It was a dark and stormy night. That’s the truth or I wouldn’t word it like that. I can’t tell a lie to save my life.
I had been in my office grading some papers, wondering from the bulk of the grades why I even bother trying, when Hank barged in and threw a hole-punch at my head.
“What the hell man?” My jacket flew open as I stood and instinctively launched a cube of sticky note paper at him.
“I saw your article in The New Yorker Professor Weaver. It was almost as impressive with your name attached as it was when I originally wrote it!”
Hank began to tear my snow globe collection down, each one shattering behind me as they smashed against the wall. Luckily I was a champion at dodge-globe, a fact I had just that instant learned.
“Would you just calm down so we can talk Hank?” I held up my hands in trembling surrender. Hank held two of my snow globes hostage, tightening his very white knuckles around them.
“Only my friends get to call me Hank.” He sneered at me.
“Then let’s you and I have a chat, Professor Vickers.” I offered wider eyes and the promise of a smile as my white flag.
“Did you and my wife talk?” Hank…I mean, Professor Vickers was turning quite red around his cheeks.
“Of course not man.” I realized right away how poor my choice of words had been. I had always been a terrible liar, so I always copped to whatever it was I was guilty of. “I mean it wasn’t just a physical thing, we talked a bit.”
That was a worse choice of words.
“After I bash your simple brains in, I’m going to hang you up in the trophy case you son of a bitch!” Another snow globe hit the wall behind me, but the second came right after and I didn’t move fast enough. It crashed into my chest and winded me.
I was on my back, tiny shards of glass stinging me all over, thirsting for air but unable to suck any in. Professor Asshole mounted me and held my last remaining snow globe over my head. It was my favorite globe. I’d picked it up from some old woman in Munich. It was far more detailed and more importantly, it was oversized. This thing was the size of a goldfish bowl, a big goldfish bowl, and I knew from bringing it all the way back to the states that it was a heavy bastard. This was going to hurt, but only if I survived the blow.
I had to do something. I did what anyone would do, right? Anyone would have slid his hands around on the floor and gathered up as many tiny shards of broken snow globes as he could, slicing himself up real good, then cram his palms deep into his attacker’s eye sockets. I’m sure they would.
Professor…you know what, screw it. Hank screamed quite loud and understandably so. He spun in wild circles and clawed at his stinging eyes (just making assumptions on what he was feeling here, probably downplaying the actual tormenting agony of it but oh well), doing a mad dance around my office and kicking random things over. My shelves shook and books collapsed onto the floor. A rather heavy volume on The Renaissance that included glossy pages of just paintings coupled with lighter and quite thin pages of text slammed spine-first against his right foot. His bulky body collapsed and his bald head slammed into the large snow globe he had left on the floor beside me. He crashed into in face-down and the glass exploded with a spatter of blood shooting out in perfect synchronicity with the large chunks of glass that splintered off. Only the ones that weren’t now deeply embedded in his fleshy mug escaped.
“Hank?” I managed to cough out his name as my lungs restarted. I sat up, wincing as my hands pushed against the floor. I collected another round of wounds along my arms as my jacket and shirt were torn and now lined with small slits that leaked blood onto my rug. I crawled over to Hank thinking I would simply pick him up and everything would be okay, but things were far from okay.
“His breath is what I can’t stand. No, I think it’s the overwhelming funk of his flabby old body. He’s as hairy as an ape and just as romantic. I’m going to leave the brute soon. Just hold me and let’s forget about him.”
Jolene had said those words to me as we lay in a nude embrace reflecting in glorious afterglow one night. Hank was right about everything and had every right to be angry. He had every right to want to cut my smug head off and present it to his students as a study in man’s true nature. I probably should have just let him have his vengeance. I probably owed it to him and to myself to stand still, open up my arms and embrace his wrath. The trouble is I too dealt in human nature and the primitive man that still exists beneath the façade of civilized behavior, an evolved brain, pressed slacks and bowties. I wasn’t going to just let him bludgeon me to death with my own souvenir. I did what men do and fought back against an attacker. It was self-defense and that was that.
I made my way out into the hall and crouched against a wall. I looked up at the high windows to see the rain I could hear tapping loudly against the thick glass. I was not comforted by anything hitting glass. I tried to pick some little pieces of it out of my hands and arms. It was an impossible mission to fully complete. I just needed to leave everything be and call the police. I’d just explain the way things had gone, tell the truth as usual and accept whatever justice was to come my way. My pretentious nature filled my head with voices telling me again just how flawed man was, and how his broken system of law and order often punished the innocent and praised the guilty. I knew this was more for the entertainment of my students. Nobody lapped up anti-society rants quite like a captive auditorium of college kids.
Then I spotted the writing on the walls, literally.
