name it. But what? Showing up like that at their hangout, all dressed up in a poofy white suit, reeking of perfume from miles away? Vince had really overdone himself that time.
Doobie remembered every detail very clearly. The pool game. The music in the background, heavy. The local girls – Mina, his current beauty, standing by his side while he was aiming at the eight-ball in order to wipe Sava out of the surface of this earth – Sava holding his breath and mentally counting all the money he was about to lose… Doobie remembered the loud cheers from the gang as he drew the cue back, slowly, slowly, enjoying the kill. And then… suddenly… silence and the smell of perfume. He had turned around, surprised, and had met Vince’s glaze. Detached, as usual, as if bored with everything that surrounded him.
Straightening up, Doobie had welcomed him.
“Hey, Vince, whassup, my man? What can I do for you?”
Vince had smiled, his pencil-thin mustache slightly moving over his lips.
“Ah, Doobie…” he had said, sighing in theatrical manner. “I have heard your name pronounced so many times in the last weeks…”
The silence in the bar thickened and the temperature seemed to drop a few degrees. The music also stopped as if by magic, and nobody went to put some more coins in the jukebox. The Raging Demons crowded around their boss, adopting menacing postures. Normally, any sane individual would have run away in panic, but Vince was something else. He had very high connections and ruled over both the Upper and Lower Cities. He dealt in everything, both legal and not. He was not someone you could frighten easily, if at all. What’s more, he had a (confirmed) reputation of doing away with his enemies in horrible ways… Doobie knew all that, and he also knew that Vince didn’t like problems. Especially problems that could become his own, after a while.
“Many temples have received your visit, it seems.”
Doobie opened his mouth to explain, but then shut it again, knowing that Vince knew everything already.
“You know temples are me and my friends’ business” Vince said.
Doobie nodded reluctantly.
“It’s good business” he grunted. “And it’s on my turf. Why can’t I get a share too?”
“Because you can’t, that’s all.” Vince explained, sort of. “And I don’t want to hear about you again. Is that clear?”
His two earrings had briefly shone as he had turned around to leave the bar, leaving Doobie and his gang to savor their humiliation. The smell of perfume was sickening.
In his own bar, on his own turf! Something had to be done and done fast. Vince would have to learn to respect him. Doobie popped a new pill, and chased it with a sip from his flask. His eyes turned electricity white. No more mister Nice Guy.
Sitting behind his desk, looking at all sorts of business papers, Vince Shnoo looked at his watch and sighed. Three in the morning. It looked like he wasn’t going toi get any sleep tonight. So many problems, suddenly. First, that idiot, the aptly named Dumb “Buffalo” Doobie, trying to racket the temples of his area. That’s what too many drugs could do for you. Vince clicked his tongue disapprovingly. How could he have even come up with the idea? The hierarchy had to be respected. Sure, Doobie had his part in the Lower City, no question about that. But he had to respect the limits. Everybody knew that. Or did they? He frowned and absent-mindedly caressed his left earring. Chives had called him up this morning and had let him know of a new problem. That Russian guy, or wherever he came from, that Valy, in the suburbs. Impossible to get rid of him. He didn’t have a gang and he had wiped out the entire area of all their friends and allies. Now he ran the business by himself. A real demon, that guy. Chives had asked some of his friends to take care of the job – they had all disappeared. Some parts of their bodies were found in the sewers, others in garbage cans all around town. And now Chives had called him up and told him he had to take care of it. Thanks, boss. Thanks a fucking lot.
His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a buzz at the gate. Looking in his monitor, he saw Doobie’s huge silhouette swaying outside. “What now?” he thought. He hesitated a few seconds, then pressed the buzzer. He quickly opened the drawer of his desk, to make sure the Golden Eagle was there.
He heard Doobie’s heavy steps climb up the stairs and smiled as the monster appeared at the door of his office. Doobie’s eyes were half-shut with madness and rage, glowing slightly in the half-darkness.
“Yes?” Vince said delicately, offering a seat to the beast with a wave of the hand.
