The Faceless Bandits Along Cathedral Parkway by E. al-Bashir

Etienne al-Bashir was born in Marseille, France but he believes that he comes from another planet. When he was 9 years old, he moved with his family to the White Chapel district of London. There, he completed his secondary school education. Receiving high marks brought him to Harvard University where he majored in Physics and minored in history. After two years of still receiving high marks, he dropped out much to everyone’s surprise. With money that he saved, he took a greyhound bus to New Orleans, where he currently resides, works at a truck depot and continues his passion for experimental writing.


The bearded old man wrapped in dull colored tarp and canvas from head to toe, who had been living there on the darkened steps of St. Mary’s Church since last week couldn’t satisfy the detectives who pried and twisted (gritting their teeth) to know the causes and motives behind the recent maiming along the old Cathedral Parkway.

“…experimental autopsy-style dismemberment”, the press described it. “Voyeuristic. Maniacal.” The whereabouts of the murderous bandits were, of course, among the premier concerns of the two young, diligent detectives. They have been in pursuit for weeks. Very much impatient with this half drunk vagabond, Detective Singer put his pen and pad away, flicked his hair from in front of his eyes, batted his eyes, and exhaled while turning to Detective Novak. The old bearded man, as if descending into a mania, complex with the stalactites and stalagmites of nice and easy cerebral decay, stared off into the sunrise to be hypnotized by the familiar drone of the city. It was another cold morning. He had begun to scat and hum Jimmy Noone’s “Sweet Georgia Brown” when Detective Novak shot a glance at the poor man over Singer’s shoulder and decided that this scum couldn’t possibly help in the investigation.

A gaggle of reporters materialized behind Detective Singer. “Have you found the murderers? Is it true that over a thousand people have died in this week alone? What is the NYPD doing to stop this?”

“I AM JULIUS!” yelled the old bearded man, aloof.

“No comment” put frankly by Singer. A characteristic move on his part.


Every precinct was on murder watch. They analyzed the streets for suspicious behavior. Of course, some innocent people felt the wrath. But it was all in the name of safety.

One night, the two detectives left another scene along the Cathedral Parkway at 7PM. By 10PM, three corpses were splayed out in the street crosstown, on the other side of the Parkway, as mangled deflated corpses twisted in hyper-extended dimensions. The police rushed to the scene to find a group of bystanders encircled around the gore.

“Out of the way, out of my way” sneered Novak with authority. He had never seen such style of violence. It almost seemed like the diabolical madman or men didn’t even necessarily want to just kill these people. “This is Novak”, he said into his walkie-talkie. “Request back up. I repeat: Request back up. Singer: pick up.” His neurotransmitters like troupes of puppeteers pulled his face into an ugly expression. He threw his glance up at a screaming moon, just to transcend from the responsibilities that he would surely need to meet going forward tonight, tomorrow and the next day until these crimes were solved and justice meted with an iron ruler…

…Letting his head sink back to earth, he caught the movement of a shadowy figure far away (a few blocks away) from the spectacle, viewing it all from a vantage point within the soft embrace of night shadows. Novak noticed that the figure had noticed him because the figure then began to strut away in haste.

Novak immediately pursued, bringing his strides into a run and then a sprint. He would catch him. He was almost there. Novak was faster and stronger than this, perhaps, fiend, this demon, because he, Detective Steve Q. Novak was good and wanted to do the right thing.

The figure turned a corner, a left. Novak followed. This figure, this ‘man’ who Novak vowed he would catch sprinted, now, as if for his life. He had revealed his fear to Novak. Novak had an eye for fear. He could sense his opponent’s defeat before his opponent even became his opponent.

Now the man skipped down into the subway. Novak still hadn’t been able to make out his face. When he reached the top of the stairs, Novak saw the man descending them. The young detective leapt down, jumping over ten or so steps. Ringing around the corner, gaining up on the still-mysterious figure, he knew that he would have to jump the turnstile in order to continue his pursuit of this man who was, now, headed towards the Downtown platform without the slightest displayed interest of respecting the laws of the city.

Novak almost fell in landing after jumping over the turnstile. But he didn’t necessarily lose any speed. “STOP RIGHT THERE!”, he commanded. Descending the next set of stairs to the platform, the man showed no hint of ceasing his escape. Nearing the tracks, the figure actually jumped onto them, landing in the middle part that was mostly concrete. Novak reached the edge of the platform and began to hesitate chasing the man. His choice in going further ultimately wouldn’t be his own however. A burly set of hands pushed at the middle of the Detective’s back, launching him into the tracks.

Suddenly, the most putrid of tastes intruded his mouth while a rat scuttled over his ankle. The filthy moistness held him. Those hands from behind his became an actual person who Novak had heard hop down onto the tracks approaching the now-subdued-Novak. Slow steps and cheeky whistling flushed heat through the young detective from one extremity and juncture to another.

The whistling stopped and the figure put his shoe on Steve Novak’s head. “He who chooses to ignore details will descend and will be consumed. Behold: I am the prophet Julius. This here day will evolve into another.”

Right then, a completely shaven head and face of Detective Singer attached to the pitiful remains of his slain body plopped down onto the tracks to lay dead facing Novak. The corpse stared into his old partner’s pupils with the glaze of death all over his visage. The kind of stare that sees through life itself. Singer’s head had been cut into even quadrants, ones that respected the near pseudospherical nature of the cranium’s design.

This ‘Julius’ flipped Novak onto his back to then begin dragging the detective further into his lair. Soon, he felt appendages, the rigor mortis of long dead bodies beneath his back, as he was pulled, by his feet, further and further away from the lights of the platform. Beyond the comfort of light, Novak noticed immediately that some other figure had lifted him by the forearms. Suspended in the air between the grips of two swift kidnappers, who scatted the chorus of “Sweet Georgia Brown”, the wail of an incoming train sent echoes all the way down the tunnel. And then, in the musty pitch black, a door closed behind them rendering the same wail into a dirty secret.

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