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“I wonder what she sees in there?” Bernos thought to himself as he looked at the viewing screen watching April Miller, who had taken a brief pause in her housecleaning and was gazing longingly into the mirror that may or may not have belonged to Snow White’s evil nemesis. Over the past couple of months of surveillance, Chaz had seen April endure all sorts of mental abuse. Her husband didn’t hit her, as far as he witnessed, he preferred more damaging abuses. There are two ways to keep a spouse. One is to treat her so good and make her feel so special that she would never want to leave. The other, more sinister way, is to make her feel so dejected and worthless that she believes no one else would have her. The latter was Mr. Miller’s method. He had, in essence, created a prison of despair. Every area of her life and minute of her time was micromanaged by this abusive turnkey. Nothing she did was right, she was ugly, she was stupid, and she was slow and far below what he deserved. The most heinous part was that she believed all these lies. Little did he know, the one thing that didn’t lie to her was the mirror. When she looked in that mirror, she was restored. However, it was weak magic compared to the evil that shared her house.
“Oh, Hell,” Bernos muttered as he dropped the monitor on the passenger seat, cranked the Crown Victoria, and drove off. Mr. Miller had come home from work and walked right up to the window to ask Chaz why he was parked there. “I can’t believe I didn’t see him! Dammit!” he chastised himself as he drove down to St. Charles. He was all set to drive back to his office when he started to think of April. He pulled the car over a block away.
BAM
The door slammed as Mr. Miller stomped inside. “Who the Hell was that outside?!”
“Who?”
“Don’t play stupid with me! You know who.”
“What are you talking about? I’ve been cleaning all day!”
“That’s a damn lie! This place is a pig sty!”
April looked around at the immaculate house with not one thing out of place. Before she could respond, the man backhanded her, sending her sprawling. She cowered on the floor before him.
“You don’t do shit around here. All you do is stare into that stupid mirror!” He turned and grabbed the frame.
“NO! Stop!” April started to get to her feet to grab him.
He spun back and elbowed her in the side of the head before turning back to the mirror.
In a life of Hell and torment, the image in that mirror was the only thing that mattered. She would rather die than lose it. She scrambled to the kitchen and pulled from the drawer labeled ‘kitchen knives and cooking utensils’ an especially large knife. Her husband tugged at the mirror but it wouldn’t budge no matter how hard he tried. He balled up his fist and punched it. “Ow!” he screamed and pulled back a busted knuckle from the unharmed mirror. Then his rage turned to the one whom he always took all his anger out on, April.
She stepped into the kitchen doorway holding the butcher knife.
“What are you gonna do, kill me?”
“That mirror belongs to me,” she hissed. “Don’t touch it.” The funny thing about being imprisoned is when you are finally set free, you learn what’s important to you. Had the little librarian really been taking kickboxing instead of yoga, she might have stood a chance. She only saw a blur of movement as her hopes for liberation were smashed, along with her left eye, from an overhand right punch.
She lay in a limp heap as the maniac bent down to pluck the knife from her hand. He looked at the blade and whispered, “A nice big slice on that pretty face and you won’t want to look in any mirror.”
Chaz Bernos screeched to a halt in front of their house in time to see the blow that bashed in April’s face as the monitor came into range. The big man flew from the car like a man possessed. He never took the time to turn the knob on the side door. Instead, his size thirteen shoe caved the door so powerfully, the frame was reduced to splinters. One hinge was pulled from its mooring. He stepped into the kitchen prepared for war, his blood burning.
Mrs. April lay unconscious on the tile, but her face hadn’t been cut. The reason was because her husband lay on the floor behind the side door that battered him and thrust the knife through his windpipe, severing his jugular, and poked out the back of his neck. He kicked twice and then left the world of the living.
Bernos panicked. It is not an easy thing to kill someone, even a rotten person, or to realize that you will probably spend the rest of your life in jail. Both of these thoughts and all their implications hit Chaz at once, and he ran.
He drove back to his office, his heart racing. As he shakily put the key into his office door, he eyed a brown package addressed to him from Dr. Hughes post marked Costa Rica. Inside was a bottle of Johnny Walker black single malt scotch with a note that said, “If being a hero was easy, there would be more of them.” For the first time in Chaz Bernos’ life, he sat down at his desk and got drunk. Halfway through the bottle, the full weight of what he had done hit him. The death of that bastard wasn’t a tragedy. He was going to kill her. He might just get aggravated battery. Actually, it wasn’t his knife. He might just get home invasion charges. Or maybe with the wealth of Esther Buckley behind him, he might get off scott-free.
He stood on wobbly legs, well past the legal limit, and got into his car. He was determined to go back there and call the cops. As the detective pulled out, he was rocked violently by a crunch of metal as he plowed into a passing car. He was unaware, as he stepped out, that he had hit a NOPD officer and reached for his pistol that had come loose of its holster and was in danger of falling out of his cheap suit.
“HE’S GOT A GUN!” was the last thing he remembered. It was the blow to the side of his head with a nightstick that brought him down. Had he stayed down, things would have been better, but he didn’t and they weren’t. All total, he had a broken collarbone, a broken wrist, three broken ribs, and a concussion when he reached the infirmary at Orleans Parish House of Detention. It would take him three days to call his son.