Become a Fan
By Matthew A Haynes
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Rated "PG" by the Author.
A story about an obsessed fan.
Mark Cashman was last seen by his teammates during the final playoff game between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. He had been a high caliber starting pitcher for seven years. Playing for New York wasn't exactly easy. The main draw from a player standpoint was money and stardom. On the other hand, Yankee fans can be downright vicious.
In that particular game seven of the ALCS, Cashman had been named starter. From a baseball managerial view this was an excellent decision. Late in the game with New York leading six to one, Mark Cashman gave up a whopping six runs. His off pitching gave Boston the series win. Needless to say, that day he couldn't pitch well to save his life.
Walking back to the dugout, boos and profane name calling polluted the chilly night air. Although he had become accustom to disgruntled fans, this one incident rattled him. As he was deafened by the crowd madness, Mark glanced up at an obnoxious man. It became a wonder as to why Cashman spotted the individual.
This fan in question was not, by any means, out of the ordinary. His name was Dirk McCullough and he wasn't a fair tempered person. Dirk had been known for his quick outbursts. He stood stocked with an average build and plenty of packed muscle. McCullough was indeed a rabid Yankee fan with an exceptionally boisterous tone. Then again, weren't they all?
"You sorry son of a bitch!" McCullough hollered as Mark made his way to the bench.
"Are you ok?" A fellow teammate asked.
"Yeah, I'm fine." He answered promptly.
Cashman looked a bit flush in the face. It was as if he came down with a fever. Something had obviously really startled him. This wasn't a clear case of nervous anxiety because of the recent outing. Mark Cashman had been struck by a most eerie feeling.
He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but it felt rather disturbing. Never before in his career had such a horrid sense overcome him. From that point on he desperately tried to disregard his feeling. As the final rang in a Yankee playoff loss McCullough yelled, "I will get you for this Cashman!"
As the team solemnly went back to their lockers, the same teammate said to him, “Just ignore those hecklers.”
“Yeah.” Mark quietly responded.
“Cheer up pal. It happens to all of us.”
This statement may have been true but Cashman still felt quite a bit of uneasiness. It was for sure that all players receive their fair share of negative comments. Some of them can be downgrading and pride battering. However, he remained convinced that this was not a usual scenario. McCullough’s remark wasn’t just ordinary by any means.
Mark made a determination that he would try to dismiss the day’s events. As he headed on home, Cashman began to slowly unwind himself. Perhaps a few months rest would do him right. However, there remained a subtle but haunting notion that he had seen that rabid fan before. This may have been true and it was highly possible it was outside a baseball context.
Dirk McCullough grew up in the South Bronx of New York. Dirk’s nationality was majority Irish as his father had been a full blooded Irishman. His mother maintained half Irish blood. All through his childhood baseball, and especially the Yankees, had been a grace of sanity.
Abuse ran rampant in the McCullough household on a daily basis. Dirk was a sibling to an older brother and a younger sister. The three of them were basically each others life support. With their father’s abusive rages, each of them had developed realistic distractions. The eldest, Sean, took up mechanics eventually opening an automotive shop. Christy, the youngest, became a bookworm and Dirk an avid baseball fan. These hobbies got them through much of the physical and emotional abuse.
It was no family secret that Christy was the eye of Dirk’s heart. Ever since her birth he had been Christy’s self appointed guardian angel. Many times he saved his sister from disastrous happenings. Only once Dirk hadn’t been present in a time of need. Unfortunately, that one incident ended Christy McCullough’s life. Arriving seconds too late, he watched as she became engulfed in flames at the age of nine. Dirk McCullough never fully recovered from his guilt surrounding Christy’s tragic death.
“Who’s over there?” Cashman yelled across the dark street at a shadowed outline figure.
No response came back from the mysterious individual. Only a faint cloud of smoke drifted upward like that from a lit cigarette. Mark looked to both sides of him, saw no one and proceeded up the steps to his penthouse building. After reaching the top step he looked back noticing that the shadowed figure had suddenly disappeared.
All Mark wanted right now was a little sleep to relieve his exhaustion. It obviously had been an emotionally and physically draining day. He fixed himself a strong cocktail easing his mind. Relaxing his strained muscles on the second he climbed on into bed. Maybe the upcoming days would prove to be much better. Then again, maybe they wouldn’t be.
