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Last updateTue, 06 Aug 2013 2am

Back You are here: Home Stories Words for the People Short Stories Steps
Wednesday, 07 August 2013 23:58

Steps Featured

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Photo taken by Ian Strang.Public Domain, Wikipedia. Photo taken by Ian Strang.Public Domain, Wikipedia.

I wanted her dead, yes, okay, and by my own hand---that they, my hands, were complicit.

Wasn’t the wisest decision now that I look back, but what can you do when love applies a pressure so hard it begins running towards hate? I thought the answer had been nothing, as in sit back and eat the shit you deserve you pathetic jag-off---as if the fault were mine alone. I was wrong, however, and all it took was a woman’s laugh to set me free.

Her name was Carol, the love of my life. Or so I had thought.

We’d met years ago, before I got sober. Young, her face had shone, fresh, but the goggles I wore were thick back then, redolent with ale. Sober, she looked quite different, but I have never been one to complain---I myself nowhere near the desired type. My face a hammer, all hooks and claws. Despite this, Carol loved me---for a little while at least.

“You going out again?” I asked, and this was the instant I knew---the beginning, as it were.

“You going to take me out?” Carol shot back, assuming the stance: hand on hip. She was all dolled up, more so than usual; her application of make-up thicker, fuller, like war paint gone mad. Either way, it was what it was---the man before her standing still, background to a relationship long past gone. Her tube-top finished her off, as well as the skirt and nylon stockings. Hooker is what I’d think if I were a cop. I wasn’t though, though the thought would not let go.

“No. Just wondering,” I lied as the realization of the thing bloomed within my mind. “Got work tomorrow, anyway. Early.”

“Same old Carl,” she said. And was that pity in her voice, or disdain? I can never differentiate the two. Door closing behind her, I rose, suddenly feeling more alive than I had in years. Was it fear? Fear of knowing? Of being right? Or that this was only something new? I didn’t know, not yet, but believed it was more or less a combination of the thoughts tumbling through my mind. How long had I been asleep? I’m speaking figuratively, of course, not literally. And this here, that question---this is what I asked myself as the days chugged on.

I was appalled, dejected---and combining both emotions is far from a fun thing. They mixed though, and once they did, each became what led me on. I followed her, night after night, on the nights she decided to go out. She hit the bars, the ones I used to frequent before I started the steps; where I had originally met her. I watched through windows out front, from the streets across the way. I also watched from out back, in alleys, where I found her on her knees.

My heart broke, shattered, and not for the first time. But the heart is a many splendid thing---isn’t that how it goes? It is as well a beast, and I want that known. The things I did to Carol---they are things I have come to fear. Unspeakable, they plague me, burrowing deep into what now makes me whole.

Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand him: this is step 3. Do I believe it? I want to say yes, believing I had been doing so up until the moment my eyes had been opened to what Carol was doing. Did it piss me off? Damn right it did---chaffing me something fierce! Because if there were a god---and I’m just spit-balling here---would someone such as he grant me the power to beat one of the worst demons known to man only to replace it with another, meaner shade of green? I mean, it’s kinda wonky, even in my book.

Whatever: I have granted myself the power.

Finally deciding to confront her, I waited for her, a beer in each hand. I was not yet drunk, but well on my way. Could there be an explanation, I remember thinking. A reason she would have that was worthy enough to shake off the hot bath of hate bubbling up inside me? I wasn’t sure; didn’t know if I wanted to be sure. And I couldn’t shake the vision either, not for a minute. Over and over I saw what I didn’t want to see; saw Carol on her knees, her mouth full, hands sliding up and down thighs. I wanted to scream, did scream, and then I scream again. I cried too, there in the chair, awaiting her return. What would she say? What could she say? I thought of the scenario, predicted her rebuttal. She would deny it at first, as was her usual MO. In time she would relent, and then I would finally know. But the why of it---that was the question. The one I could not see as I imagined her before me. I could see her eyes though, seeing them as they saw me on the night I figured it out. She would be disgusted, and she would use that disgust---of this I was sure. She was not the woman I married, no longer the Carol of my past. Did the fault lie with me alone? No, it didn’t, and I knew that now---by then, anyway.

