Flowers for Breakfast

I knew she was strange when I saw her eating flowers for breakfast. They were lined in rows on the table in front of her. As I walked into the room, a rose bloom disappeared into Justene’s open mouth. I’ve seen stranger diets. I proceeded to fetch my bowl of cereal and pretended like the roses and daises going down her gullet wasn’t new for me.

Clue number two stopped me dead in my tracks. When I came home from work, she was sitting criss-cross applesauce, naked in my den…mind you, she is only paying me monthly for a room. We aren’t roommates, and her name isn’t on the lease. I don’t know what she was doing. There weren’t any symbols drawn on the floor, and she wasn’t chanting; I just found myself staring at a lot of skin when I came in through the garage door. Thank god the neighbors couldn’t see. I reacted, she apologized, kind of, and floated to her room.

After I came home to her force-feeding herself crickets, I should have made her leave. Hindsight is twenty/twenty. I just told myself she must have had one tough childhood, or at least a strange one. I asked her to please keep her meals in her room if they weren’t normal groceries.

I didn’t see her much after that. I’d catch a glimpse of her as she moved from the bathroom to the bedroom, or when she’d emerge for a chilled bottle of water.

A couple of weeks later, I started finding green tiles of some sort around the house, they seemed to be anyway. They were round and slightly convex but tough as nails. I knocked one from the counter, and after it bounce instead of shattering, I actually tried to break one of them, but with no success. I left them in a pile on the bar for Justene to pick up. After they sat there over a week, I took them to her room. I was not prepared. I should have left when she didn’t respond to my knocking.

When I opened her door, there was a six-foot iguana on her floor – six feet without the tail. I screamed so loud my throat locked. The animal’s attention was on me before I even had time to process things. I fell back when it ran at me – I’ve never handled stress well – and by the time I felt the hot pain in my arm, it had gone back in her room and slammed the door.

It had bitten me. The damned lizard had bitten me. There was a clear “no pets” policy in the lease, and when I had calmed myself, I would begin eviction procedures.

“I’m going to sue you if that godforsaken thing infected me with something!”

My arm ached a lot. I sat up trying to collect myself and finally looked to evaluate the damage. When I saw the blood on the floor, the nub of torn flesh just above where my elbow had been, heat flushed my face. I instantly felt sick.

“What in the hell have you done to me? How did you sneak that monster in here?”

I was freaking out. I heaved my good arm over and stumbled from a seated to a tripod position, and then to a waving stance. After stumbling to my room and managing to lash a belt around my upper arm, I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and dialed 9-1-1.

“I’ve already called them. The ambulance is on the way,” Justene said from my doorway. I started and dropped my phone. When I turned to her, I saw the blood around her lips.

“What the fuck is going on?”

“I asked you never to come in without knocking.”

“I knocked…you didn’t answer.” I was feeling very woozy. I gripped the bleeding stump with my bare hand to try and slow the bleeding. Warm blood dripped through my fingers and pooled in my palm. Pain shot up my arm and behind my shoulder blade, deep into my back.

“I can’t talk when I’m the lizard. You should have just left.”

“When you’re…” I remembered thinking then I must have been losing blood fast. I seemed to be hallucinating already. “When you’re the lizard?” I huffed, laughing.

“Yes. I’ll be leaving now. I’m sorry I ate your arm. I hope they fix you.”

“Ha! You hope they fix me? They’ll fix you when they’re throwing you in jail.” I fell back, hard against the wall, then slid to the floor with my legs stiff in front of me.

“No, sorry. And you better not tell them your tenant turned into a giant lizard and ate your arm either.”

“Is that a threat?” I said to her back as she walked away.

“No, it’s a warning. They’ll throw you in the looney bin.”

I didn’t listen of course. What else was I supposed to tell the police? How else could my arm have ended up missing? They had no choice but to have me evaluated. Of course there was no evidence of foul play, no signed lease in the house from a “Justene Marbrow”, and no “giant lizard tracks” (they jested at me). After a stent in the hospital and an even longer stent in the mental ward, they had me transferred to a facility where I could be watched and my mental state could be “properly evaluated”.

Did you know a straitjacket is still effective on an amputee?

To see the photo that originally inspired this story, please visit the Instagram link below.

Flowers for Breakfast

Copyright W.B. Welch – All Rights Reserved

 

Flowers for Breakfast

A huge THANK YOU to you all

I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you… thank you to the people who have been following me for some time, and thank you to all of the new subscribers who joined in the last couple of days. A blog is a hard thing to gain momentum on (when you’re this late in the game and competing with social media), but it’s also an important platform and it matters when the agent search begins. It means the world to me that you all support what I’m doing, and I can’t thank you enough.

That being said, this is the most traffic you should ever receive from me, as I will be posting a short story shortly (tee-hee), and my normal posting rate is two times a month (or that’s the goal rather). If you’re new to the blog, WELCOME! If you’re reading this and you haven’t subscribed, please do. It’s quick and easy and helps me out a ton.

