by Ben Johnson
So there she was, standing in the moonlit room, stark naked. The light from the television, with no sound, danced across her belly. The only other sound, besides the crackling heat as I filled my lungs with the much needed nicotine from a cigarette, was her increased breathing. Her chest heaved up and down and her nipples became erect. She crouched down like a leopard stalking its prey.
I exhaled long and slow. I watched the plume of smoke climb towards the ceiling and simultaneously I hoped my prayer would climb, climb beyond the ceiling, beyond the rafters, and the leaking roof, past the clouds, and make it to the stars or to wherever the hearer of prayers may dwell. I looked at her again, the tightness in her thighs, the round shape of her buttocks, the moisture dripping from her hair covering her loins. Then in one motion she sprang from her crouch, vaulted the couch, let out her now signature screech and manic laugh and pissed all over the rug while staring at me like a wild animal. Oh, dear God! That fucking laugh! I don’t want to incriminate myself by saying what I want to do to silence that laugh.
It was like looking at a wild animal that had been caged and mistreated. When it stared back at you, mistreated wasn’t the correct word. Tormented is what reflected off the blackness of her dead soul. She would sit and stare. What was she looking at? What did she see? She stared at the reflection of herself in this vast world; she stared at nothing.
When she wasn’t in this state she reminded me of the same tormented, caged animal, pacing across the cage staring out of the bars looking at nothing, yet at something. It would come to the corner, spin around and pace across the cage with an intensity and craze that made you afraid, even though you knew it couldn’t escape through the bars. It never even looks directly at you, but somehow you sense, and perhaps it is the hair standing up on your arms and neck triggering your intuition that this crazed creature wants to end you. Not for a meal, not to satisfy hunger, nor to feed its young, not out of protection, it wants to rip your flesh and break your bones, smell your blood, and hear the gurgling in your sliced open throat. There is really no motivation, except that you are the closest thing outside the bars of that cage. And some how you just know that if let loose, this animal will not stop after you are laying there lifeless and silent. It will slay the next moving thing that moves on the outside of its eternal, perpetual cage. It would never be free, even if let loose. It will always be the forever tormented, forever demented, forever deranged.
So what do you do with an animal like that? Is it right to keep it locked up and away? God knows there is a chance it could get loose! You do what is right and what is humane. You terminate its life. Not out of hatred, not revenge, nor punishment. You end its life because it is the right thing to do. Remember Old Yeller?
As I sit in the stench it makes my throat tighten, my nose squinch, and my lips taught. When I smell, I imagine the molecules of the putrid matter floating around the room, entering my nose and mouth depositing onto my olfactory nerves, and it is as if I am eating it. It makes me want to grab anything nearby and scrape out the inside layer of flesh from the inside of my nose and mouth before it enters my brain. But I know it is too late and I have to sit and dwell on the fact that I am in a sense eating and breathing excrement and urine. Sometimes I am able to distract myself from this and think of other things like the the dust mite feces riding on the flakes of dead skin that float around through the air every time I sit down on this couch.
This couch, we bought it new. The fabric was pretty. There were pretty greens and rich purples threaded through it. Now, the fabric was penetrated by who knows what. I pretend I have no idea. I hate this couch. I can’t stand for my clothes or skin to touch it.
The house, at one time, was an enjoyable place; wood floors, wrap around porch. Simple, comfortable, it was home. I am not sure when or how it turned, but it did. The girl and the house seemed to conspire against me. I used to enjoy being in it. The sunlight would dance through the window warming the floor and the air. It wasn’t perfect, but it was nice. At some point things began to change. The little bit of light that did enter was cold, and it would highlight the massive invasion of dust floating in the air, just waiting to be inhaled by the lungs. I closed the blinds!
The shadows in the house somehow became darker. It reminded me of a Rembrandt painting and his use of chiaroscuro. I used to be comfortable in the absence of light, but this darkness began to scare me, like the Goya painting, Saturn Devouring His Child. It seemed to move and to whisper. At first I thought it was just talking which wasn’t so bad. But then I began to think that it was talking about me, wanting to take me. I would sit and listen, with all my senses heightened. It felt like I was being hunted. I would sit for hours, wide eyed, listening to… nothing. Looking at… nothing.
