There were pictures of the first (and late) Mrs. Myers placed strategically in every corner of the house. She had had beautiful curls and a pretty smile. And by the looks of it, her clothes had been painted onto her hourglass figure.
I felt my self-esteem dip every second I was in that house. It didn’t help that the gardener was currently looking at me with wide-eyed terror.
I glared at him and stormed out the gate, and went straight to the beauty parlour. I loved my husband, and I wanted him to love me the MOST. James was my entire life. I loved his hands, and his hair, and his smell, and I wouldn’t let him go EVER.
Yes, my husband and I were 15 years apart. And yes, he was married once before he married me. And quite obviously, this idiot Puerto Rican gardener seems to have preferred the first (and late) Mrs. Myers. It’s not like he locked me in a room and tortured me with needles everyday, but the wood shavings that replaced the actual pillow in my pillowcase one night gave me enough of a clue. And the fact that he would occasionally do things like thrust garlic in my face while rolling his eyes backwards and muttering something about “El Chupacabra!” under his breath gave me the idea that I wasn’t entirely popular with the staff either.
At the parlour, The hair-dresser there was a young man with a mop of curly hair, in skin-tight jeans and suspenders. I glowered at him. I needed to feel better.
“I need a makeover.”
“But why? Honey, you’re gorgeous, really.”
“Then that’s all I needed.”
I was gorgeous, then. I took his word for it and left.
The walk back home was frustrating.
Why the hell was Clara Myers such an enigma? I know my Jim doesn’t like talking about her death (she had cancer) but I guess it’s about time I asked him to tell me. I want to know about her. I need to know how he feels.
I reached the gate, and there was that damn gardener again, looking as if he’d seen a ghost. I’d had enough of his idiotic behaviour. “Look here, I’d appreciate if you wouldn’t go off screaming that I’m a vicious goat sucking vampire. Or that day when you tried telling everyone I’M actually Nessie, what was that? What is your problem, really? Why don’t you back off, and I won’t bite, ok?”
His hands trembled and his eyes bulged. “You killed Senora Clara!” he spat out, and ran in the other direction and out of my sight.
“What? I didn’t kill Clara. Are you out of your bloody mind, man?” is what I should have yelled after him. Instead, I choked on my own spit, and coughed out the words – “What? Clara was KILLED?”
“Clara was KILLED? Look, James, I know you don’t like talking about this. But things like this, I wish you’d told me. I don’t know where you’re coming from anymore, and you’re my HUSBAND, ok?” I rambled on and on, not even attempting to be sensitive and understanding, and Jim sat quietly by the bedside.
“Laurie,” he said, “Yes.”
“What happened, Jim?!”
“I don’t know. NOBODY knows. I should’ve talked to you about it, I know I should have, it seemed simpler to just say she died from a disease or something.” He’d begun to cry, and I held him close.
“Laurie, I found her in the toolshed. Just about 15 minutes after she…look, it was gruesome. And we haven’t been able to trace the killer. There were clues alright, but it’s as if this murderer has just walked off the edge of the planet.”
He didn’t hear me. “Laurie, the first things when I said when I saw her sitting on the chair with her head hanging down was ‘Clara, baby, what’s the matter?’ and she didn’t reply I offered her a smoke and asked ‘Baby, you have a cigarette and tell Jim about it, okay?’ When she didn’t lift her hand I pulled her chair back and she fell to the ground.”
I held him close that entire night. My James. Neither of us slept. The next morning I lit a candle next to Clara’s picture. Clara Myers, 1964 – 1993.
Days passed. Nights passed. We never spoke of Clara again, but at least now I knew. It killed me, to see James like this. After that night, he barely spoke to me again. I wanted to scream at him, and make him kiss me again, I LOVED James. But he wouldn’t talk to me.
One night, James came to sit by me.
“Listen, Laurie. I’m not sure how to say this…”
I was so thrilled that he was talking to me again, I grasped his hand and eagerly waited for him to finish.
I simpered. “You’re sorry, James? Coz I forgive you.”
“I AM sorry Laurie. I’m sorry I’m asking you for this, but I think we need a trial separation. I’m not sure I’m entirely over Clara. This is why I never spoke about this to you, I didn’t want to make those feelings come back. I thought I had moved on Laurie. But I haven’t. And we need some time off till I’m able to figure this out. I understand if you move on in the meantime. I just need to do this.” He said that slowly, meaningfully, not letting me miss a single word. And he left.
I wish I could DO something about it.
I couldn’t, though, obviously.
I moved out.
I went to work everyday, preoccupied with thoughts of Clara, and James, and a cold-blooded murderer who had disappeared. I’d go the the pub after work, and drown myself in a cocktail or two. On my well behaved nights.
On the other nights, I would wonder if James loved me at all, and allow myself a little more.
On still more nights, the gardener’s frightened face would pop up in my head, and it would take more than my fair share of scotch-and-sodas to make it turn into a pleasant dancing panda.
It was on one of these days that I rammed my car into a telephone both, lost in my own cocoon of thought. I panicked, reversed, and sped down the road. It wasn’t long before there was a siren trailing my path. I swerved, and my car lurched into a little road. The cops were still following me though. I sped up. Everything was blurring, and this scared me more.
“Officer. Sorry. Will that be a ticket, then?” is what I should have giggled at the cops. But I didn’t, I was driving drunk, had rammed into a telephone booth and was speeding, and running away from the police.
I went faster, and faster, I never let my foot off the accelerator, I was so cocktailed up that I thought I saw the needle fly clean off the speed-o-meter. I felt static make the hair on my neck stand on end. It was almost electric, and felt odd for a second, but my thoughts swiveled back to Jimmy. James was going to lose another wife. I loved James. I couldn’t let myself leave him like this. But James, that bastard, he left me, just like that.
Tears were blurring my eyes, I turned the car around and drove to my old house, where I’d lived with my Jimmy boy.
I reached almost too soon, and what I saw made my blood boil.
There was James. With another woman. He kissed her tenderly, he had his arms around her slender waist.
I watched angrily from my car, and then James kissed her again and walked into the house. The other woman waved at James and walked into the toolshed. I slammed the car door shut, and followed her, ready for an altercation.
“HEY, HEY LADY!” I screamed.
She turned around, put her hand to her mouth and ran into the toolshed.
I knew why when I saw my reflection on the car’s window’s – disheveled hair, a broken heel on my shoe from slamming the accelerator down, mascara running down my unfocused eyes. And I was slurring at her.
I hobbled after her into the toolshed. “What are you doing with my husband, skank?” I said, but it came out garbled. She stared at me, sizing me up, “YOUR husband? I think you’re at the wrong house, lady. I’ve been with this guy for about 4 years now.”
4 YEARS? Jim had been cheating on me for four years.
That did it. I snapped. I grabbed a hammer and slammed it into the other woman’s skull. I pulled off my shoe (the one with the good heel) and twisted it into her face even before I got a good look at it. Then I sank it into her her throat. Blood gurgled out. I pulled her onto a chair and left her there.
She had beautiful curls. I ran behind the shed and sat there quietly. I didn’t feel so bad at all. I went through the pile of old magazines, and I was wondering why the hell Jim kept issues that went as far back as 1993 when I heard the footsteps.
My heart was thumping, I was going to be discovered.
Then I saw that idiot Puerto Rican gardener with his mouth hanging open, pointing at me, before he fainted. There was a wet patch on his pants, which made me giggle. I heard the shed’s door creak open.
“Clara, baby, what’s the matter?”
“‘Baby, you have a cigarette and tell Jim about it, okay?”