Thank you again. I hope you all enjoy the new story, “Flowers for Breakfast”.

A huge THANK YOU to you all

Photo Story No. 14

I found her in Vegas, and that’s where I left her. When we first met, she was in a wig, a waist-length, platinum wig with bangs that curtained open between her dark brown bangs. Her eyes were a rotted-wood brown. Her legs curtained open too just like the velvet red drapes at the burlesque show, but that’s not the point of the story. I wanted to tell you about her talent…not that she dances with fire, not that she can swallow swords (and dicks like grape Kool-Aid), but her other talent.

I met her outside of The Charlatan, a fancy new hotel just across from the casino I had apparently disappeared in for over seven hours. When I came out for air, there she was, across the street, standing in black heels and a silver dress, like I said, in her platinum wig. I crossed traffic not worrying much about the cars. Her eyes were locked with mine – while I looked like a lost pup, she looked like she was ready to devour me. I had always been called handsome, but never had I ever fetched the attention of someone I deemed so attractive, someone so magnetic. Hours later, after her show, after I was dazzled by her peacock fans and crystal doused, wire-rimmed stage costume, after the drinks and gambling, we went back to my room and the wig came off. Her hair was as black as tar. Contrasted to her pale skin, she was a vixen. I wondered then why she ever wore the wig in the first place…maybe to protect her identity…maybe because it made her feel like someone else and made it easier to look in the mirror. I couldn’t care less either way. I never lied to myself and thought to try and save her – I just wanted her for the night.

She led me to believe I could have her.

As she came to me, dropping her clothes on the floor, unstrapping her shoes between steps, wiping the bright red lipstick from her face, I felt myself growing uncomfortably hard beneath my jeans. I didn’t want to adjust and distract from the situation, so I just watched…and ached. Call it masochism. I may have enjoyed it. When she shoved her hand down the front of my pants, she ended it. My head fell back, my chest filled with air…she squeezed just enough, and I lost my breath. When her free hand connected with my chest and I flew across the room, well, I was fully awake then and left trying to figure things out in my daze.

I felt pain, hot burning in my chest. I looked down to see a gaping hole…I looked up to see my heart in her hand. She pushed her tongue from her mouth and licked my still beating heart, then buried her teeth in the tissue and took a bite. I waited for death, knew it would take me quick…and when I was still awake to see her swallow, then take another bite, and another, I pulled a few deep, intentional breaths into my lungs and looked down again. Maybe she didn’t have my heart, maybe I was on some killer pills, but sure enough, the hole was still there pumping blood in spurts onto the floor. She came to me again, pushed my heart in my face and told me to take a bite.

I obeyed. Why? I couldn’t tell you. I want to say, “I’ve seen stranger things,” because that’s what you say in strange situations, but I would be lying…this definitely took the cake. What did it taste like? Well, I’ve never had a raw chicken liver, but if I had to pick, I think I would compare it to taking a bite from an oversized raw chicken liver. I chewed, twice, then swallowed. She called me a good boy then stuck the damned thing back in my chest. She told me then that I was one of “them” now and would have to find my own meals from here on out.

“One a week – no more, no less, or lest you’ll find yourself six-feet deep.”

I didn’t speak, couldn’t find any words in my mouth. I sat there like a layman watching her dress and leave. On her way out of my door, “The strip is my turf. I’d steer clear of New York and the entire west coast too. They don’t take to the new ones. Stay south your first few months.” Then the hotel door latched behind her. I didn’t move, didn’t try to. My cell was in my pocket. Instead I texted my parents to tell them I loved them, my friend to say I must have been on some killer LSD, and then I surfed Facebook and Twitter until I fell asleep propped on the drywall.

When I woke, the hole in my chest was gone, but I could still taste the iron on my tongue. There was a small scar over my heart and blood trailed across the room. I resisted at first, tried normal meals, tried ignoring the pangs. Ten days after my “death” I succumbed to my first feeding. I don’t want to admit, but it was a homeless man, the first who seemed eligible when I felt like I was dying, and I do believe I was dying. My skin was tightening, my bones seemed to be cracking – it felt like I was about to crinkle into a ball of skin and broken bones, then spread into a powdery dust. I didn’t even speak to him, I just pushed my hand between his ribs and took it, then left running.

Two years later, I saw her again on the strip, just outside The Charlatan. She gave me a glare – I raised my hands in defense and mouthed, “I’m only on vacation.” This time she crossed the street for me, eyes locked, my gaze as confident as hers. That night I had her…we fucked until the sun came up. As I watched her leave again, I wondered what her heart would taste like. I told myself next time we met, I would find out.

To see the photo that originally inspired this story, please visit the Instagram link below.

