Flash Fiction Friday: The Night We Killed Trogbrain
by Karl A. Fischer
The night we killed Trogbrain was the night I made a promise.
“John,” I said, “I would fight you.”
“For you. I would get into a fight for you.”
Your mouth was full of grittlecakes. “I don’t have enemies.”
“The persistent threat of oblivion isn’t enemy enough?”
“Mythology.” You swallowed a cup of tequila.
“You have enemies,” I promised, “corporeal ones. And when they come, I will be there.”
We practiced our knife throwing and went for a beer run.
The night we killed Trogbrain, neither of us interrogated Mr. Convenience Store Clerk. Did he recognize Trogbrain in the wine aisle? If so, why didn’t either of us? I looked right at the long brown coat and those awful, mechanical eyes like spinning blades and thought, “Yeah, fucking Mondays.” We couldn’t even remember our credit cards, much less the intrigue of yesteryear. There was something special about Trogbrain, though. He always knew how to blend into a crowd or a shelf full of booze. That’s how he followed us all throughout high school.
The night we killed Trogbrain, our driving was an affront to decency. Your hatchback was a death machine. Your hatchback was the Juggernaut, a weapon to break empires. I think we stopped for tacos. I knew Trogbrain was in that old, police auction cruiser. It pursued at a distance, stopped when we stopped, ran red lights, took a detour at Taco My Taco. I could see his fingers adjusting the mirror, occasionally launching themselves from their knuckled moorings and going on reconnaissance. That was his specialty: diffused bioethics. He could attain the form of gnats, the shape of old trash cans, the exact image of discount seafood, but only when it was important. I saw too many birds without wings for a comfortable Monday night rampage.
The night we killed Trogbrain was the night it all started making sense…to me, at any rate. I know your fanatical devotion to reason, John. I know you look at the sky and see clouds and you look at buildings and see bricks. I wish I had that kind of serenity, that kind of straightforwardness. I wish I could understand something just by looking at it, and in understanding, grow to love it. I wish I could have seen Trogbrain the way you saw him. Even as the night wore on and the cruiser grew more intimate with our bumper, I wish I could have stayed in the car. Loved the moment for what it was. But on that night, John, I didn’t want that moment just as I don’t want the buildings or the sky.
I don’t know what you said on the night we killed Trogbrain. When we pulled to a stop and got out of the car, I was glad to see him holding a weapon, even if it was just a knife sharpener. Did he think that was ironic? Beaten to death with a knife sharpener? He had spikes and a proboscis. He was all legs. I realized his coat was made from skin and philo dough. I couldn’t hear your words because all I heard was his voice. The thing is, John, I knew Trogbrain from long before our probability cloud of friends and acquaintances. We met in the womb. He tickled my mother’s placenta and laughed at my blind little eyeholes. When the time came, I openly called him Trogbrain. I screwed up my face and bawled and he narrowed his eyes in disgust. He knew I knew him. I couldn’t look at his face and see a person the way you could.
Here’s what I do know, with absolute certainty, about the night we killed Trogbrain: he wanted to be on your list. I know you don’t like that concept, John, you pretend you don’t have a list, but I’ve seen it. It’s the one thing I can see when I look at stuff. I see lists, a list of past and future, of wants and needs. I see what people are after, even if I can’t really understand what they are. I saw Trogbrain’s list and the only item on it was you. Perhaps he could have rewritten it later, come up with something different to want. But at what cost? These kinds of lists are expensive, John. His list had been on my mind since Day -130. What does it take to change the list of a Trogbrain? I don’t know and I don’t care.
Your hands were not sullied that night, John. People can argue and taunt, but I drove his proboscis into his Trogbrain. I stomped him until the twitching ceased. He gave me puncture wounds and a bruised rib, but flesh is just a seawall. I took his breath and then I got to laugh at his dead eyeholes. The one thing I will say is that you were instrumental in burying Trogbrain. I know you saw something you didn’t like, first when you looked at the body, second when you looked at the dirt, and third when you looked at me the next morning. Your list reflected it. That’s why I haven’t heard from you since the night we killed Trogbrain.
I hope you’re well, John. I hope this letter finds you someplace warm and safe and free from Trogbrains. I meant what I said and I’m still in the trenches, pulling out teeth and looking in all the wine aisles. I hope that I see you again, because I haven’t forgotten my promise.
You have never heard of Karl A. Fischer, but he’s heard of you. He does editing work when he can, hobnobs with cool writers and artists, reads books, designs websites (for money), and occasionally fashions a crude lathe for indelibly transcribing the words of God onto the nearest cliff face. Read more of his nonsense at the Everybody Company.