as Nicholas Randers)
1986 by Nicholas
Grabowsky, all rights reserved
“I have done
nothing. I have seen nothing. I have absolutely nothing in common with my little
Stan stood in the
sultry, one-room apartment. He was alone and frustrated; not bored as was usual
for him, as he was reaching his second year without a single roommate in this,
his paltry living quarters in the center of the monotonously familiar city
suburb. Frustration indeed took over boredom as quickly as a spider rushes out
to its prey struggling in its web. And a web was exactly what Stan felt he was
in. A mental web.
“I remember nothing.”
He would repetitiously
mutter aloud the mindless abstractions, gazing blankly out the back window over
his unmade bed at the construction workers erecting some sort of building; the
sign directly across the way at the dirt-covered sidewalk read something to the
extent that it was to be a medical building, but the sign no longer registered
in his mind. His thoughts were beyond the scenery laid out before him.
“Oh God, today is
neither the start nor the finish.”
The atmosphere in the
room was stale; stagnant to him. It carried the same rancidness that greeted him
every morning after a night of boozing and hitting up. He felt miry and sloppy.
He hadn’t changed clothes for a realistic estimate of three weeks or even bathed
for a great deal longer. The atmosphere was intensely warm.
He wore no shirt, and
his chest hairs appeared as one dark smudge across his chest as if someone
finger-painted them on with black paint. The beard he developed appeared almost
as if it was scrofulous bread mold, and particles of food were snarled and
tangled in between the hairs. He was drenched in sweat, his baggy trousers wet
with it, and the room was putrid and fusty with the smells of body odor and
strawberry air freshener. There were small pools of water dispersed throughout
the apartment; on the brown dresser, the worn and neglected green carpet, the
unkempt bed, the love seat, the black and white t.v.. He had not long ago placed
ice cubes in these spaces, hoping the room would cool down considerably. A small
portion of his frustrations was that this devise had failed and the room
remained warm. He gave no mind to the large fan on the rug at the foot of the
bed or the closed window before him.
“It’s not my goddamn
fault they keep killing our nation’s postage stamps.”
Suddenly, as if some
unseen presence snapped him out of a deep trance, Stan immediately took his eyes
away from the scene beyond the window and turned. He shook his head once.
Twice, in effort to
bring his mind back to the things at hand. He glanced on the bookshelf at the
small electric alarm clock with the words “superbell” engraved just above
the number six. The time was quarter to five p.m.. Time to bring out Joey for
He walked across the
carpet, bare feet stepping into the soaked damp spots where the ice cubes had
been, and made his way past the bare dining table into the adjoining kitchen. He
opened a cupboard and grabbed two white china dishes from a stack of six.
It didn’t take
very long, perhaps five or six minutes at the most, for Stan to set the dining
table for two. The table setting was now fully complete--to his standards--with
two white china dishes, two plastic cups which bore cartoon pictures of Pebbles
and Bam Bam singing in a rock group, forks, spoons, napkins, and a vase filled
with six or seven carrots with the stems cut off. He fancied carrots a great
deal more than flowers.
Stan turned to the
kitchen once more.
“Joey,” he called
rather cheerfully, “time for din-din, son.” He seemed to have now forgotten the
warm and rancid stuffiness of the apartment.
Stan took a few short
steps into the kitchen and stood in front of the refrigerator. He gripped the
top handle and opened the freezer.
“Ah, Joey,” he said.
Inside the freezer was
the contorted little girl, possibly six or seven years of age, her pale and
frigid body stiff with frost. Small icicles had formed around her face and arms.
She wore a pink dress which stuck fast together with her body onto the
surrounding Hungry Man dinners and ice cream and a bag of frozen blueberries.
Stan reached inside
and, grabbing her arms, slowly and carefully pulled the frozen body out from the
freezer’s cold vapors. He gently pulled the t.v. dinners and other frozen foods
apart from her body one by one, each time creating a tense splitting sound, and
he then tossed the packages back into the freezer.
Holding the girl
firmly with one hand, the stiff body acting as a rigid mannequin over the
kitchen floor, he shut the freezer door.
“Now, Joey,” he told
her, “be a good boy and Daddy’ll give you one hell of a dessert. Ice cream.
Sound good, Joey? All right, now let’s eat.”
Stan slid a chair from
the table and sat the stone—like body before the place setting. He scooted her
in and proceeded to walk back towards the kitchen. There was a microwave oven
in the kitchen, and Stan was not exactly Chef Boy Ardee, so he decided he would
simply put in some thawed chicken thighs and french fries. That should make a
healthy meal. Joey was a growing boy, after all.
He heard a thud from
behind. He turned. Joey had toppled over sideways, half on the rug and half onto
the kitchen floor.
He walked over and
lifted the girl up, exposing a large crack running down her head where it made
impact on the hard floor. There was no blood, however there was a red gel
present but barely visible deep inside the crevice of the skull......
“Joey, you gone and
He set her firmly back
onto the chair and pushed her forward into the table. He let go cautiously, and
“Good boy,” Stan said.
“Now stay put.”
The moment he set foot
back into the kitchen, there came a knock at the door. Stan halted abruptly and
listened. He suddenly began to shake nervously. His head clearly was quivering.