Photo Story No. 14

Copyright W.B. Welch – All Rights Reserved

Photo Story No. 14

Halloween Treat

Halloween is here. Reed knew it because the cold air stung his nose and made his eyes water. Every year he would hear his parents whine with other adults about the Texas heat that sticks, even in autumn. “When’s it going to get cold? When are we finally going to be able to wear our sweaters?”

A few chill days would pass in between, hinting at what’s to come once the luke-warm autumn air finally broke. Every year Reed would be deceived and plan his Halloween costume based on the way the fall night air felt…and every year, once Halloween dawned, he would find himself shivering in his costume boots.

Today though, Reed was pretty okay with the cold. He was thirteen, turned thirteen as of this morning, matter of fact. He was too old for trick-or-treating, so he was walking to school in his normal attire: jeans, a graphic tee, and his hoodie.

Yes, Reed was a Halloween baby, and though he’d always thought it was cool his birthday fell on All Hallows Eve, he found himself slightly spooked after his friend, Tommy, pointed out his thirteenth birthday was on a Friday, and thirty-one backwards was thirteen. Reed was aware this was a stretch, but it spooked him all the same. He thought he might should watch out for black cats and ladders just to avoid any extra bad luck coming his way.

Buses passed full of elementary kids donned in shrouds, robes, wings, and wigs; Mallory and Mike ran by dressed like Raggedy Ann and Andy; when Reed glanced over his shoulder, he saw Benjamin dragging his toes along the cement with each step, scarring the black leather of his shoes. Benjie was wearing a shirt that read ‘This is my costume’ and his hair was spray can painted orange. Reed waited for his classmate to catch up.

“What’s up with you?”

“Not a damn thing,” Benjie shot back.

“My bad for asking. Just surprised to see you kicking dirt with such a cool costume on.”

“Eat shit and die.”

“Tits to you too.”

They walked beside each other, but Reed forfeited the small talk. Benjie continued to drag his shoes along the pavement – Reed was sure now he was trying to wear holes in his shoes.

“I’m too old for a damn costume. I told my parents I didn’t want to do the Halloween thing this year, and my mom came in this morning with this shit and said, ‘It’ll be fun!’” (Benjie emulated his mom’s high pitched voice.) “She wouldn’t let me out of the house without it…I’m just praying they send me home for dress code violation.”

Reed fought back a laugh. “I’m not going out this year eith…” Benjie yanked on the hood of Reed’s jacket so hard he fell flat on his back and knocked his head on the pavement. Reed thought to jump up and beat his ass, only he couldn’t see straight, and he felt sort of like he might vomit. A car horn blared as it passed by. He swallowed a couple of times and held both hands on the back of his throbbing head.

“That car almost creamed you, dumbass.”

With clenched eyes and clenched fists, Reed thanked Benjie for saving his ass but said next time he should find a better way to do so.

The rest of the walk was quiet. Reed kept palpating the lump on his head, wincing when he brushed across it. He expected at first to pull his fingers back and see them stained with blood, though he never did – the impact hadn’t broken the skin. He thought if it had, he might have gotten the day off school. Once they made it through the ID check, they went their separate ways.

“See you in third period,” said Reed. He turned and immediately heard someone giving Benjie hell over his “shit orange” hair, which left Reed wondering who had seen orange shit before.

*

The day went by as most do, boring class after boring class. Reed fought nodding off in first and second period, then again after lunch in fifth and sixth. He’d stayed up late playing games the night before and was praying all day for a pep rally or at least a movie in one of his classes. The only exception to the day had been the worse than normal clumsiness that left Reed pissed off and ready to go home.

He stumped his toe hard enough to bruise it through the shoe, knocked his funny bone twice, and jammed his finger in gym. To top it all off, he dropped his pencil in the bathroom before his last period, then knocked his already tender head on the underside of the porcelain sink. He actually collapsed after that, stayed in the fetal position on the dirty floor for a while trying not to cry.

Once Reed was finally home, he thought about the plans he made with Tommy and Benjie. He considered calling and backing out. After everything, he didn’t feel like going, he told himself, and he was obviously experiencing one hell of a streak of bad luck. His best bet was to stay home with store bought candy and movie binge. He didn’t want to ditch Tommy, though, and he even more didn’t want to make Tommy go alone with Benjie. Benjie can be a bit of a dick, and he knows he can wear Tommy down to agree with pretty much anything – it’s why they were now going trick-or-treating.

Reed plopped down on the sofa with an icepack on the back of his head and mentally shifted through the rubber masks still stacked in his closet. He had a clown, a monkey, an old granny mask, and a grim reaper shroud that blacked out his whole face. Clowns were played out and he was sure the reaper get up would be too small. He wondered if he could talk his mom into grabbing him a last minute mask before her and dad had to leave for the party – ya, fat chance at that. He settled on the granny mask and thought to grab a mumu from his grandmother’s house down the street.

