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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer

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Draft 4 of the motel bar story

I realized last night that the most recent draft of this story that I had posted was not the most current. The most current draft is changed mainly only in small details, but it is most likely the one I'll use when I enter some of these writing contests this fall. Unless I have time to expand this one into a slightly longer version, or else finish working up one of the other half-dozen stories I've begun.

One inconsequential detail I'd like to change is the name of the candy bar, actually. I'm open to suggestions for a realistic brand name that doesn't currently exist on the market. Other things I've been toying with in this story have to do with the tone of the narrative and the level of psychopathology that I reveal in the narrator. I first conceived this story as a mini-mystery that didn't delve deeply into those details, but I klnow that this current draft reveals more pathology than earlier ones if not in any other way than the tone.

Killing appears to have come naturally to me. My first murder, if you could call it that, was executed without preparation. When I left the house that afternoon, I didn't know that I would end up killing someone so dispassionately by the end of the night. But when I returned to the house early the next morning, I wore my regular personality like a comfortable shirt. I spent the morning with my wife and our only son uneventfully: made them each their favourite breakfasts, sent them off to work and to school with their lunch bags. I even made love to my wife the next night to prove to myself that I could act normally after taking someone's life. Once the days turned into weeks without her suspecting that anything was different about me, I realized that I was prepared to do it again. And again, and again, and again. Like a good scotch, it's hard to stop at just one.

To be honest, what I do is practically a public service. I don't kill anyone who isn't already on the road to killing someone else at some point. These jerks seem incapable of preventing their actions ahead of time, so I figure I need to do a pre-emptive defense strike, like what we did in Iraq. I need to do my part to remove these guys from circulation before they do some real harm to somebody innocent.

I own a bar on a secondary road near the airport. I haven't had it for too long. It used to be part of a motel that catered to motorists passing through, but after they built a four-lane express highway that bypasses this road, the motel was foreclosed and I bought the place for a song. I had long been itching for a change of pace, unable to do much else after what happened in the past two years. The bar became a perfect place for me to pursue my new career goals. Plus, I've always been a night owl who enjoyed entertaining people. I was never interested in re-opening the motel.

Business is certainly not brisk -- downright dead, actually -- but my wife's income as a partner in a firm downtown helps considerably to offset my operating costs. Actually, I find it ironic that the place hasn't gone belly-up, since I've killed several of my customers and I'm certain to kill several more.

Like any bar, mine has its regulars. In my case, mainly men who work on the ground and maintenance crews at the airport. But I also get an assortment of plaid shirts from the country who don't appreciate the atmosphere of the bars downtown. The first one I killed was one of these. So was the second, and also the third.

The fourth one though, was different. He was a sales executive for the makers of Choco-Delite candy bars who really thought he was the cat's ass. He arrived just after I opened the bar at four o'clock one Tuesday, and by the time the six o'clock news was on he had already demonstrated his considerable prowess as a drinker and all-round bullshit artist. I was considering my options when he suddenly left for a dinner meeting. A part of me worried that I might not ever see him again. A much smaller part of me also worried that I would.

So I wasn't unpleasantly surprised when he returned around eleven o'clock that night to pick up where he had left off. Like the previous three customers I'd killed, this one was a career drinker who obviously felt that he couldn't function properly without several drinks on board. He carried himself a bit more carefully than the others, but every time he headed for the can I could detect the telltale signs. The stumble-and-recover, the too-loud and too-friendly greetings to the other customers. He was too impaired for most activities, including driving or carrying on an intelligent conversation. And while that latter impairment may not have been induced by alcohol, I was beginning to see clearly what would come later.

See, it's the thought of these guys driving away drunk that makes me do what I do. And it's not like I don't come by it honestly. After a drunk driver killed my daughter two years ago, I've never actually given these killings a second thought. If anything, they make me feel a little better about myself each time.

Conveniently, the sales exec was my last customer as I prepared to close at 1:00 AM. He was so impaired now that he swayed back and forth when he stood. I would have cut off many of my regulars long before they reached this stage, but I had let this guy continue drinking to see what his travel plans were at the end of the night. When he turned down my offer for a free taxi ride and assured me that he was fine to drive on his own, I felt a familiar shiver of apprehension flutter through me. It intensified as I prepared what would be his very last drink.

As with the others, that feeling of apprehension only disappeared a couple hours later, once I had effectively disposed of his body. And as with the others, a familiar sense of peace settled over me as I drove home. I slept dreamlessly with my arms around my wife until her alarm went off two hours later and I rose to prepare breakfast for her and my only son. In their lunch bags that day, they each found a Choco-Delite candy bar wrapped with a note telling them that I loved them.

At four o'clock that afternoon, I opened the bar to receive my next customer.