The Key to Clever Medicine by Jason Mykl Snyman

 

“There will be killing till the score is paid.”

  • Homer, The Odyssey

***

Pete Jones tossed back four Vicodin with a mouthful of bottom-shelf Vodka and sat down at the desk. His typewriter awaited. The blank page beckoned. By God, before the crippling nausea and vertigo came to drag his limp body shrieking to the ground, he would fill this page and the next with something splendid.

The smell of ink drifted in everything he touched, and in the ribbon – when he pulled it out – he could still read the final words of the last sentence he wrote so long ago.

In these keys were the key to the finest writing his mind could fathom. As the grandest of grand pianists would sit themselves upon the bench and touch one key or another, sending vibrations through the many strings – he would play these keys of his own, rocking the carriage to and fro, sending vibrations through the soul.

All keys are capable of unlocking something, black and white, silver and gold, the keys to the piano and typewriter all harmonize with the explosive emotions of the one playing them. Keys can open a chest, a chest of treasure, or the chest of a living being – split right open for the whole world to gaze upon a beating heart.

His dreadful heart exposed, he could already hear the melodic rhythm of the letters pounding into the ink ribbon. In this chair, on this desk, this is where thoughts came to collide with paper.

Jerry Lee Lewis will go to Hell tickling the ivory teeth of that screaming monster, but not Pete Jones. Oh no, he’ll be going to Hell too, but for something far, far fouler.

 

***

Means and Motive, any self-respecting murderer needs one.

Pete Jones paced his study, contemplating what kind of glaring madness, logical or illogical, could drive a sane man to do some good old-fashioned stabbing.

A dagger, a revolver, a goddamn candlestick, which weapon would this fiendish character use to kick-start his life of depraved crime? What is this renegade reprobate’s Modus Operandi?

Pete took a large sip straight from the Vodka bottle, and the aggressive bastard went down hard and rough like clever medicine. He’d once met a Russian who had told him, “If you’re going to drink Vawdka, better to do this iced cold. Iced cold, but no ice, you understand? Vawdka natural anti-freeze, you put ice, ice melts. You vant to drink Vawdka or fucking vawter? No ice. Ice is for assholes.”

Pete sucked down another large burning mouthful. Ice or no ice it tasted like the ashes from which an inspirational muse-phoenix would erupt, and that’s all that mattered. As Pete paced, he patiently waited.

When flaming imagination finally perched upon his shoulder, it landed hard. He rushed to the desk, placing eager, trembling fingertips upon the keys, ready to go.

The first letter struck the page with a mechanical clack, and just then, that good-for-nothing neighbour’s beastly hounds began their ceaseless, brain-jarring barking.

 

***

Pete shuffled out into the afternoon sun, giddy and bursting with Vodka-induced potvaliance. There the no-good brute stood with his head buried beneath the open hood of his trashy ’73 Ford Granada.

His hounds were barking at the fence, throwing themselves into the faded, peeling pickets and gnawing on the painted wood like blood-crazed maniacs.

“Does that goddamn thing ever run?” asked Pete aloud, approaching the wretch from behind.

A slick pool of black oil gathered beneath the old car, running away into the street. The hounds were barking so loud he could barely chase down a coherent thought.

The neighbour turned away from the greasy engine and looked up at him, rubbing stained hands across his pants and adjusting his dew-drop shaped glasses.

“Oh, Pete!” he said, surprised, holding out a blackened hand. “What did you say just now?”

Pete looked down at the bastard’s extended paw, and then down at his own, blackened with ribbon-ink. Hell, he thought, taking the man’s palm for a fleeting shake.

“I was just saying hello!” he yelled over the barking din, swaying a little. “Listen, Bob, have you got a minute?”

“Sure, Pete, sure!” said Bob, adjusting his spectacles again. “What’s on your mind?”

“Well!” yelled Pete. Barking, crawling Jesus, that unremitting barking, he could scarcely put a sentence together out here, let alone on the page. “See, Bob, I –”

“Shush!” screamed Bob, turning on the dogs and hurling a grease-soaked ball of rag at the picket fence. “Shush for the love of God!”

