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Fields of Golgotha: An Unrequited Excerpt

The following excerpt is the raw beginnings of an unfinished manuscript called Fields of Golgotha.

I’m not your typical assassin. I’m a stable family man. I have a loyal wife. (She’s never had an affair and I’ve only had a couple.) We’ve reared two maintenance-free, if not productive children. One, the boy, has a job at a bank. He’s still not an officer, but I think his position’s better than a teller. It sure as hell better be; I paid enough for his college education. Our other child has her eyes set on a doctor. She’s in her 20s and he’s in his 40s and we approve. Is it because there’s money in medicine and we want our daughter to have material wealth? Yes. I also have a dog I take for long walks. The dog, a miniature poodle, vomits a lot. I don’t mind it so much when he throws up outside or on the kitchen floor (it’s linoleum), but on the plush white carpet irritates me no end.

My parents are dead. They died last year only a couple of weeks apart. I inherited their house which I sold last month and made a tidy profit. My father was a veterinarian and my mother was a housewife. They lived a pretty long life and they seemed untroubled until their health failed them. He died of lung cancer (even though he wasn’t a smoker) and she died of a stroke (even though she had nerves of steel). Isn’t life ironic?

I wasn’t very close with my father. He and I were like two pent-up, rabid dogs in a cage, at each other’s throats and blind to the consequences. It’s a wonder we both stayed clear of homicide. My mother, on the other hand, was a saint.

I have no brothers or sisters and I share nothing in common but blood with my other relatives. They were at both of my parents’ funerals but they didn’t have much to say. Either did I. I’m afraid I’m terrible at awkward situations. I sweat uncontrollably in closed quarters filled with small talk. I have to frequently ask to be excused. People either think I have a bladder problem or a cocaine addiction. What I have is a sweat gland problem. It’s one of my numerous ailments. The doctors say my physical problems are in my mind. If they’re in my mind, then why do I have a cyst on the top of my backside that persistently leaks? Why do I have chronic body odor even though I take three showers a day? Why do large white flakes fall out of my thinning black hair every time I turn my head? Why do I have an enormous amount of wax in my ears? Why do my eyes tear uncontrollably? Have I grossed you out yet? I’m sure. Forgive my rambling. I’m a chronic complainer and I have bad breath to boot. A real catch. Good thing I’m married. The two affairs I mentioned? A lie. I’m a pathological liar, too. I paid for both dalliances. Are you surprised?

I hate anything that requires me to be in a suit. In fact, I loathe social gatherings in general. I find the entire ritualistic process annoying. The only reason I carry on with foolish traditions is to keep a façade I don’t quite understand going. I must have missed a crucial class in grade school that taught us the importance of entertaining friends we dislike. I disagree vehemently with the philosopher who called man a social animal. Man is not a social animal; man is a social misfit. Yet we carry on like baboons when it comes to social functions. Get married? Have a party to spend your retirement savings. Get a promotion? Have a party to impress your friends. Lose your wife suddenly to a mysterious illness? Have a gathering to mourn her loss and keep it elegant but modest. Your son graduates from a sub-par college with a 2.25 cumulative grade point average? Throw a party but don’t dare mention his GPA.

I love drama, but basically, I couldn’t give a white laboratory rat’s behind what has happened to someone else and I particularly don’t care what someone else has to say, so why then do I (we) continue to carry on with this charade?

When the funeral director informed me that my parents had already lined up (ha ha) their cemetery plots and gravestones, I was relieved. I would have dreaded that responsibility. Other than that, I was mostly concerned with attire (my black suit was a bit moth-eaten). I also was conscious of my wife’s makeup (she tends to overdo it on the rouge and lipstick no matter the occasion), my son’s newly pierced ear (he’s a banker, damn it; it’s highly inappropriate), and my daughter’s boyfriend doctor (who was unshaven; what kind of man shows up at his future father’s-in-law parent’s funeral with stubble on his cheeks?).

Call me old-fashioned, but I almost made a scene (even though I hate scenes and it would have been very uncharacteristic for me to have made one). I normally like things performed in an orderly fashion. I look at life as a game of tumbling dominoes. Events should unfold predictably. When they don’t, I become upset. Not visibly, mind you. Internally. Disorder eats at my insides and nearly drives me mad. To be intolerant is in my nature. And that’s simply not meant to change. My nature is unalterable, a foregone conclusion.

