Sûrah XLVIII
VICTORY
"Nay, but they understand not, save a little."

48
LAST LAUGH

From the Tenderloin to the Outer Sunset wends a grim procession, a motorcade snaking from the former through the latter's sleepy avenues... where a predawn fog has wrapped itself like an oceanic muffler, sounds effectively muted as gunshots by a silencer. Headlamps beam, proceed in a phalanx, fork, then re-converge, on approach to their destination, blinking off in unison, rolling to an unpropitious stop. En masse, the double-parked cars disgorge their armed and lethal passengers—four men per times six—deployed with military-style precision to round an ordinary house—idle-seeming, occupants implicit in the picture-tube-lit environs, windowpanes secure, front and back doors doubly locked. Entering will require coordinated breaking.

Squatman gives the signal; deadbolts buckle, hinges groan, glass, in tinkling shatters, concordantly implodes—giving vent to a stench that overwhelms revoltingly.

Auntie Daisy Jane, soft tissues putrefied, breeds bacteria. Maggots, in teeming clusters, worm through decomposing skin, their appetites almost audible in consuming the pale corruption.

Troops descend. Footsteps rumble like a cataract to the in-law flat below, its confines, hastily breached, no less malodorous, albeit steeped in sickly-sweetness that commingles with the fumes of foul degeneration.

Lamps are lit. The henchmen halt, their leader elbows through to behold a deathbed spectacle:

Joleena—rigid, naked—lies, arms crossed upon her chest, a pair of pennies placed on her eyelids, aspect tranquil, body framed by a wreath of white chrysanthemums—withered, pale—a brace of blossoms, placed like a frilly bra, occluding breasts discreetly, a trail of fallen petals leading from wasted ribs to groin—with a doily-like corolla surrounding "his" genitalia...

...which Squatman, borrowing Willie's knife, extracts.