I sit in the deep leather seat of the Lexus and repeat one of Solomon’s songs out loud. “Your neck is like the tower of David, built with elegance; on it hang a thousand shields, all of them shields of warriors. Your two breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle that browse among the lilies. Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, I will go to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of incense. All beautiful are you, my darling; there is no flaw…” I stop. I used to think that every Lover’s verse of Song of Solomon was written about Kelli, but now I know she’s too beautiful even for that wise king to describe with mere words.
I watch her yell at the kids as they tumble out of the minivan. Robbie rolls his eyes and slouches back to help carry groceries while Elizabeth bounces up the steps and unlocks the door. Sometimes I think the boy is the only reason she married me. I don’t really remember much about our senior prom, but he’s proof that we had a good time. Hard to believe that was thirteen years ago. He really changed everything, so I figured what the hell when she wanted another one. God knows, I would do anything for her.
Her new husband sounds like a decent guy. Her mom told me how he moved her out here and he takes real good care of her and the kids. He’ll never love her as much as I do, though. I wonder, as I watch them go into the house, if she’ll leave him one day like she left me.
It’s been five years now, and I still don’t understand what went wrong. We were in love. We had a nice house. She drove a nice car, a lot like this one. She bought the kids anything she wanted to get them. And I never told her no when she wanted something for herself. Most of all, though, I loved her harder than any woman has ever been loved. I don’t know what else she could have wanted.
I rub my face until it burns and my head clears. I wipe my eyes with my sleeve and my clothes smell funny. They’re nice enough, I guess, but it feels wrong wearing somebody else’s cast-offs. Looking at the run down house and the filthy minivan, I’ll bet Kelli has to shop at the thrift store now, too.
Maybe I worked too much. No. I know I worked too much. I was doing important work, though. Keeping people safe is a noble profession, even if it doesn’t pay much. It keeps coming back to that, doesn’t it? She just wasn’t strong enough to deal with it. Instead of standing behind me, instead of appreciating how much I loved her, she was humiliated.
What was I supposed to do? I had to make enough money for her to take care of those damn kids, and being a cop wasn’t cutting it. What the hell? Nobody cared if a few pushers and street walkers got run out. Nobody loves a damn whore. I deserved that money more than they did.
I look through the windshield up into an oak tree and watch a bird hop up and down the lowest branch. I worry that it might leave something on the Lexus, but it’s not mine anyway. The owner can deal with it if they ever get it back. I look around the interior of the car. I used to have one like it. After five years of concrete and reinforced glass, it seems nicer than I remember.
It’s hard to believe I’ve been dreaming about this afternoon for five years. Five years since I’ve seen her face, smelled her hair, heard her voice. She didn’t call or write the whole time I was in there. It would have upset her, I guess, to see me in that orange suit all locked up, but she should have written. I wanted to kill her for a little while, but then I realized that she just has too many distractions and I started planning a new life with just us in it. Like things should have been. It still hurts, though.
She was ashamed of me, she said in the courtroom. She looked at me like I was common. Like those pervs who stared at her every time we went out. She was always whining about staying in, but what the hell was I supposed to do? I couldn’t be around to protect her all the time if I was always working, could I? Bitch. She should have been spoiling me, not those kids. I’m the one who really loves her. They just take, take, take. If she’d been spoiling me instead of them I wouldn’t have hurt her and we’d be together right now. We’d still be happy. We will be again, though. Soon now.
I wipe the sweat from my face and a nosy old bat walking her dog stares at me as she passes. I shrug and give her the saddest smile I have. Old people are such suckers. It’s a miracle any of them lived long enough to be old. Stupid cow.
I look at the house where Kelli and my kids live now with another man. I guess I can’t expect much more, though. She would have been easy pickings for the first dirt bag who came along. God. How did she make it five years without me looking after her? There’s no way that joker she married can give her all the love she needs. I’m the only man who who can do that. Well, it’s time to put things right. Reset the clock, so to speak. We’ll start over and do it right this time. No kids, no distractions. She’ll see it’s best. We didn’t want that boy to start with, and the girl… Well, it’ll be better this way. She looks too much like her mother, and there can only be one Kelli. She’ll see it’s better this way.
Her new husband pulls up and parks his raggedy ass little truck behind the sad little minivan in front of his piss poor little house. God, her life is going to be so much better. He gets out of the truck and I reach for the door handle, then stop myself. Patience. All things in their own time. I need to let him get inside. Have a beer. Relax. I start the car and cruise the neighborhood for twenty minutes just to make sure I don’t get ahead of myself, but I can’t stand the thought of that hairy animal being with her. Touching her.
I park in front of the house and don’t’ bother to close the car’s door before I head up the front walk and step onto the porch. I knock on the bright red door and a shiver runs through me when I hear Kelli’s voice calling for someone to get the door. It opens, and the man who thinks he’s Kelli’s husband stands there. Great. We can get the introductions over quickly. He opens his mouth to speak, but the pearl handled knife slices cleanly through his throat first. I’m happy to think that the snick of the blade snapping free is the last sound he will ever hear.
He stumbles back into the house and I follow him in as he sinks to the floor. My heart leaps when Kelli comes into the room, drying her hands on a towel, saying, “Who’s at the door…” She freezes, so happy to see me can’t even speak. I start toward her and she screams. Loudly. Then she throws her hands out in front of her and starts backing away. I don’t understand.
“Don’t you see?” I ask. “He only loved you enough to die for you. I love you enough to kill for you. To live for you. He was never enough for you. We’re almost free now. Where’s the kids?” I raise my hands to calm her down and I’m still holding the knife. No wonder she’s so upset. I throw it down behind me and say, “You know I could never hurt you.” But she’s still screaming, and now she’s fallen on the floor and throwing things at me. I get angry until I remember how much she hates blood, and I’m covered in it. Well, I’ve gone through a lot for her, so she’ll just have to get over it. I reach for her and realize she’s screaming, “Robbie! Robbie!”
What the hell? I’m finally home and she screams for the boy? I reach back to slap some sense into the crazy bitch and a warm glow spreads from my back through my belly and into my chest. I stop, reveling in the heat of doing the right thing in the right place at the right time. She scuttles away, like a crab, and I try to follow, but my legs won’t go. I watch the floor rush at me. What the hell? I try to get up, but I can’t move my legs, and that warm glow has turned into a white hot agony. There’s a sharper flash of pain, and I look over at Kelli and see the boy standing in front of her, covered in blood, my blood, holding the knife in front of him.
“You little bastard,” I say.
“You’ll never hurt her again,” he screams. He’s trembling, for God’s sake, and tears and snot are dripping off his face and mixing with my blood. If I didn’t know for a fact he was mine, I’d never believe it. What a pussy. Then Kelli stands up and takes the knife and pushes him back. The only thing worse than the pain tearing through my body is the look on her face. I failed her. I couldn’t love her enough. I can’t live with her condemnation.
I know I’m bleeding out, and I’m ready. I’ll wait for her on the other side. Maybe I can prove myself worthy before she comes to join me. I look around for the light, but all I see is that look on Kelli’s face. Where’s the light? I try to look behind me, but I can’t hold my head up anymore, and my face drops onto the floor.
Where’s the light? Where is it? Jesus H. Fucking Christ, where’s the goddamn light?
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