Friday, July 2, 2010

The Challenge! Part 2

Read this first, otherwise you probably won't understand why there is a violent short story below. The Challenge! Part 2.

Fine, I told her. Be a goddamn idiot. Be another statistic, you stupid woman.

Pathetic. Weak, I thought. It used to bother me a lot more. Felt sorry for her - for us. Now it just pisses me off.

The sharp staccato of Max's anger rang through the trailer like church bells in Hell. It was impossible not to hear.

Slap. Open hand on the table.

Whump. Fist on the wall.

Crack. Open hand on her face.

When I was little, that sound would catapult me out of my room like the superhero I thought I was... the human shield for my poor, defenseless mother. She never intervened when it was me.

He's too strong! she'd tell me, cheap cut of beef on my purpling eye. You're just so much braver than me, darlin'. My little Knight in Tin Foil Armor!

Crash. Plates? Something glass breaking.

I left that night. Be another statistic, you stupid woman. The night I told her that, I packed up my backpack and left. She could suffer through it all she wanted, swear it was the passion of love, tell me that forgiveness was the Christian way, but I wouldn't do it anymore. I don't believe in the Christian way, or in love. Not much proof of either to me.

She called me three days later. Please, honey, she pleaded. C'mon home now. Max says he wants you to come be a part of this family.

She said it with a thickness that meant a fat lip. I told her I had no family.

The day after that I got another call. Green Valley Hospital. I'll be 'round this evening. I have a meeting this afternoon that I *must* attend.

Of course he would be here and not with her. He occasionally felt shame about it, and would leave for days at a time while we healed. Couldn't stand the sight of his rage manifested. Sleeping on the moth-eaten couch, surrounded by empty beer cars. Christ. Aren't *you* the very picture of white trash stereotype?

It's hard to look at him and feel anything. I remember how I used to flit between cold sweat fear, and seething bottomless hatred, sometimes even pity, or hunger for his approval. The thought now doesn't even turn my stomach anymore. It's all just...peaceful. Calm.

I'm actually surprised at how well this is going. I took advantage of his inebriation and general lethargy, but bound his hands and feet quickly. Visiting hours are over at 8pm.

He grunted when I hit him the first time, and came to.

Jackson! What the fuck is going on? What the hell are you doing?! I shivered a little when he screamed at me and watched his angry veins bulge in his thick neck. I was going to relish this... the control. The retribution. The justice. The poetry.

"Do you remember," I began quietly, "when I told you that if you put her in the hospital again, I would kill you?"

His eyes grew wide, but his brow wrinkled with doubt. He scoffed at me. Said all kinds of things about how I was a fag and didn't have the cojones to do anything.

My blank face scared him, I think. He was sweating. It didn't dampen his fervor though, and he spit on the sweats I was wearing. I cut out his tongue.

He screamed and cried, so much like I had when he would come at me with the extension cord, or the belt, or the paring knife. He choked and coughed, dribbling saliva and blood down his chin. It dripped down the front of his shirt, flowing like warm honey, smelling faintly acidic. His screams fell to a moan. 4:45. Better hurry.

I pulled the rope farther up the back of his arms and picked up mom's meat cleaver. No more chicken wings, no more pork chops, no more hitting.

Again, Max screamed and thrashed. He tried to flail his bleeding, digit-less stumps. This time, there was no doubt in his brow. Just pain and fear. It was intoxicating.

"You know, probably have a very sad life story. I mean, something bad has to have happened to you for you to be such a bad person. Me? You were my 'something bad'. And here I am, cutting pieces off of you...with no feeling that I'm doing anything wrong. I'm just perpetuating the cycle, Max, do you see?"

He didn't see. He had passed out again. Sigh. I severed his jugular artery with the dirty meat cleaver still in hand. How curious it is... one body can contain so much liquid. One last shower in this awful place. One last change of clothes. I guess I'm lucky that trailers burn so well.

Parking at Green Valley Hospital is always madness, and so much waiting around. My mom's jaw is wired shut, but her eyes smile at me. She always liked to see me in a suit. I hand her a box of tin foil and Max's wedding ring. She looks frightened, and weakly reaches for the box.

No more Knight in Shining Tin Foil, I tell her. I kiss her forehead and walk away, refusing to look back.

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