M. E. MURRAY - THE WHIP
Late spring, the small town, Brady, Texas, would have been very hot and boring if Jimmy Marks and his friend, Charlie Randle, weren’t avid arrowhead collectors. As soon as the school day ended, Jimmy and Charlie, both high school freshmen, couldn’t wait to explore the washed out banks of the San Saba River in hopes of finding a cache of points to add to their collections.
The kids were supposed to keep the GPS service on in their cell phones so their parents could know where they were all the time. Their parents, especially Jimmy’s mother, were afraid they might fall in the river. There were some areas where the water ran deep, and usually there were no folks around when Jimmy and Charlie looked for arrowheads because folks were at work. “If something happens to you, nobody will know about it, so keep those GPS signals on,” Jimmy’s Mom always said.
Three weeks of spring were left, but it was already heating up. It felt like summer, but the boys were used to working in the heat. Sweating profusely, they continued to search for arrowheads. It had rained heavily the evening before, and the following day was the best time to look for arrowheads along the river because rain exposed them by eroding the bank.
As Jimmy trekked along the sloping, muddy bank of the river where the water never really got deep, he saw what looked like a handle sticking out in the middle of the river. “Charlie! Come here! I want you to see something!”
Charlie who’d been looking for arrowheads a few yards away ran towards Jimmy and excitedly said, “What’d you find?”
Jimmy pointed to the piece of wood sticking out of the water. “See that? It looks like a stick covered with leather!”
“You’re right! It could be the handle of something!” Charlie responded enthusiastically. “But it looks like it’s stuck in the bottom of the river or maybe it’s attached to something. Let’s figure out how to take it out.”
Jimmy scratched his golden head of hair. “To be able to dig it out, we need to go into the river. That means we need to strip.”
“Strip? How come?” Charlie asked bewildered.
“Because if our parents find out that we were in the river, our arrowhead collecting trips are over.” Jimmy began to take off his sneakers. “So, what are you waiting for, Charlie, a dispensation from the Pope?”
“No. I’m waiting for my brain to disengage. Your mother is one fearful person, and I was just trying to get up the courage to forget her words about not going into the river.”
“Your clothes and brown locks are already wet from sweat, what’s a little bit more of water going to do to you?” Jimmy asked.
“Last one in the water’s an idiot,” Charlie shouted, taking off his sneakers.
Jimmy beat him in the undressing game. Pretty soon both kids were down to their skivvies.
Charlie said, “I think we need to take off our underwear, too. They’re going to get wet, and when we get dressed, they’ll get our pants wet.”
“You’re right. But what if somebody sees us naked? They might report us to the sheriff,” Jimmy said.
“Jimmy, we’ve been here many times. Have you ever seen anybody else besides us?” Charlie asked.
“Then it’s time to strip.” Charlie took off his briefs, and laid them and his garments on big rocks close to the river edge.
“Might as well take off our T-shirts,” Jimmy added. “They might get wet, too.”
Charlie agreed. He took off his T-shirt and placed it on the clothes he’d piled on a rock.
Jimmy did the same and then accompanied Charlie into the waist-deep, murky water. He grabbed the object and wiggled it. “Looks like it’s stuck, and it sure looks like a handle.”
“Shall we pull on it?” Charlie asked.
“I don’t think so. It could break. We want the whole thing intact.” Jimmy reached into the murky water and ran his hand on the portion that was not stuck in the river bottom. “You know what, Charlie? It seems like it could be a whip. I’m going to dig around the part that is stuck in the mud until I loosen the end.”
Jimmy got out.
“Where are you going? Charlie asked.
“I’m going to get my pocket knife. I need to dig with something that’s strong.” He searched his pants, found his pocket knife, and returned to the water. “Charlie, while I dig below, your mission is to pull on the handle, little by little, but not too hard.”
