indiviDUALITY

Reads: 1243  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 1

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
'Mike' we'll call him has a problem with authority. He has a problem with society. He has a problem with people. He kills them and stores them in freezers in his basement. A knock at his door could be his next victim.

Submitted: May 04, 2010

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 04, 2010

A A A

A A A


indiviDUALITY

It was high time for change. He dedicated his life to questioning the establishment when he was ten years old. It just seemed that the teachers, preachers and all the parents in his neighborhood wanted the same thing: be like us. There were so many other ways to do things. As he grew older, he found laws that didn’t make sense, societal norms that didn’t make sense, and religion didn’t make any sense at all.

It was cool in high school to be different. It was sexy in college. Then the real world reared its ugly head and suddenly living against the tide proved to be more difficult than he had originally envisioned. People were less apt to follow in his civil disobedience once they had families to support and bills to pay. He was being childish and needed to grow up.

There was little style and no substance to the suburbs where he lived. Everyone screamed for excitement, but none did anything about it. Everyone prayed for changes, but they scolded anyone trying to make them. He began to notice that the new batch of teens said one thing ‘be different’ but did another ‘be like everyone on television’. And it saddened him. It brought back memories of his youth.

It didn’t help that every single person in southern Indiana, hell the whole Midwest, seemed to be a fucking republican. Not that he chose sides, but if there was a greater evil, they were it. Status quo may have kept things good for those in blue suits with smart ties, but it did jack and shit for anyone struggling. It also destined the future generations nothing but nothing. Drastic measures were needed.

That’s when the bodies started piling up in his basement.

His electric bill was straining his meager budget. The house was paid for and he didn’t watch television or use the internet. To plant the tongue firmly in the cheek, it was the six deep freezers down there that cost him an arm and a leg. The hum they produced was enough to tip off a casual visitor. The compressors started and stopped constantly as their temperatures adjusted. There had to be a better way to dispose of them. He was pondering that very thought when a knock came at the door.

“Hi,” he said to the stranger.

“Good morning, sir!” said a cheery face.

She held a stack of papers and dressed smartly. One of them. What was it going to be?

Referendum?

Maybe a petition?

Jehovah?

He looked back at her wondering what ‘sir’ she was addressing. His cut-off jeans and vintage t-shirt should’ve given him away, but if they hadn’t, the shaggy beard and long hair surely did.

“I’m trying to get all the folks in the neighborhood on board with a new youth organization. It will help keep our children engaged and off the streets. Provide them with some wholesome alternatives for entertainment. It might even keep them from texting and surfing the net so much. I wanted to…”

Her grinning, machine-gun delivery was giving him a headache so he raised his hand to her mouth. She took a half step away from his interruption.

“What are you selling?” he asked.

Her smile returned.

“Oh, I’m not selling anything, sir. I just wanted to hand you this brochure,” she said.

He took the paper from her hand and strained to focus his eyes on the flowery print and colorful paper. She stood with her smug, do-gooder look and waited for him to finish browsing.

“Says here that an annual membership fee will be required of all residents of the surrounding subdivisions,” he said never looking up from the page.

“True. To keep it non-profit, we’ll need a homeowner’s organization to collect fees.”

“What if I don’t want to participate? There’s no homeowner’s organization here now. Not sure you can just impose one.”

“Well I can if everyone agrees. So far everyone has,” she said sounding a bit hurt at his opposition.

“You’ve spoken to everyone in the surrounding area? Who will build the facility?”

“I’ve spoken to several local church groups who will raise money to renovate the old health club. It’s basically just a gymnasium. It’ll be staffed by volunteers and upkeep will be up to volunteers as well.”

“Sounds to me like it could be funded by volunteers then,” he said.

“We’re only asking a small fee paid yearly in order to pay for electricity and water, sewer and trash and the security charge for the alarm system,” she said pointing to the itemized list on the brochure.

“Security system?”

“Well, we can’t have people breaking in,” she said.

“Who would break in?”

“There are always those unsavory types. We just want to avoid that possibility.”

Her face stiffened up as she spoke.

“Isn’t that the point of giving the kids this option? To keep them off the streets and out of trouble?”

“Well, yes.”

“Not interested,” he said.

“But, sir, don’t you worry for the well being of our…”

He interrupted calmly, “I worry that this will be another layer of society forcing the youth to act like robots. To act like you.”

