Dragon's Breath Magazine, September '91

A Choleric Experience
by Thomas S. Gilmour (HOOKLA)

     Ostrow felt the cold water run across his gnarled hand while he was cleaning out the small sherry glass. The kitchen represented the small microcosm of his personal universe, leaving traces of himself in every corner. He didn't get out much, as it was terribly difficult to organize the right event with the right mode of transportation on the right day with the right weather wearing the right clothes. His one hundred and nineteenth birthday was a week ago, which he celebrated alone in the dark fusty living room. Ostrow found that he hated large crowds, complaining of their diseases and coughing up viral phlegm. A cockroach scurried across the yellow kitchen tile.
     "Well hello Franklin!" Ostrow greeted the insect. The black eyes of the cockroach stared blankly at the small piece of cheese on the kitchen counter. "You want something to eat?" Ostrow continued. The cockroach responded by creeping closer to the food. "TOO BAD!" Ostrow said, as he destroyed the cockroach with his bare knuckles. Remains of the cockroach stuck to his hand and he wiped them off.
     Ostrow took a spatula and scraped the tiny corpse into a plastic sandwich bag. He opened the drawer underneath the counter marked FRANKLIN, and deposited the bag in amongst the other bagged corpses. Washing his hands, Ostrow began to hum.
     The living room was quiet, and the sweet sound of Mahler was just barely audible through the small speaker system which was set up in his china cabinet. Ostrow's favorite chair, a taupe lazy boy, greeted his behind as he merged into the tired springs and sagged cotton cushion. He relaxed completely, letting his head loll to the left. Ostrow let his eyes just barely close.
     A door slammed in the apartment next door. Ostrow's eyes flicked open. He knew that he had new neighbors, but didn't know how loud they were going to be. Deciding that a letter was in order about slamming doors, a smile spread across his lips. He hadn't written a nasty letter in many years.
     Music pierced the air like a shotgun blast, startling Ostrow. It was accompanied by a consistent thumping noise and a screechy voice. The neighbors had a stereo. Ostrow got out of his lazy boy and staggered to the door. He flung it open angrily, and stepped into the receding sunlight. The sky was flaming red disappearing into a purple night. The door to the neighbor's apartment was open, and a young tan student was leaning on the railing, sipping beer. There was a large cylindrical object sitting in a tub of ice. It was a beer keg. Voices emanated from inside the apartment.
     "What's up?" The polite young man asked.
     "I'll tell you what's up! The volume knob on that Goddamned music! That's what's up!" Ostrow shouted. Even though he was over a hundred years old, he could still bellow. "I'm gonna call the cops on you kids!"
     "Go for it," the towhead responded.

     Ostrow was fuming. He didn't have a telephone, and the music was twice as loud, mixed in with the hum of party conversation. Banging a paperweight against the wall only succeeded in denting the plaster. His world was caving in on him, and Ostrow was on his knees writhing in anger. His eye caught a glimpse of the World War I bayonet hanging on the wall. Thinking about all possible solutions, he decided to ignore the most sane ones. Gripping the smooth steel of the war toy, he strapped the blade to his hand, knowing that it will make it more difficult for them to take it away from him. Blistering with an irate disposition, he imagined the brutal acts of violence which were about to occur. He could already see the young brat's guts seeping out of the mortal wound delivered to him by the fatal hand of destiny. Ostrow imagined throats cut, spewing forth blood and vomit.
     His eyes gleamed with anticipation.
     With a war-like cry, Ostrow flung the door to his apartment wide open. Standing in front of him was a police officer, who upon seeing Ostrow with a knife in his hand, reached for her weapon.
     "Drop it!" She bellowed. The knife, strapped to Ostrow's wrist, remained in place as he tried to set it free. Three shots rang out, and he was knocked back fifteen feet. Blood trickled from his frail, old body, and he coughed, then died.

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