A little short I wrote years ago for a creative writing class.. I would write it differently now but this is the original...
The woman stared out of her kitchen window, out over her front lawn and across the street. She watched her neighbor, Mrs. Sullivan, perform her morning ritual of loading her children into her minivan together with numerous brightly colored diaper bags and backpacks. The window was opened to let in the cool summer morning breezes so she could hear their squeals and mindless chatter as they were strapped into their seatbelts and car seats. A tiny smile came to her lips for just a moment then quickly disappeared. She turned away from the happy, chaotic scene, and tightly squeezed her eyes shut, trying to quell back another flood of tears.
It had been a long morning already, the heartbreaking decision to leave her newest lover and return to her ex had drained her both physically and mentally. Now all that was left was to tell Mike. She was apprehensive to say the least; he had a temper and could be very nasty when he felt he was cornered. She saw evidence of that temper a couple of times in the past few months, each time more unsettling than the time before.
The first incident occurred when they were going to dinner one evening and she spoke to him about the reservations she had about where their relationship was going. He had become more and more insistent in the last month that she file for a divorce and move in with him but she wasn’t sure that was what she wanted yet. He suddenly became silent and sullen, the blood rushing to his face. She had tried to reach out to him but stopped short when she realized the car was speeding up. He glared over at her and spit out words like venom, “If I can’t have you no one will. Maybe I should just drive this piece of shit into a stone wall and kill both of us right now!” She began to cry and told him she was sorry, that she didn‘t really mean it, in an attempt to diffuse the situation. He slowed the car down and in an instant seemed to forget what had happened, smiling and joking with her as they drove to the restaurant. They never spoke about it and he acted as if it never happened.
She, on the other hand, had never forgotten that frightening moment and recalled it very clearly now as she picked up the phone and dialed his number. She could tell he had been sleeping when he answered the phone so she spoke gently to him. He seemed slightly agitated when she asked him over for coffee, it was very early for him, but she begged a little and finally he gave in. Shaking, she put the phone back in the base and sat down to wait.
“I really don’t want to drive down to New London this morning, I have a million things to do,” the girl in the front passenger seat of the beat up 1985 Chrysler whined. The girl was Christine Roberts, a pretty girl with beautiful waist-length blond hair that nearly covered the seat and big blue eyes that were currently throwing daggers at the driver of the car. Her eyes glared at him as she spoke and he had to look away from her for fear she could actually burn a whole through him just by that look. Medusa has nothing on her he thought to himself.
Michael Jenkins pretended to adjust his review mirror and backed out of the driveway, looking both ways twice before he pulled onto the quiet street. At first, he thought it would be best to ignore her comment and possibly hold off another huge fight but soon realized she was just getting started with her bitching and complaining, a rather nasty habit she had picked up as of late. His head was beginning to pound again. He woke up with a bitch of a headache this morning and this conversation did little to diminish the pain.
“I thought we were going to wait to do this,” Chris said snidely. Mike looked over at her and shrugged.
“No, I want to get it over with. It is not going to be any easier tomorrow or the day after for that matter and besides, I thought you wanted to get this over as soon as possible also.” The fact was, Christine needed to speak to her estranged husband about a divorce and Mike was sick and tired of her putting it off. It seemed like it was always something with her, another reason to delay the inevitable. He was thrilled they were finally on their way to take care of this little matter but for the life of him, he could not remember her consenting to it this morning.
He did not let a little forgetfulness stop him however, they were going, and he did not really care how it happened. He loved her more than anything and he knew, no matter how cruel her words or how vicious her actions, that she would love him forever.
Chris glared at him again and made an annoying sound that usually meant she was really ticked off. Mike stared out the windshield and hoped beyond hope that this would end soon. He looked at Christine out of the corner of his eye and thought that although she still seemed to be pissed she seemed to be lost in her own thoughts and quiet for the moment. He guessed the torrent would come shortly so he enjoyed the peace and quiet while it lasted and took in all of the beautiful scenery up the New England coastline as he drove on.
It took nearly an hour before Christine lost her cool again and Mike thought that it might be a new record for her. She seemed to gaze out the window for a moment before directing her eyes back in his direction, this time with a look that could kill.
“I can’t believe we’re not there yet. Where exactly are we, you idiot?”
Mike jolted when she spoke, as he had been lost in his own thoughts for quite some time now. “I decided it would be a prettier drive if we went the back roads down the coastline. Can’t you just enjoy the scenery and relax for once?”
