Children of the Earth: Volume in The Book of Evil

Submitted into Contest #142 in response to: Start your story with someone being given a book recommendation.... view prompt

11 comments

Crime Creative Nonfiction Drama

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.


Children of the Earth: Volume in The Book of Evil


It's a book about the history of the world and mankind. Here, read it, see for yourself. But first I'll need to warn you...


Evil is unspectacular and always human and shares our bed and eats at our own table.


Evil writes these tales in blood and tears, leaving behind devastation and chaos. It inscribes on the tender surface of the human heart and carves into the delicate tissues of the human brain, spreading dissension, fear, and devastation, leaving a trail of shattered lives and broken hearts.


The telling of a tale of Evil is as ancient as history and etched in words as old as time. The setting may vary, the background may differ, the characters may change, but the plot will never deviate. Evil always wends its wicked way to the same inevitable soul-sucking ending.


It's taken years for Evil to work its sinuous path for David and Evelyn. But Evil is as old as time and as present as forever and has all the time in the world to wait. Evil is aware only we humans have expiration dates.



EVIL'S PLOT BACKGROUND


Sunny southwest Florida is the last place one would expect to experience this dark side of human nature. Evil will chuckle in glee to see this plan unfold in such a carefree, happy paradise. Such a peculiar paradox!


The last time this romantic south Florida island received any attention, besides that of speculative land grabbers, was during the time the CIA was rumored to be secretly training insurgents for a clandestine invasion of Fidel Castro's utopian Cuba. This is Juiseppe, a small private island off the mainland of southwest Florida. It is accessible only by boat, too small for even gliders to land from the air. Isolated, inaccessible, private... absolutely perfect.


Just across the channel and about twenty miles south of the island is a vacation paradise, Fort Myers, winter home to Thomas Edison and some of his illustrious friends. Early in the twentieth century, that famous trio of titans of industry, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone built homes side by side on the river. At the turn of the century, the river had already been named the Caloosahatchee, after the native Americans the land had been appropriated from, the Calusas,



EVIL'S PLOT SETTING And now Evil has the setting perfectly in place.


Half a century later:


Kenwood Gardens, home to David, Evelyn, and their two young children, is a typical South Florida two-story concrete block apartment building. It was built back in the 1980s on a plot of land between Edison's old cowpath, now known as McGregor Boulevard, and its parallel, the main drag through town, the Tamiami Trail.


EVIL'S UNSUSPECTING CHARACTERS


The 1980s have been harsh on 24-year-old David and his young wife, Evelyn. The recession, although it hit later in south Florida than the rest of the US, is particularly hard on the construction industry. And David is an experienced, but unskilled, construction worker, broad-backed, callused-handed, and stubborn. Just ask the group of guys he hangs with after work on any Friday afternoon.


“Hey, let's throwback a couple brews at the Buddha."


It's the late Friday “lead-up-to-lazy-weekend-anthem” of the six carpenter's helpers, as of less than an hour ago newly unemployed. Their severance paychecks weigh heavily in their sweat sodden pockets. They jostle one another as they race to claim a front seat spot in the air-conditioned cab, the losers having to jump into the back of the battered construction truck.


David doesn't have the heart to tell them that the AC is on the blink again. It's going to be a long, hot, humid ride to their watering hole. For all seven of these thirsty, dirty, sweaty rowdies.


The Buddha is a concrete block tavern, only recognizable from the other broken down heaps in the little strip mall off McGregor Boulevard because of its namesake. Its entry is marked by a twenty-five-foot-tall seated Buddha, painted a garish Fire Engine Red embellished with gold eyes, rings, toenails, and navel. You can't miss it, no matter how drunk or disoriented you might be. The bloated burgeoning belly and protruding toes reach out of the parking lot. A flapping sign at the Buddha's base boasts a “Live Band on Thursday nights.”


“Too bad this is Friday, guys,” David laughs as he jerks into his out-of-the-way parking space.


“Be careful when you open that door. I'll need to get this heap back to the job site before they notice it's gone. Evvie'll kill me if I get arrested again. Probably won't even bail me out..she sure was pissed last time.”


He absent-mindedly hopes no one tows his ratty heap waiting for him back at the job site. Evvie will need it tomorrow to take the boys to grocery shop. He reminds himself to be sure to save some grocery money from this last paycheck. Probably enough for a tank of gas, too This check will have to stretch as far as to China and back, David thinks with a sinking gut feeling. He fingers the slick paycheck in his pocket, wishing he could turn it all over to her, but feels he deserves to drown his sorrows as he slakes his thirst.


