Lori Ann Knotts is an exterminator.  Not ants, or mice, or bats.  No poisoned opossums here, oh no, not a Termite Terminator.  Lori relieves the world of something worse.  She’s burning out the viral plague that haunts the byways and allies of humanity.  She could be a super hero to someone who doesn’t know her, not like me.  I know her for what she is, hidden under all that quiet, unassuming, carefully thoughtful yet totally forgettable mouse woman in the next cubical make-up and mirrors show.

Lori doesn’t considers herself a hero.  She’s something less overt, less glamorous.  She told me once, that she would never want the pressure of being super, of being looked up to, of being someone’s role model.  “There’s too much attachment in that,” she said, “too much stickiness.” This conversation after she arrived at my door, perfectly on time with mud still under her fingernails. She has asked to use my shower and was talking to me through the curtain.  “You know I can’t stand it when they fight like that.  It’s a waste of everyone’s time.  I have a life to live too, even if it is only going to the cube in the morning.”  Water splashed in the bathtub, she must have been scrubbing pretty hard,.. Lori hates dirt, mud, sticky, texture. “Ya know what?  We should go to the bar tomorrow night. I know, it’s Thursday, but I wanna try a new drink.  Can we go?”  She peeked around at me, the fingers of her right hand pulling on the curtain.  Her nails were clean, eyes bright and wide like some idiot children’s show on Nickelodeon.

“Yeah, no problem, flower.  We’ll go.  I suppose I owe you one anyway.  That nut job was a total jerk, wasn’t he?”  I smile at her smiling back and think, yes, he was a jerk, but now he’s not.  She ducks back behind the curtain and my smile drops, gone faster than an orgasm. You see, Lori Ann Knotts exterminates men, the men I tell her need to die.

I hang in the bathroom, ass planted on the vanity, “mmhhmmm”ing and “uh-hu”ing through her run down of the evening’s events.  “He kept pleading, begging, please lady don’t kill me.  First he tried to pick me up off the street like some kinda common whore.  Screw that guy.  Then he really turned on the old sleaze-ball grease-monkey charm. Lahaha-eeww-ser,” Lori impersonates Ace Ventura, Pet Detective.   I know, or knew, that charm.  He; the jerk-off lying, bigoted, hate-crime initiating, homophobic mechanic, tried it on me once too. That’s why he’s dead… loser.  She finishes the cleansing processes, as she calls it, and gets out.  She’s careful to reach for the towel hanging on the back of the door before opening the curtain all the way, like I would have any interest in her or be embarrassed by her nakedness. If anything I’m repulsed, I think. Not my type, even if I was into women. I guess that bit of shy never goes away, no matter how many men you kill. Girls gotta have some secrets, ya know? Stupid.

Her not-quite-lank blond hair is always tied in a bun or pony tail.  When it’s loose, it doesn’t bounce or play or hang really.  It’s just there, like her.  She’s not fat but not slim, not very athletic looking in the thrift store business casual clothes she wears to her day job.  Even her glasses are plain, the $59 variety from Wal-mart. She’s not any better in just a towel.  Her knees are sort of knobby, like a tree with some disease in the trunk.  Her hips aren’t hugged, her waist isn’t pert or perfect or particularly hour-glassy.  I can’t even begin to imagine what those gross globes look like that she’s clutching so stringently to, covering with the towel that’s plenty long enough.  She tucks a corner of the towel in between them and clears her throat.

I scoot over, plopping onto the closed toilet lid.  Lori perches herself face first in the mirror, her hands on either side of the sink.  She sighs, straightens her back, and squares her shoulders.  Then she sighs again, exhaling slowly and allowing herself to slump.  This is the ritual, the after-it’s-done ritual.  She repeats this little act three times.  After the last long breath she reaches for the tooth brush that lives in my bathroom for just such occasions.

She’s talking to me again around a mouthful of tooth paste, “Er mahbe we can go Fr’ay. Wadda ya fink?” She spits, running the water to wash down the mess and rinse her mouth. Didn’t even wait for my answer, did you flower?

“Sure Lori, whatever you want.  Like I said, my treat. I owe you one.”  I smile as she smiles back, a slick smear of unnoticed foam on her chin. Poor, gullible, mass murdering Lori Ann Knotts. “Afterwards, maybe Saturday morning, I’ll tell you about this dream I had.  The grey man, he came again.  He told me to tell you about the waiter at Victoria’s…” and I tell her about my not-so-real absolutely-a-complete-lie dream.  I tell her about the waiter that winked at me.  The waiter that left me a number on a cocktail napkin.  The waiter that met me behind the restaurant.  The waiter that lured me into the alley, pretending to unbutton his pants.  And the waiter, the same waiter, that had his friends beat me, call me a faggot, kick me so hard my balls were swollen for two days.  The waiter that will be working the am shift at Victoria’s on Saturday.  The waiter that needs to die

I tell her about all this, my dream, and Lori falls very still.  Silent.  Like the glass before it hits the ground, perfect for only a second. She’s processing, dumb bitch. Maybe I should hypnotize a new one, I think, wondering if she’s become useless. Then she moves on, getting dressed, chattering. Complaining about some processes at work, how someone didn’t dot an “i.”

I can’t wait until Saturday morning.

–to be continued, eventually–                                               Sarah Ockershausen Delp

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