A Twisted Tale by Robb White
I’ve spent the last nineteen years in a psychiatric clinic preparing for it. No, I’m not a patient. At two-fifteen a.m. precisely every night, I polish floors until they gleam under fluorescent lighting. I make two dollars over minimum.
My life turned to shit nineteen years ago. The day and the hour are tattooed inside my skull. I came home from the insurance agency where I’d worked for the last five years and found her on the bed with some man behind her going at it doggie-style.
When I’m alone in these corridors with my floor buffer, I’ll sometimes hear a bed creak from some patient having a nightmare. Instantly, that sound will take me back.
Sometimes I can’t stop my hands from shaking.
I set the trap for Friday because she and her husband always meet in the same toney bar in the Warehouse District for drinks. He’s a honcho at Price Waterhouse and every Friday flies off in the company’s corporate jet to go somewhere and do something. His trophy wife, my still-beautiful ex, is always alone until Sunday night when his jet lands at Burke Lakefront. I know this because I’ve sacrificed sleep to track their movements with a log of their comings and goings for the last six months.
I watched her leave the Eastpointe Grill and head for her car. She got into her new cobalt-blue Spyder he’d just bought her, showing lots of thigh to the kid handing her the keys.
Her blonde hair was cut in a French bob—every hair in place. I wondered if that tawny thatch below her stomach was showing any gray by now. She drove off down East Ninth and let the Jag’s big engine sweep traffic out of her way like a bow wake split down the middle from a fast-moving boat. She was off to give herself a treat at one of downtown’s boutiques with hubbie’s money. She’d be heading home in a couple hours. That was all the time I needed.
I had the gardening services decal taped to the sides and the tools I needed: rakes, shovels, some shrubs with roots bagged in burlap from a local nursery to round out the impression. I can tell a rose apart from a dandelion but that’s as far as my knowledge of horticulture goes.
The driveway next door afforded me the only opportunity I’d ever get, so it had to be this weekend or never. I removed the realtor’s sign from the front yard with its Pending Sold notice and tossed it into the back of the van. I removed the gardening props and set them on the ground as if I were preparing to do some landscaping before the new owner moved in.
You can learn everything from the internet nowadays. Her Facebook page was a shrine to her own vanity—one glam shot after another, lots of cleavage and leg—and every dimwitted, trivial event in her shining life articulated for the public displayed on the walls. I know she loved the idea of strange men seeing her and sexually fantasizing over her images.
One item she should have left out, however, was the fact that the overgrown Norwegian maple out back was constantly setting off her system alarm because its branches scraped the window panes of their bedroom with every light breeze. She had tweeted a girlfriend that the system would be down until Monday morning when the men from the tree service would show up to prune the limb “causing me all this effing aggravation.”
She had no idea what aggravation was waiting for her at home.
The perspiration of my brow turned into rivulets of nervous sweat in my armpits. I stepped onto her manicured back lawn and walked up the varnished steps of her deck. I took out my key ring and went through the 6-pins, then the 5-pins. Nothing. Fat drops of sweat hit the tops of my work boots.
Then, finally, the unmistakable click of success! My senses were so rarefied at that point I thought all her neighbors could hear that lock snap open.
Inside, I closed the door behind me and breathed again in huge gulping sobs. Tears streamed down my face from nervous exhaustion and relief.
Finally, I had the room prepared.
I reveled in the silence until the moment I heard her key scratching at the front door lock.
Show time . . .
Her pretty, painted mouth opened into a pear-shaped oval but no musical note issued from the hole because my homemade blackjack clipped her on the jaw and put her lights out.
When she came out of her stupor, her blue eyes, so familiar to me like the slant of her cheekbones, tried to focus on my face.
“I’m right here,” I whispered.
I had dimmed the light in her bedroom, but she knew me at once. I used a strip of duct tape to stifle her scream. Instead, she rolled her head as far as the restraints allowed and took in the actual danger of her predicament: her arms taped off to the headboard. Her head lolled unsteadily on the pillow and she blinked several times as if trying to wake up from a nightmare. Then she looked down at her legs tied off at the ends of the bed. The gag cut off further screams.
I gently sliced the clothes from her. Her eyes bugged in fear.
“No,” I said “not that. Even if you begged me to.”
I assembled an outfit for her from articles of clothing she had tossed about the room. I folded these items neatly and placed them on chairs. Catching a glimpse of myself in her vanity mirror, I looked at her, too, straining in her bonds; the muscles of her thighs flexed. The sight of her tawny bush trimmed into a wedge above the pink zipper of her slit almost wrecked my composure. My legs wobbled for a second.
I had to turn my back just then or she would have seen my moment of weakness, maybe capitalized on it, and ruined everything with the bone-aching emotions only she inspired.
I thought, I’ve gone too far to stop now. I proceeded to the business at hand.
Avoiding her eyes that I knew were raking my face, seeking mercy, I undid each arm from the bed post and taped it to a plastic cast I had made. I did the same with the other arm. I had experimented with various “shoes” for the purpose and found the solution to my—let’s say—engineering problem in those cheap 5-gallon buckets at Lowe’s. I had duct-taped her elbows to the casts and her legs to the buckets so she could not shake loose.
The next part was dicey, but there was no avoiding it. I had to go back out to the van, risk a fatal exposure once more, to get the crucial ingredient—the pièce de résistance.
Years of observing the more violent patients in C-wing had given me the basics of my plan. Apotemnophilia—a mouth-filler of a word, for sure, but it describes something you rarely hear of. It refers to people who have an erotic interest in seeing themselves as amputees. The ones with Body Integrity Identity Disorder syndrome believe their limbs do not belong to them, and they’ll beg surgeons to amputate arms, legs, hands, or feet. When the doctor refuses, they’ll force the issue by sticking their limbs in dry ice.
I had long, exquisite hours together with her although she was at a loss for words much of the time. I did not turn my eyes from her while she writhed on her bed of pain, her flesh burning in an invisible fire. Her flesh turned cold, then a pale whitish-blue; as it numbed, I looked for deeper shades, the signs of irreversible rot.
I removed the tape across her mouth and spoke soothingly: “Now, angel, you know why, don’t you?”
Her watery eyes bulged with hope and she strained her neck to nod in agreement.
“Are you sorry now?”
Nod, nod, nod—eyes aglow—hoping, begging.
I gained her password so I could message to her friends on Facebook. I asked them to stay away so she could “surprise” them on Monday with “a new look.” I imitated her teenaged text-English and ended each post with lol—a nice touch, I thought.
I even sent the traveling husband messages from his “YLBP,” an acronym she used for her emails to him: Your Little Blonde Princess. He would respond in kind, exchanging the “Y” for an “M” as in My LBP. I promised him a cornucopia of sex upon his return to the marital bed: lewd descriptions of “sloppy blowjobs,” ben-wa balls up his ass so that, when jerked out, he’d come “in a flood,” and more.
Throughout this delightful charade, I attended to my nursing duties. I gave her sips of water, wrapped adult diapers around her for the inevitable spasms of incontinence, and dried the tears from the corners of her eyes. I replaced her mouth gag several times because of the yellow drool, bile tossed up from the stomach. By Saturday morning, she was feverish; then her skin turned a sickly pallor and was clammy to the touch. I used a mirror to show her the progress of the necrosis.
Like a brown recluse’s bite, it made the skin turn black like a spoiled banana and slough. The all-consuming black ink of rot beneath her flesh marched relentlessly onward with each tick of the clock.
I said farewell on Sunday morning and kissed her forehead. It was no longer damp but hot to the touch. She was no longer coherent and had stopped moaning. The air in the room was putrid.
I tossed some pamphlets on BIID syndrome here and there, did some final online searches to give the impression she was the one doing the researching.
I took a final, loving look at my frigid blonde angel, a blue-eyed goddess turned into a hideous, lamia with blackened stumps for coils.
Outside in the fresh, sweet air of spring, I heard church bells in the distance.
Robb White was born, raised, and still lives in Northeastern Ohio, USA —although he did get to China for two weeks once. He writes, noir, crime, and hardboiled stories featuring series character Thomas Haftmann. His latest noir novel is Waiting on a Bridge of Maggots. An ebook crime novel, Special Collections, won the New Rivers Electronic Book Competition in 2014. His latest novel is Nocturne for Madness (2016).