Gus loved Rita with all his heart - until they were married for a while. He realized with much sorrow that she was really an abusive, short-tempered, paranoid control freak. How did he miss the signs? Maybe he just ignored them while blinded with love. He lay in bed, on the cusp of dozing off to sleep, and tried to recall how they reached this point.
Gus raised the remote of his new BMW and mashed a button. Two quick beeps followed and he walked away knowing his baby would be protected for the day. The cold winter air filled his lungs as he raised the Starbucks cup to his cold, chapped lips and sipped his morning elixir. The warmth from within made the walk tolerable. A Wall Street Journal was tucked snuggly under the same arm he used to carry his briefcase. He strolled down the sidewalk, happy and confident, on his way to the firm, Tuttle and sons, where he worked as a top investment banker. The company was doing quite well and he and his team were an integral part of their success, which explained why he took such pride in strolling past the construction site of the new company high rise so much. Maybe it wasn’t just pride. There was a woman construction worker at the site that he flirted with occasionally as he walked past. She made worn jeans, sleeveless shirts and work boots look like the next fashion trend. Just shy of six feet, she was well proportioned both top and bottom. Her curly red locks, pulled back in a pony tail, peaked out from under the yellow hard hat like a shy child. Working with uppity rich people all day, he was used to seeing the best bodies money could buy, but he seldom saw a woman that possessed such natural beauty. There was something about her, an inner fire and sparkling green eyes that attracted him to her instantly. She spoke with a slight southern drawl and her soothing tone lured him in almost hypnotically. Once he left the scene it was a different story. She reverted back to her construction worker ways and it was back to cuttin’ up with the guys and gals on the job.
One day he struck up the nerve to ask her out on a date and from there it was all warp speed ahead. She was very aggressive and sexual. They slept together on the first date, always a bad sign, but he enjoyed losing his virginity to a wild woman. She rocked his world and he instantly fell headlong in love with her. He proposed marriage to her after only two weeks of dating and she happily accepted. They spent their honeymoon indoors for two weeks. He suffered from the classic disorder that afflicted many men throughout time – being unconditionally loyal to the woman who took his virginity – and she knew it. He thought she was the best thing since sliced bread. His eyes twinkled and he often sat and stared at her with puppy dog loyalty gleaming in his eyes. She craved sex and control, and got plenty of both from her loyal follower and hubby.
Gus was old fashioned and pleaded with her to stay home and be a housewife, like his mother. She resisted at first but Gus was persuasive and made an appealing case. She reluctantly agreed and made what Gus remembered as the only compromise during their marriage. Rita quit her construction job, and extracurricular activities that went with it, to become a housewife.
Gus was about 5’8” and of slight build. Unfortunately for him, he was not the physical type. Instead, he was sensitive and caring, which attracted Rita to him in the first place.
Things were fine for a year or so until Rita became frustrated with the monotony of being a house wife, something she wasn’t terribly good at it. She missed having sex daily with a different guy on the construction site and she took it out on Gus when he came home from work each day. He endured months of verbal and sometimes physical and sexual abuse before suggesting they try to have a child, a notion that Rita surprisingly embraced. He thought maybe a child would be a positive distraction and he was correct. Times improved during Rita’s pregnancy and subsequent child birth as the couple’s focus was on a common goal – bringing their first beloved child into the world.
Shortly after the birth of little Lisa, Rita suffered from post partum depression and the abuse started again, this time much more severe than before and more physical than verbal. He couldn’t take it anymore and divorced her. After their divorce, Gus won the custody battle for little Lisa, their 4 year old daughter. She was the love of his life and he would do anything to protect her. Rita did not deal well with being divorced and alone, separated from her child and husband with no one to rule and control, so she began to stalk them. The restraining order that Gus obtained did nothing to keep her away and the stalking continued, regardless of his calls to police. One afternoon, Rita followed Gus and little Lisa to the park and as she approached the picnic blanket, Gus stood between Rita and Lisa, protecting his daughter from her crazy mother. A heated argument ensued that culminated in Rita beating Gus bloody until the police arrived and physically restrained her. She was taken away screaming, pumping her bloodied fists in the air in defiance until the police finally cuffed her. She was thrown forcefully into the back seat of the police car, occasionally taking a retaliatory night stick to the ribs. Shortly after Rita’s incarceration, it was determined that she was mentally unstable and the court sentenced her to a state mental institution in the next town over. Gus felt great relief and relished the thought of Rita being gone permanently. He moved away with little Lisa to a town further upstate. Hired as an investment banker by a large firm, the best perk of the job was a large and lovely rent-free home in the suburbs of the city.
