Homer felt most comfortable lurking in the shadows at night. He liked watching women from a distance when they didn’t know he was there. When he found one who appealed to him, mostly tall blondes, he would follow them to find out where they lived and note it in his little black book. Every day after work, he would decide which one of the girls he would choose for the night.
Homer wasn’t a threatening sort, and he meant the women no harm. He’d just park on the street in his gray Dodge and wait for his selection for the evening to come home. When she finally arrived and went inside, he’d pull out his binoculars and canvass the windows of the house or apartment, hoping to get a glimpse of her undressing. Sometimes, a bare boob would give him an extra thrill.
Sitting for hours in his car, waiting for the female to come home, was extremely frustrating, but Homer had nothing else to do with his life. Before he started creeping, and sometimes peeping, if he got lucky, his monotonous routine had taken him to the edge of a mental breakdown.
During the day, he was the janitor at Mountain High School where he had graduated at the bottom of his class eight years before. The job didn’t pay well, but he loved ogling young girls shaking their booties as they walked by while he mopped the floors.
Homer had always been forgettable; no one paid him any mind. He wasn’t ugly; he was simply plain and unremarkable. He wasn’t tall or short; he was of average height. He had always been painfully shy, and rarely spoke to anyone, man or woman.
Then one fateful day, his life changed forever. While mopping up an accidental spill, he saw two beautiful long legs pass by him. A scent of angelic perfume hung in the air before the acrid smell of the floor cleaner overpowered it. The young teen veered away, trying to avoid the arc of his long handled mop, but one strand slopped upon her white tennis shoe. Immediately he said, “I’m sorry, miss, I didn’t see you until it was too late.”
She turned and looked at him with a concerned expression and said in the kindest voice he’d ever heard, “It was my fault.” Her innocent smile made his whole body tingle. “I was daydreaming and not watching where I was going. I’m so sorry.”
He stood there in awe, staring into her beautiful brown eyes until the amount of time that had elapsed became embarrassing. Finally, he blushed, and sliding his bucket toward the bank of lockers lining both sides of the hall, returned to mopping the floor.
As the young girl walked away, Homer furtively raised his eyes and watched her without moving his head. Her beauty sent shock waves through his body. She was more striking than anyone he’d seen before. In a split second, he’d fallen hopelessly in love.
That afternoon when the students left for the day, all he could think of was finding out her name and where she lived. Removing his black book from his pocket, he ripped out all the pages, then discarded them into a nearby shredder. He was no longer interested in stalking anyone other than the goddess he had come upon that day. His heart belonged to her and no one else until the end of time.
A week passed, and he hadn’t seen her again. He walked about like a zombie, dejected and forlorn, fearing his beloved had been a visitor at the school, and he would never see her again. Then, the wonderful day came when he saw her talking with two other girls in the cafeteria.
He continued mopping and sweeping longer than necessary until she finished eating and left with her friends. Homer stowed the cleaning supplies in the first storage closet he came to and followed them down the hall at a distance. When the two girls separated from his beauty queen, he watched her go to her locker and take out a textbook for her next class. After she left, he went there and made a mental note of the number.
When school finished for the day, Homer waited outside behind some shrubbery. His face lit up when he watched her leave the building, but the elation quickly faded when she got into a yellow convertible driven by an athletic looking Adonis with long, flowing, blond hair. When he saw the driver kissing her passionately before he pulled into traffic, Homer’s face reddened with a rage he had never felt before. The only woman he could ever love was in the clutches of not only another man, but a muscle bound sex maniac with a fancy car. His outrage was unbearable.
That night, Homer went to the school library and found a copy of the latest high school yearbook on one of the shelves.
Sitting at a table, he started leafing through the pages until he found the handsome young man who drove the convertible. His name was Jess Upperman. His perfect white teeth and his football jacket with the letter he wore in the picture sent him into a frenzy of jealousy. Clinching his imperfect teeth, he angrily pounded the table until his fingers started to bleed.
Next, he found the photo of his goddess. Her name was Scarlett Mackenzie. His heart pounded in his chest as he tore the page with her picture from the yearbook. Taking a large book from an adjacent shelf, he placed her photo delicately between the pages for safekeeping until he got back to his apartment. Returning to the yearbook, he looked at the sport’s section. Just as he’d thought, Upperman was the star quarterback of the football team. Taking a ballpoint pen from his shirt pocket, Homer scratched out his perfect face until it shredded the paper.
Later that night, after cleaning the administrative offices, he located the key to the student files in the secret place he’d seen Mrs. Franklin put it countless times. Unlocking the cabinet, he rifled the folders until he found the files for Mackenzie and Upperman. He jotted down the pertinent information he would need to secure his role as Scarlett’s secret lover and eternal protector.
