By Ryan Kelly
Karl Ottomani killed his sister’s dog. He told officers the dog leaked anally onto his shirt, making him feel confused and dejected. The Pomeranian was six and named Piper. Karl stabbed Piper with a paisley letter opener seventeen times.
Karl was a sturdy bulbous fellow with very tiny hands and bushy hair the color of burnt clay. I never really got to know him, but we hung out twice. Acquaintances, I suppose. Karl carried around a small cannonball that he’d borrowed from somebody’s grandfather. He liked to drop it in school bathrooms and crack tiles. Karl created fables, legends. He prophesied of a time “when Sister Chukkus,” our high school’s celebrity nun, “would use her long, supple titties to titticopter up into the sky and through the Gates of Heaven.” She died a while back.
One day, Mr. Oswald, our U.S. History II teacher, proposed a question:
Class, what troubles do you imagine you’ll experience upon living on your own?
Student 1: Paying bills.
Student 2: Cooking beyond the microwave.
Bristol, Pennsylvania: first time I hung out with him.
Ethan, my friend, the middleman, invited him over. Karl offered to cut two-hundred apples for Ethan’s father, who was making apple pies for the church. Ethan and I helped. Wadsworth, Ethan’s lizard, had died some time while we were cutting apples. Karl offered to help dispose of it. A boat grave, he said, is the only way. He origamied one out of newspaper, stood on Ethan’s office chair, and scooped the lizard out of his cage. But the chair rolled and Karl lost his balance, tossing the limp Wadsworth onto Ethan’s bed.
The creek was like shimmering black glass. The paper boat grave sunk, Wadsworth belly up.
Karl said a prayer.
Richboro, Pennsylvania: last time I hung out with him.
I went with Ethan to Karl’s mom’s house. Karl’s mom bred poodles. Without looking at us, Poodle Mama Longteets growled at us when we came through the back door. She was sprawled beside the pen where her babies wriggled. We smoked pot in Karl’s coupe of a bedroom. His gargoyle-clad bunkbed was the only seating. Ethan ashed his cigarette on the floor. I ashed in a trashcan. We weren’t allowed to smoke outside. Karl had a floppy disc library and his bookshelf contained Freud, the Bhagavad Gita, Dr. Seuss, and “The Ottomani Bible,” a hand-bound, collage-type document. The contents ranged from religious texts to newspaper clippings, from presidential speeches to existential poetry. He entertained us by showing us his paintings of lions and panthers, teaching us how to make a screwdriver-slingshot, and by performing the safety pin trick. Ethan sat on the top bunk laughing and I sat on the bottom bunk sweating. Karl sat on his gold-studded, red leather office chair pushing safety pins through the insides of his cheeks to the outsides of his cheeks, which were pointed and blanched with every poke.
He stopped going to school one day. Four months passed. Then Mr. Nostris got an email from Karl that said he was living in Aberdeen, Maryland with his dad and older sister. He graduated from Aberdeen High School. Then he killed his sister’s dog.
And all we can hope is that Karl goes to the madhouse and that Sister Chukkus took Piper with her, titticoptering through the Gates of Heaven.
Ryan is a writer from a small town outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He's a recent graduate of, and indentured servant for, SCAD. His work can be found in Artemis, TV Guide, and on his blog, Garbage Tales.