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Monday, October 3, 2011


This is not in the book, was not published.  But is the original prologue.

                      AURARIA DEAD                       
     The Hummer tore out of the undergrowth of the moonless forest like it was dropped newly born from outer space.  Its searchlight gleamed like a cyclopean eye onto the skeletal bark of winter trees.  Its three occupants couldn’t have cared less that pairs of eyes stared in horror before bouncing off into the dark nothingness of night.
     A bone-jarring thud blew the lights and the blind vehicle
lurched into a bank of rhododendron ten feet high.
     “Keep the damn searchlight on,” the driver rasped to the front seat passenger.  “You think I’m a rodent, that I can see in the dark?” He rubbed his coat sleeve across his runny nose and sniffed, then spit out of the open window.  His cold was worse.  The horrible day had started early when Wanda the bitch had run out on him after throwing all his clothes in the front yard.  His jock strap was dangling from the mailbox when he came home, for Christ’s sake!
    “We’re gonna get stuck out here if you don’t watch where you’re going,” the rider right behind him said.
     “We should have waited till daylight!” the other backseat passenger said as he tightened his seatbelt.
     “Both of you shut the fuck up!” the driver shouted.  He twisted the wheel as a huge form loomed directly before them. 
     After a sudden dive, the truck crunched abruptly still against a huge Red Oak. The driver’s head banged into the steering wheel and he howled.  The front passenger screamed when he cracked his head against the windshield and the man in back choked then fought the seatbelt that had become tangled around his neck.
     “Shit, shit, shit,” the driver said as he jumped out of the vehicle and leaned against the hood of the Hummer.  He held his  bloody nose with both hands.
     “Look, it’s right over here,” the backseat passenger said.  He shined a weak flashlight through the woods on the left.  Tattoos that covered his neck and ran down into his red jacket were garish in the dull dome light.  “See, the trail ends over here, and there’s the mark on the tree.”  He shoved the left rear door open and stepped out of the vehicle.
     The driver grabbed the flashlight from the backseat man, but continued to hold onto his nose with his other hand.  “I’ll do da telling.  You get da stiff out of da back and keep your trap shut.”  Drums pounded in his swollen sinuses.  “You,” he yelled at the front seat passenger, “if you ever intend to see a cut of da money, get your ass and your shobel into dat cave.  Dow!”
     The front passenger slowly peeled himself off his seat, cupped the knot on his forehead with his left hand and headed toward the back door.
     Immediately the back of the Hummer was opened, the tarp-wrapped dark haired body dumped onto the ground without ceremony, as cold as the nearest Hemlock.
     Dragged into the cave, the body was propped into a sitting position against the clay wall.  The tattoo man noticed a candle
stuck in the clay at shoulder height, fumbled in his pocket for a lighter and the cave turned into a mineshaft in its light.
     “Don’tcha wanna break him up some more to disguise him?” asked the tattooed guy.
     “You just like breaking bones,” said the driver.  “Get your ass over here and hump these boxes inside.  Don’t matter noway, he ain’t dever gonna be found.  Get my tarp off him too, I paid seventy bucks for that.”  As much as he wanted to lie right down in the cave to sleep off his illness and broken nose, he knew the others would kill him and run.  Dying in an abandoned mine wasn’t in his plan.
     They stumbled over mining cart rails that ran down the center of the cave, relaying thirty-five pound cardboard boxes from the back of the Hummer to deep inside the shaft.  The boxes had been stacked four high and five wide.  Before long, all three of the men were dripping with sweat.
     Just as they left the cave, the tattooed man tottered over to the body on his short legs and swung his knee up into the dead man’s face, then yowled with pain.  He reared back to kick him, thought better of it and spit on him instead.  “Where are we going to leave my poor dead brother-in-law?” he asked and wiggled his head like he enjoyed his work.
     “Right where he is,” the driver answered. “Take his jacket off him.”
     “Why’d I need another red jacket?  One with a couple holes in it?  You need it, you take it.”
     The driver’s face flushed from pasty white to violent red.  He staggered then leaned over and threw up on the floor of the cave.

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