Where the Dead Things Grow
by Darryl Foster
Brian held a shovel in one hand and had a firm grip on Mark’s wrist with the other. He thought Mark’s arm handled like a dead fish because as he walked the upper arm flopped on its elbow hinge.
Brian was good with a shovel, whether he was digging in his garden or dismembering those who laughed at his hideous appearance: a skeleton with one lazy eye, pockmarked cheeks, a cancerous swollen nose, a plague of psoriasis, and one short leg he hobbled on. His mouth was a well of drool, and when he stuttered there was spittle.
Brian’s neighbour Mark had gone too far today. The teasing had triggered Brian’s gardening voice; an insidious voice inside his head that demanded he weed the garden. The funny thing about Brian’s psychosis, coupled with the guilt of killing, was that it drove him to the macabre ritual of burying only a single body part from his victim with hope of growing a kinder person from a bad seed.
Brian released Mark’s arm; a dull thud on sod. He dug a hole with his shovel then planted the arm. He packed the soil up to the wrist. When Brian was done Mark’s lifeless hand protruded from the ground; a fleshy flower with five petals.
He went to the shed and gathered garden products: Miracle Grow, Bug Clear Gun, and Animal Repellent. He sprayed the hand, treated the soil and thought; that should help grow a new, better Mark.
In the shed he shelved his chemicals and glanced at the old Mark splayed in a claw-foot tub. The body was deliquescent in a chemical bath; a blood-slush that he’d eventually drain into a drywell under the floor.
Brian emerged from the shed, locked the doors and peered beyond Mark’s blanched hand. He gazed at his garden: foot stalks blackened by gangrene twitched, bony hands picked at by carrion birds flexed, woodlouse infested knee stumps appeared to tremble.
Behind Brian’s glazed sicko expression there was thought. He wondered if they’d grow back, and if they did would they be like he imagined, better.