Dum Doobie didn’t answer. He stood there, grunting, staring at Vince as if he was trying to get him into focus.
“Yes?” Vince repeated, a little harsher this time. He didn’t want the moron to think it was okay to disturb someone of his distinction at such ungodly hours.
“I want in on the temple business” Doobie growled. “There are twenty-three temples in my district and I get nothing. I can protect them as well as you and your friends can, you know that.”
Vince sighed. This situation was becoming like an old chewing-gum stuck underneath a sandal. Annoying and hard to get rid of. If only Chives… Vince suddenly smiled inside.
“Yes, yes, I know very well you can” he said, softening his tone again. “But I’m not the one who decides… I only obey orders. I am not self-employed, like you are…”
Dumb Doobie shrugged the compliment off. Maybe he didn’t get it, Vince thought.
“It’s Chives who decides… You know Chives?”
Doobie nodded aggressively.
“Of course I know the cretin. Who doesn’t?”
“Well, if I were you, I would go and see Chives and try to arrange something with him. If anyone can do anything for you, it’s him.”
Doobie nodded again silently. He seemed to think about Vince’s words for a long minute, then turned around and proceeded down the stairs. The walls shook when he slammed the door on the way out.
Vince chuckled as he picked up his cell phone and dialed Chives’s number.
“Better warn the boss about the unexpected visit” he whispered out loud to himself. “Let’s see how he will handle this one…”
In his red satin dressing-gown, Chives looked even more poofy than Vince, Doobie thought. And that blue hair, like some Manga character… Not to mention the snake he had around his neck. What was that about? Some music-hall act? He could still feel sparks chasing each other around his eye-bulbs and the rage he had been feeling mounting all evening and night was now way past the red zone and entering the golden one. The free-style zone, where every aspect of violence becomes possible. Scenes of butchery flew past his ecstatic eyes as he focused on the thin man’s silhouette, sitting in the armchair by the fire in his well-decorated lounge.
“Sit down, my friend, sit down” Chives said, indicating a sofa next to the giant. “Vince called me and told me you had a problem of some sort.”
Doobie shook his head at the sitting offer and nodded at the evocation of his problem.
“We all have problems, you know. Especially in these strange times we’re living in… What can I do for you? It is about the temples, I heard?”
Doobie grunted threatingly.
“I want a cut on the temple racket in my territory. Or else.”
Chives shook his head, clicking his tongue while he stroked the snake’s head, who seemed to lick his fingers with his forked tongue, sending waves of disgust through Doobie’s body.
“Alas, I can’t do anything for you, dear friend. I am not the one who controls the temple situation…”
Doobie looked at him, perplexed.
“But Vince told me that…”
Chives lifted a hand that commanded silence.
“Vince doesn’t know everything. There is someone above me, who controls everything.”
Doobie scratched his massive head. He felt like sitting down, now. The sofa collapsed under his weight, but he didn’t seem to notice. This situation was becoming extremely complicated. Much more complicated than violence. Violence, he could understand. But all these people who controlled other people…
“Who?” he groaned, making his finger joints crack, the noise covering the sound of the burning wood in the fireplace.
Doobie let out a surprised sigh, which completely put out the fire.
“The Media mogul?”
Doobie stood up.
“No problem” he said. “I’ll go talk to him now. Huh… Where does he live?”
Chives smiled, and Doobie had the slight impression that the snake smiled too. The thin white man handed him a golden visit card.
“Here is his address. I’m sure you can find an agreement.”
Mr. Indra couldn’t believe his luck. It was the first time he had such a good telephone call at four in the morning. Two problems, one solution. Sometimes this world did make sense.
He got out of bed and put on his favorite dressing-gown, the golden silk one with the blue lightning bolts on each side. Every time he put it on, he felt like a god.
