The Wife Beater

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: July 12, 2019

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Submitted: July 12, 2019

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The Wife Beater

By John Alan Negich

 

It was a steamy Florida night in the panhandle the spring of 1954 and I, John Stanic, was on yet another mission to answer the call to do what I do best, and that is to dole out justice to those who commit unforgivable acts but never receive a sentence for those heinous crimes. My objective tonight was to eliminate The Wife Beater, abuser, and husband of my friend Shelly Aiken. Shelly was my nurse while I convalesced at a rehabilitation facility and was instrumental in restoring me back to health after a terrible life threatening encounter with a couple of rednecks during an attempted robbery. I owed her my life and I was about to give her life back to her. I went over my plan again and again as I waited in the Oldsmobile until well after midnight.

 

When I thought the time was right and enough time had passed, I got out of the car, put on the rubber boots and covered them in the plastic wrap. I did not want to leave any footprints that may have been traceable. I pulled a pair of the white latex gloves over my hands, stretched a white nylon stocking over my face and covered my head with the hood of my camouflage army Poncho. I detected the faint aroma of laundry detergent on the material of the nylon stocking. I must have been a sight to see I thought to myself. 

 

I retrieved a wash cloth and a bottle of ether from the glove compartment and stuffed them in the pocket of the poncho. I then placed the large roll of Saran Wrap under my arm, closed the trunk quietly and walked as silently as possible through the woods along the river until I reached the back yard of the home and studied the surroundings. There had been little rain this month and the brown grass was dry, and even though it was late April, winter had not yet fully released its hold on the panhandle. I could hear it crunch ever so slightly under my feet as I made my way toward the steps leading to the deck of the single floor dwelling above.

 

It was a weathered wooden structure that sat along the banks of the Blackwater River just outside of Milton. It was elevated on wooden posts ten or twelve feet off the ground. The elevation was necessary I surmised because the house was in a low lying area prone to flooding when the river was swollen with rain. There were few windows except for the side of the house that faced the river. On that side, nearly the entire width was glass and there was a single sliding glass door centered in the wall. On that same end there was a wooden deck with a flimsy railing. The deck ran the width of the home and appeared to be nearly ten feet deep.

 

An old and rusting red 1939, Ford pickup truck was parked under the house along with what appeared to be a fish cleaning table, some fishing gear, a casting net, two bicycles and other items that I could not identify in the shadows cast by the full moon. There was a narrow dock that extended a short way out into the river, and there was a flat bottomed wooden john boat tied to the dock. The boat had a small outboard engine at the stern and the boat swayed back and forth slowly with the current. A wind chime hung from one of the beams between the posts of the deck and added a bit of charm to an otherwise bleak looking place. It made a pleasant series of sounds each time the gentle wind that was blowing that night touched it.

 

I gazed up at the moon through the live oaks and mistletoe that gathered on the tree branches and contemplated just what I might expect when I entered the house and confronted The Wife Beater. Since it was now after midnight, my hope was that he would be in a deep alcohol induced sleep. Mistletoe, as I recalled reading somewhere, was a parasitic plant that uses the live oak as a host and depends on the tree for its very existence. It occurred to me that was exactly what The Wife beater had become. Just like the mistletoe, he was a parasitic leech that was clinging to, and sucking the life out of a fine young woman that meant a hell of a lot to me, and on this moonlit night, I was the fucking exterminator. My heart beat fast and I could feel my body tingle as adrenalin rushed through me. I was ready to accomplish my next objective.

 

 

I eased up the wooden stairway and turned the handle of the door slowly, and to my surprise I found it to be unlocked. Holy shit I thought to myself, doesn’t anyone lock their fucking doors in this part of the country? With my skills in covert operations I could be a damned rich thief. However, I was not a thief. Tonight I was an avenger seeking retribution. I had hoped to discover The Wife Beater sound asleep, and was very pleased to find that to be the case as I peeked through the partially opened doorway. The door opened directly into the main living area of the home and the darkness was broken only by the low blue light made by the black and white TV and the sporadic bright flashes when the scene changed.

 

The Wife Beater was indeed asleep with one leg on the sofa and his left leg hanging over the edge with his foot on the floor. He was bare-chested and had dirty white socks on his feet. His belt was unbuckled, his tan pants were unzipped and his right hand was partially inserted into his underwear. He was snoring loudly and his small but noticeable beer belly heaved up and down with each breath. He was not a big man and his face was covered with a dull red beard.

