It's titled: Credit Card Fraud..
Credit Card Fraud
Mrs. Lily gathered her best Sunday hat and velvet trimmed jacket off her cedar coat rack. She walked with unhurried steps toward her floor length mirror in the corner of her bedroom.
A slight breeze stirred the crisp white cotton window treatments. The sun’s rays stabbed through her room, particles of dust could be seen dancing throughout. She shrugged; the house suited her just fine.
Gazing into the mirror she became aware of ten more fine lines forming around the corners of her lips and eyes. She’d lived a long life, but she knew time was not on her side and she still had so much more work to do.
Her bright purple skirt set accentuated each roll her body had acquired after years of neglect. Good-- she nodded-- no one would suspect her of being anything other than an innocent victim. And that’s just the way she wanted it.
Brushing her salt and pepper hair back, she placed her loud purple day hat atop her head and pulled on a pair of white gloves. Satisfied that she looked honest and demure, she walked over to her vanity and picked up her tiny clutch.
She rummaged inside until her hand found what she sought, pulling out her wallet she extracted three credit cards and placed them face down upon her dresser.
Mrs. Lily smiled. Grabbing a bowl to the right of her she laid out its contents.
A chicken’s foot, rat’s intestine, Belladonna, laburnum, wolfs bane and last but not least a fragment of human skull bone. Her frail limbs shivered with anticipation. Each time she did this, the results only got better and better. Necessity was the mother of invention, and ever since her poor Willie’s death, this had become a necessity. A way for her to make right the wrongs of that night so long ago.
She threw her ingredients into the bowl and laid the credit cards atop the conglomeration. Grabbing two incense sticks, she lit the bowl on fire, chanting the familiar incantation.
Green flames shot five feet into the air, singing her fingers in the heat. She accepted the pain as she accepted her calling, to do otherwise would be an insult to her dear Willie.
Finally all that remained were the ashes of her mixture and three pristine; seemingly untouched credit cards.
“Come to me, precious babies.” She crooned to the plastic and gently dropped them into her handbag.
Mrs. Lily dropped her head to her chest and grunted, the spirits of her ancestors spewing from her mouth. Her eyes rolled back, and when she spoke, the land shook beneath her feet.
“Ancient ancestors heed my call. Bring me one worthy of this prize.”
Cody Green, pickpocket and petty thief, roamed the streets of New Orleans searching for his perfect prey.
The day was cast in shades of gray, thunderclouds rumbled threateningly overhead. The usually busy streets of the market place were empty.
He stood under a poplar tree, his red hood covering his head, his hands shoved deep into his pockets, his eyes searching for the perfect target. Mounting frustration rolled through his tired body, he’d sat for hours yesterday and hours today waiting, waiting. For nothing, no sign of life, no nothing.
“Damn it all to hell!” He kicked at a rock, watching it roll across the street. Cody had already milked dry the twenty credit cards he’d stolen and was now penniless unless he could find something or someone, right now he’d settle for fifty bucks.
He shivered with the onset of heroine withdrawal, he needed a fix and he didn’t care who or what he had to go through to get it.
The soft clack, clack of a lady’s shoe vibrated on the cobblestone road before him. She was still out of sight, but his senses were so attuned to the hunt that he could guess her age just from the shuffle of her feet.
Old, probably in her mid-sixties. The perfect victim. A grin spread like butter across his face.
Cody crouched low behind the trunk of the tree and waited, his heart threatening to jump out of his chest with excitement. His blood roared in his ears, drowning out the quiet small voice in his mind screaming that something wasn’t right.
He licked his lips and nearly shouted with devilish glee when the stooped old woman rounded the bend. He chuckled at her clothes. She looked like a little old church lady in the garish purple colors and white satin gloves. An enormous fake bird sat perched atop the hat on her head. Oh she would be so easy he could hardly contain himself.
Grasped tightly in her hands was a tiny beaded purse, her black beady eyes flicked to the left and right as if searching for someone. Cody rubbed his hands together and ground his teeth.
“That’s right, grandma. Come to daddy.”
