My Dad and I are the best thieves in town.
Well at least we like to think so.
Ok, I like to think so. My dad thinks I’m just dead weight and should just stay home with ma. Which is usually his way of saying that I’m utterly useless to him considering how Ma is. Hell she hated the whole crime life. She would’ve tried to get out of it if it weren’t for the fact that it kept her comfortable and rolling in the eccentric art she loved so much.
Anyways, all my life I’ve known my dad to be a thief and a part of the crime world. He thinks up the heists, big and small. He plans out everything as meticulously as possible. He always makes sure that there is no evidence left behind. Never above robbing the rich or poor and definitely not above killing someone to get what he needs.
And Me? Well dad may be the brains of the operation, but he’s still human. He’s getting older and can’t keep up the physical aspects as well anymore. This is where I come in. I’m pretty much his mook and lackey. I like to consider myself an apprentice, but he’d just as well call me Mary queen of Scots first. He’s the brains, I’m his brawn. Don’t get me wrong though. I’m not stupid. I inherited his cunning and intelligence and can keep up with him on any plan. But I’m also smart enough to know that if he suspected me of being able to rival him let alone surpass him…he’d kill me.
That’s why I let him plan this job even though I didn’t like the smell of it. And I definitely didn’t think it would pay out as much as he thought it would. He had been keeping tabs on a guy who was relatively new to the city. A traveling doctor by trade named Adam Black. First thing that set me off against the job. Guy with a cryptic name who doesn’t stay in one place? No thanks. And while he did drive a nice car, he didn’t quite live in the most luxurious homes. He lived in a nicer neighborhood sure, but it was pretty..I dunno, run of the mill. Nothing special.
But this was dad’s job.
“So why this guy pops?” I had asked.
“Shut the fuck up.” He had responded.
“Well what’s the plan?” I asked, maybe if he talked it out, he might realize it just didn’t feel right.
“I swear you’re so fucking stupid ya piece of shit.” He had growled back, “Ya need it spelled out for you? Can’t just follow orders as I give em to ya? Fine.”
I did my best not to sigh in his face.
“This piece of shit doctor isn’t exactly normal. He’s a freelance mob doc if your ignorant brain can believe it. Travels from town to town in order to not be tied down to any specific syndicate. “
“That doesn’t quite make..” I stopped myself when I saw his eyes light up with irritation and immediately shut the fuck up.
“Being a part of our world, he sticks to a strictly cash basis. And I’m going to either find where his money is hidden in his place or torture him till he sings. “
“How’d you hear about him?”
“Your mom told me actually. She may hate the world, but she’d be dumb not to learn an awful lot about it. Oh, and he takes walk ins.”
“How are we going to just do a walk in?” I asked.
And in answer, he shot me in the leg.
After long bouts of cursing and makeshift binding, dad drove us to the place in the middle of the night.
My dad called via one of his many prepaid cells, “Yeah, I heard you can do things for guys like me when we’re in trouble. Yeah, we’ve got a bit of a problem with one of my men. His fucking dumb ass got shot in the leg, can you fix him up?”
I heard the voice on the other end, it was soft and kind of pompous. I couldn’t quite make out what was being said as I was starting to feel weak. Fucking never been shot before. This whole career with my dad, and I’d never been shot before. He must’ve thought this could bring in quite some haul if he was willing to take this risk. At least, that’s what I tried convincing myself on the way there.
We arrived in an alley way, and my dad dragged my ass into the guy’s backyard. His house was pitch black in the dark of night. No lights were on at all save for a single red dot floating in the middle of the air by what I assumed was the back door. As we got closer I was able to see what it was.
Dr. Adam Black was standing there, keeping the back door open. Taking light drags from a thin white cigarette. I couldn’t quite make out his features let alone what he was wearing in the dark.
“Gentleman,” he said with a slight nod of his head as we crossed the threshold into his dark house.
As soon as we were in, he closed the door and plunged us into blackness. I didn’t like this..I really really didn’t like this. Then as if to answer my prayers, he flipped on a switch and fluorescent white light filled the room. The pace we had entered looked like a workshop of some sorts. For the most part white with metal tables and various cabinets. Several power tools lined one wall and other large and bulky machinery I couldn’t quite recognize.
The thing that seemed out of place here was the horde…yeah horde is the right word here…of stuffed and taxidermied animals. They looked so life like that I couldn’t quite tell immediately if they were actually alive. Upon first inspection they seemed mundane, but as my eyes adjusted and I was able to take in my surroundings better, I realized they weren’t quite normal. Sure I could see deer and rodents and birds, but they weren’t on the right bodies. Rodent heads were placed in reptile bodies. There was a bird body with so many wings and no head that it looked like a ball of feathers at first. A dog was manipulated it had no muzzle but a new mouth had been created In its belly. Full of teeth. The most interesting piece was a black goat head whose horns had been replaced with snakes and its body was made up of a vast variety of animal legs, arms, and tails.
