Copyright © 2014 by James Paddock. All rights reserved.
While she sat in the weeds watching the Lincoln leave a growing trail of dust and blue smoke, Trish McLane didn’t think about the swelling of her left eye or the blood trickling off the corner of her mouth or even the way he'd shoved her out the door without coming to a complete stop, but rather that he took her umbrella.
He also still had her purse which meant, her money, credit cards and identification. But he no longer had her and the joke would be on him. In his insane mind, his unorthodox twisted humor, he'd come back and try to bring her around to laughing about how she'd tumbled out like a street-sweepers' rag doll. Where the hell did he get that phrase anyway? Didn't even make sense. Yes, he'd be back, and with him would come her purse and all her belongings, including the umbrella.
There came a thunderous boom and she looked up at the black clouds rolling off the mountain. It would certainly be too late for the umbrella.
She'd put up with his abusive behavior before, many times before, and each time she'd acquiesced to his apologetic pleadings, his statements to the affect that all couples had fights and that they really weren't all that big-a-deal, that the fun was in the making up. Well, not this time, Jack. Not this time.
Still sitting on her butt in the weeds, she looked across the road at a stand of trees and wondered if it'd be safe to take shelter there, find relief from the approaching deluge under the canopy of limbs and leaves, and also thought about how much fun the making up really was. Sure, in the beginning, when she was in her early twenties, it was fun, but over time the black and blue marks had gotten worse and now, at thirty-something, it just stopped being worth it. It was no longer fun.
Or was it ever fun? She'd met Jack in a bar, a guy who paid attention to her, in some weird, twisted way. There was that word again. Twisted. Who was more twisted? Him because of the way he liked to conduct their relationship, or her for allowing it and, at times, enjoying it? They were a friggin' twisted couple.
She rose to her feet, leaned into the wind and picked her way toward the trees. She thought about the first time, that night when they met, staggering out of the bar to her car, driving to her apartment and then having mind-blowing sex. She remembered thinking that it was rather rough, but she liked it. Maybe that was the problem. She liked it. Maybe it was her fault. He was this way because he thought that was how she liked it.
She found what she hoped would be a dry place below the most dense area of canopy and sat down with her back to a tree, pulling her knees up to her chest. She wished she had her jacket.
Yes, it was fun, for a time. It also hurt. And then, in the last few years, the hurt started out-weighing the fun. But the habits had been formed by that time, hadn't they? She had created her own, personal monster. She wondered what Frankenstein thought when he realized what kind of monster he'd created.
Am I Frankenstein and I'm stuck with this monster?
A car whizzed by on the dirt road and she peered out between the trees. It wasn't the Lincoln. She watched the dust whirl and then blow off into the distance. Suddenly the wind picked up, more dust whirled about, trees bent and then stopped. For a half minute following, all went quiet. It was like the forest had taken a huge breath and was now holding it.
Another car whipped by. Again, it was not the Lincoln.
And then the rain began. For maybe ten seconds it came slow, a gentle patter around her, not enough to break through her cover until, suddenly, it was as though God pointed a giant spray nozzle straight down and then turned it on full blast. Before she could even move, the downpour had blasted through the tree tops, taking leaves with it and the only thing Trish could do was cover her head and wait it out. For fifteen solid minutes it seemed to Trish to be no different than standing in the shower with her clothes on, except in this case, the shower was cold and it was spitting out leaves and twigs. She pulled herself into as tight a ball as she could, her arms covering her head, and thought about what she was going to do when he came back to get her. There was a blanket in the back seat and, she was sure, an old towel in the trunk. As soon as she was in the car she'd turn the heat up full blast, no matter what he said. He always liked it colder than she did.
"Well, screw him!" she said into her knees.
When the pounding rain finally eased to an earth-soaking drizzle, she lifted her head and looked out at the road. Parked in the wide spot on the other side, where he'd initially dumped her, was the Lincoln, blue smoke puffing out the tailpipe, Jack nowhere to be seen. It was her Lincoln, in her name, blown rings and all. She was tired of him always running off with her car. She stood, pulled her hair behind her head to squeeze out the water, and stepped out of the trees.
At the edge of the road she looked up and down, but Jack was nowhere to be seen. The Lincoln still idled. She stepped on across until she was at the driver's door and then saw Jack in the field beyond, apparently looking for her among the trees along the creek bank.
"Trish!" she heard him call.
She smiled for a bit and then grinned.
She opened the door and got in, pushed the heater to the highest temperature at full blast and put the car in drive. She punched the gas pedal and spun the wheel, throwing up rocks and mud as she turned the car around. Once pointed back toward town, she stopped and opened the window. Jack was running back. She sat there for a time debating, trying to decide what to do. He'd be apologetic, real nice, and they'd have some great sex, maybe before they even got to the highway.
She licked her lips at the thought.
It was no longer worth it.
When he was still maybe fifty yards from the car, Trish reached back for the umbrella, reconsidered the repercussions for another second and then sent it out the window.
"Here you go, Jack," she called to him. "It's more than you did for me." With that she punched the gas. When she looked in her mirror a few seconds later, he was standing with the umbrella in his hand, blue smoke billowing around him.
"I'm going to miss that umbrella," she said and turned on the radio.
Thank you for reading Twisted. If you enjoyed this short story, or even if you didn't, please feel free to leave a comment on our guestbook.
Nov 18, 2014 - Maureen Turner from Gloucestershire...
It certainly wasn't his charming personality. Thanks for reading, Maureen.
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