Witches of Rascar Pablo: Part II

By Kristopher Lawrence
Edited by Gao Rong

Chapter 7: Death of a Cop

Tal violación,
castigada con fuego y azufre,
a menudo se trata
simplemente con azufre.

Such a violation,
punishable by fire and brimstone,
is often dealt with
simply by brimstone.

7:57 pm Thursday, May 18, 1984 (PDT)
Grants Pass, Oregon

“Aaaaaargh…” Carlos groaned as he awoke. He looked around, too weak even to turn his head. Two Asian men wearing white coats, medical masks and latex gloves stood over him.

“We must to make this exam extra aggressive,” said the elder of the two, “I want to be sure to induce a fibrillation.”

Carlos looked down. His body was not his own, but that of a human – an adolescent gringo – no more than twelve or thirteen, shrouded in a hospital gown, with wires and electrodes hanging from it. Then some phantom of a memory about a plan to come to the other world came back to him. But what was it he was supposed to do? Protect someone? Protect who? Then he remembered. The human! The human boy!

“Dr. Xu,” said the younger of the two doctors, “I cannot make the exam any more aggressive than standard procedure allows, if the standard test doesn’t induce a fibrillation, then…”

“This boy has arrhythmia, don’t worry about that. Do as I say.”

A ward of new sensations overwhelmed Carlos, and he felt a sudden control over this new body. He took a deep breath and could see his rib cage expand and contract on the x-ray monitors overhead. He turned his head to one side. He recognized the machine on an adjacent cart – a defibrillator.

“Oh,” said the elder doctor, “You are awake.”

Carlos tried to speak – to ask where he was – but due to the lack of control over his unfamiliar tongue, and speech faculties, all that came out were incomprehensible slurs.

“I guess the anesthesia we gave you was not enough – you needn’t listen to what we doctors are saying,” said the doctor, as he approached with a syringe, “here is a bit more to help you sleep.”

Carlos struggled, kicked the doctor’s hand, and the syringe went flying.

“Easy! Easy!” The doctor held him down, and to the other doctor, said, “Get the syringe!”

The younger doctor approached with the syringe. Carlos was able to free an arm and used it to activate the defibrillator. He took both the paddles, flipped the switch, and pressed them to the younger doctor’s temples, electrocuting him, sending him into a tantrum of spasms. Carlos stood and grabbed onto the elliptic rack where the overhead monitors were mounted, pulled down on it, and sent it crashing down on both the doctors. The younger one went limp. Dr. Xu was pinned under the rack, struggling and kicking. Carlos got off the bed and tore the electrodes from his back. Though control over the adolescent body was limited, he managed to wobble down the hall toward the elevators. He could hear the doctor calling after him. The elevator doors opened within a few seconds of pressing the button. A woman and little girl were inside. He got on and looked at the buttons and the display which showed which floor he was on – the fourth. The first floor button was already lit up. He pressed it anyway. The doors closed and they began to descend. He peered over his shoulder at the woman who was now shielding her daughter’s eyes from his backside left exposed by the gown. She gave him a concerned look and then looked away. When the doors opened the woman got off in a hurry with her daughter in tow. Carlos stuck his head out and looked around. The lobby was to the right. There was no one there save a receptionist at the front desk, a couple conversing with her, and a janitor mopping the floor. To the left was a hallway that terminated at an exit. He went for it.

“Young man!” The receptionist started toward him.”Excuse me! Can I help you find something?”

About halfway down the hall an overwhelming urge to pee overtook him. Still lacking control over the unwonted body, he tried to hold it in, but couldn’t. All he could do was pull his gown aside to avoid peeing on it.

“Ay… Dios mio…” He moaned in relief, backstepping to avoid the expanding puddle. He noticed the plastic bracelet around his surrogate wrist. It read:

SEX M DOB 05/25/1975

He looked up and saw the receptionist. She stood frozen, gaping at the pool of urine that lay between them.

“Jack!” she said. “A little help please!”

The janitor came into the hallway. “Jack’s on a smoke break,” he said. He saw the puddle of urine. “Damn it, I just mopped here!”

Carlos made for the exit. He noticed he could move faster after peeing. The phone at the front desk rang and the receptionist went to answer it. The janitor looked at her confused. She hung up.

“Don’t let him leave!” she said.

Carlos made it to the exit, pushed the doors open and ran.

* * *

2:25 pm Friday, May 19, 1984 (PDT)
Grants Pass, Oregon

Jon and Paul walked along the frontage road toward Demoray. It was midday. Rows of white alto nimbus ran across the sky toward the distant mountains. Both were anxious to reach home. Neither spoke a word of the corpse they had just seen. They were walking by the old water tower on the edge of Demoray when Sheriff Wilson’s SUV approached.

