Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Rat

Since we haven't been doing Sunday Confessions, I have a good friend sending me some words as a challenge prompt to see what I can do with them. Same principle, but I'm the only one writing. This week, my words were coagulated, general, battlefield, intricate, hindsight, and cerebral. The following is what I came up with... hope you enjoy. 


The scene before her looked like a battlefield. Coagulated blood pooled on the faded green linoleum and had spattered on the cheap white cabinets in the kitchen. More of it still ran down the ripped floral wallpaper in small lines drying as it slowly slid towards the floor. Hair and gore speckled the walls and floors mixed and sticking to the dots of blood. It wasn’t a pleasant scene and certainly not something she was proud of, but it had to be done.

Much like an army general surveying the casualties before him, she assessed the clean up, the costs to get rid of the stains, the hours she would spend scrubbing on her hands and knees, the trouble she would have moving the body, his body. Like the army general, the spilled blood before her was just another cost of the battle she had waged. The loss of human life wasn’t celebrated, by far, but it was accepted. In the general’s case, it is, of course, expected. Given the way things had gone downhill over the last few years, she guessed it was pretty well expected in her case, too.

Sitting there staring at the mess, hindsight working in full force, she supposed she did have chances to prevent this outcome. To leave, move, start a new life, hide… But she hadn’t. Instead, she had stayed right here in this house knowing he would come back but hoping he would give up, knowing in her heart that he would never stop but hoping she could just go on with her life without running, without hiding.

It wasn’t some intricately woven tale of sordidness and lies that led her here like some half-baked dramatic Hollywood flick or a cerebral crime film. She chose to love the wrong man. That was it. She loved him in all his craziness and clinginess. She loved him in spite of his jealousy, in spite of the days he would find a random piece of trash in the yard and scream at her for hours about who she was sleeping with, in spite of the fact that on more than one occasion it was him that came home smelling like someone else’s perfume. Then one day something clicked. She was standing in the rain in his backyard listening to his ranting, cowering under his demands to know who had been there, turning red as he called her a slut, a whore, a trashbag, a used up hag, and it finally hit her that she didn’t have to live this way, that this wasn’t love. Not in any real sense. She sat through it that day, the accusations and delusions, but that was it. The very next morning she packed up everything she owned, left him a note telling him to eat shit, and walked away.

She supposed she should have known that it wouldn’t be that easy, that she couldn’t just leave.

That first day, she went home to her mom’s with her tiny red suitcase and a couple of garbage bags full of her stuff. Her mom took one look at her standing there completely beaten down and pulled her inside for a hug whispering “it’s about damn time” as she squeezed her tighter. It was later that night when he showed up. She heard his battered old truck turning down the driveway and her heart felt like it might explode from fear, but she stayed put. Her mom refused to open the door, but he didn’t give up. For an hour straight he beat on the doors and the windows while she hid in a corner of her old room clutching a stuffed bunny to her chest. Her mom finally had to call the cops. He left, but he showed up the next night. And the next. And the one after that. He showed up at her job, followed her home from work, sat in the parking lot when she was in a store. Every waking moment he was there waiting for her.

She refused to talk to him. She filed for a restraining order. He was arrested over and over again for trespassing on her mom’s property, but nothing seemed to ever be done about it really. Until he got drunk and started shooting out the windows, that is. That was a couple years ago or so. He’d barely missed shooting her mom—a couple inches lower and she would have been killed. So, the police finally took it seriously and locked his ass up. He was supposed to serve 5 years. The number of times he’d been arrested hadn’t helped in the end, and he’d gotten the maximum sentence for discharging a firearm in a residential area, trespassing, and battery. Why the fuck didn’t he get charged with attempted murder? Just ask the boys in blue always looking out for other dicks and making sure to crack jokes about “crazy” women.

Eventually, she felt safe enough to move into her own place in what she thought was a pretty good neighborhood. She had never really stopped looking over her shoulder. She never stopped thinking that she saw him in the shadows or saw his car in the parking lot wherever she went, but she was getting to the point where she could make it to work every day, where she wasn’t having panic attacks multiple times a week. She was starting to get more comfortable in her own skin again and able to leave the house without breaking down in her car then running inside to hide in her room under the covers like a child being scared of the bogey man. Things were, at least, improving.

Then she got the call last week.

He was being paroled, and the state was offering her some victim’s counseling as a consolation prize.

Oh, yay, she had thought. Counseling. He’s the fucking nutter who won’t leave me alone and I’m the one who needs counseling.

It must have happened one day when she was at work, but she had no idea how long he had actually been there. There meaning inside her house. She had heard the sounds coming from the attic long before he actually showed his face, but in that newfound comfort, in her belief that her new address, new look, and new job would keep her hidden, she had failed to call the police and get things checked out feeling, instead, that it must be a rat or a squirrel that would find its way back to freedom soon enough. In a way she was right about it being a rat, but he certainly hadn’t found the freedom he was looking for unless being a bloody mess on her kitchen floor having lost a fight with a baseball bat counted.

She drew herself up from the floor. She would *not* be calling the police. She would not be on the receiving end of a million questions and a formal inquiry when they had been the ones to fail time and again, when he had been the villain in all this not her. Instead, she opened the cabinet, threw on some rubber gloves, grabbed the bleach and set to work. 

It was going to be one hell of a night.

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