In the suburban Staten Island, lay the derelict abyss of North Shore. Each neighbourhood which lay within was pockmarked with the sense of dread that permeated each and every citizen like an insidious disease. Unemployment was low and alcoholism was on the rise. It was not uncommon to see (often unwilling) wives heading to the Laundromat or the mall with their eyes swollen and bruised. It seemed that their husbands all shared a short temper and a love for Coors; more than the love they gave to their offspring. It was at Thyme Street where yet another typical episode of spousal abuse took centre stage. Marianne Stevens who was yet again cleaning the carpet of its perpetual blood stains (when Mr Stevens had a little too much and was more willing to use his fists) and her head was still ringing with his booming voice. That carpet better be clean when I come back from work or there’ll be Hell to pay he had said, grasping onto her left arm tightly. Her left arm still felt dead as she scrubbed the stubborn stain continuously. If Marianne was a smart woman, she would have changed carpet cleaner; she was using a cheap brand which put more into the design of the bottle than its actual contents. But instead she laboured furiously and the blood stain was darker than ever.
Marianne spent half an hour cleaning the same spot to no effect. In the end she gave up and decided to take what was coming to her. She collapsed onto the sofa and with wiped her drenched forehead with her right arm (the left arm had long since lost feeling). Maybe it won’t be as bad this time. He might have gone to the Bar and maybe this time had more than he’s used to she told herself, almost calmly. Some nights he came back after one-too-many beers and on those nights was only after one thing. The one thing she would grant him, as it was better than another broken nose or a cracked rib. Plus, she doubted Doctor Freeman would ask her about it; the one special thing that made him almost human in the afterglow. Like before they were married. Marianne remembered fondly of their first date, as her husband clumsily knocked open the back door in the kitchen, signalling his return. He was drunk again, coughing up the noxious smell of Coors Beer onto the spotless kitchen floor. One thought ran through his mind with dire repetition: That bitch better have cleaned that Goddamn carpet. He opened his large mouth in his usual Neanderthal snare but the words did not boom as he wanted them too. Instead, a quiet mewling noise, like a cat trying to garner attention escaped from his over-sized lips. A cold, painful recess opened up in his back, puncturing his left lung like a balloon. His huge body came crashing down onto the grey linoleum floor, as cold air swam into the hole in his back. His breathing became laboured and painful, as he spat a mouthful of blood onto his unshaven chin.
He tried to speak; to call out for Marianne. But it was no use as his voice had long since been silenced. A boot crashed into his side, rolling him onto his back. The kitchen light was a bright ochre glow that made him squint, but he saw enough of his attacker to know he was in deep shit.
“Hello Charles. Remember me?” The man said, his thin lips curling into a grin.
Charles’s mouth uttered a silent scream. He was looking into the gaunt face of Jack Thompson; a working stiff who he screwed out of $1000 dollars way back on the construction site.
“You fucked with me. Now that was a mistake, wasn’t it?” He said holding the bloodied dagger up to the pale light. “Now I am here to fuck you up” He grinned again, as he plunged the knife deep into Charles’s left eye socket. A small dribble of silver leaked onto his face, making him appear less of a man than he usually was.
Marianne, who was still on the sofa in the next room, had heard the commotion. But she did not rise; Charles was always clumsy when he was drunk. If anything, it was more to clean up; after he took it out on her as he always did. She did not find her husband’s body until the day after, when she entered the kitchen to clean up his mess. After the call to the hospital and the police, she sat on Charles’ favourite easy chair and breathed a sigh of relief. She didn’t care what had happened to her husband for twenty years because he was not there to tell her so.