A Terrible Convenience

April 3, 2009

Norman Gable pulled himself up from the couch and breathed a heavy sigh.  He pulled the wedge from his ass and picked his plate up from which he just finished a pork chop and boiled potatoes.  His fork swerved a slight and he caught it, just soon enough.  Maddie, his dog, his only dog, was just below him at his feet.  Norman adjusted himself and rebalanced the plate, and now his knife slid too.  Again, he caught it – right in the thumb.  It sliced through.  Norman felt the pain.  He let loose and watched the knife tumble from his plate.  Instinctively, he tried sticking his foot out to protect Maddie, but he was nowhere close—he couldn’t possibly move that fast.  The knife came down square on his dog’s back – handle-side down – and bounced to the floor. 

Maddie looked at the knife, now twirling on the floor, and then looked back up to Norman and blinked.  Norman breathed a sigh of relief and checked his thumb.  Not too bad, he thought.  He stuck it in his mouth for a quick suck.  When he pulled it back out he checked it one more time and pulled the meat of the cut apart to see how deep.  When he concluded he’d live he bent down to retrieve the knife.  His movements were calculated and slow.  He was still balancing the fork on the plate that he tried desperately not to tip. 

At the right distance Norman reached out and fingered the knife.  The knife spun from his grasp.  Norman readjusted and went for it again.  Again, the knife spun away – further this time.  Norman readjusted, again, and reached out – even further now.  When he finally nabbed it, he moved quickly to maintain an upright position.  He desperately needed to. 

At fifty-two, Norman’s knees were not what they used to be.  They certainly weren’t what they should have been, but definitely not what they used to be.  Maddie watched upwardly as her heavy – no, her overweight – her very overweight master hovered directly above her.  She noticed that he strained, that something was out of sorts and different, but she did not know what to make of it as she was just a dog.  She watched his muscles quiver and his veins pop from his neck and forehead, but again she did not know what they were; only that she had never seen them and that they were, simply, new to look at. 

As he quickly moved to straighten himself a magnificent and terrible pain in his lower back seized all his momentum and movement.  Nearly all his muscles froze tight in their present positions.  Norman grimaced violently.  His teeth clenched.  Maddie wagged her tail.  Her sad eyes still gazed up. 

Norman tried to fight.  He tried to hold steady, just a couple moments, hoping the pain would release and slide away.  He tried to breathe it out.  Lamaze, he thought.  He’d seen an actress do it on tv.  It was no use.  His muscles were completely locked.  His left leg quivered madly.  He had only been in this terrible position for a few seconds, maybe ten or fifteen, but it seemed like forever.  Norman knew he could not hold his body up like this much longer.  He was in a one-legged, half- squat position and he was feeling his descent was near. 

He tried letting go of the plate, he tried letting go of the knife, too.  But he couldn’t.  His muscles wouldn’t release.  They quivered, but any voluntary action was virtually impossible.  And so, Norman Gable gave himself, the entire weight of his fat ass – slowly, regrettably, ever so hatefully – to the beckoning gravity that pulled him on top of the innocence of his dog. 

It was, at this point—just so we’re clear—nearly impossible for her to have lived long under the massive weight of Norman who was now crashing down on her.  The knife, frozen in his hand, was simply a terrible convenience for her.  Terrible because that’s what knives are when they tear through the skin, and a convenience because she would have suffocated, slowly and for many labored minutes – her heart pumping madly and her lungs only catching short bursts – before her old rib bones gave way and ended it all, had there not been a knife in the picture.  It would have been much worse for her, I know.  It was a terrible convenience.

But that surely would have been difficult to have guessed after listening to her sincere and gruesome howl when the knife plunged through.

Norman’s arm initiated the cut into Maddie’s left side, and the fall of his body upon Maddie, and upon the knife too, finished the job. 

