At around 3 am, somewhere between dreaming of elephant-headed women with giant tits and scratching myself, I heard a noise. It started as a faint yipping then mushroomed into a series of full-on “yelps.” The “yelps” hopped through my wall and into my ears like angry crabs. I tried to ignore them but they pinched at my brain wrinkles and pulled them out through my ears like crooked earthworms. As my mind was being unraveled out my ears, I could feel my face growing hotter and hotter. When my skull was empty and my face hit steaming red, I lost it. I threw my whole leg into the wall. The force shook the windows and pushed my bed back a foot. The yelping continued without pause. I drew back again and again and again till my toes were numb and my leg muscles were cramped and singing. The yelping finally stopped. After twenty minutes of controlled breathing, I drifted back off to sleep.
The next morning, I went to class. I did a full day of teaching so when I got home I needed a nap. I passed out for a good two hours. When I got up I was fresh as a sliced orange. I put on some black tea and poured myself a cup. I went to my room and sat in front of my computer. I was eager to crank out a book chapter or at least a short story. I wanted to see how this new little place inspired me. I opened a Word file and put my fingers to the keys. I started typing but my prose was dry. Every time I made keystrokes it felt like little puffs of dust coming up from my fingertips. I switched to poetry and found similar results. All I managed to write was this poem:
He sits at the computer
With his dick
In his hands
And isn’t it funny
His name is
I gave up on the poetry as well. I just sat there with my arms folded and thought about what the problem might be …
Is it my new flat? My new hood? The changing weather? The complete lack of pussy in my life? Maybe my ever sagging tits are to blame? Or the fact that as the days go by my cock gets browner and browner while the rest of me gets whiter and whiter? Pretty soon I’ll look like an albino who just fucked a chocolate doughnut. Hey that’s pretty funny! Maybe I should write that down and make it into a short story!
I laid my fingers back on the keys. I typed out a paragraph that saw a very light-skinned man walking into a “Krispy Kreme”. I nipped at my black tea and started a second paragraph. I got a few fine sentences in when through the wall came:
“Yip! Yip! Yip!”
“JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!!!” I screamed.
I pulled my fist back and smacked the wall. The yipping continued so I pounded and pounded and pounded. I pounded so hard my knuckle cracked. I left a smudge of blood on the wall when I pulled away. The room was silent for a bit. I collected myself and returned to my story. I tried coaxing it from its shell again. I was just about there, when …
“Yip! Yip! Yip! … Yip! Yip! YELP!”
I flew into a rage. I started banging and kicking the wall like mad. I wanted to pound those “yips” out of existence. I wanted to crush their little backs and stomp on their heads and rip their tongues and eyeballs outta their ugly little skulls. I Bruce Lee’d the wall for a full minute. When I stopped, the “yips” were silent again. I went and sat back down. Then I heard a “Bang! Bang! Bang!” on the wall.
“ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!” I screamed.
I grabbed my hoodie and pulled it over my head. I went outside and up to my neighbor’s door. I knocked three times hard. The knob twisted and the door swung open. An old lady was stood there. She had a mouth like a splintered asshole with a smidge of bright red lipstick in the middle. Her skin was the color of decaying brains. She wore a curly blond wig that was bare in places. Her bony limbs were weighted with costume jewelry. Her eyes were like beads of estuary sludge. She took a drag of a thin cigarette and glared at me. Her mangy black poodle, which was right beside her, glared at me as well.
“Why the fuck were you banging on the wall?” I asked the lady.
She pulled the cigarette from her lips. In one poof she blew all the smoke in her lungs against my face.
“You banged first,” she said.
“You’re goddamned right!” I said, fanning the smoke away. “Your dog woke me up at three o’clock this morning and was just barking like crazy while I was trying to write! I work from home, you know?!”
“So?! Put a muzzle on it. Or take it into the next room. Do something! It’s not fair that I get woken up at 3 am only to have to deal with more damn barking during the day.”
She held me with her sickening irises. Before I could say anything else she flicked ash at me and slammed the door. I went back to my room fuming. I tried to write but after a few minutes the yipping started up again. I gave up and turned off my computer. I slipped in bed, clicked off the lights and passed out.
