I’d wrapped the old guy’s hands behind his back, and I was straddling him, watching his eyes, when this memory clicked for me. “Grisly,” I muttered. Back in college, when I was taking this stupid class about how to write, we had to take this stupid test where you had to show that you know if a sentence uses “there”, “their” or “they’re”, like that’s going to really help you at some point. Most of the things that we were supposed to learn were pretty stupid, and they weren’t things that would help of that I’d remember, but there was one that kind of comes back to me now and then. I’m not sure why this old man’s face made me think of it. Maybe it’s the way that you really have to hack at old people, because their skin is more saggy than young people’s, so it doesn’t cute quite as easily. Anyway, the lesson was the difference between “grizzly” and “grisly”. I always thought that they were the same thing, or, to be honest, I just never really thought about it. Like, if I’d seen the word “grisly”, I would’ve said, “That’s not a word”. But it turns out that I would have been wrong. But that wasn't all. The teacher that gave us that lesson let students argue with him. Lenny McKenzie was the first one. He said that he thought that the murder was committed by a bear, and that's why it said “grizzly”, and that's why he didn't correct it. I thought that was bullshit, but the teacher gave it to him. Afterwards, some other kids started arguing, and the teacher pretty much said, “Okay” to all of them. So anyway, I was looking at the old guy, and he was kind of crying, and I said, “Did you know that “Grisly” could be spelled “G-R-I-S-L-Y?” And he just cried and started begging and shit. It was annoying. And so I smiled at him, but mean, and I said, “Grisly,” and I started cutting him. He kept crying, and he knew it was over, I'm sure, and that was pretty much that. And I know that I was only on top of him because I was stronger than him, and, some day, someone stronger than me will be on top of me, or I'll die of some disease or I'll get run down by a car. And then, the world will be stronger than me, and I'll just be dead. But today, this old man was not stronger, and that's the only reason why I'll have his wallet, and he'll be dead. And I was thinking about that while he gurgled, and I leaned in, and, one more time, I said to him, “Grisly”.
Bio: Zeke Jarvis is an Associate Professor at Eureka College. His work has appeared in Posit, Bitter Oleander and Moon City Review. His books include So Anyway... and In A Family Way.