Gus awoke the next day feeling better after going over his Rita history and getting it out of his system. Nearly a year since she was committed, he hadn’t thought much about her lately but as their anniversary came and went, the memories flooded in once again. He subscribed to the theory that maybe if he played things out enough times in his head, thoughts and memories would leave and never return.
A beautiful day had Gus’s spirits high and he found himself driving to pick up his daughter from the daycare, tapping his thumbs on the steering wheel and singing to the beat of a good tune on the radio. He greeted his little girl with a long hug and she planted a loving, wet kiss on his cheek, giggling all the while. Gus dropped her off at a friend’s house for a slumber party so he had the house all to himself until the next morning. He bustled about the house, settling in from the day at work and something nagged at him, causing him to feel uneasy. He looked so forward to a relaxing dip in the hot tub, but he wanted to have some tea while doing so. He put a teapot of water to boiling on the stove. As he worked in the kitchen, preparing a snack to go with his tea, a news flash came on the TV, “BREAKING NEWS!!” the news anchor said briskly, “Three women have broken out of the state mental institution and are at large. Law officials advise they are armed and dangerous. If you see them, don’t try to apprehend them. Call the authorities!” Gus slowly turned around to watch the rest of the news bulletin which was drowned out by his suddenly pounding heart. Somehow he knew deep down that Rita was one of those women. She was coming for him and his body ached with fear. He collapsed in the middle of the kitchen and began to sob. What did he do to deserve so much anguish from the only woman he ever truly loved?
He caught a quick whiff of Aqua-Net, and it struck terror into his heart. Oddly, the only thing Gus could focus on was how she acquired hairspray in a mental institution. How did she know where he was? What could she possibly gain from this? Loud crackling, like that of a police radio, startled Gus. A rough female voice spat, “Rita! Hey girl, ya there? Come back, ya there?” Gus’s spine tingled as he heard Rita shoot back, “Later bitch! I’m busy! I’ll call ya when it’s done.”
When what was done, Gus wondered fearfully? Deafening silence followed. The sound of a creaking door irritated Gus like fingernails on a chalkboard. He tried to compose himself and wiped the tears from his eyes, asking timidly, “Who’s there?” He knew who it was and immediately felt stupid for asking. “Baby, you know who’s here. I’m always here for you.”
Rita’s voice floated toward him like an inevitable fate. It sounded different, not in tone but there seemed to be an eery calm that masked terrible malice. He jumped to his feet and shuffled backwards across the kitchen out of fear, finally coming to rest against the counter. He used both hands to brace himself as he stopped and brushed up against silverware lying near the edge which fell, startling him with a loud clatter. “You sure are a noisy bastard these days aren’t you, GUS?” and she emphasized his name in such a way that his skin crawled. He could feel the malevolence emanating from the words and it scared him. Why was he so fearful of her? Maybe it was because she beat him like a red-headed stepchild in front of his daughter and a park full of people. He needed to be a man for once in his life. It was going to be a life and death battle, he realized. Once he thought of it in those terms, his self-preservation instincts kicked in and he began to think – KNIFE. He went quietly toward the drawer that normally housed knives and opened it. “Looking for this?” she asked, grinning widely as she emerged from the shadows of the hallway. She looked creepy. A little heavier than he remembered and her hair slicked back in an unkempt ponytail, she looked almost masculine. Her face wore a permanent scowl and she had dark bags under her eyes which detracted greatly from the natural beauty that always wowed him.
She held up a cleaver and he felt a sickening thud in the pit of his stomach, which began to tie itself in knots. His mouth dropped open briefly, then shut in rebut. He jutted his chin out and stood up straight to gain composure. “Don’t bother lookin’ for a weapon honey, I took ‘em all out and hid ‘em. I may be dumber than you, but I knew you’d be lookin’ for somethin’. We both know I can beat your ass. The only way you could hope to win is with one of them knives. Since I don’t feel like bein’ stabbed today, I got ‘em.” And her grin narrowed to a sly smile. She started to chuckle and tightened her grip on the cleaver as she lowered it to her side, slowly inching toward him. “Ya gonna run, Gus? Gonna go cry to the police? You limpdick! I can’t believe I was stupid enough to marry your dumb ass. Restraining order? Please. That just pissed me off!” His resolve began to alternate with waves of terror as he looked down again and this time he noticed, she didn’t hide ALL the knives. She wore her construction tool belt and had knives instead of tools hanging from it. He looked back up and her smile reverted back to that sickening grin she wore earlier. “Are you worried yet, GUS? Like my knife collection, dickhead?” He ground his jaws together in defiance and he felt a higher power within him. How else could he explain the fact that he hadn’t fallen to the ground in a trembling heap with all that was happening? He thought a nervous breakdown was imminent but instead, a moment of clarity befell him. He knew he could use strategy and intelligence to win, something Rita sorely lacked.