“Well, I suppose I could if I wasn’t on my way to do what I am going to do, Michael.” She always called him by his given name when she was angry and when she was really going off on him during one of her many recent tirades, she would throw in his last name for good measure.
“This is not how I wanted to spend my Friday morning you know, besides, I have a million things I could be doing instead of sight-seeing in your crappy car.” She always exaggerated when she was trying to make a point so Mike was fairly certain she did not have a ‘million’ things to do. His head started to throb again and he started to feel a little queasy as an added bonus.
“Okay, okay, I hear yah. We’ll be there in a few minutes. Can you hang in there just a few more minutes?" He wanted to add, “You pain in the ass,” but thought better of it when he received another killer look from her. Mike looked down at his speedometer and thought he just might be able to speed it up a little if it would make her happy so he pushed the old car to 50 mph. When he pushed down on the accelerator he heard something creak and held his breath for a moment and hoped that the sound was nothing too important and the car would hold together for a little while longer. At least Christine shut up again; apparently content in the increase in speed and knowing this morning would eventually come to an end.
There is a highway along the Connecticut coastline called Route 156. It runs along Long Island Sound and there are several beautiful views along the drive. The road runs through Old Lyme then Niantic, through Waterford and into New London. In the summertime, the beach communities of Old Lyme and Niantic are both filled with tourists, mostly from New York and New Jersey, and there is hardly room to walk let alone drive or park. There are also ‘pedestrian crossing’ signs placed here and there during the summer on this busy road and the speed limit decreases quite significantly through these areas. Most year round residents are aware of these areas and avoid them like the plague as they are frequently patrolled by the extra ‘rent-a-cops’ hired for the summer season. Nevertheless, sometimes a resident forgets and goes flying through one of these areas a little too fast and gets a ticket and a hefty fine to boot for the lapse in memory.
This morning, Constable Don Riley sat in his patrol car in the Tastee Freeze parking lot when he heard a car coming down Main Street. He had just ordered his lunch and hoped to eat it before the early afternoon rush to the beaches but the car sounded on its last leg and like it just might be going a little too fast. Constable Riley quickly pulled out his radar gun and pointed it out the front window of his patrol car just in time to catch the Chrysler coming over the rise in the road. He looked at the flashing green digital read-out on the gun and sure enough, the car went by him exceeding the speed limit by 6 mph. The constable sighed, turned on the red and blue light bar on top of his car, hit the siren on his dashboard and sped out of the parking lot and in behind the speeding car. He called the East Lyme State Police barracks and notified them of his pursuit of a 1985 blue Chrysler LeBaron, Connecticut License plate number LK5847.
Constable Riley forgot all about his lunch and it would not be until much later that night that he remembered the fried clams, French fries and cole-slaw slaw that he left at the little drive-up restaurant and thanked God that he never had the chance to eat that meal.
Mike was frantically rubbing his forehead as he entered the city limits of Niantic and did not see the police car sitting in the parking lot as he went through the light. He heard the siren before he noticed the flashing lights in his rearview mirror. He looked down at his speedometer and sure enough, it read 30 mph. “Shit” he yelled as he hit the breaks. Christine lunged forward and he grabbed her just before she went into the dash. Christine stared at him in disbelief and snapped, “What the hell are you doing”? Mike glared at her. “There’s a cop behind us and he’s pulling me over, that’s what I’m doing. Could you just shut up for one friggin minute?”
Chris made a strange sound and went quiet again. Mike reached past her towards his glove compartment to look for his registration and insurance card when he noticed there was something splashed all over his dashboard. It was something dark red and very sticky and when he looked at it the pain shot through his skull again. He shook his head as if trying to shake something loose in there, something that he needed to remember but gave up when another searing pain made him nearly double over. He looked in his rearview mirror again just to check that the cop was still behind him and did in fact want him to pull over and not some other speeding driver. Apparently, it was Mike the officer wanted to stop, as he was still following him even though Mike had slowed way below the posted speed limit.
Mike looked for a good spot to pull out of traffic and saw a small abandoned gas station on the right. He swung the Chrysler into one of the vacant parking spaces and shut off the car. Chris seemed to be mumbling something but he couldn’t quite make it out, perhaps she’s just talking in her sleep. He hoped that Christine would sleep right through this and not cause a scene but he didn’t count on it. He reached into his glove box and finally found his registration and insurance card. He looked at Christine to see if she was in fact sleeping but could not tell as her head faced towards the window. It was fine though, as long as she was quiet. He sat back up and looked in the rearview mirror again. The cop seemed to be writing something and talking to someone on his radio. Mike chuckled to himself, “yes, the big bad cop has got me, criminal of the century, nothing better to do than pull me over for going a little fast. Why don’t you get off your fat, doughnut-eating ass and catch some real criminals? There are plenty of drug pushers and child molesters out there and here you are wasting the taxpayer’s money to stop me, a nobody.”
