Friday, January 29, 2016

The Hunt

At one thirty AM, police arrived at MacKay’s bar. Two sirens blared, piercing the hot air, and I ran to the window, latching onto the chipped wooden frame. Two empty patrol cars had parked out front, blocking the road. The driver’s side door stood open on one car.

A cop exited the bar. He led its patrons down the sidewalk. They pressed into a mob, hugging the barriers at the edge of the building.

“It’s Art,” one man said. “Those cops went upstairs, to the apartment.”

“But we haven’t seen Ally all night.”

“It’s Ally MacKay.”

“He finally did her in?”

“No, she killed him. Cracked his skull with bat.”

“I heard the noise,” a woman said. “Like a gunshot. I called the police.”

“I thought I heard screaming, over the band.”

I almost laughed. Sure, Ally had motive – rumor had it that Art beat her. A few domestic disputes, whispers of affairs… she’d threatened to leave a dozen times, wailing in the street when Art started that rust bucket truck of his, darkness hiding him on his early morning commute to the forest, to the hunt – but she didn’t have the balls to do it.

Some things don’t mix. Art and AA. Garlic on a chocolate cake. Unsweetened whipped cream with, well, anything. Maybe I should’ve thought about that before moving to Chase Street and reopening the old bakery across from that nasty bar. Subjected to every noise Art and Ally made.

Nothing would make this town sweeter than the MacKays disappearing.

I’ve fantasized about it. I could make poison; finally a use for those morning glory seeds from my sister. Marching into the bar around closing, flirting with the missus, and then dropping off a cake, or a pie… too easy. Ally MacKay weighed close to three hundred pounds – a baker always knows – and she’d shove her cheeks full right away.

Art – him I’d shoot. For Bambi. In his Facebook profile photo, MacKay knelt over a dead doe, his hands inside its chest. His older pictures showed him holding deer hearts or animal heads, his full-body camo covered in still-warm blood. MacKay drove to the state forest with his rifle in the bed of the truck. He kept tarps in the back, too; I’d camp out in those overnight. As he drove to the forest, I’d load the rifle, aim it, and say, “Can’t beat the hunt.” He always said that, in every hunting post he wrote.

Art would turn around – whiplash quick, his orange hat flying off – just in time for the bullet.

By dawn, the mortician came. He left with not one, but two body bags. The mob silenced until the mortician drove away.

“Oh my God.”

“Both of them?”

“Art killed her and then himself.”

“Ally did it and when she realized what she done, she did herself in, too.”

“With the way Art slapped her around? I’d have done it sooner.”

No one had left. People didn’t walk away from drama, not in a small town like this. Half of them would offer themselves for questioning in the early morning heat. Would the police ask about me, maybe pay a visit? I’d filed a hundred noise complaints in the past two years. Did that count as motive, a red flag in their investigation?

The window frame dug into my thigh. I stood. What did social media think? Who was pointing fingers where? I sat down at my desk and logged onto Facebook. Had anyone thought of me – the cranky neighbor?

Art had posted a photo at one fifteen: The thrill of holding a still-beating heart, he wrote. Blood bathed his hands. Can’t beat the hunt.