Title: A Cowboy, an Offworlder, and a Killer for Shoes
Characters: Julia Roarke, Amelia Bayer, Marc Marquette, William/Willie, Doug Burke, and an unfortunate poodle.
Warnings: Bad grammar, murder, animal cruelty.
Notes: Written in 1998, with three other people from my class, for an assignment in collaborative writing. If I’m not mistaken, the characters (except the offworlder) are theirs, and the writing is primarily mine. Yes, I know there’s a sudden tense shift. I take full responsibility for that. Also, the text of this post was OCR’ed from the only copy left, so I’m slowly editing it into legibility.
December 20, 1999- New York, New York
This night would usually be nothing special, except that it is five days before
Christmas. On this day, however, the Nutcracker Ballet is in progress at Lincoln Center.
The leading lady, Amelia Bayer, is a star. But she is a star with a dark secret. She
believes that she could never dance without her special shoes, Ping and Pong. These
are no ordinary shoes. They speak! However, only they and Amelia can hear their tiny
voices. Now, out on stage, they have taken control of her feet and she dances up
among the best.
Everyone is used to the cold winters in New York, and they go on about their business as though nothing was wrong. Except for one man. Standing in the midst of Times Square, is a tall, lanky offworlder. As the wind blows more strongly, he pulls his fur-lined cloak tighter around him and pushes his long red hair out of his eyes. Cold as the Qaanatian Ice-desert, he thinks, shivering. Stapled to a pole a few feet away, is a flyer. He walks over to it, and begins to read. Well, I was sent here to study earth people and their customs. This "rodeo" thing seems like a good place to start. And, besides, it’s only seven Trileronian dollars. The handsome humanoid begins to walk in the direction of Madison Square Gardens.
Amelia dances beautifully, unaware that, backstage, a killer awaits.
No one noticed Willie as he entered through the backstage door. And no one noticed William, because William is inside Willie. William tries painfully to deal with Willie, and he must, for he is Willie’s conscience. No one knows what it is like to be the conscience of a serial killer. And no one but William knows why he kills.
It all began when Willie was nine years old. He was in the living room playing Nintendo, and his mother was in the kitchen making him lunch. It was a bright and shiny day in suburbia; the kind of day where nothing can go wrong. Something did.
Fifteen minutes passed. Half an hour … an hour … "Mom! Hurry up! I’m hungry!"
"Mom!" Willie whined as he walked into the kitchen of their modest home in the Bronx.
He did not find his mother in the kitchen, nor did he find her elsewhere in the house. All that he found was a pool of blood and her shoes. There was no other trace that she had ever existed.
"She’s dead, Willie," William had said.
Willie passed through several foster homes, each time being rejected as a problem child. He became so obsessed with his mother’s death that he could not concentrate on his schoolwork. These were the worst years for William. He saw so many things slide, and Willie felt no guilt, so all of it fell on William’s shoulders. That was, until one of Willie’s stoner friends came up with an idea. He would build a monument to his mother with shoes that had been special to the wearers. He began his monument with his mother’s shoes and it slowly grew over the next five years. Willie decided that it wasn’t growing quickly enough and, at age twenty three, took to killing people who loved their shoes for their beloved footwear.
The tall stranger paid the admission and entered the rodeo. So warm in here! So many sights, many sounds, new people … Like Festival back home. The redhead slips deep into thoughts of home.
Festival on Santleron is just like this, he thinks, remembering the first Festival he’d gone to. Kichala, his mistress, had taken him. He slips farther into the memory, remembering how amazed he’d been that so many different people could get along so peacefully. He hadn’t even minded when his brothers had tormented him about going to Festival with a peasant. At least now they can’t treat me like their slave-boy. I am so tired of my noble blood being questioned.
Just then the calf roping competition began. Someone says something that shakes the stranger from his thoughts of home. He looks over and sees a short, blonde woman dressed in a white cowgirl outfit with blue sequins on it.
"Excuse me, m’lady?" He looks puzzledly at her.
"That’s my boyfriend’s competition. He’s second best in the world! Say, you’re an offworlder aren’t you?" The blonde abruptly stops speaking and stares at the stranger, wide eyed.
