The MacGyver-Spartan Warrior Within

Matt Dyer

The MacGyver-Spartan Warrior Within

“Hurry, you’ve got to hurry, Eddie! We need your help!” Eddie Cuff looked at the clock beside his bed, but it only flashed 12:00. He took his mobile phone away from his ear and read the time. “What?” he asked. “It’s two in the morning. Who is this? What do you want?” “It’s Jenny! We need your help!” Jenny’s yell made Eddie’s eyes open wide as he jerked the phone from his ear. “–in the garage woke me up. I’m scared and so is Maddy.” “Call the cops if someone’s in the garage,” Eddie said. “It’s not someone, it’s something,” Jenny said. Eddie rubbed his forehead and sat up in bed. “What is it?” “I don’t know exactly, but its eyes were all glowy when I hit it with the flashlight, and it hid behind some boxes, but I didn’t want to go look more for it. I mean, I couldn’t see anything but its eyes really. What if it’s a demon or monster or something?” Jenny paused. “Eddie? Eddie, wake up! This is serious.” Eddie was now fully awake and taking the call very seriously. He wasn’t worried about Jenny and Maddy’s safety. He knew Jenny was probably overreacting about whatever was trapped in the garage. Since they had met, Eddie had come to know her as an over-protective single-mother and a gorgeous hypochondriac. She constantly worried over her six-year-old daughter Maddy’s safety–not in the “diligent mother” sort of way, but in the “for your own good protective bubble” sort of way. No, Eddie didn’t take the beast in the garage nearly as seriously as he took being the one Jenny chose to call in this emergency–especially since her father lived next door to her. “EDDIE,” she screamed. “What, yeah. I’m here. I’m awake. I was just trying to think of where I could get some holy water so late on a Tuesday night. I might need it to battle your demon,” Eddie said. “Very funny,” Jenny replied. “You’ll be here in fifteen minutes.” Behind the wheel of his Jeep, Eddie fought to keep his eyes as wide open as possible, knowing even a prolonged blink could send him back to sleep and into a ditch. The night air cooled the interior, entering by the partially rolled down window through which Eddie’s cigarette smoke escaped. Eddie navigated the curves that led to Jenny’s house in an awkward automatic pilot mode, his Jeep ping-ponging back and forth between the lines like a trick-shot cue ball trying to hit every rail on the pool table.
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The MacGyver-Spartan Warrior Within

Matt Dyer

Eddie rolled down his window the rest of the way, causing a cyclone of loose papers and ashes to form between the two front seats. He put the cigarette in his mouth and grabbed at the papers, tucking all he could grab between his leg and the seat. A wisp of smoke hit his eye, and the pain affected his driving, causing him to cross the center line then squeal back into his own lane. If cops are on the road this late at night, he thought, they’ll think I’ve been drinking. When he parked his Jeep in Jenny’s driveway, she and Maddy were standing on the front porch, wearing matching blue pajamas. “Where have you been? We’ve been standing out here forever!” Jenny said. “Hi, Eddie,” Maddy said. “Hey, Maddy,” Eddie replied. “It’s past your bed time, isn’t it?” “Mommy says there’s a monster in the garage because you didn’t change the light and we have to come out here and wait on you to come and make it go away,” she said. Eddie thought Jenny must be very upset if she woke Maddy up to bring her outside, and looking at her confirmed it. Jenny’s eyes were red and puffy. She’d been asleep long enough for the pillow to muss up her blonde hair, so whatever woke her up must have made an awful racket. Eddie knew he would have to do something to put her at ease. “Where’s your flashlight,” Eddie asked. When he entered the garage, Eddie felt like he was entering a cave. He flipped the light switch on and off, but nothing happened. Jenny had asked him to change the light bulb in the garage the last time he had dinner with them, but he hadn’t felt like doing it. Flipping on the flashlight, Eddie put his hand on the hood of Jenny’s minivan and asked, “So where did you see it?” When no one answered, he turned to see that the door had been quietly closed behind him. “That’s fine,” Eddie said. “Stay with Maddy while I run whatever it is out of here by myself. Sure, I'll be okay. Don't worry about me.” He searched around with the flashlight, aiming its beam at the storage boxes along the back wall. As the light panned across their labels, he read them: “Winter clothes, yard sale, baby clothes.” Two eyes, more demonic looking than Jenny’s description indicated, stared at the light from between the baby clothes box and one labeled “Tom’s junk.” The creature jumped down onto the cement garage floor, giving Eddie his first good look at it. The thing was hairy with tall, bat-like ears. Its narrow face and beady eyes might have been cute on a hamster, but looked menacing and disfigured on this

