The fluidity with which Goliath Estevon, a towering Negro with iron jowls, moved crates from shelf to shelf in the warehouse was astounding, though unnoticed. His muscles pumped, and his teeth clenched, but never did he speak. He lifted and dropped each and every crate with a stone face, inconspicuous and monosyllabic. His iron eyes focused on the next phase of his task; he neither faltered nor paused in his monotonous duty. Though the veins in his arms bulged outwards, and sweat kept his shirt glued to his mammoth back, Goliath kept on till the joyous sound of the bell signaled the day’s end.
Mechanically, Goliath lowered his burden for the final time that day, and proceeded to fall in line with the other warehouse workers. They herded themselves, like cattle, to eagerly punch out their timecards; it was a memorized process. There was order to it, stability. Each day was as predictable as the last.
After he exited the warehouse, Goliath walked through the twenty foot gate, leaving the factory grounds. It was in the middle of January, that time of year when all grew tired of cold and snow, and the magic of Christmas had been long forgotten. Goliath didn’t bother with a jacket; he seemed impervious to the chilly night air, though his breath—hot and steamy—formed small clouds in the air.
Goliath walked on the sidewalk, past cars backed up in the roaring Atlanta city. His fists, like cinderblocks, were clenched. His heavy feet sunk deep into the snow, leaving a trail of wide footsteps. People, sitting in their cars in the heavy traffic jam, looked out their window to see the seven foot tall mammoth of a man, dressed humbly in a worker’s shirt, slacks and suspenders walk past them. Though the fierce blizzard wind pushed on his clothes, he seemed unmoved by it. The wind would push, shove, and groan, trying to shove him over, but he would not be budged by it.
Fists ever clenched, he continued this way till he arrived upon a lonely street where the traffic seemed to cease and fade off into nothingness. It appeared untouched by the rest of the world, with only a few brick buildings and a solitary street lamp to signal that life dwelt there. A rusted-green sign stood at the corner with the words Adam’s St on it. Goliath walked up the steps to the third brick building on the right side of the street, and opened the door.
The inside of the small house was warm, and brightly lit by an overhanging lamp in the hall. Goliath looked to his right and saw a fuzzy, pink coat hanging up on the coat rack. He nodded approvingly, and crossed into the kitchen to his left, his footsteps pounding heavily on the stained linoleum floor. Goliath’s eyes first rested over two very large steaming mugs of hot cocoa on the table, and then a girl whose curly hair was done up in several pink ribbons. She wore pink lipstick and eye shadow. Her shirt was white, done up in several pink buttons, her skirt had many ruffles on it, and only went over her knees in Victorian-Gothic fashion. She had stockings in pink and white stripes, and a pair of very dainty booties that laced up to her shins. She greeted him with a grin.
“Hello Mr. Giant,” she said, her feet dangling off the chair. She had the stature of a small child.
“Eve,” Goliath grumbled cordially. He sat down across from her, and immediately wolfed down the cocoa.
Eve stared at him, giving him a disapproving glare. “You didn’t wear your coat today,” she said.
“Don’t need one.”
“You will get sickies!” Eve cried, placing her hands on her cheeks, “I bought that coat for a reason!”
“With my money,” Goliath said. He stood and collected both the empty mugs from the table, before lumbering over to the kitchen sink.
“Speaking of which, when do you get paid again?” Eve asked, batting her large eyelashes at him.
“I need some more ribbons.”
“Don’t you have enough?”
“One can never have enough ribbons, Mr. Giant. How silly you are.”
A deep sigh escaped him. He added the two mugs to the rest of the dishes piled up in the sink. He picked up a plate, and silently scrubbed the sponge over it. Goliath never complained to Eve about her expensive habits, or her refusal to take part in any household chores. Goliath merely shrugged submissively, or sighed in annoyance, but never vocalized his feelings more than that. The dishes he washed clinked a tad more noisily than they had on earlier nights. Normally, when he washed, they were noiseless like the dark.
Once before he’d washed in a loud, rattling frenzy, a year ago, during a far worse winter. His routine had been disrupted due to the incompetence, and unnecessary tantrums of a manager. A crate had fallen when the manager had insisted on lifting one to prove his strength to the workers. The crate crashed, and the manager blamed the event upon Goliath. He kept quiet, and allowed the issue to resolve itself. The manager was eventually fired, but not until a week later, and Goliath had gone home to an empty house.
