Charlie Keeps Using Up His Red Crayons

 Got another story for y'all.  Maybe a couple more down the pike in coming days or weeks.  I'm trying to pace them out because few people want to read that much of me.  Hell, some of y'all don't wanna read any of me, and fuck ye all sidewise for a bunch of good-for-shit limber-dicked cocksuckers if ya don't!  ;)

Don't think a lot of preamble is needed for this one, so, dive right in... after, of course, the customary handy-dandy Table of Discontents that'll get you more, more, MORE!  And all for the same low price of not-nothin'.   Even less if you've got a coupon.

My stuff:
And little descriptions of actual nightmares I’ve had




            “Wonderful,” Suzette said, hanging up the phone and looking wearily at Pamela.


            “Not that I was eavesdropping, but that sounded like a daycare thing,” Pamela said, dropping a stack of reports into Suzette’s in-bin and then shooting them a bird and shaking it.


            “Kindergarten.  Charlie’s teacher Mrs. Winner wonders if she could ‘borrow me for a minute’ when I pick Charlie up today.  I ask if he’s in some kind of trouble but they can’t ever just tell you anything.  They get off on using their evil teacher powers to make you wonder what’s going on.  Now I’m imagining all kinds of things, everything from a broken arm to grabbing some little girl’s cooter.”


            Pamela laughed.  “Well, it can’t be anything too bad, because whatever you say, Charlie is a little angel.”


            Suzette sighed and picked up the reports.  “Yes he is, but he’s a five-year-old angel.  Just barely.  And even a good five year old is capable of any damn thing.”




            “Malfeasance,” Suzette nodded, flipping pages.  “Oh god, the expenditure thing again?  I’m not going to be able to concentrate on these things while wondering what web of intrigue my beloved offspring may have become involved in.  We’ve gone over this, what, three, four times now?” 


            “Leo still thinks something doesn’t fit.”  Pamela silently mouthed something Suzette didn’t decipher but got the gist of it when she twirled a finger beside her temple, turned it into a gun, and clicked the thumb/hammer.


            Suzette checked the clock.  “Well, only around three hours of excruciating suspense.  I guess I can just fake work for that long.”


            Pamela snorted.  “Baby, we keep track of a factory that makes aluminum boats.  A factory we’ve never seen and which I sometimes think doesn’t, in fact, exist.  I’m not sure much negatory will happen if we just fake work every day.  I’m tempted to try it.”


            “That’d be malfeasance.”


            “Yeah, well, call my mama,” Pamela said, wiggling her butt as she left the office.  Suzette laughed and dropped the reports on her desk and went to the Internet to wait out the clock.




            There was absolutely no reason for it that Suzette could analyze, but Jessica Winner was an easy woman for her to dislike.  She was always cheerful and pleasant, Charlie liked her, but, mmmmf!, Suzette could get enough of her in about five minutes.  Being stranded in suspense for three hours or so didn’t help that situation one damn piddledy bit.


            “I’m sorry to bring you in here, Mrs. Frager…” Mrs. Winner started.


            “It’s McCall,” Suzette said.  “And Miss.  Jay and I recently divorced.”


            “Oh, I’m sorry,” Mrst. Winner said.


            Suzette thought about saying, “Don’t be, I’m not,” but just nodded with a little smile instead.  Mrs. Winner was probably thinking only of the effect on Charlie.  Charlie’s her job, I’m not. 


            “Anyway, I’m sorry to bring you in like this, but, well, I thought you should take a look at these.”  She handed a stack of paper across the little table where they were sitting, and Suzette thought she might shriek with laughter if it was Leo’s expenditure reports again.  “Charlie’s been drawing these.”


            Suzette picked up the papers.  A smiling man, a little more than a stick figure, was holding up a saw over a woman whose intestines were hanging out, a tangle of purple snakes amidst a lot of enthused red scribbling.  Suzette winced and felt a chill, looking at the next page where a couple of men had taken off the top of someone else’s head, exposing a lavender brain.  More waxy blood was scrubbed all around.  The next picture had more intestines and a rather well-drawn liver – even lobed – and heart being scooped out of broken-open ribs.  At the edge of the intestines was  a stripe of yellow.  Subcutaneous fat, Suzette thought.


