When I originally killed him, it took five blows to the head with a tire iron to finish the job. The gun, and the initial plan, had been poorly aimed, held in the shaking hand of my wife at the time. The first two blows were brutal and blunt as they cut into the skull. The third signaled a flash of blood across the ceiling, my face, forever in my dreams. That feeling of cold thickness dragging down my cheek would wake me at night; and I would hear the echo of the last two blows in my ears, sharp enough to make me wince.
One night, I got up to vomit in the bathroom across the hall from our bedroom. The cold linoleum felt limp under my feet as my hands fell desperately onto the vanity. Keeping myself from heaving into the sink, I managed to make it the toilet just before feeling the vinegar burn of hot dogs and mustard regurgitated. Feeling just as weak and empty as I did that night, I remembered hugging the bowl, leaving bloody fingerprints that my wife frantically tried to clean. I didn’t even have the will to make her leave me alone. Her monotonous chanting only made my headache pulse more.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry I missed his head. I closed my eyes; I had to close my eyes. I couldn’t watch it. I’m sorry I missed.”
I finally coughed to clear my throat and slowly nodded my head to somehow calm her. She sighed, nearly a wail, and I heard her trembling words.
“I love you. I love you. I love you.”
I tried to breathe and remember the plan. We had to get the keys to the Cadillac he had in the garage. We also had to grab the $300 in his bedside table that he always bragged about having. That bragging, which he usually did at the saloon my wife worked at, was the catalyst to the plan that we had been dreaming up for years. We had been living in Debut, Montana for the last five years, ever since we had gotten married in ’66. We had no plan or backup; but at 19, that seemed vastly more romantic that what became our daily reality. No hope of change can lead to drastic, even dangerous choices.
We decided to murder him in his house late one night, then rob him and bolt to California. Sneak in, shoot him in the head, get the money, and drive off into the night. My wife flirted with him for a few days and easily learned his address. We picked a Sunday night, arriving at his place at 3:00 am. We went around to the side door that he always complained about being unable to keep locked. The chain lock was worn and could be broken easily; I would always wonder why he never replaced it. I brought the bolt cutters and easily snapped the chain in half. Before doing so, I had handed the gun to my wife for her to hold. I would always wish that I had gotten it back. We made our way through kitchen, then down a hallway. Luckily, a small nightlight in the hallway gave a soft, orange glow as we crept to what I felt sure was the bedroom- the door at the very end of the hallway. However, we both heard the doorknob for the room begin to turn. I managed to bolt into an open bathroom to the left, but my wife froze. I tried to reach for her arm, but then I heard the door swing open, then I heard her gasp. I looked at her shadowed face, eyes wide with panic and I heard his confused voice hesitate.
“Who is tha-Janine?”
I felt her arms jolt as the gun went off, then I heard his body hit the floor. But because of his cries, I knew he wasn’t dead. I didn’t think then, I just ran over to him and saw his face contorted as he choked on the bullet lodged in the bottom ride side of his neck, nearly in the collarbone. The next thought came with an unsettling ease; the initial impact jerked my consciousness and forced me to watch myself, to see the swift force that buried the bolt cutters deeper into his brain. Yet, I still felt the beat of the blows in my hands, arms, shoulders. Only the sudden feeling of my wife’s hand on my shoulder pulled me back to the ground. I looked at her face, twisted with shock and spotted red. When I looked back at what I had done, I immediately felt nauseous. Bolting back to the bathroom, I fell to my knees. After I had calmed down, I held her to my chest. Then we went about the rest of the plan.
A year later, I thought we might have made a mistake as we found life in California just as difficult. We didn’t feel like we were suspected of the crime but going from job to job had forced me to cope with drugs and alcohol. It was a dangerous mixture that initially helped, but eventually worsened it. Every night, it seemed like I always ended back at the toilet, back there in that house. Sometimes I still felt the stickiness of the congealed blood stuck to my hands. I felt like I would never escape.
And again, after I pulled myself together, I left my bathroom and reluctantly walked in my hallway. But I looked down at a door that felt too familiar somehow. Trying to shake the dread climbing up my spine, I went to the kitchen for water. After finishing the drink off, the dripping cold of the glass did little to comfort, but instead felt like the weight of the bolt cutters. I didn’t want to turn around, for I was certain I would see his bludgeoned face’s searing gaze. I felt frozen in my place, paralyzed but somehow still present. My drunken brain was just unsteady enough to cripple my reasoning because it was almost like I felt him enter the room before he did. I had the glass held tightly in my hand as I felt the unsettling ease prepare me for the necessary.
The second time I killed him, it took six blows to the head with a glass, that eventually broke. I didn’t flinch when the flash of blood hit my face. After the last strike, I suddenly felt my consciousness wake up. Blurred reality began to clear in my mind. But when I looked down, I felt an icy fear creep up my body as I saw my wife’s mutilated face. Shards of broken glass poked from her cheeks, her nose, the fatal one being through the eye. Blood was slowly falling from her face, around her head, slowly melting into the black satin material of her nightie. I immediately fell to my knees and slowly pulled her body to me, gently holding her face to my chest. I didn’t want to see it, so I just rocked back and forth. Then, again, the unsettling ease came as I lifted her inanimate body and carried her to the car.
I knew where to drive without really thinking about it. I calmly accelerated as I approached a nearby cliff; the warm night embracing my body as well as hers. As we plunged towards the ocean, I only remembered her beautiful whispers,
“I love you. I love you. I love you.”
I softly replied, “I love you.”