It was that night that he’d met Eve. She was scrounging around in a dumpster for food, her thin, pale hands shakily grabbing at anything that appeared edible. Goliath stopped, for the first time in six years in his march from work to his house. He watched for a minute, as a group of young thugs gathered around her, they advanced upon her, and in her helplessness she gave into them. Their intentions were made clear as they shoved her against a wall and began to undo her shirt.
An unknowable madness took possession over Goliath. On any other night, he would have abandoned her to the city’s clutches, but the rage left within him longed to be vented, and he found his fist flying towards the ruffians. Arms were broken, and faces were battered beneath Goliath’s pummeling fists. The smell of blood drove him further. He was deaf to their screams. Goliath only finished when there were three bodies lying in the snow around the young woman’s bare feet; the snow was the color of roses.
Goliath disposed of the bodies in the dumpster, and carried the girl into his house where he laid her against the sofa. She was awakened later by the agitated sounds of him washing the dishes. Goliath was surprised to feel two very thin arms clutch his waist. He felt her face press into his back. Goliath closed his eyes. The dishes slipped out of his hands and gently fell into the soapy water.
Now, he washed those dishes in the same agitated way. They clinked noisily as he slammed them together. Eve smiled at him from her place upon the stool. He looked back at her often, peeking over his shoulder at the strawberry angel. The ghostly feeling of her hands still rested on his sides.
“Goliath?” she asked,
“Why is there a shotgun in your closet?”
Goliath turned around. He stared at her through squinted eyes, “It’s special.”
“What’s so special about it?”
Eve stood and tiptoed softly towards him. She wrapped her arms around his waist. Goliath paused in washing the dishes, and reached around to pat her shoulder. She buried her face into his side, and rubbed it gently. Goliath looked down at her.
“So what’s the gun for?” she asked again, looking up at him, and giving him that disarming smile.
“Protection,” he growled, shoving her arms off him. Goliath turned his back to her. He walked into the living room, leaving the dishes untouched and grimy.
“Protection from what?” Eve asked.
No reply came. Instead, Goliath lain upon the couch, closed his eyes, and went to sleep.
Eve stared. Her smile vanished. She took three steps forwards, and stopped. A tear dripped down the side of her rosy cheek.
The following morning, Goliath awoke. He opened his eyes to see Eve’s shining wide eyes staring at him. She was decked out in pink ribbons in her hair, puffy dress, and shirt—her usual attire. Goliath rubbed his eyes, and rolled over. He cast a wayward glance towards the kitchen sink. The dishes were clean. Goliath blinked, surprised.
“Washed ‘em?” He asked, leaning up swiftly.
Eve nodded so emphatically that her curls bounced along the side of her head like blond slinkies. She smiled so big that her eyes squinted. Eve then grabbed the sides of her skirt and twirled around in a mock pirouette.
“Why?” Goliath asked.
Eve stopped. She looked at him with wide, shining eyes, “Protection from what?”
Goliath’s mouth tightened. His hard and calloused knuckles tightened as he curled his hands into fists and stood. The clean dishes on the side of the sink clinked together, flustered by Goliath’s movements, as he stomped towards the bathroom. Eve rang her hands around in her apron. She stared at him with quivering, painted-pink lips.
For the first time since that fateful day one year ago, Goliath’s work schedule was interrupted, this time not by a careless error, or a crashing of a crate, but by a summoning to the manager’s office. Now, as the previous manager had been fired from his duties,
Goliath had not met the new manager, or even looked upon him once. For Goliath, the manager was a silhouette behind a pane of glass who took notice of tasks worthier of his gaze. That was how things should operate; Goliath’s duties bore a tradition of running smooth, and without mishap, and had no need for any sort of outside meddling or supervision. Why he would be called upon by the man who signed his checks, Goliath could not guess.
He opened the door to the manager’s office in a foul mood. His routine: disrupted. In his mind there was no greater sin. Time was an essential immovable force, and it went on its unstoppable course regardless Goliath was at his post or not. Goliath had a quota to meet; he could never dream of failing to meet it.
“Ah, Mr. Estevon,” the squeaky voice from behind the desk said, “Have a seat, I’ve wanted to talk to you.”
