A couple of months had passed and Horace got into the routine, first pigs then cows. Some nights he had to help with the chickens, but it wasn’t that often. During a hot night when the smell was becoming overbearing, Nick offered Janelle and Horace a new errand to run.
“Hey clean up crew called in, that’s fine and all but it leaves me with another issue. Got a container of hearts we need taken to the mental place up the road, would you two be interested in running the errand?” Nick crosses his arms and smiles awaiting an answer, one cheek half swollen with a pinch of chew in his mouth. For a manager in a brutal job, he was very kind and acted in a manner as a manager at a grocery store would.
“That’s fine with me,” Janelle responds while slipping her gloves off. Horace nods his head and tries to hide his joy bubbling under the skin, this was probably the closest he would ever get to going on a date with her. He almost instinctively belted “Yes” before Janelle could answer.
“Okay great, the cooler is by the front just swoop it up on the way out. Oh, and ask for Mrs.Cranston when you get there, she’s the one who needs em’.”
“Why does she need hearts?” Horace asks.
Nick stops midway from walking away and turns back. “You know, I’m not sure? Food maybe? I doubt they eat gourmet meals over there.” He looks back ahead and heads up to his office. Janelle drops her gloves and steps over to the cooler. Blood stains coated the beat up box, one handle was missing, and to top it off a gag inducing stench crept out from a crack in the side.
“I got it,” Horace half smiles trying to sound like a gentleman. Carrying it to her trunk she pops it open before getting in to crank up her hoopty. He closes the trunk and leans down on it trying to s**k in fresh air, his belly grew sour and was afraid he just might spew up his dinner. Turning his head so she wouldn’t see, he notices someone walk beside the building.
He takes a few steps and notices a wooden pen on the side of the building.
“Horace, you coming?” She passes him a smile, making him forget what he just saw. “Yeah, sorry.”
“So where we going again?”
“Arbatian, it’s a little ways up the road. Place gives me the creeps, I’m kind of glad you’re with me.”
He feels his face begin to turn hot, turning his head to the window he replies, “Why is that?”
“Because, I’ve run this errand about three times by myself. And every time I just get so uncomfortable, the staff just give me a bad vibe. And there’s one staff there that looks at me like he wants to eat me alive. Some guy named Porter, always near the front. One day he followed me to my car trying to convince me to see him after work.”
“What? Did you tell anyone?”
“Like who? Nick? He’d prob show up with a pie or something to ‘talk it over’, I’m fine. Maybe he’ll back up if you’re with me.”
Horace tries to think of something clever to say, but cuts it short upon seeing the building. It wasn’t like any place he had ever seen. It looked condemned, run down. Two bronze angels were posted on the front of the building, giving it an even more unsettling vibe. Horace gets out of the vehicle and grabs the container of hearts. Walking up the steps he feels an uneasy feeling wash over him.
“What kind of place is this?” He asks.
“One where mentally damaged come to rest until they die, this place gives me the creeps.” Janelle stands by his side and nods her head towards the direction of the doors. They walk in silence until she creaks the door open. A heavy aroma of urine and smoke wash over their faces. To the left at a reception area sits a woman with a scar on her upper lip, a cigarette in one pale hand. “Good evening, Mrs.Cranston. Got a container of tickers for you.”
Seeming uninterested in what Janelle spoke of, she responds, “Leave em’ right there dear. Thank you.”
Turning around to walk out, Horace stops when he hears, “The f**k you say to me? I said you strip, now!”
A man with shaggy hair pulls his night club out as a terrified teenage girl cowers before him. Shakingly she whimpers, “Please, I can’t get undressed here. Can I go to the bathroom instead?”
The man raises the club and prepares to swing. The club stops inches away from her head, the girl opens her eyes to see Horace gripping onto his forearm. “Mister, you hit that girl and me and you are gonna have a problem.”
The guard pulls his arm away and looks at Horace. Turning to face him, his name tag reveals the words LENNY DINMORE. “And who the hell do you think you are?”
Mrs.Cranston steps out and says, “You two need to leave, now.”
Janelle responds, “You’re right, I’m sorry about this. Horace, let’s go.”
Horace narrows his eyes at Lenny and then turns to the girl. Fear spilled from her pores, the look on her face told Horace he just made everything worse. He begins to walk back to Janelle. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t stand by and watch him do that.”
“Yeah, well it’s not our place to step in. Let’s go.”
Walking down the steps, Horace turns to slowly see the door close behind him. Lenny gives him a smile before swinging the club towards the girl’s mouth. The door shuts before he can see the impact.
Jax heads home in the morning after an easy shift. He pulls up to his house and sits on his porch, it was a Wednesday, which meant kids would be coming out fairly soon to catch the bus. A little girl steps out of her house with a backpack over her shoulders. Her black hair pulled back into a ponytail, she walks by as Jax tenderly waves after she passes by. Silently he whispers, “I found you, Karla.”