A Thing of Beauty

I had to kill him.  He left me no choice.  I asked him not to come any closer, but he wouldn’t listen.” The other day one of the girls at lunch said that serial killers are always men.  She obviously doesn’t know how many bodies lie rotting at the bottom of my murky pond. I can’t recall a time in my life that I haven’t been aware of how fat my thighs are or how thin my lips seem.  My mom always said I was lucky to have been born with lots of dark hair, deep brown eyes, and long black lashes.  She said my eyes were a gift.  Maybe so, but by thirteen a pesky shadow of a mustache had appeared as well. It was all I could see when I looked in the mirror.  I’d hold my finger under my nose and imagine my face without it.  When people talked to me they stared at it.  I watched their eyes.  That’s where they landed.  Mustache.  Not the beautiful brown eyes that my mom went on about. Phillip, my brother’s dorky friend was at our house a lot the year that I turned sweet sixteen.  He happened to be over the day I discovered a box of facial hair bleach in the medicine cabinet.  I’m not sure who put it there, but I got the hint. He came barging into our bathroom as I sat on the edge of the tub waiting for the white cream on my upper lip to do its thing and to give me a new outlook on life.  What an ass.  He didn’t even knock.  For all he knew, I could have been pinching a loaf. So, yes, I killed him. Don’t be silly. Not right then.  It was the next day after school.  He was taking the shortcut through the woods and I simply tossed a small rock that struck him on the back of his head. He shouldn’t have said mustache when he passed by me, as I stood in the cafeteria line.  It was quite rude of him.

Very rude.

