Blunt Force Trauma by Jesse Janicki

I broke a lamp. That’s all. And not on purpose. And not as a result of any sort of tomfoolery and horse-assedness. Simply misstepped in the aisle, took a tumble, and wouldn’t you know it, my arm caught the lamp, and we both went to the floor together. Ask anyone, it was almost romantic.

And I was going to pay for it. Accidental or not, I’m a good sort of fellow, and after all, the sign out front wasn’t there for show: You Break It, You Buy It. I was pulling out my wallet just around the time the store’s propietor, an old lady of many wrinkles and hard blue eyes, began beating me across the face with the base of the lamp.

Needless to say, I was pissed.

It is not easy, being beaten like that. And the old bird had a lot of force behind that arm. The first blow stunned me, got me to my knees. I let loose a yelp, and she answered with a birdcall of her own, something along the lines of “Eeeeeyaaaah!” She drew back that arm, and came at me again, and again. With each successive hit, I felt my eyes shift a little further upward into my brow.

She’d gotten me down to the floor, and was arched over me and I could see there was blood on the lamp, and that was when I pulled out my gun and blew a clean one through her forehead.

And I didn’t even know I was gonna do it. I just did it. It was a crime of passion. Or, better yet, self-defense. There is only so much blunt force trauma to the head that I can take, and I wasn’t going to die in the middle of an antiques shop at the hands of somebody’s grandmother.

I didn’t hang around for long after that. I’ve killed people before, so I didn’t go through the whole what-have-I-done schtick for some invisible camera. I just pulled out a fifty, left it on the old gal’s counter, and scooted.

I figured I had a while before I had to really shuffle my feet. I took the sidewalk to my apartment in double-time, and hooked my key in the lock and began throwing all my worldly possessions into an old suitcase. Clean clothes, toothbrush, some good books I’d been meaning to get to but hadn’t had the time for. After I was finished packing, I called the bus station, ordered a one way ticket to Bangor, Maine, and—long story made pleasurably short—here I am.

As we speak, I’m working in a small bookstore run by a nice guy whose name I keep forgetting. He’s got long, black hair, sort of wild, wears the sort of duds you’d expect Louis L’Amour to wear. He doesn’t chat much, which is all right by me. When I open my mouth, I tend to let things slip.

I have a nice apartment now, located above a 24-hour Chinese restaurant, and if you ever wondered how many people get antsy for some General Tso chicken at 3 AM on a Sunday, I’ll tell you: not a lot. But enough, anyway, to keep the guys down there bandying orders about till sun-up.

I don’t get much sleep. But, you know, the commute to work is, like, miniscule. If I wanted to, I could probably make it there in one solid jump, if I tried leaping from the very top of my building. But I won’t. Because that would be crazy.

Oh, and that’s not all: they’re looking for me. The fuzz, I mean. My prints were everywhere in that antiques store, and what do you know, that old bitch had a surveillance camera running the whole time.

So, yeah, I figure I’ve got no more than a few days to go now. They know where I am. I mean, my face is everywhere. Some stories, people just eat it up. This is one of them. Somebody’s bound to tip them off. And—

“Peter?” It’s my boss. “Peter, can you come back here a minute?”

I comply, and kindly. I twist through the shelves and milk crates of old Harlequin romances and wind up at the front of the store, where old crazy hair is standing by the door with a couple of pigs. And goddamn if it isn’t the end of the road for me.

“Peter Donahue,” says one, “you’re under arrest for the murder—”

The roar was deafening. Papers flew. The barrel was smoking, and in the middle of the cop’s face there was a tiny, insignificant little hole out of which was leaking the fluid of life.

You see, there are different kinds of blunt force trauma to the head. There’s the physical, sure, like when some senile old clam tries to knock your block off with an antique. And then there’s a couple of pigs showing up, flashing their badges and their nice, shiny cuffs and saying, “You’re under arrest.”

And, man, there’s only so much blunt force trauma to the head that I can take.

Anyway, I best scoot. They’re really going to be pining for my ass now.

Name's Jesse Janicki, live in the Northeast, and like it it a lot.


Christopher Pimental said...

Terrific, quick read. Loved it. Really did.

Rey A. Gonzalez said...

And they say the Northeast is for pussies....

Killer story, Jesse!

Anonymous said...

I liked this story, too. I liked the protaganist, the tone, the pace of the story. It never slowed or got bogged down. It kept moving forward. I liked the psychic distance, being the guy's confessor. The distance never shifted, except at the end when dialogue was introduced, which was kind of distracting. If I could offer any critique, I'd say leave the dialogue out. But, on second thought, maybe it needs to be there to shake us, like the trauma the protaganist is receiving. Perhaps that is an ingenious device after all. Then I commend you. After an entire story of narrative, that's the only dialogue in the story, where the protaganist illustrates another kind of trauma besides physical. I really liked this confession. I never left the story and my eyes were moving forward with the action. Jeff Lacy

Chad Rohrbacher said...

Fun read -- great voice -- looking forward to more

Shannon Schuren said...

Very nice. This was so fast-paced, it felt like blunt force trauma. And I liked it!

日月神教-任我行 said...