Noiselessly, Goliath rested his square frame into one of the miniscule armchairs in front the wooden desk. The desk was unremarkable in the sense that it was kept in fine order with no signs of anything being remotely out of place. Each paper was aligned properly, and rested exactly three inches away from the pencil sharpener, three inches from the computer monitor, and another three inches from the stapler. Every item was evenly distanced from the other, and was all placed in a symmetrical fashion.
The clock on the wall beat rhythmically as the manager leaned forward, his face coming into the light of the computer monitor so that Goliath saw him for the first time. The manager called “Mr. M” from the sign placed at the front of his desk was relatively short, bald, and bespectacled. He smiled, clasping his hands together non-threateningly.
“Mr. Estevon, how long have you been with this company?” Mr. M asked.
“And up until one day last year there were no accidents?”
Goliath wrapped his thick knuckles around the thin arms of the chair. “Yes.”
“The man responsible was thus fired, but you were never compensated were you for his indiscretion?” Mr. M asked.
Mr. M smiled reassuringly at Goliath’s nervous tone, “Mr. Estevon I take my role here as your supervisor very seriously, and going through my records I’ve found you to be one of the most dependable employees this company has ever seen. Not one late, nor sick day, and you’re a fine example to the rest of the employees.”
“I’m grateful for the compliment, may I resume work now?”
Mr. M chuckled, “Goliath, I brought you in here because I want to raise your salary.”
For a second, Goliath felt the clock cease its ticking. M’s mouth moved but no sounds came out. Instead, all Goliath could hear were his own heart beating, and the words “raise your salary” repeat endlessly in his head. His jaw made a clacking sound as if it had been unused and rusted over as it dropped in shock. In seventeen years, Goliath had never once been commended for his work ethics, or even promised a raise.
“Thank you,” Goliath whispered in a hoarse voice.
“I’m not done yet, Mr. Estevon,” Mr. M said fondly, “I’ve arranged a little vacation time for you, starting now. Take the rest of the week off.”
“How will I earn money?” Goliath stammered.
“Paid vacation, Mr. Estevon.”
Something moist trickled down the side of Goliath’s cheek. He touched it. He blinked. His eyes burned. Goliath had shed a tear. The corners of his mouth turned upwards, and he could almost hear the groaning of gears as he nearly smiled.
“Oh, and one more thing, Mr. Estevon, I want to warn you,” Mr. M said, breaking Goliath out of his peaceful reverie.
“There is a young woman living with you, yes?”
“Yes, well back before I came to manage this warehouse, I’d lost my job at a mental
institute due to my failure to house one of the inmates up,” Mr. M explained, shuffling the papers absent-mindedly on his desk, “She was so charming and innocent, I honestly believed she could do no wrong. I mean, how could you not fall in love with those pink ribbons?”
“Protection for what?” A small voice echoed in the back of Goliath’s mind.
Goliath swiveled his gaze towards the window of the manager’s office. For the second time that day, his jaw dropped. Standing in the window, in the building opposite the warehouse, with Goliath’s shotgun, was Eve. She had a smile on her face, and the barrel of the gun aimed straight for Goliath’s heart. She let out a giggle as Goliath saw her, and pulled on the trigger with ease.
The bullet shot through the glass shattering it. Goliath and Mr. M immediately ducked. The papers on M’s desk flew as the manager scrambled for cover. Goliath shot a look at Mr. M who was steadily looking towards the window.
“I should have told you sooner, I’m sorry! I didn’t know she was living with you until I started looking through your files!” Mr. M stammered.
Eve took another shot through the window. The sound pierced Goliath’s heart, though he calmly kept his head lowered. He stood.
“I only loaded it with two bullets,” he growled, “You’ll be safe.”
Goliath clenched his fist around the handle of the door.
“Where are you going?” M cried.
Goliath opened the door and stormed out, slamming it shut behind him. He descended the iron staircase with the gait of a man determined. The stairs beneath his feet clanked and rattled noisily, complaining beneath the weight of the massive man. Several fellow employees called out his name, voicing their concerns about the gunshot, though Goliath ignored them. His eyes glazed over, while his mind barreled through Eve’s latest and final grievance against him. She’d taken it, his prized possession, his token, his symbol of control over his fury.
Years ago, before Eve, before the warehouse, before Goliath had reached his full gargantuan height and build, he smiled. He was a child once, innocent, free; the world bore no ill towards him, only the promise of something new to discover with the rise of each sun. How wonderfully naïve he was in those days, unaware of the battle between good and evil echoing outside his very bedroom wall.
