My Bad Nature

My Daddy always said I was born with a bad nature. Mama said I had a mean streak. If I do, well, tomatoes come from the same pack of seeds. They always did like to pretend they were fancy people. They sure did love the big house with all its fancy velvet furniture and gold plated bathroom fixtures. I never did understand why you needed a gold-plated handle on your crapper, but nobody ever asked my opinion.

After Russell was born everyone sort of forgot about me, like I was some kind of mongrel dog you could keep in a broke down kennel. They sent me to school, but I wasn’t much for studies. I remember my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Pinkwater telling Mama how she ought to consider special school for me.

Dummy school was what she meant. Sure enough, the next year the next year they packed me off in a special green bus to a school with all the “special” kids. Special my ass. They were slow as snails. Some of them smelled like snails too. I got kicked out after a year for trying to burn the place down.

After that Mama tried tutors for a while, then she just gave up. She had Russell. He was her sweet boy, her golden haired angel. It killed her when Russell drowned in the lake. He was five. How was I supposed to know he couldn’t swim? Poor Mama just couldn’t stand losing Russell; she swallowed a whole mess of pills one afternoon and never woke up.

Daddy blamed me, of course, but I wasn’t even in the house. I don’t know how she got hold of those horse tranquilizers. I guess she really wanted to escape.

Of course afterward Daddy and I had some real good rows. His face used to get so red! He used to chase me out into the field. Who knew he had a bad heart? The day he dropped dead in the potato patch, it came as a real surprise to me.

Of course, then Uncle Ford and Aunt Latice and cousin Myra came to live with me until I was of age. Aunt Latice always pretended to be so sugary sweet, but I could tell she was plotting. She would walk around the house with her tape measure and say, “Don’t you think we should spruce things up a bit?”

I didn’t like that idea. Not one bit.

She and Uncle Ford were always meeting with her brother who she insisted I call Uncle Clay. He was some kind of lawyer, and I’d hear them in the green parlor. The formal parlor where all the fancy green velvet couches were covered with crocheted doilies on the arms and portraits of all the family stared down at you. Even Mama and Papa.

One Sunday I heard them in there, the four of them, and I snuck down the stairs. When I heard Myra laugh and say my name, I felt the anger boil up. This was my house. She could go to hell.

I went to the hall closet. It was time.

I snuck back to the parlor, threw open the door and blew them away with my Grandpa’s 12 Gauge. Then I dragged the bodies to Uncle Clay’s car and drove them to the quarry.

It took a while to clean up the blood, but I managed. Now the house looks all spic and span, as Mama used to say.

A woman from Child Services dropped by a week ago to talk to me, and I said Uncle Ford took Aunt Latice and Myra on a trip with Uncle Clay. She said they shouldn’t have left me on my own. I said I’d be eighteen in two weeks.

I guess it’s okay though, because it’s been two weeks, and I’m still here.

All Politics Is Local

“Politics ain’t personal,” Jimmy K said and lit a cigar. The sea breeze ruffled his silver hair, and dawn light gave his face a rosy glow. “All politics is local though. You know who said that?”

He glared at the Congressman sitting across from him.

“You don’t remember, do you? It was Tip O’Neill. Speaker of the House. A great man. Don’t know your history, huh? Guess that’s why you been such a disappointment.”

Jimmy K shook his head and puffed on his cigar, his great jowls billowing in and out like bellows. “It’s a sad thing when you forget your friends. When you forget where you come from.”

A man appeared from inside the cabin. He finished wrapping chains around the Congressman’s body.

“The Congressman don’t have much to say this morning, Jimmy.”

“It don’t matter. He’s on permanent vacation.”

Gulls swooped low when the Congressman’s body hit the water.

Jimmy K said, “Throw them birds some food.”

Reversal of Fortune

I sit on the vast beach, listening to the waves beat against the sand. Above me the sky is empty. Not even a gull calls out. I am alone, the picture of dejection.

The arrogant fools have tossed me ashore and sailed into the wide ocean. The winds are with them, propelling them at good speed. Let them make merry and laugh at my misfortune.

They expect me to die. I do not plan to oblige them.

I shall conserve my strength and await the clipper I spied following in our wake. By my reckoning it will reach me by evening, time enough for me to start a fire. I shall use driftwood and the tinder I secreted along with the flask of rum.

By evening the fools will be feeling the effects of the tincture of nightshade I used to poison their water supply. They will hallucinate. They will writhe in agony. They will perish.

Good riddance.

Prudence’s Correspondence

Pru, really didn’t think U’d be at Henry’s last night. Was there totally by chance. U looked great tho. Miss U much.

FU

Saw U & Henry today. U looked happy. RU together?

FU

Saw Henry today buying flowers.

FU

How long have U been w/Henry?

FU FU FU

I just want to talk.

Pervert. FU

Saw Henry at bar this afternoon.

You sick bastard. I called police.

Too late for Henry. Too late for U.

F

 

 

 

My Bad Nature

My Daddy always said I was born with a bad nature. Mama said I had a mean streak. If I do, well, tomatoes come from the same pack of seeds.

They always did like to pretend they were fancy people. They sure did love the big house with all its fancy velvet furniture and gold plated bathroom fixtures. I never did understand why you needed a gold-plated handle on your crapper, but nobody ever asked my opinion.

After Russell was born everyone sort of forgot about me, like I was some kind of mongrel dog you could keep in a broke down kennel. They sent me to school, but I wasn’t much for studies. I remember my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Pinkwater telling Mama how she ought to consider special school for me.

Dummy school was what she meant. Sure enough, the next year the next year they packed me off in a special green bus to a school with all the “special” kids. Special my ass. They were slow as snails. Some of them smelled like snails too. I got kicked out after a year for trying to burn the place down.