            “Oh my god,” she said, turning to the next, showing a body with a stitched-up Y on the torso and a head that was just a red mess of splatter and exposed brain.  “What… Charlie drew this?  Are you sure?”


            Mrs. Winner nodded.  “I made a point of watching him to make sure, because… well, you wouldn’t want to make a mistake about this kind of thing.  Now, let me reassure you, his behavior is great.  He’s not doing anything violent, and he’s one of the sweetest, most thoughtful kids in the class, really.  He’s nice to his friends, he’s social, he’s very smart, he’s funny, nothing at all inappropriate other than… those.”


            “But these are enough!” Suzette said, looking through the drawings again.  She could smell the crayon wax, he’d scribbled it so heavily.  Red, red, red.


            “Well, I’d say,” Mrs. Winner sighed.  “When I ask him where he might have seen anything like this he just shrugs, gives me I-dunno face.  I thought maybe he’d tell you more.  Could it be, perhaps, something he’s seeing on television?  Or in some magazine somewhere?  I’m trying to imagine…”


            “No. No, I don’t watch anything like that, no.  And if I did, I certainly wouldn’t do it around Charlie!  My god.  Do they even have anything this graphic on television?”


            “Well, Walking Dead, Dexter, things like that can get pretty extreme, but if you say he’s not watching that sort of thing…”


            “No.  We’re all sitcoms and, mostly, DVR’ed PBS shows.  Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Donkey Hodie, Pepa Pig… I seldom get to watch anything from my age group at all, and wouldn’t watch Walking Dead if I could.  Charlie mostly monopolizes the television, but I don’t mind.  No, nothing… gory.  Nothing violent.”


            Mrs. Winner nodded.  “You say you’re divorced.  Maybe when he’s with his father?”


            Suzette shook her head.  “No, I can’t imagine.  Look, things didn’t pan out with Jay and I, but he’s a good dad. He’s rough around the edges, but he knows his flaws and doesn’t want to pass them on to Charlie.  He occasionally watches some things too rough for me, but he never did it when Charlie was around.”


            Mrs. Winner nodded.  “Still, you may want to check with him.  Sometimes dads decide that a kid’s ‘old enough’ for things when they aren’t.  You should see some of the gross toys kids bring in.  Or maybe he thinks he’s put Charlie to bed but Charlie’s sneaking out and peeking to see what daddy’s watching.  Hardly be the first kid.”


            Suzette nodded, not believing it for a second but unable to think of any other explanation.  “I’ll check with Jay about it, for sure.  May I keep these?”


            “Sure.  They’re Charlie’s work, and I’m not collecting ‘evidence.’   If I thought he was being abused, maybe, but I see no sign of that.  He’s a happy child, like I said, very sweet.  The only disturbing thing is…”  She gestured at the papers.


            “Well, thanks for alerting me to this.  This is a mystery.  I can’t imagine…”  She shook her head.   “I’m sorry, this is really upsetting.”


            “I know.  Plenty of kids draw gross things.  Boogers, poop, violent stuff.  You should see how bloody drawings get at Easter!  Makes me rethink the emphasis of religion, frankly.  But Charlie’s work is so… accurate.  And detailed for his age.  I mean, it’s great that he has so much talent, but…”   She pulled a face.


            Suzette nodded. Subcutaneous fat, my god, how would he even know it exists?   “I… I’ll look into this.”


            Mrs. Winner smiled and nodded, and they got up and went outside.  Charlie was sitting on the ground with a couple of little Latina girls, putting dirt onto plates.  Mud pies in the dry season, she supposed.  He looked up.  “We going home now?” he asked.


            “Yep.  C’mon, cowboy.”


            Charlie put his plate down, waved to the girls, then ran to Suzette.  “Am I in trouble?   I haven’t been bad, I think.”


            Mrs. Winner laughed and put her hand on his head.  “No, you haven’t been bad.  I told you it wasn’t that kind of meeting.”


