Because I Love You
© 2007 by Abigail Ekue
Cops responded to the call at three p.m. The scene was both gruesome and humbling. The couple had obviously been enjoying an early Thanksgiving dinner.
There were chunks of flesh and blood all over the dining room. The electric carving knife had been used on the young woman in her late 20’s. She was almost decapitated. Either the carving knife couldn’t saw through her cervical vertebrae or perhaps he simply got lazy.
Chunks of her quads, breasts and intestines were missing. One hack to the neck is what did the young man in. He had put his head down on the dining table before using the knife on himself.
There was an overturned bowl of pineapple near the young woman. Apparently they were going to eat that afterward, to aid in digestion. The pineapple chunks were stained red, like fruit found on the bottom of a punch bowl. Murder-suicide.
“What drives a man to do such a thing?” she thought.
The event made her ruminate over her own relationship. It had been only a few months. A few times he had made her feel quite uncomfortable, but never fear for her life. The young Thanksgiving diner probably didn’t fear for her life either.
Tuesday morning she headed out to work. The voicemail indicator was lit on her phone. It was him. “Where are you?” he asked. “It’s 9:03,” he said. “You’re not there?” he asked. “Pick up the phone,” he demanded. She meant to call him back but was swamped immediately with new projects from the boss-a-la-Hades. So that return call fell by the wayside.
That night he called as she was getting ready for a midweek dinner and drink fest with friends. “Where you going?” he asked. “Out,” she said. “With who?” he drilled. Only recently had she noticed this trend in him. Constantly needing to know her whereabouts, what she was wearing, what she was thinking.
“What are you thinking?” he’d ask. “Nothing,” she’d say. “I know you’re thinking about something. Tell me,” he’d insist. And that exchange would go on for minutes at a time.
She was utterly embarrassed when he cross-examined her on the subway once. When she insisted that she was just reading a subway ad, he stroked her face, telling her how beautiful she was. Early on, she would’ve felt adored and gazed back at him adoringly. This time his gaze was too intense. After he stroked her face, he pulled her closer to him, gripping the back of her neck with extra force she hadn’t felt before.
When the train arrived at the next station, she tried to step aside to let passengers on and off but he wouldn’t let her move. To outsiders, they probably looked like such the amorous couple, completely oblivious to the world around them. She was actually terrified and confused at this point, wondering why he was acting this way.
As they rode the train deeper into Brooklyn, his stop came first. They usually got off the train together so they could make love all over his apartment. The last few times, she reluctantly went over to his apartment and left as soon as she could afterwards. “Stay,” he asked. “I can’t. I have to work early tomorrow,” she explained. “I need you,” he pleaded. She stood her ground, didn’t look back as she walked down the hall from his apartment. His glare literally bore a hole in the back of her head. “I can’t look back,” she scolded herself. Things had to cool off a bit. He was getting too intense, obsessed, possessed.
She usually called when she got home to let him know she was safe. This time she sent a text message, trying to create some distance. He didn’t text back, he called, on her landline, to make sure she was home. “You could be texting me from anywhere,” he accused. “Text was easier,” she said. “But you always call,” he reminded her. Yeah, that’s true, she thought to herself and it was time she changed things.
She hadn’t seen her friends in weeks. Every waking moment was spent with him if she wasn’t at work or on the toilet. Her daily calls to her mother were scheduled to weekly then bi-weekly. The last time she spoke to her was a month ago.
She had to take him out of her life to make room for those closer to her. That was absurd, she thought. “We gotta cool it,” she said. “Why? That makes no sense.” The tone of his voice wavered between incredulous and threatening. It makes perfect sense, she thought. How would she explain it to him? We’re together all the time, she thought. No, he’d say that’s a good thing. I feel smothered. No, he’d take that as an attack. “I need a break,” she blurted out.
“Oh,” he said. Awkward pause. It was hard to decipher what he was thinking and what he meant by that. “Oh.” It hung ominously in the air. She let out a rhyming “So.” More silence. “I’m gonna go,” she told him. “Call me later,” he requested.
She counted one, two, seven calls a day from him she ignored, eight days in a row. Then they ceased. She spoke to her mother. Had dinner with friends. Slept eight hours a night.
Three days shy of month later, she answered her phone. “Hey,” he said. Instantly, there was a lump in her throat. “Listen to your gut,” she told herself. This gut reaction was trying to tell her something. Her caller ID listed the number and name of Tracie Simprini, not his. “I can’t talk now,” she said. “We can