The hounds leapt away, tails tucked between their legs, whimpering and sniffing around. Pete sighed with relief.

“Sorry, Pete,” he said, frowning. “What were you saying?”

Pete chuckled uneasily, running the back of an ink-soaked hand across his brow.

“Well, I was just going to ask if you wouldn’t mind calming your dog’s down a bit, Bob,” he said. “But you’ve gone and done that now.”

Bob laughed, his great big meaty face pulling taut.

“Driving you nuts, were they?”

“Little bit,” said Pete. “I’m outlining a new writing project, see, having some trouble thinking over all that crazy barking.”

“Sorry, Pete,” said Bob, smiling. “I’ll try to keep them under control.”

“That would be great, thank you,” said Pete, nodding slowly. Any faster and he was terrified he would throw up into the Granada’s engine. He turned away from the old brute and made for his front door at the end of the driveway.

“New writing project, that sounds exciting!” said Bob, and Pete turned back to look at him. “You haven’t written anything proper in what, four, five years?”

Pete Jones felt the hair rise up on the back of his neck, creeping only momentarily down his spine and shoulders in flashes of white, and then it settled, tingling into the distance like some bad, drunken memory.

He managed a meek nod.

“Yes,” he muttered sullenly. “Something like that.”

Back inside, Pete collapsed into the chair in front of his typewriter, loaded with paper and hungry for pretty words. From a pill bottle he rattled out four more pale Vicodin into a pale palm and tossed them back with more room-temperature Vodka.

For a while he sat with his elbows on the edge of the desk and his face in his hands, rocking gently back and forth to some ghastly rhythm thumping in his head.

Murder, he thought, and imagined running out across the driveway to slam that broken-down old Granada’s hood onto Bob’s empty head.

Murder, he thought. Murder, murder, murder.

Murder until thought by detached thought, he slowly found his way back into those dark alleyways frequented by his villainous character.

Pete looked up from his ink-stained hands, blinking away the unsteady wavering. His fingers found their way back up to the keys.

He smiled.

The first letter struck the page with a mechanical clack, and as if on cue, as if he’d been unwittingly cast into some kind of sadistic play of the cosmos, doomed to strut the hellish floodlit stage and relive the same poorly written punchlines for the remainder of eternity, the hounds next door immediately leapt to resume their relentless, pointless, infuriating barking.

Pete Jones slammed a frustrated hand down into the desk.

“Murder!” he shouted.

 

***

I could stab him with an icicle, thought Pete, staring out through the slits in the window blinds.

The murder weapon would melt, and it might not be traceable back to him. This was a far cry from the guitar-string wielding strangler he planned to craft his novel around, but too cliché for his liking.

That broken down old blemish leaning into his driveway, the fading royal blue Granada, was still lingering around like a bad odour a week later, and the sun was setting on the oil-streaked road, leaking over onto his driveway and into his flowerbeds like a bright orange lake of fire.

Over the hedges, Pete watched Bob’s head moving from left to right across the length of the garden, pushing that ghastly, noisy bitch of a lawnmower up and down.

The hounds were barking again, still barking, swept up into a deranged, frothy frenzy by the roar of the mower.

Pete pulled one of the blind slats down with a finger, peering through the gap across his front yard. Up and down, left to right, his pale eyes followed Bob around the lawn.

I could soak his teabags in Potassium Chloride, he thought, smiling to himself.

Fancy a fine cup of cardiac arrest, you evil bastard?

Pete shook his head from side to side. Too much research, he thought. Too much work. He’d never make a novel-worthy killer, not like this. He would never have the cold-blooded savvy to line a person’s bathtub with live copper wire, or inject the ne’er-do-well scoundrel with a fatal dose of mercury or mayonnaise.

By God, looking out at that meaty old head sailing back and forth on the rim of green hedges, Pete couldn’t be less sure of a successful killing, especially not in physical tussle.

