By Kenneth James
“What the fuck,
Elaine!” David was pissed, mostly because he wasn’t getting his way. He was
winding up into temper-tantrum mode and I was throwing shit into boxes, working
fast, because this wasn’t going well. I was moving out and there was nothing
David could do about it. We had lived together in his off-campus condo for a
year, but now it was over. He just wasn’t getting it, yet.
“We’ve been over
this, David. I don’t love you. I made a mistake moving in here in the first place
and for that, I’m sorry, but I just have to move on. I was too young and naïve
to know what I really wanted, and I thought living with you would be fun. I was
“Wait. Wait, we
had lotsa fun together, Babe. . . .”
“No, you had fun, David, making me do things
for you . . . to you. As usual, getting everything your way. You’re a rich,
spoiled, know-nothing, David, and I can’t stand being with you, anymore. I
don’t know how I could make it any plainer.”
He went into his
normal pouting mode, slumped on the couch with his lower lip hanging almost to
the floor. It was almost comical, I thought, and I kept right on boxing things
up and carrying them to the pickup I’d borrowed from a friend for the move. I
didn’t have a car. My dad had offered me one of the pickups from the farm in
Kansas, but I had declined. I was in my second year at a college in
Massachusetts, on a scholarship, and my bicycle did just fine for getting me
around. Kept me from having to go to the gym and endure the stares from all the
jocks, too. In between playing with his iPhone, David continued glaring at me.
That was another thing I was sick of. Playing second-fiddle to his phone. We
couldn’t get through a meal or spend any time without him glued to the damned
I’m what you might
call a Kansas corn-fed farm girl all the way. I was raised in a no-nonsense
environment of honesty and hard work. David was almost the complete opposite.
He was raised by doting parents in a filthy-rich world that I couldn’t even
conceive of, a world of little or no responsibility and anything you might
want. I had reached the point that I’d had enough, and besides, I had
recently met the perfect man.
I met Monroe in
the library, a place that was steadily failing as the internet took over as The
Source for most college students. They could jump on the ‘net, plagiarize
others’ work to their heart’s content, rearrange some wording, and get their
“B+” grade and move on. I hadn’t been raised that way. I believed in doing my
own work and getting the credit for it, not to be shared with anyone else. It
turned out, Monroe was that way, too.
I’d started going
to the library because I got tired of using David’s laptop and I couldn’t
afford my own. It seemed everything I did on David’s computer was subject to
his inspection, and even though he made mediocre grades at best, he always felt
he could advise me on every paper and project.
I caught Monroe
peeking at me over the terminal he was working at, sneaking looks at me almost
constantly. At first it was irritating, but then it got to be cute, like
watching a chipmunk waiting for a treat. And Monroe was definitely
good-looking, although he didn’t seem to know it. The exact opposite of David.
tooling around in his custom-painted Corvette, paid for by doting Daddy, and
watching all the campus cuties swoon while he ogled their bods, even when I was
right there in the car with him. Monroe, it turned out, drove a four-year-old
Camry that he’d worked and sweated for, gutting out those “easy” car payments
as a carpenter’s apprentice at a cabinet shop in town. He was one of those guys
who wanted a college degree, plus a trade that he could fall back on. In the
event he wasn’t able to find a teaching job right away, cabinet-making paid at
least as well as teaching, maybe better.
On that first day,
when I met Monroe (Monroe was his last name and what everybody called him—first
name Travis, which I seldom used except when we were making love. More on that
later) I had finally gotten tired of the peek-a-boo routine and I just reached
out and pointed at him and said, “Hey, Sport-o, how ‘bout some coffee?”
He had stumbled
and stammered, also very cute, and finally we headed off to a Starbucks a block
south. Over small lattes, I had checked him out, as he had been checking me
out. He was taller than David and slimmer, but in a rawboned way. His hands
were work-hardened and his face was angular, softened somewhat by a Clark Kent
set of horn-rimmed glasses that magnified his hot blue eyes slightly. He had
the little curl of dark hair on the forehead, too. He was quite a package and
he was definitely interested.
“So, Monroe, why
the library? Is that where you normally pick up girls?” I was being a bit of a
bitch and I knew it, but I decided he might as well get the full treatment
right up front. If he panicked and ran, well, maybe he didn’t deserve to even
get to first base. After David and his spoiled-ass, expectant ways, I was ready
for something different. And did I ever get it. In spades.
