Susan Cole sat alone in the dark with a loaded forty-four Magnum in her lap. She flinched when the cuckoo clock chirped twelve times in the next room. It was midnight, Monday, June fifth nineteen eighty-seven. Precisely three years since she and Doctor George Benny left Salter’s Point. Tonight, he was late. He had been late many nights, causing her blood to boil with utter contempt. She knew why he was late. She hoped he would come to his senses sooner rather than later. But he hadn’t. His blatant disrespect was worsening over time leaving her cold and feeling abandoned. She sat there with her finger on the trigger. Thinking, thinking, thinking. Reminiscing over the good times, distraught over the present.
When she and George Benny first arrived in France three years ago, the two of them settled in a little village outside of Paris. For the first two years of their life together they seemed happy and content. Every night, under the shimmering moonlight, they would make love outside on the terrace of their apartment flat. During the day, they would take short excursions along the countryside visiting vineyards, drinking wine enjoying the country’s vast culture. On the surface, their life as fugitives appeared grand in comparison to their old life back in Salter’s Point. It appeared, at least for a time, Susan’s struggle with depression was in remission, no longer a menacing threat to her emotional wellbeing. However, in recent days, her depression had returned with a vengeance.
Her fragile state of mind constantly plagued her with intrusive negative thoughts, cruelly reminding her of a checkered past. Forced to face her demons alone, she tried desperately to explain away the rapid deterioration of her once happy monogamous relationship with Doctor George Benny. For the past six months he had been distant. Never around and she missed him. When she found out about his affair with a young French nurse half his age in a nearby village, she was devastated. His betrayal sending her over the edge. Pushing her down a deep dark road of impending doom. To cope, she purchased Xanax from a street dealer, hoping to numb her emotional pain.
After several days of taking the drug, she felt increasingly worse, unable to sleep, her suicidal thoughts stripping her peace of mind. As she sat in the dark, gazing out the window contemplating her own suicide, the bright gold moon caught her eye. The moon’s shimmering glow lit up her entire living room, and she admired its beauty and excellent round size. Then it slowly moved west across the midnight sky, casting gray shadows on the wall behind her. Leaving her in complete darkness again, the black night a match to her dark, intense mood.
She scooted further down on the sofa and contemplated shooting herself. Tears flooded her eyes and then streamed down her cheeks. She angrily wiped water off her face while rage burned deep inside her heart. Soon her thoughts switched from shooting herself to shooting him instead. After all, if she couldn’t have him, why should anyone else. Suddenly footsteps approached the door of her apartment and stopped. The clicking of the lock startled her, and she swallowed hard.
Then the door swung open, and George appeared in the doorway. “Why is it so dark in here?” He grumbled looking around and then slamming the door. “Why aren’t the lights on?”
There was a lump in her throat. It was difficult to speak. She gripped the gun so tight, her hand perspired. Her burning eyes followed his shadowy silhouette as he groped his way through the dark searching for the light switch. He found it and flicked it back and forth, but still there was no light. “Damn it,” he grumbled. He backed away from the wall and faced the dark living room again. He spotted the dark human figure parked on the sofa. His eyes, looking like slits in his glasses, squinted to see who it was. “Susan,” he called out. “Is that you?”
Silent as snow, she sat there like a statue. Watching the outline of his tall, dark silhouette advancing her way. He recognized her and then he became angry. “Damn it, Susan! Why are you sitting in the dark like a nitwit!” He scolded her. His words stung. Her blood boiled. She pointed the gun at him and fingered the trigger. Every nerve ending in her body tingled, and a wave of adrenalin rushed up her spine. “Susan, answer me,” he demanded stepping toward her. “Do you hear me, woman? Answer me!”
He lunged at her, and she squeezed the trigger. The force from the blast jerked her back. The bullet ripped right through him, and for a second, he froze in place. Then he stumbled back hitting the door, leaning against it. He tried to support his own bodyweight, but his strength soon gave out. He slid to the floor in a crumpled heap, and red liquid poured from the gaping hole in his chest. His gasps of pain were music to her ears and the corners of her mouth crinkled up. He cried out to her. “Why are you doing this to me?! Why?!
His pleas didn’t faze her, and in a trance-like state, she slid off the sofa. She marched like a robot to the table as he continued to cry out in pain. She turned on the lamp, her movements methodical like a Stepford wife. She turned and gave him a blank, cold look. Sweat dripped off his face, and his eyes glistened with terror. She walked over to him and straddled her legs over his chest. She hovered in his face, with eyes cold and vacant, snarling at him.
