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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

79_ym_doctorflytraps_mdavis.jpg
Art by Michael Davis 2020

Doctor Flytrap’s Home for Women

By Michael D. Davis

 

          It was a regular day in Quartertown, Iowa, there were clouds in the sky, earth underfoot, and the faint sound of profanities on the wind. Count Whorton was sitting on an old seat with a torn cushion in the dank, dark auditorium of Double Dan’s X-rated theater. He sipped from his flask and watched the bald spot on the head of the man three rows ahead.

          Count wasn’t there long before there was a slap on his knee and he pulled back his legs to let Irma get in next to him. When she was seated, Irma glanced at the screen and blurted out, “Sweet damn, all that hair.”

          A shushing sound came.

          Count said, “I know right, I don’t think ol’ Double Dan has any films from this century.”

          “What I miss?”

          “Well, he was deliverin’ a package and she answered the door in nothin’ but-”

          “No, you dipshit, I mean with bald spot up there”

          “Ohh, him, nothin’. He’s just sittin’ there, I got a picture on my phone for the client.”

          “Well, then there’s nothin’ else to do here.”

          “Nope, I was just waitin’ for you.”

          Count shifted in his seat leaning closer to Irma and lowering his voice. “Look two rows back and about half a dozen seats to the left.”

          “Why? Someone, we know?”

          “Just do it.”

          Irma shifted and stretched to cover, to make the glance over her shoulder less conspicuous. What she saw behind her was a woman closing in on a hundred. The lady had white hair, a shrunken deflated body, and she seemed to be gnawing on something.

          “Grandma over there,” Count said, “was here when I got here. She hasn’t taken her eyes off the screen and she’s eatin’ grapes from a baggy.”

          “So, what?” Said Irma.

          “I just never figured this skin flick house catered to old Presbyterian ladies.”

          “What, you thought it was gonna be all middle-aged men?”

          “I just didn’t think it was gonna be Estelle Getty. Ready to go?”

          “Sure, unless you wanna stay and watch Debby does Des Moines?”

          Count and Irma walked out of the theater, only stopping to slip Double Dan himself a twenty. “Thanks for the tip-off, Double D,” Count said when he gave him the bill.

          As they walked away from the theater that sat across the street from the courthouse Irma said, “So, how do you think the client’ll take it? I mean her hubby’s not cheatin’, but yet he’s a regular at a porn theater.”

          “Eh, who the hell knows?” When they reached their old rusted Buick station wagon, Count lit a bent cigarette before getting in. Then he said to Irma, “You know why they call him Double Dan?”

          “Cause He’s got Big ol’ Double D’s.”

          “It’s cause he’s nuts, says everythin’ twice, wears two pairs of pants, two shirts.”

          “Weird.”

          “Yeah.”

          Irma drove down the street, the Buick running fine, but the muffler making noises that frightened children.

          “Wanna get somethin’ to eat?”

          “Cool with me,” Count said.

          “Good, cause you’ll have to do some more work later. We got a call earlier from that girl, Stella.”

          “Who?”

          “You know, a little thing, always in black. She works at the St. Belvedere Hotel, helped us at Christmas, datin’ Kenny now.”

          “Faintly rings a bell.”

          “Well, her grandmother’s possibly in trouble.”

          “What’s wrong with Mema now?”

          “Stella thinks she may be in a cult or somethin’. Needs us to see about it.”

          “And so, we shall.”

          Later in the afternoon Count and Irma were on the north side of town. Parked on the street between luxurious old mansions Irma said, “That’s the one there. It’s a home for women or a boarding house or somethin’. Just head in and figure out what you can.”

          Count took a sip from his flask and said, “Good plan.”

          Irma straightened his tie, took his hat, slicked back his hair, changed her mind and replaced the hat.

          “To get in the door you’ll say you’re from the paper.”

          “Will do.”

          “Just one more thing.” Irma took out an old pair of glasses from her purse and stuck it on Count’s head. They were a thick prescription making his pupils appear the size of quarters.

          “Will I really need these magnifying glasses, Irma?”

          “They were a dollar at a garage sale and they complete the look. Now, go. Do this then we’ll head home and watch an old beach movie.”

