STUNNED BY LOVE and some would say stupid from too much sex, I decided I had to drive down South to kill a man. Gillian and I were about to be married and her ex-beau of four years, Marvin Gluck — Virginia state trooper, boots and all — was heaving his psychosis our way, sending bow-tied packages, soilsome letters, and text messages to the bestial effect of, If you marry that baboon I'll end all our lives.
I, Charles Homar, memoirist of mediocre fame, a baboon?
Coercing him into kindness, Christian or otherwise, had already failed—large. For more than a year we had implored him to leave us be, appealed to the protector-of-the-peace in him, filed complaints with not-caring police here in our Connecticut town, suggested religion, yoga, even herbs as antidote to his crocodilian stance, his swamp of a heart: nothing worked. His threats were usually followed by some truly treacly pleas for forgiveness, a smattering of I'm sorrys all in a row. Regret is an acid; it pecked at his innards. Good. He wanted to be a better "humany person." I wanted him dead. Seven thousand citizens die each day in our America — why couldn't he be one of them? Traffic calamity, aneurism, lightning bolt: anything would have done, anything to keep me from doing this deed I wasn't keen on doing and didn't know whether I could do or not.
"I think he's only bluffing," Gillian said on the afternoon we received one of his murderous notes. "I know he can be really kind when he wants to."
"Kind? Darling, that memo there says he'd like to impose trauma upon my person. He has the manners of a microbe."
"I'm really sure he's bluffing, honey. Let's ignore him. He'll go away," she told me, but I could see that she was frightened, that all with her was not groovy. "Anyway, why don't you write about it in your column?"
"Gillian, love, I don't need extra material for my memoirs. They're already depraved enough to warp the mind of any adolescent."
"He'll go away, Charlie."
From Gillian's pictures and videos I knew this vulgarian was a colossus of a gent whose voice and testicular presence could hush the human flotsam in any riled-up room. Furthermore, he had a face so uglified by his parents' DNA that it recalled a clay-shaping exercise gone heinously wrong. Left eye like the oblong knot in a plank of pine. The kind of guy who eats a tomato like an apple. A disposition downright redneck. I've known fevered men like Marvin: they get a certain idea in their noggins or, worse yet, a funny feeling in their hearts, and nothing on earth can deter them from their channel. They go agog with havoc, get off on outlawry. Quite frankly, I was frightened, too.
Here's the other end of it, and I have no shame: I couldn't live with knowing there was a man out there who loved Gillian the way I did, who had swum in her sweet-scented flesh, who had eased apart her thighs, delved into her special center. Also, the bedlamite had her name tattooed across his pectorals, from one fifty-inch side to the other, in large red Gothic letters, too. If her name were Jennifer or Michelle it might not have vexed me so; but Gillian is a rarity, and those letters on his chest could mean only her, always. It caused all the amino acids in me to swirl, swirl.