The Bizarre Conclusion of Walter Germany
John Corley was awarded an Honorable Mention in Fiction in the 2018 Prison Writing Contest.
Every year, hundreds of imprisoned people from around the country submit poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and dramatic works to PEN America’s Prison Writing Contest, one of the few outlets of free expression for the country’s incarcerated population. On September 13, PEN America will celebrate the winners of this year’s contest with a live reading at the Brooklyn Book Festival, Break Out: Voices from the Inside.
The Bizarre Conclusion of Walter Germany
Walter Germany lived in a bubble. At 67, he was physically beat down from years of heavy lifting and mop-slopping at one job or another, plagued by pinched nerves in his back and rheumatoid arthritis in his hands, damn near blind and emotionally apathetic. His thin gray hair was perpetually greasy, his thick-lensed, black-rimmed geek glasses heavy on his hooked nose. He shaved when the boss told him to, and bathed every other night if he felt like it.
Walter lived alone in the same corner clapboard he grew up in and later inherited, across the now-heavily traveled avenue from the now-gone-to-shit Claiborne Elementary School in a once-upon-a-time decent residential sector of Shreveport, Louisiana. The house was like him, unkempt and weathered, sparse, undernourished St. Augustine and stubborn Johnson grass struggling upward, scraggly oak limbs and shriveled liana vines dangling downward. It was the oldest residence along the avenue, from Hearne at the west end to Jewella at the east. He hadn’t painted in years, and didn’t own a mower. When the city left eyesore notices tucked between the time-eaten screen and rickety door frame—always while he was at work—Walter would collect his rusty sling blade from the tiny backyard garage and whack the dense greenery into barely acceptable shape so that the follow-up inspection would earn him a begrudged pass until the next warning.
The fact was, Walter figured his time on the corner was running out. Commercial development had been creeping closer for years, pissy little businesses feeding off Hearne Avenue’s encroaching marketing delta. Greenhouses and glass repair, siding outlets and even an oilfield pipe supplier, of all things, that ate up nearly an entire block on the other side of Old Mansfield Road. Not a lot of convenience or dainty home specialty stores—those hung close to Hearne south and the better parts of town. The whiter parts, Walter grunted when he thought about it. Couldn’t build a fancy business or a nice house along Claiborne Avenue, not anymore, not since the blacks and browns moved in with their drugs and guns and ruined everything they touched. Crooks, all of them, a collective blight on the face of law-abiding citizens like him. Which led him to purchase a gun from a guy at work. “Gotta protect the homefront,” Walter wheezed. “Yeah,” his buddy agreed, “goddamn animals takin’ over the country.”
Not just the animals, Walter thought. The government. The internet. The phone company. The banks. The A-rabs. The stinking doctors. Life just wasn’t worth living anymore. If he had money, maybe he could move up to Montana or someplace with expansive vistas and few neighbors, and he could work on some rich oilman’s retirement ranch, feed the horses and cattle, repair fences, things like that. Maybe get room and board and a small paycheck to keep him going. Lots of rivers up in those parts. He could fish, maybe even go up into the mountains and become a hermit, live off the land. Except, of course, Walter didn’t know a lot about fishing and he sure as hell wouldn’t last long on his own in the mountains. Just as well. He could barely afford to fill up his ratty truck, much less start a new life.
He’d worked at the Agra-Pro plant for 12 years now. It was handy—a mile and a half down Claiborne to the rail yard and bam, he was there—and he could handle the work well enough, and he felt fortunate to have walked in just when they were looking for another cleanup guy. The plant made feed for livestock. Mushed it together into pellets, dumped it into railcars and shipped it all over the South. The young guys unloaded incoming rail cars, hooked up the hoses and beat the steel sides with heavy sledge hammers to make the blood—or bone—or fish—or whatever type-meal slide through the floor trap where the hose sucked it up and spit it into the appropriate silo to await processing. Walter came behind the young guys and shoveled up the spilled meal—“cleaning the tracks,” they called it—and carted it over to a scrap bin for later distribution.
