Desk Decorations

It takes a special breed of person to maintain sanity in the Moving Industry. Especially during the summer months,it takes a toll on a person, wears them down. The summer had definitely left its mark on us in the office. Rick had just turned 29 and was all but completely bald; Frank W. finished his last tour for the Army in Iraq in April and still had nightmares about Fridays and Saturdays in the office. I was 22 and yanking out more gray hairs every day. Thankfully, October was just around the corner. Columbus, Ohio was cooling down quickly, and things started smoothing out at Complete Moving and Storage of Columbus.                                   

At the end of the summer season though, our hard work had paid off, making more than five hundred thousand dollars in the months of June, July and August. Nobody seeing more of that more immediately than Randy, our In-Home Estimator.From Commission pay checks off of Three to Twenty Thousand dollar moves, to the cool shit that customers wanted to rid themselves of before they moved, Randy came of out of summer worn down, but pleased. Mostly, he was scoring furniture,X-boxes, TV’s, Exercise equipment, things of that nature.  Late in September though, he came back to the office with a more interesting piece than any of the previous. It was a small statue of a skeleton in an all-black suit. Right hand to his chin like he was contemplating something, left hand jammed in his pants pocket, roughly a foot high, maybe ten pounds in weight. It was an instant hit in the office. “This guy was in a biker gang in California and this was their logo or label,whatever it is.” Randy set the statue down on his desk with a smile on his face, obviously excited about the piece. “Not a bad desk decoration, huh?” We gathered around his desk to check it out. It was definitely interesting. Not as creepy as you would think. There was a designed crack on right side of the skull and a Jack Skellington from the “Nightmare before Christmas “type smile on it. “Not bad at all.” Rick chimed in. “Keeping it in the office, you’re likely to get it stolen. I’m sure one of the movers will get one look at it and try to snatch it up quick.” Randy laughed. “They’ll be sorry they if they do.”And he was right, terrifyingly right.                                                                                              

The first mover to get sticky fingers, Brad, had always butted heads with Randy,and vice versa. So it was no surprise when the statue came up missing after a few days and Brad stopped showing up for work. Randy threw his tantrum and it was something. He cooled down though. Four days passed and the statue was all but forgotten about, until it showed back up on Randy’s desk.  We thought nothing of it really, figured Brad had thought about what he did, got guilty conscience, and decided to return the statue and try to get his job back. After a couple of hours we were being proven wrong though. Brad still hadn’t made himself present for work. Three more days went by with no Brad so we forgot about him and went on with business. Brad was a great worker, but wasn’t really missed in the office much.                                                 

I was locking the office up the following Monday night. This was my responsibility Monday through Thursday being that I was always in the office the latest. The bolt clicked as I turned to the parking lot, headed towards my car. I noticed a squad car parked a couple of spaces back before I noticed its occupant walking to me. I became uneasy “Something wrong, officer?” The Cop finished his walk to me and held out his hand. “Detective Cotrell, Columbus Homicide, just wanted to ask you a few questions.” I raised an eyebrow.“Questions about...What?” My heart beat sped up. No reason for it to, I hadn’t done anything wrong, I just had a guilty conscience.  “Brad Geo. We found him in a Motel in Grove City this morning, dead.” My mouth dropped. “Dead? Holy shit, what happened?”“Well son, that’s what we are trying to figure out. Tell us what you know...erm...knew about him.” I shifted my weight around, shocked at what I’d just heard. “Well, I mean, he was a pain in the ass, great worker, but never made things easy on us in the office. I never really had a problem with him. He was an ass, but him and i always got along. How did it happen? Was he killed?” The cops turn to shift uncomfortably.  “He was found with a hole from his chin up to the top of his head. It wasn’t a wide hole, but, you could see straight through it, Very gruesome. What time do your doors open in the morning? I would like to come in and speak to the rest of the staff tomorrow.” He had to ask his question again, I was lost in what he had just told me. Brad wasn’t my best friend, far from it. But, it was hard to believe he was actually dead. “Uh…Seven Thirty, doors open, we usually have everyone out the door at about eight forty five, so nine would probably be the best time for you to come in.” He gave a small smile, writing the time down on a note pad. “Alright, well I’ll be here at nine. See you then.” He walked back to his cruiser, got in, and left. I stood there a long while, still shocked.Finally I snapped out of it, called Rick to tell him what I’d heard and headed home.                                                     