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The MacGyver-Spartan Warrior Within

Matt Dyer

creature. It was bigger than some small dogs, and in spite of its size, Eddie recognized it. Eddie Cuff stood very still, pointing his light at the biggest possum he’d ever seen in his life. Eddie knew, like most people in Robbersville, that the possum could be easily defeated. Generally a peaceful scavenger, the best way to get rid of it was to scare the shit out of it, causing it to panic, pass out, and pretend to be dead. Less humane folks might then take the opportunity to kill the possum while it was defenseless, but Eddie had never been one to find pleasure in killing animals, no matter how useless and ugly he thought them to be. Instead, he decided to scare the possum, then find something with which to move it out into a neighbor’s yard. Eddie imagined the possum would wake up from its fright with a dull headache, wondering how it ended up where it did, while Eddie would look like a hero to the women for vanquishing the beast. Switching off the flashlight, Eddie took two steps forward, slapping his shoes against the concrete, producing what he believed to be a sufficiently loud enough noise to frighten the possum. When he turned the light back on, the possum was standing on its hind legs, making its head come just above Eddie’s waist. The creature tilted its face slightly to its left and showed its mangled set of teeth while snarling–at least Eddie assumed it was a possum’s version of a snarl, but it really sounded more like someone had stepped on a deep-voiced cat. Eddie walked backward to the door, white with fear. As he turned the knob, the possum went back down on all four legs and started sniffing around the garage again. Back in the house, Jenny asked: “Did you get it?” Eddie stumbled on his words: “I, um… no. I need to use the bathroom.” Eddie splashed water on his face and looked at himself in the mirror. Was that thing really that big? That’s got to be some sort of record, he thought. I mean, Maddy could ride on its back if it didn’t look like it would gnaw her foot off. Eddie considered his options. Animal Control. Eddie wondered if the Sheriff or a deputy could be dispatched to shoot the beast. After peering into its red eyes and having it flash its mangled teeth at him, Eddie felt like he would be justified in making a 911 call. But how would I look to Jenny, he asked himself. He didn’t want her to see him as the sort of man who couldn’t take care of them. He decided the only suitable option was to kill it himself. Eddie sat down on the edge of the white bathtub. He put his elbows on his knees, his head in his hands, and he thought about how to kill the beast. He imagined himself leaping through the door into the garage with a shovel high above his head, yelling like a spartan warrior with his spear, decapitating the monster with one hard blow. Eddie liked this idea, but knew the shovel–along with all the other horticultural instruments of doom–hung on the wall opposite the door to the garage, on the other

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The MacGyver-Spartan Warrior Within

