log-6 (Souls to walk on)
Werble was meticulous at every task he underwent, and this evening’s plan was far from being an exception. If any watchful eyes found him on his trudge of Devil’s Toe, through the thick brush just North of the Siuslaw Forest, they would not have deduced anything about the plot he was on his way to perpetrate. Most of his non-perishables or valueless supplies were carefully planted ahead of time — this made the hiking a lot easier.
Speaking of watchful eyes, Frost had been very careful when he’d left the pizzeria after ingesting his favorite meal. And while he knew himself to harbor more paranoia than 10 people combined, he still couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was trailing him. He replayed the parking lot exit in his mind like someone reviewing a security tape. The more he pulled on his memory, the more confident he was that you could never be certain of anything. Of course he’d checked his surroundings, but he’d been sleepy with what they call “mild food coma”. He’d also been slipping a bit lately. But his skill at knowing when there was danger was basically good. There was no reason to worry, so he tried to stop.
“People only see what they want to see anyways.” This was something he had tried to tell Pigeon months earlier when he was explaining why he’d left the chemical laboratories. His sister rarely argued back. She just wished him well as always and told him not to call her so often, on account of Jacque’s ornate sensibilities.
This only reminded Werble of their “rules” growing up. Schlack Frost was a horrible giant. While it’s true, he was smaller than the rest of his family, his mental rage and very large cold heart of determination made him the giant they all looked up and down to. That ugly man would sit in the garage for hours, clearing his throat and spitting on the cement incessantly. He’d watch old film footage of only he knew what. He’d pick up books on an old metal shelf, scour their contents momentarily, and always replace them in a particularly careful different order than they’d just been. If he wasn’t doing these things, he was to be found upstairs in his “war museum”, loading and reloading buckshot in old civil war bullet casings.
One of Schlack Frost’s rules was “you don’t bring no friends around here”. His explanation? “A man’s castle is his castle, that’s what’s for!” Werble used to repeat the confusing but clear rule over and over to himself. He recalled the time he’d broken it once. They’d known their father was going away on some business trip, to return a week later, and Wilber had wanted to show a boy his slingshot target grounds. The class-mate had excitedly agreed to come visit, even though the house was isolated and the estate a bit daunting.
How far did they get in the joys of shooting black bullseyes and old milk cartons? Just deep enough in the exercise for Werble to believe he’d finally caught a break in his young life, only to be snuck up upon by a drunk and home-early father, spraying slobbery beer all over the boys and chasing them around with a pitchfork half full of dead hay. Our protagonist actually received a landed tine in his already rhinocerous tough hind, but his classmate somehow escaped, and thus galloped quickly back to school the legend of the “Freaky Frosts”, and therein ended a normal boyhood pursuit of community for Werble.
Frost shook off the memory, and thought about the “meatasaurus pie” he’d had a couple hours earlier. “Donovan’s “ was a place that always made him happy to visit. It might have been the only joint in the world where you could get world class pizza and damn good clam chowder at the same time. His only bad memory of the establishment was that his old boss, Alan Vaughn used to like to give him his performance reviews there. Those instances proved that company can affect the appetite and taste of good food. Werble had never eaten more gingerly than in those unhappy meetings. Frost detested being analyzed and evaluated.
While Werble continued pondering why it was he was feeling followed, a mile and a half below him at the Bay Ledge Resort his old boss was relaxing in a majestic hotel room. Alan Vaughn, as it happens, was a fan of rum and coke. And while he ignored the college football game on the t.v., he rehearsed for the 12th time the speech he would give later that night. He’d been thinking of an evening like this for months, perhaps even years.
Vaughn had limp but stiff “rock and roll” hair, another specimen on their team who betrayed the stereotype of scientists of old. He was much taller than average, and quite muscular for his 61 years. His over-engineered regimen of supplements and gym visits did their job much better than his unpredictable team-mates. Before joining AceWall, Vaughn had tried his wiry , hands at politicking, serving 6 years in Eddyville as a City Councilman. Being a director at the chemical firm was far superior to what Vaughn had been forced to deal with in municipal life. Though his team might have disagreed, the former councilman was convinced of his sharp moral compass. Anyone could easily have poked a hole in that over-inflated balloon, either by starting with the super-gouging he did of prices on certain “hard to get” vitamins when he’d run a nutrition shop near Haystack rock earlier in life, or going completely forward to his cover up now of what they were making at the College laboratories. But Vaughn would have listened to none of it, being a stern and commanding judge of his own heart, quite convinced that his slimy soul was “crystal clean”.
He shared similar moose-like eyes to our giant, only Vaughn’s had something king-like and attractive hiding inside of his. Looking at him was a bit like looking at one’s own death — you held an awe and reverence, all mixed up with a inexplicable disdain and hypnotic allure to his person.
Vaughn had not met with the other associates yet. He of course had no idea of Frost’s whereabouts, being the sort of person who cares little about his opponents, and fears nobody. What mattered this night was putting to bed the worries that he was a waning leader. That and showing the audience a good time. He recounted his coming witticisms one more time, looked in the mirror to make sure he still “had it”, downed the last swig of his light brown elixir, spat an ice cube in the sink, and headed down to the party-goers.