It’s been a longer time between chapters of A Play Demonic (The Queen’s Idle Fancy) since the last part was double-sized at almost 2,000 words. Soon, next week, the story will pass 20,000 words and inch further into novella territory. This episode dwells on poor Pete “Petey” Quarles, a meth user arrested and released because there wasn’t enough room in the local county jail. This is something that is based on reality. I often read the police blotter in the local paper and there are so many instances where people are arrested, for whatever reason, and then immediately released due to overcrowding. Unfortunately, even though my island home is a solid retirement, fishing, working community, and a touristy island paradise, meth is a huge problem in our area, in most areas, and these drug users keep the police force busy (and in constant danger as well). I wish for a better situation.
“We are all demonic!”—QUEEN STORMAG
Another Assisted Living Home painting for your viewing pleasure. This one captures the storm raging throughout this chapter. To see more Bogdanovitch art, go to this website: www.bogdanovitch.com!
If you would like to begin reading A Play Demonic (The Queen’s Idle Fancy) from the very beginning, simply click HERE to read Part 1. If you want to refresh your memory, simply click HERE to read Part 14!
A Play Demonic (The Queen’s Idle Fancy) — Part 15
Under his breath, still coming off a tweaker’s high, Pete “Petey” Quarles repeatedly hummed, mumbled the words pig, pig, piggy at the police officer walking ahead of him towards the release area, really a glass-walled partition with a slot where they could hand him his belongings, which amounted to a pair of sneakers wrapped in a brown paper bag. He had crazy, animalistic, tics, one side of his mouth always rising and falling, hands clenching into fists, off and on, rapidly, giving energy away. The full jailhouse scrounged up a lost pair of jeans, a rank, dirty white t-shirt, and a hoodie that still had splashes of blood all across the back, and a knife slit widening near the left shoulder-blade area. Arrested for public nudity, public nuisance, disturbing the peace, attempted assault, resisting arrest, and drug use (a known meth user on the island—one of many) Petey had been brought in wearing only his black Converse All-Stars. They allowed Petey to sleep his high off on the concrete floor of a cell that already housed eight others.
November weather and nudity don’t mix. The drugs fooled Petey, made him believe cold was hot, up was down, created a compulsive drive accented by voices taunting him from within, and he let this drive take control. When he awoke in the cell, wrapped in a car blanket filthy with oil spots, the other prisoners gave him space. No one wanted to deal with a crazy naked meth freak. Petey was young, barely twenty-five, and that was the sad and shameful part. He had parents who cried over his choices, who’d tried to help him after disappearing the first time (and too many others), finally coming back hooked and hanging around sketchier, scarier people—these are my friends, Mom! When he stole from them, anything he and his friends could sell, they washed their hands of him. When he was a child of six, Petey told his mom he wanted to work with animals, otters, sea lions, orcas.
“Do you know what that worker is called?” Petey’s mother said.
“Nope.” Petey’d been saying that word most of his life.
“A marine biologist or veterinarian (slowly enunciating the long words with a mother’s pride). But you have to keep getting good grades.
And Petey’s scattered memories settled on the image of him as a little boy being cared for, loved by, his mom, his parents, and then squashed the image down deep. Back into darkness, hidden away.
“Anyone coming to pick you up this time?” Officer Lucy Kincaid asked her question with little emotion. She didn’t care if Petey had a ride back to Fidalgo Island or not. Let him freeze. She processed the official forms, stamped a few, slid one through the slot for Petey to signature, and tapped her finger against the desk top, waiting.
“Nope nope nopey nope!”
Officer Kincaid rolled her eyes, a rudeness she indulged in only because she felt safe within her glass cage. The toughest of toughs, and she’d seen much worse than young-but-looks-way-ancient, teeth-rotting, methhead Petey Quarles in her time on the force—a desk jockey happy to clock in and clock out—didn’t often make her crack a smile.
“Well, it’s too bad there’s no room at this inn, lucky you, or your ass would be on a different path. Try not to let me see you again this month.”
“Do my best, lady cop,” Petey said, and he added a salute.