After 15 minutes of digging up rocks and wads of mud and flinging them into other areas of the river, Jimmy said, “I’m starting to feel a thinner portion of the whip. I think it’s time for you to pull a bit harder.”
Charlie nervously pulled on the handle and slowly rolled the thong. When he had the complete whip in his hands, both kids excitedly leapt out of the creek to take a better look at it.
“Let me see it,” Jimmy said. He felt it from the handle to the end. “I wonder if it still works.”
“The only way to find out is to whip it against something,” Charlie suggested.
Jimmy lashed it against a rock. The whip made a sharp, loud crack and sounded as if it were brand-new.
“Let me see it,” Charlie said. He grabbed the whip and struck the ground with it. “I feel like a cowboy from the 1800s or like Lash LaRue.”
“Lash LaRue? Who is Lash LaRue?” Jimmy asked confused.
“He was an early Western movie star. He was known as the king of the bullwhip for his whip-cracking ability.”
Since his friend was a Western movie star enthusiast, Jimmy wondered if Charlie knew about antique whips, too. So, he asked, “Do you think this thing is really old?”
“I don’t know.”
“My mom is always seeing antique shows and going to antique shops. Maybe she could tell us something about it,” Jimmy said.
Charlie stared at the whip. “It’s made out of hide, but what kind? Since I have no idea, I think, for sure, we should ask your mother.”
They dressed as fast as possible and headed to Jimmy’s home. “Mom! Mom!” Jimmy hollered, running to the kitchen with Charlie following.
Nancy Marks was preparing supper. “You’re home early, guys. Is something wrong?”
“No, but Charlie and I found this at the river,” Jimmy said, handing her the whip.
Nancy examined it. “Was it lying around in plain sight?”
“No. We had to fish it out of the river.” Jimmy cringed. He was afraid his mother was going to scold him, and she did, but mildly.
“Jimmy, how many times have I told you to stay out of the river?”
“I’m sorry, Mom. It’s just that it looked so interesting.”
“It took a while to dig it out,” Charlie added.
Jimmy’s mother shook her head. “Your clothes are dry. You must have stripped. It’s a good thing somebody didn’t see you naked and reported it. You know how people are around here. They’re busybodies. Anyway, I don’t know anything about whips. Tomorrow, after work, I’ll show it to Miranda.”
“Can we go with you after school, Mom?” Jimmy pleaded.
Nancy stared at the kids, then said, “Okay, but remember I have to make supper. We can’t be gone for too long.”
“Yes ma’am,” both kids answered.
The following day the trio went to the only antique shop in town to show the whip to antique dealer, Miranda Scott. As they opened the door, a bell hanging on the top of the door jingled, warning Miranda that somebody had come in. She left her office and headed to the front of the store. “Hi, Nancy, what brings you and the kids in today?”
Nancy only shopped on Sundays and Saturdays because working as a clerk during the week, didn’t give her enough time to peruse the antiques and collectibles after her work day was over. “This thing,” Nancy said, handing Miranda the rolled up whip. “Can you tell us what it is?”
Miranda unrolled the whip and felt its damp skin. “This is a very old bullwhip. It’s in pretty good condition. And it still has the wrist strap,” she affirmed.
“How can you tell that it’s old?” Nancy asked.
“Because the handle is made out of wood,” she said casually. “The bullwhip was made during the old West.”
“How do you know that?”
“Back then, it was easier to get a piece of wood or stick to braid. Nowadays, whip handles are made from a piece of dowel, but some people use a steel rod.”
“How do you know it’s a bullwhip?” Nancy asked.
“The handle knot, the transition knot, the thong, the fall and the fall hitch, indicate that it’s a bullwhip, the kind that Harrison Ford used in the Indiana Jones movies,” Miranda expressed. “The outer covering has an unusual texture. It feels like leather, but I’m not sure what kind. It could be kangaroo hide. Sometimes people use it to braid their whips. Anyway this whip is very old, judging by the handle, but it needs better care.” She paused. “It’s a bit wet. Where did you find it?”
