Friday, September 18, 2009

Second Try

A new story for your reading pleasure. Or not. There may be more or there may not. I haven't quite decided yet. Just read it, okay? And let me know what you think. Even if it's horrible.

Really. I can take it.


It rained on the day I killed Marcus.

His grave looks almost the same as it did after I buried him. The kudzu's a little thicker, that's all. Sometimes I dream that he wasn't really dead when I planted him and he's slowly digging his way up out of the ground, earth deep under his fingernails as he claws his way free. But whenever I visit the spot, I know all is well. He's exactly where he belongs.

He'd had it coming for a while.

We were friends. Just friends, that's all. He wanted more, I didn't. Sometimes he'd push the issue and I'd push back, distance myself for a day or two. He'd sulk and then seek me out, laughing and joking, his old self again.

Sometimes he'd kiss me. I'd let him, if I was feeling particularly mellow, but I never kissed back. I'm not into that.

That's not why I killed him though. What, do you think I'm crazy or something? I killed him for running his mouth. He just wouldn't shut up.

Abandoned house in Lida, Nevada.Image via Wikipedia

There was an abandoned house where we'd hang out sometimes. It had some tattered old furniture and some rugs and stuff, nothing much. He'd dragged in this enormous cedar chest he'd found God knows where and we used it as a footrest in front of the sofa.

On our last day there, I waited until he went into the bathroom. A few weeks earlier, I'd put a deadbolt on the outside of the bathroom door. I got it from a door I'd found in the junkyard, so it wasn't all shiny and new looking. He probably never even noticed it. Yeah, this was premeditated. You can put that in your report. Premeditated.

He was looking at himself in the mirror. He was a good looking guy, and he knew it. Spent hours just preening and smiling at himself, making different faces: happy, sad, surprised. Yeah, he was asking for it.

His back was to me as he checked out his teeth. He saw me at the door and his reflection smiled at me. I smiled back.

When I got the deadbolt, I'd also found a half-filled container of lighter fluid. Now I'm no expert on accelerants and all that, but I figured that would be enough to at least get the party started. After that, it'd be up to the rest of the bathroom to continue my little blaze. Hair spray, toilet cleaner...that stuff's all flammable, right?

I'd dumped the little metal can of fluid into a short garbage can. Added an old sheet I'd found in the house. I think it was a painter's tarp or something. The sheet soaked up all of that lovely fluid. Pulled the sheet out. I went into the bathroom, smiling at him. As he started to turn toward me, reaching out, I draped the sheet over his head. He must have thought I was playing some game because he didn't struggle to remove it. Not at first. I lit the corner of the sheet. Watched flames begin to devour it. That fluid worked better than I'd ever expected. It took him a while to react. It seemed like he stood there for hours, just burning. Then he started to flail. Silently, his arms swiped at the sheet. I went out the door, slammed it and bolted it. It wasn't long before he got to the door and start pounding on it...


As long as I stood there watching, he never screamed. Just that incessant pounding. Thank God the door was solid or he might have broken it down. Finally I left the house, stopping on the front walk to see the view from the outside. The bathroom was burning brightly now, great plumes of smoke pouring out the barred windows. As far as I know, he never made a sound. I wonder what he thought as he burned. Was he confused? Expecting it? Did he welcome death like some martyr? It bothers me to think he might have died hating me. I didn't hate him.

The windows exploded, glass shooting out towards me. I could feel the heat of the fire baking the side of my face. The fire had spread, moving to the living room and then to the kitchen. I could hear things breaking with little melodic tinkling sounds. It was actually kind of pretty, the house flaming, the black smoke and the roaring of the fire, punctuated by a sort of off-kilter music. I let my mind record it, painting a picture to save for the future.

Then I left.

Our place was in the middle of nowhere, so it could just burn and burn all day and no one would care. No one would know, really. I went to a movie. Some cartoon. It was stupid. Later, I went back to the house. It had burned completely down, just a few bright embers glowing here and there. I found what was left of his body. I think I cried a little. I lay down next to him, even though the rubble was still hot and smoking in some places. I got burns on me. I think I slept a little. I really did love him, you know. Even though he was a rotten excuse for a human being, I loved him.

