LAZLO WAS NOT HAVING A GOOD DAY. He felt feverish, so feverish he took out the old mercury thermometer from behind the bathroom mirror and stuck it into his mouth for the necessary three minutes. But when he checked it, it was normal. The fever was in his brain, not in his body.
He paced around his house for a couple of hours, hands shaking, adjusting pictures on the wall so they were straighter, then realizing he had made them crooked, and straightening them out again. He tried to eat a bowl of soup, but he couldn’t make himself put the spoon to his mouth.
As the day wore on, he found that he couldn’t look at anything. Everything reminded him of her. Even stains on the carpet made him writhe with agonizing nostalgia. How was it that he could remember how every single stain had gotten there?
Finally, he went to the bedroom and grabbed the pistol. He stomped out onto the front lawn, breathing heavily, his vision too sharp, too precise. He whirled around a couple of times, not even bothering to conceal the gun. But there was no one around. Not a soul was out that afternoon.
Lazlo turned back towards the house, shaking his head, when he heard an unpleasant squealing noise.
He turned around, and saw, coming down the sidewalk, a little boy, about five or six, on a squeaky plastic tricycle.
Lazlo stood on his lawn, his eyes glued to the child as he came closer, and closer. Finally, the boy was right in front of Lazlo’s house, and for some inexplicable reason, stopped short.
Lazlo aimed that gun right at that little boy. For an eternity, they stayed where they were, staring at each other. After a moment, the boy made a gun with his thumb and forefinger and aimed it back at Lazlo. “Bang!” the boy shouted and pedaled his bike away as fast as he could, laughing.
Lazlo nearly dropped the gun as he staggered backward, shaking. He stood there for a moment, in shock at what he had intended to do, at the boy’s response. He turned and ran back into his house, slamming the door behind him. He slumped against the door, clutching the gun in his hands, and began to weep.