The next morning, just as he said, Detective Cotrell walked through the door.“Gentlemen.” He’d given us the run down on the situation, told us about Brad’s death, the fact that it was being looked at as a homicide, and while we weren’t suspects he still wanted to question us very thoroughly.  We went all through the interviews separately. Randy’s turn came and the story of the stolen statue was told.Randy was marked as a suspect for it after said story, especially, after the statue was returned and Brad was dead. We were all told not to leave town and  Cotrell finished up some paperwork and left. I’d be lying if I said that I myself didn’t suspect Randy for a while. It’s hard not to under the circumstances. He was heavily investigated by Rick and the cops. After a week or so we decided it was best that he take a leave of absence until the whole thing was over, so he cleaned his desk, packed up his effects, and took them home, including his statue. Or so we thought.  The following Monday however, the statue was back, so was Cotrell and things started going downhill. Randy had been found by his wife Sunday evening, dead, suffering the same fate Brad had. Hole from his chin up through the top his head. “We would like to speak to your labor staff. Run them through the interview process, this has  become a lot more complicated.” So the office turned back in to the precinct and every one of our movers was questioned. Even Rick, Frank and I were run back through the ringer. The investigation ran cold though. None of the movers had any motive to do these things to Brad or Randy,and the office staff viewed Randy as family. They, and we, knew nothing new after the process. Sixteen more murders happened within that month; every person killed the same way. The cops investigated as long as they could, but without evidence or any solid suspects to go off, things ran flat.                                                                                                                                             

We tried to push on. Getting back to business and our daily routines the best we could. The phones rang, the customers bitched, and it was the same old, same old. Rick took possession of the statue, figuring, since Randy was dead he wouldn’t have much use for it and we went about our lives. Business was good for the seasons and we were steady with work throughout the month of November.Frank W. had been called back to the Army for duty so these days it was just me and Rick in the office. The night before Thanksgiving I was readying myself to go home for the evening. Rick looked up from his desk. “Friday I want you to come in and hit those leads hard man, December gets rough; I want to get as many jobs on the schedule as we can.” I picked my bag up from the desk and started towards the door. “You know me man, first of the month is grind time.  I’ll be in here ready to do the damn thing.” Rick laughed. “Good deal, we’re killing the St. Louis office in revenue right now, and I want that to be the case next month, and for the rest of eternity. I love getting to rub that I’m doing better in Clint’s face every month.” I shared his laugh and headed out the door. “See ya Friday man. Enjoy your Thanksgiving.”

As soon as I turned the lock on my door I was ready to hit the bed. But, there was more work to be done. I got the dog fed, my dinner made and a quick shower. Walking back in to my living room I turned the TV on for some background noise while I finished up my e-mails for work. I sat at my dining table, lifting my bag to it and pulled my laptop out. I got it on the table and had it opened before I realized I’d left my charger at the office. I pushed the laptop back, and let my head fall to the table with a thud. “Son of a bitch.” I muttered to myself and rubbed the top of my head. “Fuck.” I stood, grabbed my keys, slipped on some shoes and headed out the door. The drive to the office from my home is about fifteen minutes, give or take a few, depending on traffic. While I was pretty frustrated at the fact that I had to make the drive back it wasn’t really anything to be in bad spirits about.                                                                              

Detective Cotrell used his fore finger and thumb to rub between his eyes, it was getting late and he’d been working going on twenty six hours now. He leaned back in his chair, letting his backbone pop across the back of it. His leg hit the desk and a binder fell from the side of it to the floor. “Damnit.” He stood and then bent down to get it, flipping it over to see what the binder actually was.“Interstate Tariff?” He read off the front cover. “Oh shit!” He realized what it was.  “I should probably get this back to Rick.” He said to himself. “I think the office is on the way home, I’ll just drop it off.” He grabbed his badge and gun from the top drawer of his desk, his keys off his desk and flipped off the lights as he closed his office door behind him.                                                                                                                                                                       


