Divorce

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Tom has had enough of marriage, with Linda at least. He could have gotten a divorce through a court of law, but instead, he went through the Supernatural.

Submitted: April 16, 2007

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Submitted: April 16, 2007

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The body, in its black garbage bag, was placed neatly in the back of Tom’s truck. Now all he had to do was take it out to Cedar Point and dump it in the forest. Anywhere, as long as it was far away from home.

Tom Snell fumbled through his tape case, digging out something he’d like to listen to. He pushed the tape cassette into the tape deck and pushed play. The radio was broken, but for sure, he thought that the tape would play. It didn’t. He listened to the tape unravel and pull apart inside and pushed eject over and over again in hopes to save his precious music. Tom looked back through the window with both hands on the wheel.

“Hey, honey, I hope you’re not gonna get mad at me. I ruined your Janis Joplin,” Tom said.

He turned back to the road, pressing his left hand against the knot on his forehead.

He used to love her once upon a time. A hell of a long time before he started drinking and she started nagging—and drinking, herself. Tom could handle his drinking, but she was a loud, obnoxious, often times violent drunk. Both verbally and physically. She’d drink until there was no more water in the oceans if she took a fancy to it. That was what she was trying to do four hours ago. She poured all of the alcohol in the house down her hoarse throat and was leaving for the bar, or the liquor store, whichever she made it to first. Tom was getting home from work. It was nine at night and the last thing he wanted to have to do was baby-sit his wife of twenty years. He didn’t want to have to pick her up from the police station again, or God-forbid, the hospital. He sure as hell didn’t want to have to find her in the bar, puking on her shirt, and philandering.  

Tom looked at the road, feeling his eyes close. He took his right hand off the steering wheel, slapping himself back to reality.

“Gotta stay focused, old boy,” Tom whispered to himself. “Gotta get this done and get back. Then we can sleep.”

Talking to himself became a ritual in the last ten years. Linda was always aloof in her thoughts and emotions towards him. A cold hearted bitch. She didn’t even rip him off like he felt most women did to men like him. You were nice, they were nice. You were generous and they’d take you for all you had. She had her own job, God knew how, the way she was always drunk.

She spent her own money and kept her own checking account and her own credit cards. She bought her own wine coolers with her own cash and drank in her own chair that she bought for herself. She was like a roommate that Tom couldn’t stand but had to live with because some fuck in a funny hat said so. Tom would have liked to have been ripped off from time to time. To find his credit cards maxed out, or his bank accounts dry. He’d have liked to get bills in the mail with his name on it for her shit or phone bills with calls all over the place. It would have showed that she acknowledged his existence.

The funny thing about it all was that they still slept in the same bed. For years Tom waited for the night the door would be locked or he’d come home to find the spare room with a new bed in it. That never happened. The joke was still on him, though, they never slept in it together.

Tom passed the green road sign—Cedar Point, five miles—and checked his rearview mirror to see if anyone was behind him. At one in the morning, there better not have been, for his sake anyway. His caution-level was maxed out. He checked again. The five miles went quickly at eighty miles per hour. He turned onto a narrow dirt path in between the trees—out of site from the road after the first corner. It was horrifically dark, like the inside of a black hole, and his headlights didn’t help much as the road twisted through trees that grew bigger than anything short of a California Redwood. He hadn’t been out here in a long time, not since he was in high school, but nothing seemed to have changed. The last time he was here, it was just as dark. That was before he met Linda. Before he worked at the mill. Before he found out he was sterile and before he started drinking.

“Sit tight, sweetie, we’re gonna have to drive over some bumps,” Tom called out to the black bag in his pickup bed.

It was a hell of a road to drive over. It was impossible after rain but it hadn’t rained there going on a month. Tom hadn’t thought all the things through yet. He didn’t know whether or not he’d take his wife out of the bag and let her rot or just leave her in and let luck be on his side. Tom was not a lucky man. Either way, if he was gonna get caught, he would get caught. He didn’t think he would, though. If things hadn’t changed in theses woods, he still knew more than anyone about them. Enough, anyway, to know that anything left in them would be eaten long before any prying eyes came down on a dark secret.