“In the river,” Charlie answered.
With a stern look, Jimmy’s mother told him to remain quiet.
“I see,” Miranda commented. “Now I understand why it’s wet.”
“Did being in water for such a long time damage it?” Nancy asked.
“It doesn’t look like it,” Miranda answered. “But I have some recommendations. After the bullwhip dries, you should oil it. Smear some grease on your hands and spread it throughout the braided part of the whip. But don’t apply too much when you come to the butt knot, the transition knot, and fall hitch,” she cautioned. “What are you planning to do with it?”
“For the time being, we’re keeping it,” Nancy answered. “We’ll hang it on a wall. It will make a good conversation piece.”
“If you’re interested in selling it, I’m willing to give you $50,” Miranda offered.
“Thank you, Miranda, but at the moment I’m not interested in selling it.”
Fifty dollars! That’s a lot of money! Jimmy thought, but was disappointed when his mom didn’t accept Miranda’s offer.
The antique dealer said, “If you leave it with me for a while, I’ll be able to figure out how old it actually is.”
“Thank you, but its real age isn’t important. I really appreciate your input, though,” Nancy replied.
“Anytime you need some information, just ask,” Miranda answered, returning to her office.
As they left the antique store, Jimmy said, “Mom, she offered a lot of money for the whip. Why didn’t you take it?”
“Miranda wanted to buy it right away, so that tells me that the whip is worth a lot more than what she offered,” Nancy commented. “The library has an area dedicated to the preservation of old books and journals. We’ll go there after supper to research your whip. It could be worth a lot of money.”
“Mrs. Marks, can I go to the library, too?” Charlie asked.
“You can come with us, Charlie, but I think you need to ask your mother first.”
“Will you please call her for me, Mrs. Marks? My mom might not believe me.”
Nancy called Charlie’s mother. “Belinda, Charlie is here with me. I asked him if he wanted to stay for supper. Is that okay with you?”
“Of course!” Belinda responded.
“After supper Jimmy and I are going to the library to do some research on bullwhips. Is it all right with you if Charlie joins us?”
“That’s perfectly all right with me.”
“Thanks, Belinda. We’ll get him home about 9:30.”
Nancy made salad and pastrami sandwiches. Then, the trio sat at the kitchen table. They ate quickly because the library would close in an hour.
At the library Jimmy scanned the book shelves and picked up a book that discussed the old West around Brady. He flipped through it and saw an interesting photograph, taken around 1890, of a man. He had a rugged face, partially covered by a black beard, and beady, blue eyes. He wore a worn cowboy hat, a vest, a plaid shirt, jeans, and a whip hung from his belt.
Jimmy continued reading. Apparently, one day the townspeople discovered who’d been killing their friends and relatives. It was the man in the photograph; the people called him The Westerner. The townspeople became vigilantes and killed him, throwing him in the river along with his whip. Overwhelmed by the information, Jimmy excitedly told his mother, “Mom, take a look at this book. There’s a story in it about a serial killer. The guy was known as The Westerner, and the townspeople killed him, dumped him in the river. His hobby was making whips. The outer covering of the thong and the fall was made out of human skin and the popper was made from human hair.
“Gross!” Charlie said, massaging his stomach.
“Mom, look at the picture closely. I think our whip is the same one he’s wearing on his belt. It has to be the same whip. When the people threw him in the river, no telling what happened to the body, but I think the whip traveled and got tangled up in the bottom on rocks and mud that kept it anchored for years with only the handle floating above water.”
Furrows appeared on Charlie’s forehead. “We don’t know if it is the same whip.”
“But it is,” Jimmy insisted “We can put it on eBay. And if it doesn’t meet the reserve, we’ll sell it at an auction.”
“How much should we ask for it?” Charlie asked.
“I suppose between eight hundred and a thousand dollars,” Nancy commented.
