He made his last stroke on the canvas. He took a step back and stood over it. His masterpiece, finally finished, and it spoke to him. Of course, the canvass is metaphorical in the sense that it wasn’t a page at all. It was a throat, the stroke, was that of a knife.
He was thirty six year old David Testa, this was his first murder. The once angelic face of thirteen year old Leigh Tomaino laid bloody and beaten on the floor in his apartment. He watched her now, as he did when she laid incapacitated in his tub. He’s grown connected to her over these past couple days, he isn’t ready to let her go just yet.
The DeWitt Machinist Company had been around since David was a boy. When he was young, before he went to grade school, he wanted to be an engineer. He thought he would grow up to build sky scrapers and bridges. Thirty years later he was a male secretary, sitting on the sidelines, watching the engineers at the company live his dream.
The lunch bell rang. David packed up what food he didn’t eat and rolled the top of his brown paper bag. He returned to his paper pushing, pencil sharpening job. The twenty minutes after lunch were calm, no phone calls and no complaints. Then Bob came along. He had been David’s boss since he started and had been bullying him since high school. Bob was a notorious ball buster. He developed his arrogant, provocative personality after he got moved up from JV to Varsity his freshman year. “David,” Bob said “did you watch the game last night? The Rangers won by a goal, in the last minute.” David looked up at him not breaking his continuous rhythm of paper shredding. “I don’t like hockey, Bob.”
“Yeah, you’re more of the artsy type. You always were. Well I’ll tell you the next time I go to the opera. Keep up the good work.” He tapped the desk twice with his knuckles and moved on to harass his next subject. David straightened up the stack of manila folders and the black plastic bin of paper clips that moved so little only a neurotic would notice.
David sat in his car for an hour after work. He waited patiently for his opportunity. He walked out of his car towards the front door of the office. Just as he reached to grab the handle, Bob pushed the door open. “David,” he said , “what’s going on, working off the clock?”
“No, my car won’t start, I think the battery is dead, triple A is gonna be a couple hours.”
“You driving that rusty VW over there?”
“Yes,” David said.
“Hold tight,” Bob said, “I drive the Audi over there, I’ll drive over and give ya a jump.”
“You like the Audi?” David said.
“Yeah, I do, best car for the price.” David and Bob moved towards the parking lot. “How’s it drive?” David asked.
“It drives perfect,” Bob said, “German technology at it’s finest.”
“I was in an accident last year,” David said.
“I remember,” Bob said, “you came to work with that thing around your neck, couldn’t turn your head or anything.”
“Do you think you’d get hurt if someone hit you?” David said.
“Are you kidding me?” Bob said, “In that thing? It’s a tank.”
Bob pulled up grille to grille with David’s car. “Alright,” he said, “pop, the hood.” David sat in the drivers seat as Bob got the cables out of his trunk. Bob put his head under the hood and said, “Alright, Dave, I’m gonna hook ’em up, then we’ll give it some gas.”
“My name is David.”
When Bob had his head under the hood, David opened the door and walked behind him and smothered him with a rag soaked with ether. David threw the body in the trunk and drove off with a new car.
After a week, Bob’s face was plastered all over the T.V. and telephone poles. A picture of David usually in close proximity. The manhunt had begun. Detectives found nothing in the office. No signs of foul play. They thoroughly searched David’s work space they found nothing out of place except nail clippings and a post it note with a name on it, Lionel David Jefferson. The case was taken over by FBI Agent Daniel Deloach.
David opened the door to the bathroom. “Who’s there?” Bob said, “David is that you?”
“Your car’s doing good Bob, don’t you worry. I’m taking good care of her, the heated steering wheel is a nice touch. That cost extra?”
“David, what the fuck is wrong with you. Just let me out of here, you can keep the car, just let me go. My wife needs me.” David ripped the curtain back. His thousand-mile gaze that Bob was so used to was gone. It was replaced by hate. David’s eyes were dark and empty. They told the story of a man who wasn’t quite right. They told the story of a man who might lash out.
“You think this is about a car, Bob? You’re smarter than that. This is about so much more, Bobby. This is about us.” David grimaced. Bob tried to stand up but the glue on the bottom of his legs had set to the porcelain bath tub. He couldn’t move without ripping off his own flesh.
“David, I’ve never done anything to you. Maybe I busted your balls a little too much, said something I shouldn’t have, I can’t take it back, but I’m sorry for it.” David moved closer and sat on the edge of the tub.