            He looked at Suzette for confirmation and she smiled and tweaked his nose, but was still disturbed knowing that guts and dismemberment were in that little blonde-like-hers head.  Charlie reached up for her hand and they went to the car.  As Suzette pulled into traffic, now thicker than usual because Mrs. Winner’s delay had landed them in five o’clock traffic, Charlie said, “Tho, what did the want?”  He had a babyish lisp he was growing out of but it came back in if he was upset about something.


            “Oh, she wanted to know about some drawings you made,” Suzette said, trying to ease into it.  She was very disturbed but there was no reason to let Charlie see it.


            “Oh,” he said, pulling and twisting his fingers, which he suddenly found very interesting.  He looked like he was having trouble pulling off a ring that wasn’t there.


            “Did you think maybe that’s what it might be about?”


            He shrugged, very theatrical, so hard he bounced in the seat a bit.  “Maybe.”


            “Where did you see that stuff, like you were drawing?”


            He shrugged again and squirmed.  “I don’t know.  I didn’t thee them anywhere.”


            “You must’ve seen something like that, though.  On TV?  In a book, maybe?  Some other kid’s gross toys?   Is it something your dad maybe showed you?”


            Charlie shook his head no, harder than necessary, and squirmed some more.  “I just saw it in my head.”


            “Like made it up?”


            He nodded.  “That’s what people are like, inside.  It’th not bad.  It’th justh how it ith.”


            Suzette frowned, pulling up at a red light.  “Well, yes, but how did you know about it?  You must have seen it somewhere.”


            “I don’t.. I didn’t thee it anyplace, I just know some stuff.”


            “Just know some stuff, huh?”




            She sighed and shook her head.  They had an encyclopedia at home, with anatomy overlays, clear sheets that showed organs.  But it was all very clean, so cleaned up it wasn’t even gross anymore.  She didn’t remember Charlie ever looking at it, but even if he had it wouldn’t explain the gory dissections, saws and stitches and all that blood.  She rubbed her fingers together, still feeling the thick wax-blood.


            “So why do you draw that stuff?’


            He shrugged, squirmed, milked his fingers.  “Just something to draw. It’th not bad to know stuff like doctors, right?”


            “No, it’s not bad.  You’re not in any trouble, sweetheart.  Nobody’s mad at you, you haven’t done anything wrong, really, we’re just surprised that you know about those things.  We’d like to find out how you learned about it, because it’s a little old for you.  It’s a strange thing for a little boy to know, is all.  But it’s not naughty.”


            Charlie shrugged.  “I just know some stuff.  Can we get McDonald’s?”


            Suzette sighed.  “Yeah, cowboy, we can get McDonald’s.”





            She’d tried again later and gotten nothing but more shrugs and squirms and invisible-ring action so she laid off before she’d give him a complex.  While he watched Donkey Hodie she looked through his room but no medical journals had mysteriously shown up, and she doubted any publication would have pictures like that in them to begin with.  All the ones she thumbed through in waiting rooms just had cellular level illustrations that made you feel dumb when you didn’t know what you were looking at.


            Her ex-husband Jay was kind of a redneck, and getting red-neckier now that he was on his own.  Hunting, fishing, increased alcohol consumption.  She’d smelled weed in his truck, she thought.  Maybe he’d cleaned a deer in front of Charlie and Charlie applied what he’d seen to people?   She didn’t think Jay would do a thing like that, but she’d discovered she didn’t really know him as well as she’d thought she did, and that was much of the reason they divorced.  He’d been getting angrier with the years, an anger she couldn’t understand, though he never got violent with her or even threatened to (although he’d said plenty of mean things, but so had she), and whatever else she could fault him for, he loved Charlie.  Crap husband, good dad.


            But, lying in bed, thinking over those pictures, she couldn’t help entertaining the absolutely absurd idea that Jay maybe was just really good at covering things up.  Maybe he’d become a serial killer and let Charlie watch him get rid of bodies on some of his custody weekends.


            No, that’s just crazy.   Jay could be an asshole, but… no, he wouldn’t kill people.


            Of course, that’s what they also said about Ted Bundy, and that’s why he was able to be Ted Bundy for so long.  The people you could suspect wouldn’t be successful.


