Yellow Mama Archives

Russ Bickerstaff
Home
Abbott, Patricia
Aclin, Ken
Adhikari, Sudeep
Ahern, Edward
Alan, Jeff
Aldrich, Janet M.
Allen, M. G.
Allen, Nick
Allison, Shane
Ammonds, Phillip J.
Anderson, Peter
Andreopoulos, Elliott
Anick, Ronald
Anonymous 9
Arab, Bint
Arkell, Steven
Ashley, Jonathan
Aymar, E. A.
Ayris, Ian
Babbs, James
Baber, Bill
Bagwell, Dennis
Baird, Meg
Bakala, Brendan
Baker, Bobby Steve
Baker, Nathan
Balaz, Joe
Baltensperger, Peter
BAM
Barber, Shannon
Barnett, Brian
Bates, Jack
Baugh, Darlene
Baumgartner, Jessica Marie
Beale, Jonathan
Beck, George
Beckman, Paul
Beloin, Phil
Benet, Esme
Bennett, Brett
Bennett, Charlie
Bennett, Eric
Berg, Carly
Bergland, Grant
Berman, Daniel
Berriozabal, Luis
Beveridge, Robert
Bickerstaff, Russ
Bigney, Tyler
Blair, Travis
Blake, Steven
Bohem, Charlie Keys and Les
Bolt, Andy
Bonehill, L. R.
Booth, Brenton
Boran, P. Keith
Bosworth, Mel
Bowen, Sean C.
Boyd, A. V.
Boyd, Morgan
Bracey, DG
Bradford, Ryan
Bradshaw, Bob
Brady, Dave
Brannigan, Tory
Brawn, Jason D.
Brewka-Clark, Nancy
Britt, Alan
Brock, Brandon K.
brook, j.
Brown, Melanie
Brown, R. Thomas
Brown, Sam
Bull, Warren
Burton, Michael
Butler, Janet
Butler, Simon Hardy
Butler, Terence
Cameron, W. B.
Campbell, J. J.
Campbell, Jack Jr.
Cano, Valentina
Carlton, Bob
Cartwright, Steve
Carver, Marc
Castle, Chris
Catlin, Alan
Chen, Colleen
Chesler, Adam
Christensen, Jan
Christopher, J. B.
Clausen, Daniel
Clevenger, Victor
Clifton, Gary
Coffey, James
Colasuonno, Alfonso
Compton, Sheldon Lee
Conley, Jen
Conley, Stephen
Connor, Tod
Cooper, Malcolm Graham
Coral, Jay
Corman-Roberts, Paul
Cosby, S. A.
Crandall, Rob
Criscuolo, Carla
Crisman, Robert
Crist, Kenneth
Crouch & Woods
Crumpton, J. C.
Cunningham, Stephen
Curry, A. R.
D., Jack
Dabbe, Lyla K.
Dallett, Cassandra
Damian, Josephine
Danoski, Joseph V.
Daly, Jim
Dalzell, Randy
Davis, Christopher
Day, Holly
Deal, Chris
de Bruler, Connor
De France, Steve
De La Garza, Lela Marie
de Marco, Guy Anthony
Deming, Ruth Z.
DeVeau, Spencer
Dexter, Matthew
Di Chellis, Peter
Dick, Earl
Dick, Paul "Deadeye"
DiLorenzo, Ciro
Dionne, Ron
Domenichini, John
Doran, Phil
Doreski, William
Dorman, Roy
Dosser, Jeff
Draime, Doug
Drake, Lena Judith
Dromey, John H.
Duke, Jason
Duncan, Gary
Dunham, T. Fox
Dunn, Robin Wyatt
Dunwoody, David
Duxbury, Karen
Duy, Michelle
Elias, Ramsey Mark
Elliott, Beverlyn L.
Elliott, Garnett
Ellis, Asher
Ellman, Neil
England, Kellie R.
England, Kristina
Erianne, John
Erlewine, David
Esterholm, Jeff
Fallow, Jeff
Falo, William
Fedigan, William J.
Fenster, Timothy
Ferraro, Diana
Filas, Cameron
Flanagan, Daniel N.
Flanagan, Ryan Quinn
Folz, Crystal
Franceschina, Susan
