Edipus Archer was one strange mother fucker. For one thing. he wore his hair slicked back and divided down the middle. It made him look like Alfalfa, the freckled face kid on the Little Rascals. Eddie also wore coke bottle lenses in his black rimmed glasses. He projected the image of appearing to be legally blind, yet moved around his little corner of the universe with all the dexterity of Rudolf Nureyev.
He also read voraciously and this might have accounted somewhat for the thickness of the lenses. Three of the four walls of second story bedroom were made up of floor to ceiling book cases crammed full of books, and not just any books like the ones that filled his mom's bookcase in her bedroom one floor below his. She was obsessed with Catherine Cookson's novels. He preferred reading serious books by serious people like Carl Jung, Rollo May, Victor Frankl, Nietzsche, Tolstoy, and Kierkegaard. And he really read them too. Every book in his bookcases was high lighted and underlined so that he could quickly find his favorite passages
He kept his current favorites on a coffee table by his big blue reading chair. He also kept his pet fish Lazarus in a fish bowl placed in the middle of the table. The reading chair sat facing the window that looked out over the tree lined street in front of his mother's house.
The window was the size of two normal sized windows and was located in the one wall of the room that did not contain a bookshelf. The window also overlooked the Cyrano de Bergerac Middle School across the street. Eddie had taught Eight grade Language Arts there for fifteen years.
He felt that he would have still been teaching her if it hadn't been for the complaints from one Thelema Newhouse Crowley, the grossly overweight and fatally over-opinionated, single mother of Aliyah Newhouse. Eddy liked Aliyah, but hated her mother.
She had complained to the school board about one of his lessons. After the class finished reading the young adult novel Old Yeller every year, Edipus would focus on the final chapter of the book having his kids draw the scene in which the 14 year old main character Travis Coates shot the heroic dog which had contracted a fatal case of hydrophobia.
They would post the pictures on the wall and then break down into groups and reenact the funeral scene from the book where the dog is buried and Travis's absent father, just returned from a cattle drive, explains to his son about the meaning of life and death.
Mr. Coates said something about how life kicks your repeatedly in the nuts and when you bow down to clutch your testicles, it would then kick you in the teeth for good measure. The father went on to explain that it wasn't right to dwell on the nut kicking when you weren't being kicked because that would make Life all about the nut kicking and not let you enjoy the good parts of life like sex and the results of hard work. The book actually didn't say anything about sex, but Travis's scrawny blonde girl friend was there, and he had just given her an arrowhead that he had found, so the readers were free to draw their own assumptions.
Thelema Newhouse Crowley didn't think the lesson was very appropriate for the age group and felt that Edipus was, like I said at the beginning, one strange motherfucker. In which case, she was certainly correct. She was however absolutely wrong about the lesson in question. Eddie was strange, most of us are if you really think about it, but he was absolutely brilliant when it came to reducing the most important lessons of Western literature into language that junior high kids could understand. He felt that the lesson at the graveside reduced the great question of life down to a manageable sound bite. It was a simple but effective way of projecting the central idea of an existentialist view point.
Eddie did not believe in God, or so he said, but that didn't keep God from making him feel guilty.
Even the weirdness of his lessons worked to his advantage in this regard. They were so strange that the kids could not help but pay attention, and by the time they figured out that they'd been snookered into paying attention, they had already learned what he'd set out to teach them.
The school board didn't fire him, but they tried to tie his hands and make him teach lessons from a book "of nothingness". He could not take the restrictions and melted down in the middle of a Wednesday meeting, screaming at the administrators of the school telling them that none of them knew shit about education but were too dumb to know it.
He accused them all of being blatherers, or people who never said anything worth saying. Which was, for all intensive purposes, very true, but he shouldn't have said it out loud in front of people trying to hold on to their jobs. He saved them the job of firing him by going on sick leave. He told the few friends that he had that he was really sick, sick of working for blathering idiots.
The strangest thing about Edipus Archer was that he believed he could pick out serial killers by observing them in their natural habitat, which as we all know, is stalking their prey out in the smack dab middle of society.
I shit you not. You can't make this stuff up. I believe that God has some seriously flawed individuals creating these little scenarios on his payroll. They snort of a lot of cocaine, trade shots of blended liquor, then pick somebody's name out of a phone book, spin a roulette wheel that point to crazy actions, and then they pull cards that indicate where the action should take place.
Then they run it by a target audience. If the audience laughs or smiles, or just acts like they get it, the story is written up nice and fancy in form of a script and then it goes to the directors who set the whole thing in motion. When Shakespeare said that all the world's a stage and everybody on earth is a player, well, I think he was in on the secret.
Eddie, like I said, seriously believed that he could sniff out serial killers just by observing them unnoticed. He got this unusual idea by watching mystery movies and television crime shows. It never took him more than a few minutes of watching a story before he could figure out who the culprit of the story was. Eddie never had a father around to tell him different, so he naturally assumed that this talent could be transferred from the big or small screen to reel, I mean real life. Sorry.
He would take care of his mom's needs in the morning, but then would go out wandering the city looking for serial killers after the caretaker/cleaning lady came to relieve him at precisely 12:01 Monday through Friday. The caretaker, a middle aged Filipina named Carla, annoyed him. She mispronounced the names of all the authors of his favorite books. It made it hard for him to talk to her.
