Death In Stereo
By G.E. Fields
The Corolla coasted to a halt, silent like a ninja and dark as the surrounding night. Greg saw tall plants through one of the house’s side windows, backlit by nightlights. Another window revealed an antique floor lamp beside a small television. They were both bedrooms. He knew. He remembered.
A shudder wracked his body, evolving into something worse. His muscles quivered with uncontrolled emotion. He sobbed, hyperventilating breath fogging his tear soaked glasses.
He forced long slow breaths that hurt his lungs and lightened his head. He shook to get the fog away from his brain and wiped the vapor from his glasses. Swiping at his brow with the back of a denim sleeve, he pushed back long dark hair, grey streaks noticeable in the starlight.
When he opened the car door, the interior light remained dark, as it had for years. The recently oiled door hinges gave no sound. Greg got out of the car, uncoiling his six-foot plus frame from the tiny car’s driver seat. Clad all in black, he looked like an apparition sent by the shadows. In a way, he was just that.
He stretched to loosen muscles cramped from the long drive; tension released from his neck with a head roll. Reaching back into the car, he took out a long machete. The razor sharp edge reflected starlight, the glint an aura in Greg’s eyes.
Perhaps, God infused them with righteousness for the occasion. He laughed the thought away. This close he would not recant his atheism. He also grabbed a small caliber pistol and put it in his waistband. This weapon had a singular victim to claim tonight.
Justice is a god in its own way, the thought intruded itself. His conscience fought itself — seeking justification? He didn’t know and didn’t want the answer. Let the “experts” figure it out later.
Again, he reached into the Toyota and retrieved one of this night’s most important parts, the MP3 player. Only one song resided in the device’s memory — a tune to bolster fleeting courage. He placed the player’s headphones over his ears and looked at the inviting side porch. A light breeze kicked up, as if summoned, and gently rang the chimes hanging over the door. He remembered fearing the look of such a beautiful entry.
He stared, mesmerized, for long moments. Nostalgia, easily accessed by most, remained tragically missing and that fact broke him from his reverie. Fear returned, but he took inventory of his reasons for being here.
Fifteen years he had lived like an animal. Tortured, humiliated. Debased and enslaved by the person most dear to him. The beatings would have been acceptable if they had any meaning. They just didn’t. Never did; never would. However, the real pain had nothing to do with tennis rackets, leather straps, flying furniture, or ring-laden fists. The pain was from the fact that she never cared for the ones entrusted to her.
This was for the man in the driveway, yes, but just as much for the others.
His older sister in chronic pain for the rest of her life because of the blows rained down on her as a youngster.
His younger sister searched for peace through intoxication. Alcohol, cocaine, and anything to relieve reality were her friends. She birthed five children who never really knew her or understood why she couldn’t care for them. Growing up, she never learned to be a parent, but was sure she could teach herself. They were the state’s children, now. Though he loved her with all his heart, the man hated her for this. They both knew what foster life did to a child.
His youngest sister isolated herself from everyone. She was a half sister, and because her father was different, she didn’t receive the abuse of their mother. By the time she was a teenager, alcohol and prescription drugs had withered their mother to a sickly state. That is when their stepfather got lonely. His actions, for whatever his reasons, sealed his fate tonight.
It was too late. The damage was irreversible. Their suffering would not stop because of his actions tonight. Only his own would disappear. He felt a pang of guilt at his selfishness then washed it away with a flood of dark and intense memories.
He stepped onto the stairway as he pushed the playback button on the Mp3 player.
The rhythmic drumming of the band Disturb’d made his eyes blink in reflex. The bass guitar kicking in an eerie riff, the lyrics began as he turned the knob on the door he knew would be unlocked.
Drowning deep in my sea of loathing
Broken your servant I kneel
(Will you give in to me?)
He felt the power in the music of another like him. Music had probably saved this one. Nothing could save the man as he stepped into the pantry.
The house was remodeled many times over since his last visit. He barely knew where to go, but the stairs were where they always had been. His breath became ragged as he climbed the stairs one at a time. His mind brought him back to when he was a small child, sneaking up the stairs after taking food from the refrigerator and bringing to his sister. If not for this, she may have starved to death. They forgot about her once caged — out of sight, out of mind.
