“What the fuck you doin’?”
Diane Gaye’s hands stopped in mid-reach, just inches from the second diploma that was mounted on the wall. Joseph kicked the door closed behind him and reached back to lock both door locks. He never took his eyes off his wife’s back, and she never moved as he slowly positioned himself between the front door and her. He stopped just to the opposite side of the black wrought iron coffee table that spread from one end of their black leather sofa to the other.
“I asked you a question, bitch. Where…”
The speed of her pivot and the force of her answer surprised them both.
“I AIN’T YOUR BITCH!”
Diane, trembling, held one of Laura’s diplomas in her right hand and her purse in the crook of the same arm. Turning back to the wall, she plucked the other certificate from its hook. She turned back to her husband and spoke with a calmness that masked the wave of fear threatening to drown her.
“I’m leaving you…have a…life.”
Both stared at the other for a moment before Diane took a step forward. Joseph, standing less than ten feet in front of her, watched Diane take her second step. He moved to stay in front of her. She stopped. They were only a double arm’s length apart.
“Who you yellin’ at, woman? You lost your mind? I called the bank—I know what you did…”
No, she thought, how did he find out?
Joseph broke the stalemate this time and reached her with two quick steps. He grabbed her left arm and gave her a hard backward shove toward the wall she’d just left. She stumbled and dropped one of the diplomas as she fought for her balance. The glass shattered when the frame hit the hardwood floor. As she leaned against the wall, Joseph walked closer.
“I don’t have time for this, fool. What did you do with my money?”
Looking up at the scowl etched on his face, Diane saw, really saw, the face of her life staring down on her. The hungry look as his eyes burned into her, through her. To this monster, she was nothing more than an object, a piece of shit to be thrown away after he got what he wanted. And picked up again only when he wanted more. She was truly surprised when at that moment, and for that moment, all fear of this man left her. She decided, right then and there, that the only way he was gonna get this money—her money—was to take it—and the ass whoppin’ that came with it. She took a short step away from the wall.
“Okay…I have it. I have checks…” With her left hand, she reached for the black purse in the crook of her right arm. Slowly, she extended the arm halfway in front of her while tightening her grip on the picture frame in her right hand.
“Here, take it…”
Reaching down toward her, Joseph bent closer to grab the purse from her hand. As soon as their hands touched, Diane’s right hand swung the thin picture frame like a knife, cutting the space in front of her. One of the sharp points connected with the top ridge of Joseph’s nose, and he howled in pain as the narrow edge sliced through the fragile bone and flesh, blinding him in tears and sprayed blood. Dropping to her knees, Diane crawled away from her groping and screaming husband, picking up her dropped purse on the way. She scampered across the polished hardwood floor and cut one finger to the bone as she grabbed Laura’s second diploma from the pile of broken glass it laid under. Diane shoved both documents under one arm, then altered between running and sliding to the front door. Unable to stop herself on the slick floor, she ran face first into the door. Knocked backwards, Diane leaped at the door and attacked the locks with blood slick hands. She freed one lock and was working on the bottom deadbolt when she was literally jerked off her feet and throw back into the living room. She felt a moment of weightlessness before her heels hit the floor with enough force to break off the low pump on her left shoe. The rest of her body collapsed in a heap as it came back to earth after being heaved almost twelve feet by her husband. The last sound she heard was the thunder-like crack of bone—the bones of her upper vertebrate shredding as they tore her spine in two where the back of her neck had connected with the unmoving and unforgiving mahogany coffee table.
She was dead before her body stopped its slide. Joseph was still wiping the tears and blood from his eyes when he heard her hit the table.
He squinted his still watering eyes and gingerly rubbed both as he listened for any movement.
“Diane! Diane! Answer me…”
Silence. In the distance he heard the faint echo of a police siren.
“Diane, dammit! Answer me!”
Holding an eye open with the fingers on one hand, Joseph saw the blurry form of his wife lying against one leg of the coffee table. He moved toward her and noticed that the sirens were getting louder. And closer. Bending to one knee, he shook her. Diane’s lifeless flopping made him stand up quickly, dropping her back to the floor. Joseph backed away from her body in short, jerking steps.
“Holy shit…oh fuck…”
The shrieking of tires in his front yard made him turn to the locked front door. That’s when he saw the bloody fingerprints and telltale hand marks that covered the back of the door and the frame. He heard something…someone was in his front yard.
Jerking his head back to look at his wife brought fresh tears (and pain) to his eyes. Joseph took a step away from the body.
“Halt! Put your hands up!”
Joseph jerked and almost slipped on the loose glass on the floor when he heard the command.
The cops are here, he thought, someone called them already?
He slipped the gun out of the waistband of his jeans.
Looking at the door, then at the body on the floor again.
That motherfucker called them. Bennigan called them…he said he wasn’t goin’ alone…he called ‘em…
Joseph fumbled with the gun, pointed it at the door, and then dropped it to his side. He quickly brought it up to his temple and pressed it hard against the sweat-slick flesh. He jerked once when he heard someone yell outside. The quick pull caused the pistol to discharge just under his jawbone, effectively ripping his throat away. He barely heard the front door cave in as he bled to death on his living room floor…