- The Cabinet of Dr. Ig Ormonza
He stood shameless and naked, his filthy clothing wadded in a heap on the floor. There was no guile in Giant Louis. I ran the shower for him and gave him clean towels. I didn’t want to allow myself any sort of look or thought beyond him getting himself clean. I would burn the ragged pile and find him a pair of Ig’s sweats or something.
I had other work to do while Ig was serving his basement term. I heard him wail or pound distantly once in a while, but I ignored it. It clued me in to exactly how drunk Enid had to be to selectively not hear me let out my own childhood cries.
I needed to see my old bedroom. The insult twisted in my guts like live snakes. Curiosity was worse than even my anger. Of course, the door would be locked. I stood back and landed two solid kicks above the doorknob. It creaked open slowly.
The smell, Lysol and death and old blood, was heady and rich. The pink curtains that I once had closed against night time mystery shadows, had never been open since. Ig did not want sunlight to find this place. It was poorly lit, except for a magnifying architect’s desk lamp. A stainless steel table with a dirty trough edge and small dents in it sat in the corner. The mean chair was bent to the right after years of holding Ig’s leaning weight while he toiled away at his evil craft. My small twin bed was buried under used sheets and broken pieces of tools, an open bag of sawdust and chunks of misshapen dried clay.
There were two stuffed birds, an owl and a crow, perched on the table’s edge. Wired there through their legs, they measured me with black bead eyes.
Nothing nightmarish just yet. Fragments of a moments in a lost room where I had never felt at home. But I needed to see more. Something to justify my contempt. So I went to the heart of the room, the sacred space furthest away from prying eyes, the closet.
It was also padlocked, but I was already up for ripping the lid off. I grabbed a broken hammer from the pile on the bed and swung until the lock lay on the floor in pieces. As the sliding door gave in, other things hit the floor too.
At one time, this space had held tiny yellow dresses and hats and patent leather shoes. Enid would dress me up and trot me out for company. “Don’t stare at people, Dahlia! Smile!”
The closet, once pink inside, was over stuffed with creatures who had no way of being. Ig had fitted both sides out with metal shelving. It had been shiny at some point, but rust and dried fluids and time had made it a horror movie meat rack.
An old cattle prod leaned against the bottom rack. The tip was clotted over with rust, blood and hair. Every creature who ever met Ig suffered greatly. My child’s heart broke. We had never had pets and I had believed it was on Enid’s insistence that they would ruin the carpets. Animals smell. A small furry beast would destroy our lives.
But what about the beast she kept?
Ignatio Ormonza’s collection of atrocities and abominations could never have been curated by a man. Ig himself was the chimera. He was the real Heinrich playing hurtful tricks. He was the Big Bad Wolf who devoured Enid. The monster who made squeaks and groans in the dark. The jailer of innocents. The pyromancer who immolated my father’s empire and held me down to watch while it burned. And the mad doctor who worked once-living flesh into nightmare.
There was a mouse head sewn to a feline body. Something was part of a beaver, yet mostly a small Pomeranian. These were not works requested by hunters or pet lovers. This was the unseemly graveyard of every small mammal and nearby pet for at least the last fifteen years. A dark, bulky carcass dropped on me from the top shelf.
As it hit me and landed, two small teeth rolled out and into the shadow by the table. It must have been part coyote – a very fat coyote. But the head was wrong. My God, everything was wrong. The head had been reshaped and built to look almost human. It was snoutless with small ears and no teeth other than the loose ones that had escape. Something else fell immediately after it, skittering under the bed. I took a deep breath and reached my hand under the bed skirt. I knew the shape by touch even before I saw what it was. It was a pair of glasses. Black horn-rimmed, thick lensed glasses. Like my father used to wear.
I sat on the floor under the coyote chimera, telling myself not to let the room spin. I finally pushed the creature off me and crawled to the table in search of the teeth. I picked them up carefully. This might be all that is left of a child. This was a murder scene.
I backed into the shelving and an old brown Yahtzee dice cup tumbled out. The man on the cup looked like Arthur. The paper sticker of his likeness had been ridged and warped with moisture and time. A piece of disintegrating masking tape was stuck over the Yahtzee logo. “Dolly Daisy Baby Teeth”.
I held in my hand all that was left of me as a child. Ig’s voodoo had grafted former pieces of my own skeleton on to his abomination. His voice echoed in my head, “Wanna hear ‘em talk?”
I fought vomiting and pried open the single metal drawer within the shelving. I was not ready.
In a small glass container, connected to blue and red wires with long needles, was a finger.
It was an adult, human, male index finger. There was dark hair on the knuckles. The wires ran into an old, corroded battery cell. The finger was livid, purple and grey.
Louis had silently found me after his shower, dripping water on the carpet. I heard his gasp. “Oh. Oooooh.” I turned to see his face full of sorrow and shadow. “You found it.”
I could not respond. He put his three-fingered right hand on my shoulder gently.
“The Man took it. YOU found it.”
Just then the finger, as if recognizing its owner, jerked.