Concise Prose. Enough Said.
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To Kill A Guru

By Michael Glassman

Paul sat on the edge of his queen-size bed trying to ignore the banging on the door. He scanned the room for the right instrument to achieve his goal. He didn’t want to use the gun he’d borrowed from his soon-to-be ex-friend Harry Levinson. Paul didn’t know anything about guns except they were loud and caused a lot of collateral damage. He didn’t want to be confused, or worried about misfiring, at the moment of truth.

“Paul you come out here right now,” his wife Jerri screamed through the thick wood. “You are ruining Thanksgiving and I will not have that.”

“Thanksgiving is ruined forever.” Paul tried to keep the tears out of his voice. He didn’t want to appear weak. He was patriarch of this family. It would help everybody accept what was going to happen in this house, his house, if they all believed he was acting in their best interests.

Paul heard the doorbell and then the sound of his wife padding downstairs. It was her, his Sarah, his baby. He dug his fingernails deeper into his skin. He would stay in the room. He’d waited years for her return, counting the minutes. She could wait a little for him. Besides, he wanted to make sure he was ready, that he was resolved. His heart was pounding. He took in one deep breath and then another. There was no use delaying. He rushed from the room and bounded down the stairs two at a time.

“Hello Daddy,” Sarah said with a tentative smile.

“A meeting of family is like a meeting of souls that float in painful loneliness. I can feel the power in this room.”

Paul’s eyes narrowed to slits and moved in the direction of the basso voice. He was recognizable from the picture Sarah had sent them two years ago. That long face, covered with feathery, almost pubescent hair was burned into Paul’s memory.

“Daddy, I’d like to introduce you to my guru,” Sarah said. “This is the great Shri Leonard.”

Shri Leonard put his palms together in front of his face and bowed slightly. “We have met before of course.”

Paul was taken off guard. “I worked on your accounts or something?”

“On the accounts of God,” Shri Leonard said.

“Shri Leonard spent many years in India studying with the great Rajneesh,” Sarah said.

“Then where did we meet?” Paul asked.

Shri Leonard tipped his head back. “Can you not feel it? We have met many times, in our prior lives. It was always a struggle.”

“He said the same thing when he met my dad.” For the first time Paul noticed a very small, very pregnant woman standing behind his daughter and her guru.

“Who is this?” Paul asked confused.

“This is the third person you told me about, dear?” Jerri directed her question to Sarah.

The young woman extended her hand. “I’m Murtah. I used to be Shirley, but Shri Leonard didn’t like that name. He said it reminded him of his mother. So he renamed me Murtah. Are we going to eat soon?”

“She carries our child,” Sarah said.

Paul felt he was losing focus. “Whose child?”

“The royalty of the Gods. Murtah must be with me at all times so that my son’s soul can find me when it calls out from the womb in pain for a world gone insane,” Shri Leonard said to no one in particular.

“Well right now your son is calling out that he’s hungry,” Murtah said.

“We’ll eat soon,” Jerri told her. “We’re just waiting for my son and his fiancé to arrive.”

“For all of our sons to arrive,” Shri Leonard said as if in prayer.

“Doofus actually has a girl?” Sarah said.

“You have any snack, something to nosh on?” Murtah asked, rubbing her extended belly.

Jerri nodded her head. “I’ll bring out the chopped liver platter.” She left for the kitchen.

“I thought you were vegetarian?” Paul said to Sarah.

“Shri Leonard has taught me to eat whatever the Gods provide,” she answered.

“Come, let us sit and eat the chopped liver,” Shri Leonard said.

The guru had no right to act like master of his house. Paul was furious, which helped him re-focus on his plan to kill Shri Leonard before dessert.

Jerri came out of the kitchen with two pounds of chopped liver molded into a turkey. “I was going to wait until Larry got here, but because Murtah is so hungry...”

The words were barely out of Jerri’s mouth when Murtah, Shri Leonard, and Sarah—who Paul remembered did not particularly like chopped liver—pounced. Paul felt a gnawing sadness as he watched his only daughter glop liver on her Ritz. Once they were close. They used to meet downtown for lunch. They watched football together on Sundays. She was the only one to remember he loved pumpkin pie and make sure there was always one for him on Thanksgiving. He knew there would be no pumpkin pie today.