He napped on the couch for a while, woke up to pee and eat, then passed out in his room for an hour longer before Tommy called and said he was walking over.

“Oh, you’re going out?” asked his mother. She was putting the final touches on her ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ makeup in the mirror by the front door.

“Tommy talked me into it. We’re going down to Granny’s before we meet up with Benjie.”

“Okay, well, be home by…”

“Ten, I know.” Reed saw green painted hands emerging from the hallway behind his mother before he closed the front door behind him.

*

“Dude, that still trips me out.” Tommy was laughing while he recorded Reed dancing and mouthing the words to a song playing from his phone. They were screwing around – Benjie was late.

“Do you want to just go? We’re going to miss all the good stuff.” Reed felt a hard push on his back, almost sending him to the ground.

“You gonna start without me, shit face?” Benjie was still in his ‘costume’ from school, but had added a large link chain around his neck and wore a rubber skull mask.

“We were supposed to meet half an hour ago. I thought maybe you were washing your shit orange hair.” Tommy was rolling by then, but zipped up when Benjie shot him a mean glance with a fist aimed his direction. “Come on, let’s go guys.”

The first three houses they passed all had dark porches. The next five were lit though. Reed felt ridiculous, three tall boys with deepening voices holding out pillow cases to ask for candy. He had money – he could have bought candy. As the night went on though, he cared less about his pride as his bag grew in weight. They stopped long enough to each cram a few pieces of cholate down, then turned the corner and started on the next row.

The three zig-zagged across the narrow neighborhood street, hitting all the lit houses without having to double down the other side. His mom would have scorned him for eating candy that hadn’t been checked and for crossing the street every thirty seconds, but hey, she wasn’t there – she was probably drunk wherever she was. Two of the houses on this street were handing out full-size candy bars, five of the homes were answered by women with huge ta-tas, and they passed a trio of girls they planned to track down again soon. It seemed Reed’s shit luck from earlier had taken the night off.

After failing to find the girls again and practically running down three more streets, they decided to turn it in for the night. It was after ten anyway, and though his parents probably wouldn’t be home until midnight, he thought with his luck he better not push it. The three walked together much slower than when they had started. Benjie picked at his candy non-stop, throwing the empty wrappers back in his bag, while Tommy mouthed a caramel apple sucker. Reed carried his heavy bag over his shoulder, suddenly realizing how dark it was around them.

They had walked several blocks, and all the houses were running out of candy, so dark porches dominated every street.

“If I were a burglar,” said Reed, “this would be one hell of a night to score. A lot of neighborhoods don’t have street lights. It gets pitch black once all the porch lights go out.” Both his companions looked around then, Benjie’s eyes returning to Reed’s with a mischievous look in them.

“You aren’t wrong, shit breath.”

“Are we going to do this all night.”

“All year,” Benjie replied. Reed rolled his eyes and kept walking, now with a tighter grip on his bag. He pulled his phone out to check the time and thought of switching on his flashlight. He would have, except Benjie would give him hell for it. “Hey, let’s hit this last one. I bet they have big bars. Look at the size of it.”

Reed looked up to a tall dark house he didn’t remember seeing before…in fact he could have sworn this property was an open plot. He ran through a thousand ‘maybes’, like maybe they sold the property, but that didn’t make sense because the house looked old, but people could move houses now right, so maybe they sold the lot then moved an old rickety house way the hell to nowhere Texas.

“No man, I’ve got enough. I need to get home.”

“Chicken shit. Are you afraid of your parents or the dark more?”

“It’s just one more house man,” chimed Tommy.

Reed rolled his eyes and started up the sidewalk with the dynamic duo, agitated at Tommy taking Benjie’s side over his. He looked up to the house, tall and fragile looking with dark windows and open shutters. The house wasn’t completely falling apart, but it looked like a good summer storm could take most of it down. Gas lamps hung on either side of the door, both burning with a purple flame.

“Maybe they don’t even have anything. It’s too late, all the good stuff is gone. I bet they didn’t turn out the lights because they’re gas. We are going to wake someone, and they are going to be pissed.”

“Chicken shit,” was all Benjie said without slowing his stride. Reed wanted to leave, wanted to at least duck behind the bushes. He kept waiting for his mom to call him too, but found himself suddenly thankful at his parents’ party habits. When Benjie finally rang the doorbell, Reed felt his knees ready to run.

A silhouette moved behind the glass in the door. Reed squinted through the glass and took a step back.

“Don’t be a chicken shit.”

“Dude, enough,” said Tommy, who stepped back too.

The silhouette moved inside again, this time closer to the door itself. Reed realized he was holding his breath. He looked to Tommy who was actually shaking.

