You’re in line at the butcher trying to buy the last goat leg, waiting out the rain, and the man ahead of you is talking about crown roasts. He asks the butcher, Should I buy those little paper caps for the bones? Or should I just use tin foil. The presentation is important—this is a meal for a very special woman—but I don’t know which is better, the bones or the little paper caps.
He’s a professor-type, a tweed jacket with patches on the elbows, glasses, in need of a barber—like he got the job and bought the outfit to match. You can see the tan line from the wedding ring he isn’t wearing. He looks back to see if anyone is in line, if anyone is watching him, listening to him as he discusses the meal he is going to cook and when he sees you, his gaze makes your stomach explode in shame and you break eye contact, looking down to the paper cutout of a uterus he has pinned to his lapel.
He reminds you of your father.
You say, jumping into the discussion, The paper caps haven’t been cool since the 50s.
The butcher nods in agreement, folding his arms across his chest.
The professor-type says, So it’s vintage then?
And you think about the curry sauce your boyfriend, Hector, said he would make and the professor-type is still looking at you like he expects an answer. So you mutter, I guess, and look into the cooler at the ground turkey and the Boston butt and anything that isn’t the professor-type.
From the corner of your eye you see the professor-type grin and turn to the butcher, saying, Maybe the goat leg instead, like he knew.
You walk out into the rain.
At the light on Henderson, a car drives too close to a puddle and sends a tidal wave over you, soaking you from head to toe. You look up, looking into the car’s driver, looking at their glasses and overgrown hair. The professor-type looks back at you, grins, gives a half shrug, and goes through the red light. You decide something has to be done about him.
You decide to kill him.
At home, you tell Hector that you have to hunt down the professor-type and kill him, tell him about the goat leg, tell him about the paper uterus. And Hector says, Oh. He says, That’s my poetry professor.
Hector, you see, has been taking poetry classes.
He wanted to write you love letters.
The professor has, in the past, invited students to his home. Mostly the female students so he can sit too close to them, so he can recite poems into their ears. But sometimes the male students get invited by virtue of proximity. Hector didn’t like how the professor stood so close to his students.
Hector says, We can cut his breaks.
Bigger, you say.
We can burn his house down?
Hector kisses you and looks into your eyes. A bomb, he says. And you smile. Yes. That. That’ll do.
You and Hector spend the next week buying ammonium nitrate and gunpowder and diesel and remote strikers. You pack it all into packages and buy gaffers tape. You study the professor’s routine, watching him when he goes to work, when he goes home, who he goes home with. You see a moving truck parked out front one day, a woman, her arms folded like the butcher, directing movers with nods and head shakes. You decide to do it the next day.
At night, you and Hector strap four of the bomb packages underneath the car and wait in the bushes outside the house across the street. You only doze off once or twice waiting for the professor, who waddles out of his house the next morning. You swear you see him grin at you, just for a second, as you peek from the bushes, the switch for the bombs in your hand. He puts the car in reverse and as soon as you see the white lights turn on, you and Hector look at each other and press the button on the igniter at the same time. And you brace, brace against the bushes and Hector, excited for that dirtbag professor to meet an end that will be right and true, brace against the brief pang of doubt in your heart, brace against the noise you expect to rip through the neighborhood.
The moment you hit the switch, a bomb placed somewhere near you goes off, sending you and Hector’s body parts flying. And as your heads tumble into the street, you hear the professor laughing. You see him give you a half shrug in his rearview mirror.