“What’re you boys doin’ out here,” asked the sheriff. “Shouldn’t you be in school?”

“We found a dead cop in the woods,” said Paul.

Jon shushed Paul, nudged him with his elbow.

The sheriff removed his sunglasses revealing his bloodshot, strenuous glare and ill-tinged complexion. “Where’d you see it?” he asked with a clenched jaw, as if it were painful for him to speak.

The two hesitated, staring at the Sheriff’s alarming appearance.

“Got-damn-it,” burst the Sheriff. “You two get in the back seat right now!”

They climbed into the back seat. The Sheriff holstered his gun. Just as he hit the gas, two bats whisked out from under the rusted stairwell of the old water tower, and descended into the cab. The Sheriff covered his ears, screamed, and bolted out from the cab. The bats followed him, fluttering about his face. He alternated between swatting at them and covering his ears, and continued screaming. Eventually he pulled out his revolver and began taking wild shots.

“What the hell – let’s get out of here!” Jon tried opening the door, but it was locked, and there was no visible unlocking mechanism in the back seats of the law enforcement vehicle.

A stray bullet ricocheted off the water tower and whistled through the rear window of the SUV, shattering it. The Sheriff took off running and screaming with his hands over his ears. Jon and Paul climbed out through the broken window. The Sheriff was gone.

“What the hell was that?” exclaimed Paul.

“Yeah. And did you see his face? He looked sick, or something,” said Jon, “and why was he covering his ears like that? Could he hear the bats, or something?”

“Bats don’t make any noise,” said Paul.

“They do, but I thought it’s too high pitched for humans to hear.”

“Okay, detective, but maybe he just smoked too much crack, and now he’s hearing things, like… voices, and stuff.”

“Why’d you tell him about the cop? If you hadn’t said anything, he probably would have left us alone.”

They walked and walked, tried to hitchhike, but to no avail. What few cars came by them, kept on by.

“None of this would’ve happened if we didn’t ditch school! What was the point of it anyway? We didn’t find Lucas, I didn’t get a chance to look for my wasp. Huh? Fuckin’ wannabe Sherlock.”

Jon shoved Paul from behind. Paul charged him, grappled him to the ground. They rolled around the ditch all tangled up, cursing at each other. Neither was able to escape the other’s hold.

A black sedan approached.

“Is that your dad’s car?” asked Paul.

“Zhang Tao,” shouted Jon’s dad. “I’ve been looking for you everywhere! This time you are really grounded! Get in! You too Paul, I will drive you home.”

Jon and Paul ran up to the car and exploded with accounts of a dead cop and their run-in with the Sheriff.

* * *

5:20 pm Friday, May 19, 1984 (PDT)
Grants Pass, Oregon

Benny drove to the pit to search for Lucas. He walked amidst the junk, hands in his pockets, kicking away the rubbish in his path. He noticed a car parked on the opposite embankment and walked over to it. Rachel was sitting in the driver’s seat, smoking. She looked as if she’d been crying.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Fine. You’re Lucas’s brother, right?”

“Yeah. Benny.” He looked down, kicked some gravel away.

“I’m Paul’s sister.”

“I know. You go to St. Anne’s, right?”

“Yeah. Is Lucas still missing?”

“Yeah. Thought I might find him here but…”

“Paul’s missing now too.”

“I know. I heard.”

She offered him a cigarette. He took it. She opened the passenger door, and he climbed in.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll turn up,” he said.

“It’s not that,” she said with a sigh, “I think my friend – well, she’s not really my friend – is sleeping with one of my teachers, maybe.”

“Oh… really?”

“Yeah,” she gave a desperate kind of laugh, “I don’t know why she would do that.”

They sat in silence, smoking, as twilight approached. The sun began to set and the clouds pinkened where they touched the mountains in the west. The silence was eerie, even for Demoray. Nothing could be heard save the faint barking of some distant hound.

“I’m gonna wait here for ‘em,” she said, “at least for a while… I know this is their little hideout.”

* * *

5:29 am Friday, May 19, 1984 (PDT)
Grants Pass, Oregon

Carlos figured he was nearly a mile into the woods before he stopped to catch his breath. The new body was still awkward. He ducked into a thick copse of pines, sat down and leaned up against one of them. He fell asleep.

When he woke, he could not move. He felt the strange sensation of being awake while still dreaming, combined with a sort of phantom limb – only it was not just a limb, but his entire body. A montage of rich colors poured over him. He saw images of pines and ferns, and then he saw the hospital gown, and Lucas’s feet poking out from under, step by step.

Lucas! Carlos remembered. He must be awake!

Lucas was walking about on his own, and Carlos had no control over the body they shared. But he saw whatever Lucas saw, heard what he heard, sensed what he sensed. He heard birds chirping, colors became brighter, the pines and cedars more well-defined. He saw Lucas’s hand press up against the trunk of an old pine, and then down to where its roots ran into the earth, and then came the vomit.

