Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct



He had to go.

We don’t often say things like this but in Silver’s case, one was dealing with damaged goods intent on doing further damage to himself and others. He was a menace.

My friend couldn’t see this. She was a life-time do-gooder. She’d met him some time ago at a food-kitchen. She was guilt-ridden. It didn’t help that he was partly Indian -- a Native American, that is -- of a desert tribe, the Mohave, and currently flush from the burgeoning casino business. Somehow Silver missed out on the profit-sharing or, as he had it, the profiteering. In other words, he was a broke Indian and an alcoholic; now there is a stereotype if there ever was one.

Silver was once a killer and had served time in San Quentin. Even this impressed my friend, so intent was she to know someone authentic. Yes, she was so desperate to befriend someone who’d actually done something other than teach, that she let him convince her that murder was an accomplishment. On top of that he bragged to her about having roughed up other inmates whilst in prison. He was a survivor. She admired him for that, too. “Do you think you could have gotten through a thing like that. Why don’t you try?”

This effort to make me feel small spelled the end of our friendship. The whole thing had coarsened my friend and wrecked our relationship. Silver knew how to squeeze her bleeding heart. He played her like a piano. As a Holocaust survivor, she identified with his fortitude. She felt alienated from all the Southern California success she saw around her and was relieved to finally find someone who had had a miserable life. She decided they had a lot in common. She believed he deserved a medal, not scorn. I decided he should be killed.

Killing is not my thing, don’t get me wrong. I knew nothing of such matters, but having grown up on Gunsmoke and the like, I had a strong sense of justice, understood revenge, and recognized the benefit of murder as a solution to nagging problems. This guy was no threat to me, but I couldn’t allow him to wreak further havoc. He’d moved into my friend’s garage over the summer, into rooms built back in the heyday of fine automobiles and live-in chauffeurs. The family had once kept a grand Packard sedan and even installed an underground gas tank with its very own pump. He fit right in and she had hopes that he would flourish. Instead, he went insane.

My friend Pia didn’t know how to handle an alcoholic who drank beer by the case and could down an entire bottle of vodka in an afternoon. He would rant and rave, dance around the property, and throw stones at her upstairs bedroom window at three in the morning. She’d come down to calm him and then he’d bend her arm behind her back and walk her down the cellar stairs to where the family kept the wine so he could steal a few bottles.

One night, Silver broke her arm and locked her in the basement. He pissed on her and dragged her down the drive by her hair. He made her take out her dentures and suck his cock. He fancied himself some sort of shaman and she believed he spoke ancient truths. No matter what he did, he had her convinced he deserved a second chance. She’d cry. She loved him. I didn’t.

Pia had been spending money on him. An expensive tool kit and a used van. Paint supplies to help him start a business. She gave him $10,000 to get his act together. It was all gone in a week. He wore a size 14 shoe and was over 6’4”.  He was all man and that impressed her. I perked up my ears when she said he had a perforated liver and had been warned not to drink or he would die. She’d taken him over to Mount Sinai and he’d been to a specialist. One more drink and that’d be it.

My friend had locks installed on the basement and grew ever vigilant, but I began to make my plans. We’d stopped one night at the local liquor store to buy cigarettes. I noticed a sign offering home delivery. I made inquiries and learned that I could have a case of vodka delivered to the house and, if I did it right, she’d never find out. He’d get the booze and, knowing him, hide the bottles before she got home from delivering meals-on-wheels to bedridden millionaires in Bel Air. I ordered the vodka, the cheapest brand, and they threw in a bag of ice. I paid a bit extra for orange juice. I figured he might like a screwdriver.

Silver died a few weeks later. It wasn’t the vodka. He’d gone too far one night and then ran off rather than having to face her. This time she threatened to call the police. He went to the park, his old stomping ground, and got himself cut in a fight. The police found him the next morning under a palm tree. He’d bled out. He’d died there where he lay. The coroner kept his body for a while and then lost it. There was no funeral. Everyone forgave his antics. Everyone said he was a good guy. Not me. Many felt sorry. I didn’t. I did think that he taught me something valuable. Sometimes killing feels good. No wonder people love mysteries. They identify with the killers, not the detectives.

David Lohrey

David Lohrey grew up in Memphis. He graduated from U.C., Berkeley. His plays have appeared throughout Europe, most recently in Croatia and Estonia. Sperm Counts opened this year in Hyderabad, India, translated by Jay Jha. His plays are available online at Proplay (CA). His poetry can be found internationally in Softblow (Shanghai), Cecile’s Writers’ Magazine (The Hague) and Otoliths (Australia), and elsewhere. In the US, recent poems have appeared in Apogee, Abstract Magazine and Poetry Circle. Several have been anthologized by the University of Alabama (Dewpoint), Illinois State University (Obsidian) and Michigan State University (The Offbeat). His fiction can be read at Dodging the Rain, Crack the Spine, and Literally Stories. His study of 20th century literature, ‘The Other Is Oneself‘, was published last year in Germany. Machiavelli’s Backyard, David’s first collection of poetry, appeared in August, 2017. David is a member of the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective. He lives in Tokyo.

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