Jimmy declared, “Nobody’s going to pay that much.”
“You’d be surprised,” Nancy said. “It has provenance.”
“Provenance? What’s that?” Charlie asked.
“Provenance is history of ownership of a valued object or work of art or literature,” Nancy answered. “We suspect the whip could have belonged to a serial killer, and that it was probably made from people’s skin. That kind of information increases its value.”
“I’m going to copy the pages from the book that deal with The Westerner, so we have proof,” Jimmy said.
As soon as they went home, Nancy registered the whip on eBay with a reserve of $800. After 10 days, the reserve was not met, so Nancy took the whip to Joe Becker, a beefy auctioneer, who ran an evening auction every month on a Saturday evening. It so happened that the following weekend, Becker would be holding an auction. So, Nancy paid a 15% fee to auction the whip that weekend.
The auction would take place in an old dilapidated brick building. The front part had an office area, a concession stand, and the middle section had rows of folding chairs for the buyers. Furniture, lamps and other items that were going to be auctioned lined the walls. Bidders could examine the pieces before the auction started. The auctioneer would stand next to the podium, hollering out descriptions and possible selling prices while workers assisted in hauling big furniture to the stage. Often, some furniture was so large that it could not be taken to the stage, but the workers would stand by the furniture and point as the auctioneer described it.
Nancy and the kids arrived early and found a spot close to the podium and the stage. Jimmy waited nervously as Becker took the stage to start the auction. The beefy man described and sold several items. Jimmy’s face beamed when he saw the whip in Becker’s hands. The time had come. Would the whip bring in lots of extra spending money?
Becker lashed the stage floor with it. A loud crack resounded throughout the room, stunning the customers. “Ladies and gentlemen, there is a possibility that this whip belonged to a serial killer from the 1800s known as The Westerner. It is in perfect condition for being so old. The wrist loop needs to be replaced, but other than that, the whip is in excellent condition for being so old.” Becker paused. “Do I hear $30?”
A hand in the audience came up. The bidding continued until it reached $750. “Do I hear $800,” Becker said. He repeated this three times, but nobody raised their hand. “Sold to number #319,” Becker proclaimed.
Nancy called Charlie’s mother and told her he was staying overnight since the auction ended late that evening. Jimmy was really surprised. The whip had earned them $750. What was he going to do with his portion of the money? There was a lot of discussion between Jimmy and Charlie until Nancy told them it was time to go to sleep, but the kids kept talking in their bedroom. Finally, sleep overcame both, but Jimmy still wondered what he would do with his portion of the proceeds from the sale of the whip.
That same evening, the man who bought the whip, had too many celebratory drinks. He didn’t take off his clothes. He just dropped on his back on the bed and fell asleep. He’d left the whip rolled up on a chair beside his bed; however, while he slept, the whip gradually unrolled and slithered to the man, wrapping itself around his neck. The man woke up aware that the whip was strangling him. Frightened, he jumped out of bed and struggled to get it off but couldn’t. He landed on the floor with whip ligature marks and scratches his fingernails had left on his neck during his fruitless attempt to remove the whip.
The following day Charlie and Jimmy went to the antique store to look at arrowheads after school. “Here’s one for $50!” Charlie said. “I wish I had one.”
Besides the arrowheads, something else captured Jimmy’s attention. A man wearing western garb from the 1800s stood looking through the display window where a glass shelf displaying the arrowheads was positioned. The man was the spitting image of the picture of the serial killer he’d seen in the library book. On the man’s belt a tightly wound whip hung from a leather strap with a button closure. Jimmy’s stomach did several somersaults when he recognized the whip. It was the whip they had found in the river! He needed to take a closer look to make sure; nevertheless, he had recognized it. Speechless, he tugged Charlie’s sleeve and pointed at the window.
For a fleeting moment, The Westerner tipped his cowboy hat at the kids, and strolled away.