Everything turned sour after Sarah’s quickie marriage and her more quickie divorce. It was a bad decision, but Paul had been careful not to be judgmental of his daughter. His self-restraint proved worthless. When she found this guru in the mountains of West Virginia the split was complete, and the thing Paul loved most in the world was gone.

Shri Leonard caught Paul’s eyes. He smiled wide, chopped liver lodged between his teeth. “Now I recognize you. I believe Sarah’s father would like to kill me.

Paul was stunned but tried to maintain a blank expression. “I’m not sure.”

“Paul, Shri Leonard is our guest,” Jerri said in long, drawn out syllables.

Shri Leonard nodded. “Who would a man kill but his guest?”

“Shri Leonard has great insight,” Sarah said. “He understands the true impact of the many lives we have led.”

“Yeah insight.” Murtah stuff another cracker in her mouth.

“Hello everybody,” Larry said coming into the room trailed by his small, shy, almost non-existent girlfriend. “I let myself in.” He looked at the wreckage that was once the chopped liver platter. “What happened to the turkey mold?”

“Shri Leonard invited us to partake,” Paul snapped. The guru was ready for him, but it didn’t matter. He was determined.

“I love the chopped liver turkey,” Larry said. “I was telling Gina about it on the way over here. It’s a family tradition.”

“It’s all right,” Gina said softly. “Liver is sometimes hard to digest.”

Sarah looked up at her brother with a sneer. “I don’t remember this tradition.”

“It’s a post-Sarah tradition,” Larry shot back in the same tone. “A lot has happened since you’ve been gone.”

Paul didn’t like his son very much. He’d spent very little time with Larry while Sarah was his. Sarah was right—Larry was a Doofus. Larry wanted to fill the void left in Paul’s life by the loss of Sarah. Paul would rather watch football alone. Larry left too may crumbs and made stupid comments.

“We can go back,” Paul said softly.

“Our roads lead us in many directions,” Shri Leonard said after a quick swallow. “The one direction they cannot lead is back.” Then with a twinkle in his eye, “You know you have tried to kill me many times before. The struggle continues.”

Jerri clapped her hands together. “Let’s forget about the chopped liver and move into the dining-room.” There was forced holiday joy in her voice. Thanksgiving was Jerri’s favorite holiday. Paul almost felt sorry for her.

Jerri placed large bowls of split pea soup in front of each of them after they sat down—another holiday tradition. Murtah started shoveling the thick, green liquid into her mouth. “I think we should give thanks,” Jerri said, just like she said every year. She was a very literal woman.

“I don’t have enough to be thankful for,” Paul said, wondering what Shri Leonard meant by “tried” to kill him.

“I guess then if falls to me,” Larry said putting his hand on Gina. Gina did not respond.

“I think if anybody gives thanks it should be Shri Leonard,” Sarah said, “after all, he is the holy man at the table.”

Larry pulled his hand away from Gina. “I’ve been giving plenty of thanks since you left to become this fraud’s bimbo.”

Sarah leaned across the table. “It is the thanks of the heathen, the thanks of the decadent, the thanks of the ignorant—the thanks of the Doofus.”

Shri Leonard raised his soupspoon. “The best way to show thanks is to enjoy what the Gods have provided. I suggest we bring out the turkey.”

“Amen,” Murtah said between slurps.

“Mom,” Sarah whined, “you heard what Shri Leonard said. Bring out the turkey.”

Jerri’s eyelids fluttered. “But sweetheart, we haven’t finished the soup yet.”

“Mom!” Sarah’s head dropped to the table with a thud, something she’d been doing since she was five.

“Bring out the fucking turkey,” Paul grumbled.

Jerri rushed into the kitchen and quickly returned with the turkey, throwing it on to the center of the table so that it rolled off its platter. “There, you happy? We’ll eat like pigs.”