He stared down the barrel of her gun, and his blue eyes pleaded for mercy. “You don’t have to do this! Please don’t do this!” He said. Tears stung her eyes. She pressed the forty-four Magnum to his forehead and squeezed the trigger. The bullet shattered his skull and warm red liquid spattered on her hands and legs. She stood there and stared at her bloodstained hands. Then she backed away from his bloodied body.
A gust of guilt came over her, and silent tears ran down her face. She whispered. “You betrayed me. I’m very, very sorry!”
With the gun still gripped tightly in her hand, she stumbled to the sofa and flopped down. She engaged the safety and laid the gun in her lap. Her emotional pain was daunting, and she wrestled with ending her life again. Then she heard a light tap on the door. Her head jerked up. She stared at the door and she hesitated, afraid to answer. She trembled violently when the tapping became louder and louder, then she leaped to her feet and started for the door.
She wiped her wet face with the sleeve of her white blouse and her bloodstained hands she wiped on her black skirt. She stepped over George Benny’s blood-soaked body, and she groaned with utter disgust. “I guess I need to move this two-timing bastard,” she mumbled to herself. She grabbed his feet and dragged him across the room leaving a trail of dark, sticky red blood on the carpet.
Beads of sweat popped out on her forehead, and her shoulders sagged from the weight of his six-foot frame. She struggled to breathe, gasping with every step. The soft humming of her wheezing soon tired her out. She made it to the sofa and dropped his feet to the floor. Then she sat down exhausted, inhaling deep breaths. She panicked when the tapping grew louder and louder. Her heart raced, and her brow was hot with sweat. “Just a minute,” she hollered barely getting out the words. She ran to the bedroom and snatched a comforter off the bed. She ran back to the living room and tossed the comforter over his body.
The tapping grew louder and louder irritating her. “Damn it, I’m coming,” she cursed. She ran to the door and looked through the peek hole. Martha Kendall, her neighbor who lived two doors down, was peering back at her through a magnifying eyeglass. She cracked the door just enough to see out. She gave the old lady a measly smile and whispered. “Hi Martha, what’s up?!”
Martha Kendall, a humped back woman in her late eighties had thick sliver, gray hair twisted in a bun. She leaned on her cane squinting through her black bifocals. “Are you alright dear!” She asked with her voice cracking.
“Yes, why?” said Susan.
“I heard a loud noise coming from your apartment,” Martha said. “It sounded like a firecracker.”
“Oh, I’m afraid I dropped one of my glass vases on the floor,” Susan lied. “I have created such a mess for myself,” she said.
“Oh,” said Martha as she craned her neck trying to see around Susan, whose body was wedged in the doorway.
“Be careful honey,” she said. Cleaning up glass is no joke.”
“You are right,” said Susan. “I will be more careful. I promise,” she smiled. Susan then closed the door leaving Martha in the hallway. She lingered there, straining to hear, hoping the old lady would accept her explanation and leave her alone. Killing the old woman was not an option. She winced at the thought of it. Two murders, she couldn’t fathom it. She could never live with herself. “Martha, take your old butt back to your apartment,” she whispered to herself. “Please go,” she pleaded. A few minutes later, she finally heard Martha shuffling down the hall with her cane tapping loud on the floor. She sighed with relief.
Her eyes fell on her lover’s covered body, and the comforter soiled with dark red blood reeked with a faint sour stench. Overcome with intense sadness, she wondered what she should do next. Moving his six-foot frame was hard, and she knew she would never be able to move him from the apartment without the risk of being seen. So, she left him there and headed to the bedroom. She climbed into bed and thought about killing herself again, but decided not to. She then ran back in the living room and snatched the gun off the sofa. She removed the weapon’s remaining bullets and then disposed it along with the bullets down the garbage shute.
She returned to her room, grabbed her suitcase out of the closet and tossed it on the bed. She packed fast, her movements frantic, snatching clothes out of drawers and tossing them in the suitcase. She ran around the room like a little mouse, grabbing up personal items and throwing them into a make-up bag. Once packed, she showered and quickly dressed. While combing her short, curly blond hair, she contemplated her next move. She knew she must leave France, but where? Frazzled, she plopped down on the bed again racking her brain for an exit plan.
