They say you never really understand a person until you climb into his skin and walk around in it, which is why I removed my victim's epidermis with a hunting knife and am currently wearing him like a Paris Fashion Week fur.
The ritual provides no awakening. He was a decidedly unexceptional man and is now an unexceptional corpse. Truth be told, I chose him for this reason, hopeful the blood spatters would envelop his nine-to-five, American-Eagle-khaki, Fantastic-Sam's-two-dollar-tipping, three-fantasy-football-league-playing, high-school-sweetheart-turned-overweight-wife life and leave some sort of goddamn legacy stain.
Alas, it was never meant to be. He was nothing short of normal. Normal when I immobilized him with a knife to the spine. Normal when I battered his face with his new tool set until that pulpy red head lost its identity. Normal when I pried out his eyeballs and sucked them like a couple of peeled grapes and gnashed them to a mealy explosion.
His skin is the same color as mine. I am overcome with rage upon realizing how similar our fates really are. After the blood dries: the five o'clock news rendezvous and then that's that. Then they forget you. And you only have to be forgotten once to get the history books boot.
And now the only skin I'm wearing is my own. Did he ever really exist?
Hope He’s Caught
Warning: Graphic subject matter.
What I wouldn't give
Who I wouldn't plea
to be free
Had my whole life ahead
now I dread
I am dead
What he took away
turn to clay
What from me he stole
in a hole
took it's toll
Just a little girl
watch me whirl
Took me out of the park
was so dark
found his mark
Called til my throat was sore
through a door
hope no more
Prayed to a silent god
he's a fraud
thought it odd
Pled him to spare my life
no more strife
under his knife
He wouldn't set me free
heard me plea
broke my knee
Hands touched me everywhere
pulled my hair
felt him tear
way down there
Screamed mommy please come soon
saw the moon
knew my doom
Never felt so much pain
again and again
Finally he was done
had his fun
maybe I won
now I am none
Left in this hole to rot
how I fought
escape I thought
hope he's caught.
“Nonna, it’s me Jackie. I’m right here. Nonna?”
“She may be out for awhile yet. She’s had some trauma.”
I ignored the nurse, still shaking her.
“Nonna? Can you open your eyes for me?"
“Miss. Really, I must...”
“Look,” I said to the nurse. “Save it, okay? I plan on being here for a bit, so just…” I made a shooing motion with one hand, “toddle off would you?”
Thankfully, she was young. An older nurse would have lit into me. She exhaled noisily and left, shutting the door with a bang.
“Nonna? Wake up, okay? I have to talk to you.” And with that, she opened her eyes immediately. Faker.
“Jacklyn? Is that you?”
“Nonna. You know full well who it is. And why I’m here. I know Mom talked to you before your…episode.” I used air quotes on the last word. “So you know I know. But I want to hear it from you.”
“Oh Pish! Jackie, it was a long time ago. And I’m ill.” She motioned to the various monitors, giving off beeps and squeaks in her hospital room.
“Yeah, I’m aware.” I said dryly. “But I still want to hear it from you.” I leaned down and tipped the straw from the pink hospital mug toward her. She took a long pull of the water and smacked her lips as if it were whisky.
“Alright alright.” She dropped the act and pulled herself upright in the bed, scooching over and patting the empty side. I pulled myself in next to her, tucking in like when I was a kid.
“Spill,” I added and she rolled her eyes at me.
“Okay. Your father was a bastard. And by that I mean, he was an asshole, you understand?” I nodded yes. Nonna’s opinion of my father was a well-worn theme.
“Anyhow…I never liked him, not for a moment. Your mom, your beautiful mother was always too good for that man. Too good by half!”
I nodded and rolled my wrist out making a “go on with it” motion.
“He had a monkey on his back. A big hairy one…”
“Yup, got it. Heroin. Mom told me.”
“Well did she tell you that he drove my old station wagon headlong into a tree with you in the carseat?”
No, she hadn’t.
“No, I can see she didn’t. And he stole from your Mom and me. And our neighbors. And he left you in the car while he shot up behind the 7-11 and someone tried to steal the car, but thank God the piece of shit wouldn’t start. You were two then.”
Oh. I didn’t know that either.
“So, your mom. Was in looooove with him. And didn’t have the cojones to leave him.”
Jackie had also heard this tirade over the years. Nonna was big into cojones and the fact that most people (including her Mom), had nothing between their thighs where their balls should be.