“We will eat with our unbridled passion.” Shri Leonard reached over and ripped off a drumstick with a single pull.

“Where’s the stuffing?” Larry asked. “And the cranberry sauce. Do we have to let Sarah ruin everything?” Jerri left again.

Shri Leonard leaned over the table and offered Gina the drumstick. “Would you like to become one with the turkey?” Gina shrunk back into herself, shaking her head in small arcs against her small chest. “Would you like to become one with me?” he asked.

Larry pounded his hands against the table. “Dad this really sucks. Do you know how much I was looking forward to being here with you guys and Gina?”

Jerri banged down a bowl of stuffing on one side of Larry and a bowl of cranberry sauce on the other side. “There, fine, I’m done.”

“Good soup,” Murtah said, licking the bottom of the bowl.

“Why are you treating me like this?” Larry cried. “Why am I always the bad one? Sarah brought this crazy guy into our house, and now he’s trying to proposition my fiancé.”

Sarah started banging her head against the table. “This is why I left. This is why I left.”

Paul stared at the turkey and came to an epiphany. He knew exactly how to do it. “Jerri, I’m going to carve the turkey. Bring me the big knife from the kitchen.”

“I sense that you have spent many lives looking for a true orgasm,” Shri Leonard said, continuing to extend the drumstick in Gina’s direction.

Gina’s eyes looked upward for the first time. “Orgasm?”

“Not just an orgasm, but a climax with such power and resonance that it is a religious experience.” Shri Leonard said, thrusting and circling the drumstick so that the leg of a dead, roasted bird was transformed into an instrument of eroticism.

“What are you talking about?” One of Larry’s elbows went into the stuffing. “Last week Gina said ‘Oh God’ two, no, no, three times. There’s a religious orgasm for you.”

Sarah lifted her head from the table. “She was probably just praying you’d be able to keep it in.”

“Sarah has felt the power of the religious orgasm many times.” Shri Leonard raised the drumstick to the heavens so that it became at once sacred and phallic.

Paul refused to react in any way. He needed to stay focused. “Please bring the carving knife, Jerri.”

Jerri stared at him in disbelief. She knew, but she did not understand. Paul could see it all unfolding inside of his mind. “Please bring me the carving knife,” he repeated, “and the sharpener.”

“I fuck and a thousand women have orgasms.” Shri Leonard was lost in some type of rapture.

Larry turned to Sarah. “Are you the one he actually fucks, or are you one of the other nine hundred and ninety nine.”

A calm smile came to Shri Leonard’s face. “I conceived my son by fucking Sarah until she jiggled like that cranberry sauce.”

Jerri took in a quick breath, turned white, and left the room. Paul’s words “the carving knife” followed her into the kitchen.

Sarah pointed to Murtah’s belly. “That’s our child.” Murtah, who was munching on some white meat she pulled off the turkey, nodded.

“Sarah has a very great life force,” Shri Leonard explained. “First I merged my essence with her so that the seeds of our souls would mix. And then without ritual cleansing I thrust this newly created seed into Murtah’s womb.”

“And everybody had religious orgasms?” Gina asked, her face sparking with interest.

Sarah nodded with pride. Murtah said, “pretty good”, through a full mouth, though it was impossible to tell if she was talking about Shri Leonard or the turkey.

“I am one with the universe,” Shri Leonard exclaimed. “When I fuck I bring the universe into my partners, and my partners feel the power of the universe in their clitoris—and they come with the Gods, and they come again.”

“I explode with the universe,” Sarah and Murtah said together, though Sarah with much more passion. Murtah was trying to reach the bowl of stuffing.

“I want a religious orgasm,” Gina said, her words starting to build. Larry’s head fell in to his hands.

Jerri came back in to the room and placed a large knife and sharpening rod in Paul’s hands. She had the same blank stare as her husband. Paul believed she finally understood. He began to sharpen the knife.

“Dad, do you have to do that at the table?” Sarah asked. “I really hate that sound.”

Shri Leonard put the drumstick on Gina’s plate. “Eat, my dear. You will need your energy. The universe is demanding in its passions.”

