Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode two hundred and thirty-three.
This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Radio’s Revenge podcast.
Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.
Tonight, Coffin and Bunny complete the breaking of a once happy home, as they attempt to save the life of an infant.
Coffin: Hidden, Part 3 of 3
Victoria had been awoken by the conversation in her sleeping chamber, and was now on her tip toes at the edge of the portable crib. Her stubby-fingered fist gripped the bars tightly as she watched Coffin finish his discussion with the dead man.
Will looked from the apparition to the collie which sat patiently by the closed door, then released his occult chain.
“Go get Mother Landreau,” Coffin told his companion. “Don’t let the tail-wagger out as you go.”
With an unsteady lurch, and a flailing leg intended to keep the canine at bay, Bunny squeezed herself through the exit and made for her destination.
Her weaving trip to the kitchen was twice as long as necessary, but, on the return, she utilized Judy as a pace vehicle, and managed a relatively steady course.
Her focus on travel, however, meant that Sweetie’s apparent need for captivity had slipped her mind.
As Judy turned the handle and pushed at the entrance, a stream of crimson emanated from the mouth of the wide-eyed babe, and impacted on Will’s leather-jacket. Coffin’s back had been to the child, as he’d turned to provide a second warning regarding the dog, who, spying an escape route, and upset by the stream of blood, bolted through the women’s legs.
As the flow ceased, Victoria began to weep.
“Step inside,” said the moist shaman.
Judy frowned, and moved to her infant’s bedside.
When the latch had clicked shut behind Bunny, Will began his questioning.
“How long have you been having the affair?” he asked.
Mrs. Landreau’s brow furrowed as she reached into the playpen.
“This isn’t the time for secrets,” Will added, as he shook his still dripping sleeve.
“On and off for a year,” she said, staring at the wet carpet.
“What’s his name?”
“Donald. Don.” As she spoke, Judy wiggled Victoria in an effort to bring her to silence.
“You’re gonna ####in’ shake that thing to death,” said Bunny. “Give’er here.”
With a shrug, the mother handed across the screeching bundle.
“Just one more -” the drunk sang, “No, wait – Gimme a shot – no hold on.”
Despite her broken lyrics, the lush’s consternation seemed enough to sooth the child.
As the pair wandered, Coffin moved closer to the subject of his interrogation.
“Has Don given you any gifts recently?” he asked.
The errant wife nodded. “A few weeks ago, as a Christmas present, he gave me Sweetie. He said I could give it to the family as a present, and they’d never know better.
“Sweetie is what he calls me. He liked that I’d always be thinking of him, even when we were apart.”
Her voice remained steady, but she moved the palm of her left hand to her eye and wiped away a tear.
“Well, ####,” whistled Bunny, “I guess the guy with the axe-wound in his chest isn’t the most ####ed up person in this room.”
After giving Judy a lopsided squint, she went back to humming.
“I’m pretty sure Don planned to empty your schedule,” said Coffin, “though usually these things move along quite a bit quicker. Wait in the kitchen and send your victi- sorry, your husband – back in.”
Bunny was no closer to completing her song as Gene entered, but Victoria had taken to cooing encouragingly at her attempts.
“OK, Pa,” said Will, “Time to trade dance partners. You hold the kid while my friend here goes to find the mutt.”
It took some convincing to drag Sweetie towards the damp flooring, but, once she’d been forced across the threshold, she was quick to nestle on the guest-bed’s barren mattress.
The daughter watched her father as her father watched his pet, and a silence descended.
Coffin pinched the bridge of his nose, and rubbed at his eyes.
“Great,” he said, “Now all Landreaus get out, because we need to conduct some light surgery on the family dog. Do you have some scissors on hand?”
Though Sweetie was young, her fur had thickened to fight the cold of winter. Still, the kitchen shears made quick work of the longer hairs, and a package of disposable razors, scavenged from the bathroom, did the rest.
Within an hour, the collie was nearly nude, but for a network of spiraling red emblems tattooed onto her flesh.
As Coffin washed away the last of the fluff with water he’d collected in a large basin, Bunny broke off from the absentminded singing she’d been using to calm the beast.
“Holy ####,” she said, “this pooch oughta get a ####ing Harley and a biker name. Killer Kibble, or something. Lassie Lowrider.
“You know, that actually reminds me, I used to know a stripper named Purina…”
Will didn’t have the patience to mention that, though she hadn’t noticed it, she’d somehow perfectly regurgitated the words to I’ll See You In The Morning.
Instead, he said, “quiet, I need to read.”
As his fingers flattened and stretched the shivering skin, his trained eyes began to understand the patterns.
“I thought so,” he said. “It’s a curse. Usually these things work very quickly, but this one’s a bit off the mark.
“Get a blanket and wrap the bowwow, so that the Landreaus don’t spot what we’ve found, then take her out of here, and wait for me on the stoop.”
With that, he made for the kitchen.
Gene was leaning against the stove and rocking Victoria, while Judy sat at the table and blew at her steaming teacup.
“Not an easy situation to resolve,” he said. “First, I should say that I need to kill your dog, and conduct the ritual of the thousand cleansings upon her carcass.
“Ma’am, you need to make your husband aware of who you’ve been sleeping with, for how long, and why your new boyfriend was trying to dispatch your baby. Sir, it’s worth mentioning, though, that she didn’t know about the hocus pocus anymore than you did. You need to get a divorce.
“Finally, to, uh, keep the sorcery at bay, you need to setup a television in that room which plays constantly. The volume needs to be loud enough that you can hear it, but not unreasonably so. Keep the programming interesting, at least until legal proceedings force you to sell the house. You can move the little one back to her own bed though.
“By the looks of things, Judy, you may not want to fight too hard for custody, but that’s above even my paygrade.
”Speaking of which, cut me a cheque for my fee so I can get out of here, and you can both start with the accusatory arguing you shouldn’t have had to go through a near-death experience to arrive at.”
* * *
While they made their way to the cross-street, and the nearest bus stop, Coffin provided Bunny with a summation of his final conversation with their clients.
“At least we got paid decently, before the lawyers absorb all of their cash,” he concluded.
“So we’re gonna murder their puppy?” she asked, after a moment’s consideration.
“No, of course not,” replied Will, “but people take you more seriously when they think something has to die. A young purebred like this rarely has trouble being adopted. Once she’s got her coat back, I’ll drop her off with some hippies I know who run a shelter.
“The hex is so specific that it’s not a danger to anyone else. It’s usually used as a marriage-ender. I mean, who could stay together after witnessing that? That’s the whole idea though: To turn on the hose she had to be in the same room with the baby and one of her biological parents – that is to say, Lassie here, Victoria, and Judy or her new boyfriend.
”Don’t think Don knew he was trying to kill his own kid though.”
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