Part 2It was time. I steeled myself against the inevitable. This would not end well. Mother Goose didn't know where her meth had gone, and I had to find it. Who knows where it would go afterwards-- sold to children, forced upon the elderly, hidden in bottles of harmless Jack Daniels, perhaps, so that unsuspecting private detec-- oh, son of a bitch.
I walked north from the little cottage, the morning dew wet against my booties. The sun blazed down like afternoon in Los Angeles, an orange haze thick against the distant mountains. I squinted, still reeling from the mickey she slipped me.
The goose honked obnoxiously behind me, so I shot it.
Heading underneath the quaint village archway, I could see a spire in the distance. The best place to start is a landmark: tourists always have cameras, and cameras always tell the truth. The town was beautiful, and made me long for peace of my own one day.
Then I remembered its terrible dark secret, furrowed my brow, and shuffled onward. My faith in mankind was faltering, as it had done a thousand times before. Visions of the murderous rage ending my last case flashed in my head, and I pushed them from view like my mother down the stairs. I had to focus.
Damn. Not a soul in sight.
"Banbury". I turned the name of the town over and over in my head, trying to remember where I had heard it before. "Banbury". Something chilled me about that name. Something I couldn't quite put my finger on. My jam-jams clung to my back with sweat, so I turned away and walked in any direction that would have me.
A sullen looking guinea sat on the edge of a large pumpkin, his head in his hands. He looked informed. I called out to him, but to no avail. He clammed up like a clam on Thursday, and he wouldn't budge. Something was bothering him. The usual tactics didn't work, and no matter how many of his fingers I broke he just wouldn't talk.
Finally, after an hour of working him over with the brass knuckles, he gave me something I could use.
An unfaithful wife. Typical. He told me the sordid story about the whore and her many boyfriends, how his drinking drove her away again and again. He loved her with his fists. His knuckles were bruised and split. I could tell he really loved her a lot.
He gave me a photograph of the hussy, and I committed it to memory. If I was going to get anything out of him, I'd have to bring him the girl in exchange. I told him I'd bring back his beloved as soon as possible, and that he wouldn't have to worry. As I turned away, he called out to me.
"Yeah", I responded, one eyebrow raised.
"When you find her. Tell my wife...," a tear welled in his eye. He was on the verge of sobbing like a little girl, and I couldn't stand to watch. I turned away.
"Tell her... tell her she's a fucking bitch and I'm going to kill her."
I didn't have to walk far. The silly tramp was across the street, practically. I didn't get a good look at the guy she was shacked up with, but she was cheating on her husband right under his nose. I wondered what would make someone do such a foolhardy thing, especially knowing the consequences.
. . .
Clearly, she had been brain damaged by too many fights with her husband. I pitied her just then, a slow, draining feeling that brought weight to my legs like someone had tied two cinderblocks to my big toes. I knew I would have to take her home to get the information I needed, but I also knew what that meant for her. I pictured her history, growing up in the mountains with no worries or problems. She would have met her husband young, out riding in the fields one day, and in a whirlwind they would've married. He couldn't provide for her as well as she'd liked, and so she grew distant, and he grew violent and drunk.
This isn't what she deserved.
Yes, I know what a pumpkin is, you stupid bitch.
Irritated, I grabbed her by the hair and dragged her back to her abusive white-trash husband in a daze. The fury and pain from past exploits came rushing back to me like a skateboard with too many wheels, and, pushing forcefully through the front gate, I threw her on his doorstep with a thump.
"There, you sick sack of shit. Now tell me what I want to know, or I'm going to start kicking ass and taking names."
He just stared. A twinkle lit in his eye like a star being inflated by an overzealous bicycle pump, and he walked towards his wife vindictively. Suddenly, he started talking. But none of it made any sense.
I just narrowed my eyes. It had been a trick. He locked her in the pumpkin with an evil grin and she cried out for me. What side was I on? Working for drug dealers and wife beaters for my own gain. Anything to make a buck. I would betray anyone in my path. I was the worst kind of private detective: a public one. He flicked me a coin and stood there, grinning like a demon, a very happy demon.
I stumbled backwards and fell over the gate, running away from the sound of screaming and the smack of flesh against flesh. I vomited a little into my mouth when the screaming stopped.
Where would I go next? How would I get home? I needed to get out of here. This was the worst kind of town.
I'd only ever been to one town before like this.
It was called Silent Hill.