Charlie loudly told Jimmy, “That was the man we saw in the book. That was ‘The Westerner!’”
Having heard Charlie speaking loudly, Miranda rushed to them. “Are you guys okay?”
“We’re fine. We were just excited about seeing this expensive arrowhead,” Jimmy answered, pointing to another arrowhead which cost $100.
“Would you like to see it?” Miranda asked.
Jimmy shook his head. “No, thank you. We can’t afford it.”
“I don’t charge to let people see things,” she answered.
“That’s okay, ma’am,” Jimmy said. “We’re perfectly fine seeing it through the glass.”
“If you need anything, just let me know,” Miranda said, walking away.
Shortly, the door to the antique shop opened, ringing the bell hanging on the door.
The Westerner malevolently grinned at the kids, exposing his crooked, tobacco stained teeth. In a nanosecond, he released the whip from his belt. As Miranda approached the entrance to greet the potential customer, The Westerner swung the 12-foot-long whip forward which cracked loudly. The popper hit Miranda’s neck. She screamed, touching her neck. The whip started to wind tightly around her neck. She tugged on the whip to take it off but couldn’t. As she issued her last gasps, another customer who had witnessed the attack tried to rush out the front door, but The Westerner repeated the forward crack, and the woman met the same fate.
When The Westerner attacked Miranda, Jimmy and Charlie swiftly hid in the opening of a large fireplace mantle.
Jimmy looked about the store and whispered, “There’s a back door in Miranda’s office. That’s how we can get out.”
Charlie sighed deeply. “Jimmy, in case The Westerner gets us; I want you to know that you are my best friend and that I love you.”
Jimmy’s eyes started to water. “I love you too, Charlie. But, right now we have to save ourselves. Listen to me. This is what we’re going to do. On the count of three, we’re getting up, and we’re running to the office.”
Charlie nodded and wiped his eyes on his sleeves.
“Okay,” Jimmy said. “We go on the count of three. One. Two. Three!”
They shot to Miranda’s office and spotted the back door which probably led to an alley. Charlie tried the door knob. “The door’s locked!” He jiggled it some more. “It’s not going to open!”
Jimmy said, “Charlie, help me pick up this office chair. We’re going to toss it at the window. It’s our only way out of here.”
They picked up the chair and threw it at the window. Shards of glass and pieces of wood scattered. Charlie and Jimmy scrambled through the window, cutting themselves on the jagged pieces of glass left on the window frame. Arms and legs bleeding, they tumbled into a gravel-lined alley.
As Charlie and Jimmy got up, The Westerner was already outside facing them.
The man must have killed anybody who was in the store, Jimmy thought, and we’re next.
The Westerner lashed the whip on the ground and said, “I owe you. Thanks for helping me come back. I had been waiting for years. You gave me another lifetime of killing.”
The Westerner lashed at Charlie with the whip. As it grasped his neck, Charlie hollered, “Jimmy, run! Save yourself!” Charlie struggled to yank the whip off his neck, but it tightened its grip. He passed out and collapsed. Instead of running, Jimmy took out his pocketknife to free his friend.
The Westerner laughed. “Stupid kid, what makes you think you can cut this whip with that puny knife of yours? This whip has survived for many years. Its covering is made from human skin. And you and your friend will become part of a new one.”
Jimmy ignored him. He continued to attack the whip. He tried to cut it, but he couldn’t even scratch its surface. All of a sudden he heard a car stop in the alley, and then someone said, “Leave those boys alone!”
“Or what?” The Westerner said mockingly. As he turned to see who’d uttered the words, the whip momentarily relaxed its hold on Charlie.
This was the break Jimmy needed to save his friend. A patrol officer had distracted The Westerner. Jimmy rapidly unraveled the popper and fall from Charlie’s neck.
“Charlie, are you all right?” he asked. “Are you all right, Charlie? Please don’t die on me! Charlie, wake up!”
“I’m okay,” Charlie said, feeling his neck.