******

I’m a certified pest control specialist. The pay’s only okay, but I like the trade. The company that employs me specializes in termites and carpenter ants, but my preference is rats and mice. There’s nothing more I like than to let loose and eliminate those vermin. It’s a satisfying occupation. It enables me to bring order to people’s households. I also respond to commercial calls, but I’d rather help the common man.

Unfortunately, many of the sites I visit are false alarms. Some old woman living alone will phone headquarters in a panic because she’s seen a mouse. She figures, “My heavens, there’s a mouse. There must be dozens.” In many cases, a lone lifeless mouse and perhaps a few spiders are the only pests I find on the premises. My job is to quash her fears and collect our fees. Unlike other larger companies, we don’t bill our customers. We require full payment upon services rendered. (I know, I stole that line from dentist offices nationwide. Big whoop. Sue me.)

I don’t claim (nor have I ever claimed) to be a creative writer. I’m just keeping this diary to make sure people get my story straight.

******

My first homicide victim was a bookseller. Now he wasn’t running for public office or anything meaningful like that when I decided to slay him, but I believe it was more significant than just a run-of-the-mill murder. I mean, I think his killing had a positive impact on society. I’ll tell you why:

This was a guy who promoted trash. You know, pulp fiction, lurid romances, just the kind of crap our society can do without. I mean, you get in the book trade to raise people’s consciences, right? You certainly don’t get in it to make money. So, if you’re going to pick bookselling as your profession, then why on earth would you push garbage down people’s throats for the sake of a nickel? I mean, really. This irritates me no end. Here’s a guy ruining a perfectly noble profession. Booksellers nationwide, I imagine, would applaud my action. Now, I’m not shortsighted, mind you. I know I haven’t altogether cleaned up the enormous mess that’s out there. I mean, one death does not a philosophical cleansing make. Bad taste and poor judgment are rampant and I’m afraid they’re beginning to take hold in a lot of good, pure neighborhoods. But his death is a start, right? Once you’ve killed one moron who has no business being in such an impressionable position, you’ve made a statement. And that’s what I’m about, most of all. Statement making.

******

Naturally, election time is the perfect time to seek out a new victim. I mean, politicians, of course (most of them are rather useless), are the easiest, most common prey. But I don’t mean them any harm. Who I intend to kill next is a speechwriter. Not any old speechwriter, mind you. But a presidential candidate’s speechwriter. This is just the kind of person that the world can afford to lose – a spin doctor, if you will. A person, a public relations specialist, who makes a human marketable by putting words in his mouth that make him sound intelligent and sensitive. A spin doctor on this earth has no business perceiving his lowly self as anything but a cancer. His words spread throughout this great nation as would a malignant tumor, damaging the sensibilities of the voting populace, infecting the bone marrow of many a good person like myself. That’s right; I’m on the hunt for a spin doctor and no one, not one god darned soul, is getting in my way. My reasons are sound. No matter which side of the issue you’re on (as you can plainly see), a person with little to no integrity belongs underground (OK, at the very least, he belongs on the sidelines, to pacify you pacifists out there). He does not, by any stretch of the imagination, belong in the middle of the action. Leave that kind of visibility to the men and women of this country who are made of substance, not style. Style, as even a child knows, is for superficial losers. Substance, on the other hand, is for winners. And winners, as any dimwit knows, reside on the only side worth fighting for. And I, of course, abide by the laws of the triumphant, as they alone are worthy of defense. Whether they shall inherit the wind, well, that’s for our maker to decide.

Author’s Note (Caveat): This rough draft was written before Dexter, the TV series, was likely conceived. My best guesstimate: 1996. The only known influence on the style of this story can be attributed to Joseph Heller in his novel, Something Happened. Otherwise, the author has no recollection of what drove him to write this twisted tale – and will stick by his memory of constructing this tale under no false pretenses, under oath, in a court of law (if necessary).

About Dan Cafaro

Dan Cafaro is the founder and publisher of Atticus Books, a small press based in Madison, N.J. When Dan is not following his wife around the country, he is known to sit for long periods of time pondering how to live off the grid. Atticus Review is his first literary journal.

1 Awesome Comments So Far

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  1. Elizabeth Osta
    March 22, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    The narrator of this story is someone I would like to meet, but not at a cocktail party or funeral where he is likely to have his nerves overtake his three showers a day. He has sensitivities and sensibilities with which I can relate. The speechwriter…I've always dreamed of being one but only if the President did what he read. Let me know when the next installment is written.