By J Thomas Fussell
Chapter 17: Descent into Madness
Where in the hell was he? Tom sat up and looked around. For a first guess, Hell seemed as good a suggestion as any. Blood spatter covered every surface, even the ceiling. The bodies of Fred and Leroy Stanton were exactly where he left them with Leroy sprawled on the couch and Fred seated in a wheelchair. Fred’s body had settled and he now listed to the left, leaning over the wheel. Fear along with a delirious sense of pleasure swept through his mind. He knew where he was now. He had done what needed doing and now he had a base of operations. And when he had finished, Mary Sue had taken him away from it all. Now it was coming together. Oh yes, he knew where he had been and where he was. But… what had she done to him and for how long?
He did not see her, but that did not mean she was not here. He started to call out to her but something stopped him. He tried to put his head around it. Why wouldn’t he want to call her? He rolled his head round on his aching shoulders and pain raced up his back like streaks of liquid fire. Jesus, what had happened to him? He stood up and realized he hurt from head to toe. These two dead boys here had not put up any fight at all, this was Mary Sue’s doing. A lecherous grin spread across his face. That little vixen liked to play rough. He would remember that for the next time, and there would be a next time.
He needed a mirror. Bruises covered his arms and his stomach when he lifted his shirt to look. What he would not give to remember the details. He found the bathroom. Damn, he thought, these two dudes were filthy. It looked like neither of them had cleaned the bathroom in years. He looked at his reflection in the mirror over the sink. Dark circles ringed his eyes, giving him a skeletal appearance. He lifted his shirt and saw he was covered in bruises and stripes like he had been beaten and whipped. One welt raised to a bloody ridge wrapped around his hip and had several splinters embedded up to the tips.
He pulled one of the splinters out and held it up to the light to examine it closer. It looked wooden, maybe an inch long, with strange striations undulating down its length. It was unlike any type of wood he had ever seen. The strange piece of wood flexed in his fingers like a wriggling worm and he dropped it to the counter with a start.
A part of his memory returned to him then. Mary Sue pulling him along with her through a tunnel. Where had the tunnel came from? They came to a door ornately carved with symbols and trees and other things he could not put into context. She had smiled at him. A soft seductive smile that promised pleasures beyond measure. He remembers being lost in her eyes. Eyes that sparkled and shifted like a heat haze over sand dunes. When she opened the door, he followed without question.
Once inside, pleasure and pain both sweeter and more terrible than anything he had dared hoped for in his own discipline room back home had been fed to him in equal measure, growing and multiplying like a vast storm of sensation… but it was more than that, and he knew it. He could not shake the feeling that what happened behind that secret door was more than a little rough love. The thought would not finish though, like his brain would not allow him to remember what his mind knew was there.
He shook himself from the memory. How long had he been sitting in this bathroom? Navel-gazing his mother called it. Damn, he had not thought about that bitch in a long time. God, he must be finally losing his mind. Amy always said it was bound to happen. That would account for all this… this… he did not know what, but losing his mind would account for it.
“Well that’s good! That’s just damn good!” He said in a loud strong voice, staring deep into his own reflection.
Abruptly turning away, he moved back down the hall. A little crazy would be useful for what came next. He could not leave two corpses in the bonus room. Corpses are best worked with early. The smell gets worse the longer the dead are allowed to fester. Tom had watched enough horror movies to know what needed to be done next, but he was so tired. All he wanted to do was shower and go to bed. When he thought of all the work ahead of him, his body ached deep in his bones and that brought Mary Sue back to his mind.
What had Mary Sue done to him? There had been more. He forgot about the father and son in the bonus room and shuffled upstairs. The landing at the top of the stairs opened into four rooms, one of which was a large bathroom. He climbed into the shower fully dressed and turned the water on full. The blast of icy water on his bald head sent waves of pain through his skull like tiny needles. Oh God, there had been barbs or… was that thorns?
He could not get his mind around it because what he remembered could not be real. When Mary Sue beat him, she was not the sexual beauty who seduced him into her bed chambers, at least not always. Sometimes she seemed much older, so old, ancient and withered like that thing his father had become when he died of cancer. This old woman had not been weak though. She had talked to him as she beat him with her gnarled walking stick. Her words made no sense though. Had it even been a language? The sensation brought blissful feelings of regret and shame his mother had beaten out of him long before he grew into adulthood. But none of that could be real, Mary Sue was the most beautiful woman he had even seen. He was unaware of the choking sob that escaped him as he thought of that moment.
He turned around in the shower and the spray pressed his shirt into his flayed back. He flinched forward and slammed his head into the shower wall. The intense pain brought back the final memory and he let out a low groan of fear. The sound a beaten dog might make when hearing its owner stumble drunkenly back into the house.
The old woman he remembered had not been alone… or had she? Sometimes there was another. A thing that ripped and tore at him and made him feel as if he ran naked through a briar batch. The one look he had chanced over his shoulder sprung back to his mind. What had that been!? It could not be real.
“No sir. Tom Eastman will not stand for bullshit like that,” Tom said aloud. “Do you hear me? I won’t stand for it.”
The water bounced off him, washing the blood into crimson swirls which ran down the drain. He watched the swirl for several minutes, trying to force the image in his mind to make some sort of sense.
“A dream,” he said. “It had to be some kind of dream. Never had a dream when I was awake before. Tom Eastman’s not a dreamer. No sir.”
He tried to get his mind around it but the image was already fading again.
“Fucking bullshit,” Tom whispered. “Whatever happened, I know one thing, Tom always gets his girl. If things get a little out of hand, well maybe it’s time Tom taught this Mary Sue that there was indeed a line. Oh yes, maybe it’s time for that.”