A great pressure weighed down on Carlos. He felt flattened by it, as if he were putty, and the more thin-spread he became, the more he felt he actually was Lucas. Lucas’s scattered, panicked thoughts trickled in and merged with Carlos’ and, for a moment, there was no Carlos. And then it subsided.

“Tranquilo,” said Carlos, “tranquilo.”

“Huh?” said Lucas.

Carlos could feel Lucas’s heart pounding.

“Don’t be afraid, little amigo. You can’t see me… but I am real… I promise.”

“Where are you?”

“I told you. You can’t see me. I’m in your… cómo se dice… mind.”


“Oh… don’t worry little amigo… you are not loco.”

His attempt at calming him had quite the opposite effect. Lucas’s heart was beating so fast it felt to Carlos like a trapped humming bird. Another flood of stimuli came rushing in. Lucas wasn’t there anymore. Carlos opened his eyes. Stood up. Now he was in control again.

Putting one foot in front of the other, he remembered the awkwardness from the night before. Was it the night before? He came upon a thicket of blackberry bushes, all ripe with blackberries. Feeling famished, he tore into them, avoiding the thorns, filling up both hands and shoveling them into his mouth, and then repeating the action, until his belly was full, and his face covered with dark crimson juice.

It must have been mid-day. The sun was beating down on him. He walked deeper into the wood and came upon a stream. He washed his face in it and drank from it with his hands. A cluster of pumice and sandstone boulders on the bank offered shade. He sat down under them and pondered the peculiar situation in which he found himself. What if a worm had gotten to him lying on the bed at the hospital? What then? Would he know if he’d already been infected? How was he to know? He thought of what would happen to himself if this human boy were to die with him still embedded in his mind. Then he would probably be worse off than Francisco.

He heard a man’s voice, and he climbed up the sandstone to take a peek. Below him was a policeman forcing a woman down the embankment by her wrist. The policeman was huge, bald, and had a mischievous grin. The woman looked in her mid-thirties, wore a denim skirt, and a tight tie-died blouse.

“Stop,” she shouted. “That hurts!”

Carlos quickly positioned himself on the other side of the boulder so he wouldn’t be seen. Once the cop and the woman were further down, he slowly and quietly climbed up the embankment and away from the creek. Convinced he was out of ear-shot, he made a run for it.

About a hundred yards out he began to hear her cries.

“No! No! Please!”

Carlos stopped. Keeping Lucas safe and away from potential worms was the priority above all else, but it became obvious to him what the cop was doing to the woman. He couldn’t ignore it. Within seconds he was perched back on top of the sandstone ledge overhanging the creek. He searched around and found a jagged stone about the size of a man’s head – almost too heavy for him to lift with Lucas’s adolescent body – and lugged it over the embankment until he was directly above them.

The policeman had her up against the rocks, his right hand held a pistol to her cranium, his left tore away her skirt. She gave up trying to escape, and her screams turned into sobs interspersed with momentary outbursts of involuntary moans of unwanted pleasure. Carlos loosed the boulder onto the cops head. The cop fell limp, blood pumped and sprayed from a deep gash, the geyser-like stream set by the man’s diminishing pulse.

Carlos leapt down from the ledge and seized the pistol from the cop’s twitching hand. The woman watched in shock as the man who just seconds ago was raping her bled out and twitched his last twitch, while a thirteen-year-old boy dressed in a hospital gown checked to see if the revolver was loaded. The way in which he handled the revolver was not typical of a young boy either, but more like that of a man who’d done it many times before.

“What did you do?” she asked. Her voice was trauma-stricken, her eyes teary and puffy. Nor did she make any attempt at covering her nakedness.

Carlos ignored her. He removed the dead cop’s belt and examined the taser and baton therein before holstering the revolver in it and slinging it over his shoulder. Without looking at her, he retrieved her skirt and torn underwear from the nearby brush and tossed them to her. She caught them. He started away, back up the embankment, without so much as glancing at her.

“Wait!” she called after him. She struggled to put on the skirt, and discarded her underwear, which were too torn to wear. “Wait. Don’t leave yet.”

Carlos looked at her. A tattoo of a crucifix, front-and-center on her esophagus, covered half of her neck.

“You just killed that man.” She seemed to realize the fact as she spoke it.

“What man?”

“That man.” She pointed to the corpse. “Him!”

“You call that a man?” Carlos walked over to the corpse and, with his heel, nudged it over the edge into the creek.

“Wait!” she cried, but the body was already floating down the creek.

Carlos picked up the bloody boulder and threw it in as well, and then started back up the embankment. She followed him, struggling to keep up.

“Wait,” she said, “where are you going?”

Carlos stopped with his back to her, sighing as if annoyed.

