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Phil Beloin
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agondelight.jpg
Art by Aisling Kerins 2012

AGONY OR DELIGHT

 

by Phil Beloin

 

 

          I don’t know how they found me so quickly. I tried to be careful, but maybe, just maybe, I left behind a blood trail.

 

          No, I couldn’t have. There was no blood, stupid. You strangled her—don’t you remember?—and then you waited like a smart little boy until sunset to carry the body back here, stuffing it under the bed.

 

          Someone must have seen you. How do you explain the police outside?

 

          I look out the window as dusk turns everything to shadows, cars rush by on the street, pedestrians stroll along the sidewalk.

 

Even though I can’t see them, I know they’re out there, surrounding the house, settling in for a siege.

 

          Well, fuck’em to hell.

 

          I barricade the bedroom door: a chair, some books, even a pile of dirty laundry. It might be enough to slow them down, give me the time I need to finish this.

 

          Everyone will want to know why. Why, why, why did he do it? There has to be a reason. It may not make much sense to you macho men, but then the intellectual point of view has always flown over your heads.

 

          I knew Sally from high school, but we wouldn’t talk there: different schedules, different friends—actually, I don’t have many friends. I always thought Sally was . . . well comely, that’s the word that’s popped into my head and that’s the word I’m going to use. I don’t think anyone else saw her beauty, but I always did. She had long hair the color of sweet corn and a golden smile, too. Her legs were a little gangly and she didn’t have much of a chest, but I loved her, anyway. In my own weird way. I was surprised she liked me. Me, all pudgy and awkward and wearing eyeglasses as thick as two-by-fours.

          Most days after class, Sally and I would meet at the park behind my house and chit-chat about the things that were bothering me. What was pissing me off?  Maybe it’s you. The ones with the fast cars and the workout physiques, constantly gazing at yourself in the mirror. And let’s give a bully hoorah to the ladies’ men out there. Combing your hair and spraying that perfumy garbage on yourself so thick, my nostrils seize up. You know who you are. You killed her as much as my hands did. Making fun of people like me and passing us by in the halls as if we didn’t matter. I am not a fucking cipher.

         

          Not anymore.

         

          Below me, a car door is closed with a soft click. More have come.

 

I dart back to the window, part the curtain, duck down. Jesus, it’s gotten darker, so black, and yet I feel them teeming like billions of bacteria waiting to infect and destroy.

 

          Forget them. Get back to this afternoon with Sally. I remember as she stood up from the park bench and pulled me by the hand deep into the woods, past budding flowers and green shrubs, and past the boundaries of what we had ever done before. Our lips touched, dry, gritty flesh pushed together till it almost hurt.

 

          Looking back on it now, the whole thing was too quick, too clumsy. I regret it.

 

          I really do.

 

          “I thought you liked me,” Sally said.

 

          “More than you think,” I said.

 

          “Then what’s the matter?”

 

          “I’m not sure.”

 

          She put my hand on her chest, rubbed the bumps of her breasts.

 

          I began to feel hollow inside like I had entered a vast empty room that would never end no matter how long I searched for a way out.

 

          Her hands touched the dead thing on my thigh and then she started to sob. “You don’t want me!”

 

          And maybe she was right. I actually hated her! Detested every corpuscle!

 

          If only that were true.

 

          Sally wouldn’t stop crying. I asked her to stop—more than once, I pleaded for her to stop—but she wouldn’t. It drove me crazy, her sobs like hammer blows on my skull.

 

          I reached for her throat—to staunch the noise before it could rise out of her lungs. Oh, Sally with her yellowy hair and skinny legs; legs I lifted off the ground.

 

          Downstairs, the front door barges open and into the rubber stop. They’re moving quicker than I thought!

 

          Feet pound up the stairs and I hope they’ll crash through the steps, bodies sucked into a fiery abyss. But others will come and does it matter how many make it to my door?

 

          One will be enough.

 

          I’d say a prayer if I knew one.

 

          A fist raps on my door, the handle is jingled . . . this is about it. . . .

 

          “Are you in there?” a voice calls.

 

          It’s my mother, back from another night at the hellhole. I’ve dreaded this moment. It’s the end of being alone, the end of my freedom.

 

          “What is it, Mom?” I say.

 

          “Did you lock your bedroom door again?”

 

          I go over, clean away the junk, and open it.

 

          “Look at this room,” she says. “It’s a mess. I can’t believe I come home to this every night. I work my ass off and for what?”

 

          Mom has a horrible job and she never lets me forget just how horrible it is. She’s a waitress at a gentlemen’s club, and it seems she spends her entire shift fending off the pretty boys.

 

          “And it smells awful in here,” she says.

 

          “Sorry. Didn’t do my laundry today.”

 

          “You better be doing your homework, at least.”

 

          “I am. English. Writing a story on the computer.”

 

          “You left the screen on.”

 

          “I’m not done yet.”

 

          “Yes, you are. It’s after midnight. Too late for a high school sophomore to stay up.”

 

          “But Mom . . .”

 

          “Turn off the computer and go to bed!”

 

          I watch her go down the hall and into her room. She’s alone tonight, though she wasn’t, twenty-four hours ago. You can’t imagine the sounds I’ve heard emanating from behind her bedroom walls. Cries mixed together so I couldn’t tell if it was agony or delight. She must think I sleep through it all, but those sounds terrify me, and I’m convinced one of her boyfriends will kill her.

 

          I save the story to a scan disc. I can’t hand something like this in—not with all the school violence these days. It’s also kind of sick, depraved even, especially considering Sally’s a classmate. There would be counselors and shrinks trying to unlock the gloomy corners of my mind.

          I won’t put the disc in my desk or bureau, either. Mom goes through both when I’m at school, making sure I’m not hiding pot or something worse. She’s such a good role model.

 

          I squat down and lift up the bed skirt. Mom never looks under here. Her knees are bad from work, she says.

 

I put the disc under Sally’s shoulder. It’ll be safe there.

 

 

Phil Beloin Jr, aka philbeloinjr.blogspot.com, is the author of The Big Bad, published by Hilliard and Harris. Check out the reader review on Amazon. He lives in New England.

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