by Julia Madeleine
In the bathroom mirror, Clive smoothed crimson lipstick over his mouth, and drew on his eyebrows with a brown pencil shaved down to a nub. Next, he stroked blue shadow over his lids and then expertly glued on false lashes. When he was satisfied with his makeup, he got dressed. Time to go to work. But first, he had a surprise for his wife.
“What’s this?” Becky tilted her head and squinted at the fold of paper Clive set on the coffee table beside her beer bottle.
“Remember how happy we were on our honeymoon?” Clive said.
“You got tickets to Mexico?”
“I know we’ve had a lot of stress lately and I—”
“The date on this is for next Monday.” She frowned
“It was a last minute deal, so I thought—”
“What? You thought what, Clive?” A vertical line sliced between her eyebrows as she struggled to a sitting position.
Without a word, she rose to her feet. Through the tight fabric of her cotton pants, he watched the indents in her lumpy behind as she moved past him. His gaze followed her into the kitchen, and he trailed after her like a puppy.
“Look, I can’t talk to you with that stupid makeup on. Honestly, Clive, you really need to get a new hobby,” she said and released a beer burp that was more of a bark. From the refrigerator she retrieved another bottle and twisted off the top, taking a long swallow.
Clive looked at the floor and said, “It’s not a hobby.”
“You should have asked me how I felt. What the hell makes you think I want to go back to Mexico? Why are you such an idiot, Clive? Huh?”
He sighed and looked at her, wanting to hold her, to tell her that he loved her and he just wanted them to be happy. “You’re right, I should have thought of that.”
Clive turned away. There were so many feelings trapped inside of him. Sometimes it felt like he was fading away, as if his physical presence would diminish into nothingness and he’d vanish from the world if he didn’t hang on to something.
“I’ve got to go to work,” he said.
“Work? You call that work?” She laughed. “Please, it’s a hobby. And it’s embarrassing. So stupid, you behaving this way.”
Out on the street a car door slammed. He peered through the window and spied a familiar figure climbing out of the pick-up truck in front of their house.
“What’s he doing here?”
There was a pause as she swallowed from her bottle, and then said, “There’s something I need to tell you.”
Sweat broke out in his palms as he watched Becky’s ex-husband walk up their driveway. Clive opened the door and stepped outside.
Don sneered and said, “Well, get a load of you, fat boy. Why you remind me of John Wayne Gacy in that get up. Every little kids nightmare you are.”
“Don, I need to ask you not to call the house any more,” Clive said, hearing his own words shrivel inside his throat. “You have to stop fighting with Becky all the time.”
“Hey, if I wanna talk to Becky I will.” He pointed a finger in Clive’s face.
“Look, I don’t want any trouble with you Don, I just want to ask you—”
“You’re not going to tell me what to do, buddy.” He cocked his head to one side, folded his skinny arms and looked Clive up and down with disgust on his face. “Just look at you man. You’re pathetic, you’re a fucking joke.”
Drawing back his lips to reveal a mouthful of crooked teeth, Don made a hacking sound in his throat. He spit on the driveway inches away from Clive’s feet.
“I have a birthday party to do.” Clive chuckled, looking down at the gob on the ground, trying to make light of it.
“I don’t give a fuck about your stupid party and I don’t give a fuck that you don’t like me talking to Becky. Understand?”
He stabbed a finger hard into Clive’s chest. It reminded Clive of all the bullies who’d ever stood before him with the same mocking tone and expression, making him feel like a low-life, as insignificant and revolting as the gob at his feet.
Don brushed past him and rammed a shoulder into Clive’s as he headed up to the front door. Clive hesitated in the driveway, watching him walked into his house like he owned it. That’s when the shovel sitting innocently next to the garage door, like a silent conspirator waiting to be called into action, spoke to him. In the pure silence from the depths of his being it called out, cutting through him.
“Kill the bastard!”
Clive felt something powerful launch within him—the alchemy of his spirit unfolding though layers of darkness. His heart went cold.
Clive picked up the shovel and stepped into the house.
The sound of the metal striking skull was completely drowned out by Becky’s scream. And then another whack, another thump on the floor, heads like a dropped bowling balls.
He went to the party after, where he laughed, joked and performed one of his best shows ever. At home that evening, Clive hauled out the bodies and put them in Don’s pick-up. He drove it out to a dirt road that lead to the railway, and parked it on the tracks. He jogged home again, feeling the blood pulse through his veins as if a monster had taken over his body. By the time he got home, he had made himself a list of names. A list going as far back as kindergarten. People he owed a date with his shovel.
Clive smiled at himself in the mirror, the makeup now smeared and partially worn off his face, giving him a strange and sinister appearance. It was in that moment that he knew he’d crossed over into crazy town. But at least Becky would be proud. He’d found himself a new hobby.
BIO: Julia Madeleine is a thriller writer and tattoo artist living in the Toronto area. Her latest new novel, The Truth About Scarlet Rose, is scheduled for release December 2011. For updates visit: www.juliamadeleine.com