“Come on, let’s go,” Reed started when he heard the metal clack of a lock opening. “We’re sorry if we woke you, your lights…”

“Nonsense,” said a sweet voice from the dark opening. The silhouette stepped onto the porch where the purple light danced around her. Reed felt his heart quicken. The homeowner was a young adult female with long, wavy, chestnut hair and eyes as big as her breasts. “You boys are out late. Most of the candy hunters have wandered home by now.”

“Well we don’t have a curfew since we are teenagers,” Benjie started while Reed thought to smack him, “and your lights were still on, so we figured you must have had something worth giving out.” The woman laughed with a hand raised over her mouth – Reed thought she even seemed to blush a little.

“Well of course I do. Isn’t that what Halloween is all about?” She reached behind her, her soft hand returning with a large bowl filled with mini versions of pretty much every popular candy on the market. “No one seemed to want to stop by my house tonight, so I’ve got the works. Have your fill.”

Benjie’s hand was in the bowl in an instant, raking three handfuls into his bag before he plucked two small chocolate bars from the bowl and ate them on the spot. Tommy looked hesitant, but he took three handfuls of his own then pulled a new caramel apple sucker from her bowl to replace the one he’d just finished. Reed felt weird, didn’t like anything that was happening, but to avoid teasing or trouble, he grabbed a handful and dropped it in his bag.

“Is that all you want, sweetheart?”

“We already have a ton,” he said as he held up a fistful of heavy pillowcase.

“Surely there has to be something else your little heart could want.”

There was something alright, but he kept it to himself. He hadn’t been brave enough to even hit on a girl his own age. On top of that, his initial thought wasn’t an innocent pick-up line. He thought he’d love to lose it to a girl like that. The woman was holding eye contact with him still, and now lowered her gaze as if she heard his thoughts. She pushed her leg forward from the slit in her skirt. It wasn’t until then that Reed realized she was dressed as a witch – he hadn’t looked much further than her face and tits.

“Do you have any alcohol?” asked Benjie. Reed thought for the third time that day he’d sure like to whop that kid a good one. Benjie looked to the guys and shrugged with a shit eating grin on his face. They all three watched the woman for her response.

She leaned over forward with a wide grin on her face. She held eyes with Benjie now as she lowered to meet his brow. She jested at Benjie with wet words but Reed missed the gist of it – he couldn’t look away from the velvet line cutting into her high breasts. He had a feeling Tommy was locked in too, because he was equally silent.

The woman, still talking, raised her hands to rest on her chest. She laced her fingers together and rested her hands on the soft white skin. Reed saw then her eyes cut his way, and he immediately looked to the floor. He had been caught staring, and worse, he felt himself growing – his pants getting tighter in the crotch. He tried to think of anything but her hands and what they were touching. Benjie would never let him hear the end of it if he saw.

Reed forgot his boner when he heard a loud snap. It reminded him of the time he broke his collarbone skating. He looked up to see the woman’s fingers, all of them, stuck inside her own sternum. Blood was running from the opening. It was bright red against her light skin. The boys started to back step, but unable to look away, they watched her grip either side of her rib cage and pull out.

The front of her split open like a chicken on Christmas, but she did not collapse or bleed out like he knew they were all expecting her to do. Instead of organs and intestines spilling from her belly, what looked like one hundred snakes doused thick in her blood fell to the ground and began slithering their way. Tommy and Reed dashed the second the saw the serpents, but Benjie hesitated. When the boys reached the edge of her yard, they heard Benjie scream.

Benjie’s loud cry was quickly muffled. In sync, the two running looked over their shoulders just in time to see a snake slither inside Benjie’s mouth. They ran hard, some of Reed’s strides not even feeling like they connected with the pavement. The both of them jumped the stack of stairs at the end of Reed’s porch, and he turned every lock after he slammed the door in its frame.

Copyright W.B. Welch – All Rights Reserved

Halloween Treat

The Day I Killed the Dog

She stood outside the square paned window of their back door puffing on her cigarette and steadied herself to go in. Her hair was knotted in a bun on the top of her head still from work. She let it down and unbuttoned the three ivory clasps on her jacket. She felt like she was facing an angry client about a postponed deadline, or a nine-year-old standing outside of the principal’s tall oak door awaiting reprimand. It didn’t feel like she was about to face her husband.  Daria dropped her cigarette on the gray concrete, then stepped on its cherry before going in the house.

The smell of leftover fish wiped the burnt nicotine scent from her nostrils. She huffed out a breath and crinkled her nose in disgust. No amount of lemons in the disposal could wipe out the seared bass smell. No, they would be stuck with it a while. She almost ducked behind the bar when she heard the heel of his wingtip derby shoes crossing the wood in the living room. Daria wasn’t ready to face him. She just wanted to go to sleep and wake up three days ago before she made an ass of herself. If not that, maybe three months into the future when he’d by then surely be done moping and asking questions.

“How was he in bed? Did he cum in you? Why did you do it in the first place?”