His mother, a professional “companion”, had finally arrived to that point where no amount of abuse could be forgiven. Every woman has such drive; it is buried deep down inside them beneath layers of compassion, forgiveness, and the desire to bring things together. But with every time her “husband” slapped her, he burrowed deeper and deeper through those layers. She helped him claw into that part of her too, though not willingly. For each and every time she seduced a customer, allowed them to ravage the temple of her body, and collected the money, another layer of motherly compassion was taken away. It was only a matter of time before Goliath’s mother was a screaming, vengeful she-devil with a shattered beer bottle to serve as her weapon against the drunken monster lunging himself at her.
Goliath didn’t remember much of those days. Though he remembered the screams well enough, and he remembered with perfect clarity, the day his mother purchased the shotgun. The gun was beautiful; the gun was perfect; the gun was god. His mother must have loved it, for while she’d forget to tell Goliath goodnight, he would find her sleeping next to that thing, cradling it like a newborn infant.
When he was old enough, Goliath stole the gun. He was sixteen, and despite his mother’s earlier experiences with the monster called “man” she always found herself around the same dark, violent figures. These monsters Goliath remembered, and should he forget there were scars along his back to remind him. Goliath reached his breaking point far sooner than his mother ever had, and so felt that he’d earned the right to her precious gun. He took the gun, along with several hundred dollars one of his mother’s boyfriends had left in his wallet in her bedroom, and vanished. He never saw her again, and was glad for it.
Goliath didn’t mind that Eve had shot at him. He’d be mildly and understandably upset, but even then her actions would have been forgivable and he would have been content with resuming the mundane rut of his life. But she’d shot him with his gun. Eve had not earned the right to wield that weapon; if she were going to shoot at him it would have been more polite to use her own weapon.
No snowflake was chillier than Goliath’s heart that afternoon, as he stormed home, neglecting his duties for the first time. His routine had exceeded disruption, it had been abandoned completely. Goliath stormed up the stairs to his apartment, and opened the door so swift and so forcefully that the hinges broke. The door creaked, groaned, and fell forwards with a mighty thud. Goliath stood in the doorway, breathing heavily. He snorted like a bull and barreled into the kitchen.
Eve was waiting. She gave him a warm smile and gestured to a large, steaming cup of cocoa on the table. Goliath took no steps into the kitchen.
“What was the name of the asylum?”
“Ashcroft Asylum, dreadful place,” Eve said in a chipper tone. She took a sip of her cocoa, and held it close to her, “Its cold Mr. Goliath, you should drink up!”
“You shot at me. With my own gun.”
“I just wanted to see if it worked,” Eve sang, tilting her head back and forth, letting her ringlets bounce.
Disarmed by her innocent charms, Goliath took a few apprehensive steps into the kitchen. Eve crooked her finger at him, beckoning him to sit with her. The rosy pink of her lips glinted in the light, and Goliath began to chide himself for ever thinking such a sweet face could be capable of evil. Malcontent was beyond her grasp, he decided. Goliath sat. He stared warily at the large mug with the pink heart painted on the side. Eve merely beamed at him.
“Same delicious cocoa you always drink dear.”
Goliath took a swig. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Eve’s smile broaden. She kicked back and forth with her legs in a childlike fashion and began humming a perky tune.
“So no hard feelings about earlier?” she asked.
“Protection for what?” Eve repeated, giving him a glossy stare.
As she spoke, Goliath’s vision distorted, Eve appeared long and thin, stretched out. His eyes began to droop, and his limbs turned to jelly, useless at his sides. Eve smiled and stood. She crossed over to the other side of the table and patted him on the shoulder.
“I slipped a few sedatives into your cocoa to help you sleep tonight,” she explained, her voice a distant echo to Goliath’s drugged mind, “Now before you pass into eternal slumber answer my question.”
“Protection…” Goliath moaned, “Protection from you.”
With that, he slumped over, his face banging against the table, and was slain. Eve pursed her lips, chewing over the thought like a cow chews on cud. She shrugged her itty bitty shoulders and skipped over, dancing over the fallen door singing in a schoolgirl style voice, all the way down the snow-covered Adams St.
She sang, “David killed Goliath with but one stone. He took five but he only used one. Yes, David killed Goliath with but one single stone. Like that, the giant fell.”
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