I'd rather stick needles in my eyes
Howard already knew what Mr. Mason was going to ask. It was the look on his face.
“We’ll need you stay late tonight, Howard,” said Mr. Mason.
Howard almost said it before Mr. Mason was finished. I’d rather stick needles in my eyes.
Mr. Mason was pure prick with short man’s complex. The type that spoke twice when he
Howard started to say, “I’d rather stick..” when Mr. Mason interrupted.
“I know. You’d rather stick needles in your eyes.”
He was looking at Howard, but not at him. More through him.
This went on for twenty-three seconds. Silence and the look.
“See you at nine,” said Mr. Mason, seeming to come back from somewhere.
“Yes,” said Howard, then left.
Tom McAfee walked into the break room while Howard grabbed the last two packets of
“You coming in tonight?” said Howard.
“Hell no,” said Tom. “It’s Friday.”
“You’d rather stick needles in your eyes?”
“I don’t know about that.”
Howard chewed the pills and drank water. He posted a yellow sticky note on the first aid
At home, he turned on the television. He ate two percoset and swallowed with cold beer.
Howard said he’d rather stick needles in his eyes.
By eight-thirty it was dark and an edited version of a bad Sandra Bullock movie was on.
At the warehouse, the lights were on and only Mr. Mason was there. Mr. Mason told
Mr. Mason went to his office and Howard started packing. The screech from the packing
Howard went to Mr. Mason’s office. Mr. Mason was hunched over a picture of a horse
“All done?” said Mr. Mason.
“Not halfway done,” said Howard. “Won’t finish before shift’s up.”
“Then I guess this double will turn into a triple.”
“That’s too long to work.”
“What would you rather do?”
“I’d rather stick needles in my eyes.”
“Say that again.”
“I’d rather stick needles in my eyes.”
“I was hoping you’d say that.”
Mr. Mason opened a drawer and pulled out a crowbar. He turned and threw it at Howard.
The crowbar fell to the floor. Howard was thinking how it should’ve hurt more when Mr.
“I was hoping you’d say that,” said Mr. Mason, and hit Howard in the shin.
Howard couldn’t yell or ask anything because of his stomach. Now Mr. Mason was
“I’ve been waiting for this you little fucking bastard,” said Mr. Mason.
They came to Mr. Mason’s dirty white van, the seventies type with bubble windows. He
Howard saw small, twinkling things hanging from the ceiling. Mr. Mason shoved him
Howard touched the fire on his shin, the growing lump. Mr. Mason grunted, and brought
Howard struggled for breath. He worried his chest might collapse and kill him.
Light flickered as Mr. Mason lit a candle with a match. He set the candle in the corner of
The shiny things were paperclips hung from hooks in the ceiling.
“They were easier to find,” said Mr. Mason. “You can make them into needles.”
He reached up and carefully removed a paperclip from its hook. The rest of them – dozens of them –
Howard sought the crowbar with his hand, the only thing that would move. There was
Mr. Mason pulled the paperclip open and extended the long point out. He held the curled
The van rocked and the candle fell on its side, causing the light it cast to lower and ripple
Mr. Mason put both knees on Howard's arms and sat on his chest.
To Howard, Mr. Mason was a black demon face hidden from the light.
“Time for your druthers, you little son of a bitch,” said Mr. Mason.
Howard couldn’t move under Mr. Mason’s weight.
Mr. Mason bent over him, steadying Howard’s head with one hand, pushing the needle
Outside, the van rocked in the dark and light flickered in the bubbled windows.
Inside, Howard’s blood slipped through Mr. Mason’s fingers and silver paperclips
When Howard stopped screaming, Mr. Mason emerged from the van and headed back to
Now they had needles in them.Bryn Treacy wants to write full time. Tomorrow he'd like to throw an
autographed copy of his book onto his boss's desk, blow a kiss, and retire
to his writing room with the door locked, where wife and kids hit the door,
screaming, and he is in the dark, in his mind, unable to escape the power of
the hidden muse in the drywall, knowing that this is what is providing the
house, the food, the life of this ragged writing soul in the dark room. His
stories have been published in Anotherealm, The-Swamp, Circle Magazine, and
© 2005 Underground Voices