“Oh, my God,”
exclaimed in a frantic whisper.
God.....damn it.....” His arms flew through the air in frustration. The
frustration he felt before had returned. It came back. It was here, in his head
Joey sat still,
casting an expressionless gaze past the vase of carrots.
Stan immediately knew
what he was to do. He went over to the door.
“Now, Joey, be quiet
now,” he whispered.
Stan undid the latch
and opened the door midway so as not to expose little Joey. Mrs. Spurse was
standing impatiently in the hallway before him.
Mrs. Spurse was known
throughout the complex as Mrs. Gossip herself. In person. She, by some
unperceived feat, seemed to know almost exactly every detail of every individual
tenant’s private affairs. She would discuss these private affairs with other
tenants in the laundromat down the hall or over the phone or at bridge parties
and other tenants, in turn, would know every detail of every other individual
tenant’s affairs. It was like dominos. Mrs. Spurse would be the one to knock
down the freshest news to the next person, then from door to door down the hail
everyone would know. Like Tom Puggs sleeping with Ron’s wife, sixteen-year-old
Mary sleeping with her sister’s boyfriend, the burglar who lived in l6b who
slept with nobody, the gays, and.....
“Mr. Fienburg, I don’t
mean to intrude on your private affairs, but your wife has taken another room
upstairs along with Joey. I wonder if......”
replied in dismay. “I have no wife. What are you talking about? In God’s
“I can understand your
problem. Really, I....”
“Mrs. Spurse, I’m sure
you don’t understand. I have no wife. I’ve never had a wife. Joey is
here, and I adopted him. He’s safe. He’s nowhere else but here. You are crazy,
Mrs. Spurse drew back
at the sudden whiff of the putrid smells of the room. “You’re crazy. You
look crazy! What’s the matter with you? Don’t you ever clean yourself?”
“Go to hell,” Stan
This didn’t phase Mrs.
Spurse. “Pam is directly upstairs from you. I saw her go into the Toby’s old
place and the manager says she paid for it. Joey moved in with her, too. You
know, they weren’t even seen for months around here until there was a vacancy.
You people are weird, Mr. Fienburg.”
“Mrs. Spurse,” he told
her sternly, “you are not very much liked around here. I hate your guts. So why
don’t you just screw your gossip, you talkative little bitch. I know no Pam.”
Stan slammed the door
immediately when he finished, and the woman in the hall stood there long enough
to catch the breeze the door created in her face. Then she yelled, “You’re
crazy!!! Both of you!”
She proceeded to walk
Inside the room, Stan
turned towards Joey. “Now, don’t you pay any mind to that bitch, son,” he said.
Joey continued to
stare past the vase of carrots.
All of a sudden a
spark flashed across Stan’s mind and he hurried back to the door with what he
figured was a brilliant idea. He opened the door and called after Mrs. Spurse.
“Mrs. Spurse.” He saw
her down the hall, approaching the stairway, and she turned. “I’m sorry! I need
someone to talk to! Really! Won’t you help me?”
Mrs. Spurse turned,
the look of surprise on her semi-wrinkled face, and she gave a sly grin. It was
a matter of seconds before she appeared at his door once again.
“O.k. Mr. Fienburg.
Under the circumstances, I forgive what you just said to me. I understand how
these things are. Now, what of Pam?”
“No,” Stan replied,
“you don’t understand. But you will soon. Won’t you come in. I wouldn’t want
anyone in the hallway to accidentally overhear.”
Mrs. Spurse nodded and
stepped inside. Stan closed the door behind her, and she saw the girl at the
“I see you’ve got Judy
here,” she said, then, “Hi, Judy.”
Judy did not answer.
Then reality set in
and Mrs. Spurse realized what was truly there.
“It’s Joey,” Stan
And the woman
Stan rushed over to
placed a finger over his mouth and reached for her mouth to gag it. The woman
backed, horrified, into the door. Stan grabbed her and drew her to him. She
tried to struggle, but her senses were numbed from shock. He managed a knife
which was attached to one side of his belt, and he drove it into her bosom. Her
frantic screams were soon stifled by the raising and lowering of the blade.
There was blood and more blood......
The screams were
Again there was a
knock at the door. Mrs. Spurse’s body fell limp onto the floor. Stan once again
grew frustrated. His arms flew through the air.
He opened the door to
an older man, a neighbor.
“It was a mouse,” he
told him. “Bloody little bastards when you catch ‘em, squish ‘em with your bare
hands, you know. Leaves a mess like crushing a half-empty beer can if they’re
He wiped blood from
his wrist and closed the door, leaving the neighbor in dismay, who then returned
to his abode.
That evening, Stan and
Joey had dinner. Mrs. Spurse’s head in the microwave, blistering and popping
with blood and all, would be quite excellent gossip at bridge meetings.
“I have done
nothing. I have said nothing. I have absolutely nothing in common with my
Pam stood in the
sultry, one—room apartment. She was alone and frustrated; not bored as was usual
for her, as she was reaching her second year without a single roommate in this,
her paltry living quarters in the center of the monotonously familiar city
suburb. Frustration indeed took over boredom as quickly as a spider rushes out
to its prey struggling in its web. And a web was exactly what Pam felt she was
in. A mental web.