Continued from: Earworm: Part 11 — Breast Worshippers
Mr. Grey had a voice soft, yet powerful, low, but clear. That soft, hypnotic voice lulled Hope deep into her thoughts, her mind wandering to the memory of a dream. A dream in which… “Miss Ferretti?”
“Hmm?” Hope looked up at Mr. Grey standing over her.
“What did Iago mean by: ‘An old black ram is tupping your white ewe’?”
“Um,” she straightened in her seat, searching her memory for what Mr. Grey was talking about. “He was referring to Othello and Desdemona.”
“Yes, that’s right.” Mr. Grey said. “But what was Iago trying to invoke in Desdemona’s father?”
“Anger?” Hope said.
“Yes. But how did that statement invoke anger?”
Carl Watts called out, “Cause Othello was doin the nasty with his daughter.”
The class broke into laughter. Mr. Grey cracked a distinguished smile, saying, “I think what Mr. Watts is trying to convey, however inappropriately,” he gave Carl a stern countenance and then continued, “is that Iago was trying to make Othello and Desdemona’s relationship seem more sinister than it was, right?”
The class nodded in detached unison like dozens of plastic bobble-head dolls.
From across the room, Joel made eye contact with Hope. He rolled his eyes. Hope smiled, although she actually did like English class. She liked the way words could capture and store pure emotion. The written medium was packaged dreams, bringing her to worlds she never thought capable of visiting, and those words found even more life and meaning when uttered in the wise, steady cadence of Mr. Grey’s voice. Mr. Grey stood about six-foot-three and he held his thin body like a walking stick. His dark skin was wrinkled with many years of wear, and his hair and beard were the color of his name. But his eyes were still quick and youthful.
“So what seems to be Iago’s weapon in this play?” Mr. Grey asked his English class. “Mr. Connolly, do you know?”
“Jealousy?” Billy Connolly said.
“Yes,” Mr. Grey gasped, as if Billy Connolly unraveled the mystery of timetravel. “And how did Iago wield this weapon so brilliantly?”
The class looked on with blank expressions.
“With subtlety,” Mr. Grey said. “Iago planted subtle seeds of jealousy in his enemies’ heads and let them take root in their subconscious, where they were uncontrollable.”
The bell rang.
“Keep reading over the weekend, folks,” Mr. Grey called to the class, “it gets quite good.”
The students gathered their materials. It was the last period of the day, on a Friday, no less, and the students’ minds were already home making plans for the weekend, their bodies eager to catch up. As Hope gathered her things, she glanced at Joel. Speaking of plans, didn’t they have a date? He didn’t mention it all day. Were they still going out?
She dropped her pen and bent down to retrieve it. When she stood up, Joel stood before her, his smile unleashing thousands of ricocheting rubber balls in her stomach.
“Hey,” Joel said.
They stood a moment, looking at one another, then Hope blurted out, “So are we going out tonight or what?”
“Uh, yeah, I thought so,” Joel said.
“You haven’t mentioned it all day.”
“I figured we’d talk about it later.”
“It is later,” she said.
“Okay. So when do you want to go out?”
“When you pick me up.”
“I know that. What’s a good time to come by and get you?”
“I don’t care. Seven? Eight?”
“Well, which one, seven or eight?”
“Pick one,” Hope said.
“I’ll pick you up at eight,” Joel said, and as a distracted afterthought, he added, “And I won’t be late.”
Hope stared at him.
When Joel realized what he’d said, he blushed, saying, “That was pretty corny, huh?”
As for William Knight’s afterschool plans, when he arrived home, Greta was out, and so he took the opportunity to sneak into her closet and look at the “treasure chest.” William crouched in Greta’s closet, carefully moving her junk aside. He was most careful with the music box. It was one of those little girl ones, cheap, plastic, a ballerina in the middle that was supposed to spin in slow, jerky circles. It was broken and useless, and William often wondered why Greta even had the thing. Placing the music box aside, he retrieved what he’d come for. The shoebox. The treasure chest of his past. Articles, pictures, small bits and pieces of him that Greta had yet to, or outright refused to explain. He lifted the shoebox’s cover, finding first the article about when Greta’s husband, Stanley, tried to kill him. Then he dug through the pictures of himself throughout the years, descending in chronology like the layers of a paleontologist’s dig site. Finally, he found the news article he so often read and reread. He removed the article from the box and read it again, trying to piece together what happened to his real parents. Well, it was obvious what happened to them. But why did it happen?
The article from the June 15th, 1995 Mystic Crier read:
MAN SPOTTED WITH HEAD AND SHOVEL IN BACKYARD
Glenn Dey of 25 Highland Street savagely beat and murdered his wife, Emily Dey, yesterday afternoon. Mr. Dey removed his wife’s head and eyes and buried them in the couple’s backyard, police said. After receiving a 911 call from a neighbor, the police entered the Deys’ residence, finding Mr. Dey brandishing a large hunting knife. After repeated requests by police for Mr. Dey to relinquish the weapon, he cut his own throat. Emergency care providers were unable to resuscitate him. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Mystic Mercy Hospital. “When we arrived on scene, Mr. Dey was in his living room with the knife to his throat,” said Officer Brad Dennis. “We tried to talk him out of it, but it was too late. I don’t think there was any stopping him.”
Police Chief Andrew Asner said, “We are not ruling out the possibility of the occult. When we deal with such a ritualistic desecration of a body, we don’t rule anything out. The suspect was ranting to the arriving officers about his wife being a witch. It’s hard to determine what a deranged individual means by a statement like that.”
Officers Brad Dennis and Harold Fleming arrived at the Dey residence after receiving a report from a neighbor spotting Mr. Dey, “Casually walking out the back door with a spade and [Mrs. Dey’s] head in his hands,” said Officer Dennis.
The Dey’s neighbor, Harriet Crenshaw, who initially called the police, said that while returning home from her afternoon walk, she witnessed Mr. Dey walk out his back door with, “What looked to be a severed head and a shovel,” said Crenshaw. “At first, I didn’t know what it was in his hands. It looked like a head, but of course, when you see something like that, you don’t actually think it could be (a head).”
The couple’s two year old child was in the house during the incident, but he was unharmed.
William allowed the words to resonate in his thoughts, imagining the screams—his mother’s screams, his own screams. He had to have been screaming, he must have known something was happening. But he didn’t remember. He looked down at a wedding photo in the shoebox, Glenn and Emily Dey standing over a wedding cake. William had no recollection of his father, but he did for some reason remember his mother. He now traced his mother’s features with his eyes. She had a delicate, sad beauty, looking down at the wedding cake like the Pieta looking down on her lost son. William recalled that look in his memory, recalling her voice singing to him. But the memories were distant, as if part of a dream.
Continued in: Earworm: Part 13 — Inside the Dollhouse