I'm so glad Spring is here. It's still cold, but I believe it's a different kind of cold; it's your cold foot when you wake up with your leg hanging out from under the blankets. It's only the leftover chill from the night, and it means that the rains, and then finally, the sun is coming. I'll miss the snow, but I'm ready for the new season.
I realize that it's been a long time since I've posted any of my writing on here, so I'm going to give you guys another of my short stories. WARNING: FOUL LANGUAGE AND DESCRIPTION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
I hope you enjoy it, this one's called:
"The Other Guy"
I remember the night that I decided to leave. He had been drinking again, which wasn't any kinda surprise, and came home yelling about how I'd stolen his life (also not a surprise).
“Fuck you, Denise,” at that point, it had become his catch-phrase. “I can't believe I'm stuck with a waste like you, I coulda' had any girl in school... I coulda' done whatever the fuck I wanted... but you had to get knocked up!”
It was a mantra by that time, and he'd been perfecting it since the first time I asked him to stay home, instead of going out to get plowed with his buddies. I was used to it... hell, it was almost a comfort on those nights I had been worried he wasn't coming home. I don't know what did it that night, but hearing him say “knocked up” in his special way... well, it just brought bile to the back of my throat. I'm still not real sure why I said it... or at least, I'm not sure why I picked that night to say it.
“You're right, Steve. If only you could've been as limp on that night as you normally are...”
It definitely wasn't the first time he'd hit me, but I'd never felt the blood explode in my mouth like that before. What a prick.
“You dumb bitch...” gosh, my fella had a way with words.
I spit. It was disgusting. Saliva and snot, mixed with blood and... oh shit. It was tears too, the bastard had made me cry. I think that's what did it. I was so disgusted with myself for crying, and giving that pig the satisfaction.
I spit again, this time just to clear my mouth so I could talk. I was pissed, and I was going to be heard. Even if he killed me.
I take a drag off my cigarette as Dave turns his recorder off. I don't really know him, but he's cute and he smells great, and he asked me to call him Dave. So I do.
“Do you mean that he'd beaten you before?”
“Well sure,” I'm givin' him my sweetest grin, and he looks surprised. It's cute.
“Why didn't you leave earlier, then?”
“I was in love, wasn't I?”
“How could you ever love someone that would hit you?” He's naive, but his voice is sweet, and he means well.
“Well, Dave,” I start, noticing I'm getting pretty far down on my cig already, “my daddy used to hit me with a switch when I was bein' bad...” I give Dave a second to think on what I'm sayin'. “I still love him.”
Poor Dave doesn't get it, so he takes a deep breath and starts his recorder thing again.
“Okay, Denise. So, you spit out the blood so that you could talk...”
There he stood over me, staring down like I was something he'd wiped off the bottom of his shoe. I could see that he hated me in that moment, and it made me feel so much better.
“There ya go, Steve, don't stop now. Show me how much of a man you really are. Hit me again.”
For a minute, his face turned red and I could see that he was trying to fight that fire that had roared up inside of him. He wanted to go off on me, to beat the words back into my mouth, and I just sat there waiting for it. But, if you'll believe it, the anger disappeared just as fast as it came.
“You bitch,” he smiled as he said it. The asshole. He smiled and he cussed, and then he had the nerve to start laughing. Fucking prick.
“You just wanna be able to go to work and show all your new pals how mean I am. Damn girl, you almost drug me in with that shit.” He walked into the kitchen, then, and from my place on the floor, I heard the sound of a beer can opening. “Well I aint gonna be the one payin' for your pity party this time, honey,” he said from the kitchen. “You want a beer?”
Like I said, fuck him.
“Honey.” I kept hearing his calloused fucking voice, just dripping with sarcasm as he said it. That was the moment when I knew that I was done.
CLICK CLICK CLICK
Dave's recorder starts making a funny noise and he snatches it up off the table.
“Sorry, Mrs. Henley...”
“Sorry, Denise.” He licks his lips as he talks and it gives me a shiver. “Just need a new tape, okay?”
“No worries, sweetheart,” I say as I light another coffin-nail. I can't keep the flirting tone out of my voice with this kid, and he's young enough to be my son. Damn, it's been a long time.
“Ok, Denise, so he was outright mocking you... you had to have been pissed.”
Pissed doesn't even begin to describe how I was feelin' that night. I was out of my mind, right then. If I could've set his ass on fire with my thoughts... well, you better believe that I would've been roasting marshmallows.
“That's what made everything so shitty, ya know,” Steve said as he made his way back to the living room. “You had to go get that job. You coulda done anything... cooking, cleaning, or hell, you coulda got a job a the goddamn 7-11.”
