Powder Burn Flash # 356 - Nathaniel Tower
Intent to Kill
by Nathaniel Tower
Murray Slinter had never killed anyone before, nor had he ever even contemplated it. In fact, to his knowledge, he had never even harmed an insect before, at least not knowingly. But when he woke up one morning, his body was pulsating with the sudden urge to take a life.
He couldn't explain the source of the urge. Perhaps his alarm had been a little more shrill that morning, or perhaps the banana he had eaten wasn't quite ripe, or perhaps a lifetime of not really getting what he wanted finally caught up to him. Regardless of the reason, when he departed from his small studio apartment that morning, Murray Slinter was eager to kill someone.
He wasn't really sure where he was going when he left the crumbling apartment complex, but he didn't need to know. The gun resting in the pocket of his nondescript brown jacket guided the way for him. The air was crisp and the wind cut through his jacket. He could feel the cold metal like ice on his skin through his thin white shirt.
At the bank, his right hand now tightly gripping the gun inside his pocket, Murray waited in a long line. The line moved slowly, methodically, rhythmically, mathematically, the result of some linear equation slowly plotted on a graph. The line was impatient, its many blurred faces scowling at the inconvenience of relying on someone else to safely store money. Murray looked at the united faces with disdain.
The faces all disgusted him equally, he had never seen any of them before, but somehow he recognized them all. He found it difficult to determine where one face ended and another began. Trembling, he began to feel overwhelmed as he tried to decide exactly which face to shoot first.
"Next." The single syllable released from a friendly smile released Murray from his psychotic trance. He approached the clerk at the desk, her perfect makeup and tidy outfit providing warm and artificial greetings of temporary peace.
"How may I help you?" Her smile broadened, no look of panic or expectation of what was about to be unleashed.
He gripped the gun even tighter and prepared to blow a tiny hole in her beautiful little head. He imagined the dark blood staining her blonde hair and trickling down her blushed cheeks until it became one with the lipstick he imagined was the same shade as her blood.
He imagined the sea of blonde gradually drowning in the thick ooze.
"Are you okay?"
"Um, I forgot my deposit," he spat clumsily out of his mouth as he released the grip on the gun, removed an empty hand from his pocket, offered a curious smile to the teller, and departed from the bank with the haste of a man who was either insane or just plain in a hurry.
Outside, the cold air felt much more refreshing this time.
"What the hell was I thinking?" he said aloud to himself and audibly enough for the passersby that ignored him as they went about their own business. Possibly some of them were thinking the same thoughts Murray had been thinking just a moment ago.
No longer thinking about killing someone, Murray didn't panic when he saw a police officer approaching him. The police officer wasn't really approaching him, he told himself. It just coincidentally happened that the police officer was walking in his direction. Murray was just now going about his daily business, which was quite the same as what the officer was doing.
At least that is what Murray was thinking when the officer stopped directly in front of him, told him he was under arrest, and read him his rights with one hand on the cuffs and the other on the gun.
Murray was being led away before he could even muster a "What did I do?"
The officer had no problem sharing his crime.
"You're under arrest for attempted murder."
Disheartened, Murray handed over the gun and admitted his guilt. Deep down though, he was glad that he hadn't actually killed anyone.
BIO: Nathaniel Tower writes fiction, teaches English, and manages the online lit magazine Bartleby Snopes. His short fiction has appeared in over 50 online and print magazines. A story of his, "The Oaten Hands," was named one of 190 notable stories by storySouth's Million Writers Award in 2009. His first novel, A Reason To Kill, is due out in July 2011. Visit him at www.bartlebysnopes.com/ntower.htm