THE DORLEY CYCLE
The radio station was transmitting some gibberish in my beat old 87’ Buick Grand National, noises and wheezes that played on a loop, giving birth to words that probably meant something, somewhere, to someone. I drove into new Dorley and parked by the pier. Past ten thirty pm, the place was empty and all the shops were closed. There was some of Venice crawling by, milky and going on thick, settling above my head. The only thing that broke through, were the Ferris wheel colored lights, which now shone in bright green. I breathed mist and it tasted sea rotten, clams and squids dissolving, uncooked in a pot.
I sat on the hood toying with the gun in my hands, feeling it light and comforting. My thoughts were marbles rolling away, down the pier and into the sea, where they sank to a bottomless hole, which I could see into when I squeeze-shut my eyes.
In the blackness a phone rang. I opened my eyes. Across the street a phone was ringing. Payphones in Dorley don’t ring, because they don’t work. I went over and picked it up nonetheless, listening to the breathing void of a line gone dead, hearing the sea in there, closer and closer.
I put a coin in silencing the waves and dialed 999. The line went live.
“Wake up Frank Wayman if he’s asleep. Call him if he’s there. Tell him I know about Anne Henderson. I will wait by the pier. Tell him that too.”
I hung up before the woman on the other side could protest and made sure the phone stayed silent. Then I went back to the car, swinging the gun in one hand. There was a man standing by the ticket booth dressed in a crimson striped waistcoat and matching trousers, and the same colored wing tips.
“Care for a ride sir?”, he said gesturing at the Ferris wheel.
“Ain’t it a bit late for that to run?”, I asked nodding at the attraction behind him.
He pushed back his straw boater hat and laughed, and I’d be damned if that laugh wasn’t the most cheerful one I’ve ever heard. It went on forever and his sharp draws for breath chased the fog away.
“It’s never late to take the wheel! I’d be happy to run it just for you if that’s what you’ll wish for.”
His lips were stretched in a pearly white smile, cheek to cheek. I smirked, thinking he either didn’t see the gun or didn’t care about it.
“Maybe another time.”
“Perhaps later?”, he raised his eyebrows and laughed again, a universe of comedy and cheer laughing with him in some celebration that jolted aside the horrors of death and reborn myths.
He tipped his hat, then pointed somewhere behind me before disappearing inside the mist. I turned around to see a police SUV nearing. A moment later the Ferris wheel went dark, three rings shutting down one after another, leaving a faint glow of green to linger as they went.
The SUV pulled next to me.
Frank Wayman was a sixty something year old pissed off looking man, the same one I presume exists in every small town all around the US. He had the squinted eyebrows and the bags under his dark eyes. His moustache was smoke stained and his chin skin hung a tad bit. He had a face carved from stone.
I climbed on the passenger seat and shut the door. He spoke after a while.
“Anne Henderson? Haven’t heard that name in twenty years. I got nothing more to say there. “
“Yet you came.”
“I wanted to have a look at you.”
He drove through the administrative lane where everything was the same. It was as if I was looking at an old snapshot; highlighted colors, but the same failing façade. A few minutes later I was looking at the dark pier in the rare view mirror.
Wayman stopped in front of a house near the highway junction. I followed him inside a poorly furnished living room.
“I saw the crime scene photo of Anne Henderson, Wayman. The two teens dead on the beach have the same markings on their skin as her, and she was murdered in 86’ under some weird circumstances. I want to know what killed her.”
“That’s a strange way to put it. You say what instead of who; kinda gets me thinking you have a different idea.”
Chief Wayman was solid and I could tell that just by the way he looked at me then, his eyes popping blood vessels. I slowly took out the gun and aimed it at him. He wasn’t impressed, but kicked over his gun on my account.
“I want to know what killed those kids.”
“You know I should put you down like a dog for even questioning me about 86, because it’s not your goddamned business, but now that we met I’m curious.”
“You said you wanted to have a look at me. Why?”
“I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. Everyone in town is talking about your arrival, Jackson. Everyone in Old Town.”
My hand trembled; suddenly the gun’s weight more than I could take.
“I wondered why you called for me, but you couldn’t help it could you? Coming back, reliving it all. You want to know all about Dorley, all about the murders. Going around town with Paulie Glass, searching for clues, I know all about that. Well it’s your lucky night, Jackson. I’ll tell ya, this one is a real mess. I’ve kept this town safe ever since They came, kept it locked to sick and lonely drifters such as you, but misery knows no rest so here it came, bringing every damned agent in the state. And you.”
I took out the photo from my pocket and tossed it at him.
“You’re worried they’ll find out about what happened to Anne. You worry I’ll tell them.”
He picked up the photo and tore it in two.
I half-squeezed the trigger.
“Yeah? Let me put a bullet through your skull and say you slipped.”
“You got courage, but you’re reckless. They will fuck you up and no one will hear about it, and I’m fair in giving you a chance right now to take a different road and leave Dorley.”
I urged my gun at his face.
“I want to know the truth.”
Wayman’s voice rumbled low in his throat.
“The truth is that there is more in the eyesight of people then they see. They neglect what sleeps in the womb of darkness. The only difference between what lays in the deep and what surfaces and crawls on shore, is that the latter knows about you and its coming. You don’t know what you’re up against.”
My words fell unspoken as warmth spread over my neck, pain surging through my skull. I dropped to my knees, taking down a blurred, distorted vision of Frank Wayman, before I slammed my face against his hard floor. There were two quick gunshots thundering inside a vacuum around my head and I felt something drop on the floor beside me. Last thing I saw before blacking out was Paulie fucking Glass’s face looming over me.