“I got a nice little surprise for the universe,” Paul said, continuing to sharpen.

“Dad what are you doing?” Nervousness was crawling into Sarah’s voice.

Shri Leonard turned his attentions to Paul. “He believes he holds the weapon of my destruction.”

Paul stopped his methodical sharpening and looked up. He was not going to be intimidated by this man. He was not going to be deterred. “Perhaps.”

Sarah’s head fell back to the table. “Dad, you can’t kill my guru.”

“We just want to do what’s best for you dear,” Jerri said in a voice meant to soothe a child.

Shri Leonard took a long look at Jerri. Paul thought he saw the first flickers of fear in his eyes. “You want to kill me because I bring your daughter closer to the meaning of her life, and away from the falsehoods you have foisted upon her.”

Paul put down the sharpening rod and stood up. “I want to kill you because you give my daughter religious orgasms while you take everything from me and my family.”

“What about what I want?” Sarah screamed. “I’m not your little girl any more.”

Paul softened for a moment. “You’ll always be my little girl sweetheart. No matter how many times you have sex with the universe you are my sweet Sarah.”

“You know we never made judgments about who you went out with,” Jerri said, “and you’ve gone out with some real losers. But this man is different, this man is destructive. Look at how he has destroyed our Thanksgiving. That’s why I’m going to let your father kills this guru of yours. Then we can begin the healing process.”

Paul lunged at Shri Leonard who stepped out of the way at the last moment. “Sarah, you must stop your father. The Gods demand it.”

“Daddy stop,” Sarah said.

“You must invest more than whining in this sacred task,” Shri Leonard said, backing away.

Jerri sighed. “You see sweetheart this guru may be able to get you to come with the universe, but he doesn’t really know you at all. Is this really what you want in a long-term relationship?”

Shri Leonard tripped over a chair and landed flat on his back. Paul was moving in for the final assault when Gina landed on his back. “No, you can’t. I want my orgasm. I’ve been waiting lifetimes.”

“Yes, yes,” Shri Leonard said cheering her on. “It will be my greatest work. I will make the tectonic plates of your vagina shift.”

Paul threw Gina from his back and she went rolling towards the table.

“We’ll get you a vibrator dear,” Jerri told her.

The knife was in inches of Sri Leonard’s throat when it stopped, dangling just short of its destination. “I can’t do it. I can’t kill him no matter how much I hate him.”

Shri Leonard laughed. “Just like our previous struggles, always the same. You want to kill me, but you cannot. I will go on tormenting you through eternity. You are doomed to failure through each cycle of life, again and again until you come back as a worm crawling through the dirt of life.”

“He’s right, he’s right,” Paul whimpered.

“Oh for Christ’s sake.” Jerri grabbed the knife from Paul and plunged it into Shri Leonard’s throat. Blood spurted up, but not as much as Paul fantasized. He struggled for air, gurgling for a few seconds, but that ended relatively quickly. “You really are going to wind up a worm some day Paul.”

Larry peered over the table at what his parents had wrought. “That sure is a lot of orgasms gone bad.”

Sarah was crying uncontrollably. “My guru, my guru. I knew I shouldn’t have brought him home. You guys ruin everything.”

“He’s really dead?” Murtah asked through a mouth full of food. Paul nodded. “Shit.”

“Now remember Paul,” Jerri said putting a hand on his shoulder, “killing the guru was your idea. When the police come I think you should tell them you were the one to shove in the knife.”

Paul wondered what the penalty was for killing a guru. “I can’t believe you were able to do it.”

“Be strong about this Paul,” Jerri warned. “You don’t want to come back as an invertebrate in your next life.”

Shri Leonard was dead, there was no doubt about that. He wondered if Shri Leonard was right, this struggle had continued across lifetimes. Was it finally over? Was it because he married a bitch? The universe was a funny place.

Michael Glassman has had a few stories published and has been nominated for the Pushcart series (he likes to say that a lot). He is a genial fellow, though often confused.

Top photo "Oath of Silence 2" courtesy of Linden Laserna.
Bottom photo "Portrait 2" courtesy of Carole N.


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