Practice Makes Perfect

A Twisted Tale by Logan Scott Jones

It’s been a grueling day, full of meetings on top of meetings, all of which amounted to jack shit. I thought about going to the bar to unwind, but I know my sponsor would tie me to his bumper and drag me through the streets, so I decided to come here and clog my arteries with some of the greasiest food this city has to offer. Junk food will kill me just as quick as liquor, but at least I won’t get arrested for Driving While Fat.

I’m in the corner booth, back to the wall. Some people might think that eating alone is pathetic, but I’ve been pathetic for pretty much my entire life, so I’m used to it. Besides, I have nobody to eat with anymore. Wife left long before we could have any kids, and my former friends all hate me now. Victims of the bottle. I’m trying to rebuild my life brick by brick, but some destruction is too complete, and it’s better to just start fresh.

Speaking of fresh, my food finally arrives. The waitress is cute enough to make me wonder what her name is, but I don’t want her to think I’m staring at her tits by trying to read her nametag, so I just focus on my food. Double decker burger, onion rings, and large chocolate shake: comfort food on a stressful day. It’s not vodka, but it’s a close second, I’ve found. I’m about to take the first sip of my shake when my arm jerks, throwing it onto the tiled floor, shattering the glass and making a huge mess.

The cute waitress is glaring daggers at me, and the other diners are all staring with their mouths hanging open in shock, except for this one skinny young prick all the way across the room. His eyes are wide, but so is his grin. I’m glad someone’s enjoying this, even if it is some pizza-faced jerkoff. His eyes meet mine and he actually winks at me. Thank God I’m not drunk right now, or I’d probably be bashing his stupid face into his table.

I ask the waitress for some rags or paper towels. I feel bad, since I’ve probably ruined her night, along with any fantasy I might have entertained about her fetish being overweight alcoholics. Besides, cleaning up is the least I can do. That and leave a big tip. I ask her to please bring me a replacement shake while I clean up, and that I’ll pay for both. It’s not like I have college to pay for in the future. She seems to be in a little bit of a better mood now. At least I’m able to do that much for her.

What the hell happened with my arm, though? I’m on my hands and knees, wiping milkshake off of the floor and chair legs, and I’m replaying it over and over. Everything is fine and fucking dandy, then it’s like my arm rebelled against me. It didn’t feel like a muscle spasm or anything like that. It felt like my arm had acted without a direct command from my brain. Weird.

Had to be the ghost of all the liquor I’ve killed in my life, which was a considerable amount. My sponsor says that the urges will never go away, and that they affect people in different ways. Apparently mine make me act like a jerk to waitresses. I finish cleaning and go back to my booth, my new milkshake sitting next to my cooling food.

One last look around the diner before I sit. Everyone has pretty much gone back to their food, show’s over, thanks for coming. Except Pizza-Face. He keeps glancing up at me from the book he’s reading, which is funny, since he looks like he doesn’t even know how to read. I can’t tell what book it is, but it looks old, with stiff, yellowing pages. The little bastard has the nerve to wink at me again before going back to his book, and I see him mouthing the words to himself as he reads. See? Not that great of a reader after all.

I slide back into the booth and get comfortable. I’m determined to enjoy my meal despite the scene I caused. I pick up my burger and take a long whiff. Jesus, that’s almost orgasmic. This diner has the best burgers in the city. I readjust my grip on the burger. Don’t want the guts sliding out on the first bite. I raise it to my watering mouth and shove it against the bottom half of my face.

I drop the burger back onto the plate and stare at it while condiments and grease drip off of my chin. What the hell is wrong with me tonight? A quick glance around shows that nobody saw what I had just done, not even Pizza-Face. I quickly clean my face off while I try to figure out why I buried my face in my burger instead of taking a bite out of it like I had intended. It was just like what happened with the milkshake.

I consider leaving, just going home and going to bed. But I’m starving, and I never sleep well when I’m hungry. I then consider going to the bar again, because if being clean and sober means I’m going to be doing shit like this then I’d rather be drunk. But that’s not really true, not anymore, so I just stare at my burger for a while, trying to work up the courage to try again.

I start tapping the table. Well, my hand does. I have nothing to do with it. I try to will it to stop, but it just gets louder. I grab the disobedient hand with the other, which I can still control. It works for a second before both of them start tapping, louder than ever, an irregular and jarring rhythm. People are staring again, and I start to sweat from the strain of trying to control myself.

I finally stop tapping like an idiot, but I don’t know if it was because of anything I had done. What the hell is happening to me? I feel like I’m losing my mind. I take out my phone and try to look up if this is a symptom of being clean, but before I can even unlock my phone I dunk it into my milkshake. What the ever-loving fuck is going on with me? I’m shaking now, and while it’s as involuntary as the weird shit I’ve been doing tonight, I know that it’s from fear. Fear that the years of hard drinking have finally caught up with me. Fear that I’m going to be locked up in some loony bin. Fear of what I might do next.

