Kirke the Jerk
By Al Kristopher
There are two types of children in this world: those that get picked on, and those that are bullies. Very rarely will there ever be a third party--one who is neither bully nor the target of their scorn--but they are out there, somewhere, just waiting to be heroes. Bullies are never heroes, and neither are the children they pick on. Only those in the third party, the hero's party, emerge as a legend.
"Kirke is a jerk! Kirke is a jerk!"
"I am not!"
"Are so, are so! Kirke the jerk! Kirke the jerk!"
"Hahahaha! Kirke the jerk! Kirke the jerk!"
"I'm NOT a jerk!"
"Kirke is a jerk, Kirke is a jerk!"
"Mrs. Beamer! The kids are picking on me again!"
"Children, you leave poor Kirke alone!"
"A-hahahahaha! Kirke the jerk!"
"Children! Do I have to put you in time-out?!"
Please put them in time-out, Mrs. Beamer. Please put them in time-out forever. I will be so grateful! I'll always get straight As on my report card! I'll never be bad in class! Just please, please get rid of them for me...
"You'll be sorry! I'll get you for making fun of me!"
"Ahahahahaha!! What're you gonna do, Kirke the jerk? Beat us up?"
"Maybe he'll go cry for his mommy!"
"Or Mrs. Beamer!"
"S-stop it! Y-you'll be sorry! I'll get back at you! Someday!"
You'll see. I'll get you back. Then we'll see who'll be laughing.
Fifteen years passed.
Alone, Kirke Kyrie sat on an uncomfortable wooden chair. He gazed down at the tiny cake and the two candles planted in it. It was his birthday, he was twenty years old, and he was all alone. Alone, on his birthday, with only the cake to comfort him. The candles hadn't even been lit.
Slowly, he shoved a piece of the cake in his mouth. It was a plain vanilla with plain frosting--big whoop-dee-doo. He chewed, swallowed silently, ate some more. After three bites, he left the rest on the table and kept on sitting in his chair, trapped in his own home, on his birthday, with nothing.
A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts. Without hesitation, Kirke stood up out of his chair and went to the door. He was greeted by a beautiful young lady, roughly his age, although much more enthusiastic.
"Mabel," whispered Kirke, an astonished look on his face. The girl smiled and flung her arms around him.
"Happy birthday, Mr. Kyrie!" she squealed. Kirke was still in shock by the time she had broken her hug, and was even more surprised when the lady gave him a kiss.
"Mabel," whispered Kirke after the kiss had been broken, "what are you doing here?" She smiled wryly and gave him a wink.
"What, a girl can't visit her boyfriend on his birthday?" Kirke managed to put a smile on his stoic face and invited the young lady inside. As she walked into his meager one-room house, Kirke couldn't help but spy a small box in her hands.
"Mabel," he addressed, "you didn't have to give me a present. Really."
"Aw, come on, you boring old hag!" she pouted. "It's your birthday! You gotta have presents for your birthday." Kirke sighed, and let her give him the box.
"Mabel," he warned, "I haven't had a present for my birthday in eight years."
"So may this be the first!" she squealed, more or less shoving the box in his hands. Kirke sighed and picked it up, but was interrupted by a very long and very passionate kiss from Mabel.
"Thanks," was all he could say. She giggled and ruffled his uncombed hair.
"I love you, you silly man!" she exclaimed. He smiled again and opened the box. It was a necklace, and a gem had been attached to it. It was Kirke's birthstone, a diamond.
"Mabel," he whispered, holding the necklace up, "you didn't have to give this to me!"
"Aww, but of course I did!" she sang, smiling happily. "You're my boyfriend, I love you to pieces, and it's your birthday!" He smiled again, almost showing genuine happiness, and hung the chain around his neck. It almost felt like it was made for him, which it was.
"Thanks," he said blankly. Mabel squealed and kissed his cheek several times. Kirke let her have some of his cake, and she stayed the entire night.