The senior guys ran the pellet mills, a computerized network of separators, crushers, and dispensers that actually mixed the meal into something appealing to the livestock palate. The mills were on the third floor, above the constantly agitating separators, in a giant, dirty, noisy, aluminum-sided building referred to simply as “the mill”—which was also the name the employees gave the entire operation (“Where do you work?” “At that stinkin’ feed mill.”). Sometimes the actual mills, twin behemoths that spun like cement mixers with pencil eraser-sized pellet holes in the shiny steel walls through which the mushy product was squeezed and routed into dual dryer ovens, clogged and bogged down. When they did, they often blew one of the giant fuses in the massive, dusty electrical cabinet along the wall and then it was all hands on deck. Walter would be right there helping the operator dig out the clog with a little square headed spade and get the plant back on line. An electrician was usually around during daylight hours to replace the fuses, but if not the operator kept a spare or two and could as easily swap them out as wait for the electrician, especially on the graveyard shift when the maintenance guy was drunk or sleeping most of the time.
Walter worked three to eleven. He didn’t like being around the electrical panel, all those volts and amps surging through the crud-blanketed mechanisms, and he didn’t like the pellet mill in general. It was loud and it stunk like the worst kind of shit. Like infected shit. Diseased shit. Rotted shit. The whole damned plant stunk, but the mill especially. The smell stuck to him, his clothes, his truck, his house. And the rats, the incredibly huge rats that strolled the girders up there, undoubtedly drawn by the stench and the promise of freshly-milled pellets, made his skin crawl. They were too stocky, too cocky, their gaze too confident, their tails horribly long and corrugated, their mouths constantly twitching as though muttering obscenities and warnings under their breath. He’d rather clean the tracks than service the mill, so his work partner Willie handled the routine house cleaning and Walter steered clear between clogs.
One night while Walter was at work, someone broke into his house. Went in through a side window where the dense foliage blocked the avenue in front, Prospect Road at the intersection and DeSoto Street behind. Just as clean as you please, the intruders ripped off the matted screen, broke out the latched window glass, scooted right inside. Didn’t steal a thing—wasn’t anything worth stealing, not even Walter’s old picture tube TV—but the place was torn up pretty bad. They smashed smashables, kicked holes in the sheetrock, turned the furniture upside down. Emptied out the noisy old General Electric fridge and left half-eaten leftovers and smashed beer cans strewn from one wall to the other. Pissed all over the place. And gobs of dirty brown feathers, scattered about from some unknown source.
Walter returned home when his shift was done and found it just like that, vandalized. His house. His home. His sanctuary. He wouldn’t call the cops, though. He hated cops. Cops were the government’s hit men. The enemy. He didn’t need cops snooping around the place too. So he bought the gun.
The pistol, a classic faux-pearl-handled Saturday night special .22 revolver, didn’t do him any good when a couple of weeks later vandals struck again, squeezing through the same window while he was at work, making a mess of the place, slurping through his food, pissing and scattering feathers, and this time smashing his TV. His little weapon, nestled beneath his mattress, was overlooked.
“I donno what to do,” he told Willie the next evening at work. “I got no way to protect my property. I mean, I gotta work, you know? I can’t sit around and guard the house all the time.”
“Git yersef a dawg,” the not-so-closet wino suggested. “Dawgs bark. Crooks don’t like dawgs.”
“Goddamn black kids, no doubt. I’ll betcha any amount o’ money it’s black kids.”
“Sure it’s black kids. Who else would it be?”
“Gotta be blacks.”
“Could be spics. Lotsa spics live around you, don’t they?”
“Yeah, but more blacks. They’re all over the place.”
“You could always move.”
“Yeah, where to, Willie? And with what? Takes money to scratch your balls these days, and mine’s been itchin’ a long time. I’d like to catch ’em—”
“What would you do, huh? What would you do if you did catch ’em? Give ’em a good tongue-lashin’?”
“I’d do more than that. I catch ’em in my house, I’ll shoot the shit out of ’em. Law says I can shoot ’em if they’re in my house, and that’s what I’ll do.”
“Jes don’t shoot ’em with my gun, alright? It’s got numbers on it.”
“It’s my gun, alright? And so what if it’s got numbers on it? You ain’t bought it new, that’s for sure. Damn thing’s so old it prob’ly don’t even fire.”
“Hell it don’t!”
“Broke my goddamn TV, goddamn sonsabitches.”
If Walter was irate following the second break-in, he was obsessed following the third. This time the vandals raked long grooves in his sticky, discolored wallpaper, shattered light bulbs, sliced open his couch, and snapped off the oven door. Whoever did it spent significant time in the house. A brand new six-pack lay flattened in front of the fridge. Walter’s bed was upended, the musty mattress dragged into the living room, and again there were feathers and piss on the floor and countertops.
