Master's Degree

by Robin Wyatt Dunn

(Originally appeared in See Spot Run in December 2012.)

I shot him in the quadrangle at the university, his short fat body pitching forward into the Earth.  God bless the State of Texas and its concealed carry laws. 

I put the gun back in my pocket and walked over to him, knowing I should run, if only to put on a show:  Killer flees down Interstate, news at 11.  I wasn’t sure it was a good trade:  ending his life at 45, life in prison without parole for me, at 33.  But I sure loved watching him die.

            “You’re . . . going to Hell,” he rasped, blood on his lips.  I nodded, looking down at him, calm.

The joke amongst students of the Humanities (that would be Literature, History and Sociology, folks) is that the politics are so vicious because the stakes are so low.  The sciences can afford to be polite about their backstabbing, even gentlemanly.  But when an underpaid associate professor of English Literature and a food stamps collecting graduate student of same go at it, it’s two starving rats fighting over the last crust of bread.  It’s mean.

It was a fight over Jacques Derrida.  You see how ridiculous this is?  One Texan killing another over some blowhard Frenchman.  It wasn’t like the professor had insulted my mother or something, he was just an idiot.  Part of me wanted to write a poststructuralist essay about the competing vectors of his muscle movements in his dying body, just to spit in his face.

What do we learn, men?  Am I so different from the lone wanderer of legend kicking a thousand miles of dust off his boots to sight his rifle at his sworn enemy, an avatar of rock and flesh painted brown by the western sun?  Killing is what we do.  We kill to learn. 

Like they say, I’ll have a lot of time to think about it.  All I want you to remember is this:  think twice before you dismiss those pale green hallways of the English Department as a remote Egghead kingdom, thin-lipped and civilized.  This here is the OK Corral for bookworms, O Wanderer with my eyes.

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