Bad Boys Don't Get Dessert
William Quincy Belle
Henry stood in front of a wall-mounted case consisting of small plastic drawers. Dad said he had taken possession of the case when a local dentist had given up his practice and sold all the office furniture and professional equipment. The case with its drawers made for a great organizational tool in the basement workshop. Using a magic marker, Dad had labeled just about each drawer and filled them all with various items like nails, screws, Marr connectors, and what have you. Henry was now scanning each row of drawers, looking for something specific. Ah, third row, second drawer from the left: razor blades. Dad always used a razor to shave and would put the old discarded blades in the basement workshop in case he needed something similar to an X-Acto knife.
Pulling the drawer open, Henry looked at the scattered pile of a half a dozen blades. Carefully reaching in, he managed to pick up the top blade by using his thumb and index on the ends of the blade. Henry shut the drawer and held the blade up to look at it. This was perfect. It would do the job nicely.
Henry turned around and faced the terrified man held captive in a wooden chair. He stared wide-eyed at Henry. He was breathing heavily through his nose as his mouth was stuffed with a ball gag. His face was bathed in sweat.
“When I was six, Dad showed me an old black-and-white silent film called An Andalusian Dog. It was one of the first surrealist films.” Henry turned the blade around between his fingers. “I was always fascinated by the opening scene where the filmmaker slits a woman’s eye. Even though it was all fake – the eye was actually a calf’s eye – it did have the power to startle if not horrify the viewer. There are some things that get you right in the gut.” Henry looked away. “What’s the word?” Henry furrowed his brow, then said, “Visceral.” He gave the man a triumphant look. “That’s it, visceral.”
Henry stepped forward and walked around the chair. “I had an opportunity last year to dissect a cow’s eye in biology class and that was sort of the same thing but it wasn’t a human eye.” He took up a position directly behind the man. “I thought since you were here, I should take advantage of the opportunity.”
Forcefully grabbing the man’s forehead with his left hand, Henry brought his right, which held the razor, to the front of the man’s face. The man tried to scream but the ball gag muffled any sounds. He tried to twist in the chair but he was firmly held in place and could do very little but struggle.
Suddenly Henry felt the man go completely limp. Henry stopped. He let go of the man’s head and it flopped forward onto his chest. Henry half stepped around to look and realized the man had fainted. No matter, this would make things easier.
Henry supported the man’s head with his left hand and used his thumb and index to pry apart the eyelids of one eye. The eye was slightly rolled back in the head so the white was almost completely exposed. Henry leaned over as he brought the razor up, then, using the point of one end, slowly sliced into the eyeball going from left to right. The clear gel of the interior of the eye, the vitreous humor, spilled out. Henry looked at it curiously. He touched the substance with the end of his index finger. Using his left hand, he squeezed the eyelids slightly, trying to coax the remnants of the gel out of the eye. He looked at the substance, trying to remember what it had looked like in the movie. How strange and yet how similar.
“Henry!” His mother’s disembodied voice came from the top of the stairs on other side of the basement.
Henry let go of the man’s head and stood up straight. “Yes, Mom?” He remained still, straining to hear.
“Okay, Mom,” said Henry in a louder than normal tone. “I’ll be right up.”
He walked across to the workbench and left the razor blade before heading to the stairs. When he reached the first step, he flicked off the light and headed up to the kitchen.
“Wash your hands, dear.” Mom was busy serving up two plates.
“Yes, ma’am.” Henry stepped across the main hallway to a bathroom and quickly cleaned himself up.
“What’s for dinner?” Henry was drying his hands on a towel as he looked back in the kitchen where his mother was busying herself at the stove.
“I had to stay a little late at the store tonight so I didn’t have a lot of time to do much. Fortunately, I did have some frozen pork chops. I hope you don’t mind, dear.”
Henry walked back into the kitchen and sat down. “Mom, come on. You know I love your cooking. Even when you’re not trying, you do something tasty. I just hope I can develop the same skill to create something from nothing.”
Mom laughed. “Well, aren’t you the charmer.” She walked over and set two plates on the table. “Certainly your father never complained.”
His mother paused, then said, “Bless his soul.” She crossed herself and turned back to the stove and began to fiddle with the burner controls. She remained standing with her back to Henry. She sniffed. Henry knew she was on the verge of crying.
“I miss him, too.” He tried to change the subject. “I’m starving. And you must be, too. You were saying that you had a longer day than normal at the store?”
“Yes.” Mom took out a tissue and blew her nose. She turned around and came to the table. “Let’s eat.” She sat down and smiled at her son.
Henry stared at his plate. “Ooo, baked potato.” He reached over and pulled the butter dish closer to his plate, then began cutting the potato into smaller chunks.
“Your Aunt Teresa is coming over tonight after dinner.” Mom pointed to a white cardboard box on the counter. “I picked us up a treat; your favorite, in fact.”
“Yes, Boston Cream Pie.”
Henry looked both surprised and pleased.
“Aunt Teresa and I are planning the church picnic.”
“Yes. A week from this Sunday, we’re going to have a church social after the 11:00 a.m. service. Teresa and I are heading up the women’s group. We’re going to arrange a picnic brunch outside at the church. I do hope you will come.”
“Of course I will. I can help out with the tables and chairs. I’m sure you could use an extra pair of hands.” Henry used his knife to spread chunks of butter over the pieces of his baked potato. “Oh, I love a baked potato with butter,” Henry said, chuckling.
“I would appreciate it.” Mom cut into her pork chop. “We all would appreciate it.” She put a piece of pork in her mouth and thoughtfully began to chew.
Henry scooped up some potato and had raised his fork about halfway to his mouth when a blood-curdling scream came from the basement. Henry froze. He stared at his mother. She stared, wide-eyed, back at him.
