Ernest or Garrett were not big on contemplation. They did things. Consequences were dealt with by the virtue of being careful. Not Fucking Up was a tenet so important that they should have had it chiselled into a stone tablet and brought down by Charlton Heston.
Killing the deputy had broken that tablet but the faggot was good for it. Sure, the sheriff had wanted him scared and what scared a man like that than being accused of murder? With his manicured hands, that pinched little voice and the sarcastic columns in the local paper, or his prissy little videos online. Garrett was offended that being an asshole had gotten Harlan Foster fame and fortune, when him and his brother had raised that virtue to an art.
It never occurred to either of them that there was a world of difference between witty invective and smothering a baby to settle a drug debt.
Not that they were ordered to do that specific act, but people knew that you didn’t give the Culpepper Boys a shopping list. You pointed them in a direction and squeezed the trigger. They were reserved for the kind of message that you only delivered once. The cartels used prepubescent sicarios who would put a bullet in you with the same level of passion as winning Capture The Flag on Call of Duty and any meth addict would kill for their next high but if you wanted to send a message that held the perverse allure of a haunted house, then you found the Culpepper Boys and they would give your operation the veneer of legend.
They thought the chainsaw in the shower scene in Scarface lacked imagination. A full trolley in a Home Depot provided them with enough material to give birth to the worst nightmares imaginable. The thing for Turner had been easy cash, and also a way to have local law enforcement kept on a leash. Not that they worked locally, as a rule.
Home was where they kept things simple. Somewhere between a church and a blanket fort.
If you were to call them monsters, they would express a degree of hurt. They had learned that pain and fear were the oil that kept the engine running, that the scars grew thick enough so that you never felt anything and would keep you safe.
Their parents were blank and ugly in the platonic perfection of their instruction. They were not well read men, but they were smart in the way sharks or wolves are smart, evolved to the perfect niche and within that, capable of great and terrible things. A beauty of thought and deed, bright and brilliant, dark and wet, they were expensive but entirely, horribly effective.
If you paid them, great. If they were inside your house because someone paid them to be, terrible. They did not carry guns or knives, they could teach you a library’s worth of agony with a bottle of drain cleaner and a single razor blade. For fun, they would use whatever the victim had around the house. There was a division of labour between them, Garrett would speak and Ernest would act. They entertained pleas of mercy but did not act upon them. If anyone survived, they knew enough to disappear or shut up. There are foster homes where broken children look up at the sky, rendered immune against the little fears of childhood.
They know that the bogeyman was real.
That he has a brother who comes with him.
Garrett had told the sheriff that this would be an act of intimidation, and getting the rest of the money was going to be made complicated, if not impossible by that. Ernest had not spoken about it on the drive back to the house.
At home, he went straight down to the basement where his God resided. From the smell that slid upwards, Garrett knew that the meat would need changing over soon but he decided to wait until Ernest went to bed before doing that. Garrett checked in on mother, adjusted the iv and changed the bag.
In the morning, though, he would approach the sheriff. Make this right and get their money. He glanced towards the basement again, heard the thick grunting sounds and wondered how long they would escape notice. He loved his brother, as much as either of them could, but Ernest had an increasing inability to pass for normal anymore.
Someone would notice.
Someone would come.
In the haunted house that passed for a mind, Garrett began to think about who that might be and what steps could be taken to cut them off. Permanently.