"Yes, m’lady, that I am. I am Lord Marc Marquette of Smaug’s New Dragonan Republic on Santleron. And you?"
"J-j-julia," she stammers, "Julia Roake. I never met an offworlder before. Oh! Look, hush, it’s my Doug!"
A crackly voice on the intercom announces that Doug Burke of Wyoming, second place world-champion calf roper, would now be competing. Moments later, the same voice announced that he had broken the record in a startling six point four seconds. The crowd goes wild, and Marc cringes as Julia lets out a high pitched squeal almost exactly in time and tune to
… the scream of Amelia Bayer, as Willie’s knife plunges into her stomach, again and again. Red … like pre-refrigerator cherry jello. Oh, Mommy, don’t be mad! I didn’t mean to spill it! Mommy! Mommy! Wait! Don’t fade away! I’m sorry!
The world fades to black as Amelia’s spirit, Amy, lets go of the dying body and begins to pass on. Looking down, Amy sees her once beautiful host lying on the dressing room floor, clothed in a pink tutu and a matching bodysuit. The killer was now unlacing the beloved shoes, Ping and Pong. William reaches out and takes Amy’s "hand".
"I’m sorry you had to go this way," he says softly, "I tried to stop him but he refused to listen to me. Don’t worry, you’ll go somewhere nice. I promise."
Amy looks at him and smiles. "So will you," she whispers, drifting, "He won’t, but you will. I promise you that."
Amy floats off into the darkness of the void between worlds, leaving William wishing that they could’ve spent more time together, that he could’ve known her better. Her dying cry echoes in William’s whole self; and for the first time in 7 years, William makes Willie cry. On stage, the now dead star had looked like Willie’s mother did, back in the days when she danced. Gently, Willie lifts the dancer’s body and carries her to a nearby dumpster. After carefully laying her inside, he covers her with a torn piece of cardboard, in a grotesque mockery of a parent putting a child to bed.
Doug comes bounding out of the arena, whooping like a T.V. Indian on the warpath, and fans crowd tightly around him. Marc is now being dragged toward the fan packed Doug by Julia, who happens to be much stronger than she looks. She seems to forget that she is dragg,i n- g another humanoid being because she continually slams him into people and posts in her mad dash toward her lover.
"Oh, wow, Marc, gee …. er. ..um," Julia stammers, blushing an interesting shade of pre-refrigerator-cherry-jello red, "I’m really sorry…"
"…nose is bleeding.."
Gee, you’re observant! I hadn’t noticed that my face was leaking down my cloak.
"Doug, this is Marc. Stay with him a bit while I get a nurse and some tissues. I’m really sorry, Marc, honest, I am."
Char woman! Space yak! Chimpanzee-brained flying noble donkey’s mistress! Hey, does this count as cruelty to animals? He says nothing, but Doug can see that he is seething. Marc’s emerald green eyes have shrunken to tiny slits and his usually pale face is crimson, moreso in places where blood has begun to drip from.
"Yeah, I know she’s scatterbrained, …"
"…but she’s really a nice girl. She hit me in the face with a hot iron pan on Tuesday, what has she done to you?" Doug speaks with the utmost sincerity (and sympathy) and Marc can tell that he speaks the truth.
"Oh, nothing much," Marc replies, sarcastically, "she just walked me into about fifteen posts at the speed of a stampeding zwoot on rocket skates."
"Oooh!" Doug cringes.
Just then, Julia comes running up waving a handful of tissues, which she gleefully slams up Marc’s nose, causing him to sit down suddenly, and forcefully, on a vicious miniature poodle. The poodle (by name, Lawrence) is obviously very disturbed and proceeds to bite onto his owner. Big mistake. The blue-haired little old lady pulls an ivory handled .45 six shooter out of her handbag, and shoots the poor dog in the head, effectively putting the vicious creature out of it’s misery. Marc looks sympathetically down at the deceased mutt while Julia continues to babble about some sort of party.
"Hey, Marc!" Doug yips, "Wanna go to a victory celebration with us? It’s at the
Lone Star Cafe."
"Sure, I guess so …"
"Oh, good! No, great! Lemme rephrase that, apsitively, posolutely awesome! He can ride with us, right? Of course, right."
