Sunday, 8 April 2012

NoHo Noir: Take the Bunny and Run

Illustration by Mark Satchwill
By Katherine Tomlinson
Illustrated by Mark Satchwill

Rob Nolan didn’t like any of his teachers but he hated Adam Chu the most. He’d had the biology teacher freshman year and although he was now in P-Chem and would never take a class from him again, Rob was stuck in his home room. It seemed like Chu was always watching him with those slanted eyes, watching and waiting.
They’d clashed early in the semester when Rob had confronted the teacher about the constant surveillance.
“You like what you see Adam?” Rob had taunted, running a hand down his skinny chest seductively.
“I’m a biologist,” Chu had replied without heat, “I’m interested in mutated life forms.”
Some of the kids had laughed at that until Rob had looked at them.
That’s all it usually took. One look. And if that wasn’t enough, he could always sic Poo on them.
Poo liked hurting people.
Rob had thought about reporting the teacher to the principal—Wayne Richtman was a raging racist and homophobe and that made Chu a double target—but he had decided he wanted to deal with the teacher himself.
He’d put quite a bit of thought into what he might do and a lot of preparation as well. Rob had read about a guy who’d been blown up by terrorists who’d planted explosives under a floor years before their victim ever set foot in the room. He admired that kind of advance planning.
So he’d been keeping his head down, biding his time, lulling the biology teacher into a sense of complacency.

“Everyone have a good spring break,” Chu had said when the bell for first period had rung the previous Monday.
‘You too,” Rob had said cheerfully as he’d headed out to math class. It was a self-indulgent thing to do but it felt so good that Rob risked it anyway. Consider it a warning, he’d thought as he gave Chu the innocent, puppy-eyes look he used on his mother.
Chu had not been fooled. What are you up to you little freak? he wondered.
The various animals that lived in the biology lab stayed in the school over the short vacations. The janitor, a ‘tard everyone was supposed to call “Mr. Wisnicki” took care of them in return for a little extra cash. Mr. Wisnicki loved the animals and would sometimes come into the room in the mornings to say hello to them. He had his own pet names for them, “Maisie” for the corn snake, “Mr. Cheepie” for the guinea pig. He called the rabbit “Bun-Bun.”
Bun-Bun was Mr. Wisnicki’s favorite. Whenever Rob saw the man and the rabbit together, he always thought about a Steinbeck novella he’d read in honors English.
“Hey Mr, Chu,” he’d asked one day when Mr. Wisnicki was petting the rabbit, “you ever read Of Mice and Men?”
Adam Chu had glanced at the janitor and Rob could see he’d made the connection between “the Wiz” and the hulking simpleton in the book who’d accidentally killed his puppy by loving it too hard.
“Shut up Rob,” Chu had said.
Rob had just smiled.
Rob had stolen keys to the school the second day of his freshman year. It had been easy enough with Poo providing a distraction and he’d had them copied and back in Richtman’s desk before the principal had even known they were gone. Richtman was the kind of adult who always underestimated kids; even kids he knew were smart.
Rob knew how the principal thought and he had a pretty good idea of how he was going to react to Rob’s actions. He wouldn’t look toward the students for blame, he’d look at the janitor.
Richtman was just too predictable.
I have an educated guess, he thought to himself, mimicking one of the principal’s favorite lines. And an educated guess is better than a guess made out of ignorance. He unlocked the back door of the gym and slipped inside.
He moved through the hallways as quiet as a malevolent ghost and stopped in front of the biology lab. He didn’t have to fumble for the right key—he’d separated it from the rest with a dab of his mother’s favorite nail polish.
The animals stirred as he entered. They were all socialized and eager for pets and treats.
He unlatched Bun-Bun’s cage and pulled her out gently.
Her fur was very soft, much softer than the kitten he’d killed as a dress rehearsal.
Rob had thought a lot about how to kill the rabbit.
He would have preferred to slit her throat. Ever since he and Poo had found the bloody corpse of the dead homeless guy he’d been thinking about how it would feel to have hot blood painting his skin.
The guy had still been spurting when he and Poo had found him in the vacant lot. Poo had been a little freaked out by the corpse but Rob had hunkered down to examine it, looking right into its dead eyes. He’d put his hands in the guy’s blood, letting them get as sticky as if he’d just jerked off into them.
He smiled at the memory.
The stuck-up cunt of a cop had thought Rob was the killer. Playing her had been fun, the kind of game he liked best of all.
Blood would have been nice, but he needed something a bit more subtle here.
He stroked the bunny’s ears. They were warm.
He closed his hands around Bun-Bun’s neck. He could feel her pulse in her throat.
Her heart’s beating like a rabbit, Rob thought, and laughed. The bunny struggled under his hands, slashing out with her back paws.
One of her claws caught bare skin.
“Shit!” he yelled out loud and threw her onto the floor.
There was a sickening crack.
Bun-Bun convulsed and then died.
Stupid rabbit, Rob thought as he licked the blood from his hand. He would need to put Neosporin on it when he got home.
He picked the rabbit’s body off the floor and put it back in the cage.
There was no outward sign of violence, no immediate clue to the reasons for Bun-Bun’s demise.
Rob knew Chu would open the cage to check, though, and he then he would feel the broken bones grating beneath the bunny’s cold skin.
And when Mr. Wisnicki came into the classroom to say hello to the animals, Chu would look at the janitor and wonder.
Rob looked forward to that.
He was in a good mood as he headed home.
He found his mother chatting in the yard with their next door neighbor as she rolled her baby son’s stroller back and forth.
Rob peeked into the stroller at the neighbor’s baby.
He wasn’t much bigger than a rabbit.

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