I didn’t know he was actually dead until later, after someone found him without a pulse and the whole town was abuzz.  I guess I threw that stone a little harder than I remembered. I suppose playing third base on the church softball league, made what I considered a toss, to be more like a dead on rocket hit. It was bigger than I remembered too. There was a picture of it in the paper. It was almost the same size as his oversized head. We were all questioned.  I mean everyone in school and in town but who would suspect a cute little girl like me? One would think that by now, at thirty-three, I’d have grown out of this obsession with my appearance and that my skin would be a little thicker when it comes to glances at my upper lip.  Or at the very least I could handle a man seeing me with hair color saturating my roots. But before you judge me, maybe you should hear my entire story.  Let’s have a talk, woman to woman. Then I think you might understand. I was all sweaty and I’d just come indoors after mowing the grass.  That’s why I was dressed in a raggedy, stained, tank top without a bra underneath, revealing exactly how flat I really am.  I was wearing a horrible pair of shorts that cut me on the fattest part of my thighs, old green from the grass tennis shoes and I wasn’t wearing a drop of make-up.  None.  On top of that I was bleaching the cookie duster on my upper lip. It seemed the perfect time for a little self- maintenance. I was multi-tasking. You know how it is. Had two pork chops defrosting on the counter, there were brownies in the oven and I was watering the house plants, when I heard the truck coming down our driveway.  It was my day off, for God’s Sake. All I needed was forty-five minutes of privacy. I find it absolutely ridiculous that the UPS man, Brentson Somebody, had to have a signature right then.  Did I sign?  Heavens no!  I killed him.  Like I said, I asked him not to come any closer. It was an accident of course.  Instinct.  His boots were coming up the porch steps.  I panicked.  Grabbed the cast iron skillet, opened the screen door and hit him straight between the eyes.  What would you have done? Well, let me tell you, it threw a huge wrench in my day. Brentson was kind of a big guy.  Not that easy to stuff into an industrial garbage bag and drag to the pond which fortunately is downhill from the house. I rolled him when I could and stopped several times to rest.  I broke a nail in the process.  Just had a manicure last week too, with French tips painted on.  It cost more than I like to think.  They had looked real nice. Sludge was squishing between my toes inside my shoes.  You can sink to your knees in gunk under that water.  It grosses me out.  There are toads and little fish in there. Don't get me wrong.  I love listening to the spring peepers and their mating calls at night as I drift to sleep in crisp clean sheets that smell of Mountain Air Softener.  But, I do not care for frogs up close and personal. I am very squeamish. Anyway, once I dumped the body into the dark water and removed the bag, I placed several heavy rocks on top of it so that the corpse would stay put at the bottom.  I then rested on the bank and watched the scum begin to fill back in on the surface.   After a few minutes you could hardly tell it had been disturbed. The UPS truck was sitting in front of my kitchen door. I rinsed myself off with the garden hose and watered the tomato plants next to the porch, pulling a few weeds while I was at it. Then I noticed a few suckers.  You know, those little branch like things that sprout out of the elbow-crotches of the vines supporting the fruit?  I had to snap them off immediately.  My mom says they can suck the life right out of the tomatoes if you don’t. The leaves were turning the slightest shade of yellow and were beginning to curl, which could mean too much water, or too much sun.  Or, it could mean, BLIGHT. Last year my plants got the blight.  It killed them, and that nearly killed me. I’ve got to get some spray.  I gotta, I gotta, I gotta.  I cannot sit still and watch the blight slowly and torturously draw the life out of my pure, round, red, sweet and innocent tomatoes. I wrote it down on the pad on the kitchen island, “get pesticide.” I was aghast as I looked in the mirror.  My hair was dark-purple-black instead of medium-copper-brown, like the box said.  The lines on my forehead could have been a road map having taken on the dye. There wasn’t a trace of the mustache cream left on myface.  It must have evaporated, which had me worried.  I follow all instructions to a tee. Finally the shower water ran clear and I stepped out of the tub.  I was relieved to see, after wiping away the steam, that I still had hair and there was no rash above my lip. I stuffed my wet pony tail under my husband Charlie’s baseball cap.  Then found a brown shirt hanging in his closet and threw it on over a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. On my way through the kitchen I sprinkled some olive oil and thyme into the murder weapon and turned the blue flames on as low as they would go.  I seasoned the chops with a bit of pepper and Italian seasoning, covering them to keep them moist as they browned. Did you know that not all UPS trucks are automatics?  That’s right.  This one came with a clutch.  What century are we in?  I mean seriously, how much more would it cost to update the thing? I tried to remember what to do.  Damn it, if I wasn’t perspiring again at that point.  Well, I jerked that thing all the way to the end of the driveway. There is a slight incline at the top where you have to stop and look both ways.  It was mid-afternoon and quiet out on the county highway. Good thing. I missed the gear and the truck made a horrible sound.  The clutch popped, and I lurched out of there, spitting gravel in all directions. About a half a mile away, I did a U-turn and pulled to the side of the road where I put on the flashers. I zipped my yellow rubber gloves, the cap, and Charlie’s shirt into my back pack, jumped out, and slipped into the woods. The pork chops were dark brown.  I flipped them over and added more oil and thyme.  My brother says, “Whenever in doubt, add thyme.” Upstairs I once again stood under the water.  Cold this time, in hopes of reviving the good mood I’d been in earlier.  I was starting to lose some of my, yippee-a-day-off-of-work,” zest. As I put a load of darks into the washer, including the latest outfit, it hit me that the UPS guy had been trying to deliver the new patio set that I so wanted for the following weekend. Charlie and I are planning to throw a little deck party. Nothing fancy, just a few friends. Why couldn‘t he have just left the box outside without a signature?  What a jerk. I carried a basket of dry clothes to the living room and folded them as I stared at the Soap Opera on the muted TV, where I believe Ericka was being her bitchy self, and I mourned my never-to-be-here-in-time, now-that I-killed-the-UPS-Guy, patio-set. Next I frosted the brownies, changed into my new sundress, blew dry my hair, brushed a dash of blush on my high cheekbones, extended my thick eyelashes with black mascara, dumped a can of cream of mushroom soup and a little water into the pan of crispy pork chops, poked and set two potatoes rubbed in oil and wrapped in foil on the wire rack to bake, and went back downstairs to switch the laundry. Finally I poured myself a cup of Chai Tea and sat down here to relax.  You know, stare out the window and contemplate for a few minutes before Charlie gets home from work. I feel a little guilty for doing in the UPS man. He probably had to have a signature or else someone would have chewed his ass when he got back to the office. Sometimes I wish I weren’t so compulsive. “I will never murder anyone again.” There I said it. Shit there’s a weed that’s taller than the grass I just mowed.  How in the hell did I miss it? I know I’ve said this before, but this time I’m serious.  “I will not kill anyone anymore, no matter what. I am finished with murder. Through. Done. No more corpses for me.” It’s lonely being a serial killer.  It’s not like there are any groups I can join or meetings I can attend where everyone sits in a circle and then I stand up and say, “Hi, my name is Jessica, and I am a serial killer,” and my group of new friends all respond, “Hi Jessica.” I don’t know.  Maybe it’s best we don’t all convene in one room.  Some murderers are real sick and downright scary. I mean, come on, I don’t make lampshades out of people or anything like that.  I just get a little pissy now and then where bad manners are concerned, but not anymore. Oh, here comes my sweetie now.  I can hear his tires on the gravel. Thanks for listening, but I’ve gotta get going.  Time for me to put on a big smile for Charlie.  I hope he notices my new dress.  I hope he likes it.

He’d better like it.


10 responses to “A Thing of Beauty

  1. NO MORE KILLING……That’s a good New Year’s resolution. Let us know how that works for you, ok? Oh, that’s just a suggestion. I don’t want to piss you off cause you know where I live!!!!

  2. Ok I’ll be serious, you really do need to quit that one bad habit. Maybe get into some anger management classes. Try it! Avec tomorrow.

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