Love, Death and Pizza
Who knows what drives a person to kill. Why does one man die and another lives? Does everyone who gets murdered deserve it? Does everyone who deserves it get murdered? I can sum those questions up in one quick, easy answer. Who knows?
In the case of Tack Carmichael, it wasn’t so much how someone was driven to kill him, or if he deserved it, but who got to him first?
Lots of people wanted Tack dead. He was a bastard and an asshole. He was one of the nastiest people on the face of the earth. Did he deserve to die? Adamant hell yes! Was I surprised when he turned up dead Friday night, his death announced on the eleven o’clock news? Not really. What I wondered was twofold: who finally axed him, and how would it affect the golf tournament?
I’ve known Tack Carmichael for close to thirty years. We met in the eighth grade when he assaulted me in the bathroom, threatening to give me a swirly if I didn’t give him my lunch money. Being the kind of guy I am, I gave him a black eye and a fat lip. He gave me a black eye, a swirly, and took my lunch money anyway. What a prick.
We were on the eighth grade football team together. I was the quarterback, Tack was my center. He was supposed to protect me, but instead he either left me exposed or put the hurt on me himself. After a few practice sessions of getting my ass kicked, the coach replaced him. His theory was that he could get a dozen guys to play center, but only a couple could replace me as quarterback. It pays to be a smart guy who plays football.
All through high school, Tack and I seemed to be at odds. If I asked a girl out, sooner or later she’d end up dating Tack. When I got made captain of the football team, Tack tried to undermine me. By the time we were sophomores, I’d wised up and started taking martial arts. The fights turned out differently after that. When he lost a couple teeth and I dislocated his shoulder, Tack left me more or less alone. He still took women away from me, but I’d learned to live with that shame.
I never could figure out why Tack hated me so much. I’m a stand-up kind of guy. I don’t go out of my way to screw folks over. I’ll defend myself, but I’m not vindictive. Most people learned not to mess with Brock Parnell. Don’t push me, I don’t push back. You start a fight, I’ll finish it. Usually with you on the floor in pieces, and not a scratch on me.
But to get back to Tack. We graduated, went to college, married beautiful women and moved back to the old homestead to rot in the cold, lifeless town in western Nebraska, where we grew up. I don’t know why Tack settled here. I came back because my wife thought it was a good place to bring up kids. She’s from Manhattan. To her, this town is quaint and charming. In other words, boring as hell.
The only folks who really make money in this backwater are the ones who own movie theaters, video arcades, pizza parlors and bars. Welcome to Parnell’s Pizza Palace! Bring the kids, have a few drinks, let them play video games until their brains rot! I’m making money hand over fist.
You know what’s ironic? We never had kids. I’m forty-two years old, stuck in this nowhere town, and not much to show for it. Oh, and my wife left me for a younger man. She’s now living in Vegas.
© Dellani Oakes 2019