Get it cashed and buy a few beers, just enough to drown the disappointment and disgrace of being let go. He wonders if there is enough alcohol in the whole world to erase these damning feelings. And with that thought, he has justified his entire existence this hot spring night. And casts aside any guilt for spending his hard-earned cash any way he damned well pleases.


“Let's get drunk, guys! Rip snortin', snot slingin', commode huggin' drunk! Forget about manyannaaa!”


His Evvie, Evelyn, is a twenty-year-old transplant from rural” West, by God, Virginia.” Her back story, typical, cliched, is she met David when she was sixteen. She is tending bar in her Uncle's small tavern on the outskirts of their grubby little mining town. The locals call this sooty coaldust-covered, unmarked spot on any map DeHue, by its more authentic name, StinkPhew.


Still a teen, she is wiry and wary, already worn out from fending off the coal-blackened hands of the men who frequent the bar as well as her Uncle and cousins. Evelyn is behind the bar drying streaked, soapy glassware with a stained bar towel when the bell over the squeaky door announces his arrival.


“Evvie, get over there and see to that new guy. 'e looks hungry. Probably thirsty, too.”


Evelyn drops the towel and moves fast to avoid her uncle's hand aimed towards a slap on her backside. She turns, pulls her order pad out of her damp apron pocket, and runs into the smelly T-shirt of Ronny, Uncle's oldest. Her other hand reaches back into the pocket for the sharpened pencil in case Ronny needs an extra sharp incentive to step back, leave her alone.


Ronny remembers how a pencil jab in the right place can puncture a fella's libido. He backs away. Again, she sashays agilely to avoid roaming paws and escapes to the stranger over at the corner table.


“What'll it be for you tonight,” she asks, her liquid blue eyes peering over the top of the order pad, taking in the clean-cut-looking young man. He obviously doesn't belong here, his clothes and his closely shaven face and clipped haircut make her wonder why is he here? She's glad she polished her nails last night and repaired her ragged, bitten cuticles. She raises a hand to pat her long dirty blond hair drawn into a low ponytail, her favorite, right out of last month's Teen Vogue.


A believer in destiny, Evelyn has a spike of hope that maybe tonight will turn out differently than the long history of boring past Friday nights. She feels stuck, like being sucked in and under suffocating quicksand. She needs a ticket out. She waits for this stranger's answer.


“Well, depends on whattha' offerin',” he hesitates before he jokes back. Yeah, she's young, ewww, “jail bait,”sixteen will get you twenty, he thinks.


She takes a chance on this one, 'cause why not! “Well, I'm off in 'nother half hour. Wait with a cuppa' and a piece o' pie and you can take me to some nicer place to eat over in Amory. Are ya' up for it?”


“Sure 'nuff, little lady. I'll be right here when you're ready. By the way, I'm David. Don't tell me...you're Evvie, right?!


“Yep, Evelyn, Evvie, that's me.!


“What'll it be for you tonight”... such innocuous, innocent words. But words, when strung together in this tale of evil, are an invitation to the dance macabre in the future. And these two young innocents join hands, step onto the dance floor, and begin the age-old dance that leads them to a “quickie.” Followed by a yet quicker wedding, a honeymoon that relocates them to a sunny beach town, and then to a crowded one-bedroom apartment in Kenwood Gardens. Their recent move stresses finances but a second bedroom becomes necessary when the second child is born. And the stressors pile up along with the accumulation of overdue bills.


And now, Evil has all the elements to set the scene for a scintillating plotline with a damning climax.


EVIL'S PLOT THICKENS


The Little Lambs, Innocents that are sacrificed on the altar of Evil, Children of the Earth. Evil's favorite chapter:


Most nights, after a brutal day spent pounding nails and toting lumber, David arrives home and is greeted by Evelyn and their two young 'uns, Jamie, aged three, and Kenny born just a couple months back.


This night, an angry, anxious Evelyn tries to comfort two snot-nosed young'uns unable to sleep in the stifling hot apartment. The electricity has been off for days, waiting on David's payday for relief. Evelyn and the boys wrestle through the long night. She's furious! Diaper rash, hot, sweaty little bodies, racking coughs, and rumbling tummies from hunger are developing plot points as this plan nears its climax.


Where is David, she wonders? This just isn't fair, leaving me here while he goes out galavantin' with his buddies. She tries to quiet the toddler while she juggles the baby writhing in her arms. They need a visit to the doctor and soon, she thinks. Hope he hasn't used up all his paycheck. As usual, she vows to give him holy hell when he finally shows up.


Early Saturday morning, long after the sun has risen on this sunny beach town, David rolls out of his friend's car and stumbles up the steps to his Kenwood Gardens apartment. He's so lit that if someone struck a match near him, he'd probably go up in flames.