“You can put your shoes on over there.” Officer Kincaid pointed to the lobby where a graffiti-strewn wooden bench stood against the wall.
The county jail was on the mainland in the small city of Burlington, the I-5 exit to Fidalgo Island originating there, and a good sixteen miles to the town of Anacortes and the ferry services to the outlying San Juan Islands. The jail had few beds, and most of the time they were occupied; only the harshest of criminal offenders arrested were kept there. Drug users, those who missed past court dates and were uniformly picked up with outstanding warrants, for minor crimes, were set free almost immediately. It was a game that the bureaucrats used to push for larger facilities during every election year.
“We’re just sending criminals back onto your streets, into your neighborhoods for lack of space. Vote YES on the new jail!” And someone was always paid well, both over and under that proverbial table.
Petey used his Get Out of Jail Free Card and began his sixteen-mile walk back to Fidalgo Island in the pouring rain. He wasn’t exactly homeless. Friends, other meth users, pushers, let him crash on their couches. If you are driving to Fidalgo Island and see someone hitchhiking from Burlington, wet, straggly, psycho-red eyes rigidly fixed on your car, don’t pick that thumb-waving jailbird up. Strong advice. Don’t do meth. Turn your life around. Or walk home in the rain. Petey’s course took only a few hours. No one gave him a lift, and his starvation bloomed. He had a raging headache.
Behind him, shadowing Petey all the way from the twin bridges crossing the Sound, someone followed his every step. The hoodie Petey wore barely held up. His shoulders slumped, and the multitude of cars passing him by fostered a deep feeling of self-loathing. By the time he reached Gibraltar Road an hour later, tears mixed with the rain. Why couldn’t one of his friends pick him up? He’d left messages.
The cure for his mindset rested at his friend Abigail’s apartment off Marine Drive, and, to get to her place, he decided to take Heart Lake Road, climbed the huge first hill while cars passed him in uncountable numbers (he tried this to pass the time), most drivers heading to Oak Harbor and the Whidbey Naval Air Station. It was getting darker, and the rain fell harder. When a bolt of lightning struck close enough for Petey to smell sulfur—he wondered about his life, science, the scent so strong—he took one of the forest paths leading to Mt. Erie. The canopy of old growth forest would shield him. He could find a hidey-hole and wait out the rain. The voices in his head kept telling him how hungry, starving, he was. They began to pout. And Petey laughed. Coming down from a trip was always amusing to him. He felt a loose tooth with the tip of his tongue, worrying it looser, and he concentrated on that as he stumbled along the darkening pathway.
As the wind grew fierce, the full moon hid itself behind blackened rain-filled clouds. Trees swayed and cracked, branches, twigs, and leaves splashed into puddles. The residents of the island huddled behind locked doors in front of wood-burning stoves, and hoped the power didn’t go out—mice, feral cats who lived in pockets around the wharfs, rats, weasels, raccoons, sea otters, deer, huddled in makeshift gullies, rock outcroppings in the state forestlands that made up thousands of protected acres throughout the island community. Hiking trails crisscrossed the parks . . .
Camoustra and Frenalto would never ask where Frederick Waltzcrop went, where he disappeared to, vanishing from their presence for days, weeks, months at a time. Once, he’d even been gone for a year while they lounged by gondola in Venice . . . that was ages ago when the canals reeked of human filth, blood, superstition, and twisted dreams, courtesy of the pair waiting on Waltzcrop to come to them, direct their course. Frederick Waltzcrop walked these trails. He knew he and the young chap stumbling about ahead of him were alone. His vision clear in the darkness, the rain beat upon him, he could imagine himself with the power to control the wind (and often this made his journey tolerable—he wasn’t a kind man).
It didn’t take long for Frederick Waltzcrop to cross paths with Pete “Petey” Quarles. With surprise, they laughed together. Waltzcrop told him about a dry overlook perfect for watching the storm. Petey couldn’t believe his luck. A gentleman had materialized out of nowhere. To be honest, Petey had been a bit fearful that someone was following him. When he’d turned back to hitchhike, throw out his thumb, too often, he’d glimpsed a hulking black shape way off in the distance walking—following—off to the side of the road, closer to the tree line. He wondered about the scent, the campfire smell in the air, the lightning burning into his head, and Waltzcrop bumping into him and turning his flashlight on, scaring the bejeezus out of him.
