Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Novel: The Plan- Tracy's Death

I am not an Assassin.

The General pushed my hand.

The only way out...was through, you see. 

So why is it that when I close my eyes I only see the faces of her children?
Feel their pain. Their loss.

Tracy showed up at our rendezvous early, and followed me back.

She was dressed modestly and attractively. For me. She was wearing the pendent I had gave her like it was the Queen's Diamonds instead of a gold-plated cubic zirconium trinket.

I remembered the sad, filthy, alcohol and wood-smoke scented woman who had shown up at my office when we first met. She was gone.

I am not a killer.

The dress was new. Her hair styled and her nails done. For me.  A far cry from the stringy hair and ragged chewed nails of our initial encounter.

Something else was gone, as well.
The loud mouthy bravado.
The guile.

I realized as she settled into my sofa before the warmth of the fire that for all the hard backwoods talk she was just another badly damaged human being trying to survive.

Like me.

I saw something in her eyes that I have not seen since Sarah and I were first together.

Love. Hope.
Genuine Caring.
Attention and Affection.

I am not a murderer. It was that controlling bastard's fault.

How can you want your own daughter dead?

I fixed us a meal. It was only skillet fried potatoes and pork, but she ate it as though it was Filet Mignon.

She curled against me on the sofa warm and fragrant, and complimented my meal. She talked about her life. Her childhood with The General and her drunken worthless mother. Of abuse by the men who came through their home once her father left their home. Of the bleak poverty. Not just hungry for food, although they were most of the time, but hungry for love. For someone, anyone, to care.

Of being used by those who knew how life can make a girl do a lot of things just for the illusion of love.

She talked about Mark, and how he changed after that first tour of duty. How badly it hurt to listen to him curse and not care. Worse than the lack of affection, was the love her father shower Mark with. The son he never had, he called him. He loved Mark more than he had ever loved any of the girls. Loved Mark more than he loved her. His flesh and blood. She had tears in her eyes. I wiped them away with my hand.

Perhaps I am A Monster.

She talked about Josh and Jade. How she loved them. How they were her world. How that she knew she was not a good mom. Never knew how to be. How that she never really knew how to be a wife either. How she planned to make it right with Mark. That he was a good father, and loved their children very much.

I believe there is a point on the path that turning one way leads to paradise and the other way leads to damnation. That night was my turning point.

I am surely damned.

She didn't suffer.

At least she didn't suffer.

She never even knew.

Her death was cliché. Something right out of a bad novel.

I asked her if she wanted some wine.

Earlier that morning I had prepared for this moment.

Premeditated, one would say.

The little tan envelope contained the crushed powder of a handful of Ambien. Twice the number necessary to actually cause death.

As I added it to her fourth glass of wine and stirred I knew that the time had come. There was the briefest of moments when I actually considered swapping glasses with her. Drifting into redemptive oblivion, myself.

I did not.

Damn that prick, who had now damned me as well.

When I brought her the laced glass of wine she did something I will not forget in my lifetime. Slightly tipsy she leaned forward as we faced each other on the soft cushions and kissed me, confiding in a slurred voice

"I think I love you."

I could tell by her face that mine had gone pale and she thought she had offended me...instead I took her in my arms and kissed her forehead....much like you would a sleepy child and said words she had been hungry for all her life

"And I know I love you."

Sighing happily, she settled further against me in my arms...murmured about being so sleepy, and I told her to rest. That the kids were safe and sound with Mark tonight, and she could stay over if she wanted.  Her eyelids fluttered and I felt her body go limp against me. At peace, at last. Perhaps for the first time in her short, turbulent, abused life.

Asleep forever.

For hours I held her against me. Face breathing in the scent of her hair mingled with wood-smoke from the fire. Weeping openly. Tears turning to huge braying sobs, For my baby sister. For life's unfairness. For my mother in our kitchen, suspended, her feet a few feet above the overturned kitchen chair. For my father's emptiness as he tried to stagger through life and finish raising me alone, before his own early death. For Sarah who was desperately lonely and I refused to see, and myself...who was broken long before marrying her. Expecting her to fix that brokenness and then angry because she never could have. For the innocent child I made her abort. For Steve, who probably did love her, and died because of it. 

And, at last, crying for Tracy.  Waxy yellowish now and lifeless, wrapped in my arms, as I confessed sins of a lifetime. 

Gently, I closed her eyes.

The ground was still frozen from the harsh Pennsylvania winter. Burial would have to be after Spring thaw. I unrolled a tarp on the wood floor and laid her curled form in the middle, bringing up the edges like wrapping a sleeping infant. Kissing the now marble forehead once more before covering her face. Securing the entire bundle with rough utility rope. Before bundling her I carefully removed the tiny gleaming necklace. Holding it in my hand and remembering the look on her face when I had presented it to her. When she unwrapped it.  Tears running off my nose, now, and dripping onto her face.

I carried her, that night, to the unused deep freezer in a shed behind the cabin. The fellow who owned the property before we bought it was a deer hunter. It had not been in use for over a decade. I swiped at the webs, spiders and egg sacs that clung inside, then laid her tenderly within and re-closed the creaky rust-streaked hasp.

Then I phoned The General with two words

"It's Done"

and hung up abruptly only hearing the word


 grunted on the other end.

And we're done...I had thought at the time.

Reaching for the bottle of Scotch I would nurse through the weekend between bouts of tears.

No, I am not, and never could be, an assassin.