‘Toy Truck’ Copyright © 2008 - 2010 by Trost (Cameron Trost) First published in ShadeWorks, Vol. 1, Issue 2 (2008) Re-edited in 2010.
Produced in Brisbane, Australia
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means without the written permission of the author. However, you are encouraged to distribute this publication in its original form. This is a free of charge, promotional publication.
Trost is an emerging writer who concocts tales that mix a strong dose of mystery with a hint of familiarity. His tales have been published by Brimstone Press, the Australian Horror Writers’ Association and Dark Prints Press. Trost can be found on Blogspot, Myspace, Goodreads, and Facebook.
I would never have imagined just how dangerous a Tonka truck could be if I hadnâ€™t witnessed one in action myself. It is a very highly respected brand in the lucrative business of childrenâ€™s toys. Its range of tip-trucks, tractors, bulldozers and numerous other hard-working machines are of an exceptional quality - none of that cheap plastic crap that breaks within the first hour of being used, even in the relative comfort of a soft sandpit. I can personally verify that this particular Tonka truck lived up to its reputation, it felt like it was made of cast iron and it was extremely tough. Crack! Another impact, yet the truck remained in mint condition. How remarkable! The toy that I held in my hand - not the small soft hand of a boy but the large and equally soft hand of a fully grown office-working man resembled one of those enormous trucks that carry ore and rubble around open mines. Not that I know anything about mines, but I recognised the truck. If the toy had been to scale its tyres alone would have towered above me, not to mention its tray which could easily accommodate the average house. This was a really sturdy working truck. Even parked innocently between the street and a strip of parkland, it somehow appeared to be a little frightening. That was quite possibly, thinking about it now, the reason I decided to use that toy. Or perhaps it was because there was nothing else that could serve the same purpose within my grasp. Smack!
Despite the repeated beating the toy was receiving, it endured unscathed. I wondered if this was how the quality control department at Tonka tested their range of products. No, obviously not. Not in the same situation of course, but the idea seemed strangely funny. Thud! My right hand was starting to hurt. As I have already admitted, my hands are soft and unused to heavy work - certainly not the hands of a miner. I clasped the toy truck in both hands; that would provide me with more force and would put less pressure on my right hand. I brought the truck crashing down. Crunch! It was becoming damaged now - even Tonka trucks couldn’t resist this kind of brutal treatment. A flake of bright yellow paintwork had chipped off the roof of the cabin, and if I had bothered to examine the vehicle’s body more closely I’m sure I would have noticed a few dints. But I was in no frame of mind to stop, I hadn’t yet finished. This minor damage gave the toy a more authentic appearance. After all, trucks out at the mines must have boulders rolling into them, and hail falling onto them, and the hot sun fading their paintwork. Thump! A wheel came off. So, that was one of its few week points then! The small wheel, that would have been an immense circle of black rubber if the truck had been real, fell gently to the ground. I raised my arms above my head and warm droplets landed on my fore-head. A thin streak of red liquid flowed down one side of my nose and towards my upper lip. It was going to trickle into my mouth. Disgusting! I turned my face and wiped my mouth against my white shirt where it clung to a sweaty shoulder. Red smeared onto the cloth. -2-
Thud! Squish... One corner of the truck’s tray caught the man’s motionless and mutilated left eye. The toy slipped from my grasp and tumbled along the grass until it came to a dead stop on its side with the tray tipping backwards. I saw a shred of something white hanging from one corner, a morsel of eye. He was dead, I had killed him. I remember thinking this to myself, but at the time I didn’t really understand exactly what I had done. While the toy truck had been in my hands I had simply lifted it up and thrust it downwards over and over again without actually thinking in frenzy. I don’t remember deciding to kill the man. Maybe I was just going to hurt him. But once I had started there was no stopping. Then, when the truck slipped out of my hands, I snapped out of it.
