Angry does not begin to describe what I was feeling. He sickened me, utterly. I hated the smell of him, the sight of him, the sound of his body dropping forcefully into his “slackass” model Lazyboy, like a sack of wet manure. For an entire week I’d slept with the knife under my pillow, just working my way up to using it. If his fat sweaty fingers touched me just once more, I swear—Ahh, sleep, comfort. Maybe tomorrow.
It made my every hair stand on end to listen to him babble on and on about this sport event, and that. He never looked up, made eye contact. I made eye contact only with the endless rivulet of bacon grease running down the side of his ruddy, flabby cheek. He reeked of sleep on a hot summer’s night.
He would reek worse tonight. I’d stopped suggesting showers to him, he would bark what an unnecessary use of water it was, and he smelled fine. I concluded he’d lost his sense of smell long ago. He choked on the slice of bacon his stubby fingers were stuffing into his still speaking mouth.
I stood behind him. Waiting. He continued to choke, and I stood motionless except for my eyes which were raised to heaven, pleading for mercy. I could have used the Heimlich manoeuvre. I had done it before. He was bobbing up and down in his chair, his arms were flailing, he was making the most awful screeching sounds. How long, I wondered, before it was over? Then suddenly it was over. the offending bit of bacon sailed clear across the kitchen, hit the refrigerator door and slid silently to the floor. He reached for a new strip of bacon. I had committed a sin of omission, but could not feel a shred of guilt.
There it was again, that great slurping sound. My annoyance with the great git in the Lazyboy amplified the sound in my head a thousand times. It was unbearable. He motioned by tapping the side of his coffee cup that he wanted more. He hadn’t actually asked for another cup verbally in years. I might as well be a coffee table.
I looked at him from the kitchen and wondered what on earth he was thinking. He had a sort of smug self-satisfaction plastered on his fat face. The look was almost perverse, dirty, or perhaps those were the memories of last night. Just imagine that great heap in the middle of a hot and sticky night suddenly being”in the mood”. Luckily it never lasted long or I would have died of suffocation long ago. As soon as he was done I showered for nearly and hour, trying to get him off and out of me.
That was him, the once great love of my life. He sighed with great satisfaction after having relieved himself of another round of particularly pungent flatulence. I hated him. I had hated him a very long time now, it had grown ever so much worse hen the kids were grown. There was nothing to take attention away from just the fact of living with him, his habits, mostly just him.
It did no good to remember how I had once loved him. if anything it made it worse. He had taken beauty and trampled it to bits. Love was now a dung pile, and I had to find contentment in living in it? That great swine of course, was happy living like this. why not his coffee was served him, his clothes washed and his baser urges satisfied. My soul was screaming for liberation. I had thought of dumping the coffee on him “oops”, but feared the back of his hand, his piggy piggy hand. So I set it down, picked up my book on poisons from the table, and sat next to the window reading, learning, plotting.
Not now, please dear God, not now. Of course, God hasn’t the time or perhaps the inclination to listen to me. I heard the screen door slam shut. That would be the end of my afternoon’s plotting. I nearly had it worked out. He would walk in right as I was putting the bullets in the gun. Great timing he had.
I stuffed the revolver in my apron and hurriedly tried to find and tuck away the bullets as they rolled all too noisily along the wooden floor. The one under the couch was out of sight and he probably wouldn’t be able to bend down well enough with that fat belly of his to spot the one under the table. Five out of seven. Not bad for a quick grab.
I walked past him into the kitchen. He grumbled some facsimile of a greeting and I reached a beer out to him. He took it and plopped himself ever so predictably into his chair. The very same chair I had just been sitting trying to load a revolver with bullets, all of them with his name on them.
The seething anger for the sleeping blob had hit a boiling point today. It was nothing he did, or for that matter did not do. simply he existed. worse still, I lived with him.
The sound emanating from his body could easily have been and entire forest being cut with a noisy gas powered chair saw. Occasionally it would sputter like an uneven piston engine when it hasn’t been tuned for a while. It would even stall, and I would hope, wish, every time that it would not start up again. Then there would be silence. Then I could sleep too.
