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Jeff Neugroschel

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The Job
By Jeff Neugroschel
Thursday, December 05, 2002

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His eyes were fixated on the glistening crimson liquid that covered both hands from the tips all the way down to his wrists. The smile that evolved belonged to a little boy engrossed in the childish art of finger painting—although it certainly wasn’t water paint dripping from his hands onto his legs. He proceeded to slap handprints down on the floor before him and giggled semi-nervously each time he lifted his palm from the print. They looked a bit like the hand-traced turkeys he made in Kindergarten around Thanksgiving time, yet they were quite different. He was pretty certain that those Kindergarten turkeys were dressed up with crayons and construction paper, while these were simply naked and composed solely of blood. No longer amused by the artwork that bedecked the hardwood floor, he washed up in the pink bathroom and exited the uptown apartment like an exhilarated youngster filing out of the theater after the latest Star Wars flick.

“Hello, may I please speak to Jack Klingler?” The southern-drawled woman’s voice shot out of the earpiece and stung Jack’s eardrum hard enough to make him wince.


“I’m calling today on behalf of Ameribank because you’ve been pre-approved to receive our Visa Gold card which we’re thrilled to offer with a low introductory rate of 1.9% for purchases and balance transfers. The introductory rate is good for your first six billing cycles and the subsequent rate will only be the prime rate plus 5%. Mr. Klingler, if you accept our exciting offer today, I am authorized to waive the seventy-five dollar annual fee!”

Jack’s face muscles tightened and contorted his already rough features as he removed the receiver from his ear and glared at the earpiece with malevolent black eyes. A sense of calm then washed over him when he realized that these rude interruptions could be dealt with and eliminated quite easily. True, this southern belle had interrupted his favorite TV dinner –Swanson’s turkey and dressing–but he would turn the tables on her and resume his festive meal.

“You do have such a lovely southern voice, ma’am. May I ask where you’re calling from? Is it Georgia? What city, Atlanta?”

“No sir, I’m not even from that part of the country. I don’t know if I--"

“Do you have red hair? For some reason, you sound like a redhead to me. Gosh, I don’t have any idea why you come across as a redhead, but you do. By the way, I don’t even know your name—is it Vanessa by any chance?”

“No. My name isn’t Vanessa. Look sir, I’m just calling you to present you with--"

“Now look, Vanessa. Since you’re not from the south, why don’t we get together for a few drinks here in the city and we can reasonably discuss your offer.”

The click was audible enough to paint a smile upon his face.

Well, I made her go away—like I always do. But in a way, she’s still there inside of me. I’ll have to do something to eradicate her—soon.

He wolfed down the rest of his elegant dinner (after all, it was turkey and stuffing) and caught the New York Post cover in the corner of his eye. He reached over to the kitchen counter where it rested and snatched it onto his dinner table. The Post was a comatose wad of paper, as it lay untouched, only coming to life if one were to cast their eyebeams upon it and wrest the words and pictures off the pages into their consciousness. Since he was a creature of habit, he brought the paper to life every evening after he dined.

The front-page headline shouted at him: NYPD Baffled By String of Murders. He glanced at the gory captioned photo while horizontally shaking his head and tsking. A heavily blood-splattered floor enveloped the tarp-covered corpse. There appeared to be some type of patterns painted around the poor soul. He flipped over to page two so he could check the progress of the case that had enthralled him for the last several weeks. He couldn’t quite comprehend how the NYPD had failed to crack this case since there had been several similarities between the murders: All the victims were murdered by multiple skull crushing blows with a blunt object, then were repeatedly stabbed in the mouth and ears. The article proceeded to quote the detective that was heading the investigation. Detective McCollaugh indicated that there was no known connection between the victims. He surmised that these were random murders perpetrated by a seriously ill individual, and all citizens of New York should take necessary precautions. He also acknowledged that the NYPD had a handle on the identity of the murder weapon, but was not at liberty to divulge this information.

Jack ridiculed the hollow words shining up at him from the Post. How ignorant could they be? The same method of life snuffing was utilized and the same murder tool, yet there was no connection between the victims? How moronic could they be? Random victims, my ass! Perhaps Detective McCollaugh was not a worthy adversary for the so-called psychopath who plagued the city.

The rest of the evening was quite typical for Jack. He meticulously scrubbed the kitchen table to ensure that not a speck of turkey or dressing lingered, wiping even the table legs just in case something splattered down below. The inside of the microwave was swabbed with paper towels to absorb the moisture the Swanson’s dinner produced. Each chair was repositioned (even though only one had been moved in the last two years) and aligned perfectly with the oval table’s dining positions.

There, it’s perfect. Yes, quite perfect. Just like Momma always said, “Jack, cleanliness is next to godliness.” His father had often countered with, “Cleanliness is next to insanity.”

The thought of his jackass father brought blood into his thirty-seven year old face. His upper lip arched to a snarl while his fists clenched up like pudgy rocks. Jack’s father was the poison that flowed through the Klingler household for way too long. The burning visions of his black and blue mother lying on the bed would be etched upon his soul for as long as he walked this earth.

He snapped out of his angry trance by thinking that this is what his father would want—to torment his memory by giving him the satisfaction of being remembered. The elder Klingler was gone and Jack couldn’t be happier about it. He truly hoped that his father was rotting in hell.