The yipping continued in earnest. It usually happened 4-5 times during the day and 2-3 times during the night. It infuriated me beyond belief. It ruined my sleep and my writing. I knew I couldn’t reason with the old bitch. And I knew pounding on the wall would do nothing but make her pound back. I tried to take solace in my powers of avoidance. But this was tough because twice a day (once in the morning and once at night) Ms. Wigg got decked out in her bling and took her shitty dog (Yippee) for a walk. Most of the time, we missed each other. But at least once a week, we’d run into each other on the stairwell and the cunt would give me the cold eye and let Yippee run up and snap at me with his brittle, yellow teeth.
I contemplated telling the landlord about all this. I approached my new flat-mate about it and he laughed.
“I used to live in that room and I never heard any barking. And besides, even if the dog is barking a little, the landlord won’t do anything about it. The guy barely fixes the heat when it’s messed up, haha.”
I was at a loss now. But I knew something had to be done. One Friday in the winter, I was in class listening to one of my students babble. He was talking about how he had just moved into a new flat. I wondered if he was dealing with the same dog barking bullshit. I asked him if he was and he said no.
“Vhy?” he asked.
I told him the story of the lady and her barking poodle next door. He threw up his arms and laughed. Then his face grew serious. With business-meeting frankness, he said:
“Vhy don’t you just poison dog?”
This struck me like a pebble to the forehead. I shook my face hard and re-centered.
“Are you serious?” I asked.
“OK, well first off, where the hell am I gonna get the poison? And moreover, how would I feed it to the dog without getting caught?!”
“Hmmm, good one.”
My student thought for a moment. Suddenly he raised his eyebrows.
“I know vat you could do. You could just leave bit of chocolate on stairs. Dog vould probably eat it ven dey vent for valk and nobody vill know. I mean, you said dog vas old. It vill be dead before ten minutes and old lady vill just fink dog died from too many valking.”
It was a brilliant plan. I don’t know why the hell I hadn’t thought of it myself.
I finished my day of teaching. I went home and thought hard about the conversation I’d had with my student. Yippee was yipping his fucking head off in the next room. I decided I would give the chocolate idea a go. I looked in my wallet for some money but didn’t find any. I thought about hitting the ATM but ditched that cuz I didn’t want to incur a withdrawal fee just to buy a fucking bar of chocolate. I went to look for my coin jar. I found it in one of the bags I’d stuffed with unwanted crap. I took the jar and dumped it out on my bed. There were coins from all over the world in there, plus paperclips, nails, screws. I started sifting through the junk and picking the Czech Crowns out. As I did, I noticed something shiny and odd. I lifted it to the light and squinted. It was the silver rupee my uncle Paco had given me.
“Jesus, how did this get in here?” I muttered.
I figured it must have gotten thrown in during the move. I fished it out of its case and looked at it. It glinted at me in the soft light. It reminded me of the bodhisattva and the unearthly crash of his cymbals. I thought of my anger at the bodhisattva. I thought of my uncle’s words about me having “missed his message.” I heard Yippee, yipping in the next room. I imagined Ms. Wigg: no husband, no children, no friends, just an embittered old woman, chain-smoking on a threadbare couch with only her rickety black poodle to keep her company. A strange feeling grew in my heart. It wound itself open like the petals of a rose. I looked at the coin once more and gripped it. I knew what I had to do …
I went out and did the deed. An hour later I was at Ms. Wigg’s door. I knocked on it and smiled. She opened up with a scowl. Yippee was down at her feet growling at me with his yellow teeth.
“What the hell do you want?” Ms. Wigg asked.
I had a hand behind my back. I pulled it around and opened it. Inside was a gourmet milk bone from one of the fancy pet shops in town. When Yippee saw it he jumped up and down and started panting and yipping and wagging his tail.
“This is for him,” I said.
Ms. Wigg gave me an incredulous glare. I rolled my eyes playfully and smiled again.
“It’s fine,” I said. “Look.”
I took a small bite off the corner of the milk bone. As it was gourmet, it didn’t taste half bad. I held the bone out in front of Yippee’s nose. This really made him go bonkers. He started yipping his little throat out. I thought he might soil his hind legs. Ms. Wigg looked away from me and down at her dog. Her heart softened and melted through her eyes.
“Fine,” she said, taking the bone from me.
