I stare at him from across the room. The television is blaring yet another episode of a forgotten 90’s era sitcom as he steadily shovels handfuls of crinkle cut potato chips into his gullet. I watch as a mixture of crumbs and spit dribble down his chin only to be wiped away by the back of a fat, greasy hand. A long lost sitcom character makes a cliche joke met with studio laughter and an “aw shucks” reaction from its co stars. He guffaws rocketing globs of chip and saliva far enough that they splatter against the glass screen. I cringe. I’d like to think if he was aware of my observations, he would be on better behavior but for the past three months the routine has been the same.
For a blind man, he watches an incredible amount of television. He switches it on as soon as he gets home always adjusting the volume to exactly five decimals below the maximum. He lets it run like that, blasting through out the old house. I think it eases his heartache. The voices from the television have become his everyday familiar, his own twisted adopted family. He talks back to them sometimes when he isn’t talking to Benny, his dog and only remaining non fictional family member.
Benny, a 5 year old seeing eye dog, serves as not only his trusted companion but his guardian; watching over him and keeping him safe. He remains by his side, learning his deepest secrets and providing an almost maternal form of comfort for the man on the days where his past becomes to much to bear. He serves as a living safe haven from the harsh realities of our world. He is the perfect target.
Three months ago, I began conducting my research after responding to an online ad to maintain and upkeep the man’s large estate. How a blind man wrote an internet ad is besides me, but the listing was enough to pull me. The job meant access to every acre and floor of the home 24 hours a day, every day including religious and bank holidays. Or at least that’s what I made it. The estate became my home and laboratory unbeknownst to the owner. I slowly wormed my way into their quiet life, manipulating Benny’s loyalty to my call and command all the while gaining the friendship and trust of the lonely blind man.
Everyday, he greeted me 7 o’clock on the dot and everynight, he wished me farewell a mere 6 hours laters. I would walk out the front door, slam it behind me, and then creep around to the cellar entrance to resume observations. I maintained this routine for the first two months, until I got bold enough to make my first move.
Benny was the first to go. It was quick, effortless, and almost too easy, if I am being honest. After my usual routine observation and the man had waddled off to bed, I slowly lured the poor mutt down the splintering wooden stairs of the cellar with temptations of steak and his favorite chew toys. I led him to a bed of furs and blankets that I gathered throughout the house and sat legs crossed with his head in my lap. I didn’t hate the animal. He had grow on me through the last few months but he was in my way. I scratched him behind his ears, a loving gesture, as he nuzzled deeper into my lap and began to doze off. Running my hands through his soft fur and gazing upon his innocent gentle face, I placed my hands on either side of his skull. All it took one quick snap. One twist of my wrist. His eyes flashed open in betrayal. One yelp escaped his muzzle and then he went limp. The final twitch was almost comical and I found myself chuckling through my tears.
I gave myself a few moments to gather myself then my work for the night began. First, the gentle eyes and comforting muzzle became a mask. The padded toes and short black claws became a first a pair of slippers then a pair of gloves. The soft yellow fur and once friendly wagging tail became a new coat. The meat and bones remaining did not go to waste. A dog could feed a man for three days. Bones can be sharpened and replace old tools or be gifted as exotic jewelry. Every part had to be salvaged nothing could go to waste.
I woke the man the next morning the same way Benny would everyday, I had to honor his absence by keeping up with appearances. My tongue obviously could not do the deed but like I previously stated no part goes to waste. Wet in Benny’s water bowl only minutes, before the beloved deceased pet’s severed tongue stroked up his cheeks and across his face lingering on the man’s lips. The man smiled as he woke, wiping his bleary useless eyes.
“Alright, alright Benny! I’m up! I’m up!” He choked through his laughter as the detached tongue sped up its pace. I jumped back as he reached to push me off, the gloves and slippers perfectly mimicking the clatter of the dog’s toes against the hardwood floors. I smiled in triumph. He swung his legs out of bed and grabbed his cane. Benny was never on duty in the house and the man new his way around the furniture by heart anyway. He wandered into the bathroom and began to brush his teeth while I waited in the hall, watching him.
My eyes rolled up and down his appearance taking in every detail, reveling in the pure oblivion of my subject. I stared loathingly at the gluttonous hairy rolls of fat on his back and the acne that spotted his skin. His hair stood in every which way and his facial hair had begun to sprout again as it had been a few days since he had last made his way to the barber. His complete and utter disregard for hygiene disgusted yet fascinated me. My stomach rumbled.
Dinner had been delicious but not enough to sate my appetite. The meat of my latest triumph had proven to be delectably tender and sweet just as it was in life but the guilt I mistankeningly seasoned it with made each bite hard to swallow. I needed something to quell the hungry conscience gnawing away at my insides. I needed to act now.
I followed the man down the dark servant staircase into the grand kitchen. I considered pushing him down the winding steps, speeding up the process but I had to follow the plan. He wandered into the cold tiled kitchen as I stalked behind, waiting.
He walked directly into the counter first. The sharper corner scraping a chunk out of his fat gluttonous stomach as he turns away in shock. He stumbles over the ancient wooden kitchen chairs and slams his back into the table. With a crack his head hits the floor, his eyes roll back into his skull and his mouth settles agape blood trickling down one corner. I laughed. Who knew a new floor plan could be so deadly?
I slowly made my over to my latest kill. A dog may feed a man for three days but another man? I’ll be set for at least a season.