You meet him at the gym. He asks you out while you’re wiping the molded black arms of the elliptical machine.
Two nights later you’re at the Olive Garden and he’s mad that the waitress isn’t bringing your salad refill fast enough. He yells; you stare into the abyss of your minestrone. The shell noodles stare back, shiny and forlorn in a red, salty bath.
Later, at a bar, he tells you Ted Bundy is his hero. You are unfazed, accustomed to the shock tactics of small, powerless men.
He gives you a ride home. Parked in front of your building, he grabs your wrist and pulls. You’ve readied the pepper spray. While he screams, clenched like a croissant around the steering wheel, you feel guilty. He was probably only trying to kiss you goodnight.
You let him come in to wash his eyes with the spray attachment on your kitchen sink.
In bed, as his thumbs press the hollow of your throat, you regret leaving the pepper spray in your purse, across an unbridgeable chasm of carpet, the most significant ten-foot span of your rapidly expiring life.
The Butcher Boy