#

Tom came home exhausted from working twelve hours and the last thing he expected was his drunken wife meeting him at their front door. She was in a slouch and looked as though she was playing in the mud all day. She had dried vomit strung to the strands of her dirty blond hair and her shirt was crusted with more of the same. Tom didn’t say a word. He brushed past her, opening the door and walked through, towards the stairs. He wanted to sleep. Tomorrow was a day off and he could eat and relax. Tonight was for his bed and nothing else. Linda Snell stumbled through the door after him and followed him half way up the stairs. Tom turned around, watched her dip over the banister, and finally turned back to the top of the steps.

“You son of a bitch,” Linda called. “Get back here you son of a bitch, you fucking been cheating on me you bastard son of a bitch.”

She pushed herself off the banister and started walking up the steps. Tom kept going towards the bedroom door when he heard his fumbling drunk wife fall flat on her face at the top step. Tom looked back.

“You dirty bastard,” Linda screamed. She held her knee to her chest. Her eyes red with blood. Tom could smell her and the house he lived in. They both smelled the same. “Who’ve you been sticking you son of a bitch?”

“Go to bed, honey, you’re tired, I’m tired,” Tom said. “Let’s just sleep.”

“You’ve already been sleeping you bastard.”

Tom opened the door to the bedroom and walked in putting his coat on the floor. He walked to the bed, slipped his shoes off, and grabbed the sheets. There was no light to see but Tom was graceful in the room he knew so well. He slipped between the sheets and closed his eyes. The silence was like a trance putting Tom right to sleep. 

Tom slept for two hours when his wife walked into the bedroom and turned the light on. She had gone out and purchased more alcohol; she held the Jack Daniels bottle at her side, the kitchen knife in her left hand. The bottle was half empty. She walked towards the bed, whispering to her husband, telling him to get up in a sweet subtle voice. Linda pressed up against the bed. The dark booze sloshed back and forth in the open bottle as she leaned over the edge of the bed. She turned the bottle upside down, pouring it out onto Tom’s thigh. Tom rolled in his sleep and then fluttered his eyes. Looked up into the light of the bedroom and then at his wife standing over him, watching him with a gentle smile.

“I have something for you, Tom,” Linda said. She lifted the empty bottle above her had and then brought it down in front of her. Her left hand shifted back behind her body to steady her.

Tom moved but not fast enough. The Jack bottle crashed against his skull and shattered. He dove to the floor, off of the bed and rolled to the wall before struggling to his feet. He used his hands to prop himself up and leaned against the wall as his legs pushed the rest of the way. Linda was upon him, quickly, knife in her left hand screeching towards Tom and the broken bottle in her right hand. She used both, stealthily. Linda pushed the bottle past him but missed, slamming the rest of it against the wall and losing her grip—the neck of the bottle cracked and shattered in her hand, splicing her skin before she let go.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” Tom yelled. His left hand was attached to his forehead. His right deflected Linda’s wrist and the long knife with it.

“You’ve been cheating, Tom,” Linda screamed at him. She immediately reverted to her zombie-like form after her lips closed; as though she were half asleep and working on impulse alone. “You have to go to the end of the line, sweetheart. You need to go to the principal’s office.”

Tom watched her pale face and watched her raise the knife in her left hand again. He finally acted, moving swiftly away to his left in order to create space between him and Linda. He watched, from the corner of his eye, as Linda pierced the wall with the kitchen knife—a Christmas present—and drew back quickly as the blade broke off. Linda whipped the handle to the ground and chased after Tom. Both were headed for the stairs. Tom got their a few steps ahead of Linda and slowed, realizing he was going too fast and would never navigate the steep slope of carpet on wood. Linda kept coming, and she kept screaming—a banshee in the night.

Tom stepped to his side and caught Linda as she tried desperately to latch on to his neck with her fingers. He felt nails digging deep into his wrists and felt her weight shift and jerk. Linda stood precariously at the edge of the steps, trying as she might to inflict her wrath on her husband of twenty years. Tom could smell her breath—a disgusting mix of ash and liquor—and felt like vomiting. He reflexively pushed Linda away from him and watched in horror as she spilled backwards, tumbling headlong down the dark stairs.

#

Tom Snell looked down the dark ravine as he had looked down the dark stairwell, searching for his wife. He threw the plastic sack over, untied, so it would be easy for anything—whether bacteria or coyotes—to get in. The truck was running idle behind. The wind blew through the trees. Now there was nothing for Tom to do except drive home and get some sleep. He thanked God that he had the day off and walked to his truck. He wouldn’t have to back out because the road wound around back to the highway and that was good. It was especially good that it hadn’t rained. He wouldn’t be going anywhere in a slough of mud. Tom put the truck in drive and pressed the gas pedal down, feeling the truck move over the rutted road.

