You could not hear a soul at two in the morning on Hammer Street. Lights were out in all houses and the street was barely illuminated by a few lamp posts and one or two stars that night clouds would not hide. An ambulance with its blinding red lights on, slowly cruised by the street. Its movements were erratic as it sometimes braked in front of a house while other times it lined up next to a sidewalk as if it were about to park only to steer back to the middle of the street and continue its unpredictable course.
The ambulance finally parked in front of house number D35 and it remained with its engine on while Nico got off the driver’s seat. Nico spit on the lawn in front of the house and tried to fix the white jacket that clearly did not fit him. He slowly tried to take control of his body, breathing heavily so the people in the house would not be aware of the drunken stupor that moved his legs in opposite directions. Meanwhile, Benny was still sitting on the passenger’s seat, struggling to unlock his seat belt with his left hand without letting go of his almost empty Jack Daniels in his other hand.
“Put that bottle away. They’re gonna see you,” Nico said to Benny, “…and come here.”
House number D35 was dark. The drunken paramedics called several times, “Good evening, you called an ambulance?!” However, they did not get an answer.
“Door’s open…” Benny declared with a suggestive tone as he played with the front door knob.
Nico and Benny were not really paramedics. A few hours before, they had walked out of a frat party with a small cooler and stumbled for a few blocks until they found the empty ambulance with its lights blinking and back doors open. So they stole it. They thought it would be funny to drive the van back to the party and give the other guys a scare. This was not their neighborhood, though, and they were not really sure where they were. They managed to drive the ambulance and turn a couple of corners until they heard a call in the CB radio. Dispatch had gotten a call from a woman on Hammer Street, house D35.
“I think that’s us” Benny mumbled, “Didn’t we just pass Hammer street?”
“No, shit, bro!” said Nico, “Man, let’s check it out!”
“D35… is that it? I think that’s- no, no, try the next one…”
Somewhere between their plastered state and the remote possibility that the person that called nine-one-one may have gone unconscious, the young men decided it was a good idea to enter the house.
After they turned the light on in the living room, Nico slumped on the couch.
“Something must’ve happened here” he theorized.
Benny was not listening. He was looking around in the kitchen.
“Nothing here. Not even a beer” he complained as he slammed the fridge door shut, “Where’s the bathroom?”
While Benny disappeared into the hallway, Nico lied down and stretched his legs. He was falling asleep. It was hard for him to keep his eyes open.
“This shit is soft” he thought as he dozed off.
Suddenly, he felt someone pushing his chest. He opened his eyes and saw Benny’s face dangerously close to his.
“Wake up, stupid!” Benny yelled, shaking him by the shoulders.
“What da fuck’s wrong witchoo?!” Nico asked angrily.
“There’s a – there’s a dead lady in the bathroom! Come see!”
Both men crossed the hallway until they reached the bathroom door. Benny did not dare to go in, so he leaned his back against the door frame to let Nico through. Nico turned on the light and saw a young naked black haired woman sitting on the toilet. She looked weak and skinny as her head hung from her neck. Her hands were drenched in blood stained. In fact the edges of the toilet seat and the bathroom walls were covered in dry blood finger shaped stains. Nico touched the woman’s neck and felt two small perforations. Then he felt her shallow breath.
“She’s not dead…” he concluded.
He placed his arms under her arm pits and tried to lift her up as he brought her closer to his chest. He felt a small resistance that impeded erecting her body completely, as if she got stuck with something.
“Gimme a hand here.” Nico told Benny.
“This whole thing was your idea. You figure it out” Benny replied, paralyzed.
Nico tried several times to yank the young female lose, but she was still jammed.
“You’re gonna tear her cord.” Benny finally declared.
“What cord? What the hell are you talking about?” Nico asked.
The drunk paramedic couldn't see it from where he was standing, but Benny could clearly see the umbilical cord that extended from the bloodied woman’s lower region into the toilet where a baby’s corpse was wedged under the edge of the seat.
At three in the morning, the whole world could have woken up with the loud wail of the ambulance siren. Nico drove it like a madman crossing red light after red light, as he tried to find a hospital. But between his stupor and not knowing where the hell he was, the driver crossed the streets unable to get out of the access controlled labyrinth.
The woman was unconscious, pale, and sweating as she lied on a stretcher at the back of the vehicle. Benny sat at her side, holding her hand while he finished his bud.
“If we hadn't entered that house, we wouldn't be in this mess.” he lamented.
“Shut the fuck up and just make sure she stays with us!” Nico yelled, staring at the rear view mirror.
“How the hell am I supposed to do that?” Benny complained.
Benny placed his empty beer bottle next to him and opened his cooler to take out another. The baby’s inert cold body was buried under ice chips and some Coors and Buds. He was a stillborn twirled in fetal position. After closing the cooler, Benny pretended to verify the woman’s pulse and continued drinking. Nico kept driving desperately, looking at both sides of the street.
“Shit. This is a one way.” He said, turning the wheel all the way to the side.
The ambulance shook, and Benny held on to the stretcher.
“Slow down, man!” he yelled at Nico.
