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Marcy Dilworth
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Dick and Jane, Together Again

 

Marcy Dilworth

 

Dick

He wondered how Jane could look business-like and beautiful with all that’s gone on. He’d only snatched her image in brief glances; he couldn’t make eye contact with her for fear of breaking down. They’d each been through hell, although only one of them deserved it.

Jane

She gazed across the courtroom and focused on Dick. She hadn’t caught him turning his sweaty, ashen face towards her once during her three-week murder trial. She had borne his children–little Ava, who was just like her mama, and poor Joshua, who was just like Dick. How could he resist a peek at the woman who had captivated him nearly a dozen years ago? If she could secure his attention, she knew she could communicate a plan to escape. Look, Dick, look.

Dick

Judge O’Neill startled Dick with his thunderous gavel. He presented the jury instructions, explained the burden of proof, but his glares at the defense table and the cadence of his words sounded like “and find the defendant guilty.”

Jane

The jury filed out, and it occurred to Jane that she and Dick might be seeing each other for the last time. She could scarcely believe that her cunning, her calculated charm, and her surpassing good looks would fail her . . . ever. She had gotten away with so many others without so much as being ID’ed as a “person of interest.” Of course, the other prey meant nothing to her. These women, whose eyes lingered too long on Dick and his assets, disrespected Jane. They had it coming. Who’d have guessed that the loss of a few inconsequential soccer moms would arouse such an investigation and a mob-like call for justice?

She dreaded hearing the verdict read and hated that Dick would consider it just and the safest conclusion for their kids. And for himself.

Dick

Elevator B stood open, empty and cold. As he stepped in, Dick heard shots and screams and the clatter of furniture hitting the floor resound from inside the courtroom, then “She’s getting away.” He banged on the Close Door button, certain that his life depended on it, when a slender hand with perfect fingernails slipped through the last inch. The automatic door receded, and in strode Jane. She pushed Close Door. It obeyed instantly.

Jane

 “It’s my lucky day,” said Jane. She watched her Dick, tall, blond and trembling, stumble against the blurry steel of the back wall.

Dick

The spatter of blood on her cheek and one torn sleeve attracted less of his attention than her gleaming blue eyes. He used to see them as a dreamy spring sky on a breezy day; now he recognized them as flat, frigid pools concealing undertows that would drag you to the bottom of the abyss. The smell of gunpowder wore off as the scent of Halston simmered up–it was the smell of the Jane he first craved and who nearly ever-after had him in thrall.

Jane

 “You’re still such an idiot,” said Jane. “I can practically hear your sappy poetry by the look on your face.”

Dick

He knew it was true. All Jane had to do was show up to throw him off his game. When the ‘guilty’ verdict seemed imminent, he thought she had used up every option. But he was never safe assuming anything where Jane was involved. How did she plan to off him, and when? He worked out every day, outweighed her by 60 pounds and had her by 8 inches. No matter, 99 times out of 100, she could take him. She was equipped with cunning and evil he couldn’t fathom, much less match. Out of the habit of love or old-fashioned gallantry, even now he worried that he couldn’t use all his tools to defend himself. He knew she thought so too. She could detect any person’s most vulnerable features after a minute of observation, so her years with Dick provided her an encyclopedia of his weaknesses. Jane stared at him, her sneer taunting him to speak. One beat. Two beats. Three beats. Come on, Jane, come on.

Jane

Four beats. With a sigh, Jane said, “Hey there, Honey.” She reached over and pressed the alarm button, jolting the elevator to a stop between the fourth and third floors. The alarm’s insistent bleat filled the space.

Dick

He didn’t see a weapon, but inevitably she’d have more than one. He had heard the bailiffs lose their battle with Jane. With her facing him, panic set in–whatever this was, was happening now.

Jane

 “I said, ‘Hey there, Honey’.” She upped her volume to overcome the alarm racket, and to distract Dick in case he could detect the hot, jangling panic expanding from her stomach into her face.

Dick

It occurred to Dick that Jane might be experiencing fear, a rarity for her, maybe even a first. Surely she knew that any remaining bailiffs, the police and the FBI would be in pursuit after her grisly crimes. Dick worked to control his breathing.

