A murder.

10 Mar

I killed Joseph today. It took four days in the end, but he’s dead where I left him on the bathroom floor, all twisted and still. I would move him, but it gives me great joy to see his corpse every time I sit on the toilet.

I had an aunt who thought the phrase “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph” was a sacrilege, so she would just mutter “Joseph” when perplexed or angst-ridden. I was perplexed and angst-ridden when I first saw him flying around my room, so I called him Joseph. Joseph could fly. Joseph was a fly.

It happens every year around this time. The first nice day of spring and I open the kitchen window to let in some fresh air. And ten minutes later, a fly has wandered up the ten stories directly over the most urban landscape in the nation to enter my particular apartment. Then I remember to put up the goddam screen. I suppose I’m lucky. Other people in the building seem to have it much worse according to the list on the bulletin board in the mailroom.

There is a list on the bulletin board in our mailroom. The landlord asks us to put our apartment numbers there so the exterminator can visit specific apartments that have non-rent-paying guests. The list is long. And alarmingly complete. Not only do my indiscreet, filthy neighbors list their apartment numbers, they list their names, and the genus species of the critters they have roaming the savannas of their throw rugs and floorboards. I am too Irish or too Catholic to ever put my name to such a public document. But honestly, I’ve never really had to. It’s odd because my very next-door neighbor confided in me (people are so open around here!) that his roach problem is so bad, he sees them scurrying out of his alarm clock when he strikes it in the morning. Not me, not here. No food in the inn. I eat almost every meal out. I’ve never seen my hundred-pound roommate eat anything. Roaches and mice know better. Not so the dimwitted fly.

And yet I underestimate his wits. Joseph outwitted me a full four days, and might have eaten me alive had I slept a few more hours that first night. I awoke Saturday morning with four enormous welts, two on my thigh and two on my elbow. So painful and intense was the itching, I thought I had broken out with the heartbreak of psoriasis. A doctor friend of mine examined the sites and said, “Bites. Very bad reaction.” Joseph!

The second day, Joseph had the run of the place to himself. I was out working for fifteen hours and my roommate was away. Every time I dug my fingernails into the side of my itching leg that day, I thought of Joseph laying on my couch, or taking in the view, or checking himself out in any number of the mirrors in my home. I burst in at midnight to find him napping on my bed. We surprised each other and he took off somewhere subtle while I clothed myself from head-to-toe and collapsed into fitful sweaty slumber.

The next day, I was sick. I’m convinced it was Joseph’s fault, something he picked up in the last apartment he was visiting, or the last dung heap, and now I had an earache. I was confined to bed all day. Joseph seemed pleased to finally have a playmate at his disposal. My apartment is not huge, but it is certainly larger than the perimeter of my bed with which Joseph seemed enthralled. All day long, he danced around my comforter, landed on my limbs, made lazy circles in my sky. By 6PM I had had it and armed myself with the New Yorker. With whatever energy I could muster I thrashed and whacked and slammed the magazine into myself, always one millisecond too late to hit my intended target. If one listened closely, one could hear a fly laughing in the echo of my “Fuck!”

In a Google search, I read that the life cycle of a fly is fourteen days. I wasn’t going to make it. One of us had to go.

Today, Joseph buzzed around the television set one too many times for my sanity. At 9AM I got the Raid out from under the kitchen sink and sat stalking and vigilant on a living room chair for the next hour. By 10AM, my apartment smelled like Auschwitz. Joseph was good. He avoided every shot and stealthily flew low to the ground where the colors were darker and the contrast poor to my inferior human eyes. But his fondness for me would prove to be his downfall. At 10:30AM, he followed me into the bathroom.

I slammed the door behind me. Luckily, without even thinking, I had taken the Raid with me. It had been in my hand for over and hour now and seemed part of my outfit. I think Joseph knew the jig was up. Gone were his playful flights of fancy; now he was banging into the shower curtain and bouncing off the ceiling and scorching himself on the light fixtures in panic, in holy terror. I caught my reflection in the mirror. I was smiling. I swear my canines had grown by centimeters, as had the hair on my knuckles. Something had awoken in me, locked in this primordial struggle. My breathing became rapid. A mist of Raid was heavy in the air. We were both choking, tearing past one another, arms and wings akimbo, the soap dish flew off the sink, one of us had knocked it to the floor, the shower curtain flew over the rod, I flushed the toilet hoping to hurl him into its vortex, he flew high towards the vent on the upper wall, why hadn’t I seen that, dammit! And then he paused. Behind me. On the door, where he thought I couldn’t see him. Poor Joseph, I grinned. Poor, fly-brained Joseph. Joseph forgot about the mirrors.

I spun on myself and emptied the entire can of Raid directly on my worthy opponent. Joseph fell to the floor in a puddle of poison. His little legs spasmed as the Cyano-methyl-dichloroethenyl-dimethylcyclonopropanecarboxylate coursed its inevitable way through his tiny nervous system, shutting him down and well done. It was all over in thirteen seconds.

I had prematurely ended Joseph’s life by maybe six or seven days. As I exited the death chamber, coughing up Cyano-methyl-dichloroethenyl-dimethylcyclonopropanecarbooxylate, it dawned on me that this shit can’t be too good for me either. Perhaps he had just shaved a few days or years off my life as well. Joseph.

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9 Responses to “A murder.”

  1. Siobhan March 11, 2012 at 12:04 am #

    One of my favorites.

  2. Dugutigui March 21, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    I have my own Joseph: She enters through the open window and, for once, encircles me at short distance like a tiny black and daring satellite inspecting the landing field. Just a quick spin, and a noisy one when she narrows the radius of the ellipse near my ear, while I follow her with a gaze as far as I can rotate my head …
    But nothing compares to yours…

    • NC Coot March 21, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

      VERY funny stuff, D. I wish I has thought of the landing field. I may have to start another blog that incorporates all the ideas I stole from you….

      • Dugutigui March 21, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

        You write much better than you lie … 🙂

      • NC Coot March 21, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

        There’s more truth in my lies than in my very reflection.

      • Dugutigui March 21, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

        Probably, but not in this case…

  3. Fay Moore March 25, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    Stop by my place on April 4 and see what you “inspired.” That particular post is all your fault.

    • NC Coot March 25, 2012 at 10:56 pm #

      I’ve been accused of worse. This is an honor!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Standing Akimbo « Fay Moore: I Want To Be a Writer - April 4, 2012

    […] A special thank you to NC Coot of https://thenecessarycruelty.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/a-murder/ for my vocabulary word of the day — […]

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