Thursday, May 21, 2009

Speak Softly

by August C. Bourre

The night I killed him wasn’t the first time we’d met. There’d been a reading, not one of mine, and the chubby milk-fed bastard took it upon himself to make introductions. He had wet hands. I don’t expect everyone to be a fan, but when the man who had just demolished my first novel in the Globe presented himself to me as though I ought to be grateful that he stooped to recognize the book at all, I was genuinely offended. He was the most arrogant man I’d ever met. He struck me, and I hope this doesn’t come off as hyperbole, as the sort of man who kicks puppies or lights cats on fire. The son of a bitch needed killing every day of his life. I excused myself as soon as it was polite, and hoped to never hear from him again.

It was two years before I had another book out. My mother had been sick, and I was afraid she wouldn’t live to see a third. Naturally it was dedicated to her. My first novel had sold well, bad review from the Globe aside, so it was only natural those few outlets that still cover books would review my second one. Guess whom the Globe assigned to review it. He found my characters flat, my plot hackneyed, my prose stiff. Every writer will hear these or similar criticisms at one point or another in their career; those I could have lived with. What was unforgivable was his writing that it was good that I dedicated the novel to my mother, as it was the sort of book “only a mother could love.” As though I was unworthy of my mother’s love, had no legitimate claim to her pride in me. As though my gift to her in her final years was a joke.

The second time we met was outside his home near High Park. It was after midnight, and he didn’t see me. I had a silver Smith & Wesson revolver, a little snub-nosed twenty-two. I put the barrel behind his left ear, and let it give a whisper. The bullet rattled around in his skull until his brains were mush. I used a revolver so I wouldn’t have to hunt for shell casings in the dark. The cylinder on the revolver was too large for a Toronto storm drain, so it’s now sitting somewhere at the bottom of Lake Ontario, wrapped in a towel sealed with black hockey tape. I have no doubt it looks like any other rock down there in muck. I didn’t stay to watch him twitch, but I didn’t run either. I got on the first streetcar headed to the lake, and then went straight home. It’s been six months and no policeman has ever knocked on my door. I regret nothing.

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