I know that starting a story with an excuse isn’t the best foot forward and that the events should speak for themselves. The problem with these events is that they don’t put me in a good light. Sure, I could pretend that I didn’t need a stranger’s approval, that I am more emotionally mature than that, but the truth is, that I am not. I am not asking for forgiveness, but I am hoping for at least some sort of understanding to why I did what you are about to read.
I know that I have done plenty of scummy, even downright bad things to people, and I am not proud of it.
I could also give you the whole spiel about my fucked up upbringing, but to be honest, my parents are pretty stellar people and try as hard as I might, I can’t pin any of my dumb life choices on them.
Yet, it is important for me to put the record straight before you read what’s coming up ahead: I chose none of this and if I knew about what would happen, I would have done anything to avoid it.
I didn’t use to believe in fate, but it has become increasingly hard for me to believe that these things I’ve experienced and written are just coincidences.
I won’t bore you with my childhood, my rebellious teenager phase, or even my early twenties. There are some good stories in there, but compared to what happened on the day after my 29th birthday, they will seem like your distant relatives vacation photos with Aunt Mae you have to sit through, while you are completely sober, secretly wishing you could give yourself alcohol poisoning, just so you can out of there. I know this analogy sucks, but it happened to me and I like it. Anyway, I am rambling, so let me get back on track.
I was still hungover from the bar crawl (involving the only two three bars in town) with my two buddies, Jessie and Tumble. (No, I don’t can’t tell you why we call him Tumble. He somehow ended up with the nickname and nobody can remember why, which is good enough of a reason to keep it.) Getting blackout drunk only seemed like the only appropriate way for me to celebrate the fact that this would be my last year in my 20s, before I inevitably turned 30, still single with no dating prospects and stuck in a dead-end job. I’ve thought long and hard about the reason for that, but I think Jessie had put it succinctly:
“You’re an asshole, Pete.”
I tend to argue with him about his evaluation of my character, but after a few drinks, I usually end up wholeheartedly agreeing with him. I am an asshole.
Let me give you an example: I once broke up with a girl by sending her pictures of me and my new flame fucking. While I thought the pictures were actually quite tasteful, I can see why it was a shitty thing to do, even if the girl I sent them to was kind of an asshole, too. Problem is, I am often too impulsive and get carried away, because the day after I sent the picture, the entire town had seen it and known about what a massive dick I was.
Not that this is something particularly impressive in of its own, since Chesterton is a small shit hole somewhere in the bumble-fuck of the Midwest. You know, one of these places where dating your cousin isn’t quite so frowned upon, since at least it isn’t your sibling. People have low standards and somehow I managed to not even clear that bar. I should let you know I don’t have any siblings or cousins, just in case you thought I was implying any of that.
The town now also knew about my less than average equipment between my legs, which probably won’t surprise you, but doesn’t improve your dating prospects in the slightest.
Since my birthday fell on a Tuesday, I had to drag myself with bloodshot eyes and a formidable blood alcohol level to my day job.
You probably think that I must work on some farm or some pit stop garage or whatever else the good people of Chesterton would consider honest work for a “real man”. It might surprise you to know, that I work in a minor branch of a national insurance agency. I certainly am when I sit at my small desk, overflowing with papers that still need but most likely will never be filed away.
The office itself is located in the former living room of a small two-story house. Pete, my supervisor, lives on the upper floor, which leads to several instances of him prancing half-naked through the office, while I had one of our clients argue with me over what is and isn’t covered by their insurance. This stuff really hurts the thin veneer of professionalism we try to put on.
Maybe you’re wondering why a tiny shit hole town like Chesterton needs an insurance agency. Or you’re not. I’ll tell you, anyway. Everyone here knows someone who has lost a finger, a hand or some other part of their body in some sort of gruesome accident involving power tools, combine harvesters (which is just a enormous power tool, if you think about it) or other limb-destroying machinery. So selling injury insurance is surprisingly easy and as Dave explained to me once while chewing his morning bagel, sitting on his desk without a shirt: “Once you get them scared about one thing, you can scare them about all sort of other stuff.”