"What are you looking at?" Mabel peeked over Kirke's shoulder, straining to see what he was reading.
"The paper and my old elementary school yearbook," he replied. He had circled some names with a pencil in the book, and several clippings had been cut from the paper. Mabel sat down with him and gazed over the names.
"What is it?" she asked.
"Here," pointed Kirke. "See these names? See these people? They're wanted criminals now."
"Oh, wow, really?" whispered Mabel. Kirke nodded his head.
"Yeah. They were real trouble-makers back in the day: took lunch money, pushed other kids around, acted up in class. Some of them turned out to be good, and some good kids turned out to be bad. I just recognized these names." He then handed Mabel the newspaper he had been reading. Several names were listed in the paper, names of criminals and wanted men. Many of these names matched up with the names in the yearbook.
"That's disturbing," said Mabel softly. "Are you gonna keep those clippings for something?"
"Yeah," said Kirke, silently keeping vigil over an advertisement he had cut out. It read, "Able-bodied man wanted as executioner for Lorimar region. Must be able to decapitate criminals quickly and quietly, and without showing any feeling. Experience preferred but not necessary. Inquire at General Alexander's estate, 5 miles NE of Lorimar. Good pay, steady job."
Two months passed, and the ad remained unanswered.
"Mabel?" Kirke sighed, the ring in his pocket and the necklace over his nape. He knocked on the door again, hoping that she was home. This was it--he was really going to ask her this time. No more stuttering, no more mumbling, no more changing the subject... he was going to ask her today. Yes, today--NOW.
The door was unlocked. Mabel was a wonderful young lady who adored Kirke for reasons unknown. She was also a trusting soul, and a kind one, although not too rich, so she kept her door open. Her heart was rich, though, and she would have allowed anyone inside had they the courage to try the knob. Beggar, orphan, priest, burglar, con man, condemned, lover, enemy, it didn't matter. Mabel was just that kind of a girl, and even though he almost never showed it, Kirke loved her very much.
He opened the door and let himself in. "Mabel?" he called, and he said her name a few times more. "Mabel, it's Kirke!" No answer. She obviously wasn't home--otherwise, she would have been all over him. Kirke sighed and decided to just wait in her room. He had nowhere to go, no one to visit, no responsibilities at all. He had all the time in the world to wait.
"Mabel, you in here?" he said. Maybe she had only been napping, or else in some intense trance, and she hadn't heard him. Her room was unlocked as well, so he pushed it open...
"Oh, hey, Mabel," he said. He swallowed, eyeing the man she held in her arms. He had a pair of socks on, and she had a few ribbons in her hair, and it would be a lie to say that they were wearing more than that. Still, Kirke kept his unemotional gaze.
"Kirke, it's not what it seems!" she hissed.
"Who the heck is this guy?" asked the man in her arms. Mabel more or less pushed him away and put a sheet over her bare body; Kirke was once again reminded of how beautiful she really was.
"I know what it seems like, Mabel," he said dully. "It seems as if you've fallen into the arms of another man, and I've been fodder for you to step on since who knows when." He paused just long enough to shrug. "But, that's okay, because I just came by today to express my true feelings for you. Nothing more."
So much for the wedding. Oh, well. Who in their right mind would love me, anyway?
"Kirke, please..." moaned Mabel, tears in her eyes. Kirke held her face in his hand, wiping away the waterworks.
"I'm going home, Mabel," he said. "I knew it was too good to be true, anyway. Don't get me wrong, my feelings aren't hurt. I'm not even mad, just a little confused. Excuse me." Without hearing another word, Kirke left his would-be fiancées and her lover.
"Kirke, wait!!" Mabel grabbed hold of him, and held on so tightly that she almost strained herself. "It really isn't what you think, really it's not!"
"Why, did he rape you?"