Mike became more irritated by the moment and his head began to really pound. He kept his eye on the cop and wished he would just hurry up and give him his ticket so he could be on his way. What if Chris woke up and started in on him while the cop was there? What if she started yelling and screaming at him again? The idea stabbed at him from inside his head causing the pain to double. He squeezed his head between his palms like a vice grip and tried to drive out the little bastard that kept jack hammering the inside his skull. Nausea overcame him and he threw up all over his lap, the floor and his new shoes. He stared in disbelief at the chunks of glazed donuts and coffee mixed with something he could not identify and thought to himself that things just could not get much worse.
However, Mike was quite wrong about that for at the exact same moment he was puking on his Nikes, Officer Riley arrived at the driver’s window of the Chrysler and things definitely got worse. Much, much worse.
Constable Riley always followed protocol, a real straight arrow; he liked rules and regulations and believed that is just the way things should be done. Therefore, after he pulled in behind the offender, he sat in his car and waited to hear back from the barracks on the license plate while he filled out the information on the blank traffic ticket. Date, time, location, road conditions, badge number. He finished filling out what he could and stretched back in his seat to wait for the plate information to come through when he looked up at the driver in the Chrysler. He seemed to be under some kind of distress at the moment. He was grabbing at his head and then seemed to lunge forward into the steering wheel, his shoulders heaving. Oh God, he thought. I have a drunk at 11:30 in the morning; this is going to be a very long day. He stepped out of his car not waiting any longer for the plate rundown and walked over to the LeBaron’s driver’s window. It would indeed be a very long day for Constable Riley.
Sometimes when tragedy strikes, time seems to stop for a while or move in very slow motion and everything becomes surreal. Much later, Don Riley would describe this day exactly that way, that is, when he could finally talk about it, when he was no longer part of law enforcement that is. When he stopped having nightmares every time he closed his eyes. He was never quite the same after that day. Constable Riley approached the car. He saw the driver hunched over the steering wheel and standing slightly behind the driver’s door, tapped firmly on the glass.
“Please put down the window, sir.”
When the driver looked up at him he could see that the guy had in fact barfed all over himself and looked like death warmed over. His face had a look of pallor and sweat poured over his forehead but what was much worse was the look in his eyes. They looked, well, they looked wrong, just plain wrong. “Okay”, he thought to himself. “I am just going to take a little step back and get a grip.”
At that moment, the man sitting in the driver’s seat smiled, his teeth filled with something rather nasty, and Don felt his stomach lurch and his vision blur. He blinked hard, straightened his back and looked squarely at the driver. It was then that the Constable became aware that the driver of the old Chrysler was covered not only in vomit but in blood as well. Not only was the man covered, but so it seemed, was the entire inside of the car, the dash, the seats, even the windshield had small droplets scattered here and there. Constable Riley slowly put his hand on his service revolver and began to say, “Put your hands……” when he noticed something in the passenger seat. Something, someone, what? Against all of his training, nearly without thought, he leaned across the blood-covered man to get a better look at the other seat.
For a moment he wasn‘t sure exactly what he was seeing and then it came into focus. What the Constable saw at that moment his brain could not fully comprehend. He stared at her and as shock set in, his world spun out of control. It would turn out to be the longest day of his life and one he would spend the remainder of his life trying to forget.
By the time Don Riley was finally able to return home, it was after midnight. He shook his head as if to clear out a fog but succeeded only in causing his stomach to wrench. He closed his eyes and the vision from the passenger seat of the car came rushing back to him all at once.
The severed head of the girl lying in a pile of candy and Ding Dong wrappers on that dirty seat. Big blue eyes opened wide with surprise, the mouth opened in a large, round, red “O”, blond hair matted with dried blood. He did not want to see it, her, anymore.
Christine Roberts was her name and she had been a beautiful, vibrant girl just twenty-four hours earlier. Sometime around 8:00 a.m. yesterday morning she was beheaded with a 14” Poulan chainsaw by a jealous boyfriend.
To Constable Don Riley, the world just could not get any stranger. Up until yesterday, he thought he had seen depths of the human depravation pond but now he realized, it was, in fact, an ocean to which there was no bottom.
He lowered his head onto the table and prayed that he could forget long enough to get some sleep.
He lowered his head onto the table and prayed that he could forget long enough to get some sleep.