by a contributor
When you’re in the market for a nemesis, it’s best to shop around. I found mine on Craigslist, though I didn’t learn his real name until Sunday’s obit section. It was only one lie among many. I can’t believe he’s dead now, even though I paid him to hate him. No, that’s not it. I paid him to pretend to hate me.
We had agreed to meet at Beard Papa’s – his choice – a Japanese owned cream puffery – his words – near the Financial District where I work. I follow the Nikkei 225, so I’m off at two, which is too early for happy hour, not that I drink anymore. From his resume, I expected Mr. Wizard’s evil twin, all twisted and handy with a two-liter bottle of baking soda. Bombproof. Flinty. The very opposite of me.
I figured $500 up front would do it, if he – not she, my wife, the wrong idea – would sabotage me lightly for six months. The day before we met, I emailed Thunder: nothing violent, just shred the Sunday paper if I don’t get up early enough. Bump into me at Trader Joe’s and unleash a Kubrick glare and yell “We meet again, Mr. Goulash” as we grapple over the last box of Hearty-O’s! That kind of thing.
When I walked into Beard Papa’s, it was empty save one. I joined Thunder at his table; he said nothing, just laughed and slid a trio of cream puffs towards me. He was baby-faced like a theater kid gone to seed, and had a laugh like a jackal, if jackals could laugh. Expecting the worst, I went for pistachio. Nothing had happened yet, and it was already delicious.
Joel Smith edits fiction for Spork Press out of Tucson, where he teaches writing at the University of Arizona. He has recent work in Wigleaf, Red Lightbulbs, and Cutthroat.