After completing his cleaning duties, he drove to the local Wal-Mart and purchased a stainless steel claw hammer. He had an eerie feeling he would need it soon.
Pulling out his notes, he entered Scarlett’s address in his GPS and drove three miles to her house on Evergreen Street. He parked in a secluded spot under an elm tree a short distance from the white frame house and settled in for the night.
He grimaced when he saw the light in an upstairs bedroom come on with two silhouettes groping each other behind the window shade. Locked in an embrace, the taller shadow lifted the smaller one and thrust it against the window seat. Homer pounded on the steering wheel and tried to stifle a scream, watching in agony as the larger shadow relentlessly pushed the smaller shadow against the window shade again and again. After it seemed two eternities had elapsed, the silhouettes disappeared below the edge of the windowsill.
Homer sat in the car with tears and snot running down his face. He thought his heart would explode when his blood boiled with unbridled hatred.
An hour later, he saw Upperman climb out of a window on the first floor and drop down to the lawn that surrounded the frame house that was now totally dark. The figure stayed in the cover of the trees until he stepped onto the sidewalk, unlocked his convertible, and got in. Homer saw the flame of a cigarette lighting when the car pulled into the street and sped away. Without hesitation, he turned the Dodge around and followed Upperman at a safe distance.
A few miles later, the convertible pulled into a gas station. After filling up at the pump, Scarlett’s lover headed for the restrooms situated on the right side of the service station.
Homer pulled the Dodge along side the men’s room, jumped out of his car, and stood outside the door waiting with his Wal-Mart purchase at the ready. When Upperman stepped into the parking lot, Homer hit him in the center of the forehead with the claw hammer and dragged him into the men’s room. The claw came down again and again with all the fury he could muster. When he finished with Upperman, he was not only missing all of his perfect teeth, he no longer had a face. After the relentless gouging, Homer had hammered his head so flat, it looked as if a steamroller had run over it.
The next morning before starting work, Homer stopped for a coffee and donut and bought the morning paper. As he expected, the brutal murder of the popular, high school football player covered the front page of the local paper. The police had no suspects, and the paper stated Upperman had been an excellent student, and none of his classmates knew of anyone who would want to harm him.
In the days that followed, Homer erected a shrine in his apartment for Scarlett with the picture he had taken from the library as the centerpiece. Sometimes he would sit for hours and stare at the picture, mesmerized by the perfection of her angelic face.
When he’d rifled the files in the office, he’d come upon the combination to Scarlett’s locker. Each night after completing his chores, he opened her locker and inspected the things inside. Sometimes, he found articles of clothing, and once to his delight, there was a duffle bag with three sets of underwear, one of which, he took home. It was like heaven to fondle her panties and drape them over his face. The scent of her sweet perfume took his breath away.
A week later, after Homer had pulled into his usual parking spot under the elm tree, a maroon mustang parked in front of Scarlett’s house caused his temperature to rise. The house was dark, and the street quiet as a tomb when he started his vigil for the night. He surveyed the windows at the front of the house through the binoculars he’d taken from the glove box. Then he noticed the aura of a TV playing in one of the downstairs rooms toward the back of the house. He left his car and stealthily moved into the shelter of the trees and shrubs around the back yard and crawled under the window where the TV was playing. The window shade was up, and he could see American Idol playing on the panoramic screen. One of the contestants sang a pop ballad while the crowd and the judges looked on. Raising his head to see the floor, he peeked inside with only his left eye breaking the plane of the windowsill.
On the carpet in front of Ryan Seacrest’s broad smile, he saw the nude buttocks of a muscular man, writhing atop the love of his life who undulated in a sexual frenzy beneath him. Homer turned away in disgust and threw up into the shrubbery when he realized Scarlett’s new lover was Ron Lockhart, a junior who had helped him with special janitorial projects from time to time. He returned to his Dodge and sped away, sobbing uncontrollably. He saw a flashing neon cocktail glass and pulled into a parking space in front of a shabby restaurant and bar. He went inside and drank double shots of tequila until he achieved unconsciousness.
When he awoke the next morning, he found himself in his car in the restaurant parking lot. He had a migraine headache from the enormous quantity of Cuervo he’d drunk before passing out. Someone had taped a note to the steering wheel saying he could retrieve his keys from the cashier inside. Homer called the high school on his cell and informed them he would be late.
During the lunch hour, he called Lockhart and asked if he wanted to make some extra money that night waxing the gymnasium floor. Lockhart was more than happy to comply. He always needed money.
At nine p.m., they met in the gym. Homer had a cart full of cleaning supplies and a buffer. After a little small talk, he said, “I sure am lonely these days. I wish I could find a girl and get married. Are you dating anyone?”