He bangs on the door. “F.....G ##%% shit, she's locked me out. Again. Evvie, if I get my hands on you, I'll kill you!”


He buckles and leans over to hurl the bitter beers he had just guzzled to try to counteract the hard liquor from a couple hours ago. His belly is burning, his head is raging in the worst headache on its way to a hangover to end all hangovers. Sitting for a while in his own filth in the hot Florida sun does nothing to improve his mood.


He hears the click as the door is unlocked. She meekly peeks out as he roars into action. By this time he is poised to pounce. He confronts Evvie, who cowers behind the screaming toddler and the hysterical baby. His pulse races, adrenalin floods as he stumbles over the threshold into the heated front room.


“Shut those G..Damned kids up, Evelyn! SHUT. THEM. UP, YA' HEAR ME!”


“If you don't shut 'em up, I will!”


Days later, David has managed to finagle a side job, working for the electrical contractor who was on his last construction job site. Doesn't pay much, but offers opportunity, something he's been short on recently. He operates a ditch witch, digging trenches for running electrical conduit. It's hot. hard work, but at least there's plenty of what he needs: privacy, on this nearly deserted paradise island, Juiseppe. Three days later his job is done; he's finished and so are the paychecks.



EVIL'S PLOT PLAYS OUT TO PLAN


On a hot, cloudless day on the island two years later, the plot thickens. Evil is nearby so as to not miss this exciting unfolding.


“Hey, Professor! Over here! Take a look-see!”


Recently, an archaeologist and some of his bushy-tailed undergrad assistants from Florida State have been busy. They've been digging pottery shards and shells under the canvas tents erected to shelter them and their treasure from the steaming subtropical sun. The shelter does little to shield them from the oppressive humidity. Most days their digs are cut short as they escape in their motorboat back to the air-conditioned motel rooms on the mainland.


No one but the few property owners is allowed to step on the island, let alone sleep there. It's a private club for island owners exclusively. Professor J had spent years prior filling out authorization papers, and forming politically connected liaisons. So far he has found little to brag about. He has no reason to think today will be any different. But Evil has plans for even this over-educated fool.



“Hey, Professor, over here! I think we've found something.”


“Whatcha think you got there?”


“Don't know yet, haven't gotten through the covering, but could be something big.”


“Maybe any bones?”


“Think maybe so...if we're lucky!”


“They're all wrapped in rotten burlap. Looks to be a skull here and maybe another one. Seems to be two of them...really small, though, probably young kids.”


Evil watches: Gottcha! Finally...Evil just loves it when a plan comes together...


Meanwhile.....

David and Evelyn find themselves living in a crowded tenement apartment in Houston, Texas, hoping to lose themselves in the sea of cowboy and oilman roughened humanity. It's just the two of them now, so they're living in a small one-bedroom apartment. The walls are thin enough for their frequent quarrels and her bouts of sobbing to be easily overheard. Often. And more so lately.


They are sitting at their little wooden dinette table, the one she'd snatched up for $10 from the local Goodwill and dragged home herself. This is just another normal day, one in an unending sequence of uneventful days, one that would never give a hint of being remarkable...not even a little bit.


“Honey” he had told her before leaving Kenwood Gardens, “No one will ever know where we're from and what we leave behind.. Just get a couple bags packed and we'll get out of here. New digs, new job, new life. Let's go.” She'd meant it when she'd promised to follow him anywhere. Where else could she go, or who else could she go with? David had promised that maybe she could have more kids...maybe...later, maybe. But time's running out for this couple.


A staccato pounding on the door announces that this is the day. Justice has come calling for Evil. And David and Evelyn open the door and unwittingly welcome them in.


Evil's SPOILER ALERT:


Evil is unspectacular and always human and shares our bed and eats at our own table. Sometimes it answers to the name of Daddy or even Mommy. And sometimes it doesn't even answer. This was one of Evil's personal favorites, the tragic story of Evil in the Sunshine. And 'e'd snared four for the price of one. How's that for a Paradise Paradox!


(EVIL and Justice have fought this battle many times over the eons of time. Jamie and Kenny's parents are extradited back to Florida. A public defender convinces Evelyn to turn state's evidence and testify against David in return for a reduced sentence. David will spend the remainder of his days serving a double life sentence at Raiford. As Evil stamps “The End” at the end of this tale, innocents Jamie and Kenny will be finally laid to rest as “Children of the Earth.”)