          Count walked across the street, tripping over the curb as he struggled to see out of his new spectacles. A young woman came to the door of the house when Count rang the bell.

          “Can I help you?” She said firmly.

          “I do hope so, dear. I’d like to talk to the head… in charge lady.”

          “Doctor Flytrap does not see unscheduled visitors.”

          “Well, I’m sure an exception can be made if you could just tell the um… Doc I’m here.”

          “And who are you?”

          “I am Martin Bipple of the newspaper,” Count Whorton said.

          There was a long sigh then the woman told him to wait. When she returned, she showed Count into a room with couches, paintings, and more books than leaves on an oak. Count took the room in for the most part before catching his foot on the leg of the couch and falling to the carpet with a swear.

          “Is everything alright?”

          Count pulled himself back up from the floor to see an older woman with a stack of high hair in a sweater and skirt come in the room.

          “Yes, yes, I’m fine,” Count picked his glasses off the floor and said, “now I can see ya.” Although the opposite was in fact true. “Might I assume you’re the doctor?”

          “Yes,” said the woman with more of a growl than an answer, “I am doctor Charlotte Flytrap.”

          “Well, I’m Martin Bipple from the paper it’s good to meet ya.”

          “Yes, have a seat.”

          Count stumbled his way to a couch and sat down in front of a coffee table that held a bowl of caramels.

          “Tell me, Mr. Bipple,” Doctor Flytrap said, taking the seat opposite Count, “Do all of the Quartertown newspaper people show up without appointments, the smell of booze heavy on their breath?”

          “No, that’d just be me. I was in the area celebratin’ a friend’s birthday. I was obliged as it were to imbibe. And if you wish me to come back another time, I will. I just thought it might be a good article, you know, this place.”

          Doctor Flytrap scowled, not that Count could see that.

          “Well, I’ll give you a few minutes.”

          “Good, so first of all, what technically is this place?”

          “This my home for women, started by me and my husband. A place for ladies that need help, support, care, or simply a roof over their head.”

          “No men?”

          “No men.”

          “What about your husband?”

          “He travels.”

          Count leaned back on the couch. “This is a nice place. How do you pay for it? Donations?”

          “The house has been in my family for years. And yes, we do take donations.”

          “What made you wanna start this up?”

          “I wanted to give back.”

          “Like a wise man once said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country’.”

          “John F. Kennedy, exactly.”

          “So, how many women do you got currently?”

          “Fifty-two.”

          “That’s a big number.”

          “It’s a big house, are we about done here?”

          “Sure,” Count said standing up, “and if I come back, I’ll make an appointment first.”

          “You’re learning,” Doctor Flytrap said, directing Count out of the room.

          “Well, like another wise man once said, ‘Experience, that’s what separates the girls from the girl scouts’.”

          “Is that also JFK?”

          “No, that’s George Hamilton in the 60’s beach party classic ‘Where the Boys Are’. The wife and I have been on a beach movie kick, you know, Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, that sorta thing.”

          “Ah, well, goodbye, Mr. Bipple.”

          “Oh wait, one more thing,” Count stood in the open front door. “What type of Doc are ya?”

          “I am a psychiatrist.”

          “Oh, workin’ on the noodle, seein’ why things don’t come to a boil. Alright, have a good one Doc.”

          Count walked across the street and got in the Buick with Irma.

          “Learn anything?” Irma asked.

          “Do chickens like muffins? ...Some, I learned a little, I’ll tell ya about it while we watch ‘Beach Blanket Bingo’ tonight.”

          Early the next morning there was an annoying insistent ringing of the doorbell as Count and Irma tried to sleep.

          “What the fuck is that?” Count asked his eyes clenched shut.

          “The doorbell and I’m gonna kill who’s ever ringin’ it,” Irma said getting out of bed and finding her slippers. She went out the door leaving it open a few inches, down the stairs and opened the outer door. There on the sidewalk stood two uniformed officers and detective Klunkel of the Quartertown police department.

          “What do you want?”

          “Good morning Irma,” Klunkel said, “Is Count around?”

          “Why?”

          “Just asking?”

