Snatch and the Deadly Delusion
Snatch flicked dirt from beneath his fingernails into the rodent’s grave.
“That’s quite rude,” the mouse said.
Snatch peered into the grave with suspicion, down on his hands and knees. From what he could tell, the rodent’s mouth never moved when he spoke.
“You’re dead!” Snatch yelled. He dropped his hand into the grave and clutched the mouse in his grip. “You ain’t supposed to be talking no more.”
“And yet, I am.” The mouse, dead in his hands, still spoke to Snatch. “You can’t get rid of me with a hammer. You can’t hide me beneath a few inches of dirt.”
Snatch dropped the mouse and pushed up from the ground to stand. He wiped his hands down the front of his overalls and sneered at the rodent. He stomped the ground where the mouse fell, right next to the open, six-inch deep grave. Dirt crumbled from the edge of the ill-prepared grave and sent Snatch stumbling.
“Damn rat!” Snatch blurted. He stopped his stumbling steps with both hands braced against a skinny tree. The bark roughly gouged his fingers.
The rodent lay dead in the dirt, having fallen into the grave as the dirt crumbled from the edge and widened the hole. The dead mouse said nothing.
Snatch rolled his body away from the tree and turned to look at the grave. He stepped closer and glanced across the fields, dotted with baled hay. A cloud of dust rose along the dirt road bordering the property and Snatch could already make out the approaching squad car carrying the giant star of a sheriff’s deputy, or perhaps even the sheriff himself. The car turned off of the bordering dirt road, into the small, short driveway that stopped directly in front of the farmhouse.
“This isn’t finished,” Snatch growled through his teeth at the dead rodent. He stepped tenderly to grab his sledgehammer. He shouldered the hammer and limped in the direction of the farmhouse. His ankle throbbed from the spill he’d taken into the small grave.
He reached the farmhouse and saw the Sheriff climb out of the driver’s seat of the Crown Victoria. He watched from just around the corner. The Sheriff almost had to roll out of the patrol car due to his size, and Snatch could tell from his vantage point that the car’s driver-side seat was two shades darker, indicating the stain of sweat it carried.
“Sheriff,” he bluntly called as he stepped around the corner and walked toward the front of the farmhouse.
“Hey there, son,” he called out to Snatch.
The Sheriff called everyone son. Edgar and the Sheriff shared no genetic material.
“What are you here for?” Straight to the point for Snatch. His contempt for the Sheriff, or perhaps the interruption brought by the Sheriff, couldn’t be conealed.
“Just checking on you and your Mother.”
“Mother?” Snatch slurred. “She’s inside drinking.”
“May I come in?” the Sheriff asked. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen your Mother. Six months at least. Just wanted to make sure you two are doing alright out here by yourself.”
Snatch stared at the fat, flabby shapes beneath the Sheriff’s uniform. It took a few moments for Snatch to realize the Sheriff expected some kind of answer. He stepped closer and swayed the sledgehammer side to side on his shoulder.
“She doesn’t need visitors, Sheriff.” As he spoke, he saw movement in the Sheriff’s shirt pocket.
“Come on, son. Let me check on her. I know she has health problems, right?” He stepped closer to Snatch.
“She medicates herself,” Snatch murmured, unable to truly commit to a response. His dull grey eyes focused on the movement in the Sheriff’s pocket. “Vodka, rum. Gin. Used to be moonshine, but she’s too fat to make it anymore.”
“In that case,” the Sheriff said, “I’d better go check on her. Can’t let her saturate in alcohol, can we?” He smiled and wiped sweat from his shiny red forehead.
“Sheriff, she’s fine.” Snatch remained insistent. He didn’t want the Sheriff in the farmhouse. “What’s in your pocket?”
The Sheriff crammed his fat hand into his pants and pulled the pocket inside out. “Nothing, son. Let’s go inside. The heat’s making you funny.”
Snatch stared at the shirt pocket. The movement continued and the pocket flap flipped up. After a few moments, the dead mouse poked its head up from the pocket and pointed dead black eyes at Snatch.
“Leave -me- alone,” Snatch growled. He lifted the sledgehammer and threatened to swing it at the Sheriff.
The Sheriff stepped back and held both hands up. “Woah there, son. Let’s not make a decision you’ll regret.”
“The mouse is back,” Snatch said. He swung the sledgehammer in a wide arc at the Sheriff, missing by only inches. He dropped the hammer’s head down behind him to adjust his grip. He positioned his body as if he were about to drive a railroad spike with the heavy hammer.
“The what?” the Sheriff questioned. He reached for his gun.
The sledgehammer hit the Sheriff in the chest before he could grab his pistol from its holster. The impact sent him stumbling back onto his patrol car’s hood. Snatch didn’t relent. He stepped forward and sandwiched the Sheriff’s face between his hammer and the Crown Victoria’s hood.
Snatch dropped the hammer and ignored the sticky blood running from the Sheriff’s face. He reached into the Sheriff’s shirt pocket. The Sheriff struggled with the clasp on his holster but his hand fell away as one last pained breath ripped past his lips.
Snatch pulled his hand out of the Sheriff’s pocket. The pocket held no mouse.
“What did I just do?” Snatch asked.