Now let us turn back the hands of time. I’d like to transport my audience back to eight o’clock in the morning on the same day that our King Bacchus shocked the world with is choosing of the unlikely Queen of Love and Beauty.
While our heroes were going about their lives with an intoxicating youthful innocence, April Miller’s life was far from innocent. When her excruciating emerald eye opened it was not to the world of yesterday. It was the bloody quixotic world of her future. Our little lost librarian pushed herself into an upright position. Her neck felt like she’d been in a car accident. She tried to stretch out the kinks, but all she felt was more pain. She touched her battered eye with her tiny palm and recoiled in pain. Her mind flashed back, then in horror she said, “Oh my god, the mirror!”
The tiny woman stood up and spun around to check on the status of the mirror and she froze in horror. If you had asked her earlier what would have been the odds that she would wake one sunny morning on the first real day of summer vacation to see her husband, a man she had loved at one time with the very marrow of her bones, lying on the tile floor of their kitchen with his head propped up on a cabinet door labeled Trash with the handle of an informercial butcher knife jutting judiciously from his neck, she would have laughed. Her pupils dilated as her eyes grew wide and she felt the blood in her veins freeze. Every hair on her head and every cell in her body seemed to be in a state of cryostasis as she stood with the stillness of Tinman Taz.
Jeff’s eyes were locked up in an accusing stare and his hands were clutching at his throat. His life’s fluid had coated the floor and dried over his shoulder and down the cabinet to the floor in such a way that it looked like a maroon cape or mantle of a deposed ruler. Her fragile psyche was on razor’s edge between lugubriousness and lunacy.
She finally came to her senses, shoving a fist in the air, declaring, “YES!! I TOLD you that knife would come in handy! Who’s stupid now? Ha!!” She gave a high karate style kick, that had form even though she never took that kick boxing class, and flexed her muscles like a heavyweight champ feeling lighter than air. She’d been released from a life sentence. Sweet clemency made her heart soar like a newly fledged eaglet.
She turned to the mirror, smiling through her swollen eye, pleased it was whole and not feeling the pains in her body anymore. Then a thought struck her. I’m not going to be able to carry him out of here. Her eyes gleamed and she smiled bigger as the next thought came to her. I’m going to have to cut him up.
First she went to change out of the pajamas she had been wearing, but stopped herself. “There are no more damn rules. I’m freaking going to wear whatever I want!”, she declared to the room. She jerked three drawers completely out of the dresser and flung their contents across the room. “Oh there you are.” She reached into the mess to retrieve a pair of rhinestone sunglasses to hide her battle wounds. She opened the closet to survey her shoes. “Too uncomfortable, too sensible, too BROWN,” then she settled on a pair of fluffy pink bunny slippers.
That’s how she was dressed, pajamas, slippers, and sunglasses, when she walked into Mr. Schlemburg’s shop and raided the hardware aisle for a hacksaw, a fresh pack of blades, and three different bottles of cleaning supplies.
Mr. Schlemburg swallowed hard, “Will that be all?”
“No. Do you have sulfuric acid?”
“Uhm, yeah. We keep it behind the counter.” He set a bottle of liquid fire wrapped in its heavy duty safety plastic on the counter.
“You’d better be careful with this stuff, Miss. It will eat the skin off your bones. It’s for really bad clogs.”
She looked down at the ice cream in the cooler beside the cashier’s counter. Yesterday she would have never been allowed to indulge. She could hear her dead husband’s voice in her head telling her how fat, sloppy, and ugly she was and how she wasn’t allowed to eat that trash. “Shut up! I’m in charge now!” she shouted.
Mr. Schlemburg stepped back at her outburst.
She smiled at the old man and said, “I’m sorry. It’s been a crazy morning.” She suddenly pulled her pajama top over her head and dropped her cookie monster print pants. She stood nearly naked except for her sunglasses, fuzzy slippers, and a pair of g-string panties that took up very little real estate on her tiny front triangle. Her milky white skin dispersed freckles from her face that scattered down to plum size breasts and dissolved into her tattoos. Except for the ink, she looked exactly the same as she had in high school. Through all of her torment, her body had not suffered an ounce. “Mr. Schlemburg, does this body look like a body that’s too fat for ice cream?”
The old man clutched at his chest in anticipation of some cardiac arrest that never came and never averted his eyes, though it seemed he was struggling to. All he could manage was to shake his head. She pulled her top back on and and grabbed 2 quarts of Ben and Jerry’s, signed the credit card receipt and then bent over to pull up her pants. She walked out of the store singing “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead”.
She backed her El Camino down the small driveway between her house and Tex’s until the tailgate was even with the kitchen door. She brought in a blue plastic tarp from the shed and spread it over the kitchen floor. She rolled the body onto it. Dr. Hughes would have diagnosed her as being in shock for whistling while she worked, but the new ‘stop whining’ Dr. Hughes would have said she was feeling the sweet release of freedom. He would say her eyes weren’t hurt because of the overhand right the monster had battered her with, he would say they hurt because they were opened for the first time. They hurt because she had never used them before.
Little did she know when she awoke that she was not a murderer, however in the two hours after returning from the hardware store, she committed a host of felonies. The hardest part was using the hacksaw to prepare her husband for transport, it was moving the refrigerator. After taking out all the groceries and putting all six pieces of him into it, she loaded it onto a dolly and started inching it towards the door. It nearly fell off its hinges at the abuse of Chaz Bernos, but she hadn’t the mind to question it and her mind came up with an excuse quickly enough. Mrs. April weighed somewhere around 110 pounds, so trying to negotiate the 200 pound fridge to the back of the truck took a couple hours. She managed to lean it on the back of the tailgate but she couldn’t heft it in. She’d have to lift over half of it and it wouldn’t budge.