I, for the life of me, don’t know what pushed her off into the abyss of insanity. But the one thing I do know, off she went. And she hasn’t been back.
I decided to take her for a walk. It was after midnight. No crickets or locusts were chirping. As we walked, the dew on the grass started soaking into my shoes and my feet were getting wet. This really bothered me and I tried to let this aggravation go.
I got her to come with me by lying and telling her that I saw some kittens on the way back from the store. I told her there were two of them by the railroad tracks behind the post office. So after walking a little over a mile, we arrived at the tracks. She stumbled a little on the rocks. She grabbed my arm for balance. As I steadied her we made eye contact. Or rather, I looked into the vast void that used to be a soul. And whatever was in control of the movement of her eyes stared right through me as if I were a void, nothing.
I had not planned exactly how to do this. I did bring two long pieces of rope and my 18″ long, black mag-light. I knew a guy whose mother killed herself by sitting down in front of a train. I was discussing this with my brother and he told me of a recent event of a high school girl and a train. My brother’s friend is an investigator for the county and he saw the video footage from the train. The girl had her two dogs, holding them by the collar and she just stood in the tracks staring at the oncoming train. She didn’t move. She stared straight at the train as the two dogs frantically attempted to escape this end. The girl gripped their collars and stood strong, till the end.
So, I decided this would be her end. She was bent down calling for the kittens, “Kitty kitty kitty kitty!” Her voice sounded like 1000 nails slowly scratching across the chalkboard of my mind. I raised the mag light, swung down hard and hit her above her right temple. Her body fell between the perpendicular rails. I bound her arms and legs with the rope. I laid her ankles across one rail of the rails, her butt and back rested on a cross tie, and I laid her shoulders across the other rail. Her neck and head laid back, almost lifeless, seeming to gaze at the tree line. The drool from her mouth strung down and was beginning to pool on the rocks. As I observed this I noticed a reflection off the stream of drool.
The train was on time. The whistle pierced the silence of the night. Adrenaline was coursing through my veins. I could hear the blood pound through my ear with each pump of my racing heart. The train was coming fast. The ground began to vibrate. I looked down at her to make sure she was still positioned correctly before I walked away. When I looked, she was looking right into my eyes. Not through me, but right into my soul. This was the girl I fell in love with! Tears fell from her eyes, they streamed down her face. I saw her mouth move and form the words I so longed to hear, “ I love you.” I lost it. Something snapped inside. The train was at the last crossing, the horn was blaring, and the roar of the engine was pummeling my chest. I leaned down and unbound her legs. I was frantic! I was doing all I could to save the girl I was trying to kill! I fumbled at the rope binding her arms, she was still staring into my eyes. I felt love flood through my being!
I freed her arms! The train had locked up it’s brakes, the squall was grinding my brain and shaking my bones. I grabbed her wrist, yanked with all the force I could, and pulled her free from the parallel lines of death. The intensity of the whole situation was overwhelming; the incredible noise from the train, almost committing murder, saving her with only seconds to spare.
And then time stopped. The deafening noise that was right on top of us vibrating the molecules of everything in the vicinity, stopped. I looked back into her eyes, my heart stopped. Her arm was raised holding a large rock from the tracks. Her eyes, her eyes shone with the satisfaction of that wild caged animal let loose and that was finally allowed to maul her torment. She brought the rock down upon my skull. My legs fell out from under me. I fell with my body laying perpendicular across a track.
As the first wheel sliced through my torso and as my consciousness began to separate from my now severed body, I swear I could hear her laugh over the noise of the train.
“Hahahaha hahahaha hahahaha!”
The laugh merged into the rhythmic clanging of the wheels as they rolled continuously across the tracks;
“Clack clack clack, hahaha hahaha hahaha, clack clack clack.”