Doug shrugs at Marc and the two follow the babbling woman out to Doug’s rusty old blue pickup truck. Ten minutes later, they arrive at the Lone Star with Marc and Doug looking rather pale and sickly. The men made the mistake of letting Julia drive, and now, there was enough dead meat on the road to open a restaurant off of. Julia was already inside talking to her barrel- jumper friends, when the guys felt leg-steady enough to follow her.
Doug walks around introducing Marc to everyone there and Marc enjoys the positive attention. Finally, Doug settles down with a group of cowboys and ranch hands and they begin talking about the country life and their horses and their ranches. Marc knows nothing about the subjects and so he wanders off. He just sort of roams about for a little while and then he spots the bar.
Approximately one hour later, Doug notices that Marc is missing. He excuses himself, and begins an exhaustive search of the barroom. With that amount of time, it is no surprise that Marc was wasted by the time Doug got to him. As it turns out, Doug finds Marc in a corner, making out with a nearly empty bottle of Vodka (or at least attempting to). Doug figures it is time to leave, but Marc wants to try line dancing.
Needless to say, he fell down. A lot.
William propels the still sobbing Willie towards a subway station, stopping along the way to conceal the shoes beneath Willie’s long overcoat.William wonders why he has an odd feeling that another shoe murder will take place tonight. Oh, well, he thinks, Alright, Willie, let’s go to the Lone Star and get you a drink. You need it. Willie slowly calms down and gets on the D train. Within minutes, he is standing outside the Lone Star. After a few seconds, he walks inside and joins some line dancers, one of which, a redhead, is obviously drunk.
After a few more falls, the redhead stumbles off to the side to wipe the dust from
his brown leather boots. As Willie watches, the drunk lovingly dusts off every inch of his boots and then sits down on the floor with his arms around his knees. He really loves those boots. Willie begins to plot Marc’s murder.
"Willie, don’t do it! You already killed someone today! You killed that dancer! Wasn’t that enough? Wasn’t it?" William screams, but it is the equivalent of screaming at a concrete wall. For some odd reason, an old song flips through William’s mind. I’ve got nothing more to say to you / cause there’s nothing to be said / I’d like to beat it out of you / but it’s like torturing the dead. Willie bursts into hysterical laughter at William’s idea of beating some sense into him. The laughter resides into giggles as Willie slowly walks over to Marc.
"Willie! No, stop! Willie, wasn’t that poor dancer enough? Come on you don’t need his boots …"
"Hey, kid, nice boots." William tries to reason with Wilie, but it is too late. ‘You wouldn’t mind parting with them, would you?"
Marc opens his mouth to object, but Willie draws his knife which is still stained with the unlucky dancer’s blood. Marc’s face drains and his mouth flaps open and shut like a fish’s. This madman intends to kill him.
Marc dodges the dealy blow and rolls, yelling for Doug. Although he moves quickly, he does not move quickly enough. Looking up, he finds Willie standing above him, eyes gleaming like the point of his knife. Suddenly, Willie begins to wrestle with the unseen opponent within. William decides he will not let the murders continue, even if he and Willie must die.
"Willie, I won’t let you do this! I can’t let you do this! I swear to God, I’ll kill us both before I let you kill another person."
"I want to see you try to stop me."
William keeps Willie busy long enough for Doug to hear Marc’s girlish shrieks. Doug runs across the room and grabs Marc’s vodka-bottle ex-girlfriend. He then brings the bottle smashing sideways into Willie’s head. Willie staggers, and William takes control. The double man goes crashing to the ground and is impaled on his own knife.
Odd, thinks William, The world is turning blue, the deepest shade of mushroom
blue … Bubbles, I think you gave us some bad ‘shrooms, ’cause they all seem to be
flowing out of this hole in my head. Could I please get something to plug this hole with?
I think the ship is going down. Are we going to drown? Hey, it rhymes! …
Amy reaches out from the blackening void and takes William’s hand. With one sharp jerk, she pulls him free of his dying host.
"Remember when I told you that you would go somewhere nice? I wasn’t joking. Come with me and leave this evil place behind."
Willie gives one last convulsive twitch as Amy and William journey to the nice place beyond the void.