“Leave those boys alone,” Patrol Officer Pete Jenkins repeated, pointing his gun at The Westerner.
“What makes you think that you can put me down with that toy?”
“For your information, it’s not a toy. It’s a Glock, and I will kill you if you don’t leave those kids alone.”
Disregarding the officer’s orders, The Westerner swung the whip and struck Jimmy’s neck which started bleeding from the blow. The officer fired at The Westerner’s wrist, but the man did not let go. The officer fired three more shots. Laughing diabolically The Westerner gave up on Jimmy and sauntered towards the officer saying, “You’re no match for Marcella.”
He lashed at the officer with the whip. It wrapped around his neck, but not before the cop fired several more shots at the man. As the whip tightly wound on the cop’s neck, lightning struck nearby. Immediately, thunder and a torrential downpour followed and soaked everybody. As the rain continued to fall, The Westerner suddenly looked like a distorted image on an old TV screen. As the distortion worsened, he became ghostlike and disappeared.
Officer Jenkins pulled the whip off his neck, slammed it to the gravel in a stream of water flowing down the middle of the alley, and ran to check the kids.
“I’m glad you were here to see what happened,” Jimmy told the officer. “Nobody would have believed us.”
The officer nodded. “What just happened came out of a horror movie,” he commented, then said, “Are you kids all right?”
“Not really, Charlie said. “My neck hurts, and I want to vomit.”
The officer examined Charlie. He had cuts and bruises all over his body. He also noticed Jimmy’s cuts and bruises, especially the cut on his neck. “We need to get something to seal those cuts up. I don’t want them to get them infected.” The rain had slowed, but it was still coming down pretty hard. The officer suggested, “Let’s go into the antique store for cover and to find something to treat your injuries.”
The officer picked up the whip and rolled it up.
“Please, officer, don’t let the police department take the whip as evidence. It’s dangerous,” Jimmy said.
The officer frowned. “I’m not sure about the whip being dangerous, but I know the man who vanished was. We’ll discuss the whip after we take care of your wounds.”
On the way to the office, they saw Miranda’s body. The kids gave her a quick look, but Jenkins stopped to examine the marks on her neck. “Probably from the whip,” he commented then headed with the kids to Miranda’s office. He found a box of bandages, an alcohol bottle, and a box of tissues. “This will do.” He poured some alcohol on a tissue, and started to wipe Jimmy’s neck. The kid squirmed and shouted, “That burns!”
“I’m sorry, but this is all we have at the moment.” The officer continued to treat Jimmy, and asked, “I would like to know what you kids saw in the antique store to make you break the window to get to the alley.”
“The only thing we saw was The Westerner…” Jimmy said.
“That’s what the history books call him,” Charlie interrupted.
The cop cocked an eyebrow. “History books?”
“We did some research on the whip at the library and discovered that it belonged to a serial killer from around here from the 1800s. He was called The Westerner.” Charlie continued. “When The Westerner attacked the antique dealer, we ran and hid in a fireplace mantle. We couldn’t see anything, but we heard screams and the cracks of the whip. We decided that the only way out of the store was through the antique dealer’s office. So we ran to the office and threw a chair through the window, and crawled out as fast as we could.”
“And that’s how you got hurt,” the cop added.
The kids nodded. “But our plan didn’t work. When we rolled out of the window, The Westerner was out there waiting for us.”
Suddenly a man, wearing a suit, entered the store. “That’s a crime scene detective,” Officer Jenkins said. “Jimmy, take care of your friend while I talk to the detective.”
The pompous crime scene detective walked around the store, and then sauntered to the children and Officer Jenkins. “It looks like everybody got garroted. I wonder what the murder weapon was.”
“It was a whip,” Jenkins said.
“I’ll have the crime scene unit come in to take a look.” The detective scrutinized Jenkins, and stated, “You need to take care of that nasty bruise on your neck. I assume you tangled with the killer?”
