The Dead Hooker Dump

         There’s a deeply rutted road off Sheffield Avenue in the no man’s land between Hammond and Whiting. It’s the industrial wasteland equivalent of a goat path that’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it.

The road trails past Keil Chemical Plant which is reason enough to avoid it. The management at Keil learned long ago the fines for getting caught dumping carcinogenic chemicals into the environment amounts to less than the cost of safe containment, transportation and storage.

         The road continues beneath the toll road over pass, narrowing to a car length as it extends out into Wolf Lake where it t-bones a half mile in either direction before dead-ending. A generation ago, the road enabled hunters to use duck blinds in the autumn and ice fishing cabins in the winter. That was a long time ago.

         Given its isolation, convenient interstate access and abundant area crack whores, local thrill killers have found this blighted tract of land and toxic body of water to be an excellent place to dump dead hookers.

         Alex and Radonja didn’t have much call to dispose of any murdered prostitutes. For them, the road behind Wolf Lake represented the closest approximation to nature the city afforded without constant police surveillance. It was the one place they could sit, undisturbed, while burning a pile of old tires, drink a cold beer, fire up the occasional stick of ditch weed and cast a few lines into the soup in a feeble attempt to snag one of the elusive carp stout enough to thrive in the poison waters.

         With dawn graying the hazy sky, Alex and Radonja decided to pack it in for the night. It had been a good night with the casually sustained buzz outlasting life’s usual bad vibes. They reeled in their lines, the hooks bare of worms not because the carp were crafty but because the corrosive lake tended to dissolve soft tissue quickly. They threw the tackle into the bed of the Chevy pick-up and took one last piss on the smoldering tire fire.

         Alex started the engine, let off the clutch, and the truck immediately lunged forward, lurching off the embankment into two feet of brackish water.

         “Son of a bitch!” Alex hollered, shifting into reverse and stomping the gas.

         The rear wheels spun uselessly in the air.

         “Want me to jump on the tailgate, see if I can’t weight down the back end?” Radonja asked.

         With the quarter bag of dope in his front cargo pocket, Radonja weighed exactly a hundred and ten pounds and one quarter ounces.

         “I’ll get on the back, you drive.”

         Alex circled the truck, studied the rear wheels spinning a foot and a half off the ground. Maybe, he thought, I could pile up some rocks and sticks beneath the tires…

         “Hey, you think you can give me a ride?”

         The sudden proximity of the female voice startled Alex. The woman asking the question had managed to creep up without a word despite wearing only one high-heeled shoe.

         He couldn’t bring himself to look directly at her, as if full eye contact would obligate him to help her. He pieced her together with glances from his peripheral vision. Bedraggled, mousy brown hair. Dark needy eyes like cigarette burns in a piss-stained sheet. Crack pipe welt on her lower lip. She wore a tight red, pleather jacket and a loose black miniskirt revealing bruised thighs and scabbed knees. One foot was bare. On the other foot, a black high-heeled shoe held together with tattered duct tape.

         Alex hooked a thumb at the see-sawing Chevy. “What the fuck you think?”

         “You got a cigarette?”

         Alex had a whole pack of cigarettes. “No, bitch, I ain’t got nothing for you.” She shrugged her limp shoulders, resigned to hearing “no” forever. She continued walking toward Keil Chemical and what amounted to civilization at this time, in this place.

         Alex shook his head in disgust and turned his attention back to the fucked truck conundrum. “Hit the gas again, Radonja.”

         “Who the hell were you just talking to?”

         “Some old whore.”

         “What? Where? What‘d she look like?”

         Radonja hopped out of the cab, looking every direction at once. “I don’t see no one.”

         “She was right there…”

         The road stretched out in dawn’s half light. Empty. Not so much as a bird taking wing to catch the eye. No vegetation to hide behind. Road and water.

         “Where’d she go?”

         Radonja motioned in the other direction where the elevated dirt road ended in water, fifty feet away. “Where’d she come from? We were here all night.”

         “Get in the truck,” Alex said.

         The glazed eyes of a hundred dead hookers stared at him from the depths of Wolf Lake.

         Shoulda been nicer to the dead whore ghost. Shoulda been nicer to the dead whore ghost, Alex chanted in his mind.

         Radonja gunned the motor, and Alex wrenched down on the tail gate. With the infusion of dread and adrenaline supercharging his muscles, he rocked the backend up and down.

         He could practically feel the corpse whores’ dead fish hands caressing the back of his neck.

         On the third try, the wheels caught traction just as Alex realized the error of his positioning. The Chevy charged backward. Alex attempted to backpedal a bare second before the trailer hitch struck him in the balls, knocking him beneath the squalling tires of his own truck.

         The pick-up bounced sickeningly. Radonja felt the impact through the steering wheel. He stomped the brakes, thinking I sure hope that was a dead hooker I just run over.

Karl Koweski is a displaced Chicagoan now living on top of a mountain in Alabama. He's been published throughout the small press and internet and in such places as Hustler Fantasies, Swank, Night Terrors and in anthologies like "It's All Good" from Manic D Press and "Trip the Light Fantastic".

He has a collection of stories "Playthings" out through Future Tense Press and several poetry chapbooks, most recently "Can't Kill A Man Born To Hang" published by Bottle of Smoke Press.

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