          “Bullshit, what do you want, Klunky?”

          “We need to bring him in, there was a murder last night and he’s our number one suspect.”

          “He was with me all night.”

          “Not that I don’t trust you, of all people, but we still got to bring him in.”

          “Well, he’s not here.”

          “May we see for ourselves.”

          “Why not,” Irma said leading the officers up the stairs.

          They looked around for a few minutes in the apartment and office but didn’t find Count. Only the King, Count and Irma’s beastly little dog which seemed to frighten one of the officers.

          “Know where he is?” Klunkel asked.

          “Nope, I didn’t even notice him leave.”

          A few minutes back, when Irma was down talking to the police, Count was still in bed, but his ears were open. He could honestly say he didn’t feel like headin’ down with some bulls to the cop shop at the ass break of dawn. So, he went with plan B which he’d used multiple times over the years. Count slunk on the floor and crawled quietly to the closet. The King following him all the way, he quickly slipped on his shoes, hat, and trench coat over his pajamas. Then Count stuck his finger into a knothole in the floor and pulled up the trap door. Below his closet was another closet, particularly the broom closet for The Toe Tap Bar and Grill below. Count hooked his foot on an old wooden ladder and descended as the King licked at him. He came out of the closet (literally) then exited out the Toe Tap’s side door. As the officers were heading up the stairs.

          As he walked away from the apartment, Count contemplated the dilemma of where to go. He could only think of one place that was within walking distance so he started for it.

          Kenny’s mom opened the front door wearing pajamas and a scowl. She led Count through the small house to the stairs leading to the basement. Before he went down, she told him emphatically to use the outside door to the basement next time.

          When he got to the bottom of the stairs, he saw Kenny asleep on the couch. Count walked over to him, picked a magazine off the floor rolled it up and whacked Kenny on the head. Nearly jumping off the couch Kenny awoke with a scream and a swear.

          “Morning sunshine, the earth welcomes you to a new day,” Count said sauntering over to an old beat-up recliner.

          “What the hell are you doing here?”

          “I’m wanted by the cops for murder and I need a place to stay until the heat dies down, that good with you Rocko?”

          “Yeah, good one, what’s the real reason?”

          “That was the real reason, now where’s your clicker?”

          Kenny sat up, and threw him the remote saying, “Who’d you off?”

          “No one.”

          “Who’d they think you offed?”

          “Not a clue, ooh ‘Starsky and Hutch’ is on. You know I think I have the good looks of Hutch and the personality of Starsky.”

          “And you’re as annoying as Frank Burns and live like Fred Sandford.”

          “Damn, that was a good one, you’re smart in the mornin’, too bad people have to put up with ya the rest of the day.”

          Count wasn’t there long before the back door opened and someone came in. He didn’t notice her, in his half-sleep state until she was nearly on top of him.

          “What the hell’re you doin’ here?”

          “I come and go like the neighborhood cat,” Stella said standing above him, “you know you’re in my chair.”

          “Oh, yeah, well I ain’t movin’.”

          “Why ya here?”

          “Hidin’ out.”

          “Cool, did you find anything out about my grandma?”

          “Who? Oh, I checked the place out and looks on the up and up. We’ll sniff around some more, see if there’s secretly an eyeball in the punch bowl or somethin’.”

          Stella sat down, leaning forward she said, “There is just something really weird about that place. Since goin’ there my grandma hardly ever talks to me, she never calls, and when I visit, they hardly let me in. One of the few times I was allowed to see her she sat in her chair just smiling and mumbling. That’s not like her. Plus, I heard this other woman call my grandma by this weird name, I tell you the whole place puts off major creepy vibes.”

          “Uh-huh,” Count said, only half listening, “What they call her?”

          “Some C name, Carol or Carmen…no it was Carmilla.”

          Count sat bolt upright, “What did you say?”

          “Carmilla, why?”

          “Fuck.”

          Count jumped up and threw the magazine again at a sleeping Kenny. After he woke with a scream he said, “Fuck! Stop doing that.”

          “Get your ass up Kenny, we got an eyeball in the punch bowl.”

          “What? An eyeball?”

          “Stuart and the Carmilla’s are here.”