I felt a salty tear roll down my cheek. I was not crying. I was quite sure I was not crying, but I also could not stop the tears coming. My hand as though it was not even my own reached under my pillow and pulled out the fish gutting knife. I had bought it today at the mall. One of the few times in my life I gave into an impulse. The knife had reached out to me and I had reached for it, with a credit card. Probably not a very swift move if I were to murder him.
Good God, why had I not thought of that. What point was there in murdering him if life were not going to be free. Free to move, free to travel, free to get a fucking night’s sleep without the forestry industry here sleeping and sweating right beside me. That would be bloody pointless. No fucking way. If I killed him it was to set me free, not to set the world free. Slaughtering or murdering him would not be a selfless act, it would be a gift to myself.
The tear kept rolling as I put the knife back under my pillow. I put my feet into my soft terry slippers and shuffled into the kitchen where I sat watching television in the middle of the night, in the background hubby was felling those imagined trees. Tomorrow morning when he went off to work, I would sleep. One day I would have my nights back for sleeping.
Eventually I would have to take action, just not now. As much as I wanted him out of my life, to kill him stood morally against everything I believed in. This was the worst of what he did to me. It was not just sabotaging my jobs so I was unable to go out and work, and have a life. It was not just that he would go as far as setting fire to all my shoes and hiding the car keys from em so I could not have a social life. As hard as all of that was I could take it in stride because I knew some day I would be rid of him.
I had developed a Stepford wife persona who did as she was told to avoid the back hand and the shoving into the wall with his large fatty hand around my throat. As bad as the pain was, as bad as the humiliation of hiding my face from strangers (friends and family were no longer in my life at all except for special occasions like funerals), that was not what had welled up my hatred of him. I despised him, I even feared him, but I did not hate him for it.
My hatred came out of some visceral disgust that over time had developed in me. He rode my every nerve with his bodily habits, like belching, like never changing his sweaty clothes or bathing before we’d make love, for get made love, it was a quick self satisfying fuck these days, we had not ever made love. We were married before we knew how and he’d never bothered to learn. I did eventually find some other experience long ago when he worked on oil rigs in north Africa. He rode my nerves by slurping his coffee, with his snoring, and with his complete indifference to my existence as a human being. For that he would have to pay. As he was killing the very person I was, to kill him, today or tomorrow would be only self defense, not murder. The question was only, when would my last nerve snap.
“Why do you stay?” My daughter looked at me, gently touching the bruises on my jaw. I had no answer for her. None. None that I could share with her, because it would cause me to examine some very, very painful history. It was more bearable to bury all of that.
What I did not tell her was that the bruises were directly caused by my latest attempt to stand up to the brute and leave. I was much more safe if I just bore the usual crap from him day in and out, and the hours I was alone I would make the most of. I used more and more Valium to dull the part in me that wanted to stand up for myself and confront him. Confronting hurt, and there was no one there those moments to intervene for me. I knew I would never be safe, not if he could find me, to leave him would be in his eyes the greatest sin against him, punishable by death. I could only hope that if I looked after myself, he would die first. If he lived too long, it would cause me to have to put an end to it somehow. So far I could think of a few food additives that might speed things along. Now if I could find the courage to start on the long range plan.
“Have another.” He leaned back and gratefully sipped his favourite beer. His contented piggy eyes looked me up and down. I cringed and took a full step back. Damn. The wooden chair groaned from all the weight put against the already straining frame. I had to think quickly.
“I was thinking of baking a cake.” That was the fastest and only thought that came to the fore. He looked disappointed, but too comfortable to object. “Yeah, alright” he mumbled. He ran his eyes up and down again, and again I cringed. As I walked past him to the stove he gave my butt a pat. Rotten luck the cast iron pan was out of reach. Bastard, still thinks he owns me. The worst of it was that he was in so many ways right. What could I do, fight him? Run away and hope for the best. That would mean giving up all that was familiar, I could never show up here again, not even to see my kids and I just could not do that.
He should have grabbed me hard enough to leave bruises, then I could hit him with the pan. As he once put it, I’d have to get it on the first strike or he would finish me off – if it was the last act on this earth. One day “I” would be willing to give up my life for the sake of taking him of the planet, but for the moment I still valued my life.