Daria hated how he was taking things. “Why don’t you just fucking leave, Ben?”she thought. It would have been so much better than whining, begging, losing his masculine appeal.  He wanted to stay even after the fact, he needed let them move on. Daria knew he wouldn’t though – she knew he was coming in to dump all the questions his mind churned up in the two hours since they last spoke.

“Hey.”

“Hey,” she threw back. She hadn’t ducked behind the bar.

“Can we talk?”

“I just walked in Ben.”

“I know, but I just,” he stopped with the forceful sigh she pushed out of her pursed lips. “How can you be so impatient with me? You’re the one who did this to us. I’m still here with you. The least you can do is help me feel better about it.”

“All the blame on me,” she thought. “None of it attributed to your porn storage, your flirtatious nature, your lack of passion for my vagina. You flirt with all the pretty things in pencil skirts at your office, get yourself worked up to images of other females and videos of them enjoying themselves, then flop on me, your on-call cumbag, until you finish and sleep. How does that make me want to exclusively fuck you?” She said none of it though. She stood straight-faced with her fingers laced together in front of her.

“I love you Ben. This has been going none stop since it started. Can’t we just take a night off, enjoy one another?” He turned and left the kitchen. She started after him then stopped. She decided to let him sulk and enjoy the peace while it lasted.

* * *

When Daria finally left the safety of the kitchen, Ben’s dog, Ratchet, was seated at the end of the hall with his back straight and his head high, almost like he was playing defense. She was safe to assume Ben was in the bedroom.

Ratchet had been Ben’s dog from day one. She had been the initiator, finding the golden retriever puppy add online, begging Ben to go see them. “Just to look,” she had said, hoping with all her might they would end up leaving with one. They did. He had fallen in love with a male golden puppy just as she had hoped. Unfortunately, Ratchet developed an immediate liking for Ben before they even swiped their credit card.

“Move,” she said kicking the dog in the butt as she passed. He showed his teeth then lowered his lip back down and followed her down the hall. Daria felt a weight on her back, his shadow creeping steadily along behind her. “Go away Ratchet.” She opened the door and pressed his chest back with her shoe, only he pressed by and ran to Ben once the opening was large enough.

“Why do you dislike him so much?” he always asked her. It wasn’t just that she didn’t like Ratchet – Ratchet didn’t like her. He always slept in her spot when he’d jump on the bed, on more than one occasion he’d hiked his leg on hers, he growls, barks, snaps at her almost daily – Daria felt safe to say Ratchet just didn’t like her.

“Daria, I don’t mean to drive you crazy. It’s just that I don’t understand why you would do it.”

“I don’t understand it either Ben. If I had a real reason why, I would tell you and end it.”

“End it?” he said and looked at her with wide eyes. He was so unattractive to her the way he was acting.

“Your suffering, so you can stop wondering.”

“Oh.”

The bathroom light was on. A high pitched but quiet hum rang in her right ear. She’d had that problem for several years now, hearing more electrical hums than she cared to admit to herself, but the bathroom light in particular was a loud fucker. She walked to turn it off.

“I’m not finished in there,” he said as her hand touched the switch.

“I was just turning it off for now.” She flipped the switch down.

“I’d rather you didn’t.” Daria turned the light switch back on with a force that felt like it might pop a breaker if it had been possible. She started for the bedroom door. She thought to go spend time reading in her chair. Ben left her alone when she read. She wished to God that she could have just come home to a normal house with her normal man waiting for her inside. She wished to God that he would just let it go. “Do you wish you hadn’t done it?”

“Of course I do,” she said on her way out of the room. “I more wish I had locked my fucking phone,” she thought. As she neared the end of the hall, she heard Ratchet’s nails jump onto the hardwood from the bed, then click along behind her in the hall. “Why do you insist on trailing me around the house when you don’t like me,” she said to the dog. “I just want to be alone.”

No such thing happened. As soon as she sat in her chair, Ratchet sat in front of her, back straight and head erect, him telling her that he intended to watch her read. Ben came in with more questions later when she started dinner. Her mother called wanting a recipe, one Daria didn’t have and her mother spent thirty minutes insisting she did. Ben followed her in to talk while she soaked in the bath. The dog AND Ben watched her filing her nails and brushing her hair. When she finally crawled into bed and laid her head on the pillow, Ben wrapped his big arm around her and started snoring in her ear. She pushed the lunk off of her, confident in his ability to sleep though anything, and went to the back patio to smoke.

There she found herself in the same stance she had been in after work: right arm tucked under her left, left arm propped up in the air, a white, cherried stick erect between her first two fingers, only now she was in a tee shirt and barefoot, still dreading going inside. If she slept on the couch, he would wake and have something new to whine about. If she crawled in bed, she was likely to shove a sock in his mouth. She sat in her reading chair instead.