Jane

 “I guess you think the cavalry is on the way?” She took a step back, “Well of course they are. But I’ve got a plan,” she said, with a quick look up at the panel in the ceiling and a brief pat at her lower back. “If you think the silent treatment is going to get you anywhere, you’re wrong,” she said. “You might as well do your part to keep the lines of communication open,” she went on sarcastically, “just like you always said when we met with Alice.”

Dick

Since he was no longer trying to save his marriage, and marriage counseling with their therapist Alice had been pointless with his homicidal wife, he didn’t think her reasoning held up. But he let her keep talking; he needed time. Think, Dick, think!

Jane

“You can help me, one last time.” Always the strategist, Jane knew that he would burn up a few seconds to consider whether she meant that she’d never ask for help again, or whether he’d be dead so he wouldn’t be available to help again. Even though she understood he was anchored by confusion, fear, and latent loyalty to her, she figured he would make a move eventually, so she’d better get started.

Dick

Jane reached into the inside pocket of her blazer, paused, then pulled out a green-lit taser.

Jane

On cue, Dick lunged.

Dick

On cue, Jane pulled the trigger.

Jane

As her lifetime of competence would all but guarantee, Jane’s shot was true. The barbed electrodes travelled the six feet between them and caught Dick between clavicle and sternum on the right side. She could have chosen the left, sure, but with the slight chance that she’d cause a heart attack by hitting on top of the heart, she aimed right. She had use for him still.

Dick

His guttural scream joined the alarm and the rising din from outside the elevator; the blast of electricity lasted a full five seconds. His violent writhing subsided into a rhythmic twitch as he slumped against the back wall. Satisfied that he was well-compromised, Jane jerked the barbs out then aimed her pump-clad heel towards the center of his sternum to pin him to the wall. Her eyes gaped wide as she bounced off his too-hard chest.

Dick grabbed her bicep and swung her around. She hit the floor with a faint metallic clink. Holding both of her forearms in one hand, he pulled the nylon handcuffs from his pants pocket and squeezed her wrists together. Jane thrashed. Dick shoved her wrists to the floor, and held her seated with her back to him.

 

Jane

 “What the hell?!” Anyone else would have been afraid; Jane was indignant. How could he be so able after the taser?

Dick

He hauled himself up and stood in front of her.

Jane

There were two holes in his blue button-down where she had yanked out the taser barbs. Underneath, instead of the expected white skin with a smattering of curly blonde hair and a tinge of blood, Jane saw only black. It was a goddamn bullet proof vest.

Dick

Dick had purchased a bullet and stab proof vest with this comfort: Trusted by Israeli Security Forces. He flashed the tag at her, and said, “See, Jane, see?” Lucky for him, as suggested but not warrantied, it also resisted a taser if the taser happened to hit smack on the vest. If Jane was shooting, Dick had known she wouldn’t miss, no matter the missile.

Jane

“How did you know what I was going to—”

Dick

 “I didn’t know what, I just knew you’d make a move. And that it would involve something awful for me.”

Jane

Dick teared up, which Jane identified as leverage. “I know you still love me, you know I’ve always loved you, I’m seeing that now—”

Dick

 “Shut up, Jane, shut up,” he said. “You’d leave me dead and our kids parentless while you started a new life on a beach somewhere, and never feel a thing. You can rot.”

Dick turned off the alarm, the elevator resumed its trip to the first floor, and he pulled Jane to her feet. As the door began to open, he slit the handcuffs, pulled the bailiff’s gun out from Jane’s waistband, and thrust it in her hand. He leaned down to her ear and whispered, “Go, Jane, go.”

He pushed her into the corridor crowded with guns-drawn law enforcement, and witnessed the barrage of bullets propel her back into the elevator. Dick huddled comfortably on the floor. He hadn’t felt this safe since the moment before he met Jane.

Bye, Jane, bye.

Marcy Dilworth writes short fiction and nonfiction. Her stories have recently been published in the Blink-Ink 10th Anniversary edition and Literary Mama. She earned her English degree at the University of Virginia, and her sense of humor at the hands of four older siblings. She lives in her recently emptied nest with her husband and their precocious rescue pup, Kirby.

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