"So, um basically what he was trying to say to me was that he probably thinks my position as an executive assistant is threatening his existence as a water cooler repairman. I didn't really understand a lot of things he said, he was yelling through my door and it really didn't sound, y'know, like it made sense. You know which door I'm talking about. The one with the nice shiny brass plaque... the one Smithers was babbling about yesterday. He kept telling me that it looked so nice and shiny, someone might come and steal it right off my door! Of all the nerve. He's probably the only one on the team who would steal a nice shiny brass plaque with someone else's name on it. You know, I think he's jealous of my position as an executive assistant..."
Carol Heiderman stared at her husband's rapidly moving mouth from across the dinner table. Wakka wakka wakka, she thought, watching his lips elongate and pucker as he spewed his self-absorbed thoughts at her over the roast turkey that lay between them. It sat with a rather deliberate air, as if it had placed itself on the table for the sole purpose of allowing Carol to liberate herself from the drudge of reality and her husband's incontinent ramblings.
She longed to pick it up in both hands and jam it down his throat, plate and all. The perfect murder, she thought absently. I could just tell the police that he choked to death on it. After all, his mouth is big enough to stuff in ten turkeys!
Her son, Albrecht, sloouched moodily beside her with his eyes focused on the chattering television screen. After a while the dialogue from the TV and Mr. Heiderman's equally inane ramblings fused into a single entity, a verbal monster of Bibically irritating proportions. Carol felt as though her brain was leaking out her ears.
Worse, though, were her husband's 'little mannerisms'. The way his lips moved when he talked, the fluttering of the hands when he got overly excited, the rapidly blinking eyes that constantly stared at you as he was talking even though he knew you weren't paying attention... Obviously, he was doing it all to annoy! Carol felt the heat rise like bile in her gut. What a man!
And he was obviously involved in an affair. The Heiderman's marriage was in its twenty-first year, and was still somehow moving reluctantly into the future, as if their relationship was a three-legged dog being dragged behind a truck. During this consistently harrowing period, Carol had unwillingly picked up on more than a few of her husband's habits and personality quirks. Quirks? Heck! Mr. Heiderman had personality cramps.
One of these was his tendency to rub the scar on the back of his left hand whenever he wasn't telling the truth (he always told his friends that it was an old war wound, but Carol knew for a fact that it had been caused by his inability to correctly interpret the assembly instructions for the new blender). It was a signal anyone could see a mile away, and it was probably why he was still an executive assistant and had remained thus for the past fifteen years, despite all his attempts to get a promotion by lying and cheating his way to the top.
Last night Carol had asked her husband, in a moment of hope and alchohol induced stupidity, if he loved her. He'd responded "yes"- but she'd caught him rubbing his hand!
She didn't know who the woman was or why she'd be idiotic enough to have an affair with her husband, but it was really the principle of the thing. If a three-legged dog is given the filthiest, most meatless bone in the world, will it not do battle for the right to gnaw on it?
Miserable, Carol leaned her elbow on the table with her head in her hand, and tried, for one blissful second, to imagine herself in a place anywhere but here; stuck in the house with nothing to do but watch Oprah and reruns of bad sitcoms, until her fat husband and unhappy son came home and ate the food she'd spent about ten minutes preparing in the microwave beforehand. No, life could not be any more wanting, nor any less desirable, than what she had here.
Suddenly, out from the heavens sprang a rich, deep note; it dispelled the noise and drivel of the kitchen with its resonance and uplifted Carol's spirits to an unnatural height... then she realized it was just the doorbell.
Still, any distraction was a welcome one. Carol left Mr. Heiderman to torment Albrecht with details of his adventures in Office Land, and went to go answer the door.
Standing outside with his finger ready to make another thrust at the doorbell was a tall individual with long black hair and calliope-crazy eyes. He was wearing a black t-shirt and jeans, and he was balancing a large, flat cardboard box in one hand. "You ordered a pizza, ma'am?" the young man said. It was obviously meant as a statement and not a question; he was purposefully pulling a wrinkled form and a pen out of his pocket and looking at her expectantly.
Carol stood bewildered. "What are you talking about?" she said, looking him up and down. "We didn't order any pizza. We've got a perfectly good turkey dinner on the table. You must have the wrong house." The pizza delivery boy laughed. "Oh, I doubt that," he said, smiling. The sudden expanse of flashing white teeth that accompanied this action unnerved Carol greatly, and she slid back a little from the door.
"Why don't you just take a look? You might change your mind," the delivery boy suggested, and opened up the pizza box for Carol to inspect. It was a plain pepperoni and cheese pizza; large, steaming, and glistening with grease. There were marks on the cheese that looked like liver spots, and the pepperoni made the whole thing look like a fat, diseased face staring blandly up at her from its cardboard prison.
She stared at this disgusting visage. It kind of reminded her of someone... and as she heard Mr. Heiderman whining to her from the kitchen about what the delay was, she knew who it was.
"We'll take it," she said to the delivery boy, who silently passed her the pen.
She brought the pizza into the kitchen, where it was looked upon with apathy by Albrecht, and piggish interest by Heiderman. "What took you so long?" he asked her through a mouthful of cheese. "I was just telling Albert about Gary's possible promotion. Personally, I don't think it's such a great idea; I mean, he's a hard worker and all, but what our company needs is a leader- someone with a bit more edge to 'im. You know what I mean? I mean, y'know, there are lots of people in this world who can get the paperwork done no fuss no muss, but when it comes down to really gettin' the ball rolling, well, there's only one sort of person for that kind of job, and I really don't know if Gary's qualified..."
As Heiderman chewed and chewed on the pizza slice, his head started to disappear. Bite followed bite followed bite, until Heiderman had no mouth left to eat with. The headless body sat in the chair for a while with a perplexed air, as if now startled by the sudden absence of noise his lack of a mouth had left, until it slowly toppled over to the side. It hit the linoleum with a dull thump.
Albrecht appeared not to have noticed. "Hey, mom, I need a bagged lunch for tomorrow," he started, but Carol was already on her way out the door, the car keys dangling from her hand. Her son stared at her, uncomprehending.
"I forgot to give the delivery boy his tip," she said by way of explanation, then flew out the door. The sound of the car starting up echoed round the house, then a squeal of tires accompanied by a diminishing roar marked the return of silence. Even the static prattle of the television set seemed dulled by the heaviness of the air.
Albrecht sat for a while, unable to register what had just happened. Then, shrugging, he cut himself a slice of pizza and took a bite.
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