I had the scariest fucking dream last night. It was the first time in about ten years that I actually lay awake for a while, afraid to get out of bed and get myself a glass of water.
I was out at an Italian restaurant with my younger brother Ed. It had a really Mediterranean feel to it, with arched doorways, tan stucco walls and an open, airy dining room.
As my brother was walking to the bathroom, he got the evil eye and a shoulder from some heavyset guy that we’d met the day before, a friend of two friends of ours – they were at the restaurant too. At least, I assume that’s what happened, I didn’t really see. But Ed wasn’t coming right back from the bathroom, so after about ten minutes, I went in to see what was up.
He was standing there by the sinks, not doing anything, just standing. And then I realized the heavyset guy had followed me into the bathroom. I could see that he and Ed had business.
"I’ll wait out in the back," I said, and started for the door. I didn’t offer to help; I knew he didn’t need help. Before I even reached for the handle, Ed had grabbed the big guy, lifted him bodily off his feet and slammed his face down into the sink with tremendous force. The body fell to the ground limp. He was dead for sure.
Oh shit, I thought. Oh shit. We’ve got to get out of here.
Next thing I knew, we were running along a path behind the restaurant towards a deck high on a bluff that overlooked the lake and the wide beach, and Ed was dragging the guy’s body behind him. Fifty feet behind were our two friends, a guy and a girl, calling to us and wondering what the hell was going on.
I was past the deck and down ten stairs or so when they caught up to Ed right at the top of the stairs. "We’ve got to go, we’ve got to go! People will be coming!" I called to Ed.
But he wasn’t listening. He was crouched with the body, quiet, rocking back and forth. And then he started talking to our friends. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but they looked like they were trying to comfort him. Soon all three were sitting down together, embracing and crying. And then Ed had them hug the dead man, bracing the body up so the two could hold hands behind his back while they held each other close in front.
I was getting more and more nervous, jumpy. We really needed to go. Right down the stairs, some hundred and fifty feet, I could see the beach where we were supposed to meet the rest of the family for the afternoon.
But I couldn’t call out, I was mesmerized by the three people and the corpse at the top of the stairs. Ed seemed to be directing them through a series of strange arm movements and gestures. They would clasp each other’s hands, then release, twist arms around and clasp again.
And then Ed pushed them back, with their arms caught behind the dead man’s back, stepped onto his chest and started the chainsaw. The calm trance-like expression fell from their faces and they squirmed to try to free themselves from the weight of the dead body, but they were hopelessly stuck.
Then Ed lowered the saw and started cutting off the dead man’s head. Immediately, in a second, they were covered in the warm spray of blood and they screamed and tried to wipe the blood away from their faces, out of their mouths.
The cutting was done quickly, and Ed bent to pick up the severed head. I looked away, to the side down the bluff, only to see it bounce and roll past me, down toward the beach.
Back up to the deck – Ed held a dull black machine pistol. He shot the nearer of the red squirming figures, the guy, in the head, paused and then shot him again in the head. Then he turned to swing the gun to the girl.
There was a click. He was out of ammo. The girl, who didn’t look like a person any more, struggled anew with desperate hope of escape, but Ed just stepped back so that the thrashing arm and legs didn’t get blood on his pants. He pulled a fresh clip from his pocket and threw the empty case off the bluff. I thought for a moment how careless he was being with the evidence.
Then he slid the new magazine into the pistol grip and jacked a round into the chamber. "Don’t try this at home," he said with a smile, and then shot her in the face. Her head snapped back against the wood with a force that would have left a bruise, but instead there was just a wet thunk, and then her head rolled to the side. There was blood everywhere.
As we ran down the stairs toward the beach, Ed seemed to be throwing one thing after another over the railings out onto the bluff. I couldn’t see what, I just encouraged him, "get rid of it, get rid of it."
We hit the sand and I just ran. I ran toward the water as fast as I could, but it just kept getting farther away. My lungs were burning and my legs were heavy and still I ran and still I got no closer. Finally, I threw myself down under a log of driftwood and lay there clenching my eyes closed to keep out the sand that blasted up under my breath.
When I opened my eyes, I saw that the family was already there, the kids playing in the sand up nearer to the bluff. And thirty feet from them I saw the dead man’s head lying in the sand, eyes open. Right away I ran to get it, to hide it, to take it away.
"He got rid of it, he got rid of it," I was repeating to myself, only it came out as a whining moan, "he got rid of it, he got rid of it."
Bridget, my niece, heard me coming when I was fifty feet away, squinching across the sand, and looked to see where I was running. She saw it, and stood up right away. Then she started walking towards it. The face was towards her, the mouth slightly open, the eyes rolled back.
"What is that?" she said, and the alarm was clear in her voice. And then she started sobbing, "is that a hea- a head?"
"Bridget!" I yelled, and reached out across the blankets. I opened my eyes in the dark and I was in bed.