“You. You the perv following me?” Petey said this through chattering teeth, the freezing rain finally getting him down to his bones.
“Not at all. But you do resemble a drowned rat, if you don’t mind my saying,” Waltzcrop said with a bit of mirth in his tone.
“It’s been a rough day.” The moon came out from behind a fissure at the edges of three dark clouds, only in brief passing as the storm whipped and roared, just time enough to light up Waltzcrop’s waxen skin. It looked like soft cheese to Petey, which made his stomach gurgle and then he laughed.
“I know the driest place to rest up. Here. You look like you need this.” Waltzcrop held out his palm where a bright red apple sat, wet, polished. Petey hesitated. “Go on!”
“Thank you, mister.” Petey thought of children’s tales, poison apples, and cackled loudly, so boisterously, Waltzcrop grinned wider. He took a huge bite out of the apple and closed his eyes in pure joy.
“Call me Frederick. All my closest friends do. Follow me. There’s a clearing ahead, but we have to climb almost to the top of the mount.”
“I don’t know. My legs are spent.”
“Trust me. I have more than apples to satisfy your particular hunger.” Waltzcrop pulled a plastic bag out of his coat pocket and Petey could see drugs there, paraphernalia, packets, a glass pipe, the heating chamber, a metal spoon—oh how Petey loved to heat and inhale. Lovely drugs. Back in the pocket.
“Who are you?”
“I’m someone who needs your company.”
“I don’t swing that way. No offense, mister.”
“And that isn’t what I meant. It’s too wet and cold a night to enjoy this storm on my own. We can watch it together. Way up high. And you can tell me your story while I soak up every word.”
“In that case. Sure. Lead on. Don’t mind if I do.” Petey followed Waltzcrop deeper into the woods, taking a circular path that steadily rose, zigzagging in steeper places. Waltzcrop leaned on his cane at times, pausing. Petey’s voices, his intuition deadened, became muted by the drug lust brewing in his brain. And only his intuition could’ve saved him, made him attempt to run from Waltzcrop—that time had long since passed by the time they entered a clearing, an outcropping of rock protected from the rain by a slab of granite and boulders propping up one side.
In the clearing a drawing in red on the dirt floor drew Petey’s attention. There was a shape, a head there, a stick figure and a star, and what looked like red fire, flames.
“Strange. You the artist?”
“Sit right there. See the face in the darkness? Right there on the ground. You and I. We’ll be terrific friends,” Waltzcrop said.
Petey sat down on the ground. “What’s that smell?” Petey asked.
“You’ll find out. Here. I promised you this.”
Petey took the drugs Waltzcrop offered and began to open the bag as Waltzcrop moved behind him.
“Do you have a lighter?”
“Pure bizarro, man.”
Those were the last words Petey spoke as a rock crushed his skull. His mind blinked in spasm and blood started to spurt and flow and the rock lifted again and smashed a dozen more times until no one would ever recognize young Petey Quarles. His rotting teeth scattered over the ledge. Waltzcrop then went to work on his fingers and toes and the other details of this opening ceremony. At half past midnight Waltzcrop found himself coated in blood, his face painted like a demon’s: red red red. He forgot nothing, and when he moved into the open space the rain cleansed. His skin felt stronger, and Waltzcrop smiled such a smile. The rain continued and the deer stepping along the lower pathways bolted away, their hearts racing to beat the devil.
To read the next chapter of A Play Demonic (The Queen’s Idle Fancy), simply click HERE for Part 16!
Thank you ever so much for staying with A Play Demonic (The Queen’s Idle Fancy) throughout its twists and turns, and twisted logic too . . . if you care to share your thoughts on the story, please feel free. I love feedback. What did you think of Waltzcrop? His travels taking him to different parts of the island he’s calling home for the moment . . .
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