A Poem That Killed A Man - Poem by Brian Mayo
Did you know my friend Dave Magill once wrote a poem that killed a man?
It’s the truth. I’m not sure the guy even got to finish reading it...
Dave was peeved at him about something... I can’t remember what.
Anyway, that part doesn’t matter.
What matters is what happened after...
We were sitting in the clubhouse on one of those Saturday afternoons that everyone faces from time-to-time- -too damn hot to play another nine. Pitchers of cold beer, air-conditioning, and the promise of a decent burger kept us firmly planted on our stools.
Anyway, this guy walks in and Dave taps me on the shoulder... gives a little jerk of the head. He whispers, “That’s the guy...”
I turned my head. “What guy? ”
I saw ‘the guy’ take a seat in a corner booth. He seemed harmless enough- -just some old man dabbing at sweat on his forehead with a blue bandanna. I watched as he began flipping through a menu.
Dave looked at me and shook his head. He curled a lip. “What guy? - The guy to whom I’m gonna teach a little lesson, that’s who.”
He ripped a napkin from the dispenser, and began to scribble words on it with his golf-pencil. (Up until then, he had been adding up our front 9 scores.)
I frowned and grabbed him by the elbow. “Are you sure you want to be doing that, Dave? ” I asked gently.
He shrugged me off with a violent twist of his upper-torso. “Shut the hell up! That bastard needs a little dose of what-fer.”
Three minutes later he put the pencil down and proclaimed himself satisfied. I was going to ask if I could read it, but just then our food arrived. I tried to make small talk as we doctored our burgers with pickles and onions and stuff from a large, round platter on the bar. “That was a nice tee-shot on nine...” I ventured.
“Don’t change the subject, Brian. That’s the guy who almost hit me with his drive on 6, and you damn-well know it. Don’t play dumb- you remember.”
I didn’t, but decided to play it safe. “Oh, yeah; that was a close call.”
“Yep, and now I’m gonna make him pay…”
I smirked and went to go wash my hands; I was certain the handle of the tomato fork had just transferred a lethal disease to my fingers. When I returned, my golf partner was grinning like an idiot.
“He’s got it! ” He exclaimed in a loud stage-whisper the moment I sat down.
“He’s got what? The poem? Shoot, I didn’t get to read it... How the heck did you get it over there so fast? ”
“I just walked over and asked if I could borrow his ketchup. As soon as he turned to reach it, I laid the napkin on the table. It’s called ‘misdirection, ’ Brian, and I am a master of it. He’ll discover it any second now...watch.”
“Well, in the meantime, I’m gonna eat my burger. I don’t suppose you hung on to the ketchup...? ” I asked, looking around.
“Ah, no, I returned it.”
“That was ballsy of you.”
“It’s called ‘commitment.’”
“Whatever.” I said, through a mouthful of ketchupless fries.
“Look! He’s reading it! ”
I glanced over. Sure enough, the old geezer was squinting at the napkin, frowning.
He held it close to his nose a few times, obviously having difficulty with one or two words...
Suddenly, his face went white and he clutched at his chest, gasping for air, mouth opening and closing like a goddamn fish. It was the funniest thing I ever saw. At least- -it was funny for a few seconds. Until he started pounding on the table hard enough to rattle the silverware and he began clawing at his throat- -then it wasn't quite so funny anymore.
He gave a sudden lurch, tried to get up- -failed- -and instead threw himself from the booth. He went down hard- collapsing on the floor like a broken puppet. I heard his head bounce off the tile like a bag of golf balls. He turned three different shades of purple before he stopped kicking- -dead as a flounder.
I was horrified to see the killer-napkin still gripped in the man’s hand.
I snuck at glance at Dave. He was smiling happily, but behind the eyes I could see wheels turning... He was devising a perfect, simple plan to get his poem back. One that would, no-doubt, rely heavily upon misdirection and sleight-of-hand.
And not because he was worried about the cops...
No, I’m pretty sure he wanted it for his scrapbook.
Poet's Notes about The Poem
Dave Magill is a friend of mine- -but no, we have never played golf together, and as far as I know, he has never killed anybody (with a poem) .
Comments about A Poem That Killed A Man by Brian Mayo
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