Funk, Matthew C.
Gallik, Daniel
Gann, Alan
Gardner, Cheryl Ann
Genz, Brian
Gilbert, Colin
Gladeview, Lawrence
Glass, Donald
Goddard, L. B.
Godwin, Richard
Goff, Christopher
Goodman, Tina
Goss, Christopher
Gradowski, Janel
Grant, Christopher
Grant, Stewart
Greenberg, Paul
Grey, John
Grover, Michael
Gunn, Johnny
Gurney, Kenneth P.
Haglund, Tobias
Hamlin, Mason
Hanna, J. T.
Hansen, Melissa
Hanson, Christopher Kenneth
Hanson, Kip
Hardin, J. Scott
Harrington, Jim
Harris, Bruce
Hart, GJ
Hartman, Michelle
Haskins, Chad
Hatzialexandrou, Anjelica
Hawley, Doug
Haycock, Brian
Hayes, A. J.
Hayes, John
Hayes, Peter W. J.
Heatley, Paul
Heifetz, Justin
Heimler, Heidi
Heitz, Russ
Helmsley, Fiona
Hendry, Mark
Henry, Robert Louis
Heyns, Heather
Hilary, Sarah
Hill, Richard
Hilson, J. Robert
Hivner, Christopher
Hobbs, R. J.
Hodges, Oliver
Hodgkinson, Marie
Holderfield, Culley
Holton, Dave
Hor, Emme
Houston, Jennifer
Howard, Peter
Howells, Ann
Huchu, Tendai
Hudson, Rick
Huguenin, Timothy G.
Hunt, Jason
Huskey, Jason L.
Irwin, Daniel
Jacobson, E. J.
Jaggers, J. David
James, Christopher
James, Colin
Jensen, Steve
Johanson, Jacob
Johnson, Beau
Johnson, Moctezuma
Johnson, Zakariah
Jones, D. S.
Jones, Erin J.
Jones, Mark
Kabel, Dana
Kaplan, Barry Jay
Kay, S.
Keaton, David James
Keith, Michael C.
Kempka, Hal
Kerins, Mike
Kerry, Vic
Keshigian, Michael
Kimball R. D.
King, Michelle Ann
Kirk, D.
Klim, Christopher
Knapp, Kristen Lee
Koenig, Michael
Korpon, Nik
Kowalcyzk, Alec
Krafft, E. K.
Lacks, Lee Todd
Lang, Preston
La Rosa, F. Michael
Larkham, Jack
Leatherwood, Roger
Lee, M.A.B.
Lees, Arlette
Lees, Lonni
Leins, Tom
LeJay, Brian K. Jr.
Lemming, Jennifer
Lerner, Steven M
Lewis, Cynthia Ruth
Lifshin, Lyn
Lin, Jamie
Lodge, Oliver
Lopez, Aurelio Rico III
Lorca, Aurelia
Lo Rocco, Brian
Loucks, Lindsey
Lovisi, Gary
Lucas, Gregory E.
Lukas, Anthony
Lynch, Nulty
Lyons, Matthew
Mac, David
MacArthur, Jodi
Macor, Iris
Madeleine, Julia
Malone, Joe
Manteufel, M. B.
Manzolillo, Nicholas
Marcius, Cal
Marlin, Brick
Marlowe, Jack T.
Martyn, Clive
Mason, Wayne
Massengill, David
Mattila, Matt
McAdams, Liz
McBride, Matthew
McCabe, Sinead
McCartney, Chris
McDaris, Catfish
McFarlane, Adam Beau
McGinley, Jerry
McElhiney, Sean
McLean, David
McMannus, Jack
McQuiston, Rick
Mellon, Mark
Memblatt, Bruce
Memi, Samantha
Merrigan, Court
Miles, Marietta
Miller, Laurita
Miller, Max
Mintz, Gwendolyn
Monaghan, Timothy P.
Monteferrante, Luigi
Monson, Mike
Mooney, Christopher P.
Moore, Katie
Morgan, Bill W.
Morgan, Stephen
Moss, David Harry
Mullins, Ian
Mulvihill, Michael
Murdock, Franklin
Muslim, Kristine Ong
Nardolilli, Ben
Nazar, Rebecca
Nell, Dani