Looking at my own reflection
When suddenly it changes
Violently it changes (oh no)
There is no turning back now
You’ve woken up the demon in me
The vocals blared in his skull and he concentrated on the pain of the music to wipe away his own. Empathy was easier to control than pure rage. He reached the top landing and paused before turning left into the long narrow corridor leading to the master bedroom. The song’s chorus rang of truth in his ears.
Get up, come on get down with the sickness
Open up your hate, and let it flow into me
Get up, come on get down with the sickness
You mother get up come on get down with the sickness
You fucker get up come on get down with the sickness
Madness is the gift, that has been given to me.
He took short slow steps. The scene in front of him flickered from past to present in his mind’s eye. The flowery wallpaper turned to dull brown paint. The bookcases along the sides became an antique Singer sewing machine, a standup ironing board, and a small desk. He squinted, squashing the images in his brain before they could solidify before him.
The world is a scary place
Now that you’ve woken up the demon in me
The doorknob squeaked as he turned it and he sensed the sleeping people in the room as he walked into his own hell. His senses reeling, he staggered, saving himself by grabbing at the long bureau. The machete in his hand clanged against the door. His mind refused to focus. The room was in a haze of red as if it understood what was going to happen. His movements registered in his mind as groggy and listless and then they slowly regained the fluidity of reality.
The man in the bed rose and was assessing the situation in the now dark again room. He was old and scared and the intruder smiled at his discomfort.
“I’m gonna call the police! Don’t come any closer!” he ranted, reaching for the phone. It tumbled from his hands.
A throaty laugh emanated from his soon-to-be attacker; a laugh that could chill the waters of the gulf. The old man cried. The man in black switched off the MP3 player.
“Do you know me?”
“Yes, you are Greg,” he sobbed. “I tried to stop her you know. I pleaded with her, but she couldn’t control her anger.”
The man’s pleading sickened him.
“This isn’t about her,” he pointed the machete in his left hand at the figure stirring in the bed. “It is about you…and Margaret!”
Understanding dawned on the wane face, highlighted by the outside streetlight’s dim glow. His exposed secret put ten instant years on his face. That may have been enough for some, but this man’s sins demanded blood.
Greg leapt forward and severed the head clean before another word sputtered from his stepfather. The woman in the bed was screaming at the top of her lungs. At least Greg thought she was until he realized that the shrieks were his own. His mother stared blankly at him, drugs and hatred burning through any fear she felt. She didn’t say anything, and that was best. Nothing she said would absolve her.
He clicked the MP3 player back on. The final words of the song blasted in his head. He raised the blade and brought it down repeatedly, the song a cadence for his butchering.
No mommy, don’t do it again — The machete cut through an arm raised in defense. The sound of bone severing cracked in tune with the music.
Don’t do it again
I’ll be a good boy
I’ll be a good boy, I promise
No mommy don’t hit me. — Noises gurgled from his throat as he punished the woman for three people’s lives and the ones like her that never would receive this justice.
Why did you have to hit me like that, mommy?
Don’t do it, you’re hurting me.
Why did you have to be such a bitch
Why don’t you,
Why don’t you just fuck off and die — A lamp knocked over and turned on. Blood splattered the room’s walls, turning his earlier vision into a prophecy.
Why can’t you just fuck off and die
Why can’t you just leave here and die
Never stick your hand in my face again bitch
FUCK YOU — The screams of his one-time torturer broke over the rock and roll in his ears and he cried in pleasure and misery as he continued to butcher her.
I don’t need this shit
You stupid sadistic abusive fucking whore. —Years of resentment and outright hate empowered his muscles to continue at a torrid slashing pace. Memories now overtook the song. The pain and rage were all his own.
How would you like to see how it feels mommy — Tears fell with the machete’s last and most brutal downswing.
Here it comes, get ready to die. — The blood-soaked edge decapitated her, soaking the sheets and walls as the heart pumped its last life-force through her useless body.
When the music stopped, so did he. He looked around as the blood rush ebbed from his head and coldness seeped over him. He lay on the bed, bathing in the blood that deepened into the bed sheet’s recesses.
He laughed…, laughed…, and laughed. He was right. This did not give him the release he needed. This was only justice. He still hurt inside.
He reached into his pocket and grasped the barrel of the pistol. Taking it out, he put the barrel in his mouth. He could taste the metal as his smile enveloped it. The sound of approaching sirens ended as he pulled the trigger.