            Did the guy smiling and holding the saw look like Jay?  Maybe.  Same color hair.  But Charlie’s art skills were a five-year-old’s and other than “brown-haired man” it could be anybody.  And in some pictures there was more than one man in on the dismembering.


            Jay and some buddy? 


            That was crazy.  Silly.


            But where and how else could he see the stuff? The liver he drew even had fat scribbled around it.  The heart wasn’t a valentine – it had four aortas or whatever the pipes were called, the arteries.


            All that blood.  Her little boy was seeing ALL THAT BLOOD.





            Suzette had to go to work again on Saturday – that happened a lot – and Jay had to work on Saturday, too, which also happened a lot.  Jay worked construction and if it rained out a day his contractor expected the crew to make it up on Saturday.  So even though this was Jay’s weekend with Charlie, Suzette had to take him to work with her.  Charlie never seemed to mind this;  he liked her co-workers, and Suzette kept a few toys exclusively at her office that he could play with, and, best of all, she let him play video games on her Kindle.  They were all preschool level games so she knew he wasn’t seeing any gore there.


            Finally a little before five, Jay showed up at the office to pick Charlie up, and Suzette took him aside before Charlie spotted him.


            “What’s up, babe?” Jay asked.  He still called her “babe,” by force of habit, and it irritated her, made her think Jay hadn’t fully accepted that they were really divorced.  Suzette stared at him a second, standing there with his beard longer than he’d worn it when they were married, sawdust stuck to his cap, a dumb look on his face that was no longer endearing.  No, he wasn’t killing people and chopping them up, she just couldn’t see it.  Especially not with his son around.  And none of the men in the drawings had a beard, anyway.


            Instead of saying anything, she handed him the drawings.


            He looked down at them, paged through them, then looked up.


            “Jesus Christ, Sooze, you ain’t telling me Charlie drew this stuff?” he said, holding them out to her.


            “That’s exactly what I’m telling you.  Any idea why he might draw them?”


            He frowned.  “What?  No!   Damn, Sooze, no.  Where would I even get pictures like this to show him… provided I was sick or stupid enough to do it?  Which, by the way, I ain’t.  No way.”  He shook his head.


            “You aren’t showing him horror movies or TV shows?”


            “Hell no.  I wouldn’t show a kid nothing like that.  We watched Frankenstein, the old 30’s Karloff one, on Svengoolie, but that’s tame.  He wasn’t scared.  I wouldn’t even let him watch the Hammer one.  No blood for my son.  Maybe when he’s twelve we’ll watch Hammer, but now?  No, nothing like that.  Traumatizing my kid’s not my idea of a good time, Sooze.”


            She sighed.  “I know.  I just… I can’t figure where this is coming from.  I’m sure not showing him anything like that.  And he’s never out of my sight, so I was thinking maybe you… I don’t know.  There’s nothing like this in your apartment?  No magazines, gory comics, anything?”


            “Naw, nuh-uh.  I don’t even like that kind of stuff myself.”


            “You haven’t taken him hunting, where maybe he saw a deer getting gutted…?”


            Jay shook his head hard enough to spill sawdust off his cap.  “Nope.  My Uncle Danny took me hunting when I was eight and that was a mistake.  I was too young for it, horrified by the whole thing.  If I take Charlie hunting that’ll be another when-he’s-twelve thing, at the earliest, and that’ll depend on what kind of twelve year old he is.  I’ve taken him fishing a few times but I don’t even clean the fish in front of him.  I mean, I think he could handle that, it’s fish, but I just figure… why do it, you know?  It’s kind of gross.  I know I’m not as super-smart as you want, but I’m using judgement, babe.  I love that boy and don’t want to hurt him.  That… that sick shit ain’t coming from me, I promise you.”


            “Well, it’s not coming from me either,” she said, defensively.


            “I’m sure it ain’t.  I know you wouldn’t expose him to that.  Hell, you wouldn’t expose yourself to it, for that matter.  And he’s never out of my sight.  Does he go over to friends’ houses a lot?”


            “No, not really.  Not without me there.   His play-dates are my chat-dates.”


            Jay shook his head.  “Well, I can’t figure it.  What does he say about it?”


