Take me back

With Mirth in Funeral03-11-2021, 1000 words


Evil Batlet was twenty-four and his brother was dead. 

The funeral was yesterday and he was still in the same cheap hotel, grinning like the devil. The room was sparse, barren like any other hotel he’d been to. It smelled like smoke, dark and hazy, a cloying presence in the air. 

But, he’d been the one to light Zoomer’s cigarette. 

“You’re stupid,” Zoomer was saying, sprawled on the bed next to him. Barrel-chested and greying, Evil had brought him along as a bodyguard, or at least that was what they officially said. In truth, neither of them were wearing much.

He chuckled, taking the cigarette from Zoomer, bringing it to his own lips and trying not to choke. “I’m not,” Evil said and felt glee rise in his throat. “You know how long I wanted him dead?”

“I’m an only child,” Zoomer said and the way he said it annoyed Evil. “Never had any brothers to hate.”

“It’s not like that.” He took a drag of the cigarette and coughed. “I didn’t kill him because I hated him. Shut up.”

It was true. Good Batlet, for all his virtues, was not a man Evil could hate. He was too good for that, like his entire existence was incapable of inspiring such emotion. It was impossible for Evil to despise him, not when he’d done nothing to deserve it. There was no problem with Good Batlet - Evil was just born evil.

Zoomer huffed and rolled over, crumpling the sheets. There was a lazy smile on his face, as if he was a contented beast. It made Evil think of the large St. Bernard his neighbours had growing up. “Sure,” he said and plucked the cigarette from Evil’s mouth. “You’re ten years too young to smoke, you know.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” Evil snapped. Zoomer unsettled him, what with how he looked at Evil like he could see through him. Comes with age, he would say, always with that indulgent, secretly contemptuous smile on his face.

He should never have told Zoomer about Good. Then Zoomer would come to the funeral as nothing but a bodyguard, with no tidbits of information to hold against Evil. In bed, no less. Evil hated his moments of weakness.

“Good was...” He paused, made his face into a mask, and continued. “He was nothing like everyone thought he was. Did you see how many people came to his funeral? They all cried for him and only I didn’t.” He turned to Zoomer and felt a sudden rush of joy. His heart was about to burst out of his chest. “Only we didn’t.” 

Evil laughed, almost in hysterics. “The good die young, isn’t that right? And I killed him!”

Zoomer was looking at him sadly. There was pity in his eyes and it made Evil’s stomach churn. “My wife was like you,” he said. “Batshit insane.”

Of all the things to say, Zoomer said this. What a terrible thing to say and what unexpected hilarity! All of a sudden, Evil was erupting into laughter, fits of giggles wracking his entire body. 

“Haw haw haw!” Evil wiped the tears from his eyes and grinned down at him. “Is that why you sleep with me?”

Zoomer didn’t say anything. Not even when Evil took his cigarette and stubbed it out on the nightstand. 

“You chose this,” Evil said as dawn began to break. He stared at the ceiling, watching the shadows move. “You’re a criminal. Killing’s supposed to be normal to you.”

“Not when it’s family,” Zoomer said. There was something in his voice that hadn’t been there before, as if the distance between them had grown. Even in the gangs, there was loyalty, and Evil had proven himself disloyal in the worst way. 

Evil looked over and grinned. So Zoomer was afraid of him! He should be - Evil liked this new him.

If Good still lived, if Evil hadn’t killed him, then he would be nothing. A nobody whose name no one knew and would never get to know. Evil Batlet would be a half-baked, petty criminal who wouldn’t last a year before he got canned. 

But now? 

Now he could be somebody. He was going to be more than Good Batlet, bigger and badder than anyone could ever dream of being. His brother was dead and Evil was smiling. He finally felt like he wanted to live. 

Zoomer was right, he was batshit. The kind of batshit it took to take everything you had and spit on it, burning it down until there was nothing left. It was long past the time for regrets. 

Evil raked his eyes over Zoomer’s body, taking in the scars that covered his chest. A lifetime of doing someone else’s dirty work and it showed. Zoomer was getting on in years but his eyes were still sharp, trigger finger still fast. Evil liked that about him.

He leaned in, close enough that they were sharing the same breath. There was a glint in his eye, as sharp as a knife’s edge and twice as dangerous. “When I make it big,” he said slowly, making sure Zoomer heard every word. “I’ll make sure you get what you deserve.”

Zoomer stared back, face blank. “Wouldn’t follow you if you didn’t.”

Then he reached over and ruffled Evil’s hair. 

“You’ll have to work on your evil laugh,” he said but he wasn’t looking at him. Zoomer’s eyes were fixed on a corner of the room and the hand on Evil’s head was shaking. “It’s all you have now.”

“Sure,” Evil said, amused. There was no saving him and they both knew it. He and Zoomer were on the same sinking ship and all the old man could do was try not to regret it. Evil was almost sorry for him. 

With a smile straight from hell, he took two cigarettes from their box and handed one to Zoomer. “Let me light your cigarette,” he said and leaned in.

Their cigarettes touched in a mockery of a kiss. Long, slow, and intimate, it was sweet, sweet poison.