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Authors: Richard Laymon

Tags: #Fiction - Horror

Funland (2 page)

BOOK: Funland
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“You’re disgusting,” Tanya said. “You’re scum. You’re a stinking pile of excrement.”

“That means shit,” Liz informed him.

“We don’t want your kind creeping around, messing with us. You got no business here. We’re sick of it. Do you understand?”

He blatted like a terrified baby.

“Hoist him!” Tanya yelled.

The troll went up, clawing at the noose, back arched, legs flying as if he wanted to sprint on the wind.

“That’s enough,” Nate said.

The troll dropped. His heels bounced off the wood. His rump slapped it. His knees shot up, one of them clipping his chin and knocking his head back. Lying sprawled, he whimpered and tore the noose from his neck.

Nate snatched it from his grip.

Looped it around the troll’s right ankle, slid it tight.

“Pull,” Nate ordered.

The troll’s right leg shot upward.

His body followed.

When his head was a yard above the boardwalk, Cowboy lashed the rope around the base of the post. “That oughta hold the booger,” he announced.

They gathered in front of the troll. He was swinging from side to side, twisting and spinning, pawing at the boardwalk. His loose left leg didn’t seem to know what to do with itself.

“Now, there’s a right pretty sight,” Cowboy said.

“It’d be a lot prettier,” Tanya said, “if we’d left the rope around his neck.” She crouched and glared at the eyes of the dangling troll. “Next time, you motherfucker, we’re gonna kill you dead! Understand? So you better get the hell away from here as soon as you’re down.”

“Miles
away,” Nate added.

With a giggle, Heather lunged in, slapped her hands against the troll’s hip, and shoved, sending him high as if he were a kid on a playground swing.

Tanya toed the bundle of clothes toward him. With a small canister of lighter fluid from her handbag, she squirted the coat. She struck a match, cupped its flame from the wind, and touched it to the soaked cloth. The bundle erupted into a ball of flapping fire.

Its glow shimmered on the troll’s slimy whiskered face, on his swinging body.

Tanya kicked the bundle.

It tumbled and stopped beneath him. Shrieking, he grabbed his head and jerked as if trying to sit up.

“You nuts!” Nate yelled. Rushing forward, he booted the blazing heap. It rose into the air, falling apart, fiery clothes scattering and flying away on the wind.

The troll clutched the front of Nate’s pants. Nate rammed a knee up into his face and staggered backward out of reach. He whirled toward Tanya. “What the
hell
were you trying to…?”

“He looked cold.”

“Jesus! Come on, let’s get out of here.”

They left the troll swinging by his foot above the moonlit promenade, and walked away.

Two

“Oooo, nice gams. Yum yum.”

Dave glanced toward the voice, saw that it came from the “mouth” of a green sock on the hand of a beggar woman, and kept walking.

If Joan had heard the remark about her legs, she was ignoring it, just as she usually ignored the appreciative stares, comments, and whistles she regularly drew during patrol of the boardwalk.

“Yummy legs. Where was they? Home in bed, daresay, yes. Snug as a virgin’s dug when Enoch bit the weenie.”

“She’s right,” Joan said. “You’ve got gorgeous legs.”

Dave stopped. He looked back at the old woman. She was sitting cross-legged on the bench. Her leathery brown face was turned away as she glared at a young couple strolling by and chattered at them with her sock puppet. The man and woman picked up their pace and didn’t look at her.

In spite of the heat, she wore a blanket that covered her head like a hood and draped her shoulders. It hung open, showing the stained front of a T-shirt. There were holes in the T-shirt. A faded skirt was spread across her lap. On the bench beside her was a yellow plastic dish with a few coins in it.

“Go on,” Joan said. “Give her a buck. She said nice things about your legs.”

“Yours. What was that she said about Enoch?”

“Who’s Enoch?”

“I don’t know. Something about him biting the weenie?”

“Who knows? Who cares? She’s a nut case.”

Dave walked back to her. She glanced at him through greasy cords of gray hair hanging over her eyes, then looked down. But the puppet turned to Dave.

“Weee,” it said. “Copper legs, here again, gone tomorrow. Copper legs with a Coppertone tan. Fuzzy fuzz legs.”

“What did you say about Enoch?” he asked.

The sock seemed to gape up at him as if startled by the question. Its wide mouth was no more than a tuck between the old woman’s thumb and fingers. A pretty sorry puppet, he thought. Didn’t even have eyes.