 

Norman lied still on his dead dog for nearly half an hour before he was able to move again.  And when he was it was his arm that moved first, his left arm to be exact.  He used it to help pull his knees back underneath himself.  When he had finally done that, he slowly pulled his right arm out that had been trapped under his heavy belly.  He gasped loudly when it finally released as it was now totally barren of any blood supply.  The weight of his body and the precarious position the arm was in when he fell upon it provide no chance for any blood to enter. 

Norman dangled his dead arm on the floor and whimpered in anguish between his heavy gasps.  He looked at Maddie and threw his arm up to her head to try and caress her.  His arm slipped from her fur and lumped to the floor.  When he had finally shaken blood back to it, he pulled his now dead dog into his arms and slowly tried to stand again. 

Norman understood that with Maddie’s extra 43 lbs – not to mention his weight and the fact that his arms and hands were completely utilized – standing was going to be a real feat.  He knew that he had to get his legs underneath him this time.  He certainly didn’t want his muscles to react they way they did earlier.    

When he finally reached his feet, Norman rotated and walked to the door at the other end of the room.  The knife’s handle, which now stuck out from Maddie’s left side, wobbled in front of Norman’s face with each of his heavy steps.  When he reached the door – a swinging door leading to the lobby of the motel – he rotated round again and exited in reverse, and into the lobby where a young couple stood at the counter.

“We’ve been ringing the bell for about five minutes,” the woman said.  She had dark hair and an irritated look on her face. “Have you been back there this entire time?”

“Yeah, sorry,” Norman said.  He laid Maddie on the desk behind the counter and the turned to help his customers.  He really felt the pain in his back now and so he leaned down against the counter to reduce the strain.

“What’s wrong with…”  That was all the dark haired woman managed to say before she gasped.  “Oh my God!  Is that – is that a knife sticking out of…?”  She raised her hands to her face a quivered.

The lady’s husband reached to comfort her but she shrugged him off and held her hand up, halting any further movement from him.

Norman placed a couple different kinds of motel literature on the counter and then slapped a pencil down on top. “Yep, the dog is dead.” he said, simply.  “We have five rooms available,” he continued, breathing heavily every four or five words.  His massive size and the weight that hung throughout his torso was enough to fuck the life out of any of his organs, let alone his lungs.  “They all have one double bed.”  He breathed again. “Cable television, a couple pay channels.”  He breathed again.  “The price is thirty-eight dollars, plus tax.  The total is forty-two twenty-nine,” he breathed, “but just the forty-two will be fine.”

“How did you kill…?” She gathered herself again. “Why did you kill that dog?” 

“Honey, shh,” her husband whispered.  “I’m sure he didn’t kill that dog.”

Blood from Maddie’s wound now puddled on the desk behind Norman.  “Actually Sir,” breathed Norman, “I did kill her.”

The woman startled and stepped back.  She clenched her hand and then relaxed it.

“Not on purpose!” Norman said loudly at the woman, waving a bloody finger at her.

The woman held back tears and anger, and asked flatly, “Do you have a room that doesn’t have murdered dogs?

Norman looked up at her and rolled his eyes.  He had obviously not realized that his hand was now deep red.  He had also not realized that part of his shirt near his groin was stained. 

“So how long you planning?” Norman asked.

“Excuse me?” the guy asked.

“How many nights?  How long?” Norman asked again.

“You know what, honey?” the woman said bitterly.  “Maybe we should stay somewhere else.”  Her eyes rolled to meet Norman’s eyes at the word else.  “Sir,” she said smarmily, “Is there another place down the road that we can stay at?” 
            “Uh, honey – it’s in which we can stay or that we can stay” her husband said, correcting her.  He was an English teacher in Ohio, and he had corrected her at least twenty times in their two days of marriage. 

She shot him back a look that would’ve maimed faces and eyeballs had it more time to, but she quickly turned back to Norman.  “Sir, I’d like to stay somewhere where dogs aren’t being killed by morons.  Is that possible?”

Norman, still leaning on the counter, looked up at her and nodded.  “If you’re sure that’s what you want to do,” he breathed, “there’s a place about eighteen miles east…” He breathed again, “Right here on 22.”  Norman meant Interstate 22 and the couple was well aware of that.  They had been driving it for the last three hours. 

