A Mercy Killing
By Cait Collins
Lightening flashed. Thunder rumbled. The wind rose. Rain mixed with pea-sized hail pelted the windows. Tornado warnings sounded from her cell phone.
Lydia stood in the shadows behind the spiral staircase waiting for her slob of a husband to burst from his upstairs man cave and rush to the stairs. The son of a bitch would strut like a proud peacock with his tail feathers in full display. He’d squawk demanding attention. But at the first sound of thunder, the boasting coward would beat a path to the basement and huddle on the futon in the corner. He’d brought that hideous tropical print pile of padding and rickety frame to her home when they married. He wanted it displayed in the living room among her family’s priceless heirloom furniture. She’d put her foot down and banished the tacky piece to the basement.
Why had she married the blow hard? Okay, he’d been charming when they dated, and he had gotten a job fresh out of law school as a clerk with a good law firm. But the minute they returned from the honeymoon, he began talking incessantly about all of his accomplishments. Unfortunately, she’d learned too late, he had no accomplishments. They were all figments of his very active imagination.
Chad enjoyed discussing books, television shows, and movies. His books. His shows .His movies. But when she mentioned one of her favorites, he’d shut her down. “That’s nothing but a chick flick. It has no importance in the grand scheme of things. Now The Lord of the Rings, that’s a movie.” Lydia had enjoyed the movies, but she preferred the books. She’d read all three, but her husband hadn’t read any of them His sole understanding of Tolkien’s work was the spectacular cinematography and acting he’d seen in the theater.
Lydia had soon realized if Chad did not get his way, he would attempt to intimidate or belittle the person who had rocked his little world. Just yesterday, her husband had quit yet another job because “nobody likes me” and “everyone is out to get me”. They’d been married three years and he’d blown through nine jobs. She’d really appreciated his announcement over dinner last night.
“I have decided the business men and women in this town do not recognize talent. They continually stick me with junior clerks and have these inexperienced kids teach me the ropes. And those self-important ancient paralegals think they have the authority to return my briefs and opinions and demand I correct my errors. That’s a woman’s work. If it weren’t for men like me, those old biddies wouldn’t have jobs.”
She had said nothing, having heard the speech before. But this time, he proposed a different solution to his problems.
“Monday morning, you and I are going down to the bank and you will set me up with a line of credit. A million should do it. It won’t put a dent in that inheritance of yours. Then I’m going to open my own law office and run it my way. You just wait, Lydy baby, I’ll be adding big bucks to our income very soon.”
“No, Chad, I will not waste my money on your foolish venture. You’ll lose the whole million within six months and demand more. Find a job and try to get along.”
He slammed the vintage Waterford crystal wineglass on the table top. The fragile glass shattered. Fine cabernet spread across the top of the ebony Duncan and Phyfe table.
“See what you did, bitch? Your stupidity ruined a good meal and a fine glass of wine.”Chad jumped up, toppling the antique chair cracking the slats. “You will give me the money and whatever else I demand of you. Now you get your ass out of that chair, get upstairs, and get ready for bed. My wife will at least act like she enjoys having a stud in her bed.”
He turned his back and climbed the stairs to his “office”.
His wife! Stud! She almost vomited. “We’ll just see about that” She slept in the guest room with the door locked and with a chair braced under the door knob.
Lydia’s thoughts returned to the present. Forensic specialist, Lydia Lawler, was no man’s fool and the idiot upstairs was about to learn the last lesson of his miserable life.
The lights flickered and went out. Thunder boomed and rattled the windows. Upstairs, a door slammed against a wall. Footsteps pounded down the hallway.
Chad’s feet slipped as he ran down the shinning oak floors. He lost his flip-flops at the head of the stairs just before he began rolling head over heels down the steps, landing with a thud on the cold marble floor at the base of the staircase.
Lydia shined the light on the crumpled form in front of her. “Oh, you poor dear. I forgot to tell you Edna was waxing the floors this morning. I’m sorry you slipped.
“Can’t move,’ he whispered.
“Can’t move? What a pity.”
“Of course, stud”
She plucked a pillow from the bench in the entry and placed it under his head. “There. Does that feel better?”
“I can’t do that. My cell phone is dead. The land-line is down. And look,” she picked up an object from the floor, “your cell phone is broken. My. My. What should we do?”
The tornado warning sirens wailed.
“I must get to the basement. Maybe the tornado will go away and leave you alone. But then I’ve wanted you to go away and leave me alone for years. How does it feel to be on the receiving end of things?”
“Leave the light.”
“But it’s the only flashlight I have. Do you want me to fall down the basement steps?” A mean smile appeared. “I don’t think so. Good-bye, Chad.”
He heard the snick of the closing door and the click of the lock sliding into place. And then dead silence. The air grew thick and breathing became difficult. From the silence the sound of a freight train grew. Trees splintered, The roof over the sun porch lifted as the front windows shattered and front walls were pulled from the foundation.
Chad felt his body lift from the floor and rise up into the swirling funnel. No one heard his final scream.
Chad Lawler’s corpse was found impaled on a broken tree limb a week following the destruction. Scavengers had been at the remains. It was a gruesome sight. He was buried without ceremony in a newly purchased plot as far from the widow’s family plot as possible. Only the minister and the widow attended the brief service.
I have always believed writing to be good therapy. I’m feeling much better now.