“Oh..my holy fuck wow..” I heard my dad say.
“Are you here to peruse my taxidermy or are you here for medical attention, “ we heard the soft voice of Dr Black ask.
Turning around, we were able to make out man that looked like skeleton in an Armani suit that had the same color as his name sake. He was pale and thin. Incredibly thin. His eyes were sunken in and so deep set that I couldn’t make out what color his irises were. His thin gray hair was parted to the side and so we’ll cut that it looked like he had it cut with a ruler. His thin lips parted and smiled revealing pearly white teeth.
“My man here, he’s been shot, just like I said over the phone. Can you fix him up?”
My dad said.
“Of course I can. Lay the boy on the table and I will begin to review his wound.” He said gesturing with a bony claw of a hand towards one of the metal tables.
My dad did as he was told and stepped away as Dr. Black walked..almost glided forward, covering his hands with white latex gloves. From pockets hidden within his coat, he produced a syringe filled with something green, scissors, and a scalpel. Immediately he went to work. Cutting open the makeshift bandage and my pant leg all the up the side of my thigh. Once the bloody wound was exposed, he let out a disapproving sound.
“Tsk tsk tsk, tell me gentlemen, what did you commit that had you shot at?”
“Stole a car, gangbangers shot at us.” My dad growled out. “Idiot here got himself shot.”
I couldn’t help but eye my dad as the doctor worked his way around the wound, cleaning it up. I don’t even remember seeing him pull gauze out.
“This shall provide, what I assume, a welcome release from the pain. Do be aware that it may cause some grogginess. “ He stuck the needle directly into my inner thigh. I suddenly felt my leg go numb. At first it was absolute relief from the searing pain. But then I noticed, I couldn’t feel my other leg. Or my stomach..my chest…my arms… Fear rushed through me. I tried to say something but was cut short by my dad. He must have caught the look of fear on my face and pulled out his gun, pointing it at the back of Dr Black’s head.
“Put down the scalpel and needle, Dr. before I make a mess of you. What the fuck did you just pump into him?” my dad said through gritted teeth. I couldn’t quite tell if he was more upset that his son had been jeopardized or that the job may have been.
Slowly Dr. Black put down his scalpel and needle, smiled, and winked at me. If I wasn’t numb..I probably would have started shivering. Slowly he turned around to meet my father’s gaze.
“Dad..” I said, my voice coming out weakly.
“SHADDUP! I asked the Dr. a question you dumb shit.” He commanded.
“So your “man” is your son? Such a wonderful family you must all be. As to your question, it was a numbing agent and sedative.” He said matter a factly “strong enough for most large animals.”
“It’s not going to kill him is it?”
“Quite the contrary. Your son is in excellent shape and will weather it quite nicely. It’s simply easier to work on a subject while they are unconscious. “ He said, “And considering what I must do, your son will not want to be awake.”
I watched as a long scalpel slid out of the doctor’s sleeve in his palm. Out of my father’s sight. Shit…he’s going to try and do something stupid. Dad will probably shoot him and we’ll be SOL of the money and me out of medical treatment.
“Dad!” I did my best to shout but it came out as merely a whimper.
“WILL YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP! And quit calling me dad while we’re on the job. You dumb fuck. I swear you’re so fucking stupid, I knew I was right when I told you mom to keep the afterbirth instead of you. It would’ve been smarter and easier on the fuckin’ eyes.” My dad yelled.
I found my lips and tongue unable to move anymore as they too succumbed to the numbing agent.
“That is a shame that you would insult your progeny so. He is actually quite a beautiful subject actually.” The doctor said still palming his blade.
“You trying to make the moves on my boy you fuckin perve? You know what I think I’ve had enough of this place.” I saw him put the gun to the Dr’s temple. “You fix up my boy. And then you show me where you hide your fucking cash. And maybe, I won’t do to you what you’ve been doing to these animals.”
“Excuse me?” I heard the eye quirk in the doctor’s voice.
“You heard me you piece of shit.”
“Ah yes, the premise of this whole evening. I was so enthralled with you two, that I had almost forgotten that there was going to be work done. “
He grasped the blade in his hand tightly.
“The fuck you talkin’ about? Show me where your fucking money is. NOW.”
“SHOW ME OR I WILL FUCKING BLOW YOUR HEAD OFF!”
“No you will not.”
With a quick motion, he slashed at the top of my father’s hand before he had the chance to pull the trigger.
“The fuck..I can’t..I can’t pull..the fuck did you do to my hand?!” my dad screamed.