The gun was safe, though. He’d begun carrying it with him in the truck. After the third break-in, he carried it on himself. And he didn’t tell Willie or anyone else he’d been hit again. Because something had to be done and things might get messy.
The intrusions affected Walter Germany on deep levels. He didn’t have a damned thing worth a damned thing in the world, yet unknown hooligans were ransacking what he did have, entering his private residence at will and pissing in the carpet that already smelled like road kill anyway. Ripping up the upholstery. Drinking up the beer. Walter didn’t bother anyone; he didn’t go into people’s houses while they were off trying to make a living cleaning up other people’s messes; he didn’t ruin property just because he could. No, Walter minded his own business. What was his was his, and everything else belonged to everyone else, and he was okay with that. For the most part. He’d been dealt a certain hand and he had to play it. Which is what others should do. Except, some people cheated. Walter felt out in the wind. He was wide open. He was vulnerable. He was a target. They were watching. They knew he worked nights, so they waited. They were ruining his stuff. Mocking him. Next time they might torch the place, and then what would he do? He was a smelly old man with nothing and no one. That was the truth that kept ringing in his ears. Smelly old man with nothing and no one. Smelly old man with nothing and no one.
Bullshit. He had one thing. He had a gun.
Walter took his annual vacation to coincide with the local school district’s spring break, two weeks after the third home invasion. He had a plan. He had to set an example. The problem with America is that no one stood up to the riff-raff anymore, they just handed everything over and apologized for not having more. Not Walter. That was not the way he was going to live. He’d show ’em.
During the hours he normally would be home, Walter trolled the neighborhood in his little red Toyota, its cabin reeking of the feed mill and its ruptured tailpipe spewing dense clouds of blue toxins behind it. Down Claiborne to Mansfield, left on Mansfield to DeSoto, two blocks north then left on DeSoto back to Prospect, then right on Claiborne at the intersection near his house to Hearne and around again. He’d slow when he passed a group of kids hanging out in someone’s yard, or on a corner, or walking the sidewalk. He’d slow and stare them down. They’d stare back most of the time, defiant little pricks whose bravery came only in gang security. Around and around he drove, day after day, staring, tooting his horn when they shouted obscenities, taunting them, tempting them, leading them by the nose.
He suspected the group responsible for his repeated break-ins lived up Claiborne toward Hearne, in a shithole two-story house beside what used to be Morgan’s Store before old Morgan was robbed clean out of town. They were there every day, lounging around on the porch and under the tree, five or six black punks with their shorts hanging off their asses, guzzling beer and no doubt high on drugs. Probably dropouts. Delinquents. Future prison inmates. He had to pass by on alert because the punks were onto him. They jeered and whooped; he gave them the finger. They threw beer bottles at him, dented the driver’s door and cracked the passenger side windshield. But still he’d drive by so they could see him, so they’d get good and pissed. So they’d want to come piss on his floor again.
During the hours when he normally worked, Walter hid the truck in the garage, having with much trouble repaired the warped, bulky double doors so he could close them and no one could tell if he was home or not. He sat in the living room with his back to the wall, flipping through an ancient Playboy, sipping cheap whiskey from the bottle—beer no longer did it for him—under the hum of the thug-bent oscillating fan, waiting. He drank until the sun went down, gun on the sofa beside him, then drank in the shadows of the bathroom bulb until he fell asleep in the wee hours. The next day the cycle began again: drive, bait, hide, wait.
What am I doing? What am I thinking? Walter peered through a soft haze at the gun in his right hand resting on his thigh, the bottle in his left. It was the fourth night. What am I going to do, shoot someone? Kill someone? Here, now? Do you want to do it? At this point in your life do you want to start a war? Just point and shoot? Then what? Call the cops? Suppose you shoot someone and call the cops. They’ll say you sat here and waited—no, they can’t prove that. I’m just a guy in my house, on vacation from work, and someone breaks in and I shoot them. Self-defense. Stand your ground and all that. Hey man, it was me or them. Look at me, I got nothin’. I had to defend my life. He broke in and threatened me. I told him I had a gun but he kept coming—
Enough of that. Don’t panic. If something happens just take it as it comes. Deal with it. You’ve dealt with things before.