She shuffled to a bench and sat, then pulled a tiny rolled up package out of her purse and began tossing breadcrumbs to the pigeon’s that landed like magic around her ankles.
“Stupid bitch, don’t know what’s gonna hit her,” he spoke through clenched teeth.
Mrs. Lily shifted on the rickety bench. She smelled him, his greed and wicked corruption, she grinned and waited.
“Give me that bag or I’ll kill you, bitch!” A low voice sounded behind her.
Mrs. Lily pretended to quiver and blubber like a doddering fool. “Oh please, please. Don’t kill me,” she spoke around a tiny sob.
The man jumped in front of her. The hood covered his eyes, but his firm lips and comfortable stance told her that this was not his first mugging. All the better.
He took a threatening step toward her and snatched the purse from her grasp; Mrs. Lily tried to contain her smile.
“The black moon shall be your undoing,” she spoke low, the voices of her ancestors vibrating through her vocal chords.
The man stepped back, his hood fell off and his onyx eyes widened. “Stupid whore,” he pulled back and connected his fist with her jaw.
Mrs. Lily just laughed and spat the blood onto his face. Maniacal laughter spilled from her, infecting her surroundings with her dark poison. Satisfaction welled in her soul. “That was for you Willie my love,” she whispered under her breath.
Then he turned and ran; the beaded purse clutched tight in his hand.
The heavens opened up and drenched Cody with acidic rain, it burned like the devil and red welts raised up on his hands. He cursed. Ever since the nuclear plant had set up shop twelve miles out of town the weather had gone screwy, acid rain being one of the side effects. Cody ran until he reached his downtown loft, opened the door and collapsed on his bed. He shook from head to toe and examined his body for welts, nothing but a few red marks.
The woman had been insane, and truthfully, he’d been more than frightened, he’d been terrified. When she’d talked to him, that old feeble voice had vanished, replaced by something haunting and insidious. Like the souls of the dead all clamoring for attention.
Thankfully, he got the purse. Turned it over, Cody dumped its contents on his bed. Inside lay three new credit cards. Disbelief spluttered from his lips. What woman her age carried credit cards? They always, always, always had money. Period.
Shit! What was he gonna do now?
Credit cards were too damn easy to track. Best thing to do would be to cut it up, prevent temptation. His body began to tremble uncontrollably. Sweat poured down his neck, he ran a hand down his face. He needed his fix! He knew this was stupid. But damn it, what else could he do? It wasn’t like money was going to suddenly fall from the sky.
Cody grabbed the cards and headed towards his computer.
He ran a credit check and whooped when the screen flashed fifty-thousand dollars credit for each one. They were brand new, untouched and unused. Oh, the temptation was great. But if he got caught, he winced. It would be his third time for petty crimes; the court wouldn’t be so easy on him this time.
“Screw this!” he spat and threw caution to the wind.
First things first, he needed to buy a new computer. The one he owned now was two years obsolete, then he wanted to furnish his house with all the bachelor accessories he could find.
A DVD player, a CD player with enormous speakers, anything and everything his heart desired. Now that he was ordering a new computer, he could sell this piece of shit for a hundred bucks. Enough to cover the cost of the China White, only the best for such a huge score.
Worrying about getting caught no longer mattered, he’d figure out some way to get away with it. Besides, she’d been too damn old to do anything about it. She hadn’t even fought when he took the purse. And he’d probably imagined that demon voice anyway. Old lady was probably pissin’ herself right now. He snorted.
Quickly he went online, ordered the new computer, then put in a call to a buddy that owned a pawn shop downtown. Thirty minutes later, he had his hundred.
His next call was to his dealer.
An hour later, Cody smoked and injected the junk, a mellow sensation of well-being consumed him and he grinned. He wanted to buy stuff. But he didn’t have a computer anymore. Gripping the card in a tight fist, he walked across the apartment hall to his neighbor’s house, he knew she wouldn’t be home.
He banged on the door.
A small white face peeked out.
“Lemme in, kid,” he slurred.
Jessica, Jess, Jane, whatever the hell the little brat’s name was, stared back at him with big blue eyes. “Momma says I ain’t suppose ta...”