Professor Weaver fucked me and my wife. He’ll just do the same to the rest of you. I hereby resign, a man no longer content with existing as a punching bag; yours truly, Professor Vickers.
“Well isn’t that just great.” I wasn’t asking myself a question, I was well aware that this being spray-painted for all of the university to see would not do me any favors when the police arrived on the scene.
I had to clean up the mess in my office and make this problem go away.
I limped back in, not really sure why since my legs were perfectly fine. Then I saw the huge chunk of German glass buried deep in my left shin. Gritting my teeth nearly to the point of breaking I yanked the large shard out and tossed it aside. I breathed quick and shallow, feeling a bit light-headed as I towered over Hank. The tragic Professor Vickers looked quite pathetic with his face impaled on a broken snow globe in the middle of my favorite rug. The answer was very clear however; just roll him up in the rug and drag him out of the building. Then what? I wasn’t looking that far ahead yet. My first job was to clean up my office.
I rushed to the janitor’s nest and back, toting a broom, dust pan, lemon cleaner, rags, and a bottle of bleach. I forgot to grab trash bags. After a very loud profanity escaped me I ran back and grabbed an entire box of large black bags, rubber gloves, and a roll of electrician’s tape.
Sparing you all the rather dull yet exhausting details in-between, I made it to my car after my cleaning was finished, and after a very difficult and painful struggle, I managed to shove Hank’s carcass into the back seat of my Audi.
The rain stung my wounds but made them feel suddenly clean. The feeling would pass as fresh droplets of blood would emerge, then the rain would wash it away once more. I wondered about the trail of evidence I must have left in my wake, the little things that I had most assuredly missed. I knew I had to return after a change of clothes and a trip to the twenty-four hour mega-mart to pick up spray paint and a few other items. I had to paint over Hank’s rather obvious resignation, make it look like something else. How? Was I going to just black it out as if it had been censored information in a report released to the press? That’d look rather strange to both the students and the staff. I thought of my skill as an artist and wondered how one went about ‘tagging’ so as to make it seem like some kids, possibly students, had vandalized the university’s hallowed halls.
I started up my engine and cranked the stereo. I never went past twenty-eight on my volume control, which was a very strict rule for the sake of my ears. I noticed that I had the volume way up in the thirties. My throbbing head was dulling all of my senses. I was a wounded and very panicky animal trapped in a corner. I needed to claw my way out of this or start packing for Mexico. No, I’d go to Canada instead. I was a lover of the cold and the snow. I was always fond of the beach and especially the food south of the border, but I wouldn’t last long in the heat. I’d also stick out a lot less in the Great White North. Nobody takes a second look at a six foot tall Dane with blonde hair in Toronto, but the residents of Santa Rosalia might be able to pick me out of a lineup pretty quick.
Was that politically incorrect? I feared any form of judgment at that point. I was worried about so many little things on account of having the dead body of the man whose paper I had stolen and whose wife I had been sleeping with on a very regular basis rolled up in my favorite rug in the back of my car. Where the hell was I going to take him?
This really was the time to have a partner in crime. I could have used help with the heavy lifting and the decision making. I stopped at the top of a steep hill and enjoyed the silence of the night that was hidden beneath the raindrops and thunder. I turned off my radio and took a very deep breath, exhaled, and laughed like a wild hyena into my rearview mirror. I don’t think I stopped as I noticed the rug moving in the back seat. I knew I was seeing things as those lumps that made up Hank’s body moved underneath the fabric. The jingling of glass and crumpling of plastic garbage bags made the movements more real.
I honestly don’t know why I didn’t just pull Hank out of the car and stomp my foot down on the snow globe that was embedded in his face. That would have been the smart thing to do. That would have been the truly savage, unrelenting, animalistic, human thing to do. I had taught my students that we are all primal no matter how advanced we imagine ourselves to be. The art and culture I filled their eyes and ears with was impressive and showed a lot of progress, but the ape was not that far behind us yet.
So why did I just sit there and laugh as Hank screamed? Why didn’t I just stop him from pulling that damned snow globe that I now wished I had never touched while in that tiny shop in Munich out of his fat ugly face?
I have no fucking clue.
Words did not fill my Audi so much as low grunts and high-pitched cries of pain. Blood pouring down his disfigured puss, Hank emerged in my mirror and waved. He seriously waved at me, and he smiled. He fucking smiled at me.
Everything went dark as the heavy wooden base of the German snow globe snapped something.
I didn’t think “Ouch, my spinal cord”. I just went limp and passed out.
When I came around again I was on my back in the mud, the rain pummeling my face and wounds on my arms. I couldn’t feel much or move at all. Hank hovered over me flicking ashes from his cigarette onto me. The sweet cold rain extinguished the embers before they hit me. I wasn’t feeling grateful for small favors at all, but somehow I took pride in a little bit of victory.
