Friday, January 6, 2017

THE REAL WEIRD WEST: The Bloody Benders Part 2


   So the Benders had blown their cover in a hail of kitchen knives and coffee curses. Ed York was hot on their trail, or would be once he got the evidence he was after that the Benders had disappeared his brother the year before.
   But he wasn’t the only one looking to start piecing things together. Several nearby communities were joining forces to point some serious fingers. A few weeks after Ed’s last visit to the inn, a town hall meeting was arranged, attended by seventy-some locals, including Colonel Ed and Pa Bender himself.
   Grievances were aired, questions raised and a decision was come to. It was time to get some search warrants and start turning over every stone in every house between Big Hill and Drum Creek. Pa Bender naturally made use of this information to his great advantage.
   Few days later, lad by the name of William Tole happened by the Bender Inn where lo and behold, a palpable sense of neglect and abandonment seemed to prevail. No one home and the Bender’s animals all appeared to be unfed. It was rough weather coming in though, so after Master Tole recounted his discovery to the township, it was several days before they could investigate.
   Once they did though, they went in force. Hundreds of volunteers came calling, tried and true each and every one, ready to heed the plight of starving chickens where tales of madwomen brandishing butcher knives had failed. Colonel Ed led the charge and off they went to storm the gates of the sinister Bender Inn.
   They weren’t to be disappointed.
   No Benders of course, but no food or clothing, either. Nearly every stitch and scrap had been hauled off, leaving only the dust and silence and the haunting notes of some peculiar smell.
   The search party ran the edges of the room, drawing curtains and opening cabinets. They sniffed to the rafters and down along the floor. And there they had it. A trapdoor by the dining room table, nailed fast. It was short work to pry it up, where they found…!
   An empty room.
   However, there was no missing the blood on its stone floor. It was comprised of several heavy slabs, laid side to side. They called for sledges and spent hours wrecked it up, but no bodies were found. The smell was obviously the blood itself, but enough of it, that it’d soaked into the seams between the slabs and into the soil beneath. It left them all with only one recourse.
   They had to lift the entire cabin.
   Yes, sir that group went shoulder to shoulder and every strong back among them raised up the cabin in their mighty, calloused hands and moved it right out the way. They then got to work digging the soil there, but to no avail. Not a single corpse was found.
   ‘So where’s that leave us?’ someone likely asked.
   ‘I can’t think of a single thing. We looked inside the house, we looked under the house.’
   ‘That’s a real puzzler.’
   ‘What about around the house?’ someone offered.
   ‘Whatdya mean?’
   ‘The yard, say. Y’think someone might be crazy enough to perhaps bury something in the yard?’
   ‘Instead of moving their cabin, depositing bodies there, then moving it back?’
   ‘I know it sounds wild, but my god – what if I’m right?!’
   ‘What if you’re wrong?!’
   Fair enough, it didn’t go quite that far, but Lord only knows why those fools didn’t just hunt around the place first.
   So that’s what they did. Got themselves some long metal poles and starting poking around. They concentrated especially on the garden and orchard, both of which – bear with me folks – appeared to have been freshly dug up and refilled. It was here they found their first body. And where Colonel Ed found his poor brother. Dropped facedown Hank was, barely beneath the surface.
   On they went into the evening hours, marking suspect sites for future excavation. Next day they came back, and sure enough, pulled out eight bodies. Another one was thrown in the well as were several random body parts. Oh, the Benders had been busy, indeed. Damn near every one of ‘em had their head bashed and throat cut. Except one. No apparent injuries on that one, a young girl. Ma and Pa had decided to strangle her or bury her alive, no one’s quite sure.
   Naturally, the whole ordeal pissed them folks right off. They had to point it at someone and if not the Benders, well, maybe someone in that crowd right there by the inn.
   ‘Brockman!’
   ‘Yes?’
   ‘You knew the Benders, didn’t you?’
   ‘Good friends with ’em as a matter of fact.’
   ‘How’d you like us to hang you right here and now?’
   ‘I wouldn’t!’
   ‘Too fuckin’ bad.’
   And up he went on the end of a rope until he passed out. They let him down, woke him up and started asking questions. Where were the Benders? Where were their other victims? Why’d they do it? When they didn’t get the answers they wanted, they strung him up again.
   Eventually, they let ol’ Brockman go and he staggered home like a man who’d been hung several times and yelled at by a crowd of vengeful townfolk. He didn’t know a thing, or maybe, knew things too horrible to speak of. Who can say.
   After all, where had the Benders hied off to? What the hell was their motive in the first place? And how did they do it? Were they dragging folks out of bed of a night and cutting them up? Waitin’ in the shower or closet with them hammers and knives?
   No, they weren’t. Didn’t have showers or closets back in the Old West, anyway. No, the Benders had another method, and in tune with their gibberish speaking, coffee cursing, psychic wizard ways…
   It was pretty damn creepy.
   And plenty weird.

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