At first, no, as I continued to blame myself; what I had become. I was normal now, sober, and the furthest thing from fun. Again, my fault? Yes, in a way, but a man can only admit so much before realizing he isn’t alone in the room. I had been dying, you see, my addiction full blown. But I was a fun drunk too; a people’s drunk. And that right there---this became the problem. Years later, rock bottom, the laughter left, as laughter does. Done with alcohol, I saved myself, but won’t be boring with every single step. Carol was there, however, for every step, and this is something I think you should know. Makes what I’m about to tell you a little easier to digest, maybe. It hurts me though, still, thinking about what she’d done, especially after standing by my side the way she did. It almost makes me wish I hadn’t killed her---almost.

On the stairs below, coming up to our second floor apartment, I heard her; the thick step of her walk, like trunks uprooted. Inside, she noticed right away. The look was there as well, just as I knew it would be.

“Well looky this,” she says and sets down her purse, removes her shoes. “What the fuck are you celebratin’?” And that was how I found out she no longer loved me. Hell, she probably didn’t even like me by this point.

“Nine years,” I say, and my speech is slightly slurred. “Nine years and this is all that you can think to say?” Did I expect indignation? Sure, maybe. But I expected denial as well, as I think I’ve said. You know what I got? I got the truth, wanted or otherwise.

She started by telling me I knew what she was doing and that I had known for a good long while. Fucking pansy, she called me, saying it’d be a night darker than this that I took my balls from her purse. And you know what? She was right. That was what I had turned myself into. Not by choice, no, but then again I would have to oppose that statement, seeing as I’m still sucking air. I could not keep the fun part of me alive, I guess---the part which had drawn Carol to me from the start. Is that fair? No, but it was all the woman gave me; that and that she was disgusted by me physically.

“And you know why I suck their dicks?” Seriously. In your life would you have ever thought you would hear those words spoken out loud? Me neither. But the smile which accompanied the question was something else entirely: pure malice. She was enjoying this. “Look at you. You’ve gained what, seventy, eighty pounds since we’ve been together? Can you even locate your cock?” I took aim, ready to speak, but she cut me off. “And the last time we fucked? When was that exactly? Can you even remember, Carl?” I didn’t know what to say, suddenly realizing she held all the cards, or at least recognizing she was making me feel that way. My fault, she yelled, every last thing---and then what was it that I was going to do about it. She sneered as she said these things, a viper in her pit, and it was in that moment that I felt like killing her. Not that I planned to, not then, but murder happens fast, and of this I can attest.

Berating me, she continued, her voice rising as her insults escalated. “You’re not a man, Carl. You know that, right? A man can at least reach the back of my throat.” And that’s what did it---that right there. I’m not proud about it, no, but it’s there all the same: penis envy. Is there anything crueler than that to a man? Probably. I lack the necessary vocabulary to give you a name, however. And I know what you’re thinking: why would someone admit to such a thing, ‘specially a man? Step 12, buddy, step 12: honesty in all things. Might not mean much to you, but dude, it is everything to me.

I had risen, rising as she spoke. Her mouth just running, taking in air. She never let up, never moved back. I hit her middle of the chest, giving her everything I had. I can’t say for sure I stopped her heart with that punch but can that I did her mouth. On the ground I straddled her, ensuring my hands received all the room they would need. I believe Die, woman, die, might have escaped my mouth at this time. If not, no matter, because it sits there now. Everything I’ve said---it will all be admissible, yes? Good. Good. It needs to be known, the type of woman she was---the type of man she made me become. I blame her fully, yes, but can’t help and wonder if there was some truth to what she said and that this was why she came to resent me so. I am an addict, as I said, and have been my entire adult life. I beat alcohol, beating it hard into the ground. Unaware, I had traded one addiction for another though, and this is what I think Carol was trying to say; that mediocrity is far from worth even part of the trade. And that possibly, for whatever reasons, I should have stayed a drunk. Who knows though, right? I mean, seriously---the woman, she had issues.

You ah---you think I could get that cuppa coffee now?




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Last modified on Thursday, 08 August 2013 00:19
Beau Johnson

Beau Johnson lives in Canada with his Canadian wife.  She is very understanding and allows him to write even though they have three small monsters who do their very best at keeping them on the go.  Unfortunately, all three boys have inherited their father's hair--poor kids.  It will now be a much tougher life.  Only once, over at the Carnage Conservatory, Beau continues his dream of being published.

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