The Character Assassination
by A. A. Roberts
He slipped off the sidewalk into the shadows of the first alley that presented itself. The only evidence of his passing was the disturbance of the low mists that clung to the city street. He watched the empty road framed by silent, dark buildings and waited with the calm of a night predator. A battered, graffiti sprayed streetlight, opposite the alley flickered randomly. The electric hum of the faulty illumination was the only noise on this dark side street of a city that had gone to sleep.
He waited in silent anticipation for he knew that soon his prey would come. He hoped his victim would be a challenge for he was in desperate need of a challenge. Once his life was full of contest, but after so many years of mediocrity his senses had become dead, his soul a lifeless place. In the dark recesses of his mind he conjured up a dark scheme to make him feel alive again. A media that had celebrated violence for so long had fed his imagination and so inspired he intended to bath in savagery. Blood would bring him back his sense of life, his sense of place, his sense of purpose.
His ears pricked up to the sound of leather soles on pavement. His breath quickened. A well-manicured hand slid into a coat pocket and withdrew a long slim stiletto. He ran a thumb over its razor sharp edge and shivered in excitement. He peered out of the shadows and sneered as his victim drew nearer.
The man that approached could best be described as nondescript. He wasn't particularly tall and seemed to be of middle age. He wore a snappy grey, pin striped suit and carried a briefcase that was a testament to the late hours he had been working. His pace was not hurried and it was obvious that his mind was rolling about the day's activities. This would be the last time Delbert would have the opportunity to reflect on the mundane.
Suddenly he stopped, looked up into the heavens where he assumed I was and exclaimed "Excuse me!"
"Delbert! You used my middle name Delbert! I never use Delbert. I hate that name and I certainly don't care to be called nondescript!"
"Well I'm sorry but-"
"I mean if you're going to have me hacked to pieces in this God forsaken side street you might at least have the courtesy to use my preferred name, Robert!"
"Well... sorry, ah... Robert, but you're just a throw away character."
"A throw away character! Oh that just does it!"
Robert tossed his briefcase to the ground, stomped his foot, "I have a life you know! Some people even think it's been a fairly interesting one including my wife and two children who YOU are about to make a widow and orphans!"
"I am not! The psycho's going to kill you."
"But I really don't want to," the man in the shadows stepped out from the dark alley and sheepishly returned his knife to his coat pocket.
Robert smirked and pointed at me, "See!? You're forcing this poor man to commit a heinous act that he has no desire to execute."
I looked down on the psycho, "What are you talking about!? You came out here to cut this guy up like a loaf of salami!?"
"Well actually I was just out for a bit of night air and then you wrote me into that alley."
Robert sneered at me, "You are a foul creature! Wantonly sending good men into reprehensible acts."
"Oh this is ridiculous! This is a murder mystery! What am I supposed to do? Have him assault you with foul language and a bad attitude?"
Robert folded his arms across his chest, "Well from my standpoint that would be just fine. I've no desire to end up on the wrong end of that pig sticker you placed in this gentleman's hand."
"Alexander," the psycho said and went over offered Robert an outstretched hand. I watched incredulously as they shook hands.
"It is not!"
The two men looked up at me and Robert asked, "It is not what?"
"His name's not Alexander it's Norman Gates!"
Robert snorted, "Oh that's original. A psycho named Norman Gates."
"I'm paying homage to Robert Bloch."
Robert snorted again, "Riding his coattails is more like it."
The psycho frowned up at me, "My name is Alexander Richardson and I am not a psycho, I'm a nice guy."
"I can't believe this!"
Alex looked Robert up and down and turned back to stare back up into the night sky where both characters seemed to think I sat, "Why on earth would I want to hurt Robert anyway? He seems like a nice enough person."
Robert nodded and smiled at Alex, "Thank you."
Alex smiled back, "Don't mention it. I like your suit too. It's very sharp looking."
Robert perked up, "Thank you. I bought it from a clothier in Hartford, Stackpole, Moore and Tyron. Have you heard of them?"
"Stop it! You're ruining my story! How am I to proceed with you two becoming friends?"
The two men turned their attention back to me and Robert spoke up, "Oh. I guess brotherly love as a concept is beyond you... creator of madmen."
"No that's not it at all. I told you I'm trying to write a murder mystery."
Alex grunted, "It seems more like a slash hack to me. You never told me what my motivation was for pricking poor Robert here."
"You're the product of a dehumanized technological society who's become the Frankenstein monster of a media that glorifies violence. It turns out that Robert is an executive for a broadcast network."
"I'm an equities trader that deals exclusively in derivatives. You really should do better research."
Alex chimed in, "Besides I think that's pretty weak motivation anyway. I mean given your premise half the population would be stalking the streets at night slicing and dicing like some deranged Julia Child."
"Well that's the danger. That's what I'm trying to say. I'm making a statement."
"Boring your audience is more like it," Robert snickered.
"I am not! I'm very big in the Netherlands!"
Robert chuckled, "I'm so impressed."
Alex smiled, "Well let's not be too hard on him, he did create us didn't he?"
Robert turned to Alex, "Are you so sure? He got my occupation wrong and your name. Maybe he's an imposter."
Alex frowned in concentration and then said, "Robert does seem to have a point. Do you have any proof that you did indeed create us?"
Robert jammed a finger in my direction, "Do you have any documentation to prove you are who you say you are and that is indeed your story? How do we know your not some inept plagiarizer?"
"Because I'm writing the bloody story that's how! What more documentation do you need!?"
Alex folded his arms across his chest in defiance, "I don't know about Robert, but I'd like to see your license."
Robert's eyes lit up, "Yes that's it. I'd like to see your license too. I'm sure the local authorities would also like to see it. I'm sure they'd love to meet the man who drives others to psychotic acts."
Robert's knowing grin turned malicious, "We're waiting."
"You want proof that I'm the writer/creator of this story?"
Both men replied, "Yes!"
I smiled with profound satisfaction and completed my typing by slamming the enter key with a resounding click.