Homer saw Lockhart look at him quizzically after that remark. They had spoken before about baseball, high school gossip, and the pitiful wages Mountain High paid, but never about girls. However, Lockhart took the bait and replied, “Dating? I never thought much about dating. When someone named Mary calls, I don’t know which Mary it is. This gets me in trouble sometimes, but I work it out with them when I get them in the sack.”
“When would you consider tying the knot with someone special?” Homer’s ears pricked for the answer.
“Ain’t got no desire to get married anytime soon. I’m too young for that bullshit. Maybe in twenty or thirty years, when I’m bald and have a beer belly the size of Texas, I might think about it, but not now. Why settle for one piece of ass, when you can sample the litter?”
Lockhart’s words were like salt in an open wound, but Homer shrugged it off. “It’s easy for you to say; you attract girls like flies on shit; I just want one I can fall in love with.”
Lockhart stopped buffing and nodded, “Yeah, Homer, I’ve always had a way with girls, but take my advice, don’t fall for the first one who comes along. Experiment. Most of them don’t have a clue how to please us; they just lie there like a bump on a log and let us do all the work. But ooo la la, the one I had last night was a real tiger. She fucked my brains loose and wouldn’t stop. What a nympho,” he boasted.
“A nympho?” Homer’s hands began to shake with anger, and he squeezed the handle of the hammer behind his back in a death grip.
“What I mean is the girl I was humping last night, I think her name was Scarlett, had one orgasm after another. I was raw when I finally rolled off her. I couldn’t believe it when she begged me not to stop. One man could never satisfy someone like her. Somebody told me she’s taken on the entire football team after some of the home games. In fact, there’s a game this Saturday. If you can find a helmet and some shoulder pads, go down where the picnic tables are at North River. Maybe she can show you a thing or two. You might get the clap, but what the hell. You need experience.”
The claw hammer took out Lockhart’s right eye. His brains and gore splattered the newly waxed floor, and he toppled over with a big surprised look on what remained of his face. Homer extracted several industrial sized garbage bags from his cart and spreading them out, rolled Lockhart’s body onto them to collect the pooling blood. Placing a towel, under his head, he hit him ten more times, but controlled each blow to avoid damaging the floor. Afterward, he dragged the corpse through the men’s locker room, then into the showers and turned the water on Lockhart’s pulverized head. Blood started flowing into the drain.
Homer returned and mopped up the trail of blood across the gymnasium floor, reapplied some wax, and buffed the floor into a sheen that bore no trace of the murder that had just transpired only moments before.
After cleaning up the locker room and the showers, he wrapped the body in more garbage bags and hauled it out in a trash bin to the trunk of his car. Five minutes later, he tossed the remains in a remote corner of the landfill where he dumped the school’s garbage each day.
Homer realized he had let his emotions get the better of him, and he knew the police would be questioning everyone, including him, about Lockhart’s disappearance, the same as they had for Upperman. He worried about his purchasing the hammer at Wal-Mart. He’d paid cash, but he wondered if the clerk would remember him. It was water over the dam now, if he did remember, but he could no longer control himself. His love for Scarlett was all that mattered. He would give his life to protect her from the sex maniacs that roamed the halls of Mountain High School.
On Saturday afternoon, he sat on a picnic table and watched twenty-five football players go into a tent and have their way with his beloved. Lockhart was right. It appeared Scarlett enjoyed every moment of the atrocities thrust upon her. Most of the players were laughing their asses off at her expense when they headed up the hill toward the empty stadium.
When Homer arose from his ringside seat on the picnic table, he was surprised when Scarlett suddenly noticed him for the first time. She apparently thought he was another member of the football team since he wore a helmet and a jersey, complete with shoulder pads. She looked exhausted, but asked if he wanted to do her before she packed up her tent and took off.
He shook his head and headed back to where he’d parked his car. Scarlett had seen him, but none of the players had noticed him at all. Even though, every player had known he was not a member of the team, no one questioned why he’d put on a Mountain football uniform. He was there, and yet, he was invisible. That’s the way it had been all his life. Tears rolled down his face as he picked a handout from a trashcan next to the bleachers. It listed the names and positions of every player on the team.
That night, after completing his chores, Homer unlocked the student files in the administrative offices and wrote down the address of each football player on the team.
The next night, Jake Terrell, tight end for the Mountaineers, pulled his Impala into his driveway. It was after midnight, the neighborhood was silent, and no lights shone anywhere on the dark street. When Jake approached the side entrance of his house and pulled out his key to unlock the door, Homer stepped from the shadows and hit him in his right temple with the claw end of the hammer as hard as he could. It was in so deep, Homer had to stand on Jake’s shoulders with both feet and jump up and down to dislodge it. When he finally got it free, he hit him ten more times to prove his eternal love for Scarlett.
Returning to his car, Homer smiled his imperfect smile and crossed the first name from the list.
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