Mark

“Everyone, please be civilized!” rang the club ambassador as the clamoring crowds volume increases. “We have many issues to discuss today, and that is just one.” Henry was a professional man, he took the world at a light-hearted weight, but he was firm. He had been the ambassador of The Elk Club going on 3 years now. It was a club of old men who lived in the community and hated their wives. Once a week they’d meet to discuss what they thought was prominent matters (though in most cases, they did nothing).

“Now, now everyone, let’s get started,” said Henry. As he rummaged through his notes, he started again. “Gentlemen, it seems we’ve gotten our hands into something we may have wanted to avoid,” he continues, “people are being killed.”

“You mean children!” A club member yelled.

“The details are to vague on that particular killing” Henry retorted. “Moving on. In our community, which to me is the safest place on earth, here we are, discussing people, OUR people being taken away, mutilated, and left for the birds!” Henry says.

An obvious silence falls over the room. No one is ever late or misses a meeting, but the door slowly crept open in the back of the room.

“Mark,” says Henry.

“Henry,” says Mark.

“Good of you to join us,” Henry replies with harsh sarcasm. You see, no one cared much for Mark. He had only joined the club when his father passed away, and left him his farm. Mark was what the world would call your stereotypical “creep.” He was taller than most people he encountered, his limbs were stretched and long. His eyes were cold and gray, while his hair was matted and long. He was a terror to look at, and due to everyone’s suspicion of his father’s death, they judged him harshly.

“Our latest victim was found on the sidewalk, like a message to the community,” Henry continued as Mark took his common spot in the very back. “I’m no super hero vigilante-type, but we must increase communication amongst the people outside and inside this club,” Henry says while going back to his rummaging. “Ah ha!” Henry exclaimed. “Gentlemen, as it seems I have located the real reason I called this emergency assembly,” he continues.

“Well, hurry this up Henry, we don’t have time to be away from our families with this killer on the loose!” a member exclaims.

“I’m getting on with it, my friends, but I’m sure they’re all perfectly safe right now,” Henry retorts. He continues with the “real” issue for the emergency meeting. Henry was the leader of the club, but for little reason other than being the most talkative, and his money grew on trees, literally. He owned the biggest apple orchard this side of the Mississippi River. The man made the simple folk in this town very envious, because he got authority with his money, not because he cared. So he went on damaging the entire room for the farm production numbers. He really laid into Mark.

I believe he genuinely hated Mark. He thought of him no better than gum on his Italian shoes. Worthless. Problem was, Marks father was a hard worker and had a promising farm. His farm would produce crops when rain was sparse or when others just didn’t. Marks father always had groceries to sell at the farmers market, even on the worst summers. Mark is now in charge of all of this, plus the pressure it comes with. Unfortunately, over the last year Mark has failed to produce a single marketable product. So this badgering that Mark dealt with, wasn’t new.

“Mark, it seems something’s going wrong. You may be next in line to sell daddy’s farm,” Henry said with a grin. “I’m sure it would be well taken care of, and possibly start producing for this community, but you son, are no farmer,” he continued.

Mark’s chin had never been so deep in his chest as it was today and everyday at these meetings. He hated them, but he hated the people more. He didn’t ask for this farm, or to be a club member. His father’s shortened life took away Mark’s chance to have one of his choosing. The ridicule was targeted for sure, because no one helped Mark on his farm or in these attacking moments at the club meetings.  I’m no saint myself, I didn’t either, but I saw way more than my eyes should’ve been allowed.

Henry finally adjourned the meeting, and these club members went back to their community, back where the killer lurked.

I grew an obsessive interest in these murders, and all fingers pointed to Mark. so I began following him, and documenting his doings. It was mad, but farming is only so interesting.

“I’m not alone, I’m not alone” Mark repeated to himself on his trek home.”Everyone thinks I’m crazy or incapable!” he says. “I am not my father, f**k that Henry guy, he doesn’t know s**t, rich man, sitting on his throne giving down life lessons to us common folk, ugh! F**k him!” he continues talking to himself.

“Why don’t you release, Mark?” says the distant, but knowing voice in his head.

“I can’t, not again, I won’t!” Mark screams. I had no idea who or what he was yelling about, but it made me run home immediately.

Mother, tried to stop me to eat, but I was terrified, and so curious. You know how people see something disturbing, but they can’t look away, that’s how I felt about Mark. I eventually start documenting everything, my obsession swallowed me.

I’d find Mark doing odd things throughout the last part of the months. I don’t know why that specific time frame, but it was constant. For instance June 25th he wasn’t alone on his farm.

I wound up in my usual hiding spot on the farm, and I notice a vehicle. Something I’ve never seen or heard of in his driveway. I kept trying to get closer to see the person with Mark, but as soon as I came around the second goat barn, I see him, covered in blood. Like he just slaughtered a swine. I panicked again, I never saw so much blood. I ran home like my house was on fire, skipped dinner again, and added to my journal. I wasn’t worried about getting “too skinny” at this point, I wanted to catch a killer.

My fear grew immensely when our next meeting was called. I was more afraid because Mark was a complete no-show this time and to be blunt, that’s when they talk worst about him. On this particular day I remember Henry telling a member.

“That Bagler kid has to be the killer, he’s so creepy, and they never disclosed how his father died. The boy probably killed him!”

