Don’t Kill Anyone

Only two weeks into the new year had passed and Tim had already broken his first resolution: Don’t Kill Anyone.

It had all started with a dog named Stella. Stella was a pretty dog, with pretty light brown eyes, and pretty black fur, and pretty ears that were softer than the rest of her. This is what Tim told everyone at work the day after he brought her home from the shelter.   “And she’s got this little patch of white fur on one of her paws-”   “Yeah, that’s great Tim,” said a coworker as he pulled at a paper jam in the copy machine.

Tim was about to go on about Stella when another coworker offered to give Tim’s current victim a hand with the copy machine.  They made conversation with each other with quick exchanges, a trick they had developed to prevent Tim from contributing anything more to the conversation.  After a few minutes Tim turned around and wandered back to his desk.  Taking his time walking through the aisle of cubicles, trying to make eye contact with anyone so that he could strike up a conversation. Everyone knew better though, and when Tim wandered by they knew to look busy and stare at their computer.  As soon as he was out of earshot the two started talking about him. “Thanks, he wouldn’t stop going on about that dog.”   “Yeah, he’s been going on about it to everyone in the office.”   “I mean, I feel bad for him and all, I know he’s a really lonely guy, but sometimes he’s just too much.”   “I know what you mean. Do you remember how pleasant it was when he was out sick for a week a few months ago?”   “Maybe having a dog will help with his loneliness.”

The office was surprisingly devoid of politics and drama. Employees were respectful and polite to each other. Differences of opinion were settled amicably, and every Friday night they would end the week at a karaoke bar. The only complaint that anyone had about the work environment currently, was Tim rambling on about his new dog Stella.

Tim lived alone, he went to work and came home. On the weekends he stayed in and watched TV, sometimes ventured out to see a movie, and on rare occasions would attend karaoke with his “friends” from work. This wouldn’t have been a problem for his coworkers, except that Tim loved to chat, and since the only people he saw were his coworkers, he was constantly bothering them with the excruciatingly mundane details of his nights and weekends. He would go on about the meals he had cooked for himself, the plots of movies and TV shows, the state of his tomato garden and anything else he could think about. It had become such a problem that it affected the productivity of his coworkers. His boss had spoken to him several times about it, but nothing ever changed, and eventually, his coworkers became good at drowning him out while they did their work. Tim became the equivalent of an easy listening radio station. A mediocre din in the background.

Tim wasn’t a stellar employee, but adequate. His performance reviews were only significant in their consistent mediocrity, and this assessment was true of Tim in every aspect.  Tim was an unremarkable man by all appearances. He had no sense of style, he wore sweater vests and khakis to work, his hair was always parted down the middle, and he wore glasses that nearly covered his entire face. Tim had no hobbies,  and no friends, other than his “friends” at work.  He was so average that it was remarkable, and if this were the extent of it, nobody at the office would have had a problem with Tim, but Tim seemed to be constantly trying to initiate conversations with people.  Despite this he somehow managed to get all his work done, so management had no solid reason to fire him.  Until he decided on New Years eve that a dog would cure his loneliness. The first few days after he brought Stella home from the pound his coworkers were a bit relieved. It was nice to hear him talking about something other than the day to day trivialness he normally spouted on about. But after a week of nonstop Stella talk his coworkers were starting to reach their boiling point.  His excitement over the dog made him more assertive in his attempts to strike up conversations with people. He would walk right into someones cubicle and start showing them pictures on his phone of the latest cute thing Stella had done.  A few people started wearing headphones at their desk while they worked, but Tim would just pull them off and start going on about Stella.

The only person in the office that wasn’t miserable, was Tim.  The second Friday after he’d gotten Stella he was in such a good mood that he decided to forgo binge watching Netflix and go out to Karaoke with his workmates.  As he was shutting down his computer he mentioned this to his cubicle mate, Fred, who often suffered the brunt of Tim’s endless mundane verbal assaults. His cubicle mate turned to him and said   “It’s fine if you come, but if you’re going to go on about your god damn dog all night why don’t you do us all a favor and stay home.”

Tim stood there, blinking at Fred. It was the first time anyone in the office had commented to him about his annoying habit, with the exception of his boss, who had always handled the situation very delicately.  His boss had always been more patient with him, since he was shielded from chatter box behind an office door.  Tim’s coworker stood up and walked away, joining a group that was waiting for him by the elevator. As his coworker stepped inside he heard woman’s voice, say.   “Thank God someone has finally said something to him.”

That Monday Tim showed up to the office early. He pulled a handgun out of his briefcase and checked the clip. He had thought about doing this for a long time, and the impulse to do so had been occurring so frequently that he had even made a New Year’s resolution to not go through with it.  He waited patiently for his coworkers to arrive, releasing the clip every five minutes or so, checking to see if it had bullets, and then returning it to the gun, Tim didn’t bother trying to hide the gun in his lap.  People were always trying to avoid eye contact with him in an attempt to avoid conversation.  He knew this, he knew that they hated him, knew that they wished he didn’t work there.  All he wanted was a little respect, and friendship, but they always shut him down and he was sick of it.  When his  cubicle mate finally did arrive Tim stared as he booted his computer and began rifling through papers in his briefcase. After feeling the weight of Tim’s stare for for a few minutes Fred turned to him and said.   “Hey, sorry about what I said on Friday. I was pretty stressed out and I was out of line.  No hard feelings-” and then Fred noticed the gun.

Tim watched as the expressions evolved on Fred’s face, from confusion, to realization, and finally to fear.  He smiled and said  “None,” as he lifted the gun out of his lap and fired a bullet into his wide eyed cubicle mates head.