They are not the norm

February 2, 2012


I worked beside a future murderer. It was a short time job, a few months for the civil service of Ontario. We’ll call him Wally. Wally used to sit at his desk all day humming the music from Star Trek (the original). It has a kind of eerie mysterious sound to it.

He was a funny guy. And good looking. Looked a little like a young George Clooney. He used to tell me about his home life. Lived with his parents and a brother. His father would never eat breakfast facing the table. Always he would turn to a wall. His mother was a ‘woe’er’.  Woe is me. His brother was always in trouble with the law. Wally was in his early twenties at the time. He used to go to bingo halls and dance clubs and bring home women. Older women. Older than his mother. I can only imagine how the breakfast table was in the morning.

We became work friends. I showed him pictures of my family. He wanted to know if my sister would like to go out with him. (She declined.)

About a year and a half after our job was finished, I saw his picture in the paper. He was up on murder charges. Had met a woman at a dance club. Went home to her place. And stabbed her multiple times. He said that the knives told him to do it. Since then he has been in an institution for the criminally insane.

The Hole is such a story. Horrible things happen that are beyond most people’s comprehension. They are not the norm. They intrigue us. To read.

The Preface is the beginning page of The Hole.

……………………………..

PREFACE

The stain on the cement stared back at me. I wanted to go home and get a pail of hot water and wash it off. Several ants were grazing on it. I looked around. Everything was the same as it had been a few days earlier. The telephone booth. The newspaper boxes. The Six Points Plaza across the street. The plaza was empty. Business was bad. Several of the stores were abandoned. The stain was the only sign that something terrible had happened.

“You all right, mister?”

I turned around. A young boy looked up at me. He was about ten years old, with a lock of red hair falling over his eyes. He looked like Johnny at that age. The resemblance startled me. He was bundling newspapers into his carrier’s bag.

“You come to pick up your newspapers?”

He nodded.

“I used to have a paper route,” I said. “The Telegram. Pink newspaper. Ironic for a conservative newspaper.”

“What are you talking about, mister?” the kid asked.

“An old man died here yesterday.” I pointed to the stain on the sidewalk.

The boy looked down at the stain. “Is that all that’s left of him?”

“He made that stain when he died. His bowels emptied.”

“He shit his pants!” the boy gasped. “That’s gross! Was he shot?”

I shook my head. The boy looked disappointed.

“Did you see him die?” the boy asked.

“I heard him die,” I responded. “My back was turned.”

The boy thought about that for a moment.

“What did it sound like?”

“A whistle. Like a balloon deflating.”

“Our cat gave birth to some dead kittens. They were stiff. Was he stiff?”

I sat down on the curb of the street.

“What are you crying for, mister?…It wasn’t you that died.”

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