But what if the other guy had a gun too? A bigger gun, one he practiced with a lot, one he used to rob people, maybe even kill them? A wave of anxiety rolled over in Walter’s stomach. What if there were more than one? Say, five or six? Five or six young hardened thugs breaking into his house, confronting him, and he was sitting there half-baked with bad eyes, shaky hands and a thirty-year-old six-shot .22 revolver with which he was pretty sure he couldn’t hit the wall from where he was sitting if he tried. What if the vandals rushed him? Grabbed his gun and beat him up? He sure as hell wasn’t young anymore. Walter saw himself bloody and broken, lying on the floor in front of his moldy sofa, watching helplessly as his assailants poured gasoline all around him, in his kitchen, in his bedroom, on his body. And the flames, the god-awful flames burning away his hair and clothes, his skin, his flesh as he screamed the piteous final scream of his miserable life, the pain, the sheer unbearable anguish of fire charring his bones—dear god, is this how it ends?
With considerable effort, Walter wrestled himself from this dark place back to the moment, back to the little man with the little gun, back to page one: What the hell am I doing? The house was silent except for the fan’s sweeping lull. His house, this little plot on a busy corner in the middle of a city he no longer recognized. Yes, what the hell was he doing? Here. What was he doing here? The situation had become untenable—he couldn’t define the word but he’d heard it used and it seemed appropriate to describe an out of control world that was slowly crushing him. He couldn’t stop the inevitable, Walter realized, the loss of his spot in life to the hoodlum hoards encroaching like grass over a grave.
Used to, he could sit out under the front yard’s scraggly canopy and watch the elementary kids romping and roaring at recess at the monolithic red brick schoolhouse across Claiborne Avenue. He enjoyed their laughter and squeals. Sometimes they traversed the broad green recreation yard and braved the sidewalk facing his house, and they pointed and cried out, “That’s Mr. Germany’s house!” Of course they knew of him, the mysterious old man who lived in the dark little cottage on the corner, the guy the adults instructed them to stay away from even though the sheer mystery of the man and the house beckoned them like little moths—they wanted to cross the road and sneak through the weeds and explore, but oh god what if they were caught? What would he do to them? Walter smiled.
The kids back then eased the burdens of his heart, made him feel more connected with life because, yes, contrary to the strains of imagination, he was once a child, not so happy and light-footed and carefree as those across the street, but still he remembered what it was like, those electrifying moments of one grand discovery or another—a glittery rock crystal plucked from the soil, the first time he looked at a clock and actually interpreted the time correctly, walking alone beside the roadway, kicking a can, chasing a wind-tossed scrap of paper—
Oh yes, Walter remembered. He empathized with those little kids who were now adults scratching away to make a living. The romanticized bond was gone now. Now a high fence encircled the school like a prison. The kids were mostly black, Hispanic, and mixed. They romped and roared, yes, but they also carried knives and drugs and tore up any and everything they could get their hands on. Walter could not relate to these kids. He knew that in a year or two, they too would be kicking down the door of the house on the corner for no other reason than a door was there. Little vandals. Little thugs. He gripped the .22 as tightly as his gnarled fingers would allow. What will I do? I’ll show you what I’ll do.
The whiskey was sweet and burned his gut. His head was heavy and he wanted to sleep, but it was early yet. He heard the traffic outside swooshing by, the indifferent drivers hurrying impatiently to their impatient spouses or clandestine rendezvous, unaware of his vigil, the whine of brakes at the overhead stop light, the acceleration of motors by green light command. He thought he heard the casual orchestrations of well-concealed crickets, but that, he decided, was probably not true. An auditory illusion, a memory of less congested times. Crickets have better sense than to squander their songs in the city.
Look at yourself, sitting there with your teeny pop gun, defending your castle against what? Where are the intruders? Remember what they say: The best defense is a good offense, right? Isn’t that what they say? So maybe you should get off your ass and bring the fight to them. Take it to ’em! Show them who you are. They’re hanging out on the corner like they always do, right? Slouching all over one another, throwing cans at passing cars. All you have to do is drive by and throw a little lead back at them. That’ll teach ’em. That’ll let ’em know you’re not one to trifle with. They won’t EVER disrespect you again. But wait, you need a bigger gun. A rifle, maybe, a semiautomatic, something that ‘ll spit death and destruction before they have time to pull up their pants.
