A Disquieted Man

This was Talbot Vernon Armstrong’s first thought upon arising this morning: I am not pleased with the weather. Talbot Vernon Armstrong finds it a travesty that there is nothing that can be done about the weather.

Talbot Vernon Armstrong moves to the window and draws the drapes. It’s better than nothing. He proceeds to the kitchen and prepares his usual breakfast. Talbot Vernon Armstrong likes two eggs, poached for two minutes and forty-five seconds, no more, no less, two strips of bacon fried to the correct degree of crispness and two pieces of wholemeal toast, the crusts removed before toasting. Only savages eat the crust. This is what Talbot Vernon Armstrong knows.

He puts his dishes in the dishwasher, then proceeds upstairs to perform his daily toilet. When he has showered, using the finest sandalwood soap, he selects an Egyptian cotton towel from the rail and dries himself.

He walks into the closet and chooses a pair of underwear, some socks and a silk shirt of his liking, along with some gabardine slacks. He inspects his hand made wingtips for any scuffmarks and puts them on and ties the laces.

Returning to the window he peeks through the drapes and frowns. Talbot Vernon Armstrong is not amused. The weather has not changed. Talbot Vernon Armstrong’s suspicion that the world is trying to annoy him has been confirmed.

Talbot Vernon Armstrong resists the dark thoughts that gnaw at the back of his mind. He is drawn to the locked cabinet in his sitting room but his will is strong. He decides to go for a walk to clear his head.

As he walks along the lakefront he scowls at the detritus of society that surrounds him. The teenagers with their loud, gaudy clothes are an affront to his senses. The way they mangle the English language is an assault on his ears. Talbot Vernon Armstrong knows vermin when he sees it. What he fails to see is any possible reason for their existence.

He sees two of them begin kissing on a bench. Their mouths open, their tongues doing a lewd dance, assaulting his dignity. He stops and stares, his disgust undisguised. A couple of the others notice him and begin taunting him. They call him disgusting names. They accuse him of being a dirty old man.

Talbot Vernon Armstrong reels from the sudden vision of his past that wells up in his mind. He feels the surge of shame and embarrassment that rises within and anger overwhelms him. He makes an obscene gesture to the young upstarts and turns back toward his home.

No more than three steps along the path, regretting his loss of self-control, he feels a cold, wet sensation on the back of his neck. His nostrils are assaulted with a not unfamiliar smell. His mind reels as he hears peals of laughter behind him. The mongrels have found some dog excrement and have hurled it at him.

He hurries along the path then breaks into a run and fumbles with his key in the lock. He takes off his coat and leaves it on the porch, defiled as it is with the unthinkable. He tears his clothes off as he heads for the shower. As he scrubs himself images race through his mind, unbidden. Talbot Vernon Armstrong fights them, but they will not be denied.

Talbot Vernon Armstrong has spent twenty years trying to forget. Never allowing himself to remember, never seeking help. No one would ever have believed what a vile pig of a man his father was. The depravity he visited on his only son.

Talbot Vernon Armstrong dries himself off and dresses again. His mind is calm on the surface, but the world is filled with evil. This is what Talbot Vernon Armstrong knows. He takes a key from his dresser drawer and proceeds to the cabinet in the sitting room. He takes out the velvet lined mahogany box and removes the gleaming object within.

Talbot Vernon Armstrong puts extra shells in his pocket and walks outside, leaving the front door open wide. He walks with a strong even stride back to the lakefront. The teenagers are still there. They see him and the taunts begin again. As Talbot Vernon Armstrong approaches they recognize what he has in his hand. He takes small comfort in their wide eyes, their screams, and their terror.

He raises the pistol and begins firing. The blood flies in random arcs, turning the grass into a Jackson Pollack canvas. They run, but to no avail. Talbot Vernon Armstrong has spent many hours at the firing range. He walks over to the bodies lying on the grass and studies them. The world is better without them.

He puts one last shell in the chamber, closes it and cocks the gun. He looks up at the grey, loveless sky as the rain begins again. Such a travesty that nothing can be done about it. Talbot Vernon Armstrong raises the pistol to his temple.


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