Sleeping – Chapter 1

“This is the beginning of the rest of my life” I thought to myself stupidly as I looked down at my wedding ring. It was a shitty old fake I bought at an out of town pawn so Joe never knew it hadn’t really been my mother’s. So Joe would also know I hadn’t actually had a mother. Like he would care. I picked him specially for his lack of interest in me. I knew I needed to find a man who would not look too closely. Impotent by preference, violent by necessity. I would have fucked him if I had to, but there must have been a lucky star in my sky when I met Joe.

He stumbled across my boots too drunk to drive at the end of the night, I affected a similar level of drunkenness and navigated us to his trailer while his fingers squirmed uselessly at the front of my panties. Worms trying to bore into the core of an apple.

Within months I had me an American husband. By all accounts, he had himself an American wife.

The waiting was the hardest part. Although I enjoyed the small talk with the other cashiers at the drugstore where I worked, I wasn’t a fan of the home situation. Joe hit like a bitch, and it was all I could do to rag doll and cry like La Chupa had taught me. Sometimes I had to step towards his sloppy right hooks, and run myself into furniture in an exaggerated clowning to get it to bruise. The tedium of the sheriff visits, the effort of the sobbing and the taking him back, even the dullness of my clumsy come ons to the butch female deputy were obnoxious and draining to me. Pretending to be prey, pretending to need saving was interminable. It caused me to hate the dirty town, the boring people. Even my friends at the drugstore were an outlet for my scorn. I especially hated how they assumed my anger was at Joe, or the romantics thought that maybe I hated myself for loving him so desperately I let him break my eye socket when I’d actually broken it myself out of frustration.

After more than a year of patient hibernation the word came down. All of my life, all of my training, all of the insipid gossip and terrible, watery beer of this place was finally paying off.

Joe came home in a mood as usual. He had started drinking on the drive over from the plant and I could smell it on him over the sticky burnt stench of his coveralls. As usual, we sat on the couch and he told me about his day, yelling in my face about this idiot and that moron. For the last time I marveled to myself at how deluded he could be to think he was the only smart man in a world full of imbeciles.

“Oh you don’t know” he sighed. “You don’t know the pressure of the kind of national responsibility I have. You probably couldn’t handle it.” he tapped a fat, dirty finger on the front of my forehead. Amused, I resisted the pressure of his advance. He looked like he knew he was missing something, but he wasn’t quite sure what it was.

“Do you ever wonder,” I asked “how a person could be such a genius and such a loser at the same time? Have you considered the possibility that you are, in fact, just as stupid as everyone else here? That you’re just a fat, limp dick drunk in a rusty trailer on the shit hole edge of Tennessee? You’re not even a footnote in a self published novel of anybody’s life.” I drew myself up in a crouch beside him. “You’re nothin’ Joe, and that’s never going to change.” I knew what was coming, and it felt incredible. I ducked with the punch, rolled onto the floor and came up inside his reach without effort. While he was trying to get up, I broke his nose with the crown of my head and jammed my thumbs into his eye sockets.

“I can’t tell you how wonderful this is” I whispered from on top of him as I felt his eyes eyelids rip and his eyes squish apart under the pressure of my hatred. Quickly now, I shoved off and danced away. drew my razor, darted back and made short work of his throat while he squalled threats at me and tried to get up. I thought of all the times I had to pretend to be afraid of him, to whimper and scream and cry, wishing he could throw a punch, wishing he would make my job even a the tiniest bit easier. I was impatient for the moment of knowing, the instant of realization when he came to understand that he was the mouse in this equation. Almost sadly, I thought maybe I should have just broken his nose, and not messed his eyes up like that.

Except for a single yelp, there was no sound louder than a whimper. A fitting end for an American coward, I thought. La Chupa would be upset by my dramatics at the beginning. I was always a reckless child, she had said. But I never was one to do the minimum and move on, joy in the work is what made me good at my job.

I torched the house in under five minutes, localizing the blaze around the corpse which lay where I had dragged it off the couch and into the center of the floor. I pulled the furniture in a circle around him and splashed gasoline everywhere. After that, I got the real accelerant and poured it onto his face, over his ruined eyes, his crooked nose and into his neat, straight wound. The heat of the blaze should completely melt his flesh, and consume the bloody couch, leaving only the speculation of the coroner.

Taking into account the fire Marshall’s report as well as Joe’s arrest and release record, he would likely conclude that I drugged him, burned him, and escaped into the woods. Given that the only detectable accelerant had been household mower gas, and that the man had a history of violent abuse of me and his previous wives, I felt safe in the knowledge that he would assume I’d probably turn myself in, distraught over my actions by the end of the week. The sheriff, already primed by my adolescent fumbling would be hesitant to find me, and conflicted about her motives. Joe’s abuse might have been enough for her not to chase me, but when I caught her looking at my ass in the grocery store some months before, a creative new insurance began to form in my mind.

I’d made the awkward approach after a particularly bloody fight. If I had miscalculated her own homophobia (woman in a male role, dutifully serving the same small town she grew up in, and was likely bullied in) I knew the blood and the bruising would definitely be a turn-off for such a secretly sensitive woman. I wanted pity and shame to be the primary emotions she felt when she thought of me, and the careful way she had peeled me off her while mumbling semi-coherently about the function of her position at the communities only sheriff’s deputy signaled that I would get my way. To celebrate I apologized profusely and cried harder into my hands, smearing bloody tears around my cheeks like moisturizing cream.

True to form, I did head for the woods at first. I had to get my supplies, make a quick change, and get back to the road. When I started off again I looked for all the world like a teenage boy on a BMX, not an unusual site on the highway in these parts.

Despite all professional admonishments, excitement and happiness bubbled up in me as I flew the 20 miles down the highway to the checkpoint. It was starting, and I was elated.

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