William Quincy Belle is just a guy. Nobody famous; nobody rich; just some guy who likes to periodically add his two cents worth with the hope, accounting for inflation, that $0.02 is not over-evaluating his contribution. He claims that at the heart of the writing process is some sort of (psychotic) urge to put it down on paper and likes to recite the following which so far he hasn't been able to attribute to anyone: "A writer is an egomaniac with low self-esteem." You will find Mr. Belle's unbridled stream of consciousness here (http://wqebelle.blogspot.ca) or @here (https://twitter.com/wqbelle).
Murray looked at the clue for seven across, Movie award, then looked back at the puzzle. Five letters. He silently spelled out O-S-C-A-R. It fit. Nevertheless, he used a pencil. He was almost one hundred percent certain but was always cautious. He never knew when some crazy letter combination would trip him up, especially early in the crossword.
He leaned forward, reaching for his coffee. It was a lazy Saturday morning. His wife was out running errands, so he had some time to indulge in his pleasure, the weekly puzzle. Leaning back into the couch, he propped his legs up on the coffee table and adjusted the folded newspaper against his left thigh. He searched out seven down when a slight movement caught his eye: a fly was walking along the upper-left edge of the newspaper. He flicked a hand at the insect and it flew away.
Seven down was defined as Furnace fuel, three letters. Since the O of Oscar was the starting letter, the answer seemed to be oil, but Murray checked the other definitions, just to make sure. As he read the other clues, something moved in his peripheral vision; he glanced up to find the fly walking along the upper-right edge of the paper. He stared for a moment before giving a half-hearted swipe. The fly dodged the gesture.
He leaned forward and took another sip of coffee, leisurely savoring the java. It was a wonderful morning: no work, no reason to rush off. He settled back into the cushions and studied the clue for fourteen across. Nothing obvious came to mind, so he looked at the puzzle grid. His brow furrowed when he saw the box labeled fourteen was already filled in, but he couldn’t recall having written anything. As he stared, confused, the black mark in box fourteen moved. His eyes widened as the fly stirred. Startled, he shook the paper before propping the paper back up against his leg and examining the crossword. Box fourteen was now empty.
As he was about to pencil in his answer, Murray stopped and looked around, suddenly wary. His eyes roamed over the upper edge of the newspaper, up and down the left and right sides, and across the middle, settling on the crossword. No fly. He half-smiled at his own foolishness and raised his pencil. Something zipped in front of his face. Ignoring it, he printed a capital I before moving to the next box. Once again something whizzed by; he printed the letter L. Lifting his pencil from the puzzle with a satisfied smile, he heard the plop of something landing on the page. The fly had touched down in the middle of the crossword. He pursed his lips: this creature seemed determined to ruin his leisure activity. It had to go.
Putting down the pencil and slowly bringing his hand back to the paper, he cocked his middle finger against his thumb and came up behind the fly. It moved; he froze. It took a few steps and became still. He waited a moment then flicked his finger, catching the insect and launching it into the middle of the room. He grinned triumphantly and took another sip of coffee.
The smartphone on the table rang. Murray pushed a button and held the device to his ear. “Hello?” He glanced at the clock in the kitchen. “Eleven would be great. Don’t forget, I’m taking you out for brunch today.”
He looked at the crossword as he listened. “My treat. I want to try Alfred’s Café. I’ve never been there and somebody at work said their eggs benedict is to die for.”
He glanced at fourteen across: a five-letter word, starting with I, for Ridiculous person.
“I’ll see you shortly. Love ya.”
He ended the call, lost in thought. What was a synonym for ridiculous person? Putting down the phone, he picked up his pencil.
As he contemplated the answer, he noticed the fly crawling around the upper corner of the grid and slammed his hand down. The sharp end of the pencil tore through the newspaper, stabbing his thigh. He yelped and jerked his leg as something ripped.
Rubbing his leg, Murray examined his pants for a hole. He couldn’t see anything, but continued to massage his thigh. “Geez. That hurt.” He took a sip of coffee and settled back into the couch, determined to finish his crossword. He positioned the paper on his thigh and looked down: the newspaper had a gash running down the middle of the page and right through the crossword. The puzzle had been ripped in two.
His eyes widened and he pursed his lips. “Why, you little ...” He twisted his head around, seeking the object of his displeasure. He spotted a black dot on the wall. He set down the newspaper and pencil and picked up a magazine. Holding it with two hands, he rolled it into a tube.
Cautiously, he approached the dot on the wall. At the last possible moment, he swung his arm: the magazine scraped along the wall, hitting a picture frame. The entire painting shifted, and the wire support slipped off the nail. As the frame fell, one end knocked into the arm of a straight-back chair, shattering the glass.
He glared at the shards of glass spread over the floor. A flush crept up his face, and he turned back to the room. His gaze darted back and forth, looking for the insect that had ruined his morning. He couldn’t see it. He revolved on one spot carefully examining the room until a movement caught his attention. Seeing the fly walking on the ceiling over the entertainment center, he rushed over and jumped. He flailed the magazine at the fly, but couldn’t quite reach the nuisance.
Placing a foot on the first shelf, Murray tested his weight. Reaching up to the top shelf for support, he took a step up and tilted his head up to look for the fly. It was still on the ceiling. He carefully raised the magazine, trying to maintain his balance, and swung at it. As it moved away, he felt something wasn’t right. Jerking his head to one side, he realized the bookcase was tipping and jumped out of the way as the entertainment center toppled over with a loud crash. The television set smashed as it met the hardwood, books and knick-knacks scattering across the floor.
Murray threw up his arms and yelled in frustration, rushing back and forth, looking at the mess from different angles. He glanced at the clock in the kitchen, then stared down at the fallen bookcase. Slapping his forehead, he looked again at the clock: he only had ten minutes. Something flew in front of his face, and he saw the fly flitting back and forth in a stream of sunlight coming through the kitchen window. Without taking his eyes off the insect, his hand tightened on the magazine.
He rushed into the kitchen, waving the rolled-up magazine like a club. Up. Down. Left. Right. The insect evaded his best efforts, though he struck enough times to kill a horde of locusts. The sound of his own panting buzzed in his ears. He bent over and put a hand on each knee, trying to catch his breath. Was it done? Had he extinguished the bane of his existence?
Something flew across his field of vision, and his eyes fell upon the fly as it landed on top of the refrigerator. He raised the magazine, strode three paces, and beat the top of the appliance. He grabbed the refrigerator handle as his foot slipped on the linoleum. The magazine again swept across the top of the fridge, pushing several containers against the wall. He finally lost his balance, and as he fell against the door the entire refrigerator shook. A flour container bounced against the wall, flipping onto its side. The top of the container flew off, flour pouring over the edge and onto his head. Sputtering in rage, he brushed a hand over his face.
Blinking, Murray looked down at his shirt. He was covered in white powder. Surveying the shambles his house was now in, he heard a key in the front door. A black dot was on the wall by the window. He took several stealthy steps toward his quarry as a voice from the front said, “Honey, I’m home.” He slammed the magazine into the wall, hitting the end of a decorative shelf and launching several pieces of pottery that flew through the glinting sunlight before smashing on the linoleum floor.
He looked at the end of the magazine. The oozing remains of the insect stuck to the page. He turned to see his wife standing in the middle of the living room, eyes wide, her jaw dropped. Murray half-spit, half-blew flour from his mouth and held up the magazine. “Look, sweetie. I killed a fly.”