Short Story
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                     The Weight Of Sin
                                             By Gerry Huntman


     The night sky flashed like an insane, out-of-control flashbulb, the trees
swayed, gallows-creaking in the hissing wind.

     Mrs. Fletcher paced the hallway, meowing forlornly, incessantly.

     Richelle picked up the ginger cat and gave her a long, soothing cuddle.  
“There, there, it’s only a nasty storm.  Our old home’s a bit run-down, girl, but
it’ll protect us.  Shhhh.”  She realized she was comforting her own nerves as
much as her cat’s.  The winds were bad enough, but she never felt entirely
safe at home alone in the bayou.  She was a stranger,  and the house—and
the local community—was old and had a lot of history.  Despite her education
and sensible upbringing, Richelle sensed there were dark mysteries all around
her. She shivered.

     Jacob was due back any time but the weather was rarely this bad.  She
wished he was there now, to lie in the arms of her rugged Cajun man before
their fire.  She so loved it when he was home—and cursed the necessity for
his three hour drive to the mine, the four lonely nights when he was away, and
his late return.

     The rain added to the gloom.  At first there were heavy drops driven onto
the wood-shingled roof and the wall and grimy windows facing the north—the
storm crept over the Atchafalaya swamplands like an angry titan.  The rain
grew quickly into a torrent.

     Please God, let my Jacob be safe!

     As if in response to Richelle’s soul-plea, Jacob’s truck’s headlights
reflected on the front window curtains.  The gut-wrenching tension
subsided…except for some strange reason it didn’t entirely go away.

     She carefully placed Mrs. Fletcher on the lounge and excitedly rushed to
the front door.  Before Richelle could grab the door knob, it opened.

     Jacob was standing before her.  He was soaked and looked more tired
than usual.  He had drunk a lot as well—he often stopped at Simmesport for a
‘few’ drinks with his friends.  There was something additional—a strange, cold
look in his eyes.

     “Hi, J—”

     Jacob’s fist appeared out of nowhere, smashing into Richelle’s face.  She
heard her left cheekbone pop as it was crushed, and reeled backwards,
collapsing onto the floor.  Mrs. Fletcher caterwauled in high pitched surprise
and scampered down the hallway.

     Richelle’s face felt like it was going to explode—it was almost incidental
that she couldn’t see through her left eye.  She could barely stay conscious.

     Why?

     Her husband came into her red-rimmed view.  She saw a recently
sharpened machete in his hand.  He was tossing it a few inches into the air
while simultaneously rotating it.  It always landed comfortably back into his
hand.  Each twirl caused the blade to glint, reflecting the lights of the living
room.  It signaled her execution.

     “W…why?” she finally articulated.  She had managed to lift her upper body
from the wooden floor, causing a shooting pain to broadcast from her head.  
She noticed a lot of blood on the floorboards, and could taste it in her throat.

     Jacob stopped and held his machete firmly.  The executioner was in
position.  Richelle saw that he wore a different man’s face.  His teeth were
bared like some cornered animal, his mouth was distorted and spittle was
stringing everywhere.  His eyes blazed in mindless fury; his body was concrete-
tense with animus.

     “You BITCH!” he finally screamed, releasing his body’s rigor, barely able to
stop collapsing to his knees.  His ear-length black hair was wet and wild.  His
normally kind brown eyes were bloodshot, punctuated with a fierce
malevolence distorting his face.  He looked like he wanted to cry—no, he’s
already cried a lot; he’s empty of tears—yet his anger was on the ascendant.  
His lower lip quivered.  His Cajun drawl accentuated, out of character.  “Henri
saw Sam take a woman for lunch today at Coco’s on Riverside Drive.  It was
YOU!”

     Richelle couldn’t register Jacob’s meaning.  The pain was all-
encompassing, it was like someone was drilling into her face.  She then
noticed the blood on Jacob’s shirt and jeans.  The scarlet smear near the hilt
of the weapon.  The nightmare was incomprehensibly getting worse.  She
slowly shook her head.  “No, no, no.  It wasn’t me.  I was at home.  I only saw
Sam at Simmesport a few times when we were together with your friends.”  She
turned her ruined face completely up, staring at Jacob with her good eye.
“What did you do?”

     Jacob made a pathetic, whiny noise that poorly substituted for laughter.  
“He won’ be fuckin’ anyone’s wife anymore, that’s fer sure.”

     She was certain she was going to die now.  Jacob’s fury had no bounds.  
“P…Please calm down.  It wasn’t me, and ’cause of that, Sam was innocent
too.  That issue of yours has come back, that temper.  Just put that—”

     Despite the rain and wind, a sequence of thumps sounded from the roof,
followed by scraping.  It had the weight and rhythm of something human, or
unnatural.

     Jacob stood still, inclining his head sideways, intensely interested in what
was happening above.  His expression betrayed a malignantly gleeful
recognition of the sounds.


     Richelle was barely able to support herself in her position, and saw in her
husband’s eyes no dilution of his intent.  If anything, Jacob’s fury seemed to
have been augmented by some knowledge.  Nevertheless, at that moment he
was distracted.  She checked where she was lying.  There was blood
everywhere.  Mine.  She was near their coffee table, a metal frame with a
strengthened glass top.  On it was a large ceramic ashtray and a couple of TV
and video recorder controls.  A disorganized magazine rack lay underneath it.