“Severed the tendons preventing simple dexterous hand movements. Such as bending your fingers to cock and fire the gun. “ He sounded as if he had said this many times before.
My dad took a swing at him with all his brunt force.
The thin man in black simply crouched down and side stepped quickly. I heard another slice and my dad tumbled forward on the table and collapsed on the ground. The gun skidded across the floor.
“And that, was your Achilles tendon. You should’ve worn thick high topped shoes or possibly boots.“
I tried to scream for him. But my mouth had lost all its feeling. I felt my eyes starting to roll back.
The last thing I heard before I lost consciousness was my dad scream
“I’LL FUCKING KILL YOU YOU SONOVA WHORE!”
and Dr. Black give a small laugh in answer.
“No you won’t. “
I came to in a dark room. I was standing . I think I was standing. I still couldn’t feel my arms and legs. Not entirely pitch black. I could make out a dark red curtain in front of me. A wooden floor. And small pools of lights were shining in the space where the curtain met the floor.
I could hear my father. Babbling incoherently to the top right of me.
Suddenly a bony clawed hand rubbed my cheek.
“Ah you are awake, my boy.” Dr. Black moved into my field of vision. The weak light gave him a skeletal look and his sunken eyes were just pits of blackness.
“It is good you are finally awake. It is best that the subject be conscious during presentation.”
“My dad…what..what happened to my dad…what’s going on..?” I stammered out. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest.
“Ah…I suppose it makes no matter, for you will realize all soon enough. When crime bosses, businessmen of wealth, or people of eccentric tastes find that they require unique lessons or skills put into use, they contact Adam Black.”
My mouth went a bit slack. I wanted to scream but instead I just blurted
“But..but how did you .. we were told you were a mob doctor..”
He bowed in a fluid motion and with emphasis he clapped his hands together. “And Doctor Black procures the subjects that have raised the ire or interest of his employers and turns them into works of art for their amusement. You saw my taxidermy did you not? Yes. You and your father admired it so. As such, I am certain that you are able to realize what forms of Art I create. As for your father…I left him awake during the creation process. I told you that you didn’t want to witness the work. Your father on the other hand, annoyed me. So I kept him conscious all the while.“
I started to panic even more. I couldn’t feel my arms or legs. I couldn’t see my dad. I tried flailing, but found nothing moved except shoulders and stomach muscles. I couldn’t even move my head. It felt held in place. Suddenly I felt something slap against the back of my head.
“Ah, I seem to have forgotten to secure the IV line. A moment.” He walked behind me. I tried to see but couldn’t. I heard him sing something in another language..German I think. “Silly me”
He returned to my field of vision. “Now then. It’s time.“ he smiled a grin so wide I thought he’d split the corners of his mouth. He slid to the side.
“Oh, regarding the rich mob doctor façade. I typically allow lies of my stature to be passed around in order to entice the subject to visit me. Usually it takes some time, but in this case, the employer ensured that the word got to your father quicker than most.”
The curtain raised and a bright light filled the room.
I was on a stage. A large empty auditorium was before me. A single empty seat sat in the middle.
At the back, was a large mirror.
And I could see myself and my dad. I saw what Dr. Black considered art.
My father and I were in the position of the famous Abraham and Isaac sculpture. Where my father was Abraham towered above me, his hand holding me by the head as I knelt down. Another hand with a knife just under my neck. That’s what I recognized instantly. But as I got accustomed to it, I could see that my father and I both had no limbs. We were feeble torsos stitched to pierces of animal bodies and bones. We had become macabre chimeras. My father’s hands were snarling fox heads. His limbs made of squirrels stitched tightly together to make them look like a solid mass. His lower half had been supported by a mound of grinning pig and boar heads. My arms and hands had been replaced with glistening snakes bound together. Hanging limply from where my shoulder socket. My lower half had was the top end of great skinned cat of some kind. Just dried muscle and bone that stretched out under me ending in a roaring skull.
I screamed and screamed. Joining with my father’s mad ranting.
A door at the end of the auditorium opened loudly.
“Ah, here comes the employer.”
Loud clicks of heels on the wooden floor reverberated through the large empty space.
“Ah my employer! I present to you a work I call “The Father and Son of Iniquity”. It is ready to grace your gallery or where ever you would like to display it. And to your request, it has been fitted to remain alive for quite some time thanks to the intravenous network I have created. I would go so far to say that with proper cleaning and upkeep of the fluids, they might remain active for at least several years if not decades.”
A giddy clap came from the employer making jewelry jingle. A giggle of excitement left painted lips
And my eyes met the eyes of the employer.
I let out only one word; in it were utter hopelessness, sorrow, and fear. In it was utter collapse.