Brothers of Blood preview – Chapter Six

“What would you say to us killing mom?” asked Beau, driving Belle home from school. Belle unbuckled her seatbelt; luckily, Beau was already at a four-way stop without right of way. Right away, Belle slapped her brother across the face. “No,” she said. Sitting back down and buckling her belt, Belle noticed a couple had viewed her dismissing perpendicular to their stop. They were wagging their fingers at their children in the backseat, supposedly addressing what they had nosily witnessed.
The rest of the ride was sated with silence, an enjoyable ride if one’s fundamentals built on tensions. Beau didn’t seem to mind it as much as Belle, multiple attempts at cooling the fire that was surely brewing were all for not. With her giving up, she placed her head onto the passenger side window, allowing each bump of the road to knock her head onto it. Better to zone out, she supposed. Her brother always got into these fits, seemingly wanting to raise hell, but if that were true, his mind would be set looser than it is in forming both action and belief. Finally, Belle said to herself, her body could barely contain itself with the prospect of exiting the vehicle, it slowing to a stop.
Entering the house ahead of her brother, she found her dog awaiting them with its tail wagging at the door. “Ox!”
Beau stepped in. “Why do you call him that?”
“Because your name for him is stupid,” she said. “Hi-Hiid –”
“— Hydrox.”
“Whatever.” She dropped to the floor to play with the puppy. “I wanted to call him Oreo.” Ox began to nibble at her chin.
“Then call him that.”
“No, it’d confuse him. At least Ox is a nickname.” She began barking at Ox.
“Whatever, dork.” Beau hovered over the two, the sun beaming onto them from the door.
Sensing her chance, Belle hopped to her feet. “Beau, check this out. Close the door. C’mere, Ox, yes, baby.” To Beau: “Follow me.” She found a corner to the room, leading the two. “Check it out,” she said, lifting her shirt to expose her belly. Belle started playing the drums on her skin, causing the dog to bolt to the door and bark. “Cool, huh?”
“Yeah. Cool.”
“Be happy, butthead.” The tension subsided in that one breath. “How about we stalk another baddie?”
Beau ruminated in thought before speaking. “You got any homework tonight?”
She shook her head, covering her belly, with minor hesitation, ready and able to do for her brother that which turns his chicken scratch into cursive.
“No,” he said. “I’ll help you with your homework. If we finish, then maybe we can. But maybe not.” Beau raised his upper lip in a goofy way, emphasizing the maybe not. Belle hadn’t seen her brother make that face since their father died. She missed it, however ambivalently, for it was an ugly face.
The night consisted of mostly vocabulary words, easily exciting Beau with his love of verbose language – now if only he had the gall to release his own onto the world. Belle, however, had trouble:
“How am I supposed to remember inn-inn-innoc-cose?”
“It’s innocuous, Belle. And the most satisfactory way to nail it into your mind readily will be through proper usage. How about as long as you’re near me, you and I must frequent these vocabs as inhumanly possible with our dialogue?”
“Reading words makes you smart, huh?” Belle noticed Beau’s face becoming red as the mention of it. “It’s cool. I’ll be smart, too. Let’s do it.”
“Excellent, what’re the rest of the words?

VOCABULARY FOR MS. LEFKAE’S CLASS
Please number in ABC order for extra credit.
5. Innocuous Succinct 1. Astute
Soporific Platitude 2. Concede
Sacrosanct 4. Foofaraw

BONUS WORDS:

Zafty 12. Precocious 6. Kismet Englishable 3.

“Some of those words are way above your grade level me thinks.”
“What does that mean?”
“Nevermind. Ready?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Really? No, what? Nevermind,” said Beau, quickly trying to distract from her no costumed, not so ridiculousness. “Let’s go.”
“How good of you to concede, my good sir.”
“Check number two off.”
“I’m super smart.”
“That’s the only word that I’ve given you the definition to, ya know.”
“Inn-innoc –”
“— and innocuous. Right.”
“Tell me more. My brain is hungry.”
“Alright, on the way.”
“Braaiins.”

