I walked past clapboard homes and leafy gardens. The smell of grilling meats and fresh baked bread was in the air. I slipped a hand inside my waistcoat, moving it over my rumbling stomach as I came to Chuck A. Luck’s two-story eating house. I winced up at the partly sunny skies. A curl of white smoke came from the red brick chimney. I went through the door and was enveloped by delectable aromas. Even the tobacco smoke was a finer quality. The leaves were probably grown in Massachusetts or Connecticut.
Just a handful of people were eating. Most of the tables were occupied by top-hatted men playing dominoes and dice. I sat down to a meal of roast veal, vegetable soup, hot bread, and fried potatoes. I burned my lips on a cup of hot coffee. I was wiping my mouth when the colossus, Gabe the gorilla entered the room. He wore a white cotton shirt and a four-in-hand necktie with the pointed ends sticking out to form “wings”.
One of the men working the gaming tables slipped him a roll a bills, which vanished in Gabe’s huge fist. A shock of anger coursed through me. What was he up to? I shoveled the rest of my food down, stood up, and put my jacket on with a flourish. The gorilla gave a puzzled smile, which turned sheepish when he recognized me. I stormed out the door.
The gorilla’s footsteps resounded on the porch behind me. At the bottom of the steps, I turned and cried, “What in God’s name are you up to?”
He came down the steps. His shadow covered me. “It’s my place now.”
“Are you mad?”
He explained that he had seen the Irish brother’s save me the night before, and then slaughter my assailant, Chuck A. Luck. “…You were arsefaced drunk, and I would have saved you, if the brothers didn’t.”
“I wasn’t drunk, I was poisoned.”
“Sure,” he said in high-pitched squeal.
“So you left me there?”
“To sleep it off.”
“Then you came here and took the place over.”
“Something like that.”
“Well then, enjoy digging your own grave,” I said and plodded off. I was in no mood to admonish the big oaf. Yesterday, I had made our precipitous position–his especially–quite clear. But he had a child’s mind…
In no time, I was twisting through the sand toward the Irish brothers’ property on the NY Bay side of the peninsula. I headed up the beach, eyes on the rough-hewn timber-frame of the house I had seen them working on. The framework was set on top of blocks and logs. The first floor was a good three feet off the sandy ground. I searched for the brothers with their flaming red hair and sunburned skin. Woods surrounded the plot of land and a road ran in the back, parallel to the beach. Three butchers’ helpers hung from the timber-framework. The leather was spotted and wet. I replayed the hacking up of Chuck A. Luck and saw that the brothers and the man with them had worn the ankle-length butchers’ aprons as they dismembered the demon.
I craned my neck to a large brace in one upper corner of the A-frame roof. Upon closer inspection, it looked more like a place to sit. I looked back to the water. The seat would provide a nice overview across the bay to New Jersey, and also out to ships coming in from the Atlantic.
With the brothers nowhere in sight, I decided to head back and set the gorilla straight. He was a killing machine, and I needed that kind of protection. I stood on the road behind the house and gave another look over the plot of land and through the surrounding woodland, and then started to head west on the road, toward the more populated Coney Island Point and Gabe the gorilla’s eating house. The thought made my innards roil.
A quarter mile later, I had a queer sense as if I had missed something. I turned and headed back. Soon I was certain that the brothers had returned. And not fifty yards away from their property, to my delight, I heard someone hammering away. I picked up my step and saw one brother was up on the roof, nailing down planks. The other brother stood attentively below.
I cut through the woods and when I came out, the brothers were out of sight. All was quiet. I turned fully around. They were gone…
I spent a quarter hour searching the woods and looking over the beach, but could not find them. Alas, I walked off and sat down, hidden from sight by trees and a thicket of bushes. The sun was warm on my face. I balled up my jacket and set my head upon on it and closed my eyes.
Sometime later I was awoken by hammering. I stretched my arms and yawned as I rose to my feet. I quickly dropped my arms and walked methodically through the woodland, trying not to make a sound. Through the green trees I could just see the brothers at work. Yet when I came onto their property, the silence was abrupt. They had vanished again…
Here are all the posts in this series: Episode Forty-One
Skin (Late April 1854 – Coney Island)
*This is the untouched photo. When I took the photos for this post titled “Silence,” I was hoping to come home and find something peculiar a la “Photo of the succubus in my bed.” But when I loaded the pics on my pc, the blurry quality of this one was good enough. Oddly, at the time, I only took one photo of the Bennett House. Hmmm…