dontravis.com blog post #621
So lawyer Johnson Lamely lives in a hellhole, does he? In his own mind that’s what his wife, whom he calls Hell Cat Helen, has made his life. She’s more ambitious than he is, and under her prodding, he’s become successful. Now he wants to take it easy. But she won’t let him.
Let’s see what happens next. What that though he had at the end of last week’s segment was. Here goes.
My own thoughts curdled my blood. This was contrary to everything I believed, everything I had practiced for a lifetime. Unthinkable. I tried to put them to rest.
Then came the clincher. She pressured Helen Jr., who wasn’t handling our divorce very well in the first place, to move out of the dorm and come live with her mother… by now she had our commodious home all to herself. I was relegated to an apartment. Little Helen—who was and always would be Beanie to me—was at a vulnerable age. A sensitive young woman who was a freshman in college, she’d be an easy mark for Hell Cat. My wife would poison my daughter’s mind and turn her against me forever. Beanie had a mind of her own, but she also had a vulnerability about her that would make the filth her mother would feed her like a slow-acting poison. She’d spend the rest of her life agonizing over how she’d end up feeling about her father. I couldn’t let that happen.
Ergo, my thoughts of yesterday returned. Almost without thinking, I began the process of implementing a plan I didn’t have the courage to name. I started by reaching out to Hell Cat and making conciliatory moves. I didn’t want the divorce consummated. I wanted back in the house. Had to be for this to work.
By offering financial considerations, I got my wife to agree. Actually, I don’t believe my concessions had anything to do with it. I think Helen just wanted me back under her thumb. Her cruelty would be more effective that way.
Once I returned to the house—in a separate bedroom, of course—I began researching my project. I needed a poison that was so unusual it wouldn’t be spotted in a routine autopsy, should one take place. Slow acting or fast? That needed consideration, as well.
So I began my research and quickly settled on two options. Thallium and carbon monoxide. Thallium was a heavy metal by-product of lead and zinc mining. Once used in insecticides, it had been outlawed for that use because of the ease with which accidents could occur. The most common method of introduction was by ingestion; however, it can also kill as airborne matter or even by application to the skin. It was also difficult to identify post-mortem.
Carbon monoxide was a quicker, and possibly safer way. I had an old kerosene heater I used occasionally for camping that I could most likely rig up to do the job. But carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer, and I wasn’t sure that was what I wanted. Hell Cat Helen simply going to sleep and failing to wake up just didn’t seem like justice to me.
Thallium, on the other hand, produced severe gastronomic pains, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, delusions, and all kinds of awful things. Sounded more like proper retribution to me. With some artful slight-of-hand, something that came easily to lawyers, I should be able to acquire some Thallium sulfate, an odorless, tasteless white powder.
My decision made, I set up an anonymous false persona and ordered the powder—not cheap—but certainly less expensive than half my entire estate. Then I made nice with Helen while I waited for my order to be filled.
For ten days, I was kind and considerate to my harpy wife, all the while seeing her as that half-woman, half-vulture creature of myth. I think she even began to buy into my act. I got a pleasant smile or two during that time.
At last, the thallium sulfate arrived at the mailbox I’d rented solely for this occasion. I was so careful, I even wore thin gloves anytime I touched its metal face. Once I had the bottle safely in hand, I carefully hid it behind some cans of oil in the garage. Being cautious, I also had some Prussian Blue pills, the known antidote for thallium poisoning. After all, while handling the powder, I might inadvertently get some on my hands.
The means in hand, now was the time to plan the deed. This evening, we were going to an office function, and tomorrow Hell Cat was to attend a baby shower for a friend. Saturday, we were having a backyard barbecue at the house. That was it… the perfect time.
I suffered through the rest of an agonizingly slow week made bearable by imagining the pain and suffering I intended to pay back to my wife of twenty-odd years. Never once did I experience a doubt, a pang of remorse, a weakening of my will. Conversely, I looked forward to the event. To my harpy wife’s hours of impending suffering and agonizing death.
Friday night, our dinner out with friends was suddenly cancelled, although I wasn’t certain why. Helen condescended to whip up something to eat, and I briefly considered moving my plan forward. Beanie was spending the weekend on campus with friends, and the idea was tempting. Nonetheless, I demurred, deciding to stick to my original plan.
After the light meal of oyster stew, I claimed my easy chair to leisurely read the evening paper. I had almost finished Tribune when Hell Cat Helen let out a groan.
“What?” I asked, impatient at being disconcerted while reading the latest “Blondie” strip.
She looked up from her knitting and clutched her stomach. “I think the oysters might have been bad. I have a stomachache.”
Nothing like the one you’re going to have tomorrow.
Nonsense, I don’t feel upset. Go take a pill.”
“Oh,” she gasped. “That one hurt.”
“Go have a BM or something,” I said, rattling my paper in impatience.
Things got worse, and I considered calling the doctor. But her experiencing a few additional hours of discomfort was okay with me.
Finally, she stood, dumping her knitting on the floor. “This… this is getting unbearable. Are you sure you don’t feel anything?”
“No,” I snapped. “Not a thing. Stop being such a baby. You always were—” A pang seized me, drawing an agonized groan.
“You too?” she gasped, dropping back into her chair.
Then they started for real. I broke into a sweat. Feverish, I rushed to the bathroom and lost my supper. That provided no relief. Weak, I staggered back to my chair. “Maybe we should call the doctor,” I managed to squeeze through my constricted throat.
Helen wiped a hand across her face. “I… I’m feeling a bit better. Maybe it’s a passing thing. Let’s wait a bit before we panic.”
But waiting did no good. I remained hot. Feverish and nauseous, and cramped. Feverish? Nauseous? Cramped. Then I felt it in my bowels. Diarrhea was on its way.
Stunned, I stared at my wife, who stood with a half-smile on her lips. Comprehension dawned. She’d been faking. She’d found my thallium.
The grin became a full-fledged smile. “That’s right. I found your stash of poison. How long had you been planning this. Oh, I see now. That’s why you moved back into the house. I knew it had to be something. You haven’t been nice to me in years. You’re so transparent, Johnson. I don’t know how you won any of your cases.
“You… you poisoned… me?”
“Just like you intended to poison me, sweetheart. But I’m smarter than you. Always have been. I’m why you were such a success, you know. Without me to push you, you’d have been a third-rate hack. I spread that little white powder right into the oyster stew. They were right, you know. Tasteless, odorless. But I wish you’d gotten some sort of a pill. I got that white powder all over my hands. But it washes off, doesn’t it. Oh, and don’t think of rushing to get the Prussian Blue pills. I put them down the kitchen drain.”
“A… all of them?”
“Every last one, Darling. Every last one.” Hell Cat Helen frowned. “Why… why are you smiling, Johnson.”
I looked at her through my pain. Already I could feel my mind slipping away from reality. But I held onto one thought. That little white powder was going to get her too. Might take longer because it had to be absorbed through the skin. But it would get her.
Then I laughed. Laughed through my pain. Screeched, really, chortling and giggling despite the horrible contractions rippling through my body. At some point I found myself on the rug, making unintelligible sounds that were neither laughter nor screeches.
Somewhere along the line—before I lost all reason—she was there beside me, her body twitching and jerking… just like mine.
Birds of a feather, I say.
Stay safe and stay strong.
Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!
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