Essentially, we exist because we are good at up-selling insurance that nobody here will ever need.
Just last week, Pete convinced his neighbor Mabel that she absolutely needs flood insurance. Mind you, this town sits atop a steep hill in one of the driest regions in the country.
Once Mabel had left the office, Dave had said with his most genuine expression of concern, “At least she can now sleep comfortably, knowing we insure her property should her house be washed away.”
“That’s because you scared that woman almost into a heart attack,” I said, while filling in the policy details for Dave’s newest policy in my ancient office computer.
“You know killing our customers isn’t good for business.” Dave said as if he was quoting a passage from the employee manual and with a big grin added, “You should know that from your training!”
“What training?” I said, and grinned back.
I never said I was the only asshole here. Dave was just better at keeping up appearances.
I didn’t like Dave, but at least he wasn’t giving me any grief, and this job was a fairly decent way to pay my rent.
I don’t know who or what put a nest of wasp up his ass that particular day, but when I arrived a few minutes too late for my shift, Dave gave me a lot of shit. He dumped an entire wagonload of horse manure on me. My lax attitude, my lack of organization, even how my suit looked that morning – everything was on the menu.
Dave’s been in bad moods before, often when some claim comes through that corporate can’t wriggle their way out of. The fat cat above him them shits on him, he then shits on me and I drown my frustration in alcohol. Circle of life.
While I can endure my boss giving me shit as much as any worker with bills to pay and no other useful skills on their resume, my head was already ready to implode from the bar crawl last night. Every plosive coming from Dave’s mouth was like a tiny dagger being jammed into whatever brain matter I hadn’t killed off the previous night with alcohol. If it wasn’t for Dave’s awful breath, I might have been able to keep my stomach contents inside myself, but as the ragout of beer, onion and cold smoke hit my nostrils, all bets were off.
I managed to projectile vomit directly onto Dave’s laptop, which would have been bad enough, but when he tried to push me away from his desk, another large swell of stomach burst forth, directly aimed at Dave’s face and chest. If I wasn’t feeling like death, I might have been able to appreciate my aim. Dave wasn’t quite seeing it that way, and I don’t blame him. I covered him it what I can only describe as a concoction of half-digested chili and various liquors. You don’t need to experience this yourself, to know that it would really, really suck.
Not sure how long we both stood in the room like this, vomit dropping from Dave’s chest and dripping from my chin, but as soon as Dave snapped out of his shocked stupor, he threw a mean punch, throwing me against the wall. Fair enough, I thought, that man has a point. The shit really hit the fan though as continued to charge at me, decking me in the face again and again. It all happened quick and I said before I was still pretty dazed, so I don’t know how many punches he landed into me, but I found myself laying on the floor with him kneeling on my chest and me shielding my face from his blows. I am pretty sure I felt something break in my face and my mouth seemed to fill with my blood.
Then I distinctly remember I felt something akin to a jolt of electricity shooting through my entire body. My mind suddenly cleared up, and the pain disappeared as if wiped away in an instant. I caught Dave’s fist coming towards my face with my hand and kept it in place. Then, without thinking about it, I brought my hand up towards Dave’s face, pushing my palm against his cheek. Dave froze up immediately. I saw see the vessels in his eyes bursting at once, turning his eyeballs instantly into bright red marbles. A small trickle of blood flowed down his face and onto my chest. Then he slumped forward, pinning me down with the weight of his limp body.
I quickly rolled him off of me onto his back. I sat back against the wall, partially covered in my vomit and either mine or Dave’s blood.
I flunked biology class, but I could immediately tell that Dave was dead. I had just killed my first person.
Note: This First Draft was part of NaNoWriMo 2021 – 30 First Drafts in 30 Days
I wrote this first draft for NaNoWriMo 2021 – 30 First Drafts