The Deadlist, by Melanie Browne
Mr. Flynn was starting to sweat under the bright florescent lighting. His tie felt like it was strangling him, but he still stared straight ahead at his accuser.
“Sir, I have already told you everything I already know.”
“Yes. I witnessed the both of them whispering at dinner one night, how the two of them were going to have one of those “Communist weenie roasts.” Yet again they hadn’t chosen to invite me or my wife.”
Mr. Flynn wiped the sweat from his brow with the handkerchief Donna had given him that morning. She told him if they got through this Armageddon of hate and suspicion that they would go away together, someplace exotic like the Polynesian Islands. She promised to try a little harder in bed, instead of just lying there like limp egg noodles.
“I already stated my name for the record. John Flynn. I don’t have a middle name because my mother thought that was unnecessary. Look, I don’t know anything more about any Communists that may or may not work in my department. I try not to make judgments. I happen to know that one of my coworkers likes women with big boobs. I don’t make judgments about that either. That’s his business. Apparently there is some magazine he subscribes to, one of those big color magazines, and it’s nothing but women with big tits and I’ve looked a couple of times on coffee breaks but so what?”
Mr. Flynn knew they were trying to spin him into a web of entrapment about what and who he knew. He kept getting distracted by the look on the Senator’s face. It was a look of hunger.
“Senator, Have you no sense of decency? The look in your eyes is one of a maniac; it’s almost as if you want to devour me. You sit me here in front of these hot lights and demand answers about my blood type, whether I take multivitamins or not, and whether I think I taste more like a Twinkie or Beef Wellington. Enough! It’s ridiculous! I am here to give you names, and if it gets me out of this seat quicker I will give you names! I shall give you names!!!”
The Senator did not reply to Mr. Flynn. He stood up for a moment and seemed to lose his balance. He walked over to the podium and it almost seemed as if he were going to make a speech. He was looking pale these days. There were circles around his eyes and his mouth had turned a funny color of grey.
“Hrrm. Hurr, Rawrr.”
Two subcommittee members quietly stepped next to the Senator. They whispered in his ear and lead him to a seat at the back of the room. One of them stepped up to the microphone and cleared his throat.
“ I’m sorry gentlemen, but the Senator has been ill and the threat of communism to our country and the stress of these hearings has made him very tired indeed. I am requesting we stop for the day.”
Mr. Flynn looked around the room, trying to figure out what was happening. His wife had dragged him out of bed and fixed him a nice breakfast with toast and eggs over easy for this? For this sideshow?
“Excuse me, what’s going on?” Mr. Flynn asks.
A woman in a cool blue suit walks over to Mr. Flynn and sits next to him.
“The Senator isn’t feeling well. You are free to go home and we will continue questioning tomorrow.”
She pressed a cold white button into his hands. He turned it over and examined it. He started to giggle, softly at first but then louder as he can’t quite control himself. The Button says “Fight Communism & Feed Your family!” There is a hammer and sickle with a red line slashed through it. He pinned it to his shirt but he doesn’t give a damn. He is so tired of the lies; he wants to drink himself into oblivion.
Senator Carson Hemmings had not always been on a witch hunt for Communists. At one time he had been a family man who wanted nothing more than to own a nice Cadillac. But he began to hear about some strange tragic incidents that were occurring in his neighborhood, even throughout his entire state.
Formerly happy housewives began showing up in groups at the local community center, looking like hell, with glassy eyes holding these little black books, speaking a strange new language that included words such as “fruits of labor,” and “chasing the bourgeoisie.” At first he thought it was some kinky new sex craze except it didn’t involve their husbands. He had heard rumours that some of them had slept with each other, which is a thought that kept Senator Hemmings up late at night chasing his own form of bourgeoisie in the form of a good stiff drink and Peep Show Magazine.
One of the housewives started to catch his eye. Senator Hemmings was happily married, but there was something about Mrs. Lisa Harpin, one of the glassy doe- eyed women that caught his eye. Her husband worked at the local travel bureau and didn’t care what Mrs. Lisa did as long as there was a nice dinner on the table with a little dinner mint tucked under his napkin. He liked when she did that.
Lisa wore these delicious curve fitting dresses that drove him mad. Sure she was a bit pale, sure she mumbled a lot, whispering things about “history needing a push,” and other such nonsense. It was she who first attacked him. They were at the Jaycees Friday night fish fry, and she led him into a darkened sunken living room where she wiggled out of her black dress and started to chew on his shoulder. It hurt, but it was tremendously exciting even while she broke the skin and kept going. He pushed her onto the suede couch and made violent love to her while she laughed hysterically and said he was at last a true communist. At first he thought it was because he had done a good job, but later as he examined his shoulder he feared perhaps she had meant something else as well.
After his rendezvous with Lisa he scrubbed his shoulder raw with Lava soap, but it stayed a greyish-green color and the veins in his neck started to throb in a strange way he had never seen before.
He knew he probably caught a venereal disease from that woman, and that the doctor would prescribe a strong anti-biotic and he would be fine. That is what he told himself, but the truth is he never felt well enough to go to the doctor. He never slept; he just read up on the plague that he caught from the tainted woman, this mental disease that turned physical, the disease of communism.
As Mr. Flynn finished his last bite of pot roast, his wife kept him informed on the local gossip. Mrs. Flynn could talk for hours about things overheard while shopping at the supermarket. Apparently word of Senator Hemming’s affair had spread, as well as fears about the plague of Communism’s physical toll on those who practiced and/or tried to spread its growing influence.
“Dear, would you like some bread pudding?” Mrs. Flynn asked him.
“No, sweetheart, I’m stuffed.”
As Mr. Flynn began to help his wife clear the dishes, the doorbell rang. Mrs. Flynn raised her eyebrows at Mr. Flynn and he walked towards the front door, rearranging his tie.
As he reached for the door however, he was seized with a sudden panic. There were sounds.
Sounds outside the door. Low pitched moanings. Squeals.
He ran to the front window and saw Senator Hemmings surrounded by a horde of women holding pitchforks and signs reading “Down with Maliced Imperial Dogs,” and “Bark for Communism.”
Mr. Flynn couldn’t believe his eyes.
Mrs. Flynn walked over to him and patted his shoulder, a tear running from her eye. She walked to the closet and pulled out the shotgun and handed it to her husband.
“Remember to shoot for the head, dear,” she says solemnly.
He picked up the shotgun, cocked both hammers, and opens the door.
“Poor son of a bitch finally embraced his true nature,” he whispered, aiming at the senator’s head.
Melanie Browne is a fiction and poetry writer living in Texas with her husband and three children. She is a former co-editor of Leaf garden and editor of The now defunct Literary Burlesque.