This is a free thought writing prompt that I wrote about a year ago. I don’t know what prompted me or what I was reading at the time to think of such a story of revenge, but I liked it. So I kept it. With a few edits, I present to you my untitled vignette of loss and revenge.
The Big Combo trailer image
When I was thirteen years old, I witnessed my first murder.
Susy had been eighteen and gorgeous. Or at least that’s what I thought of my older sister. Blonde, clear blue eyes, flawless skin that would only break out in pimples during her time of the month and curves that made her boyfriend Scott smile like an idiot.
Despite being pretty and well-liked, Susy was nice. To everyone. Including the weird smelly kid down the block, to my Mom’s bastard of a boyfriend and to the three legged cat that camped out on under our front porch with a predilection to scratch and spit.
Most importantly she was nice to me.
I don’t have any illusions about what a little shit I had been at thirteen; angry most of the time, obnoxiously sarcastic all of the time and a thief some of the time, I was not a poster child for all that was good and sweet in adolescents. In fact, I had been threatened with boot camp, Catholic school and juvie enough times that a normal kid would’ve known to quit while she was ahead.
I wasn’t a normal kid. Neither was my situation.
But, if I knew then what I knew now…well, I would’ve changed. I wouldn’t have pushed buttons, wouldn’t have pushed people away and definitely wouldn’t have opened the door to the man who killed my only ally.
In hindsight, through therapy mostly, I realized that the weeks leading up to Susy’s murder she had become withdrawn. She was constantly sick and moody, the nice Susy, the cheerleader and valedictorian had been replaced by crazy Susy. The Susy that cried herself to sleep at night, who weeped while brushing my hair and would suddenly become quiet when I entered a room.
To say that Susy was my sister would be to cheapen our relationship. Yes, she was my biological half-sister; the product of my father’s first marriage. Our Dad had died when I was three and my mother, our father’s second wife, had taken in Susy and for the first few years had raised us like the normal kids we should’ve been.
It was only when I was nine did shit hit the fan.
Susy was like my mother. She took me to school, helped with my homework, wiped away my tears, fought for me and fed me. She was the only person in the world I didn’t want to disappoint.
She was the only person who loved me.
I let her down when I opened that door.
Jerry Thomas Willis was six foot three, blonde and dark eyed. He was two hundred and eighty pounds of muscle and had an attitude that was fueled by booze and vitriol. He loved two things, Jim Beam and my mother Janet Berk. The two J.B’s in his life, he would joke as he smacked my mother’s ass.
Janet hadn’t always been Jerry’s whore. No, she had been a paralegal who had graduated near the top of her class and held two degrees. When my Dad had been alive she had affectionate, if slightly distracted. With her long black hair and grey eyes, my mother had captivated my father with a look. Or at least that’s how she told it. I think it might have been the fact she was pregnant with me.
As Jerry’s girlfriend, Janet went from an intelligent and beautiful woman to a weak willed shell.
The smacks on the ass had turned into smacks across the face which then migrated to beatings.
They evolved into a familial thing.
I was twelve when Jerry broke my arm.
He gave me a few more bruises and scrapes before my mother finally kicked him out and taught both Susy and I about gun safety.
You can never forget the smell of gun powder and freedom.
Susy had always remained unscathed. Scott, though only five nine, had squared off with Jerry a few times and Jerry, though a drunk, was not stupid enough to go after Susy.
Except for that Friday night in October.
Jerry, stumbling drunk and pissed off beyond measure had come to our back door. Janet had been at an AA meeting, Susy was babysitting and Scott was at school.
Pissed that I needed a babysitter, pissed that I was stuck in a backward town in a decrepit ranch house with only one tv and no cable, pissed that I was thirteen and alive; I opened the back door and in came Jerry.
For years I beat myself up over that; He hadn’t needed to even knock on the door, I just let him in. It took many years of therapy to realize that no, I hadn’t let him in, he had pushed me aside so hard that I had bounced off of the wall and onto my face. I still had the bump in my nose to prove its brokenness.
Whatever happened after that will always remain a blur. I remember hearing shouting and a loud crash. Then the sound of flesh against bone and a thud, and then the screaming. That sound still wakes me up at night. It’s the sound of pure terror.
To this day, I can’t tell if it was her or me that was making such an awful sound.
There had been pleading and begging and shouts for me to run, to get away.
I remember that the song playing on the radio was “Tainted Love”.
My memories play like a dream when I think about how the order of events happened. The radio blaring, the sound of the radiator kicking in and Susy crying and pleading that he leave her baby alone.
My thirteen year old self thought she had meant me.
I just know that before the absolute quiet hit, I had reached into the freezer where my mother kept my Dad’s .38 special.
If I think about it, I must have slipped the safety, stood behind him and pulled the trigger but if you put the same gun to my head, I wouldn’t be able to swear to that. All I know is that the screaming had stopped and the radiator stopped kicking and I had squeezed the trigger, the recoil knocking me backwards, smacking my head against a protruding brick from the fireplace we hadn’t used in five years.
Darkness, sweet blissful darkness came after that.
When I came to in a hospital, a smiling nurse at my side and a sobbing Scott on the other side, I pretended to be asleep. Something about the tension in the room made me wary about waking too soon. It was only when I heard the third voice near the foot of my bed, Detective George Marster from the Greene Sheriff’s department, that my sister, my beloved sweet sister who I had called a bitch when she hadn’t changed the radio, was dead.
I was also told that Jerry Thomas Willis had survived the gunshot wound to his chest.
It was days later, when I was being settled into Scott’s well used Chevy that he told me that Susy had been pregnant. They had planned on getting married and taking me with them to Boston. He loved me like a little sister, he had said with his voice tripping on unshed sobs, and he was still moving to Boston and I was more than welcome to come with him.
Susy would’ve been proud of me, he had said as tears finally fell from his eyes. He had aged at least ten years in the past few days and I knew that I didn’t look like a young kid anymore.
My Mom didn’t fight me when I packed up my stuff.
Scott’s the only family I have and we’re both still haunted. We rattle around the house and make all of the appropriate noises that living people do. Every once in awhile we even have fun.
But then one or both of us gets quiet.
I’m not sure what he’s thinking but I know what is bouncing through my head. I know what I can never tell him.
I know where Jerry Thomas Willis is. I know his schedule, his patterns, his disgusting habits and the fact that I have to close this particular end.
Not have to. Need to. Taking a life for a life, that’s the only thing that will satisfy this living breathing blackness that has taken residence in my chest.
I need to do it for both of us.
Which leads me to now.
I am 30 years-old and I will perpetrate my first murder.