Peace, she had finally found it. The house was sleeping – the lights were all off, televisions too; no washer running, no dishes in the sink. Daria lit a couple of candles, tucked an overstuffed pillow behind her back, and kicked her feet over the arm of her chair. As she cracked her book open a grin slid on her face. That grin melted quickly when she heard thick keratin nails clicking on the hardwood down the hall. “I hate that fucking dog.”

“I’ll have you know, I hate you too you slinky bitch,” she imagined him sniping in a north-eastern accent back at her. She looked at him with a scowl as he entered the living room.

“Go away Ratchet,” she whispered as loud as she could still in a whisper. “Go to BED.” He didn’t. He clicked all the way across the living room and sat in front of her chair again. She pushed at him with her bare toe. His body bent back, then returned when she dropped her foot. “Go AWAY,” she said again, this time slightly louder, this time accompanied by a strong push with the ball of her foot to his chest. Still no movement.

Daria was more agitated now than she had been all day. She felt tension in her gut, energy building in her arms. She felt like she needed to move, needed to go for a jog – she also felt like she needed to wail her fists at something. She considered throwing her balled hands at the couch a few times to see if that blew off steam. She had seen people throw one solid punch at a wall when they are irritated or angry. She didn’t want to bruise up her knuckles, but she assumed the reciprocated pain was as much a therapy as throwing a fist was. She did neither, only turned her head to her book and tried to block out the dog in her peripheral. She was successful in her task physically, but her gut continued to tie in knots with the internal anxiety building. Daria conceited to her defeat, closed her book, and stood to smoke.

“Neither of you can get to me at work tomorrow,” she said. Ratchet bared his teeth at her, then she growled back at him as she took a step towards the back patio. As she turned, a hot pain sunk into her Achilles tendon like someone wrenched it in a vice.

Daria covered her mouth as she let out a muffled scream on her way to the floor. Both her knees knocked the wood hard enough to distract her from the heat in her ankle, but only for a few seconds before it came back in a larger wave. On all fours, she looked over her shoulder to see a proud dog, swear to God, grinning at her with blood on his teeth. Unbelieving, she looked at her ankle, punctured and bleeding on the floor.

“Yooo-uuu son of a bitch,” she said, pushing her weight onto her good ankle, then hopping into a lop-sided stance. The dog was still showing her his blood stained teeth. She hopped closer. He lowered his head and took a stride back, then let a guttural growl roll out of his throat. Propping herself up with the arm of the chair, she glared at him, unsure what move to make next. “If I had the stomach to chop you into Chinese food, I would.” The next step she took, he lunged at her.

Daria yanked her good leg out of his path just before his teeth connected with her skin. She had little strength in her injured ankle though, and tumbled to floor with the dog. She pushed his barrel-shaped body with her open hands as hard as she could, then reached for the overstuffed pillow to use it as a shield. Ratchet slid back on the hardwood, then ran at her again. She pushed him to the side then threw her body on top of his in an attempt to overpower him.

The flailing dog sank to the floor and worked to get his paws underneath him. He pushed and bucked. She hooked her right arm under his throat, put the pillow over his head, then laid her full weight on top.  His head snapped side to side, reaching for skin to catch with his teeth, but she gave him no such chance. She pushed the pillow over his nose and his jaw into the floor as hard as she could.

At first the bucking from below was the same. When he realized he couldn’t breathe though, his thrashing intensified. She dug her bare feet into the floor and stiffened her knees to better her leverage. “Fuck you,” she said to the dog. “You and your fucking favorite.” She pushed her weight harder down on the pillow. Keratin clawed desperately at the wood. The more he fought, the more she pushed back, the tighter her arm cinched around his neck. She quivered all over with tension and rage. He almost shook her off with one powerful push, but she kicked at the ground, and with the momentum they both went down again. His paws slowed, then rested, then all movement stopped. She was panting, drooling, crying hot tears on the pillow. Daria came back to herself and took a deep breath in, then sat back on her heels. She stared at the dog under the pillow on the floor.

“Holy shit.” She listened for movement. She watched the dark doorway of the hall. Ben had to of heard that. She was sure he’d be out in seconds. Silence. She looked herself over – blood still dripping from her ankle and smeared in splotches on both of her bare legs. It was all over the living room floor too. She shoved her face into her palms, wiped it, then looked to the floor again. “Holy shit, I killed the dog.” Now what was she supposed to do? She considered waking Ben, telling him everything, but she knew he would flip, cry, blame her. Then she wondered if he might call the cops on her, try to get her in trouble. It was self-defense, but had she gone too far. She felt bile churn in her stomach. She hopped to the kitchen just in time to vomit in the sink, then she hung her head for several minutes. When she went back to the living room, it was with bleach and a bucket in her hands.

First things first, she moved the pillow from the dogs face. He would be getting stiff soon and she had to get him into a position that looked more like sleeping dog, less like a strangled one. She poked his tongue in his mouth, washed the blood off his face, then rested his head on his crossed paws. Daria then doused her ankle in alcohol, cursing the bastard through all of it, wrapped it as best she could, and bleached practically the entire living room. Finally, she limped with a stiff Ratchet in her arms to the bedroom.