He piped up, “What’s with the radio?”
“Thought you’d never ask! The house where the slumber party is, ya know, the one that my baby Lisa’s at? It’s rigged with a bomb. I know, I know. You think I’m some kinda sick bitch, huh? It’s just insurance, baby!”
Gus couldn’t believe the words coming out of her mouth. This was unthinkable even for her. How could she? “How could you, you bitch?!” he said through clenched teeth as he started toward her, body trembling. She held up a large knife, “Not so fast, asshole! The way I see it, if I can’t have her, no one can! Not even you! How will she turn out with a wimpy faggot like you for a father?” He felt the world come down on him and began to plead, “Please Rita, no, not my Lisa! Don’t kill our baby!” and his voice wavered from the unimaginable stress. “Don’t worry Gus. You can make this real simple. If my partner don’t hear from me in an hour, she’s gonna push that button. The plan is to kill you and clean out the bank accounts. I know Mr. Investment Banker has at least a hundred g’s or so in the bank, isn’t that about right? We’ll be across the border to Canada before anyone knows a thing! Just die like I expect you to and we’ll live happily ever after. No stupid man needed!” and before he could reply, she continued, “And don’t get no bright ideas about tryin’ to kill me or callin’ that house. My partner is sittin’ on a hill nearby and she can see it. If people start leavin’, she’ll mash that button, count on it! She is one crazy bitch and that’s why I had her do it. Couldn’t do it myself.”
He continued to plead in hopes of stopping her insane plan, but then realized that if she’d broken out of a mental institution and traveled a hundred or so miles to come after him, she wouldn’t go away empty handed. Oh yes, she would get satisfaction even if it meant blowing up their daughter and a house full of other innocent children, he knew that now. She briefly engaged in conversation but then realized what he was doing and started back with violent hostility, throwing a knife at the wall next to him and successfully scaring him. He was not to be denied, however, and continued to execute his makeshift plan. The water began to boil and the glass kettle wailed in alarm, startling Rita just long enough for Gus to get the jump. He lunged at the kettle and just as he reached its handle, she also lunged toward the stove. Her face contorted into a murderous snarl, she stabbed wildly at him, but before she could hit her mark, he removed the kettle and stepped out of the way. She landed breasts first on the red hot burner and let out a grisly yelp then jumped up in reaction and smacked her head on the cabinet above the stove, causing her to place her knifeless hand on the still red hot burner. She withdrew, dropping the knife as she clutched at her hand and breasts, quivering in shock. She looked at him with dumbfounded, pleading eyes as her anger was briefly subdued by the incredible pain. He smashed the kettle of boiling water over her head as a definitive answer, eliciting another scream and loud moaning as she fell to the floor hard, her face blistered and bloody from the boiling water and glass shards. He grabbed a knife from her belt and planted it firmly in her back, near her right shoulder blade, then ran for his life toward the lanai, leaving behind the sickening smell of burning flesh and clothes. He knew with the pent up anger and rage she harbored, her daze would only last a short time.
No sooner than he turned to run to the lanai, he felt a hand around his ankle and he tripped, landing hard on the tile floor in the living room. He got up quickly and kept running, although his knee was killing him. She was hot on his back, stumbling after him as she tried to remove the knife from her back with her left arm. She screamed and moaned in agony while blundering after him, running into and throwing things at him as she followed him toward the lanai. She beamed him in the head with a vase and he fell hard into and through the sliding glass door, shattering it. He picked himself up off the ground quickly as glass fell off of him and blood began to flow. They played a furious and potentially lethal game of cat and mouse that eventually led to the hot tub. He baited her to follow him, “Come on bitch!” She was taken aback for a moment, “Now you decide to grow some balls. Well I’m gonna cut ‘em off!” she screamed, maniacally, blood spraying from her mouth. She stood up and charged at him, a knife in each hand and sliced him across the chest and forehead when she closed in. He grabbed her by the hair and arm, using her momentum to launch her into the hot tub. She went under with a splash and hit the bottom head first with a thud. He darted around the hot tub, grabbed the large boom box plugged into the wall and tossed it into the water. He threw himself to the floor and covered his head, bracing for what was to follow. The noise was unreal; Rita’s voice a mix of gurgling, sickly shrieks and moans that sounded like they were coming from a machine rather than a person. The thrashing created by her electrocution periodically drenched him and he scrambled away in fear of being caught with a charged splash of water. He was leveling the sentence she deserved and ironically, Gus was serving as judge, jury and executioner, an empowering and incredibly fulfilling moment. He eyed the fuse box for the hot tub and had a thought. The fuse might blow before she died. He thought quickly and grabbed a wrench lying!