“Eighteen miles isn’t too bad – we can make it!” the man said, trying to encourage his wife. 

“Yeah, I think we can make that,” she said tauntingly, looking over at Norman.  “We have enough gas.”

“But that place just burned down,” Norman said, his bloody hand in the air again.  “On…Wednesday,” he said.  “Just this past Wednesday.”

“What’s the next place after that?” the husband asked.

“Ahh,” Norman groaned, tilting his head back, thinking and rubbing his bloody hand through his hair and over his face.  When he was done – “Ahhhh” – he had ran blood trails all around his face and head.  “The only place after that is called the Silhouette, but that’s not a hotel – it’s a…”  Norman caught himself and looked up at the woman who now had an eyebrow raised.  “I don’t think there’s another hotel for at least fifty miles from here.  I can call information to be sure, but I believe…”

“Yes – please do,” the man said.

“No, it’s okay,” said the woman.  She turned toward her husband.  “Well stay here tonight and we’ll leave first thing in the morning.”

Norman looked up at the woman and stared at her, like a walrus sunbathing its face.

“Um, Sir,” the man said. “You have blood all over your face.”

Norman looked down at his hand.  “Ahh, shit,” he groaned.  He rubbed his hands together and created hundreds of tiny blood squirmies that fell to the counter.  He wiped them to the floor. 

“Okay,” breathed Norman.  “I’m going to put you two love birds in room 24.”  He put the key on the counter and pushed an authorization form in front the husband.  “I just need you to sign the bottom.” 

 

The couple walked up the stairs and down the hall to room 24 which opened from outside.  When they entered they flipped the lights, closed the door, and tossed their bags on the bed.  They breathed the smells and flavors decades of guests left behind.  It was not a pleasant fragrance but it stirred something primitive in the man.  He took his new wife from behind and drove his groin into her ass.    

“Get the fuck off me, Greg!” she screamed.  She ripped his hands away and spun from his reach.

“What the hell, Samantha?” he said.  He turned toward her.  His arms fell to his thighs. 

The moment was ruined.  Greg felt his erection turn to dejection.  He had been driving for seven hours, beginning sometime after four that afternoon, and he had all but worked himself into a horn-ball frenzy.  He liked looking at her.  He liked her smell.  She was a bitch – a true bitch.  But he was now only learning that.  He kind of liked it.

Greg watched her as she fumbled through her make-up bag in front of the mirror.  She did not look up to meet his eyes.  She knew he was annoyed. 

“I forgot something,” Samantha said.  She pulled things from her bag now, but knew what she was looking for wasn’t there.  She shook her head and slammed everything back into it.  “I have to go back down to the office.  I can’t believe I forgot…”  She mumbled the last couple words.

“Honey, I’ll go down and get it,” he said.  “What is it?”

“No, it’s not a big deal,” Samantha said.  “I’ll be right back.”

“Honey, please,” Greg begged.

“I’ll—fucking—get it!  Okay?” Samantha said.  She looked at Greg.  He looked back with fear, as if he had just made the biggest mistake in his life.

“I’m sorry,” she said.  She tried meaning it.  “You’ve been driving all day,” she said.  “Just stay here and relax a bit.  I won’t be long.”

Samantha walked out, closed the door behind her and darted down the hall and down the steps to the motel’s office.  She opened the office door, stepped inside, and quickly closed it behind her.  She gave Norman a cold stare.  Norman looked up and considered himself.

“Oh, yeah,” he said.  “The dog situation,” he pointed his thumb over his shoulder.  “It was a complete accident.  I take full responsibility.”

Samantha shook furiously.  Her breathing was deep and controlled.  A tear streamed down her right cheek.  “Our plan is ruined,” she said.  “Do you realize that?”

            “No,” said Norman.  He lifted the phone from the desk and put it to his ear. “Your plan is ruined.”

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