I could drop a goddamn grand piano on that head, he thought, and the colossal brute would probably just walk it off with an Aspirin or two.

The meaty old head turned directly toward him then, adjusting its dew-drop shaped spectacles.

Bob smiled, lifting up a friendly, waving hand, and Pete pulled his finger away, allowing the slat to slam shut.

 

***

Aristotle, Einstein and Salvador Dali called it slumber with a key.

Slouching in a chair, in their right hand they would hold a key between their fingers. Beneath the hand they would place an upside-down plate on the ground. As a deep sleep came to embrace them, the fingers would release the key, dropping it with a loud clang onto the plate. They would then awake immediately with a start, refreshed, void of inertia and ready to grace the world with a little more knowledge, intellect and peculiarity.

Slumber with a key.

Pete Jones called it slumber with a Bob, and by Christ, he needed more than a quarter second of sleep to mastermind a work of literary genius.

For the love of all that is good and sacred, what was that fiend doing now?

Hammering, hammering heartlessly at something in his back-yard workshop at five in the morning. Hammering heartlessly at Pete’s brain, each inconsiderate strike piercing the early morning quiet and shaking his exhausted mind from blissful reverie.

Pete finally dozed, with a pillow over his head and a stomach full of burning Ambien, and in the deep corridors of his staccato dreams, his footsteps echoed like hammer-falls and he caught that scoundrel Bob red-handed building some depraved kind of Pete Jones torture device.

In his final moments of consciousness, Pete wondered drowsily about Aristotle, Einstein and Dali, those masters of the micro-nap, and if that falling key ever sounded to them just like the onset of a micro heart attack.

 

***

Dante Alighieri named the nine gates of Hell in order;

Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud and Treachery.

Pete Jones had a different version of Hell on earth, and thrashing wildly at the keys of his typewriter, he named them in their ferocious, ungodly order;

Bob’s broken down, leaking oil-tanker of a Granada.

Bob’s two in the morning music playing.

Bob’s loud as fuck lawnmower.

Bob’s three in the morning drunken parties.

Bob’s fat, nagging wife.

Bob’s four in the morning leaf-blowing.

Bob’s nasty son of a bitch barking dogs.

Bob’s five in the morning building project,

and Bob, Bobbo himself, the big bastard, with his ridiculous, ill-fitting dew-drop shaped spectacles and his unnaturally large head.

“Bob,” said Pete, popping six Vicodin into his disgusted face.

“Bob’s gotta go,” he mumbled. “Bob’s gotta go.”

 

***

Pete Jones paced his study, contemplating what kind of glaring madness, logical or illogical, could drive a sane man to do some good old-fashioned stabbing.

He paused, Vodka bottle in hand, to pull himself from the vibrating jaws of Déjà vu, and then he continued the circular march.

A dagger, a revolver, that goddamn raucous lawnmower, which weapon would he use to kick-start his life of depraved crime? What is this renegade reprobate’s Modus Operandi?

Pete took a large sip straight from the Vodka bottle, and the aggressive bastard went down hard and rough like clever medicine. He’d once met a Russian who had told him, “Vawdka is tasteless going down, but is unforgettable coming up.”

Okay, so maybe the Russian didn’t say that, but with his head in a toilet, Pete couldn’t be sure of anything anymore.

With your head in a toilet, the saved and the damned are all one and the same.

 

***

The Thin Man hesitated outside of Laura’s kitchen window, lingering in the shadows amongst the Marigolds like a Scarecrow. He’d caught a fleeting glimpse of himself in the shadowy reflection.

If you had the courage to gaze upon yourself, gaze unflinchingly, mere moments before committing a ghastly crime, what would you see? Would you see into the rotating cogs of the head? Down into the pulsing strings of the heart? What happens when you can no longer see clearly into yourself? When all you see is murk, and you know the hooks are out there somewhere…

Somewhere in the murk…

Waiting to ensnare you.

