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Ed Tasca

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Autobiography of a Worm
by Ed Tasca   

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Books by Ed Tasca
· Lub Dub
· The Fables of Leonardo da Vinci -- Best seller
· Return of the Lost Horses
· God's Creatures... or Darwin's
· The Fishing Trip That Got Away
                >> View all

Category: 

Literary Fiction

Publisher:  Eternal Press ISBN-10:  B003B66DXS

Copyright:  March 10 2010 ISBN-13:  9781770650527

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A mystery story turned upside down, the killer tells you in the opening pages that he has killed, and then recounts his tale, teasing with potential victims, all people who love and befriend him.

Autobiography of a Worm

106

might be sniggering behind her at her lies.

The waiter arrived with the bottle of Barolo and opened it. As he

filled our glasses, Brad and Franny showed up. Brad walked in first,

Franny a few steps behind him. Susan snapped to her feet and couldn’t

take her eyes off Franny, the rival she met for the first time.

“Oh, hello. I’m Franny,” Franny said to Susan with a spastic

handshake. Franny was pretty, but a little mannish in her manner with

other women. Her voice often became loud, and she talked compulsively

long after you stopped listening to her.

Susan smiled at Franny and said, “I’m pleased to meet you. I’m

Susan.”

Franny then turned to me. “Ronnie, she’s so beautiful.”

I nodded that she was. A hollow silence followed as Susan fixed on

me for an opening comment. I had none. The hypocrisy felt thick and

suffocating. I filled the silence anyway. “Susan, this is Brad, a friend of

mine,” I said, trying to sound cordial. Susan acknowledged Brad, but he

couldn’t look his ex-girlfriend in the eye. “And his wife, Franny,” I

added. Both women giggled nervously that they’d already introduced

themselves.

Brad sat next to me to my right directly across from Susan, so he

wouldn’t be next to her, leaving Franny to squeeze awkwardly behind

him to the seat to Susan’s left and directly across from me. As everyone

settled into their safest corners, I spoke again, “Susan works for a

hospital.”

“I’m the admissions manager,” Susan clarified. “They call it ‘Intake.’”

We all found our way into the menu, with a few muttered comments

about how good the food was reputed to be at Generio’s. Around the

table, a stodgy politeness buttoned us all up as we discussed some of the

options. Except for Franny. She’d come for a good time, and she was

going to have it, even if it meant creating it herself. Susan started it off.

She mentioned her biggest screw-up at the hospital. She once had a

headache at work at the hospital and sneaked off to one of the empty

bedrooms to close her eyes for a few minutes only to fall asleep for two

hours. During that time, a line up of people tried to enter and leave the

hospital, but couldn’t.

Franny picked up the cue from there. “Do you have any idea what he

does to get to sleep?” Franny asked, referring to her husband. Within

minutes, Franny was amusing Susan with characterizations of Brad.

Brad still couldn’t bring himself to face Susan, so he aimed all his

reactions at me. I ignored him while I pretended to follow Franny’s

Ed Tasca

107

every funny word. Brad watched me alone throughout, in the hopes I

would try to change the subject. One who didn’t know the situation

might have thought Brad’s behavior toward Susan to be rude.

At one point, Brad looked at me and said,. “Churchill, the office line

is that you’ve retired…nobody knows where you are. They call me. I tell

them you’re doing research…they say, on what? I say, pussy. What

else.”

I ignored the crack, and the women’s cackling just nosed Brad out.

“First, there’s the snack.” Franny chided about Brad’s attempts to fall

asleep. “Someone told him he’d sleep better after having a peanut butter

sandwich and some milk. So every night...that’s right, every night, out

comes the peanut butter and the bread. Then comes the sleeping pill.

Then... then...he gets into this old sweatshirt with the number 13 on it.

Has to be this sweatshirt! Nothing else will do.”

Susan goaded Franny on for more with her ready laughs at every

revelation. “It’s his Dan Marino sweatshirt and the only thing he can

sleep in.” The women’s laughter blustered like crosswinds. “That’s every

night! And he won’t let me wash it, except maybe once a month. It’ll get

worn out!”

Susan now wanted to hug Brad for providing the table with such

great entertainment. Brad maintained his remoteness and had now

turned his focus on his wine. Franny continued. “Then...then, he turns on

the stereo and we listen to...what’s it called...Sounds of Nature. You

know, birds singing, crickets, a river current...stuff like that. Now,

remember, I’m already in bed. Probably asleep. Until I smell the peanut

butter!” Susan laughed uncontrollably. She met only embarrassed shrugs

when she turned to Brad for confirmation.

“All right. Ha, ha.” Brad looked for a little sympathy. There was

none.

“Wait, we’re not done yet,” Franny insisted. “Then he gets into bed,

and he has to have two pillows, but they have to be set just right. One

pillow has to be folded in half on top of the other pillow for his head to

be at just the right angle, because he read somewhere that that will create

the right position for his vertebrae!”

