“Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless.” – Ecclesiastes 3:19
As Patterson and Kate traded barbs and intelligent discourse on the subject of trans fat, Gavin dilligently read the immortal words of Englishman G. K. Chesterton. “Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it,” said Chesterton and Gavin readily agreed. He sipped his Arabian coffee from the dull, clay mug of the Perkins Bakery and Family Restaurant.
As Gavin took the mug from his lips, he saw behind the couple an angel of light floating in from the doorway. Everything became silent and all that could be heard was Lumidee’s infectious tune, “Never Leave You”. Although Gavin had never met this woman before, he knew that such a creature could be none other than the Shannon of which Kate had spoken, just moments before this short story began.
She entered with such grace, her flowing skirt blowing in an immaterial, transcendental breeze. Her cropped hair bobbed, and she commanded the attention of all those in her strike zone. Light reflected from her piercings, which gave off a simultaneously welcoming yet antiauthoritarian vibe, a walking contradiction that exuded raw, pure sensuality.
Gavin, feigning disinterest, muttered to the trio, “I suppose now I’ll have to move over,” having enjoyed his bench to himself but secretly desiring a chance to be closer to this heavenly body. Kate nodded in the affirmative, and the young man slid a few inches to his left, boxing himself precariously into the corner, arousin a sense of unbridled claustrophobia. The young woman, now most certainly none other than Shannon, took her seat and removed the jacket that had been protecting her diminutive frame from the harsh winter winds.
Shannon eyed Gavin’s coffee pot and began to caress the metallic sides, as though the pot were an oasis in her own personal desert of angst. She asked Kate for some coffee, and her friend was eager to oblige, not realizing the original pot was still mostly full and quite warm. But one table can never have too much coffee or too many people to drink the godly nectar.
Up to this point, Gavin’s newfound angel had been clutching a weathered, rolled-up magazine in her fist, but set the issue down beside her now for a moment. The bearded man, this being Gavin, spied the magazine and its fingerprinted cover, and found none other tha na copy of Saturday Evening Post. How very odd, thought Gavin, who was unaware such a magazine was still being printed, let alone read. One had to assume with the death of Norman Rockwell that the periodical served no purpose.
While Gavin returned to reading The Man Who Was Thursday, he kept his ears open as the other three spoke of school, more about trans fat and final term papers that had yet to begin. He was unable to contain himself when Shannon mentioned she had a paper due regarding Oliver Twist, a novel by an author whom Gavin had grew to hate thanks to his “friend” Emma pushing not one, but two Charles Dickens tragedies on him this very year.
“Oh Gavin, you love Oliver Twist!” Kate gleefully exclaimed in what can only be termed venom-tongued, ass-lancing sarcasm. He muttered something under his breath, not eager to be reminded of the horrible shit that was Great Expectations or the mammoth turd that was named David Copperfield. But again, for the sake of Shannon, Gavin again provided his full attention, being sure not to make eye contact with this new, mysterious maiden.
Patterson continued to doodle in his notebook, penning lyrics for a future hit song. His mind was like clockwork, conjuring up words like spells from a cauldron. Shannon spoke again, offering, “I can write about anything I wish, so long as it relates to Oliver Twist. Anything.”
“What of how awful orphans are treated?” suggested Kate. Patterson piped up some smart aleck commentary about the cartoon Oliver and Comapny but was quickly stifled by the dynamic feminine duo.
“Well,” said Shannon assuredly, “I was thinking something more like prostitution.” To which Kate answered, “What?” After a short excfhange, the conclusion was drawn that the Dickens classic did, in fact, have at least one lady of debauchery pressed within those pages.
Having been coerced into thinking about trans fat, Gavin could not help but insert, “What about the nutritional value of gruel?” which received a favorable response from his magazine-clutching seatmate. But she countered with the even more interesting idea of the Industrial Revolution, which in all honesty was more worthy of a paper than some story of a kid nobody loved.
“What’s the Industrial Revolution?” inquired Kate, which caused at least two people around her to groan in what was either pity or sympathy. The topic was effectively dropped.
Gavin was ready to set aside his English literature and discuss some history. While the Industrial Revolution was not his forte, any discussion of history — especially with prostitution already mentioned — was bound to lead somewhere fruitful. But this was not to happen, as Shannon put on her jacket again and rose from the table after having stayed less than an hour.
She went to her friend Kate and hugged her head in a very passionate way, nestling her small but pert breasts againt Kate’s unwilling face. As she strolled towards the door and waved dismissingly, Gavin’s heart grew heavy.
“She was charming,” he said plainly with a flat affect. A murmur of possible agreement or indifference came from across the table (this being Kate) and Patterson gave no indication of giving a fig one way or the other. “Very friendly,” Gavin said again.
Later that evening, Gavin stripped down and slid his way into a bath he had drawn for himself. The water was warm and soapy, easing his tensions and putting him into a comfortable place he had not been for quite some time. Before long his thoughts again drifted to Shannon, and the pedestal she stood upon, high on Mount Olympus beside Aphrodite and Hera. Such a wonder of nature, this newfound creature.
What am I doing, fooling myself with these delusions of adequacy, asked Gavin of himself. He reached outside of the tub and brought force his straight edge razor, running the blade gently across his pale, alabaster legs before plunging the tip in jaggedly with great force. Again and again he thrust the weapon into his legs, and then his guts, wincing but holding back his urge to scream in anguish.
When his brother awoke the next morning, he had to unlock the bathroom door upon hearing no response. And underneath dirty, peach-colored water he found his brother… bloated and ashen, with the bathroom garbage bag tied tightly around his neck. No one ever knew the reason for his sudden departure, shoving himself off from this mortal coil. But you, fair reader, possess the truth.