***

Driving around for two hours can begin to make one desperate for a killing when already looking for prey. Belle used her time wisely by annoying her brother. Beau used his time with less focus; he sparred with his sister’s verbal fists, envisioning taking his annoyance out on a baddie. She envisioned a smile that had lost its way home, while he wondered about the difference between the taste of his blood and another’s. Copper, he thought to himself. Like a penny? That’s what they say in the vampire movies.
“Stop inducing such sapor –”
“— Here, lookie,” interrupted Beau. Two adults, one male and the other female, closing down a half rummaged through moving van. “They must be moving in. They are each carrying a box inside. Perhaps we’ll find some neat junk in there. Whaddya think?”
“How astute of you, mister,” said Belle. “Obviously, duh!”
“Sometimes I think you’re the mean one,” said Beau, inspiring them both to giggle toward one another as he parked a few blocks down.
“I love you, B.”
“I love you too, b.”
“Masks on,” said Belle, wrapping her face around a plastic Pizza Man mask with a string behind it, imperfectly resembling a pizza with the pepperoni for eyes. Beau had yet to notice her surprise apropos her rather conventional black sweatshirt and pants – albeit with garden gloves and baby blue sneakers. He placed his ski mask atop his skull, adjusting it, and then turning to his sister, who had her hands placed over her face. “Ta-da!” She uncovered her hands.
“Hehe, you’re ridiculous.”
“No,” she said. “I’m a dreamer.”
“Does that make me the believer?” he said to her, eyebrow raised.
She shrugged. “If you want.”
Spying directly into the windows of the house proved easy as the upstairs light lit bright and two shadows moved about, forming in and out of each other. The perimeter was dark as can be besides this, so they assumed that the two are alone, especially as the music grew louder.
“Let’s go ‘round back,” said Beau.
“Yessir.”
“Oh.” Cracked open slightly in the back yard was the sliding door, practically an invitation. “Ahh,” said Beau, “they did have a neighborhood watch sign.”
Belle giggled her childish laugh. “Help me up.” Her brother lifted her over the bricked fence. He leaped after. Nothing out back but an aging chest of plastics and a rusted black table near the chest. Beau kicked them over, but was gentle enough not to alert anyone.
Now inside, Beau closed the sliding door, smiling at himself in the reflection. The stairs creaked, sending a shiver through the two intruders. They hid. An easier task for Belle than Beau; he chose to position himself next to a plethora of stacked – and empty – boxes with a shaded spot calling his name. A ding polluted the room.
“Told ya the chocolate’d be done, babe,” said the man, walking down the stairs. His bare, incredibly hairy chest already sprinkled about with splattered caramel and candies. “Fuck strawberries,” he said, softer in tone than before. “I’mma say they rotted out.” He grabbed the bag of strawberries from the kitchen counter and threw them into the trash container, the lid swinging back and forth from the assault. The man held onto a few strays, letting them fall to their demise one by one. “Ka-pwwooo pwooo,” he said, not ever once hitting the lid as it swung back at his strawberry bombs.
Beau kept his eyes closed, he didn’t like the situation, and would much rather wait this one out. Belle watched it all as she hid under the table in the kitchen. The man was so tall; there was no surprise that he couldn’t see her. She saw him, his boxer shorts struggling to contain the man and his flopping unmentionables, but kept her resolve. This is the mission, she thought to herself. No matter how gross old man balls are. Eventually, the man grabbed the bowl of chocolate out of the microwave from the kitchen and headed upstairs through the living room, but not before inhaling the aroma, giggling along the way, almost shrieking with joy. “Thank God,” said Belle.
Beau opened his eyes upon hearing the footsteps enter into the living room, taking a deep breath and letting it go. The man crossed his line of sight between the stacks of uneven boxes and Beau waited until he saw his back facing him, walking near the stairway. He approached with his knife in hand, no longer attached to its sheath around his belt, quickly pressuring the blade into the man’s Adam’s apple. Beau cleared his throat. “I’ll be as succinct as possible …” He walked around into the man’s worrisome line of sight, taking the bowl of chocolate out of the man’s grasp. “… We’re going upstairs. Nod if you understand.”
He nodded. “Ow,” he said afterward, the knife still pressed into his neck. Blood trickling down, smearing and meshing with the other ingredients already prepared across his chest, Belle handed him a napkin as Beau tossed the bowl of chocolate onto the carpeted living room floor.
“Your kismet isn’t exactly worth noting,” she said. “I always carry a napkin or two to clean up my mess.”
“Splendid, b. Now, take my lead.”
“Yessir.”
The man dabbed at his neck with the napkin, but with the knife still present, it went for not, yet it calmed the man to continue.