April 15, 2022 17:01

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11 comments

Leticia Mooney
00:17 May 15, 2022

Hi Felice, I was invited to comment on your story via Critique Circle. While I've worked for a long time as a critic of music and books, I have a new rule: Only cause other artists' tides to rise. Thus, while I can spot some ways this could be improved, I want to say a couple of other things instead. One is that it takes courage to write about violence, especially violence to children. As Daniel (another commentator) wrote, encourage yourself to be unafraid. I can feel you hesitating to shine a light too closely upon your subject matter. Be ...

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Felice Noelle
00:49 May 15, 2022

Leticia: Thank you so much for that constructive commentary. I share your attitude about only finding the good in a writer's work, especially when I am called upon to give them one of their first critiques. The story you read was one occasioned with some well-deserved criticism, but I wrote it some time ago. Horror, crime, etc. are not my usual genre and I was experimenting after having read some horror stories here. This was based on a true story right down the road from me here, and I even thought about writing some more almost true ...

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Leticia Mooney
03:31 May 15, 2022

It's my pleasure, Felice! I love hearing the backstory. True crime is fascinating, isn't it? If you do check out the film, let me know what you think. It's brilliant, and devastating.

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Felice Noelle
01:40 May 16, 2022

:Leticia: I am into "Hounds of Love," and it just oozes evil. I don't know what the next hour will bring, but It brings to mind a Canadian couple, married, the gal was a blond, who set up a sister duo for her swingin' husband. I think they finally got caught and got sent away. I'll see if I can find the documentary of it. Thanks for the recommendation for Hounds...the photography is especially chilling with all the scenes kind of suspended in time. Maureen PAUL BERNARDO & KARLA HOMOLKA

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Daniel R. Hayes
06:00 Apr 18, 2022

Hi Felice, this was a great story! I'm a horror writer and yes, there is a lot to unpack here, but I like stories like this. I would suggest to you not to be afraid to write what you want. I think creativity has no bounds and as writers we don't want to offend anyone, but don't let that dissuade you from being your best. I try to write stories that I like to read and if other people like it, than that's great. When I first started I didn't write horror because I thought people would think I was crazy, but I find it's a fun genre where you ca...

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Felice Noelle
12:45 Apr 18, 2022

Daniel: I gladly welcome any critique from you, a writer of the horror genre. That's the only way I'll improve. So, yes, please DO go into it more in depth if you have the time and would be so kind. Also please tell me which parts worked, if there were any. I want to write another one and already have some ideas written down. I really appreciate your time and effort more than you can know. Most of what I write is creative fiction but based on actual happenings just rearranged, which kind of restricts how far astray I go in my mind, but...

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Daniel R. Hayes
16:54 Apr 18, 2022

Sure, I'll be glad to go back through when I have some spare time. I think we all learn from each other and that's one of the great things about this community :)

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Felice Noelle
16:58 Apr 18, 2022

Daniel: To save you some of your valuable time, here is a comment that another reader left for me that I pay attention to: Tell me, too, if you agree. I've incorporated some of her ideas already, but need to find out what IS working. Thanks for your time Felice Noelle 19 submissions Follow You are logged in as Felice Noelle. 3 likes 5 comments Upvote Downvote 1 point Daniel Hayes 06:00 Apr 18, 2022 Hi Felice, this was a great story! I'm a horror writer and yes, there is a lot to unpack here, but I like stories like this. I would sugge...

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Daniel R. Hayes
21:14 Apr 18, 2022

Hi there! Well, time isn't that much of an issue, but I do agree with the other person's comment. I see that you made some corrections already, and that's fantastic. I did see one mistake after going through it one more time: “Hey, let's throwback a couple brews at the Buddha,” - instead of the last comma, use a period instead. Little things like this are something I always miss too, so just take your time and enjoy the process. The hard work of writing the story is finished, now you just need to polish it up a bit. It's great so far an...

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20:52 Apr 17, 2022

Felice, at your request, I offer my honest opinion. Forgive me if I sound too harsh. This is not the genre I write in or read. Take my advice with a huge block of salt ;) I assume this is the first draft. I suppose you didn't take the time to really analyze each sentence, as I see some issues with punctuation. But that must not be what you need me to focus on. I am confused by the first sentence... the 9 trillion number of children mentioned in the book of Evil? Does this story/introduction start in the future? A thousand years from now?...

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Felice Noelle
21:13 Apr 17, 2022

Gabriela: Perfect! Thanks so very much, this is exactly the feedback I want and need so desperately. You do a super job of analyzing. I wondered about the first part, but husband liked it and said it is Evil's book after all. I stayed away from using the biblical devil or satan as Reedsy is international and evil is part of humanity in all cultures, just by various names. The 9 plus number is a part of the title, and when submitted will not show up as a sentence, indicates this is just one of Evil's stories in a long history of evil doi...

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