“You’re sorry?” David said.
“Wouldn’t you say your apology is a little selfish Bob. I mean, if you weren’t here right now, in my control, would you have apologized?”
Bob didn’t say anything. David looked at him like he was waiting for an answer. “What do you want from me, I was young and stupid. You were different, It’s what kids do.” David punched the tile wall behind him.
“It’s what kids do,” David said, “do kids piss in water bottles and then poor them on David’s head in the middle of study hall. There were girls in our class Bob, do you know what that’s like?”
“I didn’t have anything to do with that David, you know that.”
“No, but they were the same as you. Might as well have been you, and now you’re my boss. Why of all people would it be you.”
“I applied for the job out of college, David, I worked hard for it.”
“And you think that was fair, Bob.” He ran his hands through Bob’s hair, then down his bare chest.
“David, I know I am hard on you at work, but we can work on it. You can file a complaint with HR. Your voice can be heard.” David’s next punch hit Bob square on the chin.
“I was just doing my job” Bob said. David put his hands around Bob’s neck. “It not fair Bob, not to me. Why are you the man in charge, who made you so important. You think that was fair to me? I worked all those meaningless hours sitting behind that desk.”
“David, I went to school. I worked there for years before you applied. I know how tough it can be sometimes. I can get you a promotion with some more money.”
Special Agent Deloach stood outside of David’s apartment door with five armed agents.
David squeezed his hands harder around Bob’s neck. He put his hands on David, in an attempt to relieve the pressure. “David, Dave, stop please.”
Agent Deloach knocked on the door with a heavy hand. “David,” he said, “I know you’re in there. We don’t want any problems son, just let us in.”
He let go of Bob’s neck and stared at him blankly for a moment. “What are you gonna do Dave?”
“I don’t know.”
“David,” Agent Deloach said, “we’re coming in there whether you let us or not, son.”
David put his head down and grew distressed, his hands tightened into fists. “David, lets talk about this,” Bob said.
“There is nothing to talk about, Bob.” Bob reached out to grab David’s hand, a plea for his safety. David pulled his hand back and stepped away from the tub.
“David, I’m gonna count to five,” Agent Deloach said,” if you’re not here, at this door, I’m kicking it down and you’re going to jail.”
David looked himself in the mirror.
He walked out of the bathroom. Bob sat there and screamed. “David, do the right thing.”
Bob sat in the tub, forcing himself to take deep breaths to stop the hyperventilation.
“One.” Agent Deloach’s biggest boy kicked down the door. Five trained government killers entered the room and spread out like it was a drawn out football play. “Bedroom, clear,” one of them said.
“Kitchen,clear,” another one said.
“Parlor, clear sir.”
David wasn’t home. “Sir, come look at this,” the big guy said. Agent Deloach followed his voice into the spare bedroom. The team re-grouped. “The place is clear sir, no one is here, there isn’t a trace of anything. No one’s been here in at least a week.”
“You think it’s been running since he’s been gone?” The big guy said.
The men looked at the train set that was running along the circular track. It was a 1950’s era Lionel in mint condition. The lead car was blowing puffs of smoke. Every so often a milk man and his cattle would slide down the ramp from one of the cars to the grassy knoll. “This means something,” Agent Deloach said. He knelt down and watched the train. He swatted the lead car knocking the whole train off of the tracks. The platform it was on was hand built, with green felt laid over it. He pushed the wooden platform. “Did you hear that?” One of the Agents said.
“Sounded like pieces of clay rattling around in a gym bag,” the big one said.
“Lift it up,” Agent Deloach said.
The five young agents lifted up the wooden platform. The rattling noise came from the full skeleton laying on the floor. The bones were small, like they belonged to a little girl.
David came back into the bathroom. “Dave, listen, just let me go — “
“It’s not gonna happen Bob.”
“Dave — “
“Why are you doing this,” he said.
“Because of the only one that matters,” David said.
“What’s that?” Bob said.
“Because I want to.”
David walked to the tub. He put his knee on the ledge and closed the curtain tightly around himself. He pulled the pencil out of his back pocket and drove it swiftly into Bob’s jugular. Bob’s hands grabbed his throat but that didn’t stop the blood from spraying out like a garden house. David kept his head inside of the tub, bathing in the blood. He licked his lips and waited for Bob to die.