“I expect a full report,” the detective said, leaving the store.
When the crime scene unit came in, Jenkins and the boys went outside.
“Officer Jenkins, you may think we’re crazy because we’re just kids, but could you please listen to us for a few minutes?” Jimmy asked.
The officer nodded.
“Officer, you saw that guy disintegrate.”
“I surely did.”
“Officer, that guy is a serial killer from the 1800s, and I think we resurrected him.”
The officer wore a questioning look on his face but listened attentively.
“He’s telling you the truth,” Charlie said.
“Officer, you need to destroy the whip. I think it’s what made that guy come back to life,” Jimmy said.
“What makes you jump to that conclusion?”
“Officer Jenkins, I could be wrong, but when we were all soaking wet in the alley, the whip got wet and quit strangling you; and when we found the whip in the river, it was in a wet place. At that time it was not dangerous. It was only when we took it out of the river, and it got dry that The Westerner appeared, and used the whip as a killing weapon.”
“Are you saying that we need to return it to the river?” the officer asked.
“No. What I’m saying is that the whip needs to be destroyed.”
“Not necessarily, it could be stored in the property room under lock and key in a watertight container where nobody can get to it except for the cops,” Officer Jenkins said. “That might be the best thing to do because we have to keep it since it’s evidence in a murder case.”
“Uh Oh! Here comes my mom,” Jimmy said. “She probably heard something on the news.”
“I’m sure she did.” the officer said.
Nancy introduced herself. After Jimmy told her what had happened, the boys, the cop, and Jimmy’s mother went to the police station with the whip. Nancy and the kids went in the family car. The cop followed in the patrol car.
In the police department’s storage room, Officer Jenkins found the old ten-gallon glass jug that had been used to store purified water. A water cooler had replaced the jug which was relegated to the storage room. The officer grabbed the jug, stuffed the whip in it, and took it to the property room. There, he filled the jug with water and sealed the opening with a stopper. “It should be okay here,” he commented.
“Thank you, Officer Jenkins, for protecting my children,” Nancy said.
“You’re welcome, but I was only doing my job.”
As Nancy and the kids left the police station, Nancy firmly stated, “Jimmy, I don’t want you and Charlie to go to that creek again! You guys are no longer allowed to collect arrowheads on that creek. Do you understand?!”
“Yes, ma’am,” both kids answered.
Jimmy didn’t need to be told that their arrowhead collecting trips were over. After the horrific experience he and Charlie had with The Westerner, there was no way he was going to set foot near that river, and Charlie wouldn’t go there either. Charlie looked tired, so Jimmy asked his mother if she could take Charlie home.
“Thank you, Mrs. Marks,” Charlie said as they dropped him off at his home.
At home, Nancy told Jimmy, “You’ve had enough excitement for one day, and so have I. I’m exhausted with all that happened. For supper we’re having tuna fish sandwiches, potato salad, and soda pop.”
They went to bed early, but Jimmy had a tough time falling asleep. When he finally did, he dreamt the whip had shattered the glass bottle and was now in the hands of The Westerner. Jimmy screamed and sat up in bed.
The scream caused Nancy to spring from her bed. She put on her cotton robe and rushed to Jimmy’s bedroom, turning on the lights. “What happened, Jimmy? Are you all right?” she asked, sitting on the edge of the bed.
Jimmy sat up and leaned on the headboard, shaking and crying. “Mom, I dreamt the Westerner had the whip! He was laughing as he lashed at me with it. He resurrected to kill me! To kill us!”
Nancy hugged him saying, “The whip is under lock and key, Jimmy. Everything is going to be okay. You just had a bad dream. Try to go back to sleep.”
Jimmy wiped his eyes dry with his hands. “First thing in the morning, Mom, can we go to the police department? I want to make sure the whip is still in the jar.”
“If it makes you feel better, I’ll take you as soon as we finish eating breakfast.”