“I’ll work on that later. Let me start cleaning the house.” Again she whistled while she worked.
After cleaning the evidence of her crime to a level of perfection that would have stymied Horatio Hornblower, she took her clothes and bagged them for disposal and got a long, hot shower. She selected a skimpy black summer dress with a red anarchy A over her left breast, buttoning it just to the top of her red lace bra. She thought, Yep, I’m in charge now.
“Let’s go, man. Buddha isn’t coming,” Tex told Spider and George.
“I know, I should have guessed it when he dropped off the hat at George’s,” Spider said.
The boys pedaled away from Tex’s house, past April who was sitting on her front stoop drinking an icy wet gin martini and smoking a cigarette. A few minutes later, Buddha knocked on Tex’s front door and startled her out of her daydream.
“Hey, you missed ‘em!” she called out. She heard the boy let out a breath that he had been holding all day. He lifted his hat to rub his smooth bald head. She noticed the way his finely tailored suit hugged his shoulders and complimented his figure ending his John Cusack-like ensemble in a pair of bright red Chuck Taylor’s. She wondered why a tall drink of water such as this handsome five-foot-three young man would be scared of a dance. “You wanna smoke?”
“Thanks. I got my own.” He walked over and sat down beside her on the front stoop. She made small talk and noticed the praying hands tattoo on his neck and thought, If this boy had been around when I was in high school, he would have to beat me off with a club. As her little anarchy skirt rode up to mid-thigh, she thought, Oh my god, he’s checking me out.
Maybe it was the gin from her martini, or maybe she had been down and abused for so long that she had forgotten what it felt like, but Buddha’s stolen glances made her feel longing, desire, and beautiful again. She felt her blood pressure rise and her skin suddenly felt alive. She no longer could resist the temptation that bubbled under her fingertips as she lifted his hat and felt his smooth bald head. Somewhere in the back of her mind she hoped for something to stop her before she mauled this teenager. Buddha blushed and he stood up. “Hey, lemme help you load this refrigerator.”
NONONO. Wait. April, calm down. You need help to load it anyway.
She accepted his offer. She was thinking how strong he was and good her fortune had been in finding someone to help her when she saw him look down at his bloody palms. She felt like she’d been punched in the gut. She heard her husband’s voice from the grave, “You stupid, ugly idiot! Now you’ll get what you deserve!”
She covered her ears and ran into the house like Chicken Little had been right and the sky was falling. She was in a panic as the world she had only lived in for one day was turning against her. She had just escaped one prison and now surely she was headed towards another. She had only eaten one quart of the ice cream.
“I was free, darn it! I was in charge!” That’s when the flood gates broke and she fell apart. She dropped and cried hysterically like her bones were made of jell-o. She cried for every time she had made a compromise. How had she slowly let herself be enslaved? First it had only been a remark about an outfit or a meal, and soon she had allowed herself to become acclimated to degradation and torture. She beat her fists on the hardwood floor and sobbed, “I’m g..glad I killed you! S..stay dead!” She pounded and pounded until her arms were too weak to pound anymore. When she quit beating, she still heard a pounding.
“What’s that?” An image popped into her head of Buddha flagging down a police officer and them banging on her door to arrest her. She stood up and pulled down her crumpled dress that had lost a button and threatened to expose her panties for the second time that day.
There wasn’t an officer on the porch. She stepped out and saw the tattooed boy had removed his jacket and was knocking holes in the side of the fridge, which was somehow now wrapped in zebra duct tape, with a ball peen hammer.
Her jell-o bones returned and she lost all bearing. She fell splay-legged pitifully on the ground, bawling. Buddha leaped out of the truck and ran to the woman. He put one arm behind her knees and the other around her neck at the same time covering her exposed areas with his Armani jacket. He rocked her like she was a little baby and she clutched him and sobbed a lifetime’s worth of tears. The sun had set and the side of the house where the truck was parked was growing dark. They sat and rocked for what seemed like hours until he finally brushed her tear soaked hair from her face and said, “I don’t care why you did it. Anyone who could hit your beautiful face deserved what he got.”
I used to be called beautiful. She mused with wonder.
Then she stood up, leaving Buddha sitting on the grass. She looked at the makeshift coffin, expecting some remark to come from her late husband, but none did. She looked back at Buddha. “Thank you.”
Buddha’s face went beet red and April watched as he suddenly realized he was only nine feet away from a woman who was very nearly naked with only one button still remaining holding her dress together at her disheveled, askew brassiere. He reached for his jacket and as he pulled a crumpled smoke out of his pocket, he noticed that blood had dripped on his shoes. “I’d better get rid of these,” he said, pointing to the bloodstained sneaks.
April went to the cab of her El Camino and returned with a black trash bag, dropped it in a steel barrel by her backdoor, and squirted lighter fluid on top. Buddha lit a match and watched it ignite. He dropped in his bloody shoes and fifteen hundred dollar suit coat.
April had gone to the cab of the truck and soon Sister Christian, oh your time has come blared out into the night. Shadows from the flames danced like wood nymphs as April walked up to Buddha, took the cigarette from his lips and said, “Well, we better teach you to dance.”
As she pressed her almost naked body against his and placed his hands on the nearly naked small of her back, they danced.