          Kenny laid back down saying, “That’s nice.”

          “You fuckin’ moron, don’t you recollect Halloween,” Count kicked the couch, “the supermart.”

          Kenny sat up, “Shit.”

          “Yeah, so get your ass up, we got shit to do. Start by callin’ Doc Box, tell him to go through the files at the paper lookin’ for anythin’ new on Stuart, the Carmillas, or this Doctor Flytrap and her boarding house or whatever.”

          Kenny was starting to stand up when Stella said, “Wait a damn minute, what the fuck’s goin’ on?”

          Count dropped back into his chair.

          “Stuart Stegman is a skinny, psychopathic asshole accountant-turned-killer. He’s killed multiple, most notably his wife, and was never convicted. That doesn’t mean no one knows what he did, everyone with a functioning brain cell knows. Before he killed his wife she stashed his only child, a daughter, away somewhere. He’s never been able to find her, hired me once to do it. But I came back to him with zilch. Then last Halloween he held me, Irma and Doc hostage at Sweeney’s Supermart while him and his girlfriend knocked off employees. Stuart wanted me to spill on the location of his offspring, I kept my lips locked. Your boy toy here finally chased him off. And now I think he’s back. No, scratch that lottery ticket, I know it.”

          “How do you know?”

          “Carmilla. He calls every woman he’s with that name. Plus there was a bowl of caramels on the table at Flytrap’s. I don’t know how I could have missed something that obvious.”

          “But why was my grandma called Carmilla, then? He’s not with my…”

          Count sighed and stood up again. “I think you weren’t just eatin’ crackers earlier when you thought Flytraps place was cult-like. You see, at Halloween, he had just one girl with him that he called Carmilla, now, I think there’s a whole league of ‘em.”

          “And my grandma—”

          “I don’t know,” Count said cutting her off. “All I know is I need a smoke and a drink.”

          Count Whorton took out a bent cigarette from his coat and lit it. He was still in his pajamas, a pair of old holey sweatpants, and a large black shirt that said, “Time To Pass Out.” Through washings and much wear, letters had faded away leaving the shirt to say only, “me o ass Out.”

          It was at this moment Count had a realization and said, “I just had a realization, I don’t have my flask.”

          Kenny went off into another room to get dressed, saying as he did so, “My Ma has some prickly pear flavored stuff up in the kitchen.”

          Count was already up the stairs, off to interrupt Kenny’s mom’s breakfast. As he came back down Count said, “I don’t think your Ma likes me, Kenny, but she made me a sandwich. Okay, here’s the plan: we hunker down here till dark. Doubt the coppers will check for me here. But you, Kenny, head over and update Irma on the goin’s on. And I’ll need ya to pick somethin’ up from Dotty for me.”

          “What’s that?” Kenny was putting on his jacket.

          “You’ll see, just tell her I need the boom boom and the cookies.”

          “What?”

          “You’ll see.”

          Sitting down, Count said to Stella, “You got one of those computer phones?”

          “A regular phone? Yes.”

          Kenny waved and went out the door.

          “Good, do some searchin’. Look up that Flytrap place and see what it says.”

          “What’cha lookin’ for?”

          “Anythin’ really, but the mention of Stuart’s name, name of Flytrap’s husband, and when the boardin’ house got started. But again, anythin’ really.”

          “Right,” Stella worked on her phone for a minute then said, “Well, I’m not finding any names. I’m on their website. It does say here, ‘Doctor Flytrap has worked her whole life to help her fellow women never more than when she started her home for wom…’ Blah, blah, blah, November. She started it up in November.”

          “Interestin’, that’s right after the run-in with Stuart at the Supermart.”

          “Coincidence?”

          “Get your head outta your ass.”

          “It’s not saying much else here.”

          “Well, keep lookin’. I’m gonna use the landline to call Miss Pinky.”

          Count got up and grabbed the phone off the hook. He dialed then held it to his ear soon he was saying, “Okay, okay, sorry, sorry, how was I supposed to know?” Count slammed the phone down sayin’, “Fuckin’ shit.”

          “What was that?” Stella asked.

          “Kenny’s mom’s on the phone, she ripped my ass like old underwear.”

