I Have a Very Good Stuntman
I have a very good stuntman. He does all the things that I only wish I could do. He never loses a fight, and he always gets the girl. He sort of looks like me, only better. He is six feet, four inches tall. He has a thin, muscular build and a golden tan. His hair is jet black like mine and we both have blue eyes, except his eyes are the color of the ocean at a tropical beach and not plain sea water.
I imagine him facing down bullies with a clever retort, or a punch to the nose if words fail. I watch him seduce the girls with his eyes just before giving them a kiss that they'll never forget. I travel with him to exotic locations to witness his amazing adventures.
And then my teacher calls on me to answer a question because he knows that I was daydreaming again.
The whole thing took 42 minutes.
In my head, it was supposed to be over with in an instant. Bam, dead. But it took 42 goddamn minutes for him to die.
I regretted the whole thing from the start, but you can't just start something like that and then crap out on it partway through. Maybe I should have done my research first, or at least put together a coherent plan rather than trusting on my adrenaline and winging it.
Anyway, the end result was the same. In fact, one could argue that it was even better. He'd had 42 minutes to wrestle with the fact that he was dying.
If I were luckier with the bath mat, it would have been a cinch. It started out right. Yank, and over he went, arms pinwheeling as he stumbled backward, groping for the shower curtain. I almost laughed, knowing the cheap rod was likely to come down, and so it did. The man, the plastic curtain, and the rickety rod all went down like something from an old slapstick comedy show, except comedy shows don't have a whole lot of debilitating spinal cord injuries.
I remember checking my phone for the time as soon as he'd gone over.
I breathed deeply in the silence that was broken only by a the occasional whisper of plastic on plastic as the shower curtain gradually settled, and a few cracked choking noises from the man who would be dead in 42 minutes.
Damn. He was still alive. I'd wanted it to be over already.
With care, I took the curtain rod and swept the whole works aside to evaluate his condition. He was lying half in, half out of the tub, his legs protruding absurdly. Was his back broken? His face had gone red, his eyes bugged, and his lower lip was twitching like some sort of panicked slug.
"Can you move?" I asked.
More spasms from that gruesome slug.
I took hold of his ankles and pushed so he was lying fully in the tub. His eyes and mouth opened wider, and the scarlet in his cheeks and neck darkened. He looked in torment, and completely helpless, which altogether was quite satisfying.
He pissed himself.
"Gross," I mumbled.
I wanted this to be over. I paced back and forth, hoping he was suffocating or something.
Sighing, I stared down at him. He'd die eventually, if I just left. He clearly wasn't going to be getting up again. But I couldn't leave until I was sure. I needed to help him along.
"Don't move," I told him, with a goofy smirk, giving him the ol' finger guns.
I strolled over to the kitchen and found a nice, sharp knife. I considered the blade, unsure if I could really do this. It wasn't like I went around killing people all the time, and I'd never been around much blood before.
I returned to the bathroom much less jolly than when I'd left. I leaned over him, making sure he wasn't dead. His eyes and mouth remained wide open, occasionally twitching, gaze fixed tightly on on me. A goldfish in an empty bowl.
Surely it wouldn't take much to finish him off.
I clutched the knife handle, my hand sweating a little against the plastic grip. I could see his panicked eyes begging me not to. I shook my head at him.
"This is happening," I confirmed.
Nonetheless, it took several more minutes, and some manic pacing, before I could do it. I started singing "Eye of the Tiger", and swung the blade down at the crescendo on the word "eye", at the end of the chorus. I never got to "of the tiger".
The knife had gone in so easily, and silently. I don't know why it surprised me that it was so silent.
I stood up straight and stared down at what I'd done. I hadn't really aimed, and I wasn't even sure what part of his innards I'd impaled. There was no immediate result, and the blood didn't spurt. I was thinking of movies, where blood gets everywhere and pours out of the person's mouth. That didn't happen. I saw the handle of the knife twitching minutely, along with his slow pulse. The blood started to seep out around the wound, gradually.
"Goddamn," I muttered. "I suck at this."
He just kept on staring at me with those dying fish eyes. They were leaking tears, and I wasn't sure if it was an emotional thing, a pain thing, or just one of those automatic body things, like the pissing.
How was he still breathing?
I sat down on the edge of the tub with a Lysol-soaked washcloth and started carefully cleaning the handle of the knife. I thought about pulling it out and sticking him a few more times, but the thought made my stomach roil, and I didn't want to leave DNA around here if I didn't have to. The adrenaline rush was long gone, and I couldn't believe I was sitting here like this, watching him, waiting for him to succumb.
He seemed to be weakening, his breathing growing shallower. Blood was flowing.
His eyes were bothering me.
"Close your eyes, you bastard!" I exclaimed. "Why don't you just die?"
I was sweating. I started humming "Eye of the Tiger" at a morose, funereal tempo.
I leaned down, shaking slightly, holding my breath as I placed two fingers against his neck, finding his pulse. Weak, but present.
"Shit, shit, shit. Come on, man."
I sat down on the bathroom floor, leaning back against the tub. I took out my phone and almost Googled "how long does it take someone to die from a stab wound", but that probably would have been a bad idea. Instead I looked at some movie trailers.
I turned around, peeking into the tub every couple of minutes. I should have been out of here a long time ago.
His eyes were still open, but they were starting to look dull, and were no longer glaring up at me in that horrific Why? expression.
I reached down to feel the pulse at his throat again. I thought I could feel something, but I wasn't sure.
I sorted through the medicine cabinet until I found a small hand mirror, and held it up in front of his mouth and nose. There was a little fog.
I took my Lysol rag and pressed it over his mouth and nose, turning my face away and squeezing my eyes shut as I leaned into him with most of my weight. I waited as long as I could hold myself in that position, and then held the mirror up again.
It was clear.
"Bam," I murmured. "Dead."
I cleaned up a little more, and made my exit. I walked a few blocks before vomiting in a back alley.
I couldn't sleep that night until I'd stuck the digital clock in a drawer, unable to abide those illuminated numbers ticking away the minutes. When I slept, I dreamed of his eyes.