Settling into his favorite lounger in the living room, he grabbed the remote and clicked the power button to bring the world into his apartment. He could count his life’s exposure to the outside world on a single hand: Trips to the grocery store (for Swanson’s and The Post); watching TV; reading the New York Post; bank trips to cash his unemployment checks; The Job.

The Job. Bright sunshine radiated from his face as a proud smile stretched his lips wide and bulged his eyes. The expression caused him to resemble a bizarre circus clown, the kind that caused many a nightmare among children. He knew that he was meant for The Job. It was the reason he worked out religiously in the confines of his apartment. He endlessly cycled on the stationary bike and had lifted several thousand pounds over the course of the past two years. It didn’t pay financially—only emotionally. He reasoned that he performed an incredibly necessary public service and that his Momma would be proud.

Jack eventually floated into dreamland soothed by the notion that The Job made him quite an anomalous being. One had to step out of line to accomplish the heady goals of The Job.

The dreams exasperated him to the point where his slumbering psyche took physical action that resulted in the shredding of his jersey bed sheets. He had dug his fingernails deeply into the plain whitish sheets and slashed downward. The subject of his nightmare was a medium built woman that was clad in a minuscule black dress, adorned with silver and turquoise jewelry, and stood tall on pointed black heels. Her hair was orange-red. The fact that Vanessa was not only a telemarketing scum-sucker, but also a voracious slut, further infuriated him. His momma would never approve of Vanessa for she was a despicable excuse for a person—one that whored herself to the act of incessantly entering unsuspecting people’s homes to entice them out of their hard-earned money. Vanessa was more than willing to devour your credit card without even showing her face—she was only a voice. No, Momma would never condone Vanessa’s persona nor her physical appearance.

Jack awoke to the full-mooned night and speculated upon the significance of his latest nightmare and sheet-tearing session. This wasn’t the first of such awakenings, but it caused him to press his palms against his eyes and squeeze his temples until his fingers whitened. There were always strangers in his night visions—sometimes men, sometimes women. The only bond between the participants was that they were people who incensed him for some reason. The reason for his rage always slipped away from his wakened consciousness like a boy trying to grasp a pond-slimed green toad in his hands. He released the grip on his skull and settled back down to a dreamless sleep.

The sun crept into Jack’s bedroom through the blind slats of his seventh floor window. The early morning sunshine was enough to bring him back from what amounted to a restless night’s sleep. Nevertheless, he emerged from his bed with great vigor, anxious to commence the day. The butterflies in his gut emerged, but that was standard for days when he was going to do The Job.

After a quick shower, he dressed in a black T-shirt and jeans, which he considered his uniform. He headed to the kitchen, threw two slices of whole wheat in the toaster, and ensconced himself by the counter until they popped up. He ate them dry and chugged down a glass of OJ.

Jack knelt down before the end table in his living room and withdrew the special leather case from the lower drawer, careful not to scratch the exquisite black leather. The case was actually a satchel he found in Momma’s bedroom after she had passed on. It became very special to him.

The ritual of packing the necessary tools made him feel like Batman preparing to do battle with the forces of evil. The black satchel was his utility belt. However, it contained only two items: His portable phone and a five-inch stiletto knife.

Jack left his apartment to do The Job.

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Reviewed by Joyce Scarbrough 3/19/2003
Great story full of vivid imagery and insight into the mind of the killer. I'm a big King fan also and I'm sure Steve-O would approve of this effort. (Don't tell him I called him that. He hates it.)
This is fine writing, congratulations!
Reviewed by Eva T, 3/14/2003
Immediately caught my interest. Could really relate to the analogies.
Reviewed by Randy 12/17/2002
good read Whendid you learn to read and write? Are you working on The life and times Of Jerry G.. Can we get an autographed copy of book, any signings?
Reviewed by Aunt Carolyn 12/16/2002
It ended too soon, I wanted to see how the creeps mind worked, Good show for CSI. Liked it!
Reviewed by Tom 12/13/2002
Well done. Creates suspense and an aura of apprehension.
Reviewed by Barbara E. 12/11/2002
Really good! I've just been reading too many of Danielle Steel's books lately. I needed a "wake up" and it did it!!
Reviewed by Bill 12/10/2002
Jeff, great story. I didn't know they let you out of the hospital. Did they let you out or...?
Call me.
Your brother.
Reviewed by Sherry Gibson 12/8/2002
Always enjoy a good psychological thriller and this was very interesting and kept my attention!

Fellow P/A author,
Only a Game
Reviewed by Ken Sturgis 12/7/2002
Cool Story. Like .... uh.. you know dude...
Reviewed by Henry Custer 12/6/2002
GREAT story Jeff! Nice grabber and continuing suspense...
Reviewed by erin 12/6/2002
Great story. Kept me thinking the whole time even after I was finished. I was forced to tie it all together only after I was done reading. Can't wait for another!
Reviewed by carla 12/6/2002
Cool story...well written, creative concept.
Reviewed by Melody Ravert 12/6/2002
Wonderful description knitted into an eerie web of terror. Jack seems to be the kind you don't want to be caught in any kind of confrontation.
Reviewed by barbara 12/5/2002
An exciting and suspencful short story well thought out.
Reviewed by melissa 12/5/2002
Very well written!! I guess that guy just hates telemarketers!! LOL...but who doesn't.

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