Beau took the knife out of the man’s neck and motioned for him to lead them up the stairs, grabbing his arm from behind. The man’s back was just as hairy, if not more so, than his chest, to the ire and agony of those behind him. The three of them slowly make their way upward, preventing too much of a ruckus by keeping together. Belle was quiet only because of her path being blocked by the two in front of her. She hated that, she wanted to see.
“Which door? Just look in the direction.”
The man acquiesced, pointing his sniveling nose to the door closest to the stairway. Easy-peasy, thought Belle. She pushed through the two – the door was already open – and before Beau and the man could step into the room, a scream erupted from inside, followed by a question: “Who are you?”
Beau kicked the man into the darkly lit room, almost pinning down Belle in the process if not for her instincts taking over – P.E. does have its uses – and said, “We are the boogey men and you are?”
“Wh-wh-wh-whe –”
“Lemme see you better,” said Beau. His palm felt for the light switch on the wall near the door, he flipped it. “Oh,” he said upon viewing his subject. She was a behemoth of a woman, obviously a body-builder, her skin glistening from what smelled like butter and candies around (and in) her underwear, and even sitting down atop the carpeted floor, she looked like a motivational poster.
Belle’s heart raced as she scanned the well-toned physic – the veins! The strength! Being a new perception, it clasped onto her, taking up residence and never letting go. Her brother’s heart raced merely out of fear and this new unknown to loathe. Belle noticed her brother’s reaction. “It’s not exactly Englishable, huh?”
“Check,” he said, clearing his throat again. He raised his knife, close to forgetting about it. “Try anything stupid and I’ll hurt your husband. Probably kill him.”
She eyed her man and back to her attacker. “But ya just threw him to me. I’m pretty sure I got him, oh, and also, I dare ya’ll to come at me.”
Beau moved his knife forward, not close enough to grab it from him, but to witness the degree of which it’s been sharpened.
The body-builder laughed, snorting a little. “This teeny-tiny little girl coming at me with a knife ‘n shit. Shoo-oot.”
Belle kicked her swiftly in the face, banging her hammer against the back of her head, and then against the woman’s knee. A nasty crackling permeated through the room.
“P-please don’t injure my client.”
“Client?” Belle stepped back, enjoying her handy work, enjoying the pulsating muscles. “Thought you said she was your wife.”
The man’s flabby neck flopped back and forth, shaking his head. The napkin stuck to it, painted red with bits of white toward the edges. “No-no. Your larger friend over there said that,” he said, trembling in the body builder’s arms. “She’s up for a show next week.”
“The fuck didn’t she scream for?”
“We were waiting.”
“For what?”
“The K-hole.”
Belle said, “K-hole?” The man didn’t answer, instead choosing to focus on massaging his client’s thyroid area.
“Hey, hairy! She asked you a fucking question.”
“Oh, well,” said the man, continuing his massage. “I thought she was just repeating what I said. S’pose it is a loss of consciousness … and well, if she were to go in it before me I could be in control of everything.” His eyes shifted from his client to Beau. “If ya get my drift, kid. Trying to keep this PG for the little tyke.”
Belle raised her head; her chin was steel. “These in-innocu-innocuous sentences put me in a soporific lull, B.”
Beau shrugged jokingly in repetition, knife still drawn. “She always was a precocious one,” he said.
The body-builder’s eyes traveled into her skull; protection was no longer on the table for the man.
“Would you do the honor?”
“Certainly,” said Belle. “My pleasure.” The pounding into the man’s head took longer than expected, but once Beau held onto the man’s hands, it had only taken a few moments of heavy adrenaline loss breathing to calm down. “It looks like a crescent moon,” she said as the man’s neck spurted gore against the napkin until it shot to the floor. The spurting lessoned in time.
Beau let go of the man’s hands, throwing them back at him. Stop hitting yourself, he thought. “Like I said, b: precocious.” He scanned the room: boxes upon boxes upon more boxes without any kind of markings to describe the valuables inside. “So what do we do about her?”
Belle tilted her head. “I don’t know, but it smells funny in here.” She stared into the nothingness that was the behemoth. That stank couldn’t be her, thought Belle. She’s too pretty to stink. “It wouldn’t likely be right if we went at her, she won’t likely feel it either.
“True,” he said, randomly tipping over boxes. “Guess we should just ransack the house now. I am a slave to my routine after all.”
“B,” said Belle, still gazing at the body-builder, “Will I look like that when I grow up?”
“Maybe,” he said, “but only if you work out most days and consume foods with sacrosanctity.”
“What’s that one mean again?”
He looked over at his sister. “To … uh … take something into holy account, such as an unbreakable routine for instance.”
“Okay.”
