Chas was freaking out like a savage beast over the accusation. “Look at me, I’m wasting away! What the hell would I do with all that food anyway!?”
“Well then where are you getting the money to stay fucking high all the time? Drugs aren't free, Chas!” Dexi demanded an answer to her rational question. “The cupboards are fucking bare!”
Raging hard like a broken record, he repeated his words, “I’m fucking wasting away!” He kicked over a chair and gave the look of all hell’s fury to the child, redirecting the blame. “Maybe it was that goddamned kid!”
“That’s low Chas. Just be a man,” Raymondo replied while trying to get the young girl behind him.
Ward was angry beyond words at this situation and felt almost responsible. Deep down he knew this would happen. But being too weak to really do anything, he just kind of let Dexi take the reigns. He could feel his sores squirming, hurting so bad. They had become infected, and he could feel the blood bubbling in his lungs like a meat-made water-pipe.
“GOD DAMNIT!’ Dexi bellowed. “We could all hear you, every night, man, rummaging through the shit, leaving the apartment. Where were you going, Chas, there is nowhere to go!"
Ward spoke up, “And what is with that padlock on your door?”
True to form Chas turned to Ward and said “Up yours, queer! Oh, I bet you’d like that!”
Then he turned to Angel And Chelsea. “Yeah I said queer. You dykes got a problem with that?” His words were filled with the vitriol of snarling hatred.
Out of character for Ward’s usually calm and rational demeanor, he flipped, a pale and sunken-eyed ghost, punching Chas square in the jaw, sending his drugged and malnourished body to the floor like a sack of wheat.
Ward jumped on top of Chas, repeatedly punching and spitting the poisoned blood from his lungs right into Chas’ eyes and mouth, with rage-filled glee. Ward’s lesions were bleeding hard, and with every punch, small showers of infection-sticky red wigglers cascaded out of his shirt sleeves and scattered about the room.
Everyone in the room noticed this, the worms, but it was Raymondo who finally pulled Ward off the cowering and battered Chas.
Then, that moment of post-rage peace arrived; really only the calm before the storm.
Chas just lay there like a freshly-hangered fetus, sniveling mixed-blood bubbles out of his shattered face.
They all watched Ward carefully as he breathed laboriously and hard, his shirt sticking to the seeping lesions underneath. Ward let out an exhausted, pained giggle. “Secrets out, I guess.” The statement was riddled with embarrassed, self-deprecating sarcasm.
“How long?” asked Chelsea.
Ward removed his shirt. His death-pallor flesh was blotched in the frightening technicolor sickness of AIDS-ravaged putrescence. What was worse than that, though, was his creeping skin. It looked as though dried rice was squirming through jelly beneath a translucent, beige latex sack.
“The lesions, about three weeks. The worms...about three days.” A half-innocent, half-guilty smirk smeared across his removed facade of acceptance. “It really hurts, man. Diet's bad, stress. Been outta meds for awhile. I figured ‘maggot therapy’ would be an option.” He paused, eyeing up the slithering sores covering his body. “These fuckers...these fuckers don’t just eat the rotten tissue, like they said, man. I really though that maybe...I don’t know. They consume, defecate, and reproduce inside your body. I’ve been pissing worms, shitting worms...I’m in bad shape.”
A disturbed silence of unspoken queries and multiply-shared fears hung over the room like an obnoxious, bright opera house chandelier.
Dexi covered Anna’s terrified, teary eyes, holding the child close to her. She didn’t fully comprehend, but she understood. “Is there anything...”
“There isn’t, but thank you.”
A loud thumping began to emanate from the floor where Chas lay. Attention drawn, they all turned to see Chas repeatedly banging his skull against the dirty, cream-colored linoleum floor. He was muttering a stream of half-intelligible insults and profanities, mostly just gibberish. His skull may have been bleeding, but there was already so much of the red stuff from Ward's two-fisted assault, they couldn’t tell. They all just moved back.
Except for Anna. It was hard for her to move away as Chas grabbed her ankle and yanked her down hard. He was tearing at her ragged blue dress, pulling her closer to his scarlet-frothed mouth and gnashing teeth. He was trying to bite her.
Instinctively, her hand reached down and grabbed onto his wrist. Chas arched his neck out quick and caught the soft flesh of her arm between his filthy teeth. The child let out a yelp, not unlike a puppy being stepped on.
Dexi’s brain had finally reached total overload: too much panic. Too much stimuli.
Too much adrenaline.
In one furious and graceful movement, she pulled the hunting knife from her thigh, clutching it with both hands. Blade down, she pounced upon him with uncanny silence, the knife snapping down and crackling through his rib cage to the hilt. She yanked the knife downward, enough psycho-brute force possessing her slight frame to rip the blade down to his stomach, each rib collapsing with a muffled snap as she did so.
She tore down, all the way down. Through his abdomen, over his groin. She pulled out and stabbed hard, once more, into his crotch; twisting the knife over into his penis.
Raymondo scooped Anna up and rushed her out of the room.
A spasm not unlike an orgasm zapped through Dexi, causing her a hard shudder. Then it hit her stomach: a temporary wave of first-kill guilt and nausea overwhelmed her, and vomit spewed from her quivering lips.
Then the calm. An air of strange, accomplished justice washed over her; the pride of doing the right thing.
Smirking with vile satisfaction, Dexi stood. “I should’ve done that two goddamned months ago.”