No Good Comes: Theo meets the body snatcher

He ignored the face one, picking up the nude. “Oh my god, is that what my knob looks like when I’m dead?”

litdiedcoll

This is a first draft partial scene (currently scene 18)  from No Good Comes. Stephen King is now Theodore Eidolon. Erin’s POV.

***

“It’s Saturday, for god’s sake. Don’t you people have homes to go to?” I said, glaring at a kid called Sam, the closest thing Cascade had to an intern.

He looked at his shoes and I felt like a wanker.

“Ignore her,” said Theo. “I’ll make her bring you an Easter egg next week.”

“I’m allergic to chocolate,” said Sam, shoving his fists into the pockets of his too-big trousers.

Theo stopped following, which meant I either had to stop and loiter, which would make me look weak as fuck, or stalk off like a diva, which was much more my style. Even the office-blue carpet tiles didn’t do much to dull the thud of my heels.

“What sort of life do you have when you’re allergic to chocolate?” said Theo. “You must feel so empty.”

Sam shrugged. “Not really. I make up for it by eating all the pistachios.”

“Leaving aside the obvious disparity between the tastiness of chocolate and the tastiness or lack thereof of pistachios, I acknowledge your preference. I’ll make sure she brings you a bucketful.”

I leant against the wall next to the lift, arms folded.

Sam grinned. “Roasted and unsalted.”

“Noted,” said Theo, his tone the most imperious I’d heard yet. He strode towards the lift, standing quietly next to me while we waited the few seconds it took for the doors to open. When we got inside and turned round, everyone was still watching us. Theo shouted, “Good work, people. Carry on.”

Once the doors were closed, we burst out laughing.

“Oh, my god, who are you, Teddy?”

“I’ve always wanted to be that guy,” he said. “I mean, not forever. Just every now and again, I want to channel my inner insufferable wanker in a room full of strangers.”

“In that case,” I said, “mission accomplished.”

Theo looked at the illuminated circle on the panel and said, “What’s in the basement?”

I grinned and said, “The sewing room.”

“Which is what?”

I leant against the wall. “It’s where the bodies are made.”

“You’re being deliberately obstructive.”

The lift stopped, and we stepped into a grey, wipe-clean corridor.

“You’re about to meet the infamous body snatcher.”

Theo made a very girly noise, then followed my lead, squeezing a dollop of hand gel into his hands and rubbing them clean. We backed through the swing door, then turned to face the room.

Jesus, the undertakers were in.

“Entertaining?” I said, when Ophelia looked up.

She glanced at the three men sitting around the table, in their sombre braces with their shirt sleeves rolled up, like she’d forgotten they were there. Sharpy was doing a crossword on a tablet. He grinned a creepy undertaker grin because that’s what he did. He took pride in looking like Lurch. Baz and Eddie looked like normal people who didn’t hang around dead bodies all day, even though they did. They were playing rummy and drinking tea.

Ophelia said, “This him then?”

Theo waved, and Ophelia grinned.

“We were just off, Nixon,” said Eddie, winking at me on his way to the door.

The other two followed. Baz winked at Theo who smiled adorably. Sharpy lurched out of the room.

“What’s behind the curtain?” whispered Theo, nodding at the curtained off area to the left of Ophelia’s desk.

“Dead things,” I whispered back, wriggling my fingers at him.

“So this is the body snatcher?” said Theo.

I prayed that he wouldn’t mention her height. Ophelia hated being smaller than her dad, who, believing with his whole heart that there was nothing worse than a person who was both big and loud, overcompensated for his noise by making himself short. Deliberately. This was a travesty as far as Phee was concerned. She also looked more like her dad than any of her other siblings and felt some degree of luck at having escaped the big, bushy beard.

Ophelia’s hands went to her hips, and her eyebrows shot up while she waited for my excuse.

“He saw your name come up on words with friends,” I said.

I saw the moment the light came on in her eyes. “Tell me, Erin, what does piragua mean?”

What was she talking about? I didn’t even remember that one.

Theo said, “It’s a type of boat.”

Ophelia had this gleeful look in her eyes. She clapped her hands and something gross flew off. Theo and I jumped back.