“Now, let’s grab at these boxes.” Beau went to work using his blade as a box cutter, bumbling through the stored items. His sister sat next to the body-builder, who has but a sports bra covering her with a blanket spread out over her legs, feet visible, and prods her various bulges for a reaction – most have none at all except for the occasional twitch already afforded by her natural blood flow. This fascinated Belle regardless, flexing her own arm after removing her shirt and mask better to allow bicep visibility. She made no fuss about her garden gloves. “I’ll always be little,” said Belle, whispering. “I’ll always be zafty and weak and girly. That’s what the boys at school call me. And stupid. I’ll always be small.”
“Let’s get to work,” said Beau.
“Hey,” said Belle. “I killed the guy. ‘sides, I don’t want anything.”
“Check it out.” He unveiled a set of plates of up to thirty pounds in five-pound increments. “And this,” he said, presenting the curl bar to accompany them.
“I want that,” she said sheepishly, “Please, uh, bring that with us.”
He looked at her, the bar still in hand. “You’re kidding. It’s heavy as –”
She puffed out her bottom lip: big brother kryptonite. “Pwease, big B …” Her eyes widened, softening into a galaxy of infinite possibilities.
“Fine,” he said, tossing the bar to the side, “but you can’t do that again for at least a year. Evil shit.”
“Yay,” she said, her countenance morphing back into her usual self. She clapped her hands in joy, and then threw her shirt back on, along with fidgeting her mask back into place, before continuing their search for buried treasure.
“Just help me find something I’d like and then we can go.”
She rapidly tore through boxes, usually skipping the tape and instead cutting directly through the cardboard with an extra knife that Beau handed her. Not much of value or interest was uncovered, clothes mostly and little knick-knacks.
Beau stood up, stretching his back after the stress of crouching for so long. “I’m gonna check out the other room up here, you good?” His sister answered with a quick nod. Beau left the room. Belle continued digging around she realized that the body-builder was facing an entirely different direction than before; her stare was still, along with her view. Belle figured that that’s long enough and soldiered into an encapsulated box of stink. The container is one of dirty socks and gym shorts. She gagged when she caught the full whiff. Eventually, startled by a quick succession of lessoning noises – the body-builder has stood up, revealing her thinly stringed underwear as the towel coiled along the floor – Belle discovered that she could no longer find her knife or her hammer amongst the mess of boxes and junk. Stupid, she thought.
“Unngh,” said the body-builder.
“Name?” Belle didn’t know why she asked, but she waited for an answer anyway.
“Me-Mel-Me-Meli –”
“—Mel? Melinda?” Belle scurried for some type of blunt instrument, finding nothing mostly; somehow, she knew she was safe anyway, giving up quickly to better view the entertainment.
The woman didn’t answer back, instead she plopped back down onto the floor, first grazing over her manager. “Ow,” she said.
“Hello, Mel?”
“Boom boom,” said Mel, the body-builder. Her eyes connected to Belle’s, she may be seeing through her. Mel stood again, with a little bit of struggle and no use of her arms; Belle helped her rise. “Aah,” she said in turn after sensing Belle’s warmth. Mel’s legs brought her into the hallway, her arms finding no point of interest, and her face directed to the window north of the stairway beside the bedroom door. Placing her right foot onto the first step, her left foot shot upright near her backside, falling with plenty of ruckus.
Belle ran downstairs, where Mel resided. “Are you okay?” Belle placed her hand onto Mel’s heart, it showing a faint sign of life and nothing more, not a twitch or breath to be felt or examined.
“’ey, b,” said Beau. “All I found was clothes. I’m too soporific, sis.” He walked through the hallway and into the previous room, where he found only the crescent moon man. “Belle?”
“Down here.”
He walked out of the room and turned. “How in the hell did you throw her down there like that, Belle? I know you didn’t pick her up.”
“No, she –”
“— You dragged her maybe?”
“No. There was this movement –”
“— Perhaps you rolled her down?”
“Stop! Shut up, dude,” said Belle. “No, she just walked down and fell.”
He tilted his head. “So you didn’t get the kill?” Beau then shook his head, to and fro like a metronome, all while grinning.
Belle answered by holding Mel’s nostrils closed with her palm covering the airway through her mouth.
Beau stopped shaking his head, frowning in astonishment, with his eyebrows raised. “Yet again, b – precocious!” He walked down the stairs, mesmerized by a lifeless abyss; Belle’s own breathing became stagnant in reaction to what she was in the process of doing, inert until all demonstrations of being were invalid.
She stood after it was all over with Beau beside her, both hovering over the statuesque remains. “What words are left?”
Beau scratched at the stubble beginning to emerge from his chin. “Still need a platitude.”
“We all die sometime,” she said.
“C’est la vie.”

***

To read the rest of the educational and demented Brothers of Blood you can pre-order the novel on Amazon or from publisher Black Rose Writing. Release date July 19th.

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