IF THY EYE OFFENDS THEE…
Dedicated to Tee Holloway
He’d warned her before.
Gregory was gone for long stretches of time, being a cross country hauler, so he wasn’t home as much as he liked, forcing him to trust his religiously devout wife in her duties, particularly the raising of their son and the maintaining of her mental health. Over the years, Shelly had broken the trust repeatedly, and he’d return home to find a battered or neglected child and a bible-thumping wife in the latter stages of a manic episode because she hadn’t been taking her medication. She loved the more vicious biblical quotes, a favorite being “spare the rod and spoil the child.” She’d repeat it endlessly after hitting Drake.
Two weeks on a trip up to and through Canada to Alaska, and he’d returned to a house in tatters, a son battered into unresponsive oblivion with her favorite weapon, a wooden rolling pin, and a wife long unbathed and raving in the living room.
He’d warned her, told her if he ever came home to find his son had been hit with that damn kitchen tool again, he’d take it to her regardless of her mental state. And he’d done just that. Losing his own shit from a decade of rage toward an insane woman he never should have been pressured into marrying, he took that fucking rolling pin and beat the shit out of her just shy of the severity with which she’d beaten their child.
He stood in the long hallway that ran the entire center length of the house, the ramshackle homestead passed down to her through a lineage of poverty-stricken, mentally unstable south Texans that dated back to the pioneer days. It was out in the middle of nowhere, land as flat and barren as the eye could see, hours from the nearest neighbor.
He cursed himself for trusting her and leaving his son with no one else but a crazy, abusive mother. With a paycheck burning a hole in his pocket, it would be easy to leave, just grab his kid and go. But though all his faults, he was a man of his word and he’d made those vows all those years ago. Regardless of the pressures that had taken him to that church, he’d made those promises all the same before a congregation and God Almighty. It was easy, but not easy at the same time.
A shriek from behind, “If thy eye offends thee, pluck it out!!!”
Gregory spun around in time to see his wife come at him, rolling pin over her head, face twisted in rage as a piercing war cry came out of her. He took the stance he did when any man charged him and went on the defensive and offensive equally.
The swiftness took her by surprise as he snatched the kitchen implement with one hand and her throat in the other. He slammed her against the wall, the old plaster shattered like glass in a halo around her head. Her mouth was distended into a scream, but no sound came out, his grasp was so tight. No thoughts but to disable the threat crossed his mind, and his attack had inspiration. She tried to claw at his wrist and hold his attack at bay, but he was infinitely stronger than her. Through gritted teeth he repeated those damnable words she loved so much, “If thy eye offends thee, pluck it out.”
He shoved one handle of the rolling pin into her eye and pressed hard, put his weight into it. In a splash of thick, viscous fluid, the orb popped, but he didn’t stop. He scooped the ruin of the organ out of the socket, tossed the tool away, grabbed the dangling tissue and ripped it the rest of the way out. She tried to scream, but only a pitiful gurgling came out. He shoved the ruptured eye into her open mouth.
Satisfied he’d rendered her a useless thing, he threw her aside. She hit the floor hard and kicked away from him. Gasping for air, gagging, she spat the collapsed eyeball out. She did not get back up, she couldn’t form any words and just gawked helplessly at him with a wide, terrified eye. He kept his back alley brawl stance, hands balled into fists, silently daring her. “Not so tough now, are you?”
She didn’t answer.
Looking at her pathetic state and letting the horrors of her actions seep into his mind, he knew right then and there that no vow was worth his or his son’s life. There was no doubt she’d kill them if he let her, and in hell was he going to do that. He was tired of staying, tired of being the understanding one. “You can rot in this hell hole,” he said so assuredly that it scared her even more. She flinched and covered her face with trembling hands.
“Not so tough,” he repeated and hurried down the hall, resisting the urge to slam the sole of a size fourteen right into the side of her fucking face, and went right to the gun he kept in his nightstand. She knew it was there, forgotten perhaps in the throes of her mania, but she knew all the same, and he did not want a bullet in the back when he carried his son out of this festering cesspool of a home.
When he returned to the hallway, Shelly had crawled into the kitchen. He immediately knew she was going for the knives. He followed the trail of blood droplets and found her. Sure enough, she was doing exactly what he’d thought she was, crawling for the drawers. He didn’t hesitate and knocked the bitch out cold with one swift kick to the face. Just in case, he took all the knives and threw them out the backdoor into the yard.
She wouldn’t seek help, she was too stubborn, too much like her kinfolk, too much of a self-preservationist to do it. Everyone within fifty miles knew her family and her history, the police were well versed on her mental illness and refusal to medicate herself into normality. They’d never believe her, and she knew it. They would believe him, even if he left out a few details. He’d pushed her as she’d lunged at him, and because of a fateful series of twists and turns and flails, she’d plucked her own eye out with her favorite kitchen tool, the one she used to bash a twelve-year-old boy into a near catatonic state.
Gregory went to his son’s room, gently picked him up and cradled him in his arms. The boy opened his eyes and offered a weak smile. “Daddy, I’m so glad you’re home.” It was but a whisper. It was bad, what he’d suffered, but he would recover. He’d recover in Tulsa far away from his devil-bitch mother, far away from this south Texas crazy farm.
Gregory was quick about his exit, imagining Shelly making her own slow recovery. He’d seen her sew a self-inflicted gash on her arm up after a piss poor attempt at a guilt trip, so he was sure she’d down a bottle of booze and stitch up her yawning eye socket.
He didn’t care what she did for money or how she took care of herself. He was done with her. He was done with Texas. And he was pretty damn sure he was done with women altogether. Only Drake mattered now. Last trip out to the truck and he found his son sitting up in the passenger seat, belt fastened, a little joyful grin on his swollen, bruised face. He knew they were leaving and he knew they weren’t ever coming back.
“We going for a ride, daddy?”
“You bet, buddy.” Gregory returned the smile. “A long, long ride.”
Well, that was definitely a good sign. “How about Mickey D’s?”
“Can I get an ice cream?”
“You can get two.”
© 2020 Joshua Skye (DRWJ), USA. All right reserved.