Karamazov by the End of the Year
Hubert was frustrated. He was determined to read The Brothers Karamazov; to read it all the way through. Cover to cover, and before the end of the year, God willing.
He had tried to read his book downstairs in the kitchen, with the family. But there were too many distractions for that.
Now he was upstairs and just getting into the groove. It was not his intention to read everything that Dostoyevsky had written, but he had made it through Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, and Demon, and if now he were able to get through Karamazov, the most challenging of the man’s work, he would feel a real sense of accomplishment. And he needed it. Life had become so complicated.
From downstairs came a horrible ball of sound — snarling and screeching and howling. Hubert dropped his book. Hubert nearly fell out of his chair. As he stooped to retrieve the book, he could feel his frustration rise like the full moon which leered at him from the window.
He was sure his family would be the death of him.
He galloped down the stairs, two at a time. When he hit the ground floor he quickly assessed the situation. In the kitchen stood what looked something like a small dog on its hind legs. In its mouth were pieces of another small dog. By the look of what was left, it had been roughly the same size but clearly lacking in ferocity. The mangled victim was silent now; two of his legs had been savagely torn off and his tail was hanging by a thread. Blood was everywhere. The other dog was snarling and wheezing, bloody fur hanging from his dripping muzzle.
A few feet away, Hubert’s wife Alice stood by the ironing board. A heavy iron sat steaming on the edge of the board and a white shirt had fallen to the floor. Alice was wearing a prim light blue dress and had an embroidered apron over it. A few tiny red flecks were visible on the apron. Her brown hair was in her face and she wore a look of extreme displeasure; hands on her hips, jaw set.
This past year was rough on everybody, Hubert thought. Ever since their young son was transformed into a werewolf.
Hubert looked at the screaming, gory horror in his kitchen, and then at his wife. Without a word, he pulled a small revolver from his waistband, took careful aim, and shot the monster in the throat. With a choke and a gurgle it fell to the floor and did not move.
No one spoke. Then Alice turned to her husband with a grim scowl.
“Ye Gods, Hubert,” she said, but it was more of a statement than an exclamation. “You certainly didn’t have to do that, I shouldn’t think.”
“Well, what would you have me do? Get a lasso and have a little werewolf rodeo in the kitchen?”
Alice huffed daintily. “Of course not, but you’ve killed Hamlin. You shot our son.”
Hubert put the pistol back in his belt and leaned against the refrigerator. He shrugged his shoulders. “Yes, I did, dear,” he said. “And it’s all your fault.”
Alice stiffened. “How so? Explain what you mean!”
“Did I or did I not tell you that the boy was too young for the responsibility of raising a pet? I thought we should at least wait a few more full moons but no, you just wanted to give in to his whining and howling, like always.”
Hubert reached out with his foot and pushed one of the severed dog legs across the tile floor. The blood streaked in a line that made him think of Red Riding Hood, stepping off the path to her Grandma’s house and into the sickly smell of a massacre.
“Poor Skippy. He was certainly no match for Hamlin, once the chance came upon him. One minute they were playing fetch, then the next — gracious. Such a mess. Such a fuss. And you!” she said suddenly and pointed at her husband. “What were you thinking, shooting our only son?”
“Relax. It’s just a .22 and the bullets were lead. Not silver. He’ll be fine in a few minutes. Maybe his throat will be sore as the dickens for a day. Serves him right. Teach him a lesson.”
“And Alice,” he continued. “I do believe I have learned a lesson myself from Dostoyevsky.”
Hubert motioned to the two dead animals on the floor. He pointed first at his son, throat torn open, swimming in a pool of his own blood. “The Demon,” he said. He nodded to the remains of the puppy. “Crime”. Finally, back to the werewolf body. “And Punishment,” Hubert said with a smirk. “We will have to think on who is the idiot in this scenario. When the boy comes around, make him clean up this mess.” His face a mask of determination, Hubert turned around and headed back up the stairs. He simply had to get through that damned book.
STEVE SIBRA has worked as an editor at a legal publishing company, has made pizzas and has labored on a Montana farm; but mostly he has sold old comic books for a living for about 35 years. His work has appeared in Matador Review, Jersey Devil Press, Trigger Warnings and numerous other journals. He collects sleazy paperback books from the 1950s.
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