She gave it to her dog. The little thing snapped it up and devoured it right there at the door. Ms. Wigg actually cracked a smile at this. When she noticed me watching her, the smile vanished.
“You can go now,” she spat.
She closed the door on my nose. I went back to my flat feeling satisfied with myself. I even opened a bottle of wine and did a bit of writing. I could feel the good words growing in me.
An hour later there was a knock at the door. I looked through the peephole and saw Ms. Wigg standing there. I grabbed another bone just in case. I opened up the door and smiled.
“Need another?” I asked, holding my hand out.
Her face was a mess of bleeding mascara and wrinkles. She smacked the bone out of my hand and screamed.
“What the fuck did you do to my dog?!”
“What?! What do you mean?”
“You know exactly what I mean!!!”
She raised her fist at me. In it was a long, sharp hairpin with a bejeweled crown. She lunged at me with it. I parried her and she went crashing into the coat rack. As she gathered herself, I reached behind my threshold. I grabbed the machete I hang on my bedpost for just these occasions. I yanked it from its sheath and drew it back. She lunged at me with the giant hairpin again, screaming. I swung the machete and hit her square in the jaw. The wet crack of steel against bone bloomed in my guts like a sick flower. Her mouth was a jagged, dripping mess under her shocked eyes. Her legs were jellying and crumbling underneath her. Her face slid from my blade like a slice of hot butter. She collapsed to the floor with a resounding thud.
When the screams cleared and the blood cooled, I pondered my predicament. My flat mate Pavel would be in Ostrava visiting his girlfriend till Sunday so I had some time. I knew I had to get rid of the body. I thought of hacking it up and putting it in a suitcase bound for the Vltava but then I remembered the case of Issei Sagawa . Issei was a Japanese student of literature, who in 1981, while living in Paris and studying at the Sorbonne, murdered and cannibalized his crush, Renée Hartevelt. After raping her corpse and filleting her legs for sushi, he hacked her into pieces and dumped her into two suitcases. His plan was to ditch her remains in a remote lake outside of Paris. But while crossing the Bois de Boulogne park, he was sweating and wobbling so much that passing policemen got suspicious as to what this slight, perspiring Japanese man was doing there with two huge suitcases, so they stopped him and sure enough … Lucky for Issei he had a rich and powerful Dad who got him declared insane and extradited back to Japan, where certain circles dubbed him a “true artist” and even featured him on cooking shows. But I didn’t have any shit like that in my corner, so the Issei route was out.
I was left with only one option. I quickly scratched up a plan and got to it. First, I mopped up all the blood and urine with bleach. Then I laid some plastic down and went to Ms. Wigg’s flat to get Yippee. I found him curled up on the bathroom doormat. He looked like a carbonized hunk of meat that had cooked in the oven for too long. I lifted him from the ground and took him to my flat. I laid him next to his owner on the plastic then selected my instruments. I got my straight razor and all my pots, pans, knives, strainers, etc, I’d bought back in October. I laid everything out on the kitchen counter then went to the pantry. I selected the spices I’d need. Among them were cumin, thyme, basil, marjoram, allspice, and oregano, to name a few. I put the spices on the counter next to the cooking stuff. I filled a laundry bucket with hot, soapy water and grabbed the straight razor. I pulled off Ms. Wigg’s clothing and bling and lathered her and Yippee up. It took a lot of skin-scrapping and bloody mistakes but after three hours, I had those babies bald and gleaming. I stood back and took a moment to admire my work. Ms. Wigg and Yippee looked so beautiful, lying there on my kitchen floor like Momma and baby alien asleep. It almost pained me that I had to move onto step two. But, as I already knew from the two “zabíjačky” (pig-slaughters) I’d attended, after ya kill the animal, ya gotta cut it up and cook it quick or it’ll rot … and then where will ya be?
I got down to the shitty titty. After gutting the lady and her dog and slicing their bones of their sweet parts, I washed, chopped, cut and ground everything then mixed it with all the spices. I had the pots boiling and the pans sizzling and the oven blazing. I placed everything in its proper receptacle, measuring it and molding it just right, then I let the ingredients and heat do their magic. My flat filled with the smell of roasting spices and meat. It was a glorious thing and I could see the air sparkling with inspiration. After 24 hours, I had a veritable feast. All my favorite zabíjačka dishes, including mozeček s vejci (brains with scrambled eggs and onions), ovar s křenem (boiled and diced head with grated horseradish), smažák (baked liver and sirloin goulash), jitirnice (liverwurst), jelita (blood sausage), prdelačka (blood and grout stew), škvarky (fried skin rinds), and tlačenka (head cheese), were present.
