Lillian Russell sits slumped over her desk, her nose a few inches away from the newspaper sprawled out in front of her. She fingers the paper, running it along each sentence as she reads the words out loud in a quiet voice. The ink smudges her index finger, turning it black. Lillian reaches up to her nose to scratch an itch and leaves a grey trail underneath it.
She grabs for her can of Coke and breaks her concentration long enough to take a swig of the sugary syrup water and then she belches.
“Excuse me,” she says to no one in particular. Manners are important, even if there isn’t anyone else around.
Lillian returns to the paper, focused intently on the words in front of her. She finishes a story, shakes her head slowly, then genuflects and says, “rest in peace, dear soul.” A single tear falls from her plump cheek and lands on the paper, leaving a wet spot.
“You dolt,” she chides herself and quickly grabs a tissue to soak up the tear before it spreads through the paper and ruining it.
Lillian is obsessed with reading the obituaries in the newspaper. She has several subscriptions to various papers in her area and her apartment floor is covered in stacks of old newspapers. The obits she finds especially touching, she carefully cuts them out and saves them in a scrapbook.
She envies the lives of some of the dearly departed; the exciting things they’ve done and accomplishments they’ve achieved and the long list of people they’ve left to grieve for them.
Lillian is so engrossed in the obituaries, she doesn’t realize that her boss came up and is standing behind her. She clears her throat and Lillian nearly falls over in her chair from fright, and in the excitement, knocks over the can of soda and it begins to spread a sticky puddle over her desk.
“Oh, no!” Lillian yelps and frantically reaches for tissues to sop up the mess. Her boss steps forward and tries to help, but Lillian smacks her arm away and screams at her to leave her alone.
“Look at what you’ve done, you cow!!”
Her boss stands in stunned silence and tries to stammer an apology, but Lillian is having none of it.
“You’ve ruined them! You’ve ruined the last parts of their lives! Get the fuck away from here!”
Lillian’s boss stands still a few seconds, blinking rapidly at just being cursed at, and slowly walks out of Lillian’s cubicle.
“When you get this cleaned up, please come see me in my office, Lillian,” she says with a calm voice.
Lillian is sobbing now, a wad of wet newspaper in her hand, and the soda is dripping out between her fingers onto her keyboard and her slacks. She slams the goopy pile into her trash can with a sickening splat and grabs more tissues, but the liquid is starting to get even stickier and the flimsy white tissues are no match for the soda. Feeling defeated and covered in soda, Lillian stands up quickly and pushes her chair against the cubicle wall with such force, it knocks the calendar off the wall and lands on top of the newspaper mess in the trash can.
Lillian stomps out and down the hall to her boss’s office and pushes the door in forcefully without knocking. Lillian is furious and is breathing rapidly and loudly, like a bull in an arena being taunted by a matador. She is ready to strike.
Her boss is sitting behind her desk, her hands folded neatly on top.
“Lillian, I think it’s best you take the rest of the day off,” she spoke calmly. “In fact, why don’t you take some time off. You seem to be overwhelmed recently and a vacation would do you some good. We’ll call you in when we need you.”
Lillian broke down into a great, gasping, heaving crying fit and manages to nod in agreement.
“o-o-o-o-okkkkkkay,” she stutters around her tears and walks out of the office and back to her desk, where she gathers up her bag and car keys.
The drive home was horrible. She bawled the entire way, nearly getting into a car accident at an intersection because she didn’t see the traffic light change red through her tears. She sped through the intersection and heard the screech of brakes and the smell of burning tires as an approaching car had to slam on its brakes to keep from slamming into Lillian’s car. Realizing what almost happened, Lillian began crying harder as she drove faster to get home.
She finally made it and parked her car haphazardly in the driveway and stumbles up the porch stairs to her front door and opens it. She runs over to the couch and falls face down on it, her crying wild and out of control now, the sound of it being muffled by the throw pillows she jammed into her mouth.
Lillian isn’t so much upset by the fact she may have gotten fired from her job, but because her bitch of a boss seemed to show no remorse for ruining the last record of a person’s life by scaring Lillian, causing her to spill her soda on the obituaries. That is the last thing this person has in this world, and that horrible cunt destroyed it!
The utter lack of respect is sickening and Lillian cannot stand it. This wicked woman needs to learn a lesson, Lillian thought. Slowly, a smile spread across her tear-soaked, make-up streaked face. Yes…a lesson.
That incident happened on a Friday and Lillian waited impatiently all weekend for Monday so she could read the morning paper. She was sitting in her kitchen, preparing a cup of tea, when she heard the tell-tale “thud” of the newspaper hitting the front door. Lillian clapped her hands together in glee and gaily skipped to the door, opened it up and reached down to pick up the roll of paper. She skipped back to the kitchen, grabbed her cup and sat down at the kitchen table, spreading the paper out before her.
She flipped to the obituaries and scanned them quickly until she found the one she was looking for.
“Vanessa Smith-Godfrey, age 53, manager at Davidson Insurance Company, died Friday evening in a vehicle accident. Cause of the accident is under investigation as it appears to be a result of foul play. Ms. Smith-Godfrey is survived by her husband, Rick and two daughters, Darlene and Katherine. Funeral services will be held Wednesday morning at Our Lady of Peace Catholic church.”
Lillian smiles and reaches across the table to touch the pair of wire cutters she used to sever Vanessa Smith-Godfrey’s brake line to her car.
Lillian had taught her lesson.