          “Here, use my phone. I’ll dial.”

          Count was talking to Miss Pinky in a matter of seconds. The conversation was short, to the point, and disappointing.

          “I’d tell ya Count,” she said, “but Detective Klunkel has been keeping things quiet and the like. Especially since he knows we talk. So, I don’t know who you supposedly killed. This time, again, how many times are you gonna be accused of killing someone?”

          “Not a clue, keep your ears open, Miss Pinky,” she said bye and Count handed the phone back to Stella to hang up.

          “Now, what do we do?”

          Count looked at Stella and said, “Now we do the real work. We think… ponder… go over everythin’ a thousand times in our heads… all while drinkin’ and watchin’ T.V.”

          “Really?” Stella asked sarcastically.

          “Oh yeah, shits ‘bout to get real good in here,” Count tapped his forehead and sipped from a bottle of prickly-pear-flavored booze.

          Hours later, after darkness fell over the city, Stella, Kenny, and Count walked out the back door of Kenny’s parent’s house. Sitting out front in the idling station wagon was Irma. When they were all loaded up Count said, “Drive, Irmie, drive.”

          “We actually doin’ this, Countie?” Irma asked piercing the night with her voice.

          “It’s the only plan I could come up with, and I think its pretty damn good, more or less.”

          “Okay then, your flask’s on the dash.”

          “Thanks, Irmie, hey Kenny, hand me up that bag you got from Dotty.”

          Kenny handed Count a big brown paper bag.

          “What’s that?” Irma asked.

          “A gun, and some girl scout cookies.”

          “What?”

          “Yeah, I think it’s Dotty’s niece or something that’s been sellin’ ‘em. I said we’d take a few boxes.”

          “I meant the gun.”

          “Oh, I don’t know how things are gonna go down here with Stuart so I thought we could use some extra help.”

          “Just don’t shoot yourself with it,” Kenny said, “or even better one of us.”

          “Well, that wasn’t the plan, but let’s see how the night goes.”

          It was roughly twelve-fifteen when Irma parked across the street from Doctor Flytrap’s home for women. Count, Kenny, and Irma all got out while Stella stayed in the car, the keys in the ignition.

          They approached the house, going straight for the front door. The plan was to pick the lock, but before they even tried Irma opened the door wide. It wasn’t locked at all.

          “Lucky,” Kenny said.

          “Doubtful.”

          Inside, they took different directions on the first floor. All heading towards the back of the house. Kenny carried his bat, Irma had a knife in her pocket, and Count forgot the gun in the car. The rooms were all dark and empty, everyone asleep upstairs.

          Creeping through the big house, the three of them found each other in the kitchen. None of them had found Stuart. Looking down another hall, Count saw a light on. He motioned to Irma and Kenny, they started down the hall. Only a few feet from the lighted doorway a voice came. It said, “You all would be piss-poor cat burglars.”

          The voice wasn’t Stuarts, but Doctor Flytrap’s. Count stuck his head in the door, she was just sitting at a desk. “Do please come in,” she said.

          Count, Kenny, and Irma went in the office, Count leading the way saying, “Damn it, where is he?”

          Doctor Flytrap looked at Count and just said, “Hmmm?”

          “Don’t give me that. Where’s Stuart? I’m done with this. I’m not gonna have him come around every few months to threaten, kill, and terrorize. This all ends tonight. So, where is he… Carmilla?”

          Doctor Flytrap smiled.

          “Answer him, lady,” Irma said, “or I’ll shove my foot so far up your ass I’ll have to reach down your mouth to paint my toenails.”

          “That’s not necessary,” Doctor Flytrap said, “now please sit and things will become evident.”

          The three of them sat awkwardly on the one couch in the room.

          “Now, as you maybe could tell I come from money. This house was my grandfather’s. Too much house for one family, let alone one person. I’d always wanted to do something with it, but didn’t know what. Then I met a woman.”

          “Sorry to interrupt here,” Count said, “but is this fuckin’ goin’ anywhere?”