She rolled her eyes and said, “It’s synthetic. I knew it though. I knew you were cheating somehow.”

“She wasn’t cheating,” said Theo. “I just butted in and—”

“It wasn’t him,” I said. “He was only brought up yesterday.”

“He said he butted in,” said Ophelia.

Theo looked at me in a please-dig-me-out-of-this-hole way.

“You don’t have to know what a word means to play scrabble,” I said. “I have no idea what io is, or zax, or qi. Seriously, nobody knows what those words mean.”

Ophelia squinted at me, then sighed. “I suppose I can let you win once.”

“Twice,” I said.

“Twice,” she allowed. “So, what are you guys doing down here?”

“He wanted to meet you,” I said.

“Did you make dead me?” said Theo.

Ophelia bounced on her toes. “Yep.”

“Do you have a photo of the me you made?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact.” She made a grimacy-frown face. “Did you want to see it?”

Theo narrowed his eyes. “Do I want to see it?”

She shrugged. “It’s not particularly gory. We use make-up on the bruises anyway, so we don’t bother with those. Makes no sense painting on bruises just to cover them up again.”

“Okay, then,” said Theo.

We followed Ophelia to her desk, and Theo jumped when he looked at the area behind the curtain where a dead-not-dead body was laid out on one table, and a real dead body, covered on three sides with a portable freezer cabinet that billowed puffs of cold air, was laid out on another.

Ophelia rummaged in a filing cabinet, then slapped two huge photos on the desk. One was of Theo’s face, eyes closed. The other was of his naked body.

He ignored the face one, picking up the nude. “Oh my god, is that what my knob looks like when I’m dead?”

Ophelia managed, “I can’t—” before she snorted out a laugh, reaching for a tissue to catch whatever flob she was dribbling while she died laughing.

“It looks like a pig in a blanket,” he said.

Ophelia continued to snort-laugh, while Theo continued to examine his dead penis.

“She did a great job with your hair,” I said, picking up the other photo. “And the break in your nose, look.”

He nodded. “So, did someone else do … I mean did you make the whole thing?”

“No,” said Ophelia, biting her lip until it bled. “I got a man to come in to do your cock and balls.”

“Really?” said Theo.

“No, you dipshit.” Then she was off again.

“She doesn’t get out much,” I said.

“So, are you going tomorrow?” she said, when she’d finally stopped behaving like a five-year-old who’d just heard bum on the telly.

“Why does everyone keep asking me that? I always go.”

“Because Joey’s going to be there,” said Ophelia.

“Oooh, who’s Joey?” said Theo.

“My—” How did I even explain who Joey was? He was everything to me when we were kids. He was the gay one. I was the fat one. We loved the same films and music and art. Then he hit twenty-one, and twenty-two, and thirty, and forty. He’d be fifty in a month’s time. I was still twenty. I wasn’t sure which of us was more resentful.

“Her best friend,” said Ophelia.

“We had an argument,” I said, which was the understatement of the century. I’d barely seen him in the flesh in six years.

We used to be the kind of friends who laughed hard and often, so in tune with each other, with identical senses of humour. People would watch us, see our dynamic, be envious of it. He’d lived so much life without me now that our dynamic had shifted. We both felt it, and others looked at us like they could see the pathetic sparks failing to catch alight. Nobody could see what we had in common anymore, they wondered why we hung out together. Maybe it was paranoia, I don’t know. But we argued about it a lot.

Sometimes, I felt like I should let him go and he clung to me. Sometimes, he wanted to let me go and I sunk my claws in deeper. The tug-of-war had been going on for something close to twenty years now and it was getting harder to hang on.

“Tell me you’re not dressing up,” said Ophelia.

“Yeah, I’m not.”

“Good, because we don’t need any terrified kids. Halloween was bad enough.”

“Yeah, but it was Halloween,” I said. “You’re supposed to look creepy at Halloween. None of this American shit with dressing up like a cupcake or fairy.”

“Unless it’s the cupcake of doom,” said Theo. “Or the fairy of unfiltered gore.”

Ophelia said, “You had live snakes in your hair.”

“I didn’t have live snakes in my hair, they just looked alive. And I was Medusa.”

***

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