She placed her hand on her chest and wore a hurt expression.

“You think I’m a robot?”

“You sound like a cheerleader or a pageant contestant,” he said with a smirk and started to close the door.

“I was a cheerleader, and I competed in pageants. What’s wrong with that?”

“Everything is wrong with that,” he said and scratched his beard before he continued. “Don’t you see that you’re a cookie-cutter copy? A clone?” he asked.

“Clone? What does that mean?”

Her look was part hurt feelings and part curiosity. He got the impression she had rarely been criticized in her entire gold-plated life. It would be a pleasure to separate her limbs from her torso.

“Look, I don’t want to argue if this is going to get nasty,” he said.

“No. No, I truly want to hear your opinion,” she said, “If you think there’s something better for the kids, let me know.”

Her hands were folded on her slender hips and she waited for his explanation with blazing cool eyes. He considered her posture for a moment and then exhaled.

“Fine, let me get a bottle of water. Would you like one?”

His hospitality obviously took her aback but she accepted.

“Yes. Thank you. I’ll wait right here.”

He thought about asking her in, but it would have seemed awkward and been risky. How to entice her in without tipping her to his plans? The inevitable conclusion. Maybe he could invite her back for further discussion?

For now they would take this to his front porch where the neighbors could see. He disappeared behind the six-panel door and after a couple beats, returned with two cold plastic bottles and handed her one. He offered her one of the chairs on the porch with and open palm. She sat and crossed her legs setting the water bottle on the table to her left.

“You were saying?” she asked.

He thought for a moment and found his point somewhere between her eyes.

“Cookie cutter. Look at any pageant where beauty is in the focus and you’ll see an assembly line of programmed children who often grow to be programmed adults. I just think inner beauty should come from within. Not from a panel of judges and a rulebook.”

“It’s not like that,” she said.

“Yes. It really is.”

“It’s about poise and friendly competition,” she argued.

“And bullshit. Friendly? Come on. I’ve seen the way the moms go at it. Their catty attitudes. You see it on the soccer field, at the mall—in restaurants. Act this way, eat this food like this, walk that way,” he said.

His nonchalant demeanor seemed to engage rather than enrage her.

“So, you’re saying everyone should look and act like you?” she asked.

“No. I’m saying the exact opposite. Everyone should discover themselves in their own way. Expression through art not opinion,” he said staring off into space.

“Isn’t self expression just an opinion?”

“In a way. But it isn’t supposed to be influenced. Have you ever taken an art class?”

“Long ago,” she replied.

“Yeah, and they taught you about the classics, they put rules on it. They told you how to do it, and they graded you on your output, right?”

“Yes. Something like that,” she said.

“You ever take a music course?”

“I play several instruments,” she said, smiling wide.

“Ever had a recording contract? Ever written something original?”

“No.”

“No. You took some lessons and played from sheet music written and arranged by someone else, correct? Then you probably called it a ‘talent’ in one of your pageants, right?”

“Yes, but you are oversimplifying things,” she stated curtly.

“Yes, you’re right. I am. But it’s still pretty dire. We spend so much time learning about how things were done and how we should continue to do them that way…”

He trailed off watching the traffic on the street in front of his house. Her gaze drifted as well, like he might be making some sense to her.

“Sir?” she said.

“Please. If we’re going to have this chat, call me Mike.”

His name wasn’t Mike, but it was easier that way if she ran screaming to the cops.

“Ok, Mike. You were saying?”

He noticed she showed a keen interest in his point of view. Total lack of emotion always seemed to get him attention. Anger, he thought, made people with revolutionary ideas seem like zealots, crazy people. He was unsure if his ideas were revolutionary, but when delivered with assured indifference, people were more apt to listen. They would chat with him for hours. They would come back days later for more. Sometimes they came inside his house. They found him interesting.

How though, would he get her inside his house?

Eventually, they would revert back to their old ways. They began by citing bills, responsibilities or the desire to live a fulfilling life. They would speak of duty to their children, husband or wife. They would say that society wouldn’t allow the anarchy he preached. That’s when he would fix them. That’s when they ended up frozen … chunks wrapped in butcher paper and stored in his basement.

He took a swig from his water bottle and looked back at her. She needed fixing. He would wait for his in. An opportunity always presented itself.

“Congress is the opposite of progress,” he said with a grin.

