Moral Compass

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A lack of morality in everyday life.

This might be the start of something ongoing or it might be a false start.

Submitted: January 20, 2008

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Submitted: January 20, 2008

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Jane came home late for a Thursday. Her clothes were askew, her hair messy, her knife in her hand.

'You've ruined your blouse, I notice' I commented as she emptied her pockets, placing her mobile phone, loose change, knife and keys on the coffee table. Like her blouse, hands and neck, the blade was slick with wet blood.

‘Yeah. It’ll wash out’

She cleared her throat.

I turned back to the television, where celebrities were being taught how to wash dogs properly. All the foam and steam onscreen reminded me that I’d put laundry on earlier and it needed hanging out. Looking at Jane, I assumed she was too far-gone to involve herself with that chore. The aroma of ethanol was sweating off her. She rested against the kitchen work surface, starting to unbutton her blouse distractedly, eyes closed with an expression of dissatisfaction. I joined her in there, busying myself at the washing machine, sorting the moist underwear from the larger garments. Jane began scrabbling around in the freezer, her usual manoeuvre when she came home in this state. After retrieving the vodka, she unscrewed the cap and took a hard gulp. I looked up from the washing machine and to her tired eyes.

‘So. How was work?’ I asked, uninterested.

‘Terrible’ she replied, sighing.

‘Oh dear’

I waited, counting down the five seconds between my enquiry, merely a pleasantry, and the marathon explanation that would inevitably follow. I reached five, and she began.

‘I mean – she singles me out. Jenny actively singles me out’

I made sympathetic but non-committal noises.

‘Yep. Work sucks’ I began to fold the washed item over the clotheshorse.

‘I can’t take it any more, Pete’

I stood up and held her hips. ‘Yeah, you can’ I assured her, more to shut her up than to show any false empathy.

I hugged her. I regretted it instantly as the blood on her clothes smeared onto mine. I pulled away tactfully and took a step back.

‘She was giving me all this crap. She told me she was disappointed at me for payroll going out too early. I mean – I don’t even manage payroll. It’s a joke’

‘Did you remind her of that fact?’

‘Not really’. She gazed out of the window. ‘Well I am kind of responsible for it. But Rukhsana’s off ill at the moment so I’m covering for her and... well, it’s complex’.

‘So what did you do?’

‘Oh, it doesn’t matter anyway. I stabbed her and left. Just walked out. I don’t think anyone even noticed’.

‘Is she dead?'

‘No. I called Craig later and apparently they realised something was up a couple of hours later. She’s in Acute Care at St Patrick’s hospital. Should pull through’

‘You should’ve finished her off’

‘Maybe I’ll go to St Patrick’s and do that after work tomorrow’
She swigged again at her bottle.

‘Sounds like a good idea’ I agreed.

‘Anyway, that’s why I’m late. I ended up going to the Waggon and Horses in Soho on my way back for a gin and tonic, just to settle my nerves. I was shaking, she made me so angry.

‘Just a gin and tonic, and you’re home so late?’

‘Some guy got chatting to me and we had a few drinks. He bought them; so don’t worry about the joint account. He ended up doing me in the car park. Didn’t last long, he was so drunk. It was quite funny, actually’

‘Sounds it’

The idea I’d been toying with began to flutter around my mind again. Things between Jane and I had been stale for a while now and her attitude was getting worse and worse. This was the third stabbing in a month and it was all symptomatic of her short temper and hormonal outlook. It was tedious. Luckily, it was only very infrequently that she turned that temper towards me, her hapless husband and so far she hadn’t tried using a knife on me, but it was surely only a matter of time. I weighed up my options, smiling at her affectionately.

‘So did you intend on killing Jenny? Or did you just want to hurt her a bit?’ I asked, nonchalantly instigating phase one of my little plan.

‘I think I did. I don’t know. I just got that flash of anger and the next thing I know, I’m over in her office with my blade in my hand’.

‘Where did you stick her?’ I asked.

‘In the back. I sneaked up on her’. Jane began crumbling the drying blood off her fingernails.

‘It’s never guaranteed when you do the back’ I said, judgementally.

‘Ok big-head, so where should I have aimed?’

‘Stand still’, I told her while picking up her knife and approaching her.

‘If you’re going to take it from behind it has to be the neck or eye’. I went round behind her.

‘So if it’s the neck, like this...’ I glanced the blade lightly over her carotid artery.

‘And if it’s the eye, like this...’

And at that point, I sank the blade quickly but with great control into her eye socket. Her head began to spasm and she made guttural noises, interspersed with muffled shrieks. From behind, I couldn’t see the colour of the liquid coming from her eye. All I could feel was the albumen-like substance that dripped in great swathes onto my knife hand. After a few seconds of violent shuddering she stopped moving, so I lay her warm corpse on the kitchen lino, on her back. I closed the untouched eye with my index finger and stood awhile, looking at the eggy mess in the other socket, the blood pumping slowly behind it and down her face, into her hair. After a few seconds, I went to the bathroom where I showered, quickly.

It was time for bed. I would put Jane into storage in the morning, I decided, but right then I was ready for bed and even Jane, lying there with blood selfishly pouring onto the kitchen floor, wasn’t going to stop that. If I were less tired I might have been vaguely excited about my newfound freedom, but my eyes were too droopy and there was work in the morning to contend with. As I pulled my pyjama trousers on and located the bedroom light switch, I thought about work, paperwork, the next networking event and where I would buy my lunchtime sandwich tomorrow. I could hear gasses escaping from Jane’s head in the kitchen, so I shut the bedroom door and climbed into bedas sleep consumed me.


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