Nelson, Trevor
Nessly, Ray
Nester, Steven
Neuda, M. C.
Newell, Ben
Newman, Paul
Nielsen, Ayaz
Nienaber, T. M.
Ogurek, Douglas J.
Ortiz, Sergio
Pagel, Briane
Parr, Rodger
Parrish, Rhonda
Partin-Nielsen, Judith
Penton, Jonathan
Perez, Juan M.
Perl, Puma
Perri, Gavin
Peterson, Rob
Peterson, Ross
Petroziello, Brian
Pettie, Jack
Picher, Gabrielle
Piech, JC
Pierce, Rob
Pietrzykowski, Marc
Plath, Rob
Pletzers, Lee
Pluck, Thomas
Pohl, Stephen
Pointer, David
Polson, Aaron
Power, Jed
Powers, M. P.
Price, David
Priest, Ryan
Prusky, Steve
Pruitt, Eryk
Purfield, M. E.
Purkis, Gordon
Quinlan, Joseph R.
Ram, Sri
Ramos, Emma
Rapth, Sam
Ravindra, Rudy
Rawson, Keith
Ray, Paula
Reale, Michelle
reutter, g emil
Rhatigan, Chris
Ribas, Tom
Richardson, Travis
Richey, John Lunar
Ridgeway, Kevin
Ritchie, Bob
Ritchie, Salvadore
Roberts, Paul C.
Robertson, Lee
Robinson, John D.
Robinson, Kent
Rodgers, K. M.
Roger, Frank
Rogers, Stephen D.
Rohrbacher, Chad
Rosa, Basil
Rose, Mandi
Rosenberger, Brian
Rosenblum, Mark
Rosmus, Cindy
Rowe, Brian
Rowley, Aaron
Ruhlman, Walter
Rutherford, Scotch
Saus, Steven M.
Savage, Jack
Sawyer, Mark
Sayles, Ryan
Schneeweiss, Jonathan
Schraeder, E. F.
Schumejda, Rebecca
Scott, Craig
Scott, Jess C.
Scribner, Joshua
See, Tom
Seen, Calvin
Servis, Steven P.
Sexton, Rex
Seymour, J. E.
Sfarnas, John
Shafee, Fariel
Shaikh, Aftab Yusuf
Shea, Kieran
Shepherd, Robert
Sim, Anton
Simmler, T. Maxim
Sin, Natalie L.
Sinisi, J. J.
Sixsmith, JD
Slagle, Cutter
Slaviero, Susan
Sloan, Frank
Smith, Adam Francis
Smith, Ben
Smith, C.R.J.
Smith, Copper
Smith, Daniel C.
Smith, Paul
Smith, Stephanie
Smith, Willie
Smuts, Carolyn
Snoody, Elmore
So, Gerald
Sojka, Carol
Solender, Michael J.
Sortwell, Pete
Sosnoski, Karen
Sparling, George
Speed, Allen
Spicer, David
Spires, Will
Spitzer, Mark
Spuler, Rick
Stephens, Ransom
Stewart, Michael S.
Stickel, Anne
Stolec, Trina
Straus, Todd
Stryker, Joseph H.
Stucchio, Chris
Stuckey, Cinnamon
Succre, Ray
Sullivan, Thomas
Swanson, Peter
Swartz, Justin A.
Sweet, John
Tarbard, Grant
Taylor, J. M.
Thoburn, Leland
Thomas, C. T.
Thompson, John L.
Thompson, Phillip
Titus, Lori
Tivey, Lauren
Tobin, Tim
Todd, Jeffrey
Tolland, Timothry
Tomlinson, Brenton
Tomolillo, Bob
Tu, Andy
Ullerich, Eric
Valent, Raymond A.
Valvis, James
Vilhotti, Jerry
Waldman, Dr. Mel
Walsh, Patricia
Ward, Emma
Ward, Jared
Waters, Andrew
Weber, R.O.
Weir, G. Kenneth
White, J.
White, Judy Friedman
White, Robb
White, Terry
Williams, Alun
Willoughby, Megan
Wilsky, Jim
Wilson, Robley
Wilson, Scott
Wilson, Tabitha
Wright, David
Young, Scot
Yuan, Changming
Zafiro, Frank
Zapata, Angel
Zickgraf, Catherine
Zimmerman, Thomas
Znaidi, Ali