     “Do you hear that up there?” Jacob asked, slowly, every word deliberate,
oozing some dark malevolence.  He didn’t seem to need a response.  “Shame
you don’t know.  Haven’t been here long enough…a few months don’t get you
talkin’ with the old folk.”

     Richelle dragged herself closer to the coffee table.

     Jacob didn’t pay attention. “Aroun’ hunnert an’ fifty year ago Rémy Savoie
lived in this county—not too far from here, where the Herbert’s now live.  
Fought in the war, got a medal at Bull Run.  Also got a little time off an’ came
home to visit his lovely wife.  Caught her in bed with a neighbor.  Rémy was
angry.  Real angry.  He so loved his wife.  It—” Jacob swallowed, his voice
cracking, “destroyed him.”

     She didn’t understand where Jacob was going with the conversation, but
was glad he was in his own little world.  She was now in a position where she
could grab the ashtray.  She wondered if she had the strength to do anything
with it.

     The scratching sounds in the roof were replaced with the screeching and
wrenching of roof tiles.

     “Heh heh.  He’s comin’.  Good.” Jacob returned his attention to his wife.  
“Rémy shot his wife and her lover, then killed himself in grief.  They found the
lover’s severed genitals in her mouth.”

     Richelle’s heart felt like it was going to explode out of her chest.  Her face
had turned thankfully numb. “Why are you telling me this—”

     She jumped at the sound of something crashing in the kitchen.  “What’s
out there?” she screamed; demanded.

     “You mean ‘who’, heh?” Jacob replied.  “This a small county, Richelle.  If
you’ve lived down here long enough, you get to know its secrets.  Whenever
anyone commits adultery, it riles Rémy’s spirit.  It makes him angry.  He come
back.  He reaps justice.  He kills who has sinned and who gets in his way.”  He
laughed, darkly again.  “It looks like I don’t need to do much more here.  And I
wont get in his way.”  The rage in Jacob had abated.  It was replaced by pure
distilled hatred.

     Richelle, a middle class girl from New Orleans, educated and independent,
shook her head in disbelief.  This isn’t real.  But Jacob’s rage was real and so
was his machete.  And so was that noise—

     The kitchen door crashed open.

     A figure stalked in.

     Richelle drew her breath in horror.  Jacob, as insane as he now was, took
several steps back, fear bulging his eyes.

     The figure was Rémy Savoie.  A corpse, 150 years old, most of his original
body corrupted, turned to dust, soil and slime.  And yet this creature retained
its form, the corruption supernaturally glued together.  Rémy had no eyes, for
they were long gone, now globes of fetid swamp soil, alive with maggots.  As
he slowly trudged toward the center of the room the dirt and ragged remains
of his clothes shifted on his body, revealing the yellow skull and bones, before
the dank, swampy mass, alive with night creatures, reassembled.

     Jacob laughed hysterically.  “Welcome Rémy!  The adulteress lies before
you!  I won’ protect her—tear her apart!”

     The corpse turned its eyeless face and studied her, tilting its head
slightly.  He then scoped to Jacob.  Rémy walked slowly toward Richelle’s
husband, arms outstretched, which were boiling with millipedes and ichor,
yellow finger bones sticking through the mass like talons.

     “Wait, wait!  It’s Richelle who screwed ’roun’!  I said I wont protect her!”

     The creature continued in its attack.

     Jacob swung his machete with all his might, and it passed through the
body like a hot knife slicing butter, only making a slight nicking sound when it
cut through Rémy’s vertebrae.  The body reformed instantly.  He raised his
machete again, but Rémy grabbed his arm with supernatural strength.  
Despite his solid frame, Jacob could not resist the monster turning the
machete around, while he was still holding it.  Slowly, agonizingly, the machete
entered his abdomen, sliding deeper and deeper in, while Jacob screamed
hysterically.  Rémy suddenly, rapidly, lifted the weapon, slicing his victim open
from navel to neck, through flesh, organ and bone.

     Jacob collapsed to the floor, his organs spilling over the floor, making a
wet, flopping sound.

     Richelle had not moved from her position next to the coffee table.  She
was transfixed in horror.  She saw the animated corpse that was Rémy,
machete still in hand, face her.

     “Are you going to kill me as well?” she whispered, barely able to find her
voice.

     She thought she saw a slight smile form in the creature’s shifting face.  A
hollow voice came from its swamp-muck mouth.  “Why should I kill you?  Y’
were faithful to yer husband.  What hypocrisie!  This dog who thought you
were an adulteress ’imself womanized beyond the borders of this bayou—and
thought nuthin’ of it.  He deserved greater pain in his journey to death than he
got!”

     Rémy slammed the blade of the machete through Jacob’s corpse, pinning
it into the floorboards, to the hilt.  The creature returned to the kitchen,
disappearing from sight through the ruined door.  Richelle heard a minute
later heavy footsteps echoing from the roof again, and, as quickly, disappear.

     She slowly, painfully, got to her feet and found her telephone.  She was
about to call emergency when she noticed the corpse of her husband, pinned
to the living room floor.  I didn’t want you dead, Hon, but I can’t find a shred of
sympathy.

     Her finger punched the three numbers.