Death reaches up from the earth in the form of yellow flowers, and maybe it was time to run. Death reaches up, swaying in the night breeze like the burning hands of everybody he’d buried.

Ignoring every fragment, The Thin Man turned away from his wretched reflection, and almost reluctantly, reached for the handle of Laura’s kitchen door.

 

You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style – Nabokov said that.

Murder is exhausting, thought Pete, standing from his desk. Three weeks later and he was only eight pages in. Murder is nowhere near as guileless as the blameless would have you believe.

 

***

Where will you be when the Zoloft kicks in?

 

***

On Sunday morning, Pete sat around in his study listening to those dogs barking and waiting for Bob and his fat wife to leave for Church. When the coast was clear, he took a dish cloth out back and wrapped it around the empty Vodka bottle. He placed it down on the paved courtyard near the kitchen door and beat the package with a loose brick, smashed it good and proper, enjoying it all a little more than he should have.

The muffled sound of shattering glass carried Pete down into some dark daydream, where he fantasized briefly about putting this brick through the Granada’s windshield and stabbing Bob in the armpit with the broken Vodka bottleneck.

Pete Jones sat light-headed and giggling on the steps to the kitchen door and packed raw minced meat around large shards of broken glass, rolling them into balls and then rolling those balls around in the glassy slivers. With every finished roll, he tossed it over the backyard wall into Bob’s garden, and he could hear those gluttonous beasts of his scoffing them down, slobbering greedily and crunching those bits of bottle to splinters.

Gluttonous scoffing and giddy giggling, a dozen or so doctored meatballs later, he could hear the piggish bastards whimpering and yelping.

For good measure, he made a couple more and tossed those over too.

The stupid animals, they ate those as well, and now it was only a matter of time before one of them ruptured their guts trying to take a shit.

 

***

Where will you be when the Xanax takes hold?

 

***

Back inside, Pete collapsed into the chair in front of his typewriter, loaded with paper and hungry for pretty words. From a pill bottle he rattled out four pale Vicodin into a pale palm and tossed them back with a fresh bottle of Vodka.

Finally, he could wrangle up thought after stray thought and put them together into something sensible and readable. Somewhere between then and falling asleep at the typewriter, he wrote twelve more grand pages in perfect, blissful silence.

 

***

“Does that goddamn thing ever run?” asked Pete aloud, approaching the wretch from behind.

The slick pool of black oil gathering around the old car had grown far larger, larger by the day, running away into the street and over into the gutters and down his driveway and flowerbeds and everywhere.

Bob turned away from the greasy engine and looked up at him, rubbing stained hands across his pants and adjusting his dew-drop shaped glasses.

“Looks like a failed Arctic oil-drilling expedition out here, Bob,” said Pete cheerfully. “You’re killing all the Reindeer and shit.”

“Oh, Pete!” he said, surprised, holding out a blackened hand.

Pete looked down at the bastard’s extended paw, and then down at his own, still blackened with ribbon-ink. Hell, he thought again, taking the man’s palm for a brisk shake. It was a better day today, after all.

“I can’t seem to figure it out,” said Bob, scratching at the side of his large head with an oily finger. “I’ve gone and done the oil filter, I’ve replaced the drain plug and even the valve gasket. I keep putting new oil in and it keeps coming out. I just can’t figure it o–”

“At least it’s nice and quiet today,” interrupted Pete, smiling only slightly.

“Oh, yes,” said Bob, adjusting those ill-fitting spectacles.

“Hasn’t been this quiet, in, what, four or five years?”

Bob smiled politely.

“The wife’s taken the dogs to the vet,” he said. “One of the loud buggers died last night, found its stiff little body out on the lawn this morning, collecting dew.”

“My God,” said Pete, only barely containing his glee. “That’s horrible, Bob.”

Bob nodded with a grimace.

“Yeah, and the other two have been shitting blood all over the place.”

“That’s ghastly…”

“Anyway,” said the big brute, turning back toward the greasy engine. “Know anything about cars, Pete?”

“Afraid not.”