After that Mama tried tutors for a while, then she just gave up. She had Russell. He was her sweet boy, her golden haired angel. It killed her when Russell drowned in the lake. He was five. How was I supposed to know he couldn’t swim? Poor Mama just couldn’t stand losing Russell; she swallowed a whole mess of pills one afternoon and never woke up.

Daddy blamed me, of course, but I wasn’t even in the house. I don’t know how she got hold of those horse tranquilizers. I guess she really wanted to escape.

Of course afterward Daddy and I had some real good rows. His face used to get so red! He used to chase me out into the field. Who knew he had a bad heart? The day he dropped dead in the potato patch, it came as a real surprise to me.

Of course then Uncle Ford and Aunt Latice and cousin Myra came to live with me until I was of age. I didn’t like that much. Aunt Latice always pretended to be so sugary sweet, but I could tell she was plotting. She would walk around the house with her tape measure and say, “Don’t you think we should spruce things up a bit?”

I didn’t like that idea. Not one bit.

She and Uncle Ford were always meeting with her brother who she insisted I call Uncle Clay. He was some kind of lawyer, and I’d hear them in the green parlor. The formal parlor where all the fancy green velvet couches were covered with crocheted doilies on the arms and portraits of all the family stared down at you. Even Mama and Papa.

One Sunday I heard them in there, the four of them, and I sneaked down the stairs. When I heard Myra laugh and say my name, I felt the anger boil up. This was my house. She could go to hell.

I went to the hall closet. It was time.

I sneaked back to the parlor, threw open the door and blew them all away with my Grandpa’s 12 Gauge. Then I dragged the bodies to Uncle Clay’s car and drove them to the quarry.

It took a while to clean up the blood, but I managed. Now the house looks all spic and span, as Mama used to say.

The police came by a few weeks later, and I said Uncle Ford took Aunt Latice and Myra on a trip with Uncle Clay. They looked around a bit, but didn’t find a thing out of place. I may have gone to dummy school, but I’m not stupid. Then a woman from Child Services came. She said they shouldn’t have left me on my own. I said I’d be eighteen in two weeks, so I’d didn’t really care. She said she’d check with her superiors.

After she left, I took Uncle Ford’s pistol from his dresser. I clicked off the safety, swearing that if she showed her face here again, my house would be the last one she ever entered.

Marta Wore Green

El Toro was packed every Friday, and I had to strain to see her at the other side of the bar. She sat with her friends laughing and drinking Sangria while I slouched at my window table and sipped a glass of club soda. When the waitress set down a braised leg of chicken she chattered for a moment, and I answered mechanically, but I wasn’t listening. I was watching.

Could she feel me? She looked up once or twice, but the crowd swelled around her. Nothing to see. I was a ghost shadow. She wouldn’t recognize me in any case. I careful, so careful, never to look the same when I visited the bar. She was careless. She always came to the same place on Fridays.

The first time I saw her in the elevator I knew I had to have her. She didn’t notice me then either. She was talking to someone named Brian, and I learned her name was Marta, and she worked on the tenth floor. Design. Her hair was long and black; she smelled exotic and wore bright colors: reds, yellows, oranges.

It was easy to look her up in the company directory, to find her apartment. I was so careful at work never to pay outward attention to her. But I watched. I took pictures. I studied the object of my desire.

Marta. Tonight she wore green, and I knew it was a sign.

I paid my bill and left the restaurant, but I knew the way she would go. It was a perfect night: a little chilly with a pale sliver of moon dangling in the cloudy sky. Rain would be coming soon, cleansing and cold.

As I crouched behind some trees in the tiny park, I listened to the leaves shivering in anticipation. She’s coming. She’s coming. And I ventured a peak. Marta strode up the dark street, pulling her scarf tight around her neck.

In the end, people are trusting. I only had to step out behind her and gasp, “Oh, help me.” Who is afraid of a frail old man? Poor Marta. She should have been. It was so easy to take away her cell phone and get her into the car.

I sedated her at once before I took her away to add to my permanent collection. I’ve even changed her name to Suzanne. No one can hear her cray any more now that I’ve cut out her tongue. I’ve told her it’s important that she keep herself looking pretty for me, but lately she’s begun to let herself go. Maybe it’s because I cut her beautiful black hair and hung it on the wall next to the others. Ponytails, Mother used to call them. I probably shouldn’t have let her see the wall.

Then again, maybe it’s good for her to know that there are others out there and that she can be replaced.

It’s not my fault really. If only Suzanne Bartollo had said yes all those years ago. If only she hadn’t laughed at me and called me a freak. After that, all the other girls mocked me and called me a freak, and no one would go out with me. Someday I’m going to find Suzanne Bartollo, and I won’t even give her a chance to apologize. I’ll take my big knife and hack her to pieces.

 

Loose Ends

I slump in the plastic seat, staring at my feet encased in high, gorgeous Jimmy Choos. Look great hurt like hell. I probably should have worn running shoes, but that would have been too obvious. In the early morning, the train is empty, and I listen to the sound of its wheels clicking over the rails.

“Ya almost made it,” a voice from behind me says.

I never heard him come in. That’s what happens when you spend the night moving from subway to subway. By morning, you’re so tired you get sloppy.

“Detective Moore,” I say. “This is a surprise.”

“Sure it is.”

“I don’t suppose I could interest you in getting off at the next stop and letting me go on alone.”

“Don’t suppose you could. You’re a person of interest.”

“Only to Donald.”

“That’s enough.”

The brakes squeal and the train slows as I shoot him in the face with the .38 I carry in my left pocket. I walk to the door without looking back. Donald didn’t warn him that I’m left handed. Too bad for Detective Moore. And to think I was ready to get out for good.

Now I have to tie up that final loose end.