As the door creaked open, she hid behind the door frame, peaking only her head in to see if lunk was still sleeping; he was. She held her breath and stepped in. Only twenty steps to get the dog on his bed, then she would make her exit just a silent. This was the scariest part of the whole ordeal. What could she possibly say if he woke now, caught her with her pants down in the middle of covering up her mess. She suddenly missed the days when she would run around getting in trouble with her college girlfriend, Susan, and how they would cover for one another no matter the situation. She was only steps from the dog’s pillow. Her injured ankle was now aching halfway up her leg. She held her breath again, cursed the bastard, kneeled, and sat him down. It was then she heard the lunk roll over in bed.

Still not breathing, she scooted her own body all the way back to hide below the foot of the bed. Daria felt her eyes flood with tears. She had made a mistake. A random encounter with an old friend, a simple lunch, a hot sex session in his office. She hadn’t intended to keep up an affair, she hadn’t even intended to keep a communication line open. But she had given him her number; he texted her at the most inconvenient time possible. Now she was hiding from her mourning husband, sweaty from killing their dog, praying he didn’t get out of bed and catch her. He didn’t. Ben shortly after started to snore again. Daria wiped her face and crawled out of the room. She sulked all the way back to the couch, pulled the folded blanket from over the back, and buried her face in the pillow that smothered Ratchet. She sobbed, for a solid twenty minutes, she let it all out.

*  *  *

Trying to practice her response to the announcement of the dead dog was hard. She spent the remaining hours trying to sleep, but only successfully for moments at a time. She kept jumping and jerking herself awake, then falling back into a crazy thought spiral. It had been easier explaining who Henry was when she came in the house to see Ben going through her phone. She had been in the car scouring for her lost pearl drop earring, and apparently Henry decided at that same moment that he was craving more of her. But how was she to fake surprise and sorrow when neither was there. She dozed again, then woke one last time to lunk walking heavy down the hall.

The whole thing had been a disaster. He came in asking why she slept on the couch, why she looked so pale, then paused his inquisition to brush his teeth, finally returning with tears streaming from his face. She thankfully had time to slip on a pair of tall socks, forgetting to hide her bandaged ankle before crawling under the blanket. He insisted on having an autopsy, wanted to go after the breeder who promised a clean bill of health. She insisted on saving the money and burying him. He accused her of being insensitive, she accused him of being too sentimental. As he started for the door with his dead dog in his hands, she threw her arms around his neck and begged him not to go.

“Ben, please, let’s just bury him in the backyard. I don’t want to go through anything else right now… I don’t want to drag this out. Come, let’s call off from work. We’ll take care of poor Ratchet, then I want to talk to you.” She had worked up full-fledged tears by now. Ben looked at her wet face pressed into his shoulder with a deep crease in his forehead. “I want to tell you everything. I want to tell you why I did what I did. I thought a lot last night Ben. I’m tired of feeling this gaping hole between us.” She thought to go on but decided to stop there. If she got too dramatic he might catch on to the fact she was putting on a show.

His body went stiff. Hugging his unresponsive torso felt like carrying Ratchet down the hall after he’d sat a couple hours through her cleaning session. Then thank the fucking gods his muscles went lax, his brow softened, and he placed the towel wrapped dog gently on the floor. “I’m so tired of it too Daria.” He gave her the hardest hug he had in years, and though she felt a slight remorse start to crawl up her throat, she wanted to get the next few hours over with. She’d be expected to shed tears over the dog’s grave. She’d be expected to shed tears during her confessional. She’d be expected to give him the best make up sex of his life. She performed for two of the three, but when they crawled in bed, Ben insinuated she should take her socks off, and she replied with a frowned face saying it was her time of the month.

“It’s okay love muffin. I’ll get you in a few days, remind you who’s pussy that is between your legs.” She responded by biting her lip and taking off her top. In her head, she rolled her eyes and wanted to go read.

When they crawled in bed together, he threw his lunk arm over her as he had the night before. He put his head half on the pillow, half on her shoulder, and when he was finally out of it, his mouth fell open, and the snoring commenced in full effect.

“Just fucking great,” she thought. Realizing she had put herself in a submissive position. She would have to keep this “love me” act up for a while and live in socks in the middle of summer until her ankle healed. He’d be on her heels like a scorned puppy too, wanting attention and validity. The thought alone made her stomach hurt. She had a deep loathing, found herself angry at the situation she had gotten herself into. All of it started with the talented Mr. Henry.

“At least Ben didn’t ask me to give him head,” she thought as she felt herself falling into that place before sleep.

Copyright W.B. Welch – All Rights Reserved

 

The Day I Killed the Dog