“You’re saying the government is somehow at fault for … I’m still not sure what they are at fault for.”

“They are the second largest example. What they are at fault for? Everything, lady. They’re at fault for everything.”

“Jennifer,” she said. “My name is Jennifer.”

“Of course it is.”

“Nice. You said second largest example. What’s the first?”

He looked dumbfounded at her question for a moment before answering.

“Church. Church is the most evil of establishments,” he said.

“I happen to be a devout Christian, Mike.”

“Then you should know better than anyone.”

“I’m not sure I like you calling the church evil,” she said with a frown.

“Ok, the idea of church isn’t evil. A place to worship and help others through trying times. An attempt to make sense of it all. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

“So what’s your point?”

“It’s become big business. Televised religion with congregations of fifty or a hundred thousand. Give money, give time, give, give, give. And it gets worse. Wear this, dress like this, show up at this time, stay this long and interpret the book this way. Bullshit,” he said.

He still spoke with an even monotone voice. There was anger in the words themselves, but it didn’t come from within him. Her captivation oozed from her eyes. Her brow furrowed.

“I can agree with that to a point. Still not sure evil is the word. Misguided maybe.”

“The devil is the lord of deception,” he responded.

“Touché.”

She was like all the others. She engaged his mind and took his ideas as her own. Next she would leave. There would be similar conversations with her friends. They would scoff at her. They would accuse her of reading some strange philosophical or radical texts and tell her it was cool, but treat it as a fad. She would back down. Then she would settle back into her place in the hive and leave him just like the rest. He needed to bring her around, one way or the other.

Then she surprised him.

“You may be right. The more I think about it, you may be right, at least about church. No doubt you’re right about government. What can you do, though? That’s why I want this outreach facility so badly. The kids need choices.”

The surprise was over. It was only a bad segue into her original sales pitch. He began to picture her dismembered body. Her lifeless head unable to continue with the bullshit she was speaking, staring at him through cellophane and freezer burn.

She continued on with her purpose for showing up at his door. She reiterated everything she had told him already. She stopped when he began to look bored.

“What?” she asked.

“That’s exactly what you aren’t doing. You are saying ‘do what we want’ not ‘do your own thing’,” he said.

“Their own thing is sex and drugs and alcohol.”

“A little Hedonism. We all went through it. Why deny it to them? Don’t you think that might cause unsettling? Divorce? They didn’t get their rocks off as kids, so they do it later when the feeling becomes overwhelming. Your kind breeds them to want what they don’t have.”

He looked at her rings, gold watch and diamond studded earlobes. He looked at her immaculate hair, fingernails and clothing. She looked at him as if the thought never occurred to her. Then she looked at the wooden floorboards of the porch. Minutes passed like the cars on the street.

“You married?” he asked. “I don’t see a ring. Not that I buy into that either. It’s just a piece of paper. Love is love. Marriage is a law thought up by a church. Separation of church and state, my ass,” he said, this time with a little gusto.

“Divorced,” she said, deadpan.

“Would it be rude if I said I wasn’t surprised?”

“A bit, yeah,” she responded through an irritated laugh.

Her foot on the crossed leg began to pump back and forth.

“Look, it’s nothing personal. You just seem very straight laced and controlling. I can understand where that might cause tension,” he said.

“You are just fascinated with yourself, aren’t you?” she asked.

“No. It’s not like that. I just think people should turn off the internet. Turn off the cable. Turn off the cell phone and talk to a person. Face to face. Learn about them. Travel and visit another culture. Not online or even in a book. Even that is someone’s opinion of that culture. Someone took those specific pictures. Someone chose to show you that.”

She stared at him like he was speaking food and she was starving. She stared at him like she was falling in love. Then she realized her water was empty and looked at her watch.

“Damn! I’ve been here for three hours.”

She appeared embarrassed when she stood up.

“Do you think I could use your bathroom? I had a lot of coffee before I left this morning and that water put me over the edge.”

There it was, the excuse he yearned for.

“Of course,” he said and opened the door, following her inside.

“Down the hall, then to the right, you’ll be right there.”

He stood in the kitchen and waited for her. Each freezer in the basement cycled off and then on. He hoped she wouldn’t notice. He should slip back there and slit her gullet with a knife from the butcher block on the kitchen counter. He could drain her blood into the tub and dissect her as well. Easy cleaning.