Matt Dyer

side of the beast. As he pictured the gleaming gardening tools hanging on the wall, Eddie’s spirits dropped, causing him to think of another option he hadn’t considered. He could just leave. Eddie could walk out of the bathroom, out the front door, get in his Jeep and never return. He could move out of Robbersville and start a new life somewhere else, far away, with a new phone number and no possums. As Eddie walked out of the bathroom, he jingled his keys in his pocket and looked at the front door. Arms wrapped around his leg. He looked down and saw the golden hair of Maddy’s head; she hugged him. When she let go, she asked, “Can I call you Daddy?” Eddie swallowed. “We’ll see,” he said and patted her head. He looked at the door to the garage and knew he would have to be a man about this–a real man, the sort that deals with wild animals regardless of their height or fearlessness or ability to chew a hand off. Eddie Cuff looked for a weapon. “Do you have a gun?” Eddie asked. “No, no, of course not,” Jenny said. “I need something to kill it with. Do you have a knife? A big knife would work” “You can’t kill it with one of my kitchen knives,” Jenny protested. “We could never use it to fix dinner again.” “I can’t kill it with my bare hands, now could I?” Eddie asked. “You’d never let me touch you again. Just give me the knife and we’ll go buy you a new one tomorrow.” Jenny’s biggest knife wasn’t very big. The silver blade was four inches long and looked sharp enough to cut hot butter–if you pushed hard. But it was pointy, like a spear, and this caused Eddie once again to imagine himself as a spartan warrior, preparing for battle. “Your broom,” he thundered. “Bring it here.” Jenny did not question the authority with which he spoke. She placed the broom on the kitchen table in front of Eddie. “And your shoes. The Nikes. I need them,” he told her. “But wh–” she began, but he cut her off. “Bring them,” he growled.

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The MacGyver-Spartan Warrior Within

Matt Dyer

Eddie removed the red shoe strings from the Nikes. Placing the knife handle against the broom handle, he began to fasten them together by tightly winding the shoe strings around them. Red, he thought, was an appropriate color for the strings that helped fashion his crude spear. When he stepped into the garage again, Eddie Cuff felt like a gladiator entering the Colosseum to battle some strange beast from the orient. In his head, the crowds cheered for blood. He stabbed the air in front of him with his spear and watched as Jenny moved the flashlight’s beam around the garage like a spotlight. When it landed on the beast, Jenny gave a muffled scream and Eddie snarled. “Just keep the light on it,” Eddie demanded. The giant possum raised up on its hind legs. It flashed its teeth and flexed its claws at Eddie, who thought it looked like it knew the battle was about to begin and it, too, could hear the crowds cheering for blood. Eddie inched forward and stabbed at it with his spear. The creature hissed and snapped its teeth menacingly together when Eddie missed. Eddie lifted the spear above his head, just as he imagined the an indian warrior might have done. He prepared to bring it down on the beast, but before he could complete the blow, the possum dropped to all four feet and charged Eddie. Swiftly, Eddie moved before it could bite his leg, but the possum kept running past him, toward Jenny. Eddie turned, spear still in the air, and put his right foot on the bumper of Jenny’s minivan. He launched himself into the air and brought the spear’s silver and red tip down hard, driving it squarely into the center of the beast’s back. It whined and writhed beneath the spear, but Eddie held it in place. When the frightened Jenny shined the light on the possum’s head, it snapped its teeth together over and over again, inches away from her bare feet. She jumped back. For five minutes, Eddie held the possum against the concrete floor. When it moved no more, Eddie left the broom-spear sticking out of its back and went in the house. “We’ll bury it in the morning, if its okay with you,” he said. "Are you sure it's dead," Jenny asked. “It’s very dead,” Eddie said. "I promise. Jenny hugged him, and Maddy asked: “Are we going to have a funeral?” “Uh, sure Baby, but let’s get you tucked in to bed. We’ll do it in the morning,” Jenny said. “Will he be here in the morning,” Maddy asked.

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The MacGyver-Spartan Warrior Within

Matt Dyer

“Yeah,” Eddie said. “I’ll be right over there on the couch when you wake up.” At 6:30 the next morning, while the girls slept, Eddie went to the garage to get the shovel and bury his foe. In front of the minivan, where the fallen beast had died the night before, there was only a small, red puddle. He searched the garage, but could not find the possum nor the broom-spear; he did, however, change the light bulb. In the backyard, Eddie Cuff dug a shallow hole, then filled it in again–a mockgrave for the giant possum’s funeral.

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