“You’re welcome, and don’t worry about the whip. Try to get some sleep,” she added, tucking him in bed.
Early the following morning, when Nancy took Jimmy to the police department, both noticed there was too much activity going on at the station. Two ambulances and three police cars had parked outside the building, and police officers didn’t allow Nancy and Jimmy to go inside. Among the officers, Jimmy spotted Jenkins, and called out, “Officer Jenkins!”
“What happened?” Jimmy asked as the officer approached them.
In a somber mood, the officer reported, “I’m sorry Jimmy, but I have bad news. The jug exploded, spurting water and shards of glass all over the property room. The crime scene unit is inside, trying to figure out who strangled the entire night shift personnel, including the officers.”
Jimmy stuttered, “But the water was supposed to keep the whip in check. What happened to it?! Where is it?!”
Jimmy’s hands balled into fists. Tears flowed down his cheeks. “The Westerner took it! He broke the jar and let the whip out! He killed all those people!” Jimmy remarked. Then in a somber mood, he told the officer, “I’m responsible for the deaths of all those people because I brought a serial killer back to life!”
The officer wrapped his arms around Jimmy. “It’s not your fault, son. It’s mine. I should’ve listened to you. We should’ve thrown the whip in the river.”
“That wouldn’t have worked either, officer. Within time, somebody would have run into it like Charlie and I did.” Jimmy said. “The whip needs to be destroyed.”
Just then, Jenkins’ cell phone rang. “I need to take this,” he said. “It’s Charlie. The Westerner’s at his house.” He glanced at Nancy and Jimmy. “What are you waiting for? Come in,” he said, opening the doors to his car.
Speeding, he reached Charlie’s house. The officer jumped out of the car, followed by Nancy and Jimmy. Holding his Glock, Jenkins kicked the front door open, and hurried inside. Behind him Nancy and Jimmy followed. The trio found Charlie, cowering in a corner of the living room.
The Westerner let out a demoniacal laugh. He quit going after Charlie and cracked the whip, wrapping it tightly around Jenkins neck. The officer unloaded the Glock at The Westerner, but the man didn’t drop. Jenkins reloaded the Glock, but dropped it as the whip tightened its grip on his neck.
Nancy grabbed the gun and fired at The Westerner, but the guy didn’t fall. Jimmy had been observing the whole situation from the door, thinking that water was the only weapon he could use to stop The Westerner. Charlie’s mother had been spraying the side of the house with a heavy-duty pressure washer. He dashed outside and grabbed the hose and set it to the highest setting. Jimmy pulled the hose inside, spraying The Westerner and the whip. Gradually, The Westerner started fading. Eventually, the ethereal being disappeared, leaving the whip wrapped around the officer’s neck. Jimmy aimed the nozzle at the whip, until it released the water-drenched officer.
“Good work, Jimmy!” Jenkins commented as he removed the whip from his neck.
“Mom’s at work, but she’s not going to be very happy when she sees all this water in her living room,” Charlie said. “I’ll be sequestered for a month.”
“I don’t think so,” Nancy said. “I think she’ll be more than happy to know you’re alive.”
“It’s time to destroy it,” Jimmy said. “Once it dries, it will start to kill again.”
“Until we figure out how to destroy it, the only thing we can do is to return it to where you found it. The river will keep it from killing people,” Jenkins said, massaging his neck.
Jimmy said, “It seems that water is the only thing that keeps it from killing people. So, I agree with you.”
“So do I,” Charlie said.
“Let’s do it,” Nancy said.
The kids, Nancy, and the officer went to the river, found the spot where Jimmy had first noticed it, and dropped it in that area. The group watched the drenched whip sink into the still waters. They waited for an hour to see if it would come up but it didn’t.
As they walked away, Jimmy turned and saw the handle pop-up. The sight made his heart sink to his belly because he assumed a person might notice the handle, pull out the whip, and inadvertently bring The Westerner back.