Dumb “Buffalo” Doobie parked his 1200cc Enfield in front of the large warehouse. He pulled out a piece of paper from his oil-stained jeans’ back pocket and checked the address once more. The place was completely deserted it seemed, an old industrial ground with rusting machines and a pungent smell of rust. Mr. Indra had told him that the guy lived in the suburbs – he hadn’t specified that it was in the suburbs’ suburb. He carefully scanned the area for signs of life, but the electricity in his eyes prevented him from seeing all too clearly. It didn’t matter. It was strong enough to take on multiple adversaries. He had had the experience in the past. All the more fun.
Mr. Indra’s words came back to his mind as he marched towards the warehouse’s locked gate: “Get rid of that Valy guy for me, and you get a fifty percent cut on all the temples of your district.”
Fifty percent! He had aimed at fifteen, twenty maybe. But fifty… Hell, for that much, he would have cleaned the town of all the other scumbags, no problem.
Doobie looked at the gate and tried the handle. It wouldn’t budge. Looking up, he noticed the CCTV camera and waved at it, with a stupid grin. Then, in one perfectly well aimed movement, he kicked the rusted steel door down. The noise was deafening, but Doobie didn’t care. He liked it. It reminded him of his favorite kind of music.
Panting, he stopped for a few seconds, getting his eyes accustomed to the darkness. He wondered if Mr. Indra hadn’t played a trick on him. The place seemed completely empty. He took a step forward and was suddenly blinded by the most powerful floodlights he had ever seen. He raised both hands to protect his eyes and he tried to peek through the burning whiteness.
“Who the fuck are you?” a powerful voice asked him, from the other end of the warehouse.
“And who the fuck are you?” Doobie retorted, amazed by his own sense of humor.
“I am Valy and I don’t like to be disturbed.”
“I am Dumb Doobie and I have come to destroy you.”
Doobie really liked the sound of his own voice. He was almost terrified by it himself.
The lights were turned off as abruptly as they had been turned on.
Doobie couldn’t see anything, apart from red, blue and yellow stars dancing in front of his eyes, but he heard the shuffle of footsteps. He tried to focus in the darkness, but the obscurity seemed deeper and thicker than before. Just as if you could touch it. He tentatively extended his arm in front of him and felt something warm and hard, like… a stomach?
“Well, we’ll see about that” the voice said.
In his small hut made of home-recycled cardboard, Matanga was reading a pocket-book copy of the Ramayana he had found in the bus station, probably forgotten by some student. He was enjoying the story of Rama and Sugreeva, deciphering the story by the light of a lighter he had found at the train station, while looking for cigarette butts. A small miracle it had been, later confirmed by his discovery of the Ramayana on that bench, at the bus station. He was arriving at the chapter in which Rama and Sugreeva were approaching the kingdom of Ravana, when the deafening rattle of a motorcycle startled him. He dropped the lighter and the book, and listened in the darkness. Who could come here, at this hour? The man who had made the warehouse his home had come back much earlier in the evening, and he wasn’t the kind one would want to disturb in the middle of the night. Actually, he was right down terrifying, and that was precisely why he, Matanga, was staying here. Nobody ever dared come here to bother him, including the police force. He had made himself as discreet as possible, and that man, Valy, that mad stranger, tolerated him and his small cardboard house. Actually, Matanga loved that house. It had taken him about three weeks to construct, and it was a model of urban camouflage. Nobody would have guessed that this heap of garbage was actually a house. Nobody. And that made Matanga very proud. The best house he ever had.
He heard the motorcycle stop and the engine being cut off. Glancing timidly through a hole in the door, he discovered a huge biker slowly walking towards the warehouse. “Not a good idea”, Matanga thought for himself, but then again, not everybody was as wise as he was. To reach the venerable age of sixty-four when one has lived in the streets all his life requires a little luck and a lot of brains. The other beggars had nicknamed him “The Sage.” Matanga smiled in his white beard. Absolutely.
He was surprised to see the mountain of the man kick down the front door and disappear inside the warehouse. What was he looking for? Suicide? A powerful light was then turned on and some words were exchanged, but Matanga was too far to hear what they were. His heart was beating faster, excited by the situation. It was the first time anybody had ever come here and paid a visit to the stranger. Ever. He wondered if that was the beginning of a new era. After all, a lighter and a copy of the Ramayana the same day – signs, no less. Signs.