"Don't you say anything!!" barked the man. Still wearing only his socks, he leaped out of the bed and stormed off after him. A weapon was in his hand.
"Yes, yes!" shrieked Mabel. Casually, Kirke turned around to confront the man.
"I don't know what's going on," he said blankly. "But whatever this was, I really don't think you should come after this lady with a weapon. I suggest you put it away."
"Oh?!" barked the man. "And what are you going to do about it, jerk?!"
"Jerk?" Kirke the jerk, Kirke the jerk, Kirke the jerk... "Did you just call me a jerk?"
"Yeah, jerk! Hey, your name is Kirke, right? Hahaha! Kirke the jerk! Get it?"
Kirke is a jerk, Kirke is a jerk, Kirke is a jerk, Kirke is a jerk...
Emotionlessly, Kirke snapped his arm out and grabbed the other man by the wrist. He squeezed, and a terrifying scream roared out of the other man's throat. He didn't look it, but Kirke had the strength of a bear, and he could snap bones with his powerful grip. Mabel audibly breathed a sigh of relief.
"I suggest you apologize," he said blankly. The man screamed and kneeled to the floor in agony.
"AAAAAAAUGHHH, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!!" Kirke immediately released his grip, kneeled down to the man's level, and whispered something to him.
"I'm not going to kill you," he mumbled. "I think you've been punished enough. But if you ever come near Mabel or me ever again, I'll snap your hands off. Do I make myself perfectly clear?" Crying, the man nodded his head, and Kirke silently led a barely-covered Mabel back to his house.
Two more months passed.
"Hum, who're you?" Kirke walked forward, emotionless. He dropped the clipping he had cut out, the one for the executioner position. The man picked it up, scanned over it, and peered carefully at Kirke.
"You don't look like an executioner," he said.
"Try me," was the reply. The man frowned and adjusted his glasses. Wordlessly, he nodded his head at a nearby guard. The guard brought a large coconut with him, and he carefully placed it on a stool.
"If you can cut that in half," pointed the man, "then you've got the job. We've been getting requests ever since we've put that thing up, and nobody can fit the bill." Kirke wordlessly nodded his head and asked for an axe or a scythe. He was given the latter.
"In half, right?" he asked. The man nodded his head. Kirke studied the coconut for a few seconds, raised his weapon, and nonchalantly brought it down with the force of a hammer-blow. Both the coconut and the stool it was rested on were cleaved in two. The man gasped in awe at Kirke's technique, nearly dropping his cigar in the process.
"Th... that was mahogany!" he spat. "That stool was made out of mahogany!"
"I've had good motivation," said Kirke blankly. The man looked at him in amazement.
"For taking this job."
"Son," said the man, shaking his head in disbelief, "I don't care who you are or why you're here, but if you can slice through a coconut and a mahogany stool, then you're on our payroll!"
"Good," said Kirke blankly. Kirke the jerk, Kirke is a jerk, what'll you do, cry to mommy? Or maybe he'll tell on Mrs. Beamer! Kirke is a jerk, Kirke is a jerk...
"When do I start?"
One year passed.
"Bring in the next criminal, please."
"Yes, sir!!" Kirke sighed, resting on his scythe as the guards brought in another criminal. I'm doing the right thing. I'm meting out justice. All of these people have gotten fair trials by competent jurors, and they've all been found guilty. Their punishment is death, and I am the means to that end.
So why am I suddenly so happy?
Kirke grinned from ear to ear as he heard the next name.
"Julius Mardner!" Julius Mardner had been the first person to ever address Kirke Kyrie as a jerk. In his adulthood, he had robbed an imperial storehouse and killed the son of a nobleman. Now, he was nothing but a condemned man. Shoving, pushing, the guards laughed and spat as they forced Julius up to the executioner's square. Kirke looked at his former tormenter hungrily, and kept his grin.
"Hello, Julius Mardner!" he sang. Julius looked up and gasped.
"Kirke Kyrie! I knew you in elementary school!"