The mouth flapped. “Curiosity killed the cop, clap killed the twat.”

“He asked you a question, lady,” Joan snapped.

The sock shuddered.

“Christ, Dave.”

Then flipped over as if dead.

“What happened to Enoch?” Dave asked.

“Gone gone gone,” the sock sang. “Mum’s the word. Where oh where was the pretty copper then? Home in bed. Nuff said.” The sock darted, nibbled Dave’s thigh, and scooted toward his crotch.

With a gasp, he lurched back. The sock-mouth caught hold of the edge of his shorts, then lost its grip.

“Dammit, lady!” he snapped.

Joan cracked up.

Dave rushed off without looking back at the crone.

Joan stayed at his side, laughing.

“She tried to
grope
me.”

“Going for your gun.”

Dave felt a shiver squirm up his back.

“Should we run her in for assaulting an officer?”

“Yuck it up, pal. You’d be laughing out the other side of your face if it was you. Jesus!” He could still feel the damn sock. He rubbed his thigh hard with his hand.

“I’d never get that close,” Joan said. “Except maybe to cuff her. And then I’d want to be wearing gloves. And a gas mask. And maybe one of those chemical-warfare outfits if I could lay my hands on one. Those people suck. I had my way, we’d get rid of every last one of them.”

“Join up with the trollers.”

“Just between you and me, I’d rather join ’em than bust ’em. Not that either’s likely to happen. I’m gonna get me a hot dog on a stick. You want one?”

Dave glanced at his hand. It didn’t look dirty. But it had rubbed his thigh where the sock had touched him. He was hungry, anyway. They’d been on foot patrol since the fun zone opened at ten, nearly three hours ago. “Grab one for me, okay? I want to wash up.”

“Use plenty of soap. It’s hard to get those troll-slicks off.”

He left his partner in line at the hot-dog booth and headed for the nearest men’s room. Funland had two sets of restrooms, one near each end of the promenade. This would be his sixth visit to one or the other.

On park patrol, they made regular stops, Dave looking into the men’s, Joan checking out the women’s.

“If any shit’s going down,” Joan liked to say, “that’s where we’ll find it.”

What they often found were loitering bums, folks of various persuasions engaged in sexual activities, and an occasional drug buy. So far today, the only restroom trouble had been a male wino barfing in a toilet of the ladies’ room. Joan had escorted him out, looking as if she’d lost the tan off her face.

Dave entered the men’s room with his usual caution. It looked deserted except for a kid of about nine or ten at a urinal. The door of one stall was shut. Crouching, Dave glanced under it. Just a single pair of feet, hobbled by jeans. When he stood up, he saw the kid looking over a shoulder at him.

“You having a good time today?” Dave asked, and stepped over to the sink.

“The Bazooka guns are awful neat.”

Dave smiled. “I like those myself. They really blast those tennis balls.” He tugged a few paper towels out of the dispenser, dampened one under the faucet, and started to rub his leg.

“That a real gun you got?” the boy asked.

“A thirty-eight-caliber Smith & Wesson.”

“Are you a policeman?”

“I’d better be, don’t you think? Guy wandering around packing heat?”

The boy grinned. He zipped up and flushed and walked toward Dave, staring at him.

“See my badge?” Dave asked. With a wet finger, he pointed at the blue shield printed on the chest of his T-shirt.

“Is that a
uniform?
You wear that all the time?”

“Just on park patrol when it’s hot out. Otherwise, we wear blues like normal cops.”

“Weird.”

Dave was used to such comments. His blue hat looked like a baseball cap. Instead of a major-league insignia, its front was emblazoned with the gold letters BBPD inside the outline of a star. His white T-shirt bore a similar emblem. His shorts matched the cap. He wore white socks and blue sneakers. Only the black leather utility belt, laden with holster and gun, nightstick, radio, handcuffs, and half a dozen snap-down cases, marked him obviously as a police officer.

“Kinda neat, though,” the kid admitted after a long inspection. Then he ran his hands under water, pulled down a towel, and dried. “I’m gonna be a policeman.”

“Good deal. Maybe we’ll be partners.”

“Naw. I’m from Los Angeles. I’m gonna be LAPD.”

“That’s a top-notch outfit, mister.”

The kid beamed up at him, then said, “Well, see you,” and hurried away.