The following morning Mark awoke to the rudest people he had ever encountered. Glancing half asleep at his clock he saw it read 8 o’clock. As the pounding on his door persisted, Mark recognized that squeaky voice to be Mrs. Volsheer. She was the downstairs tenant and a middle aged widow. Mrs. Volsheer seemed a lonely woman having consistent trouble with minding her own business.
“Mr. Cashman!” She yelled.
“Yes, Mrs. Volsheer.” He answered back slowly creeping up to the door.
“You have a package here for you. It came an hour ago but I didn’t want to wake you.”
Opening the door Mark snapped at her as he took the package, “Yes thank you Mrs. Volsheer.”
He closed the door ignoring any further conversation. Taking his package to the nearby coffee table, Mark carefully opened the box. What the contents turned out to be was a total surprise. Inside he found a note among bubble wrap with an unidentifiable object at the bottom. The note read as follows in huge print:
YOU WILL PAY!
He quickly grabbed his head in overwhelming astonishment. Jumping off the sofa Mark frantically contemplated who would do this. In an instant he recalled the mysterious figure the night before. Leary to dig deeper, Cashman shied away from uncovering the remaining object.
Minutes ticked down rapidly while he contemplated his next move. Before opening the box, Mark briefly picked up the fact of no shipping label and no return address. In this case the police would be completely useless. Frustrated at his dwindling options, he decided to make a bold move.
Carefully removing the bubble wrap wary of what was inside, Mark braced himself. With all the incidents that had occurred, he became increasingly unsure. As he came to the last piece, Cashman froze. Perspiration ran like a river down his face because of the situational intensity. Morbid thoughts clouded every crawling moment distracting him from the inevitable.
Gathering himself together he finally picked away the packaging. A chill overcame him when the sent item got revealed. Staring up at Mark was a severed hand. It appeared to be from a male victim due to the size. His immediate reaction had been to alert the authorities. Picking up the phone he questioned his snap decision. Would it really be worth his while?
The team severely frowned on negative publicity especially of this magnitude. Under no circumstances did Mark want to jeopardize his baseball career. This was his livelihood at stake and pretty much all he lived for. Cashman tried being as objective as possible which ended up nearly impossible. It didn’t take a lot of time for Mark to make up his mind. If action wasn’t taken now the outcome could be treacherous.
Quickly coming to his senses, he picked up the phone and reported the packaged contents. It was highly possible, Mark thought, that he had a psychotic stalker. If nothing else the police may be able to provide some extra protection. An investigation seemed unlikely based on a single event. Within twenty minutes the cops arrived at his door.
“It’s over there.” Mark said as he answered the door.
Looking at the note and severed hand, one of the officers introduced himself. “Mr. Cashman, I’m Detective Robbins. I would like to ask you a few questions.” He stated outstretching his hand.
“When exactly did this package arrive?” Asked Detective Robbins.
“I guess around seven this morning, according to Mrs. Volsheer. She’s the downstairs tenant.”
“Do you know anyone who might send such a message?”
“No.” Mark replied sharply.
Understandably he was a bit shook up as well as nervous. He kept on fidgeting and rapidly looking about. Robbins had been given negative signals of innocence and became less than sympathetic.
“I see. Well I’m going to chat with Mrs. Volsheer. You’re welcome to come along if you wish.”
“Are you sure because she’s an older lady. It’s still early in the morning. You know she probably went back to sleep.” Cashman exclaimed as he barricaded the doorway.
“Move before I arrest you for obstruction of justice.” The detective noted in a serious tone.
He moved as commanded and the two of them went downstairs to Mrs. Volsheer’s apartment. Mark had been perceived to be rather nervous largely due to his massive perspiration. Detective Robbins picked up on this which allowed him to believe something wasn’t right. Reaching the door of the apartment Mark asked, “Are you sure about this? I really don’t want to bother her.”
“Then don’t. I will though.” Robbins remarked cuttingly.
The detective knocked somewhat quietly on the elder lady’s apartment door. After waiting a few minutes, he knocked again but considerably louder. This one was done in such a fashion that no amount of hearing loss would prevent Mrs. Volsheer from answering.