Yeah, right. Where do you think you can get a rifle from? You got no money, you got no balls to steal and wouldn’t know where to steal from, you got nothin’ but that peashooter in your hand. You try pulling off a drive-by and those punks will drag you out of your truck and beat you to death. Besides, that’s murder. Witnesses. No self-defense there, buddy. They’ll ship your ass off to Angola and you’ll never see the light of day again. You ain’t no spring chicken anymore. Just stay put, relax, let them come to you. Of course, they probably know you’re in here. They probably saw you drive in. You know they’re watching. Scopin’ the joint out. They know you’re here and they ain’t comin’ until you’re not here. So what are you gonna do? Just sit there like a knot on a log or go to bed?
And it was while he was thinking, doubting, wondering, vacillating—they came.
He heard them grunting and whispering, bumping around outside as if they were certain the house was empty and only minimal stealth was required to stay out of sight of passing traffic. They were in the yard, at the side of the house, at the same window, boarded up again, the obvious access of choice. Walter’s booze-blurred eyes widened, his heart slammed against his ribs. He instinctively threw the gun up toward the sound of planking being peeled from the window frame. His hands shook. The pistol rattled. His lungs shrank. Wait! Not ready! Got to—ambush! Hide! Oh Jesus here they come—
The flimsy paneling Walter nailed over the broken window pulled away easily. He got to his feet, steadied by adrenaline suddenly surging through his cholesterol-caked veins. Beat it quickly and quietly into the kitchen, partitioned from the living room by a sheetrock divider that provided strategic cover—stiff knees popped when he dropped low and peeked around and saw the thin plastic blinds ruffle, then fingers—fingers!—separate the blades. He ducked back, convinced that black eyes were peering through those blades, scanning the room, double-checking that it was empty and vulnerable. Eyes. Fingers and eyes. He was under attack.
But wait. Those were mighty odd-looking fingers. Were they fingers at all?
Don’t panic don’t panic don’t panic. Let ’em get in then blast ’em. Surprise—you got the element of surprise. Let ’em get in then jump out and draw down on ’em. You gotta shoot ’em. Gotta send that message. Six bullets, right? I hope that’s enough. That ‘ll be enough. I hope.
He heard them enter clunkily, taking no special care to be quiet, as though what they were doing was legal. But it wasn’t legal. The law was on his side. They were breaking and entering. He was a victim. He had to defend himself. He had a right.
Walter eased his head around the corner for a peek. At first his brain could not translate the visuals it was receiving. One intruder was inside. The other was pulling itself through the window. Itself. It. Because this was no human being, white, black, brown, or pinstriped. Walter’s face twitched. A sweat bead rolled down his spine. He froze, eyes glued to the impossible spectacle in his living room. Watched the second vandal plop down from the window. Watched both of them pause, scan the surroundings, sniffing, listening, determining whether they were truly alone.
Strafed by fear and incomprehension, the old man drew back behind the partition. It was hard to breathe. The things in his house were some sort of horrific mutation or alien interloper, overgrown lizards with clawed, plodding pads at the end of stubby but muscular limbs, extended torsos with ridged spines and repulsive tails that swished back and forth. Their skin was mottled dark green and black, almost Army forest camouflage. But the heads were something else. Oversized and heavily feathered, fierce-looking yellow beaks snapping, thin, double-pronged bloody tongues darting in and out like a serpent’s. And oh my god they’re cluckin’. And hissin’.
The creatures moved unhurriedly, their big red eyes blinking madly and heads snapping back and forth like famished birds of prey. Hawks. Chicken-feathered hawks. No, carrion eaters. They look like vultures with snake-tongues and lizard bodies. That doesn’t even make sense! And those things in there do? Even so, after shaking his head clear and stealing another peek, Walter suddenly experienced a warm rush like a hard hit of heroin ignite in his belly and diffuse throughout his body. He felt the gun in his hand. The gun. The power. The sheer incontestable power of the death instrument in his own palm. What now? the voice in his head asked again. Sweat poured down his face. Amazingly, he grinned. Like the old days, huh?
It was the first time in a long time he found himself in a face-to-face death match. Real combatants, real flesh and blood. Not since the war, right? No, not since after the war. He rose above himself, floated to the ceiling and looked down, watched the obscene slimy bird-lizards mulling about his living room, one clawing through the magazine stack under the end table, tossing years-old issues across the room while the other pissed on the floor. He watched himself standing, waiting, psyching himself for this dangerous game.
