Ex-teacher

I went and saw the guy who lives in the apartment next to me

To tell him his car’s interior light was on.

He came to the door in a yellowing t-shirt torn at his right hip.

I told him about the car, and he thanked me,

Asking me in for a beer.

I sat in his fat armchair; it smelled like sweat and cat urine.

“Do you have a cat?” I asked.

“Nope,” he answered without any hint of surprise.

We started talking about his past.

He worked for the local water board; he dug trenches

And helped the plumbers.

A big man, he leaned on his chair, it groaned under strain.

He put his legs up on his table and sucked at his beer.

“I was a school teacher once,” he continued.

He told me he had lost that job after he beat a kid,

“He was a big kid,” the man laughed.

“I beat him because he spat on me, I beat him until he pissed himself.”

I stayed silent, drinking my beer in short sips.

His face grew dark and shone in the electric light

Like waves in the moonlight.

“I was walking past the local high school the other day, at about one pm.

Some kid I didn’t know, on the basketball court, started to scream something at me.

I ignored him, but he kept screaming at me,

He was calling me a pussy,” he halted.

“Calling me a pussy,” he repeated.

“There was a big fence around the court, and I kept walking

The kid’s voice grew louder and deeper; he was almost hysterical.

I wonder if me ignoring him made him angrier. I hope it did,”

The man leaned forward, took his feet off the table and looked me in the eye

I looked away from him. I couldn’t hold his glare.

“That kid had no idea that I would have cut his throat,

If given half a chance.”

Silence. Then he let out a deep laugh, slow and dreadful.

“Imagine the fuss!” he leaned back, smiled at me and winked.

Finishing my beer, I thanked him and walked home,

The light was still on in his car.

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