of the fuse box and wrapped his hand with a towel lying near the hot tub to shield it from the shock. He forcefully popped open the box and thrust the wrench in between the fuse and contacts. The resulting shock threw him to the ground where he watched as the towel, hanging from the wrench, caught fire amid the violent voltage pulsing beneath it. He lay on the ground, exhausted, and wept uncontrollably as sparks occasionally bounced off of his back. The power went out, the current draw of the electrified water finally tripping the main breaker. His body convulsed and emotions coursed through him as electricity did through Rita. He almost preferred Rita’s fate to the sorrow of losing the only woman he truly ever loved and the mother of his child. The violent end to their relationship only added to the grief he felt, exacerbating it to the point of unbearable heartbreak. Then his heart nearly stopped as he saw Rita’s radio lying on the floor among the shards of broken sliding door glass. The only thought that went through his frazzled mind was that he just killed his daughter. Tears welled up in his swollen eyes that caused his vision to blur significantly. There was no way out, that bitch inmate partner of Rita’s was sitting there, watching the house and waiting for the call. Did these fucking women go into the mental institution for terrorist training? Then a light came on in his head and he began to think. He could try imitating Rita’s voice! It was his only hope. He was so jittery he wasn’t sure he could keep his composure and thought that nervous breakdown really was coming this time.
He crawled painfully toward the radio, his body numb, the stress and fear so paralyzing that he could barely remain conscious. The radio felt like it weighed a ton as he picked up the bulky device. Examining it, he found the red talk button and rested his finger on it lightly, contemplating what he was going to say. He made several tries at imitating Rita out loud to himself before trying the real thing for fear of blowing his cover and setting off the bomb that would kill his daughter and destroy his life. His stomach finally caught up with him and emptied itself on the floor beside him. The smell caused continued retching until he was left dry heaving and gasping for air. As he lay on the floor, he looked at his watch. OH NO! He only had two minutes left to call! He sprung up from his horizontal position and grabbed the radio, mashed the shiny red button, and hoped for the best. “Hey girl.” He said in a sassy, high pitched voice with a slight southern drawl, like Rita’s. He winced and held his breath, waiting for a reply. None came. “Hey girl! You there? It’s done! He’s gone. I got the money. Where you at?” he said in that stupid voice again, trying his damnedest to imitate his dead wife. No sooner than he released the button did the loud static crackle and a deep male voice shot back, “Who the hell is this? What is your location?” He gasped, and dropped the radio. What had he done? Was he found out? He blacked out with visions of explosions and children’s body parts flying about.
When he came to, his face was resting in a pile of glass near his puke. The smell made his stomach heave again. He rolled over and noticed flashing lights outside. Footsteps crushed glass as they crept up behind him. Dread befell him again as he rolled over slowly. He looked up at a police office standing over him. “You all right son? Looks like quite a trauma you’ve been through here. Don’t move. An ambulance is on the way. Your daughter is safe. We caught the other women and they’re in custody now.”
“What about the...”
“Bomb? The bomb squad took care of it. It was a real amateur job. The house is clean and everybody is fine.” The officer reassured.
The relief he gained from knowing he and his daughter would be safe enveloped him like the warm embrace of a mother.
A rush of memories, both good and bad, went through his mind at a dizzying pace but left him in a state of clear-minded peace and serenity. Against all odds, he overcame his fears and got the best of Rita. Suddenly, his beloved Lisa burst through the front door and yelled, “Daddy! Daddy!” as she ran toward him. Gus burst into tears of joy at the sight of his beautiful little girl, alive and well. She bounded into his arms and he wrapped them around her eagerly, looking skyward in thanks. All in his world was right.
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of John Scott.
Published on e-Stories.org on 02/21/2009.