He paid attention towards the unconscious woman and grabbed her forearm to fit her better in the stretcher. He felt her cold. He placed his hand under her nose and confirmed she wasn't breathing. He quickly opened her mouth and he placed his lips on hers to apply what he thought was mouth to mouth breathing, but in reality was just him blowing up her cheeks like a balloon. Then, he hit her chest repeatedly with savage strength.
The woman opened her eyes. She grabbed Benny by the neck and squeezed hard as she mumbled undecipherable gibberish. Benny tried to free himself from her grip. His face turned purple and he had trouble breathing. He tried to speak, but the woman’s grip on his neck only allowed him a few whimpers.
“What the fuck is going on back there?!” Nico yelled through the rear view mirror, “Tie her down!”
The woman let go of Benny’s neck and he fell, gasping for air. She quickly moved up front and fiercely attacked Nico, scratching his face and trying to bite his neck. Nico’s face was bloodied. He lost control of the vehicle and it began to spin around. Benny tried to separate the woman from his friend, but she buried her nails in his face and pushed him away from her.
In a matter of seconds the ambulance was turned upside down and then it rolled over its roof several times.
An hour passed before the woman opened her eyes and the world seemed to be upside down. She could not feel her body, but she felt a long thick cold cylinder crushing through her chest. Blood gushed from her dislocated jaw and the taste made her uncomfortable as she tried to scream her lungs out. But she could not hear her own voice. Both her arms were broken, and her body lied on a pool of her own blood. She was confused. She knew she was about to die. That much she knew. The young woman was not in pain, but she panicked as she fruitlessly tried to lift herself from that tar covered street she was spread all on.
She felt hunger. She twisted her tongue from side to side trying to get a taste of her leaked blood, but even that was a waste of time. If she would be able to move, she would have seen that the ambulance fell over an unfinished bridge. Most of the construction materials fell on top the ambulance, killing its passengers instantly while the woman, who was thrown a few meters away through the windshield, was stuck with a large metallic tube straight through her heart.
The woman saw a broken cooler a few feet in front of her. Ice cubes and broken beer bottles spilled from it. Her lifeless baby lied still next to the cooler, looking back at her, as everything around her slowly became a dark dream,
Talking Heads was written in 2009. The art and colors were done by Guillermo Martinez with letters by Carlos M. Mangual.
I wake up at four in the morning to the rattling of doors and windows. There’s no wind or stormy weather out there, only you. I can feel you next to me without having to see you. And I can definitely hear your voice coming before you even start talking. Like a vacuum sucking out all my happiness and tranquility. The natural signs of a coming tsunami. Or I should say, the supernatural signs of your coming.
I can take the apparitions, the glass breaking, and the floating sheets, but it’s your voice that drives me insane. (As in criminally.) I detest that condescending high pitch squeaky sound you make, telling me things I don’t want to hear. Things I never wanted to know or already knew and didn’t need to be reminded of. I will never marry, but I am not gay. I will pay my bills when I get to it. It’s really not your business if I masturbate a lot. I don’t need to take an umbrella with me on a sunny day. And yes, I brushed my fucking teeth today.
I brace myself for you. Once again, like every other night your dreaded presence arrives like clock work. And like clock work, it’s time for you to haunt me. And of all the things you can say because you know me better than myself, of all the words you can hurt me with, there’s only one that always chills my spine. That one word that blinds me with hatred, disdain, and anger:
I hear that word as I lie on my bed and a tray appears in front of me with rotten eggs and meat full of worms and a glass of liquid brownish- I don’t even want to know what that is. Every night I throw it away and beg you to stop. Listen to me! I will not eat your undead cooking. Not because poached eggs shouldn’t have hairs, eyeballs, or fungus coming out of them. Not because some of the stuff you give me to eat is more or less alive, but because I’m not hungry, okay?
I’M NOT HUNGRY!!!
It seems to me you will never leave the house. You will never rest as long as I live, because you don’t think I can live without you. Once again you come to orchestrate my world for me as you see fit. And even then- even when I follow your rules and do everything you ask, I still make you angry. The water in my sink turns to blood, headless dead cats scratch my bedroom door, rotting hands hold me to the walls. Children’s corpses hang from the ceiling singing that lullaby you used to whisper to me every night. All of that is punishment from you. I have to do things exactly as you ask, but your supernatural nagging will never cease.
I asked you in life and now I ask you in death: Don’t you have anything – ANYTHING!- better to do?
You are the haunting spirit of my failures and co- dependence.
Shriek and moan and whisper. Throw me headless cats and singing lifeless children. Torment me all you want. There will come a day when I’ll be able to rid myself of your phantom memory. On that day, I will think, and speak, and do as I need for myself. On that day, I will push my life forward and forward and further ahead without ever looking back. Only on your birthdays I will visit your grave and I’ll bring flowers. Probably a bouquet that you will not approve of. But every year I will stand on your grave and I will do my best to say in the most annoyingly sarcastic tone:
Mother, rest in peace.
And I will not change the dead flowers I left you the year before. Because even in death you need to learn that the world will not end if things are not as clean or tidy as you always need them to be. I will honor you by showing you how great my life is, doing the exact opposite of what you say.
Shriek and moan and whisper. Throw me headless cats and singing lifeless children. Torment me all you want.
In life, I wanted to love you, but you made me hate myself.
In death, I just want to forget you.