"Not exactly," relied Kirke. "You picked on me. You called me a jerk. You made my childhood a living Hell!"
"But Kirke! That was all in the past! I was just some goofy kid who didn't know any better!" Kirke paused, still grinning, and started to laugh out loud.
"Julius Mardner, beaten up by the gardener! Julius Mardner, beaten up by the gardener! Hahahahahahahaha!!!" He raised his scythe, SLICE!!
Who's laughing now?
"Bring in the next criminal, please."
"Yes, sir!!" Kirke sighed, resting on his scythe as the guards brought out the next condemned man. In the year that had passed, Kirke had become exceptionally good at cutting off criminal's heads--maybe a little too good. He was the world's most feared executioner: cold, hard, emotionless, and quick. His habit of taunting the condemned had given way to his reputation; sometimes, the executions were made public, just so the "audience" could hear Kirke sing out his famous taunts.
"Fredrik Mahar!" Kirke smiled gleefully as he heard another familiar name. Fredrik Mahar was another famous bully in the old school. He had done his fair share of pushing other kids, and his favorite person to push was Kirke. It was from Fredrick that Kirke got nicknamed "Piggy Turk Kirke", because he apparently liked being pushed in the mud.
"Hello, Fred," smiled Kirke. Like the man before him, Fredrik Mahar recognized Kirke immediately. Like Julius, he begged for Kirke's forgiveness; like Julius, he was taunted, and like so many others, he received a cold and quick death at the hands of the world's most famous executioner.
I told you I'd get back at you.
"Bring in the next criminal, please."
"Yes, sir!!" Kirke sighed to himself. Today was very busy. Old Barbarossa had really started cracking down on these lawless types. Kirke figured that he would never be out of a job if this continued. This, of course, made him smile. He enjoyed getting revenge very much. To his recollection, exactly nine of the fourteen people that had bullied him in his youth had been executed by him. The other five had either reformed or had yet to be captured. Kirke hoped that it was the latter.
The guards quietly escorted Kirke's next victim to the square, and he couldn't help but gape as he saw who it was. Rarely did Kirke ever show emotion, but this time he was willing to make an exception.
"This can't be real," he whispered. "Mabel?"
"Yes, Kirke," she replied. Her voice was so soft that it sounded like it would have broken had it fallen on the ground.
"Impossible!" he hissed. "What on earth did you do?"
"I killed a man," she replied. Kirke swallowed, hoping that the accusation was false.
"No, that can't be..."
"I admitted to it in court," replied Mabel, her eyes surprisingly dry. "I killed a man, Kirke! I ended the life of another human being!"
"Who?" he asked, loosening his grip on his scythe. Mabel paused before speaking.
"That man that you caught me in bed with," she whispered. "The man who raped me. After you broke up with me, I ran out in the world, and I found out where he lived, and I went to his house, and I... I..."
"You killed him." Kirke swallowed, shutting his eyelids. He did not want to see her now, or ever. "Mabel, no matter what this man did to you, you had no right--"
"I know," she replied. Wordlessly, she kneeled down, and placed her head on the block like a sacrificial lamb. "Just forgive me, Kirke. Please, please forgive me." Kirke sighed, the weapon still in his hands.
If the executioner does not feel the need to perform his duty, then the condemned may go free, granted that the executioner keep watch over the condemned. It's all in your hands now, Kirke. It is all in your hands, literally in your hands.
Kirke loosened his grip on his weapon. Without saying I love you, without saying I forgive you, without saying You're free to go, he ripped off his necklace and threw it at his former love. The look she gave him would haunt him until his last days.
Your mission is to exact justice. Above all else, you must ensure that justice is done. It is all in your hands, Kirke. Mercy or judgment, it's all up to you. That is your blessing, and that is your curse. I will have nothing to say on the matter.
Kirke swung his weapon in the air...
"Bring in the next criminal, please."