Ever-so-slowly as to minimize the probability that his bones would pop and crunch, Walter stood and eased over to the handleless, rollerless utility drawer from which he selected his largest butcher knife, a real doozy, very long, very sharp, tough enough to slice a head clean off its neck. Knife in one hand, gun in the other. It felt good. Aren’t you a little old for this now? Aren’t you a too broken down to take on two of them? No, I’m neither. Yeah, okay, I got a little old. Old. A little bent. But I gotta handle this. Just to show ’em they picked the wrong one. Hey man, these things ain’t human. Ain’t no VC, ain’t no little spade from down the street. Don’t matter. This is my house. Nobody gonna bust up my shit.
The second lizard slogged casually toward the kitchen. Walter braced for confrontation. There was no further need of conversation. He knew exactly what he had to do. He was his former self again, strong and young and confident, almost delirious with a long-lost warmth, a cool warmth that surged through him, invigorated him, made his balls tingle and his vision sharpen. He stuffed the little gun into his pocket and adjusted his grip on the big knife, clasping misshapen fingers around the handle while resting its butt just enough against his palm’s meaty bulb to anchor it from sliding downward. He’d fought tunnel rats with bayonets in the jungle. That and the other stuff.
He grasped one hand in the other for stability. In the living room, the first reptilian overturned the end table. The second was approaching. He saw its faint shadow like a phantom creeping against the sparse light’s darker folds.
And when it stepped into view, Walter stepped into it with a great uppercut enhanced by momentum, fueled by malice and coated with a paralyzing helping of surprise. His hands did not shake. His aim did not waver. He drove the steel upward behind its macabre beak, through the soft yielding floor of its mouth, through its hideous tongue, through the mouth’s bony upper plate, through its brain and into the freak’s skullcap. The creature made no sound, offered no protest, did not even question with its glowing eyes. For a moment Walter pinned the beast motionless, the great white hunter’s unspeakable alien trophy. One down, one to—
With a sudden powerful, unimaginable fluidity, however, the “trophy” twisted its head and Walter’s wrist, wrenching his shoulder and elbow joints, causing him to cry out, and with a single shake sent the blade and a cloud of feathers flying. But, that can’t be! That can’t—A second later, the awful, razor-sharp beak closed on Walter’s arm and cleanly severed it above the wrist.
He screamed and tumbled backward past the partition to slam into the opposite wall as hot blood spewed onto the lizard, the floor, ceiling, the cosmos. The thing’s hellish eyes blinked rapidly, its tongue shot in and out of the maw that gobbled down his limb. He clutched at his stump, unable to think of how to stop the bleeding, of what he should do next.
Run? Run! But there would be none of that for Walter Germany. A cold, slimy noose closed around his neck and jerked him off his feet. He kicked and squirmed as the first monster reeled him in from the far corner of the living room, closer and closer to the wet crimson cavity now unhinged incredibly agape, its tongue wrapped tightly enough to squeeze off his air.
Okay, so it’s not exactly how you would have planned it, but considering what a shitbucket you are, things could be worse, right? It’s not your fault, either. You didn’t tell them to break into your house, pull the planks off the goddamn window and crawl into your living room. You didn’t invite them here. Ah, but this is payback, old man, and you know it. Payback for all those noncombatants, for the innocent ones you murdered after the war and got away with, remember? Oh yeah, if tonight’s guests were human, they’d be numbers 12 and 13, wouldn’t they? It’s karma, baby. Suck it up. No, wait! The gun, the GUN!
He tried. His bloody stump flapped and flailed under unintelligible instructions from a failing consciousness, but the gun would not be had. Even in the best case scenario, it would have fired once, the cylinder would have fallen out, and Walter would have cursed Willie with his last breath. But none of that happened. It’s karma, baby. Suck it up.
Weak from blood loss, shock, and sheer disbelief, he put up little opposition as the chicken lizard maneuvered him through its jaws where powerful throat muscles began the feeding undulations that would usher its victim into its scaly body for rapid digestion. In mere moments, the known physical form of Walter Germany, former Army private, former feed mill grunt, lifelong racist, perpetually disgruntled and physically debilitated serial killer, disappeared from Planet Earth.
His next appearance, two days later in a cool, dark cavern deep beneath his former residence, would be less than flattering but useful toward nurturing the brood.