After the Haircut

Wallace returned home from his haircut with a fresh pack of Pall Mall cigarettes and a quart of gin. He’d also picked up a newspaper, grimly noting that Eisenhower had won reelection. He placed the groceries on the kitchen table and then shuffled into the bathroom to sponge off the tiny itchy hairs around his neck.

Wallace defined himself by what he lacked. He didn’t have a telephone or a television. He was connected to the outside world by a cheap radio and a mailbox. He could listen to the ballgame and receive bills. Rosaleen was gone, driven away by his lack of ambition (and money (and boozing)).

As of that morning he was also jobless. He was inadvertently paring down his life slice by bitter slice.  At the rate things were disappearing he saw homelessness in his future. He tried not to care. He was still reeling from his sudden abrupt firing.

He poured gin into a jelly glass. He wanted to get fused, his word for shedding his doubts and concerns. He’d drink away the whole sordid world. He didn’t usually drink gin. He didn’t really like it but for some reason he craved the dry, pine-sap taste. He tossed back the gin and then spent a minute breathing. He shivered and poured another. Warmth bubbled up his spine into his head.

His boss was a red-faced cretin named Larry who’d really read him the riot act. Corporate whore. For a few seconds Wallace was afraid the man was going to leap across his desk and attack him. Wallace could still see his spit-flecked lips pouring forth a tirade of insults and belittlements. He had not seen it coming. Lousy bastard had sandbagged him. Now at forty Wallace was unemployed again.

He swigged another hit of gin. He wanted to get fused before he made his move.

He’d spotted a dinosaur behind the newsstand earlier that day but suspected that that was next to impossible. Such a drastic thing would cause more concern. The grubby guy working at the stand would have mentioned it. The dinosaur stood on two legs and had small clawed hands. It snorted through gaping nostrils. Teeth that could masticate a Buick. Wallace tried his best to ignore the unnerving sight but now the dinosaur crouched in a pre-lunge position in his mind. It was vibrant and alive. Dangerous.

He went into the bedroom and returned to the table with his gun, a Colt Commander .45. Wallace did not like guns. He was not an enthusiast. He’d won the gun in a poker game and kept it because what the hell. He looked at it.  Sure, he could shoot a dinosaur. Or something. He didn’t like guns but knew how to use them. He’d even killed a man during the war.

He didn’t like to think about that.

He drank more gin, finally approaching a fused state. He felt better. Rosaleen and his job were gone but the losses no longer stung. The booze was a balm.

He wondered again if he could kill a dinosaur. The one he’d seen had scales that looked tough, impenetrable. Bullets were probably like flea bites to it. He touched the gun. He could kill a dinosaur. Sure he could.

But what if the whole thing was just in his head? A dinosaur in town? The idea was ludicrous. Science fiction stuff. But it had seemed real. His desire to kill it was also real. Killing it might even save lives. It wouldn’t hurt just to go back into town and look. Bring his gun and see what was up. The dinosaur might be gone now anyway. He imagined it destroying the newsstand, eating the grubby little man who worked there and the image was so strong it read like a recent memory. That was another thing to consider; Wallace didn’t want to be eaten. Getting chewed to death by a giant lizard was not the way he wanted to go.

He thought about Larry and what a horrific human being he was. Wallace had spent many work hours hating Larry. He was a terrible manager. One of the things he’d yelled at Wallace about was his insubordination and Wallace didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.

The urge to kill the dinosaur surfaced again. If he shot it in a soft spot—the eye let’s say—it might get the job done. Shoot him in the brain.

He tossed back another gulp of gin and grabbed the gun. He stood up with uncertain equilibrium. He was fused all right.

He left to shoot a dinosaur.

Hank Kirton lives in Massachusetts. His latest book is Everything Dissolves, a collection of flash fiction. Twitter: @HankKirton

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