By Jim Martin.
Dinner was just finishing up when the doorbell rang. Angela had been making preparations for this meal all week, and it was finally happening. Outside the door stood her one-time lover, Darryl. They had been together for just a little more than a year, but the relationship had been a rocky one. The relationship had been defined quite nicely by the way the two of them had first met.
They were at a house party, nearly 300 people showing up at what should have been a birthday party for a kid that Darryl knew from school. Angela had come with a friend of hers who was meeting her boyfriend. The party was the sort of wild nightmare that most parents fear; there were holes in walls, underaged kids drinking and using drugs, and people having sex in any room with a door on it. Darryl had entered the bathroom to piss only to find Angela half-asleep in the bathtub. A few choice words later, and the two were naked. A pathetic few moments later, and the two were clothed again. In that little exchange, Little Elle was conceived. When Angela found out, she had to ask around to find out the name of the man who had fathered her child.
To his credit, Darryl tried his hardest to do right by her. The two started dating, and he did his best to try to help her with the pregnancy. When he turned 18, he dropped out of school and got a job on the same construction site his father worked at so he could move out and live with Angela. Naturally, things didn’t work out. Darryl liked to drink, and often came home drunk and angry. No matter how hard he tried, he just seemed incapable of staying sober, and eventually Angela knew that she had to break it off.
That was all over now. Angela finally had a firm plan in place, a plan that started with this dinner. She had baked lasagna and toasted up some garlic bread, set the table with the good dishes her mother had bought her, and lit a candle. Sitting on the table was a cold beer, something she knew he would appreciate and that would set the mood for the evening.
Darryl entered holding flowers for her. He seemed legitimate in his desire to make things better. They exchanged some small talk, then sat down to dinner. The baby was upstairs asleep, and the quiet of the house added just the right sizzle to the mood.
Throughout dinner, the two talked. Angela wanted Darryl to know how much she loved him and missed him. Darryl wanted to tell Angela about how he was ready to go to counseling, how he really wanted to be a part of the baby’s life, and how he really wanted to be with Angela. Angela giggled and blushed.
The conversation became flirtatious.
She told him to go upstairs and get ready. She told him she wanted to be close to him. She told him she wanted him. He rose with a wicked grin and moved towards the stairway, one of those cheap staircases with white painted metal railings. When he was a few steps up, she pulled out the gun and put two bullets in his back. The first was the calculated strike, the second an almost accidental reaction to the surprise she felt at the incredible noise the first had made. She dropped the gun, stunned.
When the police arrived, the house was a mess. They found the woman who had called the police sitting in obvious shock on the carpet near the phone. There was a child upstairs howling that she didn’t seem to hear. The dinner was spilt on the floor, there were signs of a struggle, and there was the body on the stairs. Angela told them how she had tried to patch things up with him for the sake of the child. He had come over for dinner. They were just talking, sort of feeling out the waters, and then all of the sudden he started talking like they were back together again. She told him that she couldn’t do it any more, that they didn’t work. He became angry. He had been drinking. He started yelling. He hit her. He threw the tray of food on the ground and started screaming at her. He told her he was going to go take what was his, and he started walking up the stairs calling her daughter. The next thing she knew, he was dead, and she just broke down. She didn’t even remember calling the police.
Two years later, Angela got to leave the mental hospital and return home. Society understood things. She had been the victim. She had acted terribly, but in that awful sort of way that we all know lies inside of us all. She was a mother protecting her young. She was punished, but she learned her lesson, and her doctors were saying she had made some impressive steps in their care. She wasn’t a danger to anyone else. She was cured.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jim Martin is a writer, computer nerd, 3:AM Magazine Editor, and the frontman for punk band Johnny Incognito. He lives in Calgary with his wife and kids.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Saturday, August 10th, 2002.