Morning was started to lighten the sky when I finally woke completely up. Abandoned or not, sooner or later somebody was going to discover the rubble. And if they were a little bit curious, maybe they'd discover Marcus, too.

I went and got some supplies from the dump. Another sheet, a shovel. It's amazing what some people throw away.

I went back to Marcus' body, and got him in the sheet. That's something I'm not ready to talk about. It wasn't really him, it was just flesh. Burnt flesh. I wrapped it up good so I wouldn't be able to smell it, but I could still smell it. I can still smell it.

I already knew the perfect spot: there's a stream not far from our place where the ground would be nice and soft, easy for digging. Moisture equals quicker decomposition. Also, the kudzu. Kudzu's amazing stuff, did you know? It's almost impossible to kill and it grows so fast some folks call it the "foot-a-night vine."

I dug a hole. I wanted to make it six feet deep, a proper grave but water kept filling it in. I kept at it anyway, I got blisters, they broke and bled. I got to about 4 feet before I gave up. I was exhausted. Rolled him in, he splashed to the bottom. Shoved in the mud and dirt on top of him. Pulled up some of that kudzu and arranged it all around the grave. He would have liked it here.

I fell asleep again, curled up on the bank of the stream like a fox.


Elisabeth said...

I love it. I want more.

Eddie Bluelights said...

Hi Sarah
I am looking forward to reading this over the weekend but thought you mingth be interested to see my new play, a version of the "Wizard Of Oz" - I;d like to include you in it somewhere - a good person of course - have I your permission? ~ Eddie

Sarah said...

Thanks Elisabeth...I'm still working on it, so hopefully before too long...

Eddie, of course you can use me for your play! I'd make a perfectly cute flying monkey...

Granny on the Web said...

Really got intrigued with the story, so can't wait to see MORE!
I think it is great, I am so expert, but this is the sort of opening line I like in a book, because is invites me in. 'It rained on the day I killed Marcus.'

Love Granny

Sandi McBride said...

I know a really good doctor...she'd be right up your alley...that's a really dark alley you live in, you know...
loved it!

Eddie Bluelights said...

Sarah - what an imagination you have!! Crumbs!! They say the female is the most dangerous of the species.

Glad I don't talk a lot or prene myself, or am very good looking or smile at myself in a mirror - I would have to keep looking over my shoulder for Lady Sarah saying, "Hell hath no fury lie a woman's scorn"

I think it is great - very imaginative and premeditated as you say.

You would have to be very strong to dispose of the body or maybe there was not a lot left - and to dig the grave would be very exhausting - I think I'd fall in it!

Is your husband safe? I wonder.

Pop over for a cuppa - I've posted the first part of Oz.

Finally - I've met a great bunch of Christians (one is a Southern Baptist who you might get on with - she is really nice).
Take care - Eddie

Dusty said...

I found myself really drawn to this story. Perhaps it isn't fair, but I constantly found myself thinking "this was written by a preacher's wife?". As if that means you don't think of such things as this.

Anyway, I thought it was good. I wrote something once upon a time that I should post up on my blog for you to critique. .. but the only thought you'll be able to muster is "a father of three wrote this?" lol.

Nice work.

mom said...

Would the fact that it rained or was raining when "you" did the deed leave any suspicious residue behind for investigators - if they are called in?

Anonymous said...

I agree w/ Granny on the Web. First line brought me in. It is a great story.
I love research and editing, so here goes. I am not well versed in plants. I knew kudzu had to be a plant or bush, but I needed to look it up.
I don't think it needs: "so it wasn't all shiny and new looking" and "It took him a while to react".
You wrote, "I got burns on me". If there were embers glowing, it still would be too hot to lay down. I don't think she/he would be able to get up from that.
Is it she or he?
These are just my thoughts.
I love your writing and look forward to it all.
On a side note, loved the ant story. You are so creative with your story telling.

Sarah said...

Thanks, guys for your kind words...I'm working on more, but sort of creeping myself out in the process...

Joan--thanks so much for your input! I tend to write like I talk, so it's always good to get a fresh perspective...