“You took it all from me Weaver.” Hank roared with a cracked grin ripping his facial wounds open further. His blood thinned in the rain before splashing me. I got some in my right eye and was now down to a bit of blurry vision in my left retina and the ability to hear most of what he was saying. I could smell the clean air and taste the iron as his blood leaked into my open mouth. I was once again struggling to breathe. This time I knew the ability to do so wasn’t going to return. These were my final moments of life and I was spending them with the last person I’d want to spend them with.
I couldn’t speak so I just groaned and let him ramble on and on about how I had wronged him. He finally spat on me and left me there with a promise that Jolene and I would be together soon enough.
He didn’t make it very far. I watched him struggle into my Audi and spin the tires deep into the soft mud. I felt laughter escape me as my life spilled out and washed away with the pouring rain.
Hank stumbled out of the car and tried to free it from the mud’s grasp. Now he was the man who could use a partner in crime, but all he had was a discarded ragdoll named Weaver lying in the mud.
This all could have gone very smoothly if we had worked together in killing each other. Organized brutality didn’t register in my mind as something that existed, but then again, maybe that’s exactly what we had created here. Two men devoted to the destruction of one another could have done such a cleaner job had they taken the time to think it out, sit down and brainstorm, create a plan.
Hank collapsed face-first leaving a bloody smear where is face had slammed against my trunk. I could hear the gurgling as he drowned in the shallow mud.
I too gurgled and spat as the rain thickened and filled all seven holes in my head. I was praying for just one more, the one that would put me out of my misery.
An early morning jogger spotted the lights of my Audi from the road and noticed the body of Professor Hank Vickers, now finally dead for good, and the still-breathing body of Professor Weaver as it struggled to join Hank in the great beyond.
Unfortunately the emergency medical crew that came soon after their flashing lights appeared was in time to save me.
I slipped off into the darkness of my future, ignoring my mind’s desperation in its thoughts of the evidence, the dead Professor Vickers, the guilt of betraying the trust of a man that I may have utterly loathed but nonetheless deserved better than what I did to him.
I’ll be laying down for the rest of my life. I’ll have to be taken care of, all of my dignity lost, no hope at all left inside of me; a dead soul trapped in a broken body.
Did justice find me? Is this the truth of Hell that it is right next to you all your life just waiting for the moment it can snatch you up in the midst of several mortal sins? Is that why Jolene never comes to visit me? Are angels too pure to venture down to the depths that have devoured me alive?
If you ask me I say it’s just a bunch of random shit that happened.
Visiting hours are over now. The nurses will be in to give me my sponge bath so that they can stand the smell of me. Knowing what I did, as I cannot lie worth a damn (we covered that); they can’t stand to look at me.
I figured out long ago that is why they put a mirror on the table next to me every day. It was just a hand mirror for shaving and makeup (the latter didn’t apply; pun intended…a guy’s got to have some fun doesn’t he?).
I was forced to look at what was left of me. I was constantly reminded that I’d cut my own path through the jungle of fate. Sure I’d been beaten by a gorilla, but I had threatened his territory. Human nature still prevailed in many ways. The kindness of the nurses as they fed me, washed me, changed my bedpan and even watched television with me was beyond sincere. They truly did pity the broken Professor Weaver and his living inferno.
They also knew exactly what I wanted to do with that goddamned hand mirror. I wanted to smash it like a German snow globe and jam in deep into my wrists, or maybe my carotid artery would be the best target if I was feeling strong enough.
The fucking hand mirror was right next to me and I couldn’t touch it.
Savagery and sanity danced so well together in that tiny hospital room. I’d have given quite a lecture on all of this to my students if I could ever cure a severed spinal cord, or walk away from the attempted murder that became such a fantastic success too late for me to enjoy the spoils of victory.
“Can I get you anything else Professor Weaver?” The nurse that was currently stuck with me asked.
“Kill me.” I mumbled.
“Okeydokey Professor.” He smiled with his lips and glared with his eyes. “Don’t you go running off on us now.” He winked, the bastard.
“Go…” and he was gone before I could tell him to do exactly what you think I was going to tell him to do.
So I’m just here in my bed. The television is so loud I feel like Judge Judy is actually in my room with me. No matter how well they wash me, this sickening useless body still stinks to high heaven. I wonder if Heaven exists. I wonder if Professor Hank Vickers is up there pointing and laughing at me. I wonder if Wilfred Brimley has ever tried to pronounce “Diabetes” correctly. I feel like I could use a nice cold ice cube or a splash of water. I keep reliving the night that landed me in this bed. I hope the applesauce has cinnamon in it today.
Come on back by and see me again sometime. It’s been an absolute pleasure. That’s not sarcasm, trust me. As you know, I can’t lie to save my life.
© Copyright 2016 Alan Dale Dalby. All rights reserved.