            “Nothing. He’s evasive.  Says he sees it in his head.  I guess he could have violent fantasies, kids do that, but what worries me is, those pictures are accurate.  I mean, they’re crude, five-year-old level scrawl, but the liver has fat on it…”   Suzette felt her eyes sting.


            “I Can’t figure any of it.  I’ll talk to him, see if I can find anything out.”


            “Thanks.  Maybe he’ll tell you something he won’t tell me.  Shit, I don’t know.”


            “Is his behavior weird?  I mean, he seems normal with me…”


            “No, he’s fine.  Nothing weird.  His teacher says he’s the sweetest kid in his class.  It’s all just the pictures.”


            Jay nodded.  “Well, at least they don’t seem to be bothering him.  Maybe it’s just… a thing.  Maybe another kid showed him something, told him something.”


            Suzette shrugged.  “See what you can get out of him.  But be easy.”


            Jay nodded and went to Suzette’s office.  “What’s aaaaahhhp, sport?  How you doin’?”


            “DADDY!”  Charlie squealed, running around Suzette’s desk to hug him.  Jay swept him up, kissed him, rubbed his beard on him, slung him around and blew  a horrible-sounding fart noise on his tummy and made him laugh hard.


            “Excuse YOU,  Jay!  God!” Pamela said, passing by.


            “Did it with my mouth, swear to god,” Jay said.


            Charlie, swallowed under the cap he’d yanked off his daddy’s head, laughed. “Nuh-uh, he did it with his BUTT!”


            “You little liar!  You did it with YOUR butt!” Jay said, turning him upside down and swinging him back and forth, making Charlie giggle.  “Tellin’ girls lies, at your age.  Terrible.  Awful.  Ahead of your time.”


            “And all kinds of funny,” Pamela said, stepping into her office.


            Suzette laughed and watched Jay throw Charlie over his shoulder and carry him down the hall, chattering at him a mile a minute.  Jay was usually a hard guy to get to talk – one of the problems she’d had with him – but he was completely different with Charlie.  She was happy to see it.


            When she sat down at her desk, though, she was less happy to see what Charlie had been drawing;  a wide-eyed, teeth-bared corpse with a man lifting out long sloppy ropes of viscera, drawn with as much detail as he could manage with her pens.




            Charlie drew more butchery at school.  Jay hadn’t been able to get any information out of him, and Suzette had felt convinced by Jay’s reaction that it wasn’t coming from him.  But that still left the question of where Charlie could have picked it up.


            The next weekend Suzette had Charlie at work again.  After playing hide and seek with Pamela – who had to be “it” every time --  Charlie settled into the corner of Suzette’s office and was very intently drawing.  He looked almost maniacal, scrubbing at the paper with a red marker.  Suzette felt her skin crawl even though she couldn’t’ see what he was drawing.  But she knew.


            Leo, who was even less good with children than he was with adults, but at least tried with children, came in to discuss yet another round of expenditure reports, and when he was done, leaned over to notice Charlie and said, “What’re you working on there, Charlie?”   He saw, then frowned at Suzette and left the room.   Charlie didn’t bother looking up.


            Suzette tried to work for a few minutes, then decided she should attempt to explain to Leo what he’d seen.  After  a quick look at Charlie’s new project – a corpse with its face peeled off, eyes out, bones protruding from a mangled arm and guts excised, even worse than usual, bad car wreck or industrial accident, chewed-up-to-hell – she went to Leo’s office.


            “Ummm… I guess I should explain my son.  Or try to.”


            Leo shrugged.  “Kids like gross things.”


            “I really don’t know where he’s getting it, though.  We’ve never let him see anything like that, but he draws that stuff all the time now.”


            Leo shrugged and shifted in his chair, never comfortable interacting with people, even when not discussing dissection.  “Well, at least he picked the right place for it,” he said, with a nervous laugh.


            Suzette raised an eyebrow.  “An accounting office for a fishing boat company?”


            “Well, not that,” Leo said.  “But years back, before this building was switched over to office space, this was a mortuary.  Your office was the room where the coroner did autopsies.”






                                                                        THE END


(Copyright 2022 by me my damnself)