Chuck and the Four Calling Birds


Jack Roth

            Chuck loved hot showers.  Beyond hot.  So hot that his skin would actually burn, maybe almost sizzle.  The bathroom would fill up with a think cloud of steam and Chuck never, ever turned on the overheat vent.

            Hot showers washed things away.  An aching muscle could be soothed and relaxed.  A bad day could be easily erased by putting his head under the water for a few minutes.  Then of course there was dirt, the whole point of showers.  And once in a while, only once in a while, some blood.

            “Number four,” Chuck said wiping the mirror with his yellow towel.  Yellow was his favorite color.  Some of his towels though had orange spots on them where colors mixed.

            As Chuck was plucking a few nose hairs, panic set in. 

            “The damn sheets!” he yelled and threw the tweezers into the sink.

            He stormed out of the bathroom, down the short hall to the laundry room, and ripped open the doors.  He dug through the one shelf to find he had three sheets on it.

            “Blue, green, white,” he said.  “White?  I hate white.  White doesn’t absorb.”

            Chuck left the laundry room and went into his room.  Suzie was on the bed, peacefully resting.  Chuck quietly snuck to the computer desk and found pen and paper.

            More sheets.  No white.

            He clicked the pen shut and shuffled his feet over to Suzie.

            “You asleep?” he said slapping her foot.  “Ah, come on, don’t be so quiet.  You couldn’t shut up ten minutes ago.”

            Suzie lay on a dark green sheet, Chuck’s favorite.  It showed nothing but wet spots.  And the untrained eye wouldn’t realize those wet spots were blood.

            Suzie lay with her head titled to the left, mouth open, eyes shut.  Chuck could still hear her talking. . .

            “There’s something wrong with you.  I touch the closet door and you scream like that?  You think I’m going to stand for that kind of treatment?”

            Chuck had no choice at that point in time.  She had touched the closet door AND had talked back.  In Chuck’s baseball game there were only two strikes . . . then death.

            The funny thing about blood is that it doesn’t take much to stain things.  Chuck knew he had to move Suzie because if she bled through the sheet, she’d hit the bed set and then things would get bad.  Chuck didn’t have a spare bed set . . . he pointed at Suzie:  “Don’t move,” he said smiling.  He walked back to the desk and wrote bed set – dark green – maybe – not so dark.

            “Suzie, oh Suzie,” Chuck said lying down next to her.  “What could have been for us.”

            He moved the bloody hair from her face behind her ear.  He kissed her forehead and then licked his lips.  The rough taste of iron tasted so good.

            “Well, no use crying over spilled milk here,” Chuck said rolling over and looking in the mirror. 

            He stood up straight and turned sideways.  He slapped his “half-kegger” belly as he lovingly called it.  It shook.  It was never this big.  Time was winning.  From the smells from the closet to the fat hanging off his stomach, time was definitely winning.

            “Okay Suzie, let’s go,” Chuck said grabbing a shirt.

            He wrapped Suzie up in the sheet and picked her up.  He felt his hands and forearms getting moist.  He smiled – another hot, super hot shower would be needed.

            “You know what Suzie?  I thought of a great name for you.”

            Suzie didn’t respond, she just bounced with each step Chuck took towards the closet.

            “Eh, hold on,” Chuck whispered as he reached out for the door knob.

            He twisted it slowly and the closet door opened.

            The light from the room was enough to cast a shadow on the other three bodies in the closet.

            “I’m going to call you the four calling birds!” he yelled. 

            With a soft grunt, Chuck threw Suzie on top of the other bodies. 

            “The four calling birds because none of you would stop talking . . . unless I did something about it.”

            The door bell rang.

            Chuck looked at the clock. 

            “Fifteen minutes early,” he said shutting the closet door.  “Not a good way to start a new relationship.”

            Chuck rubbed his arms and hands on his dark pants and grabbed the knife that was next to the pen and paper.  He took a deep breath and began to walk down the steps as the doorbell rang again.

            “When will I ever find the right one?” he said with the knife behind his back and his hand on the door handle.

BIO:  Jack Roth lives in Shelby, Nebraska.  With his dog, Boomer.  He reads and writes.



  1. 1
    Kathleen Gilbert Says:

    Chuck is suck a whacko. That’s what I love about him. Nicely told.

  2. 2

    Jack, that was scary. Oh, my gosh! Very suspenseful and that shower was feeling good until I realized Chuck was washing away blood. Gave me the willy’s

    Nice job!

  3. 3
    Laura Eno Says:

    Methinks he should only buy dark green sheets!

  4. 4

    I love the cheery psychopathy, it makes it so much more chilling.

  5. 5

    This story does bring the horror!

  6. 6

    So much to like, fear and abhor in this story Jack. The small but telling details such as the running of colours – red and yellow making orange. And him talking to Suzie as though she would talk back.

    Creepy, chilling but brilliant. What’s a bit of murder between friends and this time of year, eh?

  7. 7

    Hi Jack,

    I’ve heard of My Bloody Valentine, after reading this, I think it should be My Bloody Christmas. 😉 Psycho is always psycho and this dude is psycho. ‘Four calling birds’ stashed in the closet is a nice touch. I dug your verbs. Keep writing. I see a good future for you. 😉

  8. 8

    I’m thinking black sheets could be the next to buy.
    Crazy chilling … a compelling read.

  9. 9
    jimcast Says:

    Jack. . .

    WOW! And I thought Jodi’s zombie cows were harsh! 🙂

    The four calling birds thing with the bodies in the closet thing. . . wow.

    And that poor woman who showed up for a date. . . I wonder if he’ll have to change it to five golden rings? Are you hinting you want to be in this project next year? 🙂


  10. 10

    Creepy. This is exactly the sort of story that makes me run circles around my house because I get so …creeped. Horror not done well turns out to be farcical. But this is brilliant! Extra marks for freaking me out!

    Happy and cheery Holiday wishes to you!

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