“Mrs. Volsheer, this is Detective Robbins from the N.Y.P.D. I must talk to you now and you will open immediately. If you don’t, I will enter under forcible conditions!”
Robbins waited a short time and barged in only to find a gruesome crime scene. He called in the site through his radio also requesting minimal backup. Mrs. Volsheer had been slaughtered in every sense of the word. Her hands and feet had both been dismembered as well as her head decapitated. The killer obviously spread her blood all over the walls. Soaked in bloody mayhem was Mrs. Volsheer’s living room furniture. This also remained the place where her lifeless body lay.
In awe and disgust Cashman removed himself from the gruesome scene. Gasping for fresh air, queasiness overtook his stomach causing a projectile vomit situation. Appalled at the recent murder discovery, he slowly pulled his head back upright. As he bravely reentered the apartment Mark turned to face the wall behind him.
Dripping still in fresh remnants was the name Cashman. On either side of this writing was Mrs. Volsheer’s hands nailed firmly into the studs. Dropping to his knees in a pool of blood Mark hysterically screamed, “WHAT DO YOU WANT!”
Within seconds of this outburst he received a portentous call on his cell phone. “Hello.” Mark answered shakily.
“You will pay Cashman. By the way, look across the street.” The eerie disguised voice commanded.
Detective Robbins heard this part of the phone conversation. Rushing out the front door, there was no sign of anything on first glance. Shading his eyes from the blaring sun, he took a closer peek. Swinging from the distant phone booth was the receiver. Directly below were fresh specs of blood. On this discovery, Robbins motioned the other officers over for fingerprint and DNA collections.
Reentering the building Robbins found Mark in the same place he had left him. In an obviously distressed state Cashman sat totally speechless on the floor. Confused and frustrated he threw his cell phone against the wall shattering it into pieces. What could happen next?
Although Robbins felt sympathetic to Mark’s situation, he couldn’t very well console him. He was a detective with the NYPD and such an act would be unprofessional. The best he could do was to make Mark Cashman feel comfortable and safe. After these recent events Detective Robbins ruled out Mark as a possible suspect.
“I got guys taking analysis of evidence right now. I’m also putting two officers outside your door for protection. If you need anything call me.”
“Thanks.” Mark graciously replied arriving at his penthouse door.
Exhausted from the young day, he went straight to his bed for what Mark hoped would be quality sleep. Still stressed but a wee bit more at ease, he made himself comfortable. If nothing else he had two New York cops camped out for security purposes.
Mark Cashman was thirty years of age, lanky build, and had a quiet demeanor. He didn’t fight much or even argue for that matter. Because of his stature, it’s a wonder he was an all-star pitcher. Mark didn’t believe in conflict and kept a passive attitude. In untactful terms, he was a class A wimp. If ever a struggle went down Mark would undoubtedly be the loser.
Growing up he was an only child. Because of this, loneliness often set in causing unnecessary mischief. Both his parents worked God awful hours just to make ends meet. This resulted in a severe lack of supervision for Mark all through his childhood. Outlandish ways and rebellious acts stuck with him until after high school.
Mark lay down quietly in his queen size bed and drifted off to a deep sleep. The day’s events had taken a toll on his mental well being. He was mentally and emotionally drained from all that transpired. Although the time read one o’clock in the afternoon, rest came easily.
He awoke some many hours later to a loud thump coming from close by. Cashman alertly leaped out of his bed investigating the strange and sudden noise. Tiptoeing down the stairs a butcher knife was seen at a glance on the kitchen counter. Meat had become a hobby, therefore resulting in mastery for cutlery. Edging carefully toward the knife he grabbed it in anticipation of future weapon use.
Mark inspected nearly every square inch of his plush, penthouse apartment. Flipping over every pillow, opening every door, looking in every crevice, and coming to find nothing. He flopped back on the sofa and set the knife down beside him. Deciding to take precautionary measures, each outside door and window was checked accordingly. Approaching the front door however, Cashman spotted it to be slightly ajar.
As he came closer, smoke with a horrendous stench infiltrated the air. Cautiously opening the door a blast of odorous smoke came rushing in. Down the hall some fifteen feet was undeniably one of the most sadistic, horrid scenes a man could witness. Tied and gagged on the floor were the two NYPD officers lying bloodied in brutal fashion.
