The Way She Stretched
Whatever Limbs Were Left

by Robert Taylor

Lying on the outskirts of Route 591, fresh and plump and soaked in dew, was another treat for Garry. He licked his lips and rolled down his windows, he could smell the kill from hundreds of yards away. The smell of rubber, burnt hair, and a pungent tartness—akin to a stale citrus—waiting for him, bones and all.

It was another present from his secret admirer and it was calling his name. This time he didn’t have to cover his uniform patches or check back with dispatch or go through the trouble of writing a fake report. He was off-duty.

He knew if he drove around long enough he would find whatever she left him, still steaming on the road. He brought his own truck with his own tools and wore his own clothes. He wanted to look good for her tonight. He doused his neck in his lucky cologne and kept a garbage bag over his lucky shirt. A maroon button-up, thick enough to keep him warm while she wore his jacket.

Of course his admirer was considerate for their rendezvous and chose one of the more abandoned sides of Route 591. Where there were no street lamps and cars didn’t frequent much. The chance someone would call it into the station was slim. “That’s my girl,” he said as he turned on the dead end road by the old train tracks.

He practically jumped out of his truck, almost forgetting his LED light on the passenger seat. He cut the engine and the night got real quiet. The sky got real close. The stench from the mound rushed into every hole in his face and stayed in the thick of his throat.

He stood over her masterpiece. A heap of exposed teeth and innards, staining the asphalt navy blue. And it was all for him.

He strapped on his knee pads and back brace. He took out his tarp, his shovel, his hedge clippers, his brand new power washer and got to work.

The kill had her signature style. Few discernible parts and a postmortem dressing of dark fur around the more voluptuous fat. He loved that he still could not tell what animal it was. He loved how meticulous she was with her details, leaving little references to previous finds. He loved the way she’d stretch whatever limbs were left.

He believed this was a clue to how she looked. He pictured a woman around his age, long legs, dark hair, a reserved smile. He imagined her to be a former dancer, someone who spoke only when she needed to, who valued small company and calloused fingers. Someone who liked people who took pride in their work.

Garry was good at his job. The station called Garry whenever the kill was too large or too gruesome for the squeamish guys in the department. He was always on-call. Ready at a moment’s notice to pick up all the deer and service Labradors and family Collies split in half on the 591. Something that wasn’t appreciated enough.

He didn’t know if he loved his admirer yet, but it felt good to be recognized.

He took his time shoveling the kill onto the tarp. Savoring every chunk like it was the first slice of birthday cake.

Then, out of the dark, a sharp bleat. The sound of a wounded animal, its shriek sounding similar to that of an elk’s bugle—like a child blowing into a plastic tube until their lungs gave out.

Like a professional, Garry moved toward the call with his light and his shovel. Climbing over the guard rail, crossing the old tracks, and heading into more dark.

When he finally found the noise, it no longer bellowed but whimpered. Standing in front of him was a tower amongst the trees. A whining snout with a few engorged eyes dispersed all over its side like welts and a dozen arms, covered in patches of matted hair, weighed down by a large bubbling sac that dragged behind. Its spindly claws pulled at its sac, tearing chunks off of its own body. Mercilessly, like they had a mind of their own. Ignoring its own host’s cry.

Garry kept his distance until he recognized the chunks of flesh on the ground. They were his admirer’s gifts. He was certain. That distinct attention to detail can’t be copied.

Garry looked at this whaling mountain of mismatched parts and his eyes swelled.

“She’s even more beautiful in person.”

%d bloggers like this: