Chainsaw Mermaid – 2


Unfortunately, Ron was already pacing and angry when I got home. I guess it was an evening of firsts. I felt first guilt, then a cold, unpleasant wedge of fear across what was left of my gut. But in our game of emotional isometrics it wouldn’t do to show him. I had to force myself to act unconcerned as I strolled through the kitchen door.

“You went out,” I said, tossing my purse to the chair. Missing, dammit. “So did I.”
“You were out with some guy,” he sneered. “How could you think I wouldn’t find out?”
Lucky guess or did Ron have spies? Here was something Bolio obviously hadn’t thought of. Me either, for that matter.

“I don’t know his name,” I said, walking past him up the stairs. “He just happened to be there so I talked to him. You talk to people, I talk to people. I’m sure your spy told you we never touched each other.”

He was following me up the stairs too closely. It was all I could do to keep from running. Showing fear would be fatal; I would lose my upper hand. I found myself thinking frantically about possible weapons, methods of escape. Slam my door shut and jump out the bedroom window?

“I don’t believe you!” he barked. “Strip!

Physical fear is a disgusting and unforgettably horrible experience. Ron was drunk, but not enough to help me out. His eyes glowed insanely. If I’d had a gun I would have rescued Bolio then and there. In all our time together I had seen Ron this mad plenty of times; just never at me. Because I never challenged him. How had I ever lived with this man? Kidded myself that I was free?
I started undressing because I knew I had to or he would tear the clothes off me. What was he after? I could no longer read him. He pushed my garments aside and put his hands on my body – hard. “Where did you get those marks?”

He pried my thighs apart. I tried to back away from him, almost tripping over the bed.

“You made them yourself, this morning. Don’t you remember?” I bruise easily. Cost of doing business. “Twice.”

He flipped me to my stomach. He had a lot of strength. “You’re lying. Who have you been with? What did you do?”

Out of his back pocket he pulled the handcuffs and began to smack them menacingly against
his palm. At the sight of them I began to shriek and babble. I’ve never liked confinement or restraint – this was not a game I cared to play. As I’d suspected, my fear only emboldened him. He handcuffed me right to the headboard. I couldn’t help showing fear, so I needed Plan B. Maybe if I just cooperated with everything I could calm him down. I wasn’t guilty after all, not of what he thought. He bent over sniffing me. Sniffing me like a dog.

I kicked at him furiously. Big mistake. He stared at me as incredulous as if I’d aimed a punch. Then he started taking off his belt. I began screaming, but out on the country there was no one to hear. We were both out of control.

“Don’t come near me! Don’t touch me! I’m leaving! I’m calling the police!” I said everything except, “I’ll kill you,” which was the only true thing. He was a dead man from that moment.
He beat me, rhythmically, shouting, “Don’t -Ever-LieTo-Me-Again!”He said he only hit me six times – but I wasn’t counting. I floated away.

I floated away because I hate being trapped. Closed my mind because, in spite of everything I’d ever thought, everything I’d ever felt, everything I’d ever done, my life came down to the fact that I was the sort of person to whom this happened. That was the truth about me.
Was there blood? It hurt a lot. He said, “You brought it on yourself.”

I could tell from his face that he was the scared one now. That meant there were marks. Now the police would lock him up for the night on just my say so. He knew that. He uncuffed me, asking solicitously,

“Are you going to be good?”

I pulled the comforter up over my head and snuggled down into a hot fetal nest, the way I used to when I was a little girl. Gone. I didn’t want the police. I planned for better than momentary satisfaction. I am a cultivator and my plans were flowering hugely.

I heard him talking to himself, stomping around and muttering, something about putting a roof over my head, giving me gas money, being entitled to respect. Entitlement? On the “fairness planet,” he would be squashed at birth like the bug he was. It was up to me to squash him.

“Well, I’m going on a rubber run,” he said. “Now that I can’t trust you any more.”
I didn’t want him out in the world, babbling to sets of sympathetic ears about his horrible, ungrateful
devastation of an evening. So I lowered the comforter. “Nothing happened,” I said. “I guarantee
you. I swear to you. You’re the only one.”

Was there something in him that was wishing I was lying, so the beating would be OK? Who cares? Try too hard to understand someone and you let them invade you. I had to play through. My conciliatory attitude inflated his confidence.

“Well, next time I won’t just beat your pretty ass,” he said in a big voice for the trees to hear. “I’ll
toss you out.”I reached for him. Hardest thing I ever did.

I proved it.
Next day I was very sore. I woke up first as I always did, stepping out of bed over the pants I’d sucked off him. I made coffee, brought him a cup. As he drank, he looked me over with a fond smile.

“Let me see your tail.”

I turned. He pleated my buttocks with his hands, petting his handiwork. “Nothing. It’ll be gone in a

He found me sitting out in the garden with a glass of wine. No comment on how early it was to be hitting the bottle.

“I’m going to PepBoys. Need anything?”

What the hell would I be needing at Pep Boys? Thank God for dark glasses. I didn’t trust myself to
answer. dinner?”

He persisted. “Got everything you need for Cyanide? Rat poison?“Sure,” I managed.“Enough wine?”

He was teasing now. He liked that I was hitting the bottle. Not so superior now, was I? He could see I’d turned some sort of corner, but he couldn’t tell where that left him.
“Liquor stores aren’t open on Sundays, so I He rattled his keys. “I’ve got connections.”

“Sure then.” Let him be seen buying illegal booze all over town. “St. Emilion.” There’s a touch of my old self. “Nothing later than ’94.” Blowing smoke, but he wouldn’t know. He never knew.
He drawled, “Right.”Then he was gone. Free! I went straight to
the phone and hit 2 on the speed dial.

Would Bolio be in the office on a Sunday, cooking the books, trying to make sense out of his own addicted senselessness? And if so, would he answer? He did, on the second ring.

“I want him dead,” I said. “As soon as “What happened? What’s up?” He kindled
at my change in tone.“He beat me up last night. First time.”

“Could be a problem. Is it visible?”“It could be a problem! Hell, it’s more than
a problem. I almost killed him myself.”“We don’t want you to have too obvious a
motive, that’s all.”“No. Not visible.”

“Well, what happened?”

“Someone saw us together, you and me. But they didn’t seem to know who you were.”

“We might be able to carry it off tonight. Make sure the liquor flows. Stay away from the stuff yourself. Right before bed, take him out to the garden to look at the moon, or whatever. I’ll do the rest.”

I prepared steaks the way Ron liked them, rubbing them with garlic and mustard, pounding them thin. While I worked, my mind wouldn’t stop whirling. Back when I was having chemotherapy, they threw a therapist at me. She made much of the fact that I’d lost my dad at age 5. Lays you open to subsequent depression, she said. Making it sound like that caused the cancer.

Death, she said, would be “processed” by my five year old self as rejection. “Narcissistic injury”. When I told her I didn’t believe in wasting time in depression, she made one of those “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” modern therapy comments; said, “Maybe you don’t allow yourself to feel it.” That remark has bugged me all my life. If I was going to start getting even, that dame would be on my list. Blaming my poor dead dad for cancer. Telling me she knows my feelings better than I do.

If I had ever been depressed I was no longer. Instead, I was galvanized, pulsating with excitement in every cell. Call it “The murder cure”. I laughed out loud as I imagined myself writing a book, becoming famous, touring the talk shows. “Sometimes You Just Have to Kill ‘Em.”

“Well, Geraldo, all I can say is it worked for me.”
I set the table with my best linen, china and silver, things used only once or twice a year. Ron would be impressed. He never knew they weren’t my antiques. I had always tried to convey the impression I was wellborn, a mysterious wealthy family somewhere off in the mist. Of course I’d bought all the things myself. Presents to myself.

If I am the one who gives them their meaning, I might as well give them their existence. That’s the way I look at it, whatever people say. The only thing I really want is that chainsaw mermaid. Everything else is a substitute. If while looking for her I found a wonderful piece of china or silver instead, it was like a gift from my dad.

I actually tried telling that damned therapist about my chainsaw mermaid, and how much she meant to me, about how I lay in bed imagining her looking at me from the woods, peering through the trees, and it gave me such a sense of reassurance. I felt so safe. But the stupid therapist said, “Why does she feel she can’t come inside?”

Because she’s a garden sculpture, you idiot! That’s what I wanted to say. Instead I clammed up, because I was too sick. But the real question is, why didn’t I go out into the woods to join her? I couldn’t go, because I was only five years old, but I was not five years old any more. The woods were beckoning, dark and deep. Boiling with life and possibility.

Ron was late coming home, and when he did, it was obvious he’d been boozing. When he saw my slinky black dress, heels and makeup and the ornamental table, he thought just what I wanted him to think, which was that I was trying to make up to him. Apologizing for upsetting him so much he had to hit me. Big You, Little Me.

He pinned me up against the kitchen wall and gave me a tongue bath. I wondered how many bars he’d visited. All of them, I hoped.

“Got you something,” he told me, after he’d scored my thong as a trophy. “Come and look.”
My trophy was a fairly new looking, bright blue Pontiac GrandAm. I knew him too well to even imagine he had put it in my name. It was just about the most repulsive thing, outside of Ron himself, that I’d ever seen. Don’t care for “push” presents.

“Only thirty thousand miles on it”, he bragged. “Sure beats that ancient Beamer of yours.”
In Ron’s world, everything “beats” something. I guess it’s beat or be beaten. You bought your own coffin, Ron, I thought. I had a hard job convincing him not to take us out for a spin. Told him you can’t keep red meat waiting!

For his last meal I fed him all his favorite food. Ranch dressing on his salad, cheese poured all over his vegetables – restraint was gone for good. He didn’t offer St Emilion – lowballed me with California Riesling instead – but I was only pretending to drink so it didn’t matter. Ron, who considers wine an affectation, swilled several bottles of Magic Hat.

Was I going overboard? Was he too drunk to realize I wanted him to explode? But he accepted it quite unironically in tribute to his kingliness. He even finished my dinner.

“You go sit in front of the TV,” I said. “I’ll clean this up.”Should I make coffee? I didn’t want to sober him up one iota, but I needed the stuff myself. Hell, I could throw brandy in his.

As I was carrying plates out through the pantry I was annoyed to discover the light was off. I know I’d left it on. Must have been the bulb.

But then Bolio detached himself from the darkness and stepped into my path.
“Having fun yet?” he asked, touching my neck. Left hand-right hand. Tried to kiss me.

I smelled scotch, cigar and sweat. He wore a suit but no tie, and his shirt was partially unbuttoned. I was angry that he had broken with our plan and let his gambler out and enraged that he’d been drinking, but I couldn’t do much with all those plates in my hand. I tried to push around him, but his hands grabbed my shoulders.

The light went on. It was Ron, screwing in the bulb and gaping at us, too stupefied to speak. He shook his head as if to clear hallucinations.

Bolio lunged for him, grabbed his head and smashed it into the glass cabinet. Glass shattered everywhere, spraying out into the room in fine particles. I dodged away from them into the kitchen. They clutched each other and went down on the floor, rolling back and forth in the tiny space.
Ron had the upper hand of knowing the room. He grabbed a drawer, pulling the contents down on himself. Uh, oh. Knives. He was on top – it looked to me as if Bolio was losing. His cell phone skittered across the floor.

But it was Ron who lost when I slapped the brandy bottle against his head. It didn’t break, but he went down and stayed down.

“Thanks,” said Bolio.
I wanted to shriek at him for betraying our plan. But I never cuss when I can get even. “He dead?” I
asked instead.“Not hardly. Better tie him up, he could
come to at any moment.”

“How are we going to explain this mess?” We were out of the plan and floating free.
“We’ll take the crime scene elsewhere. Clean it up. Tell anyone who’s interested he was going to replace the cabinet fronts. We’ll break the window on that new car of his and hope they can’t tell one kind of glass from another. Got any bungee cords?”
I went to get them.

“And a couple cans of whatever he was drinking. Full.”
Ron up.

“Bottles.” I produced them as he trussed “I suppose that will do. Ready to roll.”“I’ll get my coat.”“You won’t need it.”

“Will too.” I certainly didn’t tell him why. My coat pockets have gloves.

“Nice new car,” said Bolio as he bundled Ron into the front seat of the Pontiac. I followed them in Bolio’s diesel Mercedes. At the railroad crossing Bolio propped Ron up in the driver’s seat and began removing the bungee cords.

Ron was coming to, moaning. I came slowly up behind Bolio and from my pocket whipped out the handcuffs, cuffing both him and Ron to the steering wheel. I counted on a moment of drunken, frozen amazement to be able to steal the car key and I got it. I threw it across the tracks.
Bolio couldn’t puzzle it out. With all his best efforts, best intentions, the house kept winning.
“What’s this?” he demanded drunkly. “No time for this, babe.”

“I’m not your babe,” was all I said. See? Save your breath for the important stuff. It was already almost midnight, so I got in his car and drove away.

I would have liked to stay and tell him I’d figured out who reported seeing me with a man to Ron, but I could already hear the train. Maybe Bolio salted the earth a bit, never wasting an opportunity to point out to Ron how little I gave for what I got.

Bolio was banging on the hood and screaming so loudly I was afraid he’d rip out the steeping wheel. But he hadn’t managed to do it by the time the train blew through.

As soon as I got home I called the police. My husband and his lawyer had a terrible fight. Something about money. When it turned physical and they started smashing things, I ran upstairs. Then they drove away in Ron’s car. Since they were drunk as well as angry, I was scared, so I took the lawyer’s car and tried to follow them but I couldn’t find them. I was afraid something awful was going to happen.

The police were extremely uninterested in things that were about to happen. No emergency that they could see. So instead of cleaning up I took a nice hot bubble bath, with music and candles. I was still in the bath when I got the call about the train crossing.

Bolio was right. There was a lot of money. But I was most surprised to get a check from the Client Security Fund, some special fund that compensates people for thieving lawyers. The attorney who brought me the check was such a nice young man. He explained with great seriousness how apologetic the Bar Association was, but in a whole barrel of apples one or two are often bad, and poor Mr. Bolio was infected with the disease of gambling. Maybe they’ll find a cure someday, said the nice young man handing me the check.

Actually he was infected with the disease of losing, I thought, but I certainly didn’t say so. And they’ll never find a cure for that.

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