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Admin Note: This story carries a disclaimer for domestic violence, a serious issue that many women and also men face. Enzo Stephens has given us a powerful and graphically intense look at the mindset of someone who commits such an act.
By Enzo Stephens
Benny slapped the microwave door shut with a bang after extracting a plastic rectangle of tasteless fettuccine produced by some gigantic food conglomerate using a cheesy, Italian-sounding name. Too bad they didn’t save the cheese for the fettuccine.
Benny was pissed. It was a bitch of a day. Benny spent the entire day knocking out light assemblies on the line, despite equipment failures that threatened to ruin each and every assembly before Benny pushed it on down to the next station.
He made quota, barely, and with an hour of unpaid overtime. But all that goodness was not the coup-de-grace, no, not in the least.
The grand finale, the piece-de-resistance to the cluster of the day, was that just as Benny snagged his timecard to get himself out of that place, he was told in no uncertain terms that every assembly he knocked out was built with the wrong housings!
Quota screwed, and as such, Benny’s pay for the day took a major hit.
A blown tire and a corroded muffler-hanger was the icing on the cake, so by the time Benny rolled in the door, it was well after eight, he was tired and hungry as a bear.
So where the hell was Jill?
He didn’t bother plating the mess of waxy pasta and watery sauce; he just took a spoon to the slop and shoveled it home, halting long enough to snap a can of Iron City open.
Married two years, the woman worked crap job after crap job, usually waitressing in coffee shops and diners; the jobs typically lasting several weeks, followed by several more weeks of bitching about it, followed with more bitching about not having enough money.
Benny begged her to take up night school. Jill refused. She wouldn’t be able to attend her bowling league, or get her nails done, or do her weekly Girls-Night-Out, or any of the other myriad bullshit excuses the woman came up with. And when she ran out of excuses, she blamed Benny for settling on menial labor. Benny growled to himself.
But tonight’s frozen bullshit excuse for dinner was… The. Last. Straw. Benny pounded the Iron, surprised that it was suddenly empty, then ripped the fridge open for another. A quick count showed at least a dozen more, so at least there was that in which to be thankful.
Not for the first time, Benny wondered if this marriage had been a mistake, and then he chastised himself for thinking such seditious thoughts.
Appetite suddenly vanished, Benny chucked the plastic container of slop into the trash (which he knew he’d have to take out!), snagged another Iron and wandered into the TV room to pass the time until sleep took him…
And to stop thinking.
But he couldn’t stop thinking; his thoughts were a runaway train, and the faster the train went, the angrier and angrier Benny grew.
And still no Jill.
They lived in a double-wide. No kids and no pets. At least they owned it, leasing the land the can rested on. But with utilities and keeping two vehicles on the road and the two of them in groceries, money was tight.
Benny couldn’t remember the last time he took a vacation. In fact…
Benny couldn’t remember the last time he was happy.
Well, that kind of thinking wasn’t helping the ole disposition!
Fuck it. He sprang from his worn recliner to grab another Iron, plopping right back into it and sloshing just a bit of the precious liquid on his shirt. Fuck that too.
The sun was down and it was dark in the Benny house. The Benny-hana, as he and Jill used to call it with a joint chuckle.
Those were the days. Back when he and Jill could score a bag of weed and have some happy times together. That’s the last time that frozen fettuccine shit actually tasted good. But then, Captain Crunch is delicious when the munchies are on.
He smiled grimly in the dark; Benny remembered the last time he was happy! The smile vanished and he violently hurled his half-consumed beer across the room where it slammed wetly into the dark paneled wall.
And instantly regretted wasting the beer. “I ain’t cleaning that shit up, neither. Bitch sits around the house all day doing who-the-hell knows what; let her clean it up!” And with that proclamation, Benny retrieved himself another Iron.
None of that Iron City Light crap neither. Wussy-beer. Beer for little pansy-asses that go to fru-fru bars and like to impress all the pretty office girls with their shadow-beards and tight pants and weeny beer.
That’s probably where Jill was now. Some little fruity bar. Maybe she’s hanging her mini-skirted ass over a pool table, acting like she knows how to play pool to score free drinks; giving the little fairy boys a show for a drink.
Benny snapped open another can and settled into his chair and seethed, his thoughts spiraling.
Sudden light splashed across the wall of the TV room in the Benny-hana. She was home.
Benny chugged the rest of his beer, ripped off a massive, window-shaking belch, then didn’t move a muscle; his mood and his thoughts blacker than the black in that room, which seemed to coalesce and pulse with sullen, suppressed rage.
The front door swung open with a bang and Jill breezed into the tiny foyer; plastic bags crinkling, keys jingling, bangles on her wrists rattling. She whistled the door shut with a clunk and thumbed the overhead light on. “Why’s it so dark in here? You home?”
“Oh well. I thought I saw your car, but I guess you’re in bed.” She blew into the kitchen with her haul, still chattering. Light in the kitchen shuddered into place as she dropped the bags on the small, round table.
“Did you eat something?” She began pulling things from the bags.
Jill glanced around for a moment, questioning the quiet of the house. “Hm. That’s odd. Dude must really be out of it.”
Benny leaned against the doorjamb at the entrance to the kitchen, saying nothing, arms folded over his barrel chest while she continued unloading her retail bounty, still blissfully unaware of him.
He cleared his throat and she jumped, turning. And, “Oh. Well, hey there you.”
The hamster-wheel of rage was spinning wildly in his head churning out most unpleasant thoughts. “You should see the stuff I got at Marshall’s!”
Benny grunted, unmoving.
She wobbled for a second — a dead giveaway that she’d had a few drinks somewhere. “Oopsy! Little bit of a wobble there. I always have trouble with these heels.”
Benny decided that he wanted a beer. He popped the fridge and snared… the last one. He thumped the door shut and turned to Jill. “Did you get more beer?”
“Nope! I told you, you drink too much of that crap. It’s giving you a blubbery belly!” Pure venom surged in his belly and he battled to quell it, turning away from her without comment. Then,
“Oh hey! Look!” Benny turned to look at her through slitted eyes. She dangled her hand before his face, fingers pointing down. The nails were spotlessly manicured with a gleaming turquoise finish, and Benny rocketed a vicious backhand into her cheek.
The rage was on him now; he whipped the half-consumed can of Iron at her as she flew backward and slammed into the cabinet, then tumbled to the floor, and Benny was across the room in a heartbeat, tossing the kitchen table aside where it crunched into the wall, and he was on her before the wreckage of the table settled to the floor.
Blind fury consumed him as he swung his heavy fists, each thudding into her unmoving flesh and time slowed to a crawl as the damage to her face increased exponentially until it more resembled a pulpy, red, wet oval with a splay of darkened, blond hair.
Benny stood up slowly, suddenly exhausted and in absolute physical pain, as if he’d just spent the last several minutes beating himself to death.
He went to the sink and filled a mug with water, then placed it in the microwave, setting it for two minutes. Benny hummed while waiting for the operation to complete, and when the little over-the-top oven sounded its merry note, Benny opened the door and removed the steaming mug of water. The door remained open.
Benny stirred aromatic crystals into the bubbling water and it frothed immediately, the strong aroma of coffee mingling with the coppery tang of blood.
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