After just a few moments, she returned.

“You have a really cute house,” she said, “I don’t see a television or computer anywhere.”

“I don’t have them. Like I said, someone else’s opinion.”

“And these paintings, the artwork is so unusual,” she said.

“Something I do when I’m not at work.”

“Where do you work?”

“I own a gallery in town. Not much but it pays the light bill. Otherwise, I live off of inheritance,” he said.

She leaned against the counter opposite him. He leaned against the stove and twisted the cap off of his bottle, taking a drink.

“I’d love to own my own business,” she said. “I’m a homemaker. I’ve been living off of alimony for the past couple years.”

“You sell yourself way short. You seem very smart. I think you need to break out and use that to your advantage,” he said.

“I’m trying to do that,” she said looking at the brochure he had laid on the counter.

“Think bigger. There’s already a YMCA, and you said yourself there were several churches. Don’t they have youth programs?”

“I wanted it to be less preachy.”

“You’re a devout Christian.”

“But not all of the kids are,” she replied.

“Maybe you aren’t such a robot,” he said.

She looked at him with that same passion again. He felt he was saying all the right things.

“I can’t believe that in the past few hours, you’ve managed to obliterate everything I believe in, and here I am still talking to you. How did you do that without making me angry?”

“Good question,” he said.

He fantasized about her fluids draining into the bathtub. The simple way in which a saw removed the arm from the shoulder, the thigh from the hip.

“I don’t get angry. It’s a wasted emotion, and believe me, I’ve spent my whole life having these arguments so I’ve seen every possible reaction. I even got beat and put in the hospital once,” he said.

“That’s terrible.”

He smiled at her for the thought. Then silence took over for an uncomfortably long time.

“So, it’s been a great talk. Maybe we could do it again sometime?” he said.

It was his attempt at an exit. People annoyed him and she was the worst kind. Carved out of societal marble and molded from the hands of politics, religion, and middle-class-suburban America.

“Tell me something first,” she said.

Her eyes were glassy and there was some desperation in her voice.

“Ok.”

“How do I change? How do I take my life back?”

The question they all asked eventually. It was usually right before they went back to their old comfortable ways. She progressed more quickly, but hit all the same milestones.

“That’s probably not something I can answer. It’s exactly my point, really. You have to figure you out.”

She tapped her fingers and cut her eyes away from him the way a teenager looks when their parents say something they don’t want to hear. He could tell his calm tone was pissing her off. She was riled and wanted him to be as well. He had long since learned to control his anger. It always surprised him when strangers wanted to argue vehemently with other strangers. They lay in wait like snakes coiled for the strike.

“You have all these answers. Tell me how to take it back?”

Her breathing increased and she was now visibly anxious. It excited him. Maybe she wasn’t one of the flock. Sheeple he liked to call them. Maybe she had it in her.

“You have to figure out what you don’t like about your life and then deal with it. I can’t answer that for you.”

Her eyes leaked but they were tears of frustration. She walked around the counter that separated them.

“So I shouldn’t be like them, but I can’t be like you either?”

She tapped her fingers again on the counter and stopped next to the sink. The drumming noise from her manicured nails irritated him. He continued to lean against the stove and sipped some water from his almost empty bottle. Her tension increased.

“Look, Jennifer, I’m not trying to tell you how to be. I’m saying you should question when anyone tells you how to be.”

Tears streamed from her eyes now. Her face became a brilliant red as she screamed. A short high-pitched grunt before a deep breath and then with a wavering calm:

“Then you’re no help.”

She pulled a knife from the butcher block on his counter and stared at it momentarily. It was his favorite and had caused many a mess in that very kitchen. In a moment he became certain she was unlike the rest. He smiled. Jennifer, the homemaker, snapped and plunged the blade into his chest using both hands.

“That’s a start,” he gasped as he slid to the floor.

She straddled his body and pulled the knife from his chest. Quickly, she drove it in again … and again … and again. Her chest heaved from the stress and the exertion. She stood catching her breath, red spatter covering her skin and clothes like odd chicken-pox. Then she placed the bloody instrument in his sink and lay down beside his body. Her fingers brushed a loose lock of normally well-groomed hair out of her face as she kissed his cheek. Blood pooled on the linoleum as the freezers cycled, one by one, in the basement.

“Thank you,” she said.


© Copyright 2020 DKTD. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

Comments