Just the night before, he sat at a bar in a well known place in Fresno and listened to an elderly man tell his story to a pretty brunette bartender. The guy looked retired but apparently had gotten a gig pouring drinks at university functions. This made Eddie suspicious right away. Serial killers like to get right up close to people, to be able to observe them and see how they act in certain situations. The man told the bar tender that he had watched a drunk young woman fighting with her drunk young boy friend. Eddie placed another checkmark by an item in the mental list that he was keeping.
The elderly man poured his story out for several minutes never giving the bartender lady the ability to get a word in edgewise. She finally walked away to place his meal order and fix his drink.
"In the first place, she's way too young for you."
"What?" the man replied surprised.
"The bartender, she's way too young for you."
"Gina? Hold on; it's nothing like that. I used to work here. We're friends. Not that it is any of your business."
Eddie didn't really listen to the man's reply. He just barged on. "And then you talked nonstop for over twenty minutes. Young ladies like that don't want to listen to an old man's problems. What they want is for someone to listen to theirs." As he finished, he held up a finger to order another Scotch and water.
This made the man angry, but there was just enough truth in what Eddie had said that it also embarrassed him somewhat, so he felt the need to explain himself. " I usually listen a lot more. With Gina, we take turns. I think I helped her more with her problems than her own therapist. At least, that's what she told me."
He looked at Eddie to see if any of it got through. Eddie just gave him an all knowing look and raised his drink. "Whatever floats your boat, Motherfucker."
The old man flew out off the bar stool enraged, his outstretched hands reaching for Eddie's neck. Eddie just stepped aside and watched as the old man went flying by ending up in a sprawl on the barroom floor. Everybody was stunned by the would-be fracas, and they quit talking and put down their drinks to take it in. When it was apparent that there wasn't going to be a fight, they began talking again and picked up their drinks.
The old man was getting to his feet, dusting himself off, and trying to get back some dignity. He kept muttering to himself about Eddie being several kinds of a motherfucker. Eddie didn't care because he wasn't there. Soon as the old man had missed and hit the floor, Eddie tossed down the Scotch, put twenty-five dollars on the bar and casually walked out of the bar.
He didn't leave the bar area just the barroom. He wasn't done with the old man yet. He ducked down outside in the darkness near the parking lot. What was kind of strange was that Eddie really knew deep down in his heart that there were at least two other men in the bar who projected more of a serial killer vibe than the old man. They were both younger and stronger, and he knew that that fact would present problems.
An hour later, the man walked out of the bar and stopped and lit a cigarette. Eddie patiently waited until the man came into the shadowy area between the bar and the parking lot before pouncing.
Eddie kicked the old man hard in the testicles before the man even knew Eddie was there. The old man crumbled over into a ball on the sidewalk, and Eddie kept kicking him. "You are a real killer, aren't you? I could tell by the way that you were eyeing that girl searching for a weakness. Well, she'll be one victim you never touch!"
The man was mumbling something in his confusion, but Eddie kept kicking him hard. "You are a sorry waste of humanity aren't you. I've seen a piles of dog shit with more value than your sorry old ass."
And he kept on kicking. Finally, he reached down and grabbed the man by the hair and pulled his bloodied face towards him, "You are the Fresno Flash Killer aren't you? Admit it before I kick your ass to death." Eddie knew the man couldn't be the Fresno Flash Killer because he just made the name up on the spur of the moment.
The door to the bar suddenly opened and Eddie could hear a woman's laughter. He quickly dropped the man's head and sprinted toward his car which was parked in the parking lot of a restaurant next door. However, he didn't see the speed bump in the road; he fell so hard he didn't have time to fully use his hands to break the fall. He slowly crawled back up and noticed that his knee was scraped and bleeding, and there was a big hole in the knee of his brand new blue suit. He then felt his front teeth and one was very loose. The gravel had scraped the palms of both his hands bloody.
He barged into the doorway of his mom's house and hour later. The lights in the living room were still on. His mother called out something from behind her bedroom door, but Eddie totally ignored it and stumbled upstairs.
He went into his bathroom and turned on the bright lights that surrounded his large bathroom mirror. He stared at his reflection for several seconds then held his open palms aloft and weirdly smiled at the abrasions. Next, he bared his teeth and jiggled the loose one, once again flashing a strange smile.
Then he got undressed, dropped his pants to the floor and hung the newly purchased dark blue dress shirt, now wrinkled and stained with drops of blood, from the doorknob of the door. He got completely naked and then posed again with arms outstretched and palms exposed.
Finally, he reached up and pulled the blonde wig from off his head and tossed it on the counter by the sink. He then stripped off the fake mustache and the bushy blonde eyebrows pulling them off slowly one at a time.
He posed again. This time asking the reflection. "Nasty boy, you are a real killer aren't you?"
His reflection waited a few seconds before asking a question of its own, "How in the world did you know?"
They stared at each other for several more seconds before his reflection added, "At least, I'm not the one being kicked in the nuts, Daddy-O. My testicles are totally unscathed."
"Is that so?" A voice called down from the attic.