I couldn't take my eyes off him. I hadn't moved from the floor, my shirt was soaked, and all I could smell was copper, from the blood in my mouth, and the booze he reeked of.
“Nope,” he started again, “you had to go help that slut Penny run her little 'coffee house.' Steve flopped onto the couch like he'd been working all day, instead of jacking off to the Sears catalog and then getting drunk. “Oh well, Neesy, you dug your own grave on that one.”
I don't have to tell you, Steve hated Penny. She was taller than him, and he was one of the only guys we knew that she hadn't had sex with. So, of course, he hated her.
“You're right, sweetie,” I said with as much phony sugar as I could muster, “it has nothing to do with you being a drunk, or the kiddie porn you think you've got hidden on your computer.”
For a second, I saw that flare in his nostrils, and I thought he'd come at me again. Somehow, it didn't last, and his lead-ass didn't budge from the couch.
“Not tonight, Denise. Tonight, you get to be the bad guy.”
Can you believe that shit?! I sat there, blood still trickling in my mouth, stunned as if he'd hit me again. I get to be the bad guy? Fuck him. Did I say that already? Fuck him.
So there he sat, bold as day and with his beer in his hand, and he fell asleep. I remember watching as it happened, and being completely at a loss for words. I knew he wasn't going to wake up til those drinks hit his bladder and he had to piss, and all I could think about was the likelihood of me having to call in to work the next day. I couldn't let Penny see me with a fat lip.
“So that was the night that you decided you were going to leave him?”
“Yeah, that was it for me.”
Dave picks up his recorder and starts playing with it, but doesn't turn it off. I can see his mind working, he has questions but maybe don't know how to ask. Jesus, his eyes are a pretty shade of green.
“What are you thinkin' about, hun?”
“Well, why?” he starts and stops real quick. “I mean, if he'd done it before, why was that night so different?”
You know, I've wondered that myself. The only difference I can see is that he stopped.” I light another cigarette as I think on what to say next. Dave just looks on at the wall, like he's waiting for me to explode or something. “The only answer I could ever come up with, was that it was his final insult, wasn't it?”
“Calling you a bitch?”
I almost spit out my cigarette, tryin' not to laugh. “Heck no, sweetie. He spent lots more time callin' me a bitch.”
“I don't think I understand what you mean, then.”
“Well, the bastard didn't even think enough of me to be hurt by what I said. After all the time he'd spent wailin' on me, and cuttin' me down, I figured he owed me that much. If he hit again, or at least screamed at me... well at least then I woulda' known he was payin' attention.”
“Can I get one of those?” he asks, pointing at my cigs. I flash him my best smile as I fish one out of the pack.
“What's the matter, hun, don't want proof of your smokin'?”
“Ha,” he laughs as he lights it and sets down the non-recording recorder. He takes a long pull from the cig and I can see it, pure ecstasy, as the smoke rolls down his throat. I know that feeling. “I suppose not, my girlfriend would be pissed.”
“Well, we wouldn't want that now.” I'm a little jealous about the girlfriend, and I can't even believe it. Dave relaxes as he smokes, casually blowing rings, and obviously somewhere deep in his head. I take a quick look at the clock, it's ten-fifty. He won't be here much longer.
CLICK CLICK WHIRRRR
“Denise, I just have one last question for you.”
“From the story you just shared with me, it seems like you decided to leave Steve about ten years before the fire. Why did you stay for so long? Why keep letting him push you?”
We had a lot of good times, Steve and me. Even after that night, when we weren't drinking, we got along pretty well.
Some days, he was a downright sweetheart. He'd rub my feet, or make dinner and light some candles. No it wasn't Steve that pushed me too far. He was my friend, hell, my partner... I loved Steve. It wasn't Steve I was tryin' to get rid of when I torched that house, it was the other guy.
Once he got some drinks in him, Steve wouldn't be there no more. He became somebody else, and whoever it was, he was a prick.
That's who I killed the night I started that fire. Steve was just an innocent guy that didn't get out in time.
Dave's nervous now, I can see it in his eyes. “It's okay hun, I would probably think I was crazy too.”
“I don't. I was just wondering... Is that why you pleaded guilty? Most people would have gone for self defense, or even an insanity plea.”
“Hell, Dave,” I say as sweetly as I can, “I killed him. No question about it. I figure that I should pay my bill, just like everyone else.”
“Visiting hour is over,” comes the security guard's voice over the intercom.
“Oh. Okay,” stammers Dave as he picks up his recorder. “Thanks, Mrs. Henley.”
“Thanks, Denise. You'll have to let me know how your parole hearing goes,” he says as he lays a hug on me.
“I will, hun. And make sure to tell your professor that if you don't get a fair grade,” I flash him a little wink as he heads to the door, “even convicts can get free matches.”------