So there I stood, alone in an empty suburban street. At least, I hoped I was alone. I looked around anxiously. There was nobody in the parkland, just a few birds that couldn’t care less about what was happening. Two crows were sitting on a lamp post not far away, surveying the scene below. Maybe they thought they were in with a chance at getting a meal, could they know he was dead already? I thought crows needed the smell of rotting flesh to attract them to a corpse. I looked at the houses that lined the street on either side, but there was no noise or movement from any of them. I supposed that everybody else was still at work, since it was only ten-to-four. You never know, however, there could be someone watching from behind living room curtains. A little old lady who had nothing better to do than observe a usually empty street and who had the local police station’s phone number on speed-dial. The man’s black BMW was still running, its motor rumbling patiently, unaware that its owner would never again enjoy its easy
handling and motoring prowess. I thought about getting in that car and speeding off, that would have been the best option. I looked at the man in front of me. He was a big fellow with broad shoulders, compared to me at any rate, I could hardly believe that I had been able to kill him. The advantage of surprise I supposed. His face was bloody and disfigured, that’s what happens when you have multiple collisions with a Tonka truck travelling at high-speed. His face had so many gashes it reminded me of cherry danish, the thin strips of white skin were like pastry stretching over a delicious spread of blended cherries. Come to think of it, I haven’t eaten a danish since. Where the left eye should have been was just a pit of blood and squashed tissue, the right eye stared at me blindly. I felt like throwing up my lunch, I could taste it in my mouth for the first time since I had eaten it at the café near my office. That seemed like another lifetime now. I turned away and let my stomach calm itself. I didn’t know what to do, whether I should try to hide the murder or just get out of there straight away. I hadn’t thought about what I would do afterwards when I had picked up the toy truck. I hadn’t known that a few moments later I would have a body that would need to be removed from that otherwise inoffensive street in the suburbs of Brisbane. The black automobile beckoned me. I couldn’t keep it, but I could certainly use it to get the hell away from my victim and the scene of the killing. I stumbled over to the car and drove away. I can’t remember where I went - somewhere outside of town, a long way outside of town, amongst the hills and dense woodlands. I left those two wrecked bodies behind, exposed under the afternoon sun. Some child would be very distraught. It would be bad enough to come strolling along the street only to find a corpse lying on
the grass near your house, but even worse to discover that some thoughtless creep had broken your favourite toy truck.
I had trouble sleeping from then on. I was afraid that I would be arrested, that the police had found a clue that would eventually lead them to me. There would be a knock on the door - maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next week, but sooner or later. My wife noticed that I wasn’t sleeping soundly, but I just told her that I was under pressure at work and that after a month or so everything would go back to normal. She believed me, and I wished that I could have convinced myself so easily. My beloved wife had a right to know that she was living with a killer. My daughter, who looked up to me as a gentle man, didn’t realise that I was capable of such violence. How could I tell them? It wasn’t in their interest or in mine to expose my horrible secret. When men had gone to war and come back to their wives they hadn’t shared the gory details of what they had done or seen. As far as I was concerned, it was no different in this instance. I suffered from nightmares, disturbing and confused images of toys and blood. That reassured me that I was indeed still capable of feeling. What I felt was a kind of nagging horror, a feeling that I had lost a good deal of my humanity; but I refused to regard myself as a murderer. I did not feel guilty.
One Saturday morning, almost three weeks before that dreadful day, I had been with my wife and daughter in the park near where I had killed the man. Of course at that time I had not an inkling of an idea
about what would happen later. It was simply a Saturday morning like any other.
‘Is Susie coming?’ Kate asked her mother. ‘Yes, dear. Her mum said that they would come here this morning so that you could play together while we go jogging.’ We walked together, the three of us, breathing the crisp morning air and admiring the dew that glistened on the blades of grass at our feet. It wasn’t long before Susie and her mum arrived. We found them playing at the swings when we returned from our stroll. ‘Hi, Susie.’ ‘Hello, Kate.’ ‘All right, girls,’ I said, talking to the mothers. ‘You go for your jog, keep those lovely figures the way they are, trim and taut.’ They tightened their shoe-laces and did a few stretches. ‘Thanks for looking after these two,’ Susie’s mum said. ‘Not a problem,’ I assured her. ‘It gets me out of having to go jogging anyway.’ I sat down on a park-bench and opened my book while the girls ran around and played on the swings. The mothers completed their stretches and ran off, their tight bottoms flexing with each rapid step. I read for over twenty minutes without interruption and the girls occupied themselves with playing on the swings and chatting about classmates and teachers. Apparently Mrs Carmody annoyed them because she snorted like a pig whenever she laughed, and she laughed far too often, mostly at her own jokes; which always failed to raise even -6-
the smallest smile from the children in her class. Miss Fowler was considerably more popular with the pupils, although I donâ€™t remember why - I must have got bored with their chit-chat and returned my attention to reading at that point in time. Few people walked or jogged along the path which wound through the dew-covered grass and no other children came to play on the swings or see-saw. It was very quiet, as usual, just the way I like it, only the distant sound of the main road and the early morning singing of birds in the branches overhead could be heard behind the voices of Kate and Susie. I saw the women jogging on the other side of the mostly driedup stream that wriggled through the park. They had crossed the rickety old foot-bridge further along the path and then turned left to follow the opposite bank back into my line of sight. Dry leaves crunched behind me, it sounded like several feet were stamping over them, getting closer. I was a little shocked when a couple of shapes appeared beside me - a woman with a Dalmatian. My immediate impression was that she was not walking the dog, it was walking her. The animal gasped for breath as she pulled on its lead, trying to get it to stop for a moment. She was breathing heavily and needed a pause - even if her four-legged friend didnâ€™t. I looked up and smiled. The Dalmatian sniffed at the ground, but its owner smiled back at me. Iâ€™d never liked the look of that breed of dog, it was over-bearing, too much contrast perhaps, black against white - it looks much better on Frisian cows. Despite my unimportant aesthetic preference, it could not be denied that this couple looked great together. The attractive woman had dark hair and pale skin which matched, more or less, the well-groomed coat of her pet. She bent away from me to drink from a tap that stood just a few -7-
metres away from the bench where I sat, then offered her cupped hands to the dog that noisily lapped up the water. I remember admiring her form as she did this, only for a second though, I didn’t want Kate to notice her daddy staring openly at the rear of another woman. The woman stood up and looked around for a moment. I started reading again. ‘Are they your girls?’ She asked. I looked up, ready to answer her question. But a look on her face told me that she wasn’t asking for the sake of making casual conversation. ‘Yes, that’s right,’ I answered, without really thinking. She looked at me as though trying to read my mind. I’m not ashamed to admit that I felt a little nervous. ‘Well, no...’ I stammered. ‘I mean that one is my daughter and the other is her friend.’ The woman turned her attention to the girls who were watching us, or rather the woman’s elegant pet, with curiosity. Was she trying to chat me up? The very idea seemed ludicrous at first; it had been a long time since a woman other than my wife had shown any interest of a romantic nature in me. I would have been flattered if I hadn’t been so shocked. Couldn’t she see that I wore a wedding-ring? ‘They’re very pretty girls,’ she observed. ‘Thanks.’ Two jogging figures appeared from behind some trees, on this side of the stream, and were approaching slowly but steadily.
