There was something disconcerting about the way the light bounced off the pasty white head of the man. He had walked in ten minutes ago after a class and was sitting at the desk chatting with some of the other students about the bad coffee. I was pretending to read in the back corner. In reality I wasn’t taking my eyes off him. When someone makes you nervous you want to know everything about who they are.
I’d heard a few of the others refer to him once as the evil character from a child hood book series we were all familiar with. At the time the comment had made me laugh. But now as I was seeing the man for the first time I realized the reference wasn’t just for laughs. This man could very well be seeking to destroy my soul.
The topic had now changed from coffee to one up stories. These were my favorite to eaves drop. You were always guaranteed to hear at least one story that made you feel better about yourself. The more outrageous the story the more sad the person.
“You’ve never known cold till you’re on watch at night in the middle of the fucking desert. Let me tell you, some nights my hands would turn blue. And I was the only one my sergeant trusted so I’d stand extra watches or just be out there with the other guy to make sure everything was ok. It was brutal.” Ken scratched his short beard as he leaned back into the bright computer screen.
“Yeah man, I feel you. When I was deployed we were so short people we had to stand double watches. Every 12 hours.” I didn’t know who’d just chimed in. He was new in the office. We’d probably never see him again after today.
The bald man laughed at the comments. It was a cold laugh. Cold like night time in the fucking desert. “I’ll tell you what’s cold, killing a puppy.” He said. The other two looked at him their bodies tensed to think of a better story then what was about to be told. “Once when we were on patrol we went overtime and had to stay the night out in the middle of the mountains. Talk about sketchy. I honestly thought we’d get ambushed and die. To make it worse we didn’t have anything to eat except some cliff bars and gatorades.”
“Yeah we had to do that once. I was pretty terrified but now I’ve done not much scares me.” Ken chimed in.
“Well we didn’t have food, so we were just sitting around trying to get comfortable. I was on watch just pacing around to stay warm, when I hear this little yelp. Scared the shit out of me at first. So I went over to these bushes to see what it was. There was this little puppy tied to one of the branches. It must’ve been one of the village kids or something and they’d forgotten about it.”
“I remember there being dogs everywhere too. Stupid shits were always getting in the way. I’d just kick them.” The random man laughed at his fake joke. The bald one ignored him and continued.
“I picked up the little guy and brought him to the guys and was like hey I found dinner. They thought I was joking at first until I bashed it’s head in. Let me tell you, that puppy tasted delicious. I’m not saying I’d eat one here but if I had to I probably would.”
There was a moment of silence as everyone who’d heard the story soaked it in. The bald man was laughing a smile stretched across his egg white face. I curled up into a tighter ball and sank my head down further into my book.
“Well I can’t say I’ve eaten a puppy, but I did eat a cat on a deployment once. Tasted like shit.” Ken was trying hard to not seem offended by the story. The random man interjected his two sense and soon the conversation had digressed to another topic. I continued to read my book no longer paying them any attention. The bald man had lost my interest. If he wanted to tell a group of people he’d just met he ate puppies instead of cliff bars then that was sign to stay clear. I didn’t have time for people who ate small animals to prove they were men.