“I don’t have my
own computer yet. And I can use one of the ones at the library free, so I spend
a lotta time there.”
“Yeah, okay. I’m
from Kansas, and I’m not rich, either. Up here on a scholarship and all. My dad
would prefer I not be so far away from home, but . . . ” I realized I was babbling
and made myself stop. Monroe was grinning at me. Straight, white, even teeth.
Good dental care. A great smile. Damn, he was pushing all my buttons and he
didn’t even know it.
“Well, there’s one
thing we have in common,” he said, “being poor is okay, though. Makes ya work
harder and you appreciate the things you do get that much more. So, there I am
at the library at least four nights a week.”
I finished my
latte and said, “Guess I’ll see ya, then, okay?”
“I hope so,” was
all he said, that first night. I was still with David then and I had gone to
the condo and curled up with him and sucked his cock just the way he liked me
to, then mounted him and raced to keep up and get something for myself before
his usual quick ejaculation left me unsatisfied, as he had done so many times
before. And it wasn’t too hard to do that particular night, because I was
thinking of Monroe and what it might be like to have his workman’s hands on me the
whole time. . . .
Weeks went by and
spring came to Massachusetts, all in one day, or so it seemed, and dammit, I
fell in love. Big-time. Monroe had a loft over a garage four blocks from campus,
and I found myself studying there more and more. “Studying” included a lot of
fooling around and lovemaking breaks after the first few nights.
That was how we
thought about it: Lovemaking, not just fucking. Because Monroe was different in
that area, also. He was never in a hurry. He was always amazed by my body,
which I didn’t think of as anything special. His touch was always gentle and yet
when he touched me there, and there,
and especially THERE, he awoke
something in me that I’d never known I had. The man definitely set me afire.
His man-parts were
average. His chest was brawny and covered with hair. His hands were hard, but
gentle and loving. His attentions to my lady-parts drove me into a shaking,
gasping mess and he loved to make me cum. I never had to hurry or try to catch
up with Monroe. He usually got me off several times before he permitted himself
the pleasure of orgasm. After a couple of weeks, I knew he was gone on me, too,
and that was good.
I had hated facing
the move-out, because I knew David so well. I knew how spoiled he was and how
he felt he owned me. I saw him now as a petulant child and I couldn’t wait to
get away from him. I knew he was vengeful, too and I was just a little afraid
of him. Not too much, though. I had pinned him once when we were just wrestling
for fun in the living room. He pouted for days and claimed I cheated, but I
knew better. Having grown up on a farm and had my own share of chores to be
done without fail every day, I knew I was just the stronger person. He had
never hit me and that was a good thing, because I was pretty sure I would have
kicked his ass quite handily.
I loaded the last
of my stuff and fired up the pickup and headed for Monroe’s place. It was far
enough away, I figured I wouldn’t have to keep running across David every time
I turned around. And for that, I was glad. I looked back once as I left and saw
David standing on the front stoop, hands on his hips, glaring at me. Maybe I
shouldn’t have laughed, but right at that moment, I couldn’t help it.
It was a glorious
summer. As soon as the semester ended, we took off for Kansas, riding the
Trailways bus to Wichita, where my family met us. We stayed at the farm, my
family’s farm, for two weeks, sleeping apart for decency, sneaking off to make
love whenever we could, because we had
When our stay
there was over, we took another bus to Indiana and went to his folk’s place.
They were a bit more open-minded and Monroe and I shared a bed for the next two
weeks. We made love at night, slowly and as quiet as church mice, with just the
occasional giggle slipping through. Monroe’s mom said we made a cute couple.
The summer was miserable for David. He was not only
spoiled, he had a decided lack of coping skills and he spent the summer
brooding about Elaine and her new guy. He missed her, to be sure, and he told
himself it was because he loved her so much. But it really was because her leaving
him was such a blow to his ego. Before he went back to college in the fall, he
paid a visit to his dad’s man-cave and procured what he needed to take care of
the situation. As he headed back to school, he was a little happier. He knew
everything would work out okay, now.
Monroe and I
worked through the rush of getting our classes set for the semester. We
compared schedules and arranged everything so we would both get the classes we
needed, but we could still have the maximum amount of time together. The first
week went smooth as silk and Friday afternoon, we left the library early. As we
walked outside, hand-in-hand, there was a sudden sound from beside me. It
sounded like an axe splitting wood. I will always remember turning to Monroe
and seeing the wide-eyed look of shock on his face and the bloom of blood on
his chest. He staggered backward and then just collapsed. Looking back, I think
he was dead before he even hit the ground. The far-off sound of the rifle shot
barely registered in my mind and I found myself screaming and trying to hold
onto Monroe, even as his blood and his precious life were slipping away.
At the spot where
Monroe landed and the spot where I wound up, we were behind a concrete park
bench, which was probably all that saved my life. The firing of the rifle went
on and on, and others were screaming and taking cover. Some were falling,
struck down by the unreasoning rage and ego of my ex-boyfriend, David. He had
stolen his dad’s AR-15 rifle and thirty rounds of ammo and he intended to use
When he was at
last surrounded by cops, being basically a coward, he dropped the rifle and
gave up without fighting the police. Later, I heard that several of the
officers were sorely disappointed they didn’t get a chance to kill him. Final
score: three dead, thirteen wounded. David was booked into jail on three counts
of capital murder and thirteen counts of attempted murder by use of a firearm.
And there he sat
in jail, because there was no bail allowed for what he had done. I once again
rode the bus to Indiana and attended Travis Monroe’s funeral. My heart was
broken and it matched the grief of his parents. Somehow, we got through it, and
when it was over, I went back to the college to somehow continue my studies.
And to plan for the next event in my life.
First, I shipped a
lot of my stuff home to Kansas and then, with the bare minimum of possessions,
I moved back into the dorm. I got stuck with a roommate who was a total
squeaky-voiced airhead. She could have been an irritation and a vexation to the
soul, but I would not allow it. I ignored her. Blocked her completely out. I
had too much to do in preparation for what was coming next.
In addition to
keeping up with my studies, I self-educated in anatomy and biology, learning
enough that semester that I could have easily aced any final exam in either
discipline. For the other thing I needed, though, I turned to the internet. I
hardly ever shopped online for anything, but I needed it to find one single
item. The technology was just new enough, I couldn’t find what I needed in the
books or catalogues available at the library.
Once I found what
I needed, I ordered it, expensive though it was, and had it shipped by
overnight express. David’s trial date was fast approaching and so was the event
I was planning. The package arrived three days before David went on trial. The
box was four-and-a-half inches long and one-and-a-half inches wide. It weighed
four-point-three ounces. The contents fit nicely into my front jeans pocket,
and there I would keep it until event time.
Day One of David’s
trial. It was tedious to the extreme. Jury selection was a pain in the ass. An
unnecessary pain in the ass, I thought. Picking a jury for someone like David?
The cops should have made him kneel, right there on the grassy knoll, which was
how I thought of his firing position, and shot him in the back of the head and
left his carcass for the crows to pick clean. To commit such a heinous act as
multiple murder of innocent people with an assault rifle, be taken into custody,
and then be somehow magically transformed into a “suspect” was personally
repugnant to me.
But, the jury
selection was necessary so that precious David, coddled David, spoiled-ass David
could be assured of a
fair trial. He had no less than three attorneys at the defense table with him.
The best legal talent that money could buy, to cross-examine and browbeat every
witness, to examine and question every action of the police and every piece of
evidence, to use every means, fair or foul to get David off, worthless David,
the evil, spoiled little shit. And whenever they would bring him into the
courtroom, the fucker would smirk at me. Impossible to believe I had ever liked
this man enough to move in with him. To . . . well, to do the things he liked
so well. . . .
Day Two. More jury
selection. The triple-threat attorney team was plowing through jurors as my Dad
used to say, “like shit through a goose,” getting them knocked off willy-nilly.
At this rate it would be a month before actual proceedings began.
Day Three. People
were becoming bored with the whole process. The courtroom, which had been
packed on Day One, was now down to half-full. Good. Very good. Boredom and
apathy would only work in my favor. Hopefully, in a few more days, people would
be asleep in their seats. One could only hope.
It seemed to me
that David was enjoying himself immensely. It was apparent that he was quite
sure Daddy’s money and Daddy’s legal team would get him off, if not scot-free,
then with a minor slap on the wrist. He had taken to pushing his swivel chair
back from the defense table and leaning back against the wooden rail that
separated the judge and legal folks from the commoners who were merely there to
Day Four. I
arrived early and was first into the courtroom, when the Bailiff unlocked it
for the day’s business. I took a seat in the front row, directly behind where
David would be sitting. And I waited. As I waited, I thought about the love of
my life, now tucked away so neatly in his grave, never to love me again, never
to touch me again in his special way. I would never again hear his voice or lay
my head on his chest and hear the stalwart beating of his heart. That had been
forever stilled by the thoughtless act of a spoiled, jealous twerp of a coward.
I snapped out of
my reverie as the bailiff called the court to order. Rose to my feet as the
judge entered. Slipped my hand into my pocket and withdrew the very expensive Boker
super-ceramic folding knife. A knife I had carried into the courtroom each day,
without once setting off the metal detector. The blade was black as obsidian
and three times sharper than any metal razor. The grips were of black carbon
fiber. As black as David’s soul. It was double-edged and designed to last a
lifetime. And it would. Last a lifetime. Not mine, but David’s.
The prisoner was
brought in and after he was seated, his handcuffs and belly chains were
removed. His feet remained shackled as a precaution against him attempting to
flee. More jury selection. More boredom. More examples of excellent attorneys
doing what they do best. Litigating and generating billable hours.
David leaned back
against the rail and got comfortable. Today, he was being aloof. If he had even
noticed me when he was led into the courtroom, he had given no sign. I gave it
a couple of minutes. I looked back at the exit doors. The security guard was
all but asleep on his feet.
Then, I flicked
open the blade of my weapon and reached forward, casually and almost
nonchalantly shoving the super-ceramic blade between the vertebrae in the back
of David’s neck. It went in so easily, it was almost like cutting Jell-O.
I severed David’s
spinal cord, and nothing moved. There was no shaking. No convulsions. Nothing.
Except David ceased to live. No heartbeat. No respiration. No
signals from body to brain that anything was wrong. No signals from brain to
body telling the heart, lungs or the rest of the nervous system what to do. I
had learned the biology and anatomy. I had learned it well. There was almost no
Then, I just stood
up and walked out to the center aisle and calmly out of the courtroom. I might
have been headed out to the ladies’ room. The security guard even opened the
door for me. Out in the hall, I picked up the pace a little, but I still did
not run. I walked to the bike rack and retrieved my bicycle, adjusted my
backpack and mounted the bike.
I rode south, down
the hill toward the center of town, upshifting through the gears and building
speed, coasting occasionally, then shifting up again and accelerating, always
accelerating. Five blocks down the hill, I again coasted, then accelerated and
shot through a red light intersection, not caring about the traffic. The bus
station was now eight blocks ahead. The seat of the bicycle was rubbing me in a
sensuous manner, almost like a lover. All the money I possessed was in my
pockets, and the bus was still the most anonymous way to travel.
breeze lifted the hair away from my neck. It had been many months since I had
felt this free. And no matter what happened from here on, I was satisfied that
everything was as right as I would ever be able to make it.
Behind me, way
back, miles away, over the roar of morning traffic and other city noise, I
heard the barking of the first police sirens. . . .
James Crist is a tired, broken-down old motorcycle cop from Wichita, Kansas. He
began writing a novel in 1994 as keyboard practice and has since written four
more novels, several novellas and a butt-load of short stories. His
publications have been seen in Bewildering Stories, Tales of the Talisman, A
Twist of Noir, A Shot of Ink, Eaten Alive, The New Flesh, The Sink, The Edge,
Skin and Bones, and Kudzu Monthly, to name a few. Recently, he
appeared in two of John Thompson’s anthologies at Hardboiled. They
are Hardboiled, and The Undead War, both available at Dead Guns
Press on Amazon.com
also has four books up in Kindle format, for sale on Amazon.com: Dreaming of Mirages,
The Gazing Ball,
Joshua, and Groaning for Burial,
his latest zombie fiction.
73 last June, he still rides his big Harley
every day that weather permits and is now officially “retired”. He also
operates Fossil Publications, publisher of Black Petals and Yellow Mama.