          Ignoring Count, Flytrap went on. “She came to me for treatment. In her sessions she went on and on about this man. It was Stuart. I was so intrigued at his power over her that I had to meet him. When I did, I learned that my patient wasn’t the only woman this man controlled. There were nearly twenty of them and he called them all by the same name.”

          “Carmilla,” Count said, “then you joined them, moved in here, and are now hidin’ him.”

          “No, I married him.”

          “What? Did you know what he did to his previous wife?”

          “Yes, I did. Stuart wanted access to my money and living here wasn’t too bad either. I also know about you, all of you. He wouldn’t stop talking about you, Count.”

          “Yeah, yeah, where is he?” Growled Kenny.

          “Oh, resting, laying peacefully, not bothering anyone anymore,” Doctor Flytrap smiled.

          “Oh, fuck,” Count said.

          “What?” Irma asked.

          “He’s dead,” Count stood up, “Stuart’s dead ain’t he?”

          “Yup,” Flytrap smiled.

          “What the fuck’s goin’ on?” Irma said.

          “The cops at our door this mornin’,” Count said, “They weren’t sent by Stuart or because he bumped someone off. It’s because he’s dead himself.”

          “So, who killed him?”

          “I did,” Doctor Flytrap said.

          “Why?”

          “Sit back down Count Whorton and I’ll tell you. Why’d you even stand up, did you think it would help your point? Fuck, sit down.”

          Count sat and Flytrap spoke. “When I saw the control this measly worthless man had over these women I nearly threw up. No woman should be controlled by a man. So, I helped him, built things up, established the house. All to stop him. When you came here yesterday bumbling about and talking about ocean movies-”

          “Um, correction beach party movies, Frankie and Annette are in ‘Bikini Beach’ not ‘Titanic’, but nevertheless go on.”

          “Well, I knew you instantly, even with those glasses. Stuarts gone on and on about your hunched back, pus-white skin, and rat-like teeth. I knew shit would hit the fan once he saw you on the security cameras. So, when he got home, I shot him. He was going to get one of my girls in trouble or dead with his obsession over you.”

          “That was your plan anyway, wasn’t it, to kill him?”

          “Yes, now the Carmilla’s can work without the corrupting influence of men. We will work together, live together, and most importantly protect each other.”

          “How do I know that we didn’t just go from one asshole to another?”

          “I don’t have a problem with you. Unless you work against us, try to harm us, we will have no problem.”

          “Alright show it by getting the cops off my back then everythin’ will be groovy like a late-night movie.” Irma gave Count a look and he said, “Starsky said it on an episode this mornin’ or I may have dreamt it.”

          “Fine, I’ll do what ya want,” Flytrap said.

          Count was silent then hesitantly said, “So, we’re just free to go?”

          “The door’s unlocked isn’t it?”

          Count, Irma, and Kenny stood up. “Well, alrighty then, but know this; If I start smellin’ somethin’ ripe in the pipe I’m comin’ back with the plumber.”

          The three of them started towards the door then Count turned back. “Another thing, a lady named Ruth—”

          “The grandmother of your little friend, she’s fine. She can come and go as she pleases, and visit with her grandchildren as much as she wants. Stuart had some rules that are being amended.”

          “Alright, well, have a good one, I guess.”

          As they walked out of the dark house Count heard a noise and looked behind him. At the top of a large set of stairs standing in the black night were several women all staring down at him. Count gave a wave and went out the door.

          As they were getting in the car Stella asked repeatedly what happened. Count finally answered saying, “Nothin’ much, nothin’ much happened all day. Now, who wants to go back to our place and watch, ‘How to Stuff a Wild Bikini’?”

          “I’m up for it Countie,” Irma said, starting up the car.

          “Good, I need to go home anyway. I’ve been in pajamas for twenty-four hours that says, ‘me o ass Out’ on the front and with no underwear. But hey everything worked out so maybe I should make this a thing.”

          “I’d kill you first,” Irma said.

          “Yeah, yeah,” Count drank from his flask, “It’d be groovy like a late-night movie.”

The End


Michael D. Davis was born and raised in a small town in the heart of Iowa. Having written over thirty short stories, ranging in genre from comedy to horror from flash fiction to novella he continues in his accursed pursuit of a career in the written word.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2020