He began to peel off his clothing. He smiled as the water stung his wounds. He knew another thing for sure too. Mary Sue knew how to lay on the stripes. Better than Amy ever had at any rate.
Amy…. Surprisingly, he still missed her when he thought of her. He missed their lessons, especially now that he had been such a bad boy. He needed to be punished, but he would not be. Not now, maybe not ever again. He had graduated into a new kind of pain, a more exquisite pain than mere punishment, and he could never go back. In fact, as he thought of the mess in the other room, he was quite sure the next time he saw Amy he would have to kill her. Before now, he had not been one hundred percent sure that was how it would go down, but now he was sure. Oh yes, he was dead sure. Where had she gone? Just like that bitch, when he needed her to be somewhere, she left him hanging. Didn’t she know that he was the man? He had proven it now more than ever when he did those two assholes in the other room.
He wandered into the nearest bedroom and fell naked onto a plush unmade bed.
“Where are you Amy?” He whispered into the pillow. “I need you.”
Then fell into a deep sleep.
Chapter 18: Amy Eastman Leaves a Note
I know you will never understand why I had to leave you, but I think it is probably best that way. Please know I love you and will always be in your heart. Look there if you need me. Listen to your heart. I was never very good at it. Be good for Julia. She’ll look after you.
Your Momma loves you more than you will ever know.
Now the rest of this note is not for my daughter, so tear off that bit above and give that to Larissa. Please do not read the rest of this to her or allow her to read it. Thank you.
To Tom, if you’re not already dead, this is for you:
Fuck you! I should have been enough, but I never was. You always wanted more, especially her. I know that maybe I made more of that than I should have, but the way you looked at her when she ran by – I don’t know – it made me crazy. For a while there I thought our new normal would work. It did for two years, but it was never enough, not for you, not for me. You know it’s true, so fuck you. I should have been enough.
You brought out the worst in me and now it looks like I’ve brought out the worst in you. We were bad for each other, Tom Eastman. The only good thing we did was our daughter, so you leave her in peace. I’ll haunt your ass to the end of your days if you go after her. You know I’ll do it. Let my death be the end of all this crazy nonsense. Don’t make her a part of it, please.
Fuck you, Tom Eastman. I love you.
To Detectives Houle and Fuller:
If you haven’t already figured it out, I haven’t been completely honest with you. I don’t know why really. I might’ve gotten away with the lies forever, but I don’t believe that. That’s why you’re reading this note. And to be honest, I couldn’t live with myself anymore. You see, what happened to Beverly Hernandez is all my fault. I never meant anything to happen to that poor girl. I didn’t think Tom would go so far as to…
There I go again, trying to place the blame somewhere else. I have to come to terms with the truth: I am at fault. I’m the reason Tom hurt that poor girl. It’s all very clear to me now.
Our life went crazy when Javier married Beverly. At first, we were so happy for then, even if Beverly was too young for him. She seemed to love him, and that’s what matters right? He certainly doted on her. When she showed up, all eyes had gone to her. Some people might pretend differently, but I watched. I saw. Even my Tom only had eyes for Beverly whenever she happened by. I began to watch her myself. I needed to understand what she had that I didn’t. It was the only way I would win Tom back.
Now don’t get me wrong, Tom never cheated on me with her, at least not to my knowledge. I’m sure he cheated on me with other women. He was far too jealous of me to not be hiding something. The first time he ever hit me – truly hit me – was a jealous rage. He came bursting through the door and knocked me to the floor, screaming about me sleeping with the UPS delivery man and how he would kill him if he ever saw him snooping around again. It was bad, and that was the first time I called the police on him. And it’s a good thing I did, he had several guns and knives upstairs in a cabinet in our bedroom. The police removed the whole thing. It was the only way he could stay home. I’m glad they did. He would have eventually killed someone, I’m sure. Things got worse after that. His rages and his jealousy became truly scary, but I am getting off topic, this is not about all that. That is simply who Tom was inside. The mold I had to work with you might say.
He had his thing you see, but I had mine as well. Part of Tom’s problem was my inability to see myself as anything other than less than Beverly Hernandez. I’m sure you have seen the photos I took. She was amazing, breathtaking really. There was not a bad angle. Even her arms, hideous things on most people, were fit and trim. I needed Tom to see, to understand my grief, but he didn’t care. I created my board and shoved it in that room upstairs. I would workout, trying like hell to get close to that perfect form, but never there, never good enough. It wasn’t fair.
Tom thought I was nuts. Maybe I was, but I needed him to understand, so I dragged him upstairs and showed him my board. He was too damn dense. We started fighting and he took a swing at me, but I was worked up and hit him first. One thing led to another and we discovered a secret about ourselves. Tom liked pain, especially the stinging pain of a whip or paddle, and I, well I discovered I liked to give it. Tom had delivered pain to me so often that I found it empowering to be in charge for a change. It turned us both on and allowed us to forget all our problems for a while.
Anyway, I started using our sessions to force him to understand my point about Beverly. Now do you see? I have unwittingly created a monster. Through some, I don’t know, psychotic break or something, Tom lost his mind. I pushed him to do those terrible things and now that poor girl can’t see.
I should have known when he started hiding things. Do you know, to this day, I have never seen in that stupid closet? Do you have any idea how many fights we had over that?
I’m so sorry. Tell Beverly I am so sorry. I don’t know why I did the things I did. Maybe Tom and I were just the wrong mix, a bad mix. You know: the boy beats girl – girl beats boy – we all go crazy scenario.
Anyway, I just thought you should know. I hope this helps you to catch him before he hurts somebody else. Sorry about the mess. I hope I don’t stink too bad.