“And?” I held my breath.
“Well, since they were never going to afford their own place, I had planned to salt his food until his damn heart gave out. That’s what I did with my first husband Charles. But when you were born I ran out of time.”
This was no revelation. Nonna had told me dozens of times that it took her 11 years to kill her first husband. According to her, she had “salted the shit” out of everything he put in his mouth, including his toothpaste. He had a massive coronary when she was just 29. She wore a hat adorned with a peacock feather to the funeral and cozied up to the new deacon, my grandfather.
“So, I took $1,800 out of my savings, bought all of the shit I could with that money, which was a lot, and invited him over for a fireside chat.”
I could picture her, 35 years ago, but just as bossy. Telling young thugs to give her all the drugs her money could buy. And not getting stabbed or ripped off or worse because she was harder than they were.
“I laid out all of the “works” onto the coffeetable in my back room. I told him he could have all of it, but he had to leave you and Kimberly that night and never come back.”
“What did he say?”
“Well,” she shifted her weight and a musty, dead skin smell rolled off of her. “He never looked me in the eye. I remember that. He just stared down at the powder, all in little envelopes, scattered here and there. He was sweating. And he asked to see my locket.”
The ER staff had taken it off, but I knew what was in it. Mom was on the left, her senior picture. And I was on the right, my first birthday.
“I took it off and passed it to him. He spent about five minutes looking at it. And he cried. Just a couple of tears. That’s all you were worth to him.”
“And then?” I kept my voice steady, not rising to the bait.
“Then he shoved all of it into his pockets and left.”
“So you didn’t…” I asked.
“No.” But she was lying and I knew it.
“Nonna, why not tell me the truth? You’ve about given it all up anyway.”
She shook her head side to side like a little kid in the throes of a tantrum.
I grabbed the arm with the IV and twisted it hard.
She grimaced and ground her teeth together. She glared out of one eye at me. A wild dog appraising a wolf.
She scowled and put up her hands in surrender. “Alright! Alright. Damn you. I set him up in the basement with some food, a TV and all the stuff. Then I locked the door.”
And there it was. Finally, after all these years.
“Did he try to get out? Did he bang on the door and plead with you? Did he at least try?” I asked.
“No,” she responded. And this time her eyes, the flatness of her voice, told me what I needed to know. There was no mistaking the truth there.
“Ah.” I said.
“I did it for you.” She said. And then added, “But it was a waste. You’re just like him.”
“Yes. Yes I am.” My drug was gin, but otherwise she was right. Could I walk away from a room full of booze, food, TV, blankets, no responsibilities? Not likely.
I grabbed my purse from her roll-away table and stood up to leave.
“You’re a cold bitch, Nonna.” I said. And then I reached down and gave her a hug. She murdered him for us. For love. And I wanted to hate her for it. But I didn’t. I just felt empty.
I should confess.
I should turn myself in,
And let the jury handle the rest.
I am guilty.
Although not pre-meditated,
I worked quite neatly.
I'll have no one to convince.
I didn't know this person,
I have no motive to kill.
Is that lying under oath,
If I did it for the thrill?
My knuckles look like coke and roses
The winter bit them hard; they cracked
I suck on them; they bleed their noses
I fear they are forever chapped
My knuckles look like milk and lipstick
All dressed in cream and Vaseline
I'm oiled up so says the dipstick
I use supreme silk gasoline
My knuckles look like wine and diamonds
I deck them out most everyday
They never mind the crime and violence
I keep them moist with Tanqueray
My knuckles look like snow and crowbar
They finally just had enough
I tried to run; I didn't go far
My knuckles, unlike me, are rough
My darling! My dear! I have a story to tell.
Guzzle your liquor and listen well.
I wore red tonight to provoke your temper.
Harlot! Whore! A beating before dinner.
I push the right buttons to elicit your rage
All while keeping the beast in me caged.
Secured all my bruises, and I'm ending your reign
Of mayhem and terror. NEVER. AGAIN.
I've played my part perfectly--submissive, meek
The monster in you feeds on the weak.
Sit back, my darling! Your supper is served,
Complete with hydrocodone laced hors d'oeuvres.
I've distressed my concern over your new pill addiction
To you mother and sister, I'm all tears and attrition.