 

Empty beer bottles were strewn on the floor as well as on the coffee table in front of the couch. There was an ashtray that was full of unfiltered cigarette butts, a sealed but half empty bottle of gin and a magazine called Playboy on the coffee table as well. The magazine must have been a brand new publication because I didn’t recall ever seeing it before. There was a large white rabbit on the front cover that caught my attention, so I picked it up to inspect it more closely. I was in no big hurry to attend to my duty so I sat in a chair near the sofa, put the roll of Saran Wrap on the coffee table and opened the magazine.

 

The contents intrigued me because there were many stories and articles on interesting subjects, as well as pictures of beautiful women that were nude or nearly nude. I continued to flip through the pages.  A woman named Marilyn Waltz was featured as the playmate of the month. Her main photo was in the centerfold of the magazine and showed her naked and lying on a purple velvet cloth of some kind. I pulled the chair closer to the TV so I had better light by which to see. She was a gorgeous smiling, long haired blonde with a very light skin tone. She appeared to be holding a dozen red roses. Unfortunately, the dozen roses she held covered her crotch which was a great disappointment. But, a saving grace and possibly the most memorable thing about the photo were her nipples. They were pink, round and hard with the nipple itself projecting out at least a half of an inch from her breast. I had never seen nipples that protruded out so far before. And I must say the sight of them aroused me just a bit.

 

There was also an article on Ray Bradbury that I would have loved to read right then and there on his new book, Fahrenheit 451, but thought better of it. After all I did have a chore to attend to. I had read The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man by Bradbury while I was convalescing and loved his story telling style of writing. I hoped I could remember to take the magazine with me when my mission here was complete so I could read the article.

 

As I prepared for the duty that was about to be performed, pulling out the washcloth and ether, I remember thinking that the house smelled like smoke and booze. I can only imagine how his wife must have hated coming home to a house that smelled like the wretched bastard who abused her. I gazed down at him wondering what his initial thought would be when he awakened and found himself bound and laying at the edge of the river. When I placed the ether- soaked cloth over the bastard’s mouth and nose, he hardly struggled at all. Unlike the others I had killed, who I had to hold down for a bit, he just seemed to fall into a deeper and deeper sleep than the alcohol induced slumber that he had already been in.

 

I left the bottle of ether as well as the wash cloth on the coffee table as a reminder to return for the Playboy Magazine, picked up the plastic wrap as well as the half empty bottle of gin and proceeded to encase his body in the same manner I had wrapped the other wife beaters I had eliminated. I remember being very pleased with myself that this method of bondage was working so well. It held firmly and left no marks that a rope or wire would have made, and there was no injury to the skin at all. As a result, there was no reason whatsoever to suspect there was any foul play involved at all. Fucking brilliant I thought.

 

I did not cover his head as I wanted him to be able to hear me, as well as speak when I asked him about his despicable treatment of his wife. I wanted him to be able to confess his wicked deeds before I terminated him. The location of the house was so far off of the main road that I did not have a fear of him being heard. I threw his limp body over my shoulder and with the gin bottle in my pocket and the plastic wrap in one hand and my other hand holding his wrapped body in place I carried him to the edge of the river. When I reached the river, I laid him down and placed him face up in the water with only his head resting on the grassy bank. I went over, sat on the edge of the dock and waited for him to awaken.

 

I must have used too much ether because it was quite a while before I saw him begin to stir. In fact he was asleep for such a long time that had the moon been a little brighter I may have gone back to the house for the magazine to read the article about Fahrenheit 451. I decided against that and just sat patiently and waited, thinking that Shelly would soon be rid of this leech once and for all. Eventually he began struggling and swearing, so I knew it was time to begin.

 

I walked over to him and stood at his side in about six or eight inches of water and said, “Good evening.”

 

“Who or what in the fuck are you?” He screamed in a slurred and panicked voice. “Are you a fucking ghost? Am I dreaming this? Holy shit this is really a bad fucking dream, maybe I better stop drinking.” I must have appeared frightening in my chosen outfit. Even though he was still drunk, I was pleased that it appeared to be having the desired effect on him that I had hoped it would.

 

“No, I am not a ghost and this is not a dream you drunken scum of a man; this is going to be an evening that will be all too real for you.”

 

“If you ain’t no ghost then who or what the hell are you?”

 

“Maybe an avenging angel of sorts, you know like the Archangel Michael, and I am here to have you tried and convicted of the ongoing mistreatment of your dear sweet wife.”

 

I must say that being a non-believer, I found it very odd for me to use that analogy.

 

His eyes were wide as he screamed loudly, “Help, help. Somebody help me. Someb……..”

 

I eased his body out into the water a bit and while he continued to scream, turned him over with his face in the water, placed my foot on his back and held him down just under the surface. I assume I held him under for six or eight seconds before I rolled him back over. His face was covered in a mixture of water and mud and as he was coughing and spitting out water, I proceeded to read him the rules of the evening.

 

“Wife Beater, I am only going to say this once. If you continue to yell even a little, I will push you down hard with your face in the mud and not roll you back over the next time. Do you understand?”

 

Between the coughs and gags he managed to say “Yes.”

 

“You are the husband of Shelly Aiken are you not?”

 

“Yes,” he said again with a combination of fear and distain in his eyes.

 

“Did you not on a number of occasions physically and mentally abuse her causing her both mental as well as bodily harm?”

 

“I never touched that bitch,” he screamed with hate etched on his face.

 

I rolled him over again and held him in place under the water again with my foot for longer than the previous dunking.

 

When I turned him back over and while he was regurgitating some of the water he had taken in I said slowly and methodically, “I know your wife. She is a kind sweet girl, and I have seen firsthand what your mistreatment has done to her. I saw the bruises, welts, black eyes and the cast she wore because a no good fucking coward like you couldn’t contain your drunken God damned anger.”

 

“Ok…..OK. I may have hit her once or twice and if you’re looking for me to admit to that, then OK I did it….I did it and promise never to do it ever again if you would just let me go.”

 

I pondered my response for a moment before saying, “Your promises hold no water this evening Wife Beater – no pun intended – and I can assure you that you will, indeed, never hit her ever again after this night is over.”

 

The mixture of anger and hatred on his face had quickly turned to fear and panic as he realized that I held his fate in my hands and that I would probably end his life that moonlit night on the bank of the Blackwater River.”

 

“Oh please man, whoever or whatever you are, please don’t do this. I am deeply sorry,” he pleaded.

 

“Sorry you certainly are. You are a sorry excuse for a man. I really would prefer to beat you to death instead of what I have in store for you, so you could experience just a little of the horror Shelly must have felt but thought better of it. That did not quite fit my plan of an accidental death for you.”

 

He began to plead again but I stopped him and told him to let me finish or I would kill him right then.

 

The Wife Beater became silent again and I continued, “The sad thing about what you did is that you nearly destroyed a wonderful human being. I just hope that with you soon to be out of her life, she will regain the confidence and dignity that she so richly deserves. Finally, you need to know that she loved you deeply at one time and that you and only you are responsible for that love deteriorating, responsible for what you did to her, and hold sole responsibility for what is about to happen to you. Now I am going to float you down this muddy river straight into hell.”

 

He was groaning a low and mournful “Nnnn……ooo” as I rolled him back over for the last time and held him down.

 

I smiled thinking he kicked like a catfish flopping on the end of the line when it was dragged onto the bank by a fisherman. He jerked and twisted for the longest time, and again I marveled at how desperately a man can hold onto life even when death is imminent. I waited until he was still and all the bubbles from his nose and mouth had ceased before I took my foot off of his back.

 

With my feet still in the water, I carefully un-wrapped him, balled up the plastic wrap, threw it onto the bank, gave him a gentle shove and watched as he floated slowly down the river and bobbed up and down like a cork or a fishing bobber in the dark water until his body was out of sight. After grabbing the casting net from beneath the house, I then went to the end of the dock, put the net and the bottle of gin in the john boat, untied it and sent it floating down the river behind the body of The Wife beater.

 

I carefully stepped back in the water to clean my boots, stepped out of the water onto the dock, picked up the plastic wrap and returned to the house to retrieve the ether, the wash rag and most importantly the Playboy.

 

I returned to the launch area the same way I came and before getting into the car, un-wrapped the plastic from my boots and put them and the poncho in the back seat. I put my Keds back on my feet, removed the nylon stocking from over my head and took the latex gloves from my hands. The ether, the wash cloth and the plastic wrap I stuffed into the nylon stocking and tied the end firmly. I placed it in the back seat with the poncho and boots, got in the Olds, drove out to the main road, turned left and headed north. The Playboy Magazine was on the front seat beside me open to the Marilyn Waltz centerfold.


© Copyright 2019 John Alan Negich. All rights reserved.

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