The Unbalancing (flea market kings)

And now he put aside his random philosophizing over the hopelessness of humanity, and took up his own frustration. A young woman from a course he had taken years ago, which had a dinner date with the professor at the end of the semester—there being only nine students—had decided to wear a bright, red, Darryl-Hanna-from-BladeRunner-style wig and behave in the most overtly annoying manner possible. The woman’s name was Denise Lamoi and he’d never forgotten her for the ridiculous display and attacking him for his having not enjoyed it. She had been leaning over the folks, pressing to them, whispering in their ears, giggling exaggeratedly, and mooning every chance she got. When it was clear Hamilcar was not a fan of her adoption of this “character”, she went on a straight-forward attack, doing her best to humiliate Hamilcar for his displeasure.

“What’s your problem, Balls?” she used the popular childhood nickname he’d revealed during a circle discussion session the professor encouraged during one of their meetings. It had elicited a pretty good laugh, and continued to as Denny—as she now preferred to be called—continued to use it. “How do you feel, Balls?”
Much laughter.
He shook his head, he didn’t know what to say, “OK, . . .” he smiled flushing. It embarrassed him to have her be so callous and affected.
“Faggot,” she sneered at him closely, as if whispering something playful in his ear. Letting a bit of her breath touch his ear and cheek, this character she had been flaunting, something between a Hell’s Angel and a childlike prostitute.
“Nice,” Hamilcar had chuckled, but none of the other students ended up taking any of her rancor, she saved it all for him. The professor seemed to be in on the joke, and never said a word about it. It was true he did stand out, he was older, he rarely cared about any of their interests. He was always on the outside of television shows, movies, or sporting events that they always seemed to be full of. And he’d sort of shocked them with an elaborate essay and talk about the famous short lived Roman emperor Elagabalus famous for his sun goddess worship supplanting Jupiter with her, his outlandish sexual exploits (making himself up as a woman and hanging about a brothel), and finally for having not made it past eighteen before being assassinated and tossed into the Tibur River. He had known too much about it, had written historically accurate fiction in a jokey Ides of March, Thorton Wilder style. Hamilcar had cast the young Syrian mystic, perhaps too realistically, playing the reality television angle of the position seen through the eyes of a modern. Elagabalus had really only been challenging in that conservative era, today he’d rank something less than a Ted Kennedy. Even the professor, a Breece D’J Pancake styled, southern literature scholar, had been respectful, but bewildered.
And now Denny was telling the group that Hamilcar was too pent-up for fun. Then she very unflatteringly mimed having something stuck up her ass so she couldn’t move. She also added her suspicion that Hamilcar simply didn’t like women. Hamilcar had put up with this for a while, as she was entertaining the folks, he laughed along with the group, but as she continued her attack, discomfort grew into seething.

Truth be told, if he had been honest with himself, he had enjoyed her. He had, in fact, a little crush on her, until that night at the restaurant when she transformed into the trashy bitch who singled him out for so much bullshit. He had even dared to fantasize a bit about her in his arms, under his hips, her baby-doll lips in his mouth. She was really the only classmate who seemed to have any sexuality. So many of the students arrived to class in t-shirts and sweats, flip-flops on their unwashed hippy feet like it were a scholastic uniform. Denise was at least dressed as if she intended to be out, like an adult. But, since that night at the restaurant, since her disappointing attack, he occasionally reviewed her painful teasing. In his review, Hamilcar responds fluidly, pins her down, shows her to be awkwardly irresponsible.

“How do you feel, Balls?” she sneers in his mental replay, garnering the laughter from the little group of writing students.
“You need help finding them? I’ll help you,” reaching for her hand, cavalier, shocking, the table no longer laughing.
“Maybe if you had any,” she could probably have recovered, keeping herself out of reach.

Hmm. Hamilcar could have just lifted her wig, could have just done something even more rude, pointed out an imaginary blood stain on her crotch, a favorite high school put-down.
Where would it have gone? How far would she have escalated?
He could not use the better solution, the kindness of complimenting her, expressing his affection for her. She no longer deserved it, and it would have given her far too much power, a means to really paint him as a disgusting older cad with nothing but vile sex on the brain, entirely seeing younger women as nothing but cupcakes, and on and on.

She had caused him to shrink away without response—which continued to upset him. Now he imagined something of a ferocious attack, something like revealing werewolf powers (or were-bear, or were-pangolin), pinioning Denny in her over-the-top Russ Meyer role, pulling her from her Faster Pussycat performance and into a victim part in a monster movie. The sequence as he now dreamed it had him coolly smiling at her unnecessary meanness at the dinner, and later following her clacking high heels into a darkened alley. A game he’d never get to play with her, no playful shrieks, no wiggling rump in tight skirt against him. Of course Hamilcar could play. Of course he enjoyed fun and adored women. He just wanted a real game, something that would be satisfying, not this self-indulgent child, looking for attention with a wig stuff. But since she’d been so pointlessly mean to him, unprovoked, the game would be one sided, he wanted her frightened, and sputtering pleas.

“People like you ruin the world for the rest of us by being so fucking boring!” she spat
in his memory.

His muscles coil he could have constricted her to death like a python. She has no idea how lucky she was, she owes her very existence to his decency, his sense of propriety, the allowance he makes for children. They know not what they do.
She had continued laughing at him, feeding the flames of the group’s enjoyment of his discomfort. Her adoption of him as a heel, the butt of her jokes had hurt him more than it should have. After all, she was just a kid, he a grown man. In what way was he relying on her for self-esteem?
And now, in a masturbatory fantasy, he easily dominates the captious Denise, shreds her fantasy persona with his teeth, images switching to a Hitchcock sequence in black and white, the wig flops into a puddle of her spilled blood right next to her feet which flutter kick out of her spectacular platforms. The wolf-man devours the noisome young woman with gusto as the restaurant recoils in blood-splashed horror.

. . . and then he is freed, the flood of endorphin as he climaxed in rage and pleasure, the chemical balances ruptured. Hamilcar exits his house, laughing, races down the street as the night sky vibrates in a kind of poorly-loaded vintage film clatter, the branches of the trees sucked along in his gale-force wake.

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