By Brycen M
“Haha, I finally caught one!” Leonardo yells out in an odd part of the sewer system he calls home. Leonardo just shot a rat the size of a wild hog with his suppressed M1 Garand. He used to use a 44. Revolver, but it hurt his ears too much. He eventually found (by found I mean stole) a sweet M1 Garand he calls Bessie. “I sure do love you, Bessie!” He screams with childlike glee, totally disregarding the fact that he is scaring off the remainder of the rats. He now realizes he scared off lunch and supper, so he now settles to split his breakfast into lunch and dinner as well. Leonardo begins to head back to his dwelling about a few blocks away. He encounters nothing but a few lumps of what he likes to call “gifts” on his way home.
Leonardo throws Bessie on his old stained newspaper bed and tosses the rat in his cooking bucket and prepares two plates, one for him, and one for Bessie. He grabs his rickety hunting knife and begins portioning the rat for cooking, humming a tune he could faintly remember. He turns his cooking pot upside down and lights some manure under it to get it good and hot. “Bessie, I’ve got a new recipe for tonight!” He grabs a bottle from a shoddily constructed shelf on the far wall with the faded name “Paprika” and seasons the rat with the long expired spice. He puts a third of the rat in the pot and begins cooking it until it makes a bacon-like sizzle.
Leonardo cuts the sizzling rat in half and sits on his bed with Bessie, handing her half of the rat on the plate. Bessie, being a gun, cannot accept the offer, so he just puts the plate next to her. “Bessie, you gotta’ eat sometime or you’ll get sick!” Bessie, of course, gives no response, Leonardo doesn’t care. Bessie never talks anymore since he came to the sewers. Leonardo begins eating and finishes his food very quickly. “You gonna’ eat that?” he asks Bessie. He takes the silence as a no and quickly eats her food.
“Bessie, I’ll be back before lunch!” He grabs his old, flimsy cap and heads toward a place in the sewer he hasn’t been to for a while. If there is something that Leonardo knows, it’s that the sewers are always changing. In a pile of “gifts” he sees an odd corner protruding from it. He grabs at it and wipes it off with a rag in his pocket. It’s a framed picture of what appears to be a happy husband and wife.
“Argh! My head!” An intense headache and distant yelling voices flash into his brain fast. Leonardo can’t remember where he is, who he is, or even what he is. He feels sudden adrenaline, anger… hatred. He remembers his wife being choked by a large man, a struggle, and then darkness. He doesn’t remember how he got into the sewers, but for a moment his mind clears and he regains his memory of where he is and who he is. “I’ll keep this picture for now. It’s somethin’ I need.” He journeys farther into this part of the sewer hoping, no, praying for something else to aid his memory.
“No luck! No luck no luck no luck no luck!?” Leonardo yells, hearing his voice bounce back to him at the end of the sewer. He decides to head back to his dwelling with the framed picture in hand, driven mad by his inability to remember more of his past. He makes it back to his home and decides to prepare his and Bessie's lunch, doing the same as he did earlier. Something is different this time though. He can’t seem to take his eyes off of that picture which is now propped on the rickety old shelf. This picture later becomes one of Leonardo's favorite possessions.
Leonardo decides to take a nap before he makes his supper. “Get rid of the girl. I’ll make sure this one won’t remember us,” some disembodied voice says through darkness.
“Got it, boss,” replies a voice that sounds suspiciously similar to an old friend. The sound of a hand over a woman’s mouth as she is dragged away is heard for a moment. “Just you and me pal, if you ever come back you ain’t livin,’” boss says to you as you’re dragged away. You feel like you’re falling. “Aaaaaaaaaaaagh!” Leonardo screams as he comes out of his dream. Was that “girl” his wife? Who dragged her away? Why couldn’t he do anything? He decides he can’t think on an empty stomach and whips up his supper.
Leonardo doesn’t feel hungry. His mind is twisted, and he can’t think properly. Things are different now. He doesn’t want to talk. He doesn’t want to walk, and he doesn’t even want to get up. He feels like Bessie isn’t who he remembers her as. He feels lied to; like he lied to himself. “Bessie?” Leonardo asks. He receives no response. He is about to say something else when he hears muffled walking and that familiar voice from his dream… an old friend. Without question he grabs Bessie.
A blinding torch washes over Leonardo, nearly bringing him to his knees. In the dark sewer, Leonardo’s skin had become pale and he adapted to the dark, cold, environment. When his blindness subsides, Leonardo points Bessie straight at a black figure. “Hey hey hey, woah. I’m the one who made sure you stayed alive. The last thing you better do is shoot me!” The figure yells at Leonardo.
“How can I trust you!?” Leonardo shouts back, Bessie still raised. “You should remember me, I’m your buddy Jakob!” Jakob shouts at Leonardo.
Leonardo, not yet convinced that he and Jakob should know each other or not, decides that “If you know me, tell me something about myself.” That is when Leonardo quickly realizes that he doesn’t know much about himself either. “Wait, scratch that.” Leonardo says, acknowledging his bad memory.
“I came here to get you out of this, Leo!” Jakob yells to Leonardo.
“What are you trying to get me out of?! I don’t even know you and I’m livin’ fine!” Leonardo yells very loud this time, causing a few rats and bugs to scurry from the area. Jakob takes a seat on the hard concrete floor of the sewer. “Look, if I came here to hurt you, wouldn’t I have brought a weapon?” Jakob says, looking at the grey water stream on his right.
“Yeah, I guess…” Leonardo responds, lowering Bessie in the process.
Leonardo invites Jakob to sit on a rickety chair that is missing a leg on the far wall as he sits on his newspaper bed. “You never answered my question “Jakob”, what are you trying to get me out of?” Leonardo asks.
“My boss, the head of our little scheme decided to throw you down here alive so he could make sure you never came back. It obviously worked, because you don’t remember much, do you?” Jakob asks, not expecting a response.
“What scheme?” Leonardo asks, desperate to know more about the situation.
“Your wife Bessie was worth a lot to our organization. She knew a lot about our enemies and either we captured her and make you go quiet, or kill you and kill her too. You’d better be glad we didn’t go with the other option, or we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.”
Leonardo couldn’t pay attention to most of what Jakob had to say, he was thinking too much.
“Bessie, I got one of those rats outside. Caught it munchin’ on our carrots.”
“Okay honey, did you get rid of it?”
“Threw it to the dog, why?”
“Leonardo Schweimer, you know those bones will hurt that dog, you go out and take care of it before somethin’ bad happens!”
“Okay, okay!” Leonardo went out back to the dog house and took the already chewed rat away from the dog. He went inside and realized he heard muffled screaming by the front door. He was ambushed from behind just after he saw his wife get choked unconscious onto the ground. He met a similar fate but was blindfolded just in case. All of a sudden he regained his train of thought in his dark home.
“Jakob, get me out of here right now.” Leonardo says.
“Anything to get out of this dump,” Jakob responds already standing.
Leonardo emerges from the sewer a new man with his few possessions and a rat for the road. Jakob is just behind him ready to help him get his wife back. Leonardo is prepared to do anything. No matter how daring, he would do it.