Tom felt bad. He’d wake up in the morning and realize what he did and feel just terrible—but he wouldn’t regret. He would have plenty of remorse. He’d be the first one to call Linda’s family—not that they would care—and break the news that their daughter was missing. He’d wait a few days, at least—that being the outer most limit of one of her past adventures—and then he’d call the police, and then her family, and then some friends. He’d put flyers up and hold a search party in the woods down by his house but he’d never let on to Cedar Point. It was a two hour drive. It would be out of everyone’s radar. She was at the bottom of a ravine that fell eighty feet from the road.

Tom pulled into his driveway and got out of his truck. He walked to the front door and unlocked it. Went inside and undressed on his way up the steps. His eyes were nearly shut by the time he found the bed in the dark and fell down on the mattress, not bothering to cover up.

Tom woke to the sun, late in the afternoon, and pulled the pillow over his head to block the deep rays. He was still tired, still dreamy. He wanted a few more minutes, if not a few more hours, of rest. The rest didn’t come and he finally got up and put on his pants lying at the foot of his bed. Tom walked down stairs and into the kitchen to fix himself breakfast. As he walked through the living room he saw something lying on the couch. His eyes struggled to adjust to the dimness of the living room, with the blinds pulled shut, but soon realized what he was looking at.

Tom stared at the black plastic garbage sack sitting upright—as a person would sit. Tom walked towards it. He couldn’t understand, didn’t want to understand; it was the same thing he had thrown over the cliff in the morning, in the dark. Tom placed his hand on the sack to feel what was inside. His hand didn’t give against the hard surface. His wife was inside for sure but he didn’t want to open it up to find out. He tried to pick it up and felt its weight—all one-hundred and thirty pounds. He struggled with it; then let it fall to the floor with a thud upon hearing the doorbell ring.

Tom spun around to see a silhouette of a man with a hat standing at the frosted glass window. Tom looked down at the bag and then up at the door. Policeman, he thought to himself. He moved quickly, pushing the body under the coffee table then scrambled to the door. The bell rang again. Tom turned the knob.

Outside stood the mailman, a box in his hand—for Linda Snell—and his hat sitting crooked on his balding head.

“Is your wife home, Tom?” The mailman asked.

“No. Haven’t seen her since I got off of work last night,” Tom said. He eyed the box in the mailman’s hands.

“Well, I got this for you, if you just sign right here.”

Tom used the box to steady the clipboard. He scribbled his name on the bottom of the sheet of paper and handed the clipboard back to the mailman, taking the box. He set it down by his feet and said goodbye. The mailman walked back to his truck, giving a wave as he left. Tom picked up the box and looked back at the coffee table. The plastic bag was gone.

Tom sat at the table and looked at the box, wondering whether or not he should open it. His wife wasn’t coming back, and whatever it was, wouldn’t be needed—by her at least. Tom started taking the tape off the top. He opened the flaps and looked down into the bottom of the box to find a K-mart bag wrapped around something…that smelled diseased.

Tom carefully peeled the top of the white bag away and pushed the box and its contents to the other side of the table. Tom slid two feet from the edge of the table to get away and the box fell off the other side, slamming down on the kitchen floor.

Tom peered over the kitchen table at the box lying upside down on the linoleum and gathered his courage to pick the thing up. He had seen himself in the box, a severed head—one eye rolled up into his skull and the other half open—that was already starting to fall apart from decay.

Tom reached down and picked the box up with both hands. Hesitating all the way; waiting to draw back as if what was inside could slither and eat him. Tom discarded the K-mart bag, revealing its treasure. Lying on the table, bottom up, was a box of chocolate and a note.

“To Linda, love always, your big brother, Jason.”

Tom put the box of chocolates and the note on the table and walked back to the living room. Tom sat down on the couch and watched the black television. He closed his eyes and drifted back off into sleep.

Tom awoke to a knocking another knock the front door. He got up and walked over, opening it up to peer out. There was no one there. Tom closed it and turned around, stopping in his tracks, gazing at his wife standing in front of him. So close he could smell the alcohol and vomit that was still blanketed on her breath

And something else…a nastier, more decadent odor. Tom stepped back, rubbing against the closed door, feeling for the handle that eluded him with each fumbling stab.