I noticed Rick’s jeep still in the parking lot as I pulled in. “Weird, he isn’t usually here this late. We must have some trucks still out.” I parked my car and got out, tossing my keys in the air as I walked to the door. I catch a view of Rick as I approach the door with his head on his desk, sleeping. Laughing as I swing the door open. “Man,do you ever go home?” Silence was my answer. “MAN, DO YOU EVER GO HOME?” I said a little louder, still, no answer. Then I noticed how cluttered and messy his desk was and my heart dropped in to my stomach. “Rick?” I walked over to his desk and my fears were confirmed. Rick was dead. There was blood running from a hole in the top of his head, his eyes opened wide in fear.  “Oh…” I stuttered. “Oh shit.” I looked around for an idea of what had happened, my eyes darting all over the room. Some of the contents of his desk were on the floor. There were pens, some papers and then the base of the Skeleton in a Suit statue. I looked around for the actual statue and couldn’t find it. I assumed that whoever had done this to Rick must have liked it and took it with him as a trophy. I yanked my cell phone out to call the police, and then heard footsteps in the warehouse followed by what sounded like a piece of furniture crashing to the floor and panicked. “Oh,Christ.” I minimized myself as much as possible behind Rick’s desk. As the footsteps where getting closer to the door that connected the warehouse and the office. “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.” I continuously whispered to myself. In my panicked state I had failed to notice the vehicle pulling in to the parking lot.                                                                                                                                  

Cotrell put his cruiser in to park and shut off his headlights. “Must be a long night going on.” He said as he exited the vehicle noticing mine and Rick’s car still in the lot. “Good, I can give this directly to him.” He started his walk towards the door.                                                                                                                                                                           

I cowered in fear behind Rick’s desk as the footsteps of his killer came closer and closer. I closed my eyes as the door opened. “Hello?” I recognized the voice instantly and looked up, the warehouse door was just cracking open, but the voice had come from the front door. I yanked my head towards it and saw Cotrell walking in. “OFFICER! I…” That was all I got out as he entered and the warehouse door was opened fully. My heart stopped beating as a full scale version of the Skeleton in a Suite statue walked out. “What the fuck?” I muttered to myself. “What’s going on here?” Cotrell went directly in to cop mode. “I don’t know, I came back for my laptop charger and found Rick dead!” My eyes were glued to the creepy smile of the Skeleton in the suit. Cotrell caught the Skeletons eye, or lack thereof, and turned its head towards him, the creepy grin widening across its face. The cop yanked out his gun and pointed it towards the Skeleton. “Freeze, stop where you are!” But it was to no avail, the skeleton started walking towards Cotrell. “Freeze, mother fucker! Or I will shoot!” The skeleton didn’t stop, so Cotrell fired two rounds in to his chest.Still, he inched closer. The cop fired again with the same result.  After emptying the clip in to the walking skeleton, he wised up and turned to run out of the office. But, it was too late for him. The skeleton grabbed him by the back of his coat and threw him to the ground; he hit his head on the wall and was dazed by the blow. I was frozen In fear. The skeleton knelt down in front of him and ran a long, bony finger down his face and to the bottom of his chin. I knew, and Cotrell knew what was going to happen before it did. The skeleton pierced the cops chin with his finger and shoved up through the top of his head, the tip of his finger poking out of the top of the cop’s skull. The skeleton smiled again as his victim let out a scream. Cotrell’s eyes’ widen again as the skeleton yanks his finger out of the cop’s skull, a chunk his brain on the finger he’d just ended his life with. The skeleton turned to me, looking me dead in the eyes, with those soulless holes in his head and put the brain covered finger in his mouth then smiled. I turned to my side and vomited on the floor, thoughts of my certain upcoming death racing through my mind. I vomited again, then turned back to where Cotrell was laying and the Skeleton was gone. I blinked, short of breath, still tasting the vomit in my mouth. “The fuck?” I took a deep breath and stood up, my body still shaking. I take a look around the office, blood pouring on the carpet from the hole in Cotrell’s head. I looked back to Rick lying dead on his table and vomited again.  I stepped over the dead cop and out of the door.                                                                                                                                                                                              

To this day,I have no idea how that skeleton animated itself to kill those people. I still have horrifying dreams about that night. I’m flying out of DFW tonight, back to Columbus, hoping and praying that desk ornament isn’t waiting for me when I get back.

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Short Story
writing TySyndicate
It is only with the heart that one see's rightly; What's essential is invisible to the eye.
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