Susan reeled with laughter.

“I’m up now,” Franny continued. “I can feel him tossing around to

get the right pillow combination.”

“The blindfold, right?” Brad tried to sabotage his wife’s monologue

by jumping ahead, but it failed.

Franny went on. “Wait! There’s more. He puts on a blindfold!”

This is a compelling story about a man suffering from depression and repressed rage, leading him to a strange and psychotic climax.

 

105

 

Except:

The following week, late in November, Susan called me at work. She

asked me to come and pick her up at Phoenixville Hospital for a short

“lunch” at her place. We drove to her place in about ten minutes. I felt

curious about the occasion. Susan stripped off her blue suit jacket in a

hurry and dragged me into her bedroom. I still hadn’t spoken. She tried

to rush, but I slowed her down. I decided I wanted to unbutton every

button slowly, remove every garment patiently and indulgently,

something I’d missed doing over the last two weeks. Susan’s eyes

remained wide while she kissed me everywhere. My body remembered

each kiss for a long time.

Susan finally opened her eyes and rolled her head my way,

interrupting my serenity. “Do you ever wonder what it’s like for a

woman?” she asked me. “You know, when we make love?”

I could’ve made up an answer that she would have liked. But lovemaking

made me stubbornly honest. “No,” I said.

“Men...you’re so self-centered. You have no curiosity about what it’s

like to be a woman? What we experience. What we feel. Women are

always wondering about men and what you feel.”

I didn’t reply. I was comparing Susan to Allison.

“Do you want to know what it’s like?” she asked me again.

I came wearily to a sitting position on the side of the bed cradling my

head in my hands. Susan crawled up behind me and began stroking my

back teasingly with her finger tips.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

“What’s this ‘afternoon delight’ all about?” I wondered where Brad

Shorter was in her thoughts? Was he a filmy memory she shrugged off

and forgot? Or had he burrowed so deep into her soul that she never

forgot him? The answer to all I wondered about crashed in on me with

Susan’s next remark.

“You’re never going to guess what!”

I could and did. I knew what she was going to say before she said it. I

sensed it from the moment I saw her. Susan continued, “Brad made

reservations for us to go out, the four of us! Genario’s.” She scrutinized

my face for honesty. “Well?” she probed.

“I’ll go. I said I’d go,” I said. I wasn’t pleasant about it.

“We don’t have to go,” she insisted, dishonestly.

“Yes, we do,” I said. “Or he’ll badger you until you do.”

“I think he’s afraid to ask you.”

“Maybe,” I said. I knew that wasn’t the reason he didn’t ask me. Brad

  Brad wanted to see what kind of reaction he’d get from Susan. That was it,

plain and simple. He was investigating whether she still wanted to see

him. For me, I just wanted to get Brad’s crazy idea of a date behind us. It

also gave me a sense of how attached Susan was to Brad now that I was

in her life. I liked Susan enough to let her make this gradual withdrawal,

because she was good for me. She made me feel good about myself and

good about us. This would definitely be the only time I’d agree to a

double date with Brad and Franny.

****

I arrived at Susan’s early and she let me watch her dress. I don’t

know what she’d done to her face, but she looked special and new. She

wore a tight-fitting, peach-fuzz Kashmir sweater, large circular gold

earrings an inch and half in diameter with a tiny, veil-dancing Erto

figurine pirouetting along the inside perimeter. Her hair too was newly

shaped, layered and short. She also wore a pair of high-sheen leather

pants and exquisite peach suede shoes. All special. The theme for the

evening, ‘I’m special. Don’t dare forget me.’ I was pissed off already.

During the time it took to drive to the restaurant, a small Italian place

featuring northern Italian food, Susan tried to joke about the evening,

but I wasn’t in the mood. I felt Susan tamping down her nervous

excitement, and I wanted to ask her to shut up or take a pill or

something, because she was too happy. When we arrived at the

restaurant, she sat down adjacent to me at the table selected for us by the

restaurant owner. Brad and Franny hadn’t arrived yet. A violinist

strolled among the tables of the small, elegant restaurant, playing Italian

arias and smiling a gentle, earthy smile that made the playing all the

more seductive. Susan couldn’t wait to request a bottle of wine. She

ordered a Barolo, even before I looked at the wine list. The waiter hardly

noticed me from that moment on because he figured the lady was the

boss, and I deserved only an off-handed obsequious smile.

I stared at Susan until she became uncomfortable enough to speak her

first words to me since we arrived. “You don’t mind the Barolo, do

you?” I shook my head, she smiled at me. “It’s just another night out,”

she said. “Let’s just enjoy it.”

I nodded. Susan continued with her feigned disbelief. “Brad, I don’t

know where he gets these ideas. Double dating with his old girlfriend!”

Susan let a napkin settle onto her lap. She became more and more

nervous in anticipation, looking about skittishly as though strangers


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