“Helluva way to go; eh?”
“I said that’s a helluva way to die.” Johnson screamed into Freddie’s left ear.
“Christ, you don’t gotta yell. Change the channel will ya.”
“I want hear the rest of the story from that sexy little minx, Megan.”
“I wanna watch the Yanks. So give me the controller.”
“Fuck you. I ain’t given it.” Johnson held the controller over the arm of the sofa and as high as his elbow would straighten.
“You old son-of-a-bitch.” Freddie’s legs and arms performed the turtle-on- back movement required to gain inertia in order to get to his feet. Once up, he scuttled to the opposite side of the couch to grab the controller from Johnson.
“Give that to me, you idiot.”
Johnson was quicker, though. Even being the older of the two, 74 to 72 as of their last birthdays.
He stuck the controller into the upper edge of his t-shirt and it rolled down his chest and sat atop the swell of his belly.
Freddie hit him on the side of the head with the palm of his hand, just like he used to hit little Freddie when he was being a whiney little pain in the ass.
“You old cock-sucker. I’m gonna bash your fuckin’ skull in.” Johnson turned a fierce shade of red. When he stood, the controller dropped to the floor. Freddie pushed Johnson away and hunched down in an effort to get to his hands and knees, using the edge of the couch for lean support. Johnson kicked him. He’d meant to kick his arm out from under him, but he got him right square in the temple. Freddie went down.
“You okay?” Johnson asked.
Freddie grabbed Johnson’s foot and yanked with everything he had. Startled, Johnson tried to back up but only went down hard on his back side.
Freddie took advantage of the situation and got himself up as quick as his old legs would bring him to standing. He still felt the ringing of his bell, but he wasn’t down for the count by any means.
“How’d that feel, you cunt! You cock-sucking cunt!” His voice rasped with shallow quick breaths.
Johnson just moaned from his prone position on the floor.
“Hey, get up.” There was a pang of fear in Freddie’s voice. “Come on. I’ve seen you take worse. Freddie walked over to Johnson.
Johnson whispered something, but Freddie couldn’t hear. Johnson beckoned for him to come closer, but there was no way that was going to happen. Freddie was definitely not born yesterday. He stood above him but was looking toward the phone. Johnson reached into his front pocket and pulled out his keychain with the can-opener, jack knife, nail file contraption attached to it. He flicked out the blade and jabbed it into Freddie’s foot.
Freddie yelled out a blood-curdling scream. He limped into the kitchen, leaving big drops of blood following behind him. He pulled open drawer after drawer until he found what he was looking for, a butcher knife. He limped back into the tv room, tears in his eyes.
“You old fuck.” He said. “I’m going to cut your goddamn heart out…wait! You don’t have a heart. What am I thinking? So I guess I’ll just have to cut your fucking throat.”
Johnson crawled along the floor in an effort to get away. He grabbed the poker in front of the fireplace and pointed it at Freddie.
“You stay the fuck away from me with that.”
Johnson was sitting up now. Freddie was close and getting closer. Johnson swung the poker back and forth, back and forth. Freddie lunged his arm at him blade extended. Johnson caught the arm with the hook of the poker. It sunk into the old man’s skin. Again, Freddie wailed at the top of his lungs. He dropped the knife. The poker was dangling from a point between the wrist and elbow. Blood was dripping everywhere. There was a puddle forming around his foot as well.
Johnson had managed to get up, but he could barely walk. So he shuffled passed Freddie, not even bothering to give him one last shove. He headed for the front door. Freddie picked up the butcher knife with his uninjured hand, turned and flung it in the direction of Johnson as hard as he could. It sunk into Johnson’s back like it was made of butter. Johnson fell to his knees and then to his face.
Two days later:
Lannie was spread out on the couch, with her head in Elvis’s lap, eyes closed. It had been a hard day today, and all she wanted to do was relax and watch mind-numbing television.
Elvis pressed the controller, going through channel after channel until he settled on the news.
“Oh, man.” he said, “that’s a hell of a way to go.”
“Huh?” Lannie said.