The two of them remained silent looking at one another. Finally his mother said, “Henry, what was that?” After another moment, there was another scream. “Good lord, what in heaven’s name is going on?” She immediately pushed her chair back and stood up.
“Mom, I can explain….” Henry sounded apologetic. His mother had already started for the basement and he ran after her.
His mother stormed down the basement steps and turned on the light. She could hear sobbing coming from the workshop on the other side on the basement. She marched across the open area, then turned the corner. Mom came to a dead halt in front of the man in the chair. “Oh… my… God…!”
Henry came up behind his mother. “Mom, I can explain….”
Mom turned around to face her son. “Henry! How many times have I told you to not do this in the house?”
“You are supposed to do this in the shed. If your father were alive, he would tan your hide.” Mom crossed herself again and looked at the ceiling. “Bless his soul.”
“But I put down a tarp.”
Henry’s mother turned back to face the man. He was whimpering. He stared at her with his right eye. The left eyelid had caved into the socket now that the eyeball had deflated.
“Look at this mess,” said Mom. There was anger in her voice. “Your father always kept a neat workshop and here, look at what you’ve done! My God, you’ve gotten blood on the floor.” She half turned to her son while pointing to the floor around the chair. “You are going to clean that up, young man. You will respect the memory of your dead father by respecting his workshop.”
Henry stood there with his shoulders and head lowered as he looked at his feet in shame. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Your father always told you to keep the hobbies out back in the shed. That’s what it is there for. It is far easier to hose down the shed than to try to keep the workshop clean. Heck, you start sawing through a body and you end up with blood and flesh everywhere. It’s a nightmare to clean up and if you don’t clean up properly, that stuff just starts to stink after a while.”
Henry’s mother turned back to stare at the man. She had a perplexed expression as she stepped forward and leaned over to look closer at the hands. “What’s this?” She pointed at the man’s right hand. It was palm down on the wooden armrest. On the back of the hand were two metallic spots.
“Ah… galvanized plasterboard nails.”
Mom nodded her head, half smiling. “Very good. I’m impressed.” She looked at the left hand and discovered the same thing. Henry had first strapped the man’s wrists to the armchair, then hammered two large nails through the back of each hand to secure it to the arm of the chair. The man couldn’t move his hands without further ripping his flesh from the large nail heads.
“Let’s see: fingernails ripped out, the little finger amputated.” Mom nodded her head as she looked over the man. “Yes, good.”
Henry brightened up a little. “Thanks, I….”
Mom continued to study the man. “Henry?”
Henry immediately stopped talking.
“Please don’t do this again.”
“I want you to use the shed.”
Mom looked at the man’s left eye. “What did you do to the eye?” She leaned over to get a closer look.
“I….” Henry shifted uncomfortably. “I slit it open with a razor blade.”
His mother clicked her tongue, then shook her head. “You and your father and that Dali film. Geesh, you both seem to be obsessed with eyeballs.”
The man stared at the woman with his one good eye. Saliva dribbled from his mouth. Softly he said, “Help me.”
Mom looked at the man in the eye. She held his gaze and said, “Aunt Teresa will be here at seven and I do not want her to have to put up with any screaming coming from the basement. We have important things to discuss and I don’t want any interruptions.”
“I don’t know how he managed to get the ball gag out of his mouth,” said Henry.
Mom sighed and stood up. “You are just like your father. He never did get the hang of properly securing a ball gag.” She shook her head. “I can’t tell you how many times somebody managed to get it out of their mouth without using their hands.”
Mom walked over to one side of the workbench and opened the doors to the large wall-mounted tool cupboard. She looked around a moment, then selected something. Henry watched his mother turn back with a hatchet.
“I’m sorry, Henry. You should know better. You have to suffer the consequences.”
Henry’s mother half turned, then swung the hatchet in a large arc over her shoulder. The man gasped. The blade sliced into the top of the head with a heavy thump followed by a squishing sound. The man’s body went rigid as his limbs went into spasm, then there was an audible whoosh as the air came out of his lungs and his head sank forward. The man was perfectly still.
Henry and his mother looked at the man’s skull split open by the force of the blow. The hatchet was embedded in the flesh but as they watched, the handle of the hatchet slowly tipped forward, then the entire tool fell onto the floor with a clatter.
“You are not getting any dessert.”
Mom looked at her son with a slight look of disdain. “Don’t you ‘ah, Mom’ me.” She pointed to the dead man. “I want you to get all of this cleaned up. I want that body outside immediately. You get it down to the woodchipper and I want to see it completely mulched before you come back in the house. And you are getting up early tomorrow morning. I want you to fertilize the back garden before you go to school.”
Henry quietly said under his breath, “Oh, boy.”
“Pardon me?” Mom looked at her son sternly.
“Now get busy.” Mom stood there, tapping her foot.
Henry sighed and walked over to the workbench and picked up a hammer. He went over to the dead man and started pulling out the plasterboard nails with the claw.
“I’ll keep your dinner warm.” Mom turned around and started for the stairs. “And I’ll save you a piece of pie.”
Henry grinned. He knew she couldn’t stay angry with him.
About the Author
William Quincy Belle is just a guy. Nobody famous; nobody rich; just some guy who likes to periodically add his two cents worth with the hope, accounting for inflation, that $0.02 is not over-evaluating his contribution. He claims that at the heart of the writing process is some sort of (psychotic) urge to put it down on paper and likes to recite the following which so far he hasn’t been able to attribute to anyone: “A writer is an egomaniac with low self-esteem.” You will find Mr. Belle’s unbridled stream of consciousness here (http://wqebelle.blogspot.ca) or @here (https://twitter.com/wqbelle).