“Think I’ll just put a match in the petrol tank,” said Bob.

Pete Jones laughed, the type of laugh that begins slowly in the throat and travels down into the pit of your stomach, the type of laugh that turns into a primal sort of howl, the type of laugh that makes people stare at you in public.

Pete Jones laughed aloud and said;

“That sounds like a great idea, Bob. That sounds like a great idea.”

 

***

Where will you be when the Ibuprofen turns on you?

 

***

Bob’s dogs weren’t the only ones shitting blood. Somewhere in the blurred handfuls of Vicodin, Ibuprofen and Ambien, Pete had managed to turn his guts inside out.

On a Sunday morning, Pete sat around ulcering in his study and waiting for Bob and his fat wife to leave for Church. When the coast was clear, he took a book of matches and crept out around the side of his house through the bushes and hedges.

An uphill battle, several branches poked him and stabbed him and tripped him, but if he could avoid any inquisitive stares he would.

Pete poked his head out from beside the road, where that hopeless Granada stood leaking into the street. At this point, he could go anywhere in his front lawn and wouldn’t be too far away from a puddle of motor oil, but this spot seemed the most hidden from any prying eyes.

“Well now,” he said, striking the first match. The head blossomed explosively against the scratch like a fiery little flower, and without hesitation, Pete tossed it into the nearest puddle of oil beneath the car.

Nothing happened.

“Alright,” said Pete, striking another one.

This match, and the one after that, and the one after that all fell into the pooled oil and sizzled out almost instantly. Some of them, most annoyingly of all, died mid-air before they even reached the puddle.

Pete could feel blood trickling down the back of his leg, all the way down the back of his knee.

Infuriated, he struck two at a time, three at a time, stepping out onto the sidewalk blistering with irritation. He went as far as stooping down in the oil beside the Ford and placing lit matches gently into the leak.

Each of these died pathetically, disappointingly, until at last the book of matches was empty and he hurled it furiously at the Granada’s windscreen, bouncing and spiraling down into the inflammable oil.

“Since when?!” screamed Pete, and turned to march back down the driveway, back into the house to wipe his ass and drink himself to sleep.

 

***

Pete Jones hesitated outside of Bob’s kitchen window, lingering in the shadows amongst the Blue Daisies like a twitchy Scarecrow. He’d caught a fleeting glimpse of himself in the shadowy reflection.

If you had the courage to gaze upon yourself, gaze unflinchingly, mere moments before committing a ghastly crime, what would you see? Would you see into the twisting blood-stained guts of the head? Down into the pulsing, clanking keys of the heart? What happens when you can no longer see clearly into yourself? When all you see is ink, and you know the hooks are out there somewhere…

Somewhere in the ink…

Waiting to ensnare you.

Death reaches up from the earth in the form of blue flowers, and maybe it was time to run, maybe it was time to let it go. Death reaches up, swaying in the night breeze like the cold, corpse hands of everybody he’d thoughtlessly buried in those pretty pages.

Ignoring every fragment, Pete Jones turned away from his wretched reflection, and almost reluctantly, reached for the handle of Bob’s workshop door.

 

***

I could put a rattlesnake through their window, thought Pete, staring out through the slits in the study window blinds.

People get taken down by rattlers all the time in this town. Rattlers behind the bookcase, rattlers stuffed between couch cushions, the vicious little bastards were everywhere, just waiting to stab their fangs into you or your fat wife.

Pete Jones turned away from the window and paced his study, contemplating what kind of glaring madness, logical or illogical, could drive a sane man to craft a bit of good old-fashioned murder.

He paused, Vodka bottle in quivering hand. He lifted it to his mouth and the bottle rattled against his teeth. He put his lips around it and took a large sip, and the aggressive bastard went down hard and rough like clever medicine. He’d once met a Russian who had told him some drunken hostile-sounding shit in slurred Russian that he couldn’t understand, and history mattered less and less by the moment.

