A Furby (the new version) with tree tinsel around it, a suction cup hook thingy, a watermelon Blow Pop, and one of those dorky hats with the flaps that snap and unsnap. I shall commit the perfect crime with these, oh yes I shall.
It was cold. Of course it was; February in Michigan always is. People walk the streets in tuques, bulky hoods, those stupid hats with the snap-down flaps. The cold was what I'd been waiting for. Now was the time to visit Malcolm.
He welcomed me in, as he always would. Even after Janine asked that I never come by again, he would let me in when she was out. He was a loyal friend.
His home was bright and cheerful, even in the shadows of pregnant snowclouds. The fireplace roared as it always did; Janine was always cold. I told her it was because she was too thin. Perhaps that's why she never liked me. At any rate, the sun was nowhere to be found and the first snowflakes were falling as I stepped through the heavy mahogany doors of Malcolm's abode. The corridor was warm, stiflingly so. Janine left very recently, or Malcolm would have let the fire die down. The sofas were clean and genuine leather, matching the beige of the carpet. She was an interior designer; their home reflected Janine on every surface.
I sat at the writing desk against one wall. Malcolm always asked me why I didn't take a seat on the more comfortable couches or recliner, but I preferred the hard wooden chair. It reminded me of home and family; cold, hard, and distant. I relished the discomfort.
Malcolm asked me if I wanted anything to drink, and I declined as I always did. I could see the questions in his eyes. He sat on the arm of the couch, waiting.
"You can't see me anymore," I said simply. He looked strained. His eyebrows came together in the middle of his forehead in a furrowed V. He sighed and said that Janine was a strong woman, and if he didn't keep her happy he would--
"Lose your meal ticket." I said it without irony, without bitterness. He sputtered, made half-formed denials, claimed love and happiness instead of money as his reasons for giving up.
"...Giving up an old friendship." I repeated his words, slowly, tasting them. They were bitter, a painful alkali sting on my palate. I did not betray emotion; I had none. That was given up long ago. I began to speak.
"We met in second grade, Malcolm. Do you remember?" He flinched, his face strained.
"You were on the swings and I wanted to swing with you. You said I could. I'd never had a friend before, Malcolm." And as I spoke we were there, in the schoolyard, two boys with nothing more concerning than the end of recess on our young minds. We always took the swings, every chance we could get. We'd make up games: who could jump the farthest, swing the highest; we'd twist the chains as far as they would go and let them unwind, swinging us in circles until the entire world danced in our eyes. Other children were blurred, images in the background obscured by time. But we two were clear, as clear as we were now, sitting across from each other in an introspective silence.
Without words the scene shifted. It was 5th grade, when I took the blame for his pranks on our math teacher, Mrs. Barnes. He tormented the woman, putting tacks in her chair, firecrackers in her desk, novelty ink-spraying pens in her pen case. I loved to watch him at work, that gleeful grin on his face as he plotted his next trick. I went to the principal's office once a week that year, gladly serving his detentions and the whole time thinking of how he would "show her" the next week. He wasn't sad when Mrs. Barnes killed herself that summer. She was a piece of the scene, a toy he played with and discarded. He told me she was playing the final prank on herself. I felt bad, but he told me she didn't matter. It was ok, he told me, punching me in the arm. Mrs. Barnes was a lousy teacher anyway. The new woman was better.
A blur, and it was high school. I loved a girl named Lydia, a shy girl in my Geography class with shiny hair and braces. She was nice to me; she let me have one of her pencils when I forgot mine. Malcolm knew I loved Lydia, and he didn't like the way she was coming between us. Unlike me, spindly and sinewy, he was handsome and strong, the football star. He asked my Lydia out on a date. Surprised, she gladly accepted. Every girl vied for Malcolm's attentions, and she thought she was the lucky one. After their date, Lydia never spoke to me or anyone again. She dropped out in her second trimester and moved away.
With an abrupt shift, a decade passed. Janine came. Malcolm met her when he bought this house. It was a wreck at first; kids had broken the windows, there was graffiti on the walls, holes in the floors. After a contractor fixed the structural problems we went together to find someone who could spruce it up aesthetically. Janine was disdainful, rude. She sneered at me when I asked about wood paneling. She said wood paneling was for trash, and in her eyes I knew she thought I was. Malcolm, however, held most of her attention. I could see her, greedily soaking up his presence; between rude monosyllabic replies to my queries, she flirted with him. I found her disgusting, fake, a fawning sneak. Malcolm, however, liked her. He liked the way she treated me, the way I reacted. He asked her out on a date, then another, and soon they were married. I was the best man.
The memories resolved into reality. He sat there, his false caring face watching me. "I can't deal with you right now," he said gratingly. "I love Janine and she is my wife. I can't let old memories get in the way of that."
I knew he would say that. Calmly, I rose from the hard chair and walked over to him. Malcolm is a tall man. His shaven head is shiny and pink; he was in the army and liked the way it made him look. He also liked to show off the scar, a tiny circle on his temple where a bullet had lodged in his skull. They'd had to cut the bone away, and there was a soft spot there. He liked people to acknowledge it. His only soft spot, he called it. He liked the way women stared in fascination, asked to touch it.
He sat still, watching me. I was still thin, still sinewy. He thought I was no threat, and maybe he would have been right. But I had it planned.
I took the suction cup from my pocket. With one swift movement I licked it and stuck it directly on his scar. He laughed, thinking it was a joke. Until I pulled.
I'd ordered the suction hooks specially. The ad claimed they could hold up to 100 pounds when stuck to the wall. Using every ounce of strength, I pulled. He cried out as blood and brains were torn out with a wet schlork. His muscles fought on, but he was dead very quickly. I wiped the unlikely weapon on his cheek and stuck it back in my pocket. I waited until the kicking stopped, and smiled transiently as I realized the carpet Janine picked for the den was the selfsame color as Malcolm's brains.
When he was still, I went to the kitchen. From another pocket I pulled a watermelon lollypop, the kind with gum in the middle. I placed it on a saucer in the microwave and waited until it was mostly liquefied. I took the saucer out and poured the green, viscous syrup into the carpet, into Malcolm's expulsed brains. I licked the saucer clean and threw it in the garbage. Next I went to the door and whistled. A great, brown mastiff trotted in.
"Here, Loki. Good dog. Eat up," I whispered to him. He lapped avidly at the syrupy salty mess on the floor. When it was all gone I put him out.
Shortly after their marriage, Janine bought a Furby, the little talking robots that kids liked so much a few years ago. It's incessant chatter amused her. She liked its eyes. I went to the hall closet and pulled the electronic creature from its spot on a shelf. I placed batteries inside, not knowing if the old ones were still good, and turned it on. I sat it on Malcolm's chest and, gathering my things, walked out the door. Loki and I got into my car and drove away. I don't know where we will go, but it will be warm, with sun all the time and people that smile a lot.
I smiled to myself, thinking of Janine's face when she gets home, when she sees her dead husband on the floor. When she sees the Furby, rocking back and forth, it's high-pitched laughter the only sound, apart from her screams.