There was a long scream. A scream of terror. The sound was inhumanly high-pitched, almost funny and Matanga smiled in spite of himself. Then the visitor flew backwards out of the warehouse, like in one of those Hong-Kong movies Matanga sometimes watched in the TV shops’ windows. Except here, there were no strings attached to the man’s body. He had really flown and crashed on the ground, about thirty feet away from the door and forty-five from Matanga’s small house.
His heart beating like a galloping horse, Matanga pressed his eye against the peep-hole. Valy came out a split second afterwards, hiding the moon with his huge, huge body. He was laughing. The visiting stranger was whining. Valy said something to the crumpled shape and laughed some more. Then he lifted the man up with both hands and smashed him to the ground once more. Matanga thought he heard the stranger sob. Valy shook his head and hopped on the shapeless form. Some bones cracked. He hopped again and bent down to ask his victim something. Hearing no response, he grabbed him again and lifted him up above his head. Matanga realized with terror that Valy was about to throw the man in the direction of his house.
He jumped out in the mild dark rust-smelling night, yelling “No! No!” but it was too late. His house exploded under the impact. Cardboard pieces flew everywhere. Sinking to his knees, Matanga joined his hands in a gesture of despair, whispering “no, no, no…” over and over again.
Valy approached the remnants of the house on which lay the remnants of the visitor. He seemed to look for something in the rubble and extracted a large garbage bag. “My fridge!” thought Matanga, completely crushed. “He is destroying my fridge!” Valy shook the bag to empty it of all its content, mainly rotten fruits and vegetables. Putting it aside, he kneeled down next to the destroyed body. Tamanga looked away when he saw Valy begin to rip off the head from the body with his bare hands… He would have to find another place to live. This was too much for him. To start from scratch at sixty-two! Surely, the Gods were making fun of him! He stood up and walked away, cursing Valy under his breath.
Police officers Rama and Suggy were on their way to the Ravana Club in order to examine a kidnapping case. The club lay a few miles outside the city, in a semi-deserted industrial area, which made a discreet approach somewhat problematic. They had called for backup, and had agreed to meet at a vacant lot, not too far away from the club, in order to think about a strategy. Ravana, the local Mafia boss and club owner, was well-prepared, and had a lot of men and weapons at his disposal. One of his lieutenants, Valy, especially, had a bad reputation. A psycho, according to all those who had met him. They had to be very careful if they wanted to preserve the life of the hostage, a young woman from a very rich family.
“It’s here” Suggy said, pointing to the left.
Rama parked the car in a cloud of dust. The late afternoon sun was still aggressive, and both men felt like they were wrapped in warm blankets as they stepped out of the air-conditioned vehicle. Sighing because of the heat, Rama wiped his forehead with his arm and looked at his watch.
“When did the others say they would arrive?”
“Fifteen minutes, max.”Suggy said.
Scanning the area behind his Ray-Bans, Rama suddenly noticed something unusual, shimmering in the light.
“What’s that?” he asked Suggy, lifting his jaw in the direction of the unidentified object.
“Dunno” Suggy said. “Let’s go check.”
As they approached, Rama lifted his cap on his head and let out a faint wheeze.
“Shit” he said.
Suggy kneeled down beside the jumble of white bones and torn clothes. He extracted some surgical gloves from the breast pocket of his short-sleeved shirt and put them on.
“Hey, look at this” he said, pulling out a fragment of a leather jacket’s back piece, with a picture of a buffalo with flaming horns.”That’s Dumb Doobie’s jacket. So that’s where he’s been all that time…”
“Who?” Rama asked.
“Dumb “Buffalo” Doobie. That was before you arrived here. He was a local figure, in the Lower City. The head of a local bikers’ gang. If you want, I can you tell you about him while we’re waiting for the others… Tough motherfucker, too. I wonder who did him in…”
Sébastien Doubinsky writer, living Denmark, has many books. Politically he is an Camusian individualist anarchist . for details http://lezaporogue.hautetfort.com/