A broken bottle, an oil-fire, that goddamn raucous lawnmower, which weapon would he use to kick-start his life of depraved crime? What is this renegade reprobate’s Modus Operandi?

There are things in this world that there are no words for, thought Pete. There was no fancy Latin phrase for the class of idiot he fell into.

Back at the window, he watched Bob’s head moving from left to right across the length of the garden, pushing that ghastly, noisy bitch of a lawnmower up and down.

Pete pulled one of the blind slats down with a finger, peering through the gap across his oily front yard. Left to right, up and down, his pale eyes followed Bob around the lawn.

I could toss a couple of long nails out into his grass, he thought, smiling to himself.

That evil lawnmower would do the rest.

Pete shook his head from side to side. It probably wouldn’t kill him, he thought. The only thing worse than Bob right now would be a cripple, attention-seeking Bob.

By God, looking out at that meaty old head sailing back and forth on the rim of green hedges, Pete couldn’t be less sure of a successful killing, not without a spear-gun or something.

I could drop a wardrobe on that head, he thought, and the colossal brute would probably just walk it off with an Aspirin or two.

That reminded him, and he tossed back two Ibuprofen with some Vodka and a bunch of Vicodin, Thorazine or Ambien and Fluoxetine or something.

The meaty old head came to a halt then, adjusting its dew-drop shaped spectacles. He was looking down at something near that broken down old blemish leaning into his driveway, the fading royal blue Granada.

Bob frowned, leaning over and fingering something around in the pool of oil, and then he began picking at it, lifting one after one up into a cupped hand.

“The matches!” yelled Pete aloud, dropping the Vodka bottle in a moment of panic-paralysis.

Bob’s thick old head turned directly toward him, pushing his spectacles back up onto his large nose. He grimaced, lifting up a hand clutching a soaked matchbook between two fat fingers.

“Shit,” muttered Pete, and pulled his finger away, allowing the slat to slam shut.

 

***

Slumber with a Bob.

If it wasn’t like trying to fall asleep next door to a marching band or a raving 70’s acid party, it was like living next door to Ike Turner.

For the love of all that is good and sacred, what were those fiends doing now?

Slamming doors, slamming every goddamn door in the house and throwing things at one another. Breaking plates and lamps and screaming like drunken lunatics all through the night.

“I’m ready, Lord,” said Pete to the lavender darkness of the pillow pulled over his head. “Come on and take me, I can’t do this anymore.”

Screaming, behaving like wild animals, this escalated well into the hour until finally, with a final slammed door, Pete could hear Bobbo making his way out to the workshop.

“Oh no,” he mumbled, suffocating.

And then the hammering began, of course, hammering heartlessly at something, heartlessly at Pete’s brain, each inconsiderate strike piercing the early morning quiet and pushing his exhausted brain into further asphyxia and an ultimate collapse of function.

Pete finally dozed, with that pillow over his head and a stomach full of erupting ulcers. In the deep corridors of his faltering dreams, his hurried footsteps echoed like hammer-falls into a screaming head, and that scoundrel Bob chased him around throwing matches at him.

In his final moments of consciousness, Pete wondered drowsily how much longer he had before his blood would catch alight and set fire to his Vodka soaked bedding.

 

***

Pete Jones paced his study, contemplating that glaring madness, logical or illogical, which had driven him to do a very bad thing. Bob had fallen from a sabotaged ladder in his workshop last night, while trying to repair the ceiling rafters. He’d fallen hard and broken his neck and arms against a workbench or something.

The colossal brute was likely dead.

Which weapon had this fiendish character used to kick-start his life of depraved crime? A simple hand-saw, used to saw the top rungs of the ladder that big oaf would be putting all his weight on.

Pete took a large sip straight from the Vodka bottle, and the aggressive bastard went down hard and rough like clever medicine, but no amount of clever medicine could quell this clever sickness running rampant through his brain and bowels.

No amount of clever medicine could save him from himself.

