Sep. 14, 2017
“Can I help you?” he asked timidly, trying to appear as nonchalant as possible and failing miserably. The cop peered at him through squinted eyes, then looked him up and down, at least what parts of him could be seen in the barely open doorway.
“Are you Joseph Terry?”
“I saw you in the window, do you know what happened?”
“A young man and woman were murdered last night, none of your neighbors saw anything, most of them claim they weren’t home. They all said you rarely leave the apartment, did you happen to see or hear anything last night?”
“No…I…I’m sorry, I didn’t.” Joe opened and closed his mouth a few times after stammering out that pathetic sentence, trying to figure out what to say next. “Sorry.”
The cop crooked his head to the side like some idiot puppy and narrowed his eyes as Joe continued to stutter in the doorway. With a sly grin, as if he knew something Joe didn’t and was lording it over him he shook his head and said, “Alright, just relax. Don’t get out much do you? It’s ok, if you think of anything, just call me.” He extended his hand to give joe a small paper card with his number written on it. The outrage, this man pitied him! That smile, that shake of the head, it was just like they used to do in school, as if he was some urchin so comically low in society that he wasn’t worth talking to. The anger began to well up inside of him as Joe gingerly reached out and pulled the card from the cop.
“Thanks, I will,” he said cautiously, then closed the door as the cop walked down the hall. As soon as the door shut and latched he began to breathe heavily. The audacity of that man, treating him like he was some kind of child. That smile that he let cross his face at my expense, due to my stuttering, it was absolutely maddening. Joe’s anger surged inside him as he grabbed a bottle from the shelf in his kitchen that held the various whiskey and scotch brands he had collected over the years. With a shaky hand he poured himself a tall glass. Sipping on the 10 year old scotch whiskey he had selected, he walked briskly to his desk and sat down. It was nothing special but soon he began to relax. ‘What am I doing? I cannot be angry at a cop, not now.’ He mused to himself, starting to see the humor in the situation as the scotch warmed his belly. The memory of the blood spilling out of the woman the night before, running down the steps like a majestic waterfall brought a smile to his lips and he laughed for the second time that he could remember. For the first time in his life he was happy, he leaned back in the chair and listened as the cop knocked on his neighbors door to resume his line of questioning.
As the days wore on his mood slowly started it’s downward journey back to normal. The street seemed a little noisier each night and his coworkers slightly dumber. The people on the train talked a little louder or smelled a little fouler and his patience began to wear thin. Even the thoughts of that wonderful night began to feel a little less comforting and invigorating. His apartment, which use to be his fortress of solitude, had begun to feel like a cage at times. The walls would close in, the windows would shrink down to pinholes and he would sulk in the corner listening to the incessant dribble of shallow conversation echoing up from below. He had taken to going for walks in the evening to remedy this. Once or twice around the block usually did the trick but he hated it. His neighbors gawked at him as he walked by, as if just because they had never seen him out at this time of night meant it wasn’t allowed and he was breaking some sort of rule. No one said anything, they just stared and avoided him.
One particular night, about eight days after the events that he referred to as his happy night, he found himself wandering a little further out. Instead of rounding the block like he had been doing most evenings he went straight at his first corner headed down the darkened street. The streetlights had all gone out and he usually avoided it, it seemed smart to do so. This particular night the quiet called to him and he let his trance take him into the void. As he walked past the darkened trees and stoops by the dark buildings he began to hear a faint conversation playing on the air ahead. As he came closer he could start to make out the words, a typical imbecilic conversation about sports or music or something, he didn’t recognize the names they were comparing. His heart began to race as he neared the conversation and could hear more and more of it. The anxiety bubbled up inside of him and his hands began to shake slightly, but instead of a panicked feeling he felt excitement. Joe pulled out the flask that he kept tucked in his pocket and unscrewed the lid. After drinking the remains of the flask he slid it back into his pocket and pulled out a knife. For a brief second his inner self questioned him, why did he have a knife? He didn’t remember bringing one, but here it was in his hand. The questions slowly gave way as he rounded the corner and saw the man and woman engaging in conversation on the stoop in front of their building. Their faces were obscured by the dark but he could make out their basic features in the faint glow of their cigarettes. Joe wriggled his nose in disgust at the horrible smell emanating off of both of them as they puffed away on their sticks of flaming tobacco, paying him no mind.
Without having time to consider his options Joe ran up the steps and shoved the man’s left shoulder. Caught by surprise, he fell forward into the woman, catching his feet on the steps and slamming his knee hard as he went down. The woman opened her mouth to scream but Joe’s knife quickly silenced her with a quick slash to her throat. She made a queer gurgling noise and clutched her neck as red lines squeezed through her fingers and dripped onto the stone steps below. She stumbled slightly as Joe danced out of her way, then collapsed, slamming her face into he concrete sidewalk and splaying her legs out at odd angles. As she spasmed slightly Joe turned to the man who was holding his face, blood dripping through his fingers.
“What the…” he was muttering, unaware of what had happened in the few seconds he had spent trying to stand up. Joe’s knife came down from above and plunged into the back of his neck. The man jerked suddenly but made no sound as he collapsed to the ground. His chest heaved and his breathing quicker as joe watched the steps and sidewalk slowly transform into a bloody mess. The smile returned to his lips and a quiet laugh escaped him. He quickly filled his flask while the blood was still flowing freely from their wounds and then backed up, taking one last long look at his work and glancing around to be sure there were no witnesses. Feeling satisfied and turned and began to skip home, laughing gaily and humming a little tune, he had no idea what it was. ‘This is a wonderful night,’ he thought to himself as he tucked away his flask, ‘a wonderful night indeed!’