terminalguy.jpg
Art by Lee Kuruganti 2014

Terminal Guy

 

By Russ Bickerstaff

 

The alarm clock wakes me up. I’m waking up in the same bed. Every day for the last week it’s been the same bed. I get up and shower. Then I get dressed. I check my messages and I find out that the client is ready. Excellent.

I decide to look over things one last time. Make sure that everything has been arranged according to contract. With any luck my client had all of his affairs in order, but it really isn't any of my business if he didn't. Everything in the checklist is fine, so my end of the agreement is ready to be cleared. Everything is fine. I look over everything one last time. Leave the keys on the table. And I walk out. The door locks behind me and I have one job completely finished now. Off to the next one.

Between the end of one job and the beginning of another I'm kind of homeless. Some government offices consider me homeless permanently. I have no fixed address. It’s not shady or anything. If the authorities need to get a hold of me, they know how. I am fully licensed and registered. The business I work in is regulated to a degree that one finds in no other line of work. Most people get into the business thinking that they'll have some fun with it. There is a sense of satisfaction to the work, but those people who are just in it for the thrill of the kill wash out pretty quickly. You have to be up on gigabytes and gigabytes of regulatory information. You have to be able to recite it from memory like a prayer. Most people aren't willing to put up with that.

 

I always tested well so it was easy for me. And I like killing people. So I guess I found my dream job. Right out of high school. Took a few technical courses and here I am. Helping people walk out. Helping people end. At their request, of course.

I pick up the late client’s newspaper on the way out. Briefly I consider checking with the paper’s subscription department to make sure this is the last issue coming to this address. Sometimes they're nice about it. Sometimes they don't have all the services cut off until the last possible day. The property manager will close out the condo and only then will all the services be cut off. Clients like that have a degree of class. Things sometimes get messed up, though. I once found myself living in a high-end condo without any heat or electricity for an extended weekend in the middle of winter. Never again. I make sure that much is made perfectly clear in the contract. At least let me live in comfort after we’ve done business.

I want to avoid the paper, but I can't help it. It's professional curiosity. I go into the obituaries of the paper on the ride out to the other side of town. I’m feeling particularly morbid this time so I also check the business section. Usually it's not until a couple of months to a year before these people start getting investigated. And maybe that was why this particular guy wanted his exit. He had done something wrong. He knew going in that it was going to be a situation where he might end up having to call someone in my line of work. And since I come highly recommended through various prestigious accounts online, I'm the one that only higher-end clients call. Rich executives need a way out, too. And they’re so used to other people doing everything for them that they even hire someone to take them out when things go bad. Doing it themselves isn’t good enough. Don’t know why. None of my business. Something goes wrong and you can’t go on. You knew the risks and you want out, only you can’t do it yourself because you’re too much of a lazy fat ass and you’re used to having everything done for you. So you hire someone like me to help you walk offstage.

I make it all the way to the other end of town before I get the confirmation message. Ready to go. I check myself more time. Well-dressed. Very professional looking. I like to think that I have the type of expression that's very terminal. I don't want to look into the face of my client and have them wondering anything on their way out. Kind of unnerving if it looks like some kind of an expression on my face might suggest that they’re reconsidering or even wondering about me in any way. I want them to look into my face and see the end. That's why I don't wear a mask. That's why I don't cover my face. There's always a sense of mystery with a mask. People wonder. I can see it on their faces. I don't like to leave anyone with that sense of wonder. I want them to look at me every bit as blankly as I’m looking at them. A simple transaction. It’s just business. I’m not a therapist or a crisis councilor. I’m just there to take out the trash.

Not that the clients would ever would be able to complain about it afterwards. And honestly that's part of why love this job. I wouldn't be honest if I said it wasn't nice not having any disappointed customers. There's no one to complain if I don't do my job well. I would know, of course. I would know if I didn't do my job well. And I don't like to leave any questions in the mind of a client. I want to be able to be the one to clear it all out. All the concern. All the worry. I've got it under control. You don't have to worry about it anymore. You don’t have to worry about anything anymore. I’ve got it covered. In exchange, I get a large sum of money and the use of your place until my next client is ready.

I make it to the condo and there he is. Nice looking guy. He has his laptop open and he's answering emails. There's something strange about that. Don't get me wrong, I'm familiar with the work. Most people want to act like this is just their next appointment. They've got to get their haircut. They got to go to that charity golf outing. Go for a meeting with that client from Pittsburgh. And then got to meet the guy who they’ve hired to kill them. Most people don't like dealing with their own mortality so they tend to react like it's just the next thing on their schedule.

There’s something strange about this guy, though. He seems more casual about it than most people. I shrug it off and finish the act. The boys from the morgue pick him up and I’m on to the rest of the business for day one. In the process of doing a preliminary look over the guy’s apartment I notice something strange. The guy had a business regulation gun. No ammunition. He had a book of regulations for people in my business. He was familiar with my line of work from the inside.

Regulations state that the job is completely anonymous, so I have no way of looking up whether or not he was in the process of getting a license. I have no way of knowing whether this guy was about to apply for a license or whether he already had a license. So judging from the contents of his apartment he was either looking at getting into the business that I was in or he had gotten so sick of it that he decided to call someone else in the business to do him away.

I don’t know why it bothers me. Before he made his exit he was on his way in or he was on his way out. I don't want to think about this but I will. I will wonder whether this particular client was looking into having a job like mine or didn't want to work it anymore. And I will wonder this for the full week that I'm in his condo. I will wonder this while waiting for my next job. And I’ll wonder if I’m actually going to take that next job.






Russ Bickerstaff is a professional theatre critic and aspiring author living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with his wife and two daughters.

In Association with Fossil Publications