Number 38 is a story about the intersecting lives of a serial-killer and his 38th victim. Luca “The Rock” Marrone, the serial-killer is a character from the pages of Blank Death, the first book in the Blank Must Die Trilogy. Number 38 is a new short story from Ian Eliot LeWinter, writer and creative strategist of the duo Brothers of the Silence with his partner writer & illustrator Don Richmond. The Blank Must Die Trilogy was set in motion in May 2009 when Blank Death debuted as the first graphic novel in history to launch and be continuously unveiled on Facebook and Twitter. The story is rich with mythic iconography, psychopathic megalomania, ghosts, murder and bloodshed.
Luca sat at his bench, “It is time.” He thought to himself. “But who can you be? Are you an adult? No… you feel younger, much younger. Maybe innocent and unaware of the evils that surround you. Yes. You feel protected.”
Almost subconsciously, his hands began to work. His workspace was carefully prepared, all of his tools neatly arranged on both sides of the table. He had mallets and punches and shears. Trim knives and straight knives and round knives and cutters, a splitter, a bevel, and a sewing needle with clear nylon thread.
In the middle of the table were two square pieces of supple, prepared hide.
Taking the first square and taping it to the table, Luca gently drew the outline of a girl doll in a flaring dress directly onto its surface, stopping to erase and redraw several sections until he was satisfied. He then removed the tape, picked up the skin and cut out the effigy.
“Yes. You are most definitely a gift, a girl, a gift, a girl. A little girl wearing a pearl.” He chuckled.
He used the second square of hide to make an identical figure from a tracing of the first. Then, starting at the feet, he began to sew the two together.
“Mother is going to be very mad at me if the soup is bad again. She will punish me with the clamps and the nails. She’ll make me wear the face.”
Using the clear nylon, he carefully knitted a line of close, tight stitches, creating a rigid seam. When the job was nearly completed, Luca reached across the table and picked up a flattened brown paper bag.
“Her clothes, her hair, her skin.” He opened it up, pulled out a handful of shredded, multi-colored fibers and stuffed them into the doll.
“And 37 becomes 38.” He squeezed the doll open and pushed in the stuffing until it was puffy and full. “Just as 38 will become 39.” He then sewed up the rest of the hide into a finished figure of a young girl.
Luca stared at the faceless figure lying on the bench. He drew his fingers across it in a gentle caress, paying close attention to how it felt.
“Maybe I was too rough.” He murmured softly. “Maybe I bruised the meat, made it tough. Mother has not been happy. She made me wear the clamps all day. She made me bleed.”
When he opened the front door the sun came blazing through with a thud, temporarily blinding him as he left the house to begin his search.
“Savannah, come on, let’s go. Time for breakfast,” Mark yelled from the bottom of the stairs.
Mark heard a shriek of excitement. A young girl called down, “Are we? Are we? Are we?”
He looked across the table at Frank, and peered over his glasses, an eyebrow raised. “Much to my chagrin,” he said.
Frank smiled a big broad smile that made his eyes sparkle. “I’ve always loved how you put on a big frump whenever Vannah wants to go to Home Town Buffet. It’s like you think you need to play counter to her joy.”
“But the food is awful.”
“It’s not that bad… just simple, unflavored, and overcooked. It could be worse.”
“How could it be worse?” Mark held his hands out, palms up.
Savannah exploded into the room, giggling and whirling and dancing and singing. “Off we go, off we go, no ears for us, not like Van Gogh. We’re hungry now, for yummy food, we have to leave, please don’t be rude.”
Frank grimaced. “What are you singing young lady?” Savannah stopped abruptly in mid twirl and leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. He shook his head. “You could be trapped in a living hell where every single meal you eat for the rest of your life came from there?”
“Well there is that, Mark retorted. “You are kind of butch and all, but Kampe you are not.”
“It’s a nonsense poem, Frank…Mark, who’s Kampe?” Savannah asked as she bit down on a piece of apple. “Are we gonna go or WHAT!?” she yelled and then giggled out of control.
Frank watched as the young girl moved gracefully about the room. Her long, French braid, whipped back and forth around her head, in unison with the cotton sundress she wore over her jeans. “She’s all blues and greens,” he thought. “Her favorite colors.”
“Let’s go,” he said, and she danced all the way to the car.
Sitting at the simple table with too many plates of food in front of them, Mark, Frank, and Savannah made an odd picture — the two large men sitting on one side and the animated young girl sitting on the other.
“So Ms. V., have you completed the final draft of your Information Gathering Plan?” It was Mark who asked this question and the follow up. “I’m only asking because today’s the day and you should get approval prior to implementation.”
Savannah peered over her glasses with a fork-full of Belgian waffle hanging in mid-air. She was affectedly business-like. “I did it last night, of course. I thought you agreed that I didn’t have to show it to you again. I was just going to finish getting ready and go when we got home.”
(TO BE CONTINUED).