“Argh,” he growled and shoved the door open, marching in. “I just need to use the computer. Go to your room or sumthin’.”
The kid disappeared and he plopped down on the rickety stool in front of their computer.
Cody stayed up for hours, his eyes blurring, his mind burning with more ideas to buy, buy, buy. Finally eight hours later and well past midnight he shut off the computer, yelled at the brat that he was out, and shuffled back to his room and to his bed.
Best day of his life.
The suns bright rays stabbed his eyes; his cat meowed in the corner. Cody threw a pillow at the source of the sound and grinned when he heard a yelp.
“Serves you right, Tabor, go eat a rat. There’s plenty around here.”
Suddenly, blinding, ripping pain tore through his intestines. He sat up in bed wincing and whining as the pain escalated to near frenzied levels. Cody shot from the bed clutching at his belly and ran towards the bathroom. A green geyser of vomit trailed a path from his bed to his toilet. He retched and gagged, the toilet overflowing with chunks of bile and swirling pink fleshy stuff.
Cody clamped his mouth shut, swallowing puke in the process. It burned like acid going down, when he opened his mouth to scream, the vomit exploded all over the floors and walls, bouncing back onto him. Fingers pressed into his intestines, squeezing and rolling them all around. He gagged and noticed with alarm that red now mixed with the green.
Twenty minutes later the puking stopped. He leaned his head against the soiled bathroom wall and panted. White spots danced behind his eyes, his body trembled with fatigue. Cody pushed himself off and walked to the sink, pink foam cornered the edges of his lips, with a trembling hand he wiped himself off and looked at the mess. Green bile, pink chunks, and red blood littered his bathroom floor.
He gagged, then caught site of an object floating inside the toilet bowl, a severed chicken’s foot.
He ran from the room and stripped off his clothing.
“What the hell just happened to me?” He grabbed his head and winced. His heart pounded furiously in his chest, something was wrong.
Very, very wrong.
He couldn’t afford to go to the hospital, he didn’t have insurance, and if he used the old lady’s credit cards it would be too easy to trace back to him. Cody shot a look at the plastic cards sitting on his desk.
He’d buy something, that always helped raise his spirits, besides he already felt better.
Cody walked back to the neighbor’s house knowing the Mom would be gone already. That kid was alone all the time. Made him thinking of his own upbringing. Knocking, he shoved his way in when the girl opened the door.
“Computer,” he mumbled and went back to the same desk as last night. Ten hours later, feeling better about himself, he went back home. His gut churned and rumbled loudly. He rubbed his stomach to ease the pain and dialed his favorite Chinese restaurant in town.
When someone picked up he placed his order. “Yeah, China Star, I want 9 orders of Kung Pao chicken, 10 Egg Fu Young’s and 5 Spring Rolls.”
What had made him order such a large meal? He’d never finish it. His stomach rumbled again, harder this time, vibrating his insides, he winced and snapped at the employee.
“Yes! It’s all for one person, hurry up dammit!” Then he slammed the phone down on the receiver and waited.
Thirty minutes later, a visibly trembling employee handed him his food. Cody paid with cash he’d stolen from his neighbor’s cookie jar-- everyone knew you should never hide money in a cookie jar, first place a crook always looked-- and snatched his food, heading back to his living room.
He inhaled the food, everything. He couldn’t get enough; finally when there was no more to be had he licked the cartons clean. Cody ground his teeth and paced, his stomach rolled demanding to be fed.
Tabor meowed in the corner. Demar whipped around, feral heat spread through his body, fire inched through his veins and he pounced on his tabby. The cat spit and hissed, scratched and clawed him to get away, but he broke the neck and ripped into the cat’s hind paw with killing intention. Warm blood oozed down his face, sprayed into his eyes, he ate the nasty meat like a man possessed.
Only when he was done, and all that remained were the bones of his once favorite pet, did Cody realize what he’d done.
He cried out, moaning, he dropped the bones and ran away.
“What did I do? What did I do?” He grabbed his head and spun in a circle. Panic flared through his veins, he screamed for release. But from what?
Then he caught site of the credit cards and ran to them like they were his savior. Cody trembled as he ran back to their apartment. He had an hour before the Mom came home, enough time to buy.
