The Fear of Things to Come





Watching the envelope disappear, Donnie felt a high he had spent years fantasizing about, only infinitely better. A bittersweet kind of pain exploded from his fingertips as he let go of the envelope, as it fell into the black slot of the mailbox. Ours will be a beautiful relationship, Miss Clark. You’ll see. The sun was just coming up as he scooted down the path and out of the entrance to the retreat. He crossed the street with confident strides, not stopping to look up, not caring whether the tow truck barreling toward him had to veer sharply to the right, coming perilously close to smearing him like butter against the blacktop.

He had inherited the formal name of Donald from his father, but insisted on being called Donnie rather than Ronnie, as his father had been affectionately nicknamed. This brave declaration at a young age was a futile attempt to remain independent from a particularly overbearing, abusive parent. Donnie despised being named after his father, a lying, conniving snake of a man. It pissed him off whenever anyone indicated that he resembled his father in any manner. Donnie would have rather died than be compared to his old man.

Donnie had driven to the retreat in Humblesville to hand deliver the letter, and it was well worth it, knowing the reaction it would soon elicit. After returning to his ’98 Camaro coupe hidden behind a flock of trees a hundred yards away, he crisscrossed over and down several roads and lanes until landing on the main drag leading out of town. He pointed his vehicle toward the Over Easy diner in Saint Petersburg, his favorite breakfast hangout. Probably made the best damn coffee this side of Florida. Donnie loved going there, not just for the coffee, but to watch the sexy brunette who served him, catering to his every need, as she was meant to do. Well, not every need. He now stared down at his lap, watching as his pants rose. He smirked, yet resisted the urge to reach down and unzip his jeans. He wished more than anything to shove the server’s sweet, pretty face between his legs and make her do the nasty until he was well satisfied. But that was just an innocent fantasy. He had bigger fish to fry than getting it on with some cheap-looking, uneducated waitress. He had grander dreams to fulfill, a much larger scheme already unfolding.

Donnie wiggled around in his seat, getting antsy as he sat in public, making intricate plans of who would live and who would die. After polishing off a breakfast of greasy sausage and eggs, he slipped out of the booth. With his head held high, he walked by the tables of unsuspecting diners lining either side of the room. They think they’re safe in this cozy, little city. Couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Two years had passed since Donnie’s release, and he had been quite patient. He had chosen to return to his childhood roots upon release from a high-security psychiatric institution in Florida, even though what was left of his family had moved away years ago. It was the only thing in his life that had any sense of familiarity. Donnie had learned to live with the fact that most of the residents of Tampa Bay were from someplace else and were as dumb as bricks.

He plunked down a ten on the glass countertop in front of the cashier and sauntered outside into the bright day, shielding his eyes with his hand. Donnie often got headaches from the harsh daylight, no doubt from scant exposure to the sun, or the outdoors, in almost twenty-six years. He fished out loose coins from his jeans pocket and pushed them into the slot of the newspaper stand, pulling out a Tampa Bay Times.

He slipped into his Chevy, a multitude of ding marks on all sides, and began perusing every inch of the paper, scanning from front to back. The further Donnie got from the front page, the more his hands shook in anticipation. Soon his whole body was quivering in disbelief and rage. The limp-wristed sissies have failed to see history in the making, even when it was staring them right in the face.

But finally, his eyes fell on a rather small item on the third page of the Local section, on the left hand side under the title “Around the bay.” Donnie’s high hopes of anonymous notoriety were thwarted, but his anger dissipated once he located the article. It was okay that he almost needed a magnifying glass to spot it, for he knew that at last he had done something worthy enough to appear in print, however trivialized. Just the idea that his handiwork was recognized by the acclaimed area newspaper, caused a sense of thrill.

Donnie tore out the four-inch long single column article. He read with deliberation every word, analyzing each sentence. He isolated the most delicious, descriptive phrases, whispering them out loud in the privacy of his car: “Homeless male brutally slain … corpse discovered in garbage receptacle … body severely mutilated with multiple knife wounds … Hispanic man with a history of mental illness.” He was so excited that he couldn’t sit still. Reading such wonderful prose only fueled his thirst for blood. Donnie jammed the gearshift into reverse and screeched out of the parking lot. He flew home, his mind going in a million directions at once. There was a lot of work to do.

Chapter One