"Unintentional" reveals of bruises displayed
Pull everyone into this tragic masquerade.
Listen, my darling! I have a big reveal!
I know your secrets--the lives that you steal.
But the day you stole her from me, your fate was sealed.
I entered your arena knowing your game
But the beatings and bruises don't compare to the pain
Of the loss you inflicted before you knew my name.
She was my light and my heart. She was leaving with me.
My golden haired lover with eyes like the sea.
You bloodied her eyes. You snuffed out her light.
You condemned me to darkness and sharpened my bite.
So, here we are now! My mask peeled away,
Revealing the beast I no longer hold sway.
My dear! You're stumbling! Are your limbs feeling heavy?
All the liquor and pills will make you unsteady.
You come at me swinging, I bide my time.
Nails down your face to make your rage climb.
Bloody my lip as I sink the knife in...
In your side, a meek try, a believable defense.
But this dance is nearly over, I've played my part well.
Your demise will have a clear "self-defense" sell.
I lock with your eyes at your approach
My primal rage building as you encroach
Your mistake realized too late, your hope turned remote
As I sink teeth into flesh and tear out your throat.
It should help
The feeling of your non beating heart in my hand should make me feel better.
Looking into your lifeless eyes should help me see better.
Listening to the silence that comes without your voice telling me I'm not good enough should help me hear better.
And knowing you no longer exist to ruin me should help me sleep better.
A battered woman with courage to leave,
Shouldnʼt spend her whole life terrified.
Donʼt wait for karma, claim your revenge;
Call it “justifiable homicide."
I attempted to do the things one must do…
When putting an end to a marriage.
Itʼs not easy to leave a tyrannical man;
Every effortʼs ignored and disparaged.
Sometimes a girl just canʼt take anymore,
A woman must take back her power.
So darling, thatʼs why, he's gotta die…
Independence will be mine within the hour.
All is fair in both love and war…
Iʼm ready to play, itʼs my turn!
We started the game when I took his name;
I giggle at his look of concern!
Look at him struggle to loosen the ropes!
Iʼm enthralled by his weak desperation!
He refuses divorce, tries to keep me by force,
Once heʼs dead, I will have my liberation!
Yes, thatʼs a razor knife in my hand.
Of course, I have a sharpened blade!
Iʼm carving lines, I make lovely designs…
Itʼs quite lovely to see him afraid.
Yes, at one time, this dish was for salad;
Tonight, his blood fills the bowl.
He'll pay with his life to set things right,
I'll pay for revenge with my soul.
Iʼm thinking its time to remove his gag;
I am ready to hear that man scream.
Itʼs been long time, now vengeance is mine,
He has no power in the new regime!
"What's that you say? Calling me names?
You think I'm a psychotic bitch?”
I laugh, cuz he ainʼt seen nothing yet!
Heʼs about to, he just flipped the switch!
The sound of his pleading fills me with joy,
His begging makes me grin ear to ear.
I cheerfully hum as I cut off his thumbs,
While I savor the scent of his fear.
Boom! I slam his head into the ground.
Boom! My boot connects with his cheek.
Iʼm slicing, Iʼm dicing, his pain is enticing!
Motherfucker, I am no longer weak.
Heʼs choking, my hands encircle his throat.
Oh my, how the tables have turned!
He strangled me once, he wanted me dead.
I'll make sure that the favorʼs returned.
Heʼs bleeding out, his body shuts down…
Iʼm holding my breath as he dies…
He never did sign his name on the line,
But I win! Widowhood is the prize!
Iʼm finally free, he wonʼt hurt me again…
No more torment, no abuse, no stalking.
I may do some time to pay for my crime,
But then again, I might end up walking.
Rumors he spread live on after heʼs dead,
My self-defense is built from his tall tales.
The depths of my crazy are all on the record,
Itʼs ironic, his lies save me from jail!
My husband saw me as property owned…
Leaving him caused the danger to grow…
If divorce is denied, homicide's justified!
Free at last to be the merriest widow!
i killed her.
she was but a girl with thin skin,
coloured rose and red by the sky fall.
she drew haggard breaths as the night came closer,
and i just held her.
i held her in my arms
as she strained to breathe and see.
i whispered that things would be ok,
that i wouldn't let her become somebody she wasn't.
and as the creature came out,
inside her mind,
i pulled the trigger.
along with the monster inside her eyes.
she died herself.