He didn’t stop clicking ‘buy’ until he heard the rattle of a car engine pull into the parking light and the bright blare of her lights shoving through the window.
Exhausted, he ran back to his apartment and passed out on the sofa.
Cody didn’t move until the next day. The suns weak rays filtered through his room.
Realizing his bladder was heavy, he ran to the bathroom. The room stank of piss and vomit; he’d forgotten to clean up. Cody ran to the sink instead and reached down to grasp himself. He couldn’t find it. He looked down and gazed in horror at the sight of his penis now a mere black nub.
He screamed and stared at his reflection in the mirror. He was a monster, his normally pale skin was mottled and graying, his eyes looked shrunken and his cheekbones protruded. He was gazing at a skeleton with skin pulled taut over the frame.
He ran his hand across his mouth and watched in horror as his skin peeled off in shredded folds exposing raw pink skin underneath.
There was only one thing left for him to do, he had to find the woman and kill her. Living in New Orleans, it didn’t take him long to realize he’d stolen from a voodoo priestess, the only way to get rid of her curse for stealing those cards, was to kill her. Cody ran back to the neighbor’s apartment.
The mom was home this time when he banged on the door.
“What the hell?” she snapped, “you been scaring my daughter, coming in here uninvited! Get out. Get out!” She picked up a gun and aimed it square at his chest.
Hissing, Cody ran out, down the stairs and to a phone booth. Looking at the cards, he saw her name. Then he looked her up in the phone book.
“Mrs. Lily Thompson,” he read out loud, “Voodoo Priestess of the Black Moon lounge.”
He knew exactly where that was. All the locals knew where that was. Snarling, he ran back to his house, grabbed his .45 and headed to the Lounge.
Mrs. Lily whistled a cheerful tune to herself as she dusted the contents of her shelf. Tail of newt, heart of rat, fur of cat… all the silly magick stuff. The potent ingredients she kept in the back away from prying eyes. Only a select few were truly masters of the craft and only they deserved the best.
She sensed him coming and sighed. Another job well done.
The bell above her door chimed, she adjusted her outfit and called out, “Hello, Cody, make yourself comfortable.”
Mrs. Lily grabbed her machete off the wall and tucked it behind her back.
She entered the front room and witnessed a shaking and skeletal Cody shifting from foot to foot. Peeling skin exposed the white of his skull beneath; his teeth were yellow and rotted. In his gnarled fingers he gripped a pistol, his hand shaking violently.
“Ho… How do you know my name?” He shook, his voice warbled.
“Ssh. No questions, please. Sit.” She pointed at a couch sitting in the corner of the room.
“No! What have you done to me?” His gun hand waved wildly through the air. “I’ll kill you!” The skin on his hand peeled back exposing tendon. Then the tendons popped. Cody screamed as the gun feel from lifeless fingers.
“I highly doubt that.” Mrs. Lily lifted a brow and smirked. “You do look awful,” she giggled. “You poor thing.” She’d be kind and put him out of his misery, this one had really taken the brunt of her spell.
“Why?” his voice creaked like a rusted doorframe.
“Because you killed my husband.”
His eyes rolled to the back of his head, exposing the white of his eyes. “I… I… I…,” he panted, “I… never… killed… anybody.”
She sneered. “You’re all the same.” Her body shook with fury. “You’re all the same! Why didn’t you just take his money? Why did you have to kill him? Willie, my poor Willie,” her voice shrieked, shaking the glass bottles on the shelves.
“I… didn’t… kill…”
She withdrew her hand from her back and sliced it through the air. “Shut up! You all killed him, and now I’m gonna kill you!” Mrs. Lily advanced and grinned. “You make number thirteen. You know everybody says thirteen is unlucky but I don’t think so, because you’ve been my best one yet.”
Mrs. Lily pulled back and hacked at his lolling neck. The sickening thud echoed through the still room. She’d save his parts, just like she had all the others.
Three hours later, she sat out on her veranda and sipped a cool glass of lemonade. She really needed to go to church tonight, cause tomorrow was gonna be another busy day.