The Anti Noah

Bad NoahLooking back on it now, all the signs were there. Maybe I chose to ignore them; maybe I didn't want to believe that evil is alive and well and working in a coffee shop. All the talk about installing electrified chicken wire on rooftops—the answer to pigeons, he had said—and the unhealthy interest in animals generally. He may not be the antichrist, exactly, but Tucker is not a nice man.

His preoccupation with weapons should have been a warning, and then there are the eyes. But I ignored the eyes, and shrugged off the chill I felt when he fixed those eyes on me and asked whether I wanted whip on my mocha. Cruel eyes. Invariably, the conversation would turn to weapons, but never the ordinary kind. Tucker's obsession with Taser weapons is legendary, but there are other, stranger weapons that occupy his dreams. A cannon, for example.

"A cannon?" I had to ask, even though every fiber of my being was telling me to nod, smile, and get out of that place as quickly as possible. "What would you do with a cannon?"

"Put a squirrel in it, of course." Tucker's lips curled in a grimace of sadistic pleasure. "Then I'd shoot the other squirrel with it."

"I don't understand," I said, trying to smile. "You want to load the cannon with a squirrel? And what other squirrel?"

Tucker held up two fingers. "One male, one female. Two by two, get it?" His eyes were shiny. "Like Noah."

I shivered. "Right. But I thought Noah's thing was taking a pair of every animal to save them, not kill them."

Tucker shrugged. "Yeah, well. Noah did his thing and I do mine. I want to kill two of every animal. I'm the Anti Noah."

I repeated the words under my breath, trying to come to grips with the madness. I envisioned Tucker in a white robe, standing on the deck of his newly constructed ark, firing his cannon at every animal in sight.

Tucker looked up as he adjusted the espresso machine. "Think I can hook up the ammo? Shouldn't be too hard to attach a couple wires to a squirrel, right?"

"Like a Taser cannon, you mean?" I was starting to catch on; I was beginning to understand the demented logic.

Tucker winked a cruel eye. "Snap . . . crackle . . . pop!" He shouted the last word, and every head in the place turned. A young child began to cry.

I paid for my coffee, trying to avoid Tucker's questioning gaze. I knew he was waiting for a response. An encouraging word, perhaps; something to indicate my acceptance of his diabolical scheme. But my mouth had gone dry, and I could only manage a cough. As I left the coffee shop, I could hear Tucker's voice over the hiss of the espresso machine. He was repeating his own name, over and over again. It sounded like Pig Latin.


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