Killer (a short story)
Kyle sat slumped in his chair at the back of the classroom like a drunk at closing time. His long legs sprawled away from him like boat ropes securing him to an unseen quay. He appeared cramped as the chair struggled to contain his heavy set frame. Kyle was a big guy for his age, some would say fat. His size and lack of academic prowess had earned him the unfortunate nickname of BDG (big dumb guy), a moniker he loathed but one that his body language did nothing to betray. His head rocked lazily on his arm as he stared coldly forward. He made no movement apart from rotating a pencil between his teeth. He chewed down heavily on the soft wood like it was Jerky. As he sat there, slumped in his chair, his body language, his whole demeanour stank of boredom, disaffection and frustration.
Plumes of soft chalk dust hung heavy in the air, cut through by the shards of sunlight pouring in through the large classroom windows. Mr Peachtree, Kyle’s English teacher, shuffled across the front of the blackboard scribbling as he danced from one side of the board to the other. He appeared to be utilising the sickening sound of the chalk scraping the board to increase the pain he inflicted upon his students. It was a sound that would normally make Kyle squirm, but not today! today he didn’t flinch!
Kyle’s eyes were the only thing to betrayed his lazy demeanour, they burned coal black with a deep dark hatred, a burning resentment and a steely focus. They never strayed from the target of his ire, the man dressed in plaid at the front of the classroom, Peachtree. They followed his every move as he prowled the length of the blackboard. They burned into him as he turned to face the class and they hung on him as he delivered yet another sarcastic crack at Kyles expense.
Peachtree banged the chalk on the blackboard like a woodpecker banging a tree. When he ended a paragraph he would finish with a flourish and a battery of full stops, before turning to once again berate the class for their continued, stubborn ignorance. He wasn’t a teacher who encouraged or imbued knowledge, he cast it down with scorn and derision. And of course, he saved his greatest scorn for Kyle. But Kyle knew his tricks. Their sparring had gone on for months and occasionally, but only occasionally, Kyle had got to score one for the home team! The previous day, Peachtree had asked him how he managed to remain so resolutely dumb. “I don’t know” kyle had replied before adding triumphantly, ‘I blame the teaching!”
But Kyle always lost in the end. How could you argue with authority? He always ended up in detention or doing shitty humiliating jobs around school, cleaning toilets or picking up litter dressed in the orange boiler suit, the sort that only losers, petty criminals and terrorists get to wear. Occasionally he had scored big. The previous term he had fucked Peachtree’s car over in retaliation for always being singled out. He had poured sugar into the gas tank late at night. It still made him smile to think of Peachtree stuck out on the freeway, miles away from anywhere with a fucked up car.
There was of course, no way anyone could have seen Kyle do it. He was smarter than that. But the next day he opened up his desk and there, on top of his text books was a detention slip signed by Peachtree! There was no way that Peachtree could have known it was him, but it didn’t matter, authority and Peachtree always won out in the end.
But not today, today was going to be different. Today Kyle had a different kind of plan, a different kind of end game. This was no longer about petty retaliation. If peachtree wanted to play with authority, then it was up to kyle to demonstrate to old Peachy what true authority meant!
As he sat glaring at his nemesis he slowly lifted his desk lid and slid his hand inside, never once letting his steely gaze drop from the back of Peachtree’s head. He groped around until he could feel the cold hard steel he craved. There it was nestling amongst the soft dog eared textbooks, the Colt 45 he had gotten hold of for $20 and some crappy home grown. He gently pulled the steel butt towards him until he could wrap his long fingers around its girth. He gripped it hard and for the first time his cold expression cracked. His furrowed brow relaxed and a wry grin spread across his face. He could feel the power of the gun, the power of authority surging through him. Now he held the gun he held the power and he was the authority!
Kyle recanted the mantra in his head that had honed over the past few lonely painful months. In this game there would be only one winner. This game would signal the end, the end of Peachtree’s distain, the end of his derision, the end of his humiliation and the end of his persecution. This game would be the decider. This time Kyle Dunnywood was going to come out on top and this time he was going to stay on top!
As Peachtree scraped away at the now overcrowded blackboard he appeared oblivious to the growing seething mass of teenage hate behind him. He continued to scribble with abandon. “And that is why” he boomed as the chalk banged the blackboard sending yet more chalkdust into the musty air, ‘I have petitioned you to pay particular attention to the quote from Mahatma Ghandi, on the bottom of page 49″. His voice became louder yet still hung heavy with distain as he began the quote. “Throughout the history of mankind there have been murderers and tyrants; and while it may seem”. He paused, still facing the blackboard. He dropped his shoulders and hung his head. He stood there for a second, as if defeated by some invisible foe, before slowly turning to face the class. As he looked up he was confronted by Kyle, who was now bolt upright with the gun out in front of him, his long fat finger wrapped firmly around the trigger, a broad smirk across his face. Mr Peachtree didn’t flinch, he didn’t show any discernible emotion apart from the disdain that appeared as much a part of him as the nose on his face. Ignoring the gun and staring straight into Kyle’s cold dead eyes, he continued to quote, “momentarily that they have the upper hand”…..
A single shot rang out fizzing through the heavy air. Kyle stood motionless, his stare still fixed upon his prey. For a second nothing moved, silence. Time stood still. Then, with a dull thud Kyle’s dead weight slumped back into the chair, a perfect round entry hole in the middle of his forehead, blood pulsing from a gaping hole in the back of his skull.
“And they have always fallen”, Peachtree concluded with a sigh of resignation. He then turned to where the shot had emanated from. He gestured to the pretty young blond girl who was stood, still assuming a shooting position, in the corner of the room. “Good shooting Whalberg”, he said. You see, you can’t have too many guns in a good safe school. good to see you take your gun monitor responsibilities seriously”. Remind me to commend you to the principal”. He walked towards the door and gestured for the remainder of the class to go through it. “We will go to lunch early today to allow the Janitor to clean up this unholy mess”. He waited for everyone to leave the room before closing the door and calmly taking a seat at his desk.
He stared for a second at the corpse slumped motionless at the back of the class before forcing his eyes upward to the safety of the ceiling. He took a long deep breath and regaining his composure he picked up the phone, putting in a call to the schools mortuary and cleansing departments respectively. Reaching forward he opened the large red bound register on his desk. He scanned down the list of pupils before finding the name Kyle Dunwoody. He drew a neat red line, through the middle of the name before crossing out and amending the class number at the top of the page. It was the third time this month he had performed this ritual and he knew it wouldn’t be the last.
He sat for a moment in his chair with only Kyle’s corpse for company. The sunlight continued to pour in through the windows, but now there was nothing to disturb the swirls of chalk that filled the air. Peachtrees eyes wandered around the room looking for answers where he knew there were none. His eyes fell upon a dog eared pro gun poster stuck to the back wall above Kyles shattered bloody head. He read the quote from the Bill of Rights printed in bold at the top. ‘A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed‘. Peachtree smiled as he read the words before tears began to cloud his vision. He slumped back into his chair and began to quietly sob.