Clearly they had been ambushed and beaten with great force. One of them was covered in his own blood with multiple dislocations. The fractures were obvious to the naked eye due to massive contorted appendages. On the other officer were lacerations all over his body. It was as though someone had whipped him with an extensively sharp object. They were serious deep cuts to the point of disfiguration rendering him unrecognizable. Both policemen could barely maintain consciousness.
Overwhelming smoke bellowed from the officers accompanied by a smell of burning flesh. The wounds were only visible through the rising flames off their bodies. While the fiery intensity increased, screams of agonizing torture shook all surroundings. Upon sight Mark hurried to his phone to call for help.
Picking up the receiver he realized there was no dial tone. His mind now stood in a state of panic. Running back to the door he promptly shut it locking all danger outside. Ensuring his own safety he fumbled around the door also securing the deadbolt lock. After what he had just witnessed, Mark made his way to the kitchen sink for a glass of cool water.
“Stunning support for your police department Cashman.” A familiar voice said from behind him.
Slowly turning around he looked over his shoulder with glass still in hand. Standing across the room was Detective Robbins staring him down. Many thoughts were running but personal safety was number one. He scrambled for an idea on breaking away from the apparent murderer. If he didn’t find a solution fast, his life too, could be cut short.
“I know about your history and especially with Dirk McCullough.” Robbins casually stated.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Well Mr. Cashman it seems as though you and McCullough were pretty good teenage buddies. That was until the death of his sister, Christy. For some reason you two went your separate ways after that.”
“He was very upset. We simply just lost contact.” Mark explained.
As he spun around Robbins commented, “Don’t worry about the two officers, they were as good as dead. I’ll call it in.”
Mark took his water glass and threw it hitting Robbins in the back of his head. Going down he banged his head on the edge of the living room coffee table. It would end up being a fatal blow for the detective. Cashman had delivered Robbins his last breath of life.
Walking up he nudged the lifeless body before him with his foot. Hands in pocket he stood over Detective Robbins remaining still in admiration. Mark’s sick fascination with death had been kept a secret since his childhood. For fear of social alienation he never discussed it with anyone. This was only one of many dark places inside the man.
“I see you still haven’t changed.”
“I thought I might see you.” Mark replied turning around in recognition of the voice.
“It took me a while but I finally got to you.”
“What do you want from me Dirk?”
“It’s really rather simple. I want you to suffer and feel pain. I want you to experience torture and then die.” McCullough explained in a callous manner.
With a hellish smirk on his face he pulled a lighter out of his black leather jacket. Coming toward Mark at a gradual pace he said, “Your fate will soon be that of those officers and my dead sister, Christy.”
Cashman continued to back up the more Dirk chased him. He looked behind himself as he walked backward into the arm of the sofa. Having no more room to run, he was forced to take a stand. Mark lunged forth knocking the lighter from Dirk’s tight grip. If he was going to save his own life it couldn’t be on physical merit. Mark Cashman had always been smaller and weaker than Dirk McCullough.
On initiation of the attack, Dirk tackled him in front of the couch. He had Mark pinned to the floor while his hands firmly clutched the pitcher’s neck. Satisfaction pumped throughout his body while he watched life slowly drain from Mark. Seeing his eyes close Dirk loosened the stranglehold and whispered, “That was for Christy.”
Cashman laid there in a half conscious state. Opening his eyes slightly he saw Dirk hovering over him in delight. McCullough turned away thinking his job had been completed. Mark spotted the knife still lying on the couch and gave in to his darkest instinct. Seconds passed until Dirk felt a sharp, searing pain through his neck. With one sweeping motion Mark took and stuck the blade into his adversary. Blood gushed almost endlessly as Dirk fell dead on the living room floor.
That day stayed forever etched in Mark Cashman’s memory. It would be the time he realized no secrets are safe for eternity. Eventually all is revealed to our fellow man. The question is will they live to tell anyone?
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|Reviewed by JP Beaudet
|Wow. Nice story! *Added to my list of all time favorite short-stories :-).|
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|Nothing ruins a good game than a fan who ruins it for all involved: the team players, the coaches, the officials, the other fans. Sad how some people act at sporting events or concerts! A good story; well done! :)|