“Look,” she said, “if I was your age and I had just killed someone – especially a cop – I’d be freaking out.”

Carlos turned and regarded her. “You… okay?”

His Mexican accent threw her since he did not strike her as Mexican – or even Latino, for that matter. “Look,” she said, “thank you for stopping that man from… you know… but… he was a cop… and…”

But she knew nothing could be done. And she knew enough about law enforcement in those parts to know she’d probably be charged with murder were she to report the incident. Carlos just stared at her.

“Won’t you talk to me?” she asked, “Are you the kid who ran away from the hospital? The one everyone is looking for? How old are you?”

Carlos hesitated. “What were you doing with that pig?”

“Nothing,” she said, “He forced me down here. I was just driving up the BLM road,” she pointed up the embankment, “and that asshole pulled me over, and before I knew it he was dragging me down here. I heard the call about the kid that ran away from the hospital on the cop’s radio. Are you Mexican? You don’t look like a typical Mexican.”


“How old are you?”

Carlos started away again.

“Wait,” she said, “at least let me give you a ride somewhere – you can’t just stay in the woods in a hospital gown, barefoot.”

Carlos looked down at his already blistering feet. “That’s a nice offer, chica, but I have to stay away from people – especially pigs.”

“You don’t think I want to avoid the police?” she exclaimed, “After what just happened?”

Carlos hesitated. “You know where I can get some shoes, and some… cómo se dice… pantalones?”

“Yes,” she seemed relieved. “My car’s up the hill.”

He followed her up to a teal Volkswagen bus. “My name’s Harmony,” she said as she climbed into the driver’s seat.

“Carlos. Mucho gusto.” He noticed the vacant cruiser marked “Grants Pass Police Department” parked directly behind them.

“Can we please no bring those with us?” she said, referring to the belt of weapons Carlos had taken from the dead police officer.

“No,” he said flatly. He climbed into the passenger seat and put the weapons into the glove box.

They drove no more than thirty feet before two police officers setting up a road block came into view from around a bend.

“Shit,” cursed Harmony. “What now?”

She threw the bus into reverse and backed it up until they were back where they started, and out of their view.

Carlos looked at the vacant police cruiser in the rear view mirror. “I have an idea,” he said.

He got out, went over to it, looked in through the driver’s window at the gear shift. It was in neutral. “Ayúdame.” He removed his hospital gown and used it as a buffer between his hands and the rear bumper, so as not to leave prints, and started pushing it from behind. “There are only two of them, no? We can make a… how you say… distraction.”

Harmony could guess what he was doing. She placed her hands over a section of the hospital gown and helped him push. The police cruiser began to roll. It rolled right over the edge of the BLM road, flew about a hundred yards down the embankment, and plunged into the shallow creek bottom, only its rear end remaining above water.

They watched from behind some brush as the two policemen trampled down the embankment to the wrecked cruiser.

“Qué paso, judas?” said Carlos, giggling, “Yes… go and see, pigs, go and see.” He threw his hospital gown back on.

Once the cops were over the sandstone ledge and out of sight, they climbed back into the Volkswagen.

She put the key into the ignition.

“No,” said Carlos. “Don’t start the engine. Roll down in neutral.”

She put it in neutral and they glided unnoticed right down past the two cops, and the equipment comprising the would-be road block. Once out of range, she threw it into gear, popped the clutch, and floored it, and they were off, on to the road between the mighty evergreens, and up to the horizon pinkened by the twilight sun.

They drove for about fifteen minutes opposite the direction of the hospital. Carlos had turned on the 8-track and was singing along to a Santana album.

“Do your parents like Santana?” she asked, surprised such a young boy knew the lyrics.

“Sí,” he was slapping his stomach as if it were a bongo. “When I was a human, I saw them play “Soul Sacrifice” at Woodstock in ’69.”

She slammed on the brakes and they came screeching to a halt.

“What were you in the hospital for?”

“I was wondering the same thing.”

“You’re barely in your teens – how could you have been to Woodstock in 1969?” Her eyes began to tear up. “Then tell me where it was – I mean – what city.”


“So… how old are you, really?”


She started to cry.

“What’s wrong?”

“What’s wrong?” she said, “I was just attacked, and then I saw a little boy kill a cop and dump his body in the creek.”

“Don’t cry, chica,” he said. “Shhh… tranquilo…”

“And the little boy says he’s forty-years old!”

He comforted her, stroked her forehead.

She surrendered to it, squeezed his adolescent body and let it calm her.

Kristopher Lawrence

The author, who goes by the pseudonym Kristopher Lawrence, is a mathematician and linguist. After a decade-long tenure in China, he returned to his home in Oregon where he now writes and indulges other such strangeness. Follow this link for a copy of his book! Witches of Rascar Pablo


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