Because of my bald head, olive skin and pointy facial features, the Czechs often say I look like their most famous celebrity chef, Zdeněk Pohlreich. I usually take the comparison as an insult cuz Pohlreich is damn near sixty, but in that moment I was proud to share looks (and talent) with the motherfucker.
Once the dishes cooled down, I put them into Tupperware containers and stuck them in the fridge. All I had left to do now was dispose of the bones and Ms. Wigg’s bling. I gathered everything in a sack and tied it off. I kept one pretty ring cuz I’m sick like that. I put the bag in my backpack and walked outside into the night. The moon was high and bright and the air was crisp enough to bite. I walked across the streets and parks and out to the Vlatava. Its waters were dark and distorted and there was a long snake of moonlight slithering across the top. I pulled out the bag of jewelry and bones and weighted it down with stones. I pitched everything in and watched it sink and disappear into bubbles. I walked back to my place whistling a jaunty little tune. I slept that night like a corps.
Pavel arrived the next evening. I was in a fantastic mood when I greeted him. He had been traveling all day. He was starving so he opened the fridge straight off.
“Jesus, where did you get all this food?” he asked.
“I went to a zabíjačka this weekend,” I said.
“Wow, they gave you a lot!”
“Yeah, the pig was enormous and there were only a few of us there. We each got about 40 kilos.”
“What are you gonna do with it all?”
“Don’t know. I was thinking of selling it to the meat shop down the block, or …”
“Well, my company just released a new product and we’re having a big event on Tuesday to celebrate. I got stuck with the job of handling the food side of things, so shit, I’ll buy it off you. Nothing like fresh zabíjačka!”
“How much you want for it?”
“Let’s just say we’re square on the next rent payment.”
Pavel took the food in on Tuesday. I ran into him that night and he raved about how good it was. I simpered sweetly and listened to him as he went on and on. The whole time I was imagining a bunch of cock-nosed yuppies in business-casual attire, gorging themselves on Ms. Wigg and Yippee before shitting them out into porcelain toilets.
Pavel eventually finished blabbing. A few moments later there was a knock at the door. I opened it and looked on. Standing there were two cops, one male one female. The former was built like a bank safe and had crossed eyes. The latter was hot and blond with a bubble butt and a tight ponytail. They asked me some questions about Ms. Wigg and her dog. They told me the landlord had come by two days in a row looking for the rent and found the pair missing. I shrugged my shoulders and raised my palms.
“The last time I saw my neighbor was Friday night,” I said. “She was taking her little poodle for a walk.”
“Well, did you notice anything strange?” Officer Chunk asked.
I thought for a moment.
“Well, she was wearing all her gaudy jewelry, as per usual. Maybe someone went for it? This is Žižkov, after all.”
The cops mumbled something about having indeed seen a big empty jewelry box in her flat. After a few more banal questions, they thanked me for my time and left.
The following week, there was a police investigation. Some detectives with cameras and white gloves came to Ms. Wigg’s but as there was no sign of a struggle or foul play, the investigation quickly ran cold. A few days later, Ms. Wigg’s place was cleaned out and renovated. Another old lady moved in there but this one had a sweet little cat that never made a peep. Because of this, I was able to sleep well and concentrate on my writing. With a fresh head and eyes, the stories and poems came flowing from my fingertips in strange and beautiful shades.
One especially inspired night I was sat at my computer. Halfway into my tenth poem, I heard a knock at my door. I opened up and there was Pavel. He had a very concerned look on his face. I looked down at his hand. In it was a box with a picture of an upside down rodent with Xs for eyes, on the front.
“I found this under the sink,” he said, holding the box up. “Do we have rats in the building or something?”
I thinned my eyes and smiled.
Note: I reserve the right to occasionally alter the character names, descriptions, and/or event details in my posts for the purposes of identity protection and “fluidity of story.” If this puts a kink in your panties, read someone else’s blog, homey.