Coy pulled out the wrench. “Has your mommy or daddy ever told you the story of the little pigs?” Coy waited for it but didn’t recognize the boy’s facial expression as fear. “No? Well, I’m not sure I completely remember the story, but I’ll try.”
Coy tightened the adjustable wrench around the kid’s largest toe. “This little piggy went to market . . .”
He loosened the wrench and adjusted it for the next toe. “This little piggy stayed home . . .”
He loosened it again and moved on to the next toe. “This little piggy had roast beef . . .”
Again . . . “And this little piggy had none . . .”
“That’s not how it goes,” the kid said, undaunted.
“And this little piggy,” Coy said, jumping to the smallest toe, “went—”
—Coy closed the wrench and twisted the kid’s toe until it contorted and a small fraction of bone pierced through the boy’s delicate flesh.
“ . . .wee, wee, wee all the way home,” Coy finished.
Still, the boy did not weep.
Coy broke another toe.
Nothing out of the boy.
He bit his lip, but nothing.
The last one.
Nothing but a silent cry, a tear created by pain and not fear.
Frustrated, Coy asked, “Why aren’t you scared, kid?”
The kid kept quiet.
“Huh?!” He stomped in front of the child.
The kid responded, “At Sunday school, I learned that murder victims go to Heaven.”
Coy laughed. “Oh, really?”
“And when we pass is predetermined . . .”
“You are the mysterious work of God . . .”
Coy hit the boy across the cheek. “Shut him the fuck up, goddamnit!”
“If this is what God has chosen for us, so be it.”
“Fuck that!” Coy screamed. From his pocket, he withdrew a Zippo lighter. “If you go to Heaven, tell God Adam Coy sent you.”
He rolled the lighter against his pant leg, ignited it that way, and then pressed it to the gasoline. Flames spread across the ground low at first, but then they soared high. Smoked polluted the room, forcing everyone to cough.
Coy stepped out of harm’s way and admired his work: First their flesh turned shades of pink and purple and started dripping. Within mere minutes, the smoke forced Coy to hold his breath to escape the stench of charred flesh. Shaking his head, he exited the basement, flicking his Zippo all the way up the stairs and out of the Flynn Residence.
You are the mysterious work of God . . .
Always before, when he had woken up late at night, Coy had felt satisfaction from destruction. But now, he only felt disappointed. It rang out in his head: You are the mysterious work of God . . .
Against all he stood for, Coy’s emotions had gotten the best of him. He was too anxious to burn them. Originally, Coy had it planned that he was going to make the father get on his knees and beg, like a dog. Nevertheless, he compromised and failed himself. At the expense of three lives, Coy had gained nothing. Not one single thing!
He couldn’t believe it. A boy had gotten in his head. A boy, for crying out loud! Somehow, the voice had become that of a priest’s. In his mind, Coy was at some church, unrecognizable but familiar. The mass was thought-provoking on this day and at the same time intimidating.
“And if one soul is lost to another, may he be sent up to Heaven in God’s graces . . .” the priest said.
His speech this day was not scripture, but a personal interpretation of God’s message. “May the murderer know it or not, but he’s doing some work, the mysterious work of God.”
Later, after Mass, Coy walked up to the priest and asked, “How can murder be the work of God?”
The priest answered, “The answer is not known by me; however, I can trust that both life and death are decided by the Almighty One for his plan. God works in mysterious ways, son . . .”
Coy couldn’t believe it. The priest had no actual answer. Practice what you preach. For the first time, Coy thought the priest was full of shit. As Coy walked out, still feeling answerless, the church bells rang.
Coy snapped back to present day as a loud horn broke into his subconscious. Looking out the window of his vehicle, Coy saw the nose of semitrailer miss him by a few feet. The truck switched lanes, and the driver stuck his head out of the window, cursing up and down as Coy passed by.
“What’s wrong with me?” he whispered.
After looking at his apartment’s driveway from the road, Coy slowed down. Someone—make that two people—were in the parking lot, right in front of his home. Cops? Coy wondered.
Pick up a signed poster commemorating my debut novel Excluded. Perhaps it's not a poster to commemorate so much as it's to point out all the fun explicit content contained in the horror novel. 11"X 17"