Chocolate cake, thank God, the old TV was in the kitchen. I was rattling around getting the ingredients together and passed him one more beer. He got up and left for the living room. An hour later I was having a slice of cake and he was sawing down the rain forest in the next room by the sound of it. Now if I had baked it with arsenic I would have no cake to eat.
My hands shook as I pulled the rat poison from underneath the sink. We lived out in the boonies and needed to discourage outside pests from moving wholly into the house, or just under it. I’d had the stuff in the kitchen years before thinking to use it for an alternate purpose. Alternate purpose, how clinical and cold I’d become toward him, his life and the taking of it. Actually come to think of it, not so alternate actually, to kill a pets either way.
The opened salt shaker was on the counter, and the brown glass bottle sat unopened on the counter for a bit as I stared at it. I bit my lip, hard, and could not feel it. I was rigid and frozen in time and space until his voice rang out for another beer, followed by the universal greeting of the human pig,an enormous billowy belch. Thank God I was far enough away not to have to smell it.
The extended sigh seemed to loosen my muscles up enough to get moving again, and I unscrewed the lid.
“Where is my fuckin” beer?”
I could hear him stand up and move toward the kitchen. Christ I was good as dog meat, or look as if mauled by dogs. So much of a regular occurrence was his violence toward me, that before he was in striking distance, I was already concocting the story to tell the neighbours, or anyone I might run into.
Then, silence, followed by some gurgling sounds and a crash hard enough to shake the house’s foundation. I stood silently and motionless for the second time with the opened bottle of rat poison in my hand. What to do next. I screwed the jar lid back on, and taking my sweet time put it away and got him his beer. Either way he would beat me, even if he was just stopped now by his fall. There wasn’t a sound from the other room. So, brazenly, I pulled out a chair and sat, having a sip of his beer.
Now that was something I had never done before. Normally I would just simply jump up get his beer and within seconds have him sucking it down. After my second sip I felt a sense of curiosity come over me, as he had not made any sounds at all. So, taking the beer with me I walked to the living room, and there sprawled out like a gutted carp was my hubby of over twenty five years. Motionless. Again I sat down. I sat down on his chair in a strangely necessary act of defiance. Another sip of beer passed, and another. I had stared at him awhile now and could not see his carcass move up and down as you would expect from a man still alive. Dared I hope? Not wanting to be disappointed just yet I waited another minute, but there was not change. I put down the beer and slowly crept toward him.
The police and ambulance people were very nice. His bloated body was transported and it was almost as if the entire house sighed with relief. No one doubted how he had come to his end. He slipped was intoxicated and didn’t break his fall correctly. It would be my secret how I wanted something like that to happen. Not that I was a coward for not killing him in the stillness of some other night, but I valued more the life I might have after, free of him and not behind bars.
The past few weeks seem like a blur in someone else’s life. I am still living in the fog of disbelief. That at long last I am fully free, that I get. I feel it in every cell of my being. Very slowly I am beginning to discover who the me is that was so fully hidden under the fearful stillness that was me all those years.
It did not disappoint this new life of mine. Yesterday I banked the insurance money and today I am flying to New York for a little shopping before going to Europe. Beyond that I have no plans. I am in my fifties, I have a good thirty years left to really live. This is why women live longer than men, to taste freedom, if in your life dutifully married you did not. He lived in anger and hate, he was cruel, obnoxious and at every turn unrepentant for it. I never understood what he was getting out of it, all that anger.
He could not have liked himself much either, he at himself into nearly 300 pounds anger with sky high cholesterol. He was fifty four when he died, and for all those years I was the lone party standing by his grave side. My last act as the dutiful wife. That I cam this close to doing him in I would take to my grave with me.
I now stood about to board and aircraft for the very first time. Life unfolded with possibility. In my suitcase there was only one change of clothes. In New York I would buy, for the fist time since my late teens, clothes I liked, shoes I liked, and wear them without looking behind me worried I might be caught displeasing his highness and paying for it with my battered body. If I had used up for this lifetime any and all divine intervention, I would say the gods were generous and their timing exquisite, I not only had life now, but also life in the hereafter which I very nearly sacrificed.