I hear a high-pitched giggle from across the diner. I know without looking that it’s Pizza-Face. Must be something funny in that book of his. Yeah, I know he’s probably laughing at me, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to give him the pleasure of looking just to find out. Fuck this. I raise my hand to call the waitress over with the check. Time to get the hell out of here.

She storms over and slaps the shit out of me, and if I hadn’t been in this booth it would have knocked me clear on my ass. I’m as stunned as everybody else in the place. I can hear Pizza-Face laughing louder. Answers that question. I look up at my still-raised hand and see my middle finger extended. Answers that question, too. She’s yelling at me and waving her arms around like she’s going to hit me again, I’m trying to stammer out an explanation that it wasn’t my fault, people are muttering and whispering to each other about the rude fat man in the corner, and Pizza-Face seems to be having trouble breathing through his laughter.

I’ve never understood why they bring you every utensil at a place like this, despite what you order. I guess it makes sense to them, but it’s still weird getting a full set of cutlery when you order soup or salad. Or a burger. This bland thought is the only thing in my head as I pick up the steak knife the waitress had brought me with my food and stab her in the eye.

OhfuckohfuckohFUCK what did I just do? I’m frozen in shock, terror, and denial; everyone else screams. Not as loudly as the waitress, though; her screams are biblical, and all I want to do is cover my ears and block them out. But I can’t. I’m getting up out of the booth instead, which is not what I want to do. I grab the waitress’s throat with one hand and the handle of the knife with the other. I twist the knife and tug it free, bringing the jellied ruin of her eye with it as she gurgles through my grip. I want to vomit and I can’t. I want to cry and I can’t do that either.

But apparently I can stab. And I do. Over and over, until the waitress’s chest is abstract art. Her nametag is covered in blood; now I’ll never know her name. Still holding the knife, still against my will, I stand up and look around. Everyone has left except for Pizza-Face. He’s just sitting there, grinning at me. He raises his drink in a mocking toast.

I’m just a passenger now. Everything I do is out of my control. I walk over to Pizza-Face and just wait. Inside, I’m on the verge of shattering into a million fragments of myself. I’m beating the walls of my mind like it’s a cage, which I guess it is now, screaming and crying while my face has an expression of disinterested calm. He’s talking to me, but I’m too preoccupied with going batshit insane to pay him any attention. Why the hell am I just standing here? Better question: why the fuck did I murder the waitress?

He’s saying something about his book, about a dog that ate rocks until it died, but I’m barely registering the information. He looks apologetic, and against my will I focus on him, and his next words are crystal clear.

“Sorry big guy. Nothing personal, you know? I just needed the practice.”

I have no idea what he’s talking about, and my focus returns to myself. More specifically, my arm. The one holding the knife. It’s moving again. I really, really hate Pizza-Face, but I know I don’t want to murder him. I wish he’d run like the others.

The point of the knife is hard to focus on the closer it gets to my eye. It gets blurry and disappears for a fraction of a second, enough time to think that this is fitting, an eye for an eye. Then I slowly slide the knife into my eye, and the pain is immediate, like nothing I’ve ever felt before: icy cold and boiling hot and bright, if that makes any fucking sense. My mind is filled with agony and bottled screams. I wish I could scream out loud, that might make the pain go away, if only for a second, but of course I can’t. The pain is so large and distracting that I don’t even notice that I’m taking the other eye until it’s gone.

After I blind myself, I move on to other parts of my body. I thought that the pain was as big as it could ever get, but with each piece of me that I remove, the pain grows. My ears go next, and then my nose, and then my lips. I can feel the hot blood coursing down my body. My mind is cracking, because I want to laugh instead of cry, or maybe both at the same time, I don’t know. It’s hard to think.

I feel my jaw start to work, and I chew off my tongue. My body convulses as I swallow it, choking a little on the blood and dead meat sliding down my throat. Through the pain I hear sirens, and then the police are outside, yelling at me to put the knife down and let the kid go. They must not be able to see inside very well.

I start to flay the skin off of my face, which is pretty hard work with a steak knife that’s been dulled by sawing and stabbing, but eventually I get it all off. My body is shaking and the pain is fading, replaced with a slow-growing warmth that feels like that first shot of liquor. I smile on the inside.

I’m sawing open my gut now, shoving my hands in through the fat to grip the ropy intestines inside, pulling them out; I can hear them splattering on the ground in front of me. I hear Pizza-Face’s voice again, but I can’t understand his words. I don’t understand much of anything right now. He pats me on the back and I think he leaves. I wish I knew what he said; maybe it was important. I wish a lot of things, actually. I wish I knew what was going on. I wish I hadn’t killed the waitress.

I wish I had gone to the bar and had that fucking drink.

Logan Scott Jones is a father before all else. He writes to show his children that it is always better to follow your dreams, no matter what happens. He’s working on his first novel and hopes to have it finished by the end of 2016.



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One Response to Practice Makes Perfect

  1. Pingback: My first publication credit | Logan Scott Jones

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