Gillis Tibideaux wasn’t much to look at. It was’t that he was ugly. He was just rather plain. An everyman. Maybe a bit too skinny perhaps, but otherwise a nice fellow.
He was a quiet sort who kept to himself. And after the incident in New York, he liked it like that.
Nearly twenty years ago, his dad gave him the old 1961 Shasta Airflyte before he died. Even though it was only sixteen feet by seven feet, he’d made it home, one of the few permanent campers in the RV park.
Summer was in full swing, and the bayou was full of campers from all over the midwest.
His little oasis had fallen prey to the little banshees running around the campsites disturbing his peace.
He didn’t mind so much. Never married, and never any children of his own. He’d learned to welcome how loud a six year old could belt out a holler from down by the river.
The setting sun burned through the blinds on the west end of the trailer. He’d positioned it that way so he could always see the sunset.
He adjusted the blinds just enough for him to see the sun start to touch the water at the far end of the bayou. Every summer it was the same.
In about an hour, things would get peaceful again. The campfires would start as the kids got too tired to wreak any more havoc.
It was also the same time the loneliness would set in. And the thoughts of regret would swarm though his mind like a beehive hit with a stick.
He eyed the cupboard. It was just a few feet away. It would be quick and easy. No one would know a thing. At least not for a while.
It was Friday on a long weekend. He wouldn’t need to be at the butcher shop preparing fresh cuts until five a.m. on Tuesday.
Just real quick. It won’t hurt anyone. It will make you feel better.
Gillis rubbed his temples with the middle three fingers of both of hands. Taking a deep breath, he willed the thoughts away.
Bzzzz. Sting. Bzzzz. Sting.
Every weekend got a little harder to stop the swarm. During the week he didn’t have to worry about it as the 14 hour days at the butcher shop kept him too tired to care.
But weekends. That was always difficult.
I wonder if the customers would miss me, he thought.
Ms. Graham always asked for him. For some reason she thought his cuts made the meat more tender. Then there’s Mr.Cunningham. Gillis started to list off the locals he liked. And even a few of the visitors, at least the ones that came back year after year.
Like the Freeneys who started coming down from Baton Rouge. Bill and Jen had been down several summers in row with their daughter Allison and son Scotty.
Gillis knew them from both the butcher shop and the campground. They were hard to miss when they first pulled up in that Prevost motor coach that would make a rock star jealous. It was a palace on wheels.
Even though the Freeneys were obviously wealthy, they were always kind to Gillis when they came into the shop. They’d catch up and ask him what had changed since last year, even reminding Gillis of what he shared last year when they were in town.
It felt good being remembered. And he always made sure they were well taken care of when they came to the shop. He smiled for moment as he thought of them, and little Scotty’s twenty questions a minute.
What would it have been like to have a family? Too late now. Buzz. Sting.
Gillis fought back the regrets. He knew it was too late for family. And with no siblings and no family of his own, he’d learned to find comfort in the little things. Like the people who came into the shop and made him feel needed or wanted.
All they had to do was notice him, maybe say his name. Just a little chit chat. Something that distracted him from feeling completely alone in the world.
Even if they were just customers. It made him feel good that someone took note he was there.
You know it will be quick. No one will ever know. Bzzz. Sting.
Gillis sat down on the bench near the door. He could pull it out to make the bed, but once he did that, there was next to no room to move around.
Sitting on the bench facing the simple wood cupboard, he thought about the last gift his dad gave him before he died.
Opening up the sparse cupboard, the leather knife-roll sat on the top shelf.
Remember son, a butcher has to have good knives. If he’d heard that once, he’d heard it a thousand times. A sad smile came across his face as he remembered his dad’s voice.
Gillis never wanted to be a butcher, but after the fiasco in New York, he figured a butcher was a more noble profession than Wall Street banker.
And the year or so they got to work together side by side was worth it, even after his dad sold the butcher shop to cover the legal fees back in New York.
At least they were both free and didn’t owe anything to anyone.
Looking down at the knives Gillis thought You can join him. It will only take a moment.
This time there was no buzz, there was no sting.
It was a lucid thought that somehowe made sense.
Your life is nothing really. No purpose. Why go on?
Gillis looked outside the blinds. The sun was had cut halfway through the horizon at the end of the bayou.
The kids had quieted down. The grills were going. Families were being families.
And here you are, with nothing. Avoided jail in new York only to live in your own prison. No one cares about you. Why should you?
The knives glistened as the rays of an orange sun angled through the blinds and washed over the leather roll.
That one. The big one. It will be quick. Do it!
Gillis tried to keep his thoughts in check. But now the clear thoughts and buzzing ones all flowed into one seamless grind in his head.
No one cares about you. Who are you kidding? This isn’t a life. You’re already dead.
Gillis set his hands on the table in front of the knives as his palms began to sweat. Moving his right hand from left to right over the leather roll, splayed out with all five knives, his hand hovered over the Wüsthof 9″ Hollow-Edge Carving Knife.
That’s the one.
A numbing feeling coursed through his body as his heart began to race. He questioned why he hadn’t done this before. All it would take is a firm thrust in and sweeping motion down and he could rest.
No more swarming thoughts. No more fly on the wall. No more standing in silence while everyone around you lives life.
That’s it, right there.
Gillis took the point of the razor sharp knife and pressed it into his neck about three inches under his right ear and just behind the jawline. With the angle of the blade pointing down toward the table in front of him, all it would take is one thrust.
Don’t wait. No one will ever miss you. They may mourn for a moment, but in a day or two, you’ll be forgotten. But this time, instead of walking around feeling the pain of being forgotten, you will sleep Gillis. Do it!
Gillis gripped the handle of the knife with all his might, tensing his bicep he closed his eyes.
Bham … wham … wham. The pounding on the door just a foot from Gillis’ left ear shook the trailer.
“Gillis? You in there! It’s Bill Freeney.”
Snapping to, Gillis looked at the knife roll and the missing 9” blade. Without moving his head, he saw the butt of the blade near his clinched fist and pulled the knife away from his neck.”
“Yes. Just a moment.”
Startled. Gillis put the knife back in the roll and then flopped one end over onto the other. Still sitting on the bench, he reached over and opened the door to see Bill Freeney and his son Scotty.
“I hope we aren’t disturbing you.”
Still shaken Gillis kept his composure. “No, uh … I was just settling in.”
“Well we didn’t want to bother you. But Jill has fixed more food than we know what to do with and when I went to put the steaks on … the ones we picked up earlier … I noticed we had an extra steak. Have you eaten yet?”
“Great. We want you to come have dinner with the family. Jill told me she wouldn’t take no for an answer. So you better come.”
Gillis looked at Bill and Scotty with a half smile “Thank you very much for the invitation.”
“If you haven’t eaten, ’no’ is not an option, we want you to come.”
“Well fine then. I just need to take care of something before I do anything else. It will only take a minute.”
Gillis watched Bill and Scotty head back to their motor coach. Closing the door and the blinds, he reached for the knife-roll on the table.
This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by Dogwood Daniels…
It was a simple phrase, in the traditional of old school fiction prompts:
The Old Man With A Knife.
These weekly scenes & stories are part of an ongoing project codenamed “Garage Fiction”. Since January 2015, three writers (Jinn Zhong, Dogwood Daniels and Me) have committed to writing a flash fiction or scene each and every week. We post on Fridays and dissect on Tuesdays via podcast.
To read Jinn Zhong’s Garage Fiction-of-the-week, Click Here: XII: Gouda – Hippopotamus
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week, Click Here: Flowers NOTE: “FLOWERS” IS A HIGHLY DISTURBING STORY. READER DISCRETION ADVISED