Dave dried his leg. Then he washed his hands, smiling as he recalled Joan’s advice to use plenty of soap for the troll-slicks.

His smile slipped off when his mind did a sudden replay of the old woman touching him.

You try to be civil to those people…

Gloria’s so fond of them…I ought to introduce
her
to the puppet witch.

They’re human beings, Dave.

Then why don’t they act like it?

Great, he thought. I’m arguing with Gloria, and she isn’t even here.

If she had about half the smarts of Joan…

Forget it.

He dried his hands and hurried out into the sunlight. He found Joan sitting at a small round table at the edge of the boardwalk. She had one hot dog on a stick and a small Coke for herself. Across the table from Joan were two dogs, a paper sack of french fries, and a larger Coke. Dave sat down in front of the meal.

“Trying to fatten me up?” he asked.

“You can’t live on bean sprouts and cottage cheese.”

“You should’ve seen what she fed me last night.”

“Wanta ruin my appetite?” Joan asked. She used her teeth to rip the corner of a plastic envelope, then squeezed out mustard onto the brown coating over her hot dog.

As Dave watched her, his mouth watered. He pulled the paper wrapper off one of his dogs and took a big bite. The crust of deep-fried cornmeal batter crunched. The skin of the hot dog burst. Warm juice sprayed into his mouth. He sighed as he chewed. “Real food,” he said.

“So, what manner of culinary delight did Gloria prepare for you last night?”

“Something in a wok.”

“That’s a bad sign.”

“Stir-fried vegetation.”

“Got any clue as to what it was?” Seeming to smile with her eyes, she took a rather dainty bite of her dog. In spite of her care, a yellow dab of mustard found its way onto her upper lip. It stayed there while she chewed.

“I know exactly what it was,” Dave said. “Most of it, anyway. Water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, snow peas. The best part was the soy sauce.”

“Mushrooms aren’t so bad,” Joan said. She tongued the mustard off her lip. “Sautéed, they’re good with steak.”

“Please, don’t mention steak.”

“Sounds like you’re in training to be a rickshaw boy.”

“My system is being purified.”

“I had a hamburger about yay thick.” Joan held up a hand with her thumb and forefinger spread wide. “You mind if I put some catsup on those fries?”

“I thought they were for me.”

“They are.” She used her teeth on a catsup packet, then smothered half the fries and began to eat some.

“Those’ll go straight to your thighs.”

“You’re the one with the gorgeous gams around here,” she said, and poked more fries into her mouth.

Thanks for the reminder, Dave thought. He could
feel
the sock moving up his leg.

“You think the trollers struck again last night?” Joan asked.

“Sounded like that’s what the gal was getting at.”

“Enoch bit the weenie? Sounds like he was killed. The trollers don’t kill them.”

“Haven’t yet,” Dave admitted. “Not that we know about, anyway.”

“‘Bit the weenie’ usually means ‘bit the weenie.’”

“Good thinking.”

“I don’t see them killing someone, do you?” Joan asked. “It’s one thing, rousting bums. Murder’s a pretty big step from that.”

“Not that big. Look how it’s been going. When it started out, they were just snatching the bums and giving them a ride out of town. It’s gotten a lot meaner.”

“Some pretty cruel tricks,” Joan said.

“And some rough beatings. They’re bound to end up killing someone sooner or later. If they haven’t already. And who’s to say they haven’t? The way these transients come and go, the kids could be nailing them right and left. Nobody’d be the wiser till a body turned up.”

“I don’t think it’s come to that,” Joan said, looking down as she stirred her Coke with the straw. “It was just a few nights ago they tied that creep to the Hurricane’s tracks. They wouldn’t have done that if they’re already into killing the trolls and disposing of their bodies. Looks to me like they’re still into general humiliation and torment.”

“That guy would’ve been killed the first time the coaster made a run.”

“But these’ve gotta be local kids,” Joan pointed out. “They’d know the tracks are walked before the park opens. They just did it to scare the shit out of him.”

“Maybe they went too far with this Enoch fellow.”

“Or maybe that old bird was just pulling your chain.”

“We ought to try asking around.”

“Oh, there’s a fine idea.” She wrinkled her nose. “Spend the afternoon interviewing slugs.”

“Some of them must know the guy. Couldn’t hurt to ask a few questions.”

“We’d need a translator. You know anyone who speaks Bumese?”

BOOK: Funland
12.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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