He was in his 70s. No one loved him and he was gonna die all alone. I was sure of that because I’d checked the guest house we were both living in to see if anyone was home. Satisfied that there were no pesky witnesses in the building, I stared out the main entrance to make sure The Mystery Machine wasn’t on Block Watch patrol.
Then I locked all the doors and headed back to the living room.
Yeah he was still sitting at the computer; the only computer accessible for many miles and long lonely hours. Playing solitaire.
That’s all the old guy ever did. He’d sit at the computer and play solitaire for hours on end. There was a full deck of cards on the desk and a drawer full of them ten feet away. He didn’t give a fuck. He was just doing it to piss me off. It was working.
The first time this happened I’d waited about ten minutes before asking if maybe he could use a deck of cards and let me use the computer. He looked at me for about five seconds before continuing with his game. Not a word. No expression on his face. Okay, you old cunt, have it your way.
His name was Everett. That’s more than I wanted to know, and I only knew that much because that’s what people called him. He was pleasant with the others. I couldn’t be bothered trying to figure out why he hated me. I’ve experienced that shit all my life, and I’d had enough of it. No one would miss him.
I took another quick once-through the house to make triple sure no one else was home. On the way back down from the second floor, someone started pounding on the door. It was Brian. Brian something or other.
He lived at the guest house. He couldn’t open the door: not because he didn’t have his keys, but because his hands were full. He had a case of Arctic Red amber ale in one hand, and a gym bag in the other. I was sure the gym bag was full of booze. He was kicking the door with a happy maniacal look on his face. His eyes were bugging out of his head and he was drooling just enough to be comical.
I let him in.
“Buddha! Good to see ya! Wanna drink?” he asked, with great gusto. He was not asking ‘Do you want a drink?’
He was asking, ‘Wanna DRINK?’
I had all winter to kill the old man. Maybe he’d be good enough to save me the trouble.
“Yeah,” I said. “I do.”
“Great,” said Brian, handing me the gym bag that was, indeed, full of booze. “I don’t feel like going to the Pit tonight.”
Brian was a good guy. Pretty smart. Kinda goofy. Kinda like Shaggy,
if Shaggy was a crack-smoking lush.
He’d labelled me the Buddha of the Mutants
after listening to me dispense psychoanalytical bon mots to a table full of slobbering alcoholics at the Pit a couple weeks earlier. Any man capable of pulling that kind of clever word play out of his head, while deep into his cups, is a man to drink with. We parked ourselves at the kitchen table and got down to it.
Knowing what was sure to unfold, the old man got up and went to his room. But not before he turned the computer off. He just couldn’t resist that one last, little fuck you.
“What are you doin’, Buddha?” Brian something or other asked.
“I was just about to kill the old man when you showed up,” I replied, matter-of-factly.
“That’s not very Buddha of you,” he whistled, with a low rumble of laughter.
“Even Buddha has his limits,” I smiled, reaching for a beer.
“Why would you kill him? He’s a harmless old man.”
“That’s between me, and him, and God.”
Brian stared straight into my eyes. He was trying to peer into my soul. He wanted to know if I was serious. He really didn’t know me, or much about me, for that matter, and the cold, dark isolation of the Yukon has proven to be a magnet for more than one malevolent psychopath. “And how were you gonna do it, if you don’t mind me asking? I’ve contemplated killing a few people myself.”
“I figured I’d crack him in the forehead with a cast iron frying pan… ”
“You’d have to whack hi really hard to kill him.”
“I’m talking Reggie Jackson at the ’71 All-Star Game.”
“Tiger Stadium. Yeah, that would do it.”
“Then I’d strip him naked and drag him into the sauna out back. Leave him there, doing a long slow burn on the rocks, with a deck of cards in his hands.”
“I don’t think a corpse can break sweat. Even the Keystone Cops up here would know he didn’t die in the sauna.” I told you he was smart. I raised an eyebrow and mimed a tip of the hat to him.
“Why a deck of cards?” Brian something or other asked.
“That’s between me, and him… ”
Brian drained the rest of his beer and reached for the bottle of Finlandia.
“What else? What else is going on?”
“Vampires,” I said, in a cold, dead tone.
“And vodka,” I laughed, pushing an empty plastic cup towards him.
He looked relieved. He smiled and poured. “Vampires and vodka, huh? Tell me, Buddha.”