His friend replies, “Sure, he’s creepy and his father’s gone, but you think he’d kill his father then try and run his farm?”

Henry ends, “Look, all I’m saying Mr. Declon, is take a deeper look, the boy is the only strange thing in this paradise, and it’s worth the check.”

I pondered for hours why he said, “The check would be worth it.” I ended my night by taking a brisk jog to the Bagler farm. I needed to see what made Mark so bloody, and absent.

I had walked around his property for an hour, and found no blood, no bodies, but worst of all, no Mark.

“Where would he go?” I thought. “Would he run knowing he’s the main suspect?” I wondered. I start taking the short walk across the street to my house, the whole time thinking “Where is he?”

Another 3 meetings go by without Mark. Henry makes sure to acknowledge his absence everytime. I hadn’t been to The Bagler Farm in two weeks. Our community body-count had risen, and all speculation was on Mark. You don’t wanna change your routine at all when a murderer is on the loose, easiest way to become a suspect. I’ve learned my lesson.

Days become weeks again, no Mark. The farming meetings are not about farm profits or anything more significant than finding this “killer.”

As explained by Henry, “This club is now in cooperation with the police, we will assist them in finding the man we know has done this, he killed his father, we know that, they have more evidence I’m sure, so we must find him so we can put an end to this turmoil in our own community. Now we are all fingers on the same hand.” He finishes, “Let’s get him!”

On a whim I decide to retrace my steps through the farm, I notice something I hadn’t seen in the dark. It was a knife handle, nowhere near a kitchen or butcher. So I took it home and put it in my sock drawer for further examination. After dinner that night, I see cherries and berries outside my window, so I look, across the street at The Bagler Farm, that car again, a very recognizable car. one of its kind. I watch as an ambulance and fire truck show up after the police, then a coroner!

“They’ve found a body!” I yell out loud.

I was jumping with joy, he was the one. Mark was the killer and everyone was right! Then I see the body bag, the one and only body bag?

“Why only one, why was Mark so bloody that day? Why did I find a handle to a knife?” I ask myself. I continue watching outside. No more bodies, the ambulances, and fire trucks leave with the coroner. The police are all on their way to leave as well, and I notice that ridiculously fancy car in the middle of it all. I’m able to see a license plate through my window. I write it down, it seemed suspicious.

Days go by before it happened, but it did. Another teenage girls body found. I read the paper with my father each morning, it’s our only real connection, no matter how grim. the paper mentions the female victim, and her location, but not once did I read about Mark or his property or what they found, or who was in that bag! So I decide to check out this license plate number. I end up using our local DMV website, and found no matches. So I went waking around town.

The town is so small, I ended up at The Elk Club in 4 hours, with no sign of this fancy automobile. That is until I decide to go into the gated parking lot of the club. It was right there! Exact same license plate number, and beautiful machinery. I start walking up to inspect the interior when someone starts exiting the club. Henry? I walk by him, he barely acknowledges me, but he gets in that car! I quickly go in the club long enough for him to leave. I decide to go to Henry’s house, since I knew where it was because he was very keen on making us all know how much better he was, which means it was huge.

I finally arrive by foot on his property. I eventually creep up to a window, just looking for anything. I find one open, I decide to go in, pressing my luck of course, if he is the killer. I get a little past his massive kitchen to a hallway. It smells rich there. I feel a huge pressure against my back, then hear a whisper right into my ear.

“What the f**k are you doing in my house boy?” the voice claims. The pressure increases as if he’s directing me forward, I accept. We turn down a hallway to a door.

“Open it,” he whispers again. I comply, and start walking forward, I notice it’s stairs going down, so instinctively reach for a light switch that doesn’t work, but in my intention movement he reacts, knocking me down the stairs. It gave me the chance to see him though, face to face with death. It was Henry, but he didn’t look like himself or sound remotely human, this was not The Elk Club guy.

He proceeds down the stairs towards me and I notice what was pressing against my back, a twelve gauge shotgun. He’s smiling at me, he knows I know it was him. He goes to raise the barrel to my face, when I notice a piece of 2×4. I grab it, and swing until my arms are tired. That’s when I look down At the fleshy mass I’ve created from this man. I run upstairs, I call the police. I called you, Mr Declon.

The officer proceeds to stare at me blankly. He says nothing and I’ve been talking for hours, and he’s got nothing? Then he does speak, faintly at first. I can’t make it out till he’s almost full volume. He’s saying my name, “Jeremiah, Jeremiah, Jeremiah!” Over and over again. I have no idea why, I just shut my eyes as tight as possible, and plug my ears. I still hear him, but the voice is changing, I look up and his face is changing, from fat, and hairy to soft and beautiful. The voice still saying my name, “Jeremiah, Jeremiah, Jeremiah!” repeating, but changing tone. Then I hear as clear as day.

“Jeremiah, you’re gonna be late for school!” it was mothers voice. “I was asleep? That was all a dream?” I say out loud. I’m soaking wet from sweat, I rush to get ready for school, or at least out of these wet clothes.

When I finally arrive at school, I go through the regular motions not thinking much about my dream. Lunch time finally comes, and as I’m picking at my food, someone sits down next to me. It was my best friends, Mark, and Henry. I relatively tell them the whole story in fifteen minutes, I’m sweating again by the end, and Mark just stares at me, but Henry says with complete seriousness.

“You could never kill me, bro.”