Pete sucked down another large burning mouthful, and as he paced, he glared down at the typewriter on his desk, loaded on vomit and hungry for no more. Sometime in the night he’d gotten up to throw up all over his desk and study, to shit blood in the bathtub, and his bed was full of both.

“Sheezus,” said Pete in a poorly-executed Russian accent. “This is really coming apart now, is it not?”

 

***

There was a certain epicaricacy in all of this, thought Pete. A certain guilty delight to be taken from the misery of others.

Since the hysterical wife had told him the news of Bob’s unfortunate late-night tumble, Pete had confined himself to the study, with the blinds shut and the lights off, and he lay on his back staring up at the ceiling, waiting for the Police or God or whoever to kick the door down and drag him off to judgment.

Everything hurt, and he couldn’t find any Vicodin in this feverish sweat-soaked warzone of a house.

Everything hurt, and he figured his hands would never stop shaking long enough for him to play those beautiful keys again. He’d lost his voice, everything hurt, and he rolled around restlessly trying to shake it out.

The keys sounded all wrong in his mind, like a piano on fire, strings devoured in the melodic comestion. Like a typewriter jamming and misfiring, spurting geysers of ink and nonsense all over the place.

He was a low-down murderer now, a fucking scallywag.

He lay there on the ground, listening to his wretched heart beating steadily in his ears.

Thud.

Thud.

Thud.

And only after a long while did he begin to realize that it was not only his heart beating, but that somebody was at his front door.

Pete pulled himself up from the floor like a man about to have his body thrown to the lions, and began the death march toward the steady knocking down the hallway. He stopped in front of the door, taking a long, deep breath. He reached out and opened it, and there Bob stood, dew-shaped spectacles barely clinging to the tip of his large nose.

“By Jesus!” said Pete, and the thud in his ears subsided with the sudden drop of his heart, splashing down into his burning stomach.

Big, swollen Bob, standing there in a white cervical collar and a rigid upper-body brace like he was waiting to be crucified, swinging his long arms around at his sides.

“Hello Pete,” he said, smiling.

“You’re alive!” yelled Pete, looking the brute up and down.

“Fortunately!” said Bob. “Just a cervical fracture, couple of vertebrae, broke a rib or two. A clavicle, stuff like that.”

Pete could feel his face melting.

“Doctors say I’ll be fine, imagine that,” said Bob. “Oh! And I found this on the ground by my workshop last night. I thought I’d bring it over with the news.”

He swung a rigid plaster of paris arm forward, and in his fat fingers he held a Vicodin pill bottle. Pete already knew what it would say – his goddamn name – printed all over the prescription label.

“It’s yours,” said Bob, and Pete took it from him quietly, staring at the little bottle with bewilderment. “I don’t know how it got there.”

The bottle rattled about in Pete’s hand, and Bob chuckled, flinching with pain.

“I took a couple out,” he said through clenched teeth. “I hope you don’t mind. Broken bones and all.”

Pete Jones felt his head moving slowly from side to side, unable to control it. His jaw fell open and shut like a Polio patient in a karaoke bar.

“Great! Thanks, Pete, Oh! Oh Oh Oh!” yelled Bob. His dew-drop shaped spectacles were slipping from his nose. “Would you? Would you, Pete? Help me out with these quick!”

Pete raised a trembling hand.

“Go on,” said Bob, trying to tilt his head back. “Go on, quick, just push them back up.”

Slowly, Pete moved his hand toward that big old meaty head, and with a single ink-stained finger, readjusted the bastard’s spectacles.

 

 

 

 

Jason Snyman 1Jason Mykl Snyman was recently short-listed for Short Story Day Africa’s Terra Incognita speculative fiction competition. You can read his short story – What if you slept? in the Terra Incognita anthology – available in bookstores. He was also recently a finalist for this year’s SA HorrorFest Bloody Parchment competition.

He hates long walks on the beach, but doesn’t mind laying beneath a tree somewhere in the shade with a bottle of Jack Daniels. He’s deadly allergic to bananas and he is terrified of clowns. “Blank page”, he says, “I’m coming for you.”

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