This is good; they’ll see me with this beautiful creature and realise that women still find me attractive - that I’m not just an officenerd with no sex appeal! As it turned out, I had been wrong all along. She saw the women approaching and relaxed all of a sudden. ‘I was just checking,’ the woman explained. ‘There have been reports of perverts hanging around parks recently. So I wanted to make sure that, you know...’ She was obviously embarrassed; then again, so was I. ‘I look like a pervert?’ ‘No, not especially,’ she blushed. ‘But you can never tell.’ I nodded, that’s true. I was a bit upset though, I had gone from lady killer to child molester in a matter of seconds. ‘It’s good of you to be concerned like that,’ I told her. My wife and Susie’s mum arrived and stood panting with their hands on their hips. ‘See you later then,’ the woman said cheerily, and then shot off with her energetic dog leading the way before my wife could gather enough breath to ask why she was flirting with me.
That night, watching the 6 o’clock news, I understood why the woman had been worried. There had been several abduction attempts around the area in the past few days. One little girl, on her way home from school, said that a man in a black car with tinted windows had told her to get in, and then tried to grab her by the arm when she hesitated. She ran away screaming hysterically. A policeman told reporters that her actions had saved her life. He didn’t go into the sordid details of what typically happened to these -9-
kidnapping victims; that wasn’t necessary. My mind found itself imagining scenes involving my very own daughter, disturbing obscenities that I didn’t want it to visualise. I forced myself to turn my thoughts to other matters, to concentrate on the next news report that had already begun. That fateful afternoon, while walking home from work, I noticed a black car with tinted windows crawling along the street in front of me. The BMW moved sneakily closer and closer to a schoolgirl who was making her way home. Her piggy tails swung from side to side as her head bobbed up and down, she seemed to be singing or whistling as she walked. At seeing the black car and the girl strolling along the roadside in front of it, I immediately recalled the talk about kidnappers that had continued to circulate in the media and the community since I first heard of the scare from the cautious woman in the park. Perhaps I was being paranoid; it was probably just a coincidence. The driver of the black car may have been driving slowly because he was looking for the house of a friend he had never visited at home before. I realised that I wasn’t wrong when the car closed in, the boot popped open, the driver’s door swung open, and a man sprang out towards the girl. He wrapped his arms around her and dragged her towards the back of the car. She struggled weakly and made some noise but she was overpowered. A huge hand was covering her mouth and her cries were muffled but still audible, like the distant sound of a movie scream heard from outside the theatre. I don’t know what I intended to do. I can’t explain exactly what happened. What I can remember is that I ran over there, and that on the way I saw a toy truck lying idly on the ground.
- 10 -
He was trying to stuff her into the boot and had almost succeeded in doing so when the back of his strong head felt the impact of my toy truck. The girl got away. She ran into the parkland. He span around, and I knew that if I didn’t hurt him badly and quickly I risked ending up in his spacious boot myself. If this tough character gained the opportunity to turn on me, it would be all over goodbye planet Earth, thanks for having me stay a while. So I slammed the truck into his face. He staggered backwards, tripped on the kerb, and fell heavily onto the grass. I knew that I couldn’t stop there - and I didn’t.
A year and a half later and the knock at the door that I had feared still hasn’t come. I suppose that once the police realised who the dead man was they didn’t try too hard to solve the mystery - one less sicko on the loose. I still have nightmares about the killing, that’s to be expected though. I don’t think that anyone can take the life of another human being without being deeply affected. However, not once have I regretted what I did. That was justice in its most direct form. Despite the occasional trouble sleeping, I’m doing very well now. I’ve even started eating cherry danishes again, without feeling nauseous. Another happy development - we have a second child - a baby boy. When he is older I’ll buy him a Tonka truck. They are, after all, exceptionally solid toys.
THE TALES CONTINUE AT . . .