I didn’t like Brassard; I was drawn to him. He was handsome and tall in a way that normally took command. But my presence threw him. When I appeared, he blanched and walked away. I followed him into church and the confessional. He told the priest what he’d done to me. His face contorted to see me still there.
He forgot appointments, fidgeted, and awoke with a start. He self-consciously checked his reflection, and I heard his despairing sotto voce utterances. Colleagues recoiled from his depression like he’d sprouted thorns. Over coffee they theorized he was ill, shrugged, and ordered another latte. Women who’d flirted with Brassard, backed off. Tedious wasn’t attractive.
I’m Cortez. Brassard and I were associates. In the recession, I teetered on bankruptcy; Brassard could’ve saved me. I was on my knees to him, but he offered pennies. After my fall, head in hands, sitting in a dark room, I replayed the past and despaired my future. I was a tornado of hopelessness and anger. I craved revenge and weighed options. With poison he’d suffer, but out of my sight. He was too big to strangle. I grasped my Smith and Wesson and fingered the bullets like they were rubies. I’d aim; his eyes would widen like moons. He’d raise his palms, cry for mercy, and to God, but my face would be granite. He’d piss himself. I’d flash a skeleton’s smile and fire. Pain would distort his face, and he’d crumple like dumped garbage. I’d press the muzzle to his head and splatter his brains on the wall like a Pollock canvas.
I waited my chance. Brassard left for his upstate cabin where a gunshot in the woods could be judged as accidental. I grabbed the revolver and jumped into my car. I didn’t see the puddle of brake fluid underneath. Along a mountain road, an oncoming semi swung wide. My brake pedal went to the floor. A surge of fear shot from gut to skull, and I plowed through the guard rail over the cliff.
At first, haunting was novel. I loved to see him squirm. But people looked right through me. It wasn’t their fault, still I resented it. Then Brassard’s mother died. He forgot about me. Publicly he was stoic, but alone he bawled and shuddered pitifully. I welcomed invisibility at the wake and the gravesite. The priest blessed the casket, and it was lowered. His mother’s spirit squeezed up from the dirt. She pointed an alabaster finger at me and shouted, “Evil,” then faded into the atmosphere. After the funeral, I trudged beside Brassard. Sadness over his mother’s passing made him human; I hadn’t reckoned with that. His discomfort no longer lightened my step. His mother’s accusation gnawed at me. She was right, murder was my goal. I sighed. I was ready to move on, but heaven didn’t open up to me. I just wanted to forget, but Brassard was my fate.
Joseph Giordano was born in Brooklyn. He and his wife, Jane, have lived in Greece, Brazil, Belgium and Netherlands. They now live in Texas with their little shih tzu, Sophia. Joe’s stories have appeared in more than fifty magazines including Bartleby Snopes, Newfound Journal, and The Summerset Review.