Her mind raced overtime as she thought, thought, thought of where she might go. Realizing time was slipping away, she decided on a plan. She reached for the telephone and dialed a number. A voice was heard on the other end of the line, and she cleared her throat. “I…I….I need a one-way ticket to Seattle,” she stammered.
“How soon do you need it?” The representative asked.
“As soon as possible,” Susan replied in a hurry.
MEANWHILE, overseas at Salter’s Point Regional Hospital, that very same day, Nurse Teresa Bolton chased Billy Moonwalker across the hospital campus. Billy, a paranoid schizophrenic, tried to hang himself three weeks earlier with one of his shoelaces. He wrapped the lace around his neck and then tied it to a doorknob in his room. Luckily one of the nurses passing by saw what he was doing and stopped him. When Doctor Ethan Poppy was notified about Billy’s attempt, she swiftly ordered suicide precautions, finally releasing him seventy-two hours later when he promised not to hurt himself again.
It appeared he was doing much better after the doctor prescribed him a new medication to treat his stomach ulcer. He was more outgoing, talkative and gregarious with his peers. Doctor Poppy, pleased with his progress, had planned to discharge him home by the end of the week. However, when Billy woke up Monday morning on June nineteen eighty-seven, he didn’t feel quite right. His stomach hurt, and soon thoughts of suicide swept across his psychic again.
The last thing he ate was a cupcake decorated with pink icing, a treat passed out in skills group from the previous night before. He managed to shower and dress despite the gnawing pain intensifying in his stomach. He snuck out of his room and then parked himself five feet from the unit exit. For a while, he watched the nurses go in and out of patients’ rooms passing out medications. Then he zeroed in on Teresa. His light brown eyes followed her down the hall as she headed to the exit. He scooted out of his seat and followed her. Staying several steps behind to avoid being detected. When she exited the unit, she unknowingly left the door ajar.
Recognizing a window of opportunity, he eased out. He sprinted past her, nearly knocking her down. “Billy, bring your ass back here now!” She screamed. He ignored her and kept on running. Then he bolted out the door. Fear clouded Teresa’s face and she yelled, “Someone get security!”
She took off running after him. His long brown woolly hair blew wild in the wind, and he sprinted through the parking lot like a speeding bullet. Running through the rose garden and then across the soccer field. The hospital gate, a few yards away, beckoned his escape. He was there in a matter of minutes, and he shook the gate with such intensity, he jarred it opened. “Shit,” he screamed when Teresa caught up with him and wrestled him to the ground, stopping him cold.
“Get off me, you witch!”
“You are not going anywhere,” Teresa shouted. The two of them rolled in the grass like little bear cubs until Billy overpowered her and managed to break free. He jumped up and aimed for the gate again. With his face beet-red, he shouted, “Leave me alone!”
He rattled the gate free and ran out into the street. Drivers honked and swerved around him as he stayed in one place, staring straight ahead in a deep, deep trance.
“Billy, get out of the street!” Teresa screamed running up and down the sidewalk. “You are going to get yourself killed!”
Her screaming broke his trance, and he ran to the other side of the street hopping on the sidewalk. He teetered on the edge, eyeing Teresa the whole time. “Stay there and don’t move!” She screamed. She tried to cross the street, but the cars whizzed by her so fast she was unable to do so.
Suddenly, Billy changed his mind and ran into the street again. A car came out of nowhere slammed into him sending his body sailing through the air like a soccer ball. His body landed a few feet away down the road with a hard thump. Speeding vehicles ran over him, crushing his lifeless humanity into the dark pavement. Teresa dropped to her knees. “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god,” she bawled in anguish, rocking back and forth with her head in her hands.
Traffic slowed to a grinding halt. Seconds later, patients, hospital personnel, and terrified drivers surrounded the gruesome scene. Sirens were heard screeching in the distance and the circle of devastated onlookers grew larger around Billy Moonwalker’s broken body. His bloody, broken body was barely recognizable to the naked eye.
Finally, the ambulance arrived, and the attendants tumbled out of the vehicle. They carefully picked up Billy Moonwalker and placed him on the gurney. Within minutes he was whisked away, while hospital personnel looked on in horror.
In their moment of grief, they had no idea a storm was brewing in their mist. Susan Cole’s heinous crime and Billy Moonwalker’s sudden death was the first of many calamities to plague Salter’s Point Regional Hospital. A frightening tale has just begun.
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Categories: Short Stories