“I still love you, Tom,” Linda said. Her voice was groggy. Her eyes were open and glassy.

Tom saw the bone protruding from the side of her neck, where she had landed. The knob was unusual, and made Tom’s stomach roll—it was not something he was used to seeing on a human being. It was sickening for him to see someone so deformed, unrealistic—unnatural.

Unintended. Unnerving—UN-everything.

Tom’s hand fell on the doorknob.

“I’-m-m sorry, baby,” Tom said.

“I am too, honey. Why don’t you come with me and have a drink?”

Linda started to the kitchen. Tom’s eyes followed her steps. She walked with a hitch as she made her way past the living room furniture. Tom felt the door knob in the palm of his hand and turned it—one quarter of a turn—and watched Linda’s head creak around to look at him. He turned the knob all the way and pulled the door from the frame, pushing the screen door out.

The sun beat down on Tom’s face. He could feel the warmth all around as he opened the truck door and got in. The engine rolled over and he slammed it into reverse to pull out of the driveway. Tom drove fast. He needed to get away, away from his house, away from his thoughts; the thoughts he wouldn’t believe were real. They weren’t real.

“I want to be with you, Tom,” Linda said from the passenger seat. “I don’t drink anymore. I don’t do anything anymore. I fell down the stairs and the funny thing about that is that it was a real trip. You’d like it, it’s right up your ally, kid.”

Tom looked over. Linda was in the seat, right elbow on the door and her right hand placed under her chin. She looked at Tom at a slant.

“What the fuck do you want from me?” Tom screamed. He drove faster, hoping he’d escape her.

“I just want us to be happy, like we used to be,” Linda said. She pushed her left hand out to touch Tom’s sleeve. Her cold finger raced up Tom’s arm until it caressed his cheek. Her touch was cold, but familiar—still gentle like it had once been…missed.

“I’m not fucking seeing this. Hearing this. No fucking way,” Tom said. He pushed the pedal down even further. Feeling the engine rev and the truck accelerate past eighty-five.

“But Tom, death is so much better than life…you must have thought that when you pushed me down the stairs. You must have wanted me to be happy and thought for sure, that I’d be happier this way—”

“I’m dreaming all of this up.”

“—and I am happier this way, Tom. You freed my soul.”

“Twenty years with your bullshit and I freed you? I don’t think so. I freed me!”

The truck was going ninety-nine and then a hundred and then a hundred and one and Tom still pushed the pedal down, still accelerating. He looked back to his right. Linda was gone. Faster. Tom finally peeled off onto the same dirt road he had been on early in the morning. Twelve hours had passed and the ruts hadn’t changed except for the fact that they could be seen now. The trees were lush, green emeralds growing tall. Tom was going much slower than before but still much too fast for the path. The truck rattled and squirmed all over the road as Tom struggled to keep it going straight. Tom began turning the corner as the old road wound around in its circle arch, heading back to the highway. Tom slowed and finally stopped at the place he had stopped in the morning. The engine idled and then was silenced.

The black bag was down at the bottom of the gully, pressed up against a tree. Visible from the top, but barley. Tom started climbing down the steep slope using the trees and rocks to keep him from simply falling. He reached the bag and pulled it open to reveal his wife sleeping inside. He started to fold the bag back over Linda’s head when her eyes came open.

Tom rustled back, hands treading like steamboat paddles. He struggled to get off his feet and climb back up the slope but couldn’t find his balance as his adrenaline exploded within him. Linda moved around in the bag, reaching out with her hands, trying to grasp at Tom with what little she had left.

“I wasn’t dead, Tom, goddamn it—I wasn’t dead!” Her voice was meek, her tongue lagged behind.

Tom Snell pulled himself up and out of the gully and back to his truck. He breathed heavily the deep forest air. Tom looked over the gully at Cedar Point, the tall ridge that crept up out of the shadow of the trees to capture the gleam of the sun. It was miles away from him. Years away in time. He hadn’t seen it since before he had met Linda and now he saw it again after she was gone. His wife had fallen down their stairway at home; Tom had fallen down the stairway to heaven. There wasn’t much he could do about that. He’d just have to go back home and have a drink and then find someone else to love. The divorce was final.


© Copyright 2018 Justin Schwan. All rights reserved.

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