“You’re a filthy beast!” she spoke as tears fell down her cheeks.
“And, what kind of beast, would you say?” his face squinted in a soft strange sadness.
The woman did not understand the expression, read it as a ‘mocking’ of the situation. She appeared cautiously in conflict with her emotions. She spoke again.
“Oh, go ahead with your ugly passion, Willard. I can’t stop you, but you can know this: I’ve never hated you more than at this moment.”
Willard stopped mid-stride and stared at the woman in the wheelchair, his brow wrinkled, his tired face showing an anguish she could not comprehend. His steps were measured and slow as he neared the wheelchair. The woman quavered and showed a fear she sought to hide. She hunched as much as she was physically able, and spoke:
“Please Willard, don’t slap me again, and don’t do the other thing…please! If I ever meant anything to you, please, please, don’t go in there tonight!”
For some terrible seconds, Willard stopped, stood erect, and appeared to consider what the woman was saying. With reticence, he looked wearily into her sad eyes before responding.
“It was you, Bella!” He spoke in a soft voice with a hint of some sort of pity. “You put yourself in that wheelchair when you tried to kill me. You do remember that night, don’t you, Bella?”
“I didn’t try to kill you, Willard. I only wanted to keep you away from Marcie, just trying to scare you, that’s all. I could never kill anyone. Marcie did something bad that one night, and you’ve been making her pay for it ever since. For pity’s sake, she’s only fourteen years old. You said you loved her as your own. What you’re doing is criminal and sinful.”
“You rushed me. I dodged. You went flying into the coffee table and damaged your back. I’ve gone all these weeks caring for you, Bella, while Marcie kept flaunting her blossoming body at me, smiling and inviting. You never saw any of that, Bella. Yes, it’s criminal and sinful, what you’re thinking, and I’m also a man who has needs – needs you can’t satisfy until you mend.”
“Can you so easily justify your actions against our daughter, Willard?”
“Our adopted daughter, Bella, fourteen years, going on twenty-four. I’m justifying nothing! You believe what she tells you. You don’t see her coming on to me every night. She’s insatiable in her own sexual needs, a nymphet right out of a Nabakov novel. She must be. I avoid her. I tell her it is all wrong, both legally and morally what she wants from me. That doesn’t stop her from coming to my bed each night. I never harbored a sexual need for her. It never entered my mind and still does not. You remember that night when she came out to the den in only her panties and bra. You went to bed. I was drinking and half-drunk. She tried to seduce me with her eyes, with her swinging hips, with her sitting on my lap and tormenting me with her moves.
“You came out and saw it all, Bella, and knew that it must be my fault, not Marcie’s fault, the little girl we brought home when she was six years old. You didn’t notice me trying to disengage from her that night, struggling to get her off my lap. Whether she learned about sex from her many ‘night-stay-overs’ with ‘school friends’, or, watched porno movies, she tried to seduce me with her knowledge of every move in the sexual manual. She showed me filthy pictures to seduce me. She…”
“Stop, Willard! Please, stop! I Can’t listen to your vile comments any longer.” Bella started to move her wheelchair toward her bedroom, but he stopped her.
“Just one last thing, Bella, and you can go to bed… I will say no more after these last comments. Please, hear me out.”
Bella looked down at her hands, intertwined on her lap and remained silent.
“Yes, I slapped you a few times, not hard, just enough to stop your rants about Marcie and me. You would never let me tell you what I’m saying tonight, and I’m sure you will never believe me. I’ve tried to tell you before tonight but you always get so angry – and that gets me angry, and I don’t tell you. That changes tonight…
“I have never had sex with Marcie, Bella…not that night you saw her on my lap in her panties, not any night. Yes, she comes to my room, and, in my anger, I sometimes slap her, warn her about losing her home, having her put in some squalid detention center, and come short from really strapping her, finally getting her back to her own room.
“What you saw weeks ago is all that happened, Bella. I repeat, I have never had sex with Marcie. AND, it would not have happened when you saw her on my lap. Yes, I had liquor working in my system, but I would never lose sight of my moral integrity altogether.
“I don’t know what Marcie is telling you, what kind of lurid tales she is spinning, but this I do know. She is an evil young lady, and I have spent all the time I care to spend on trying to straighten her out, talking to her in matter of fact terms, paternally and with caring feelings. AND, you need to know that, today, late this afternoon, after using up all my clear thinking in trying to save Marcie, I visited state officials and alerted them that the situation was no better than when I first reported it to them weeks ago. Yes, I reported Marcie to state officials and followed up on several occasions to keep them informed.
“They will be picking her up tomorrow morning. The officials are my friends, Bella, and they believe what I’ve told them. They believe me because what I’ve told them is true…they even did background checks on her former life before us, on her sinister parents.”
“My God, Willard! She’s our daughter.”
“Bella, do you not believe the words I’m telling you? Marcie is evil! I’ve tried to save her! Can’t you see that? She is telling you unsavory lies, working against us. She cannot stay any longer in this house. I truly can say, I’ve done all I can do… She now belongs to the state.
“I know this is difficult for you, but you have not seen Marcie as I’ve seen her. You have been wheelchair-bound, unable to lend your maternal counsel to her. You must know I would not lie to you about this. You know how I’ve loved you over the years…that has not changed. I still love you and long for the day you’re out of that wheelchair. Marcie is a victim of her previous parents, a ‘bad seed’, and I’ve come to know she cannot be here any longer. She is trying to hurt us, Bella. PLEASE! Understand that.”
Tears rushed down Bella’s face, and she could see the tears on Willard’s face as well.
With some effort, she reached a hand upward to her husband. Willard caressed the hand, kissed it, held it against his cheek for some seconds, and smiled gently down at his wife.
“Now, you must go to bed and get your rest…”
Bella tried to speak, to give one last attempt at saving Marcie, but she knew, now, without any doubt, that Willard had spoken the truth to her. Her voice rendered incapable of speech by the tears, she sighed deeply, slowly shook her head as Willard wheeled his distraught wife to the bedroom.
Willard pulled the bed cover up to her chin, and, as he took a sleep capsule from a pill bottle on the bedside table, he spoke gently and with love.
“Take the pill, dear Bella. You need aid to get you to sleep and away from the thoughts. Take also my love and know that, tomorrow begins the first day of the rest of our lives. All our days will be happy and good after this darkness leaves us.”
Bella took the sleeping pill, wiped her eyes with a soft tissue and allowed Willard a kiss goodnight.
When three state officials arrived the next morning, no one answered their front door ring.
Concerned because the dire circumstance of their visit, they jimmied the door and entered.
An odd odor greeted them, along with splattered blood on the tiled floors and walls of the master bedroom.
A portion of the big king-sized bed was covered with the blood of Bella, half-covered on the bed, her face oddly peaceful as though still sleeping.
Stretched across Bella’s lower body was Willard, his own blood oozing out of the multiple stab wounds to his now mutilated pajama top.
The officials searched the other rooms of the house but could not find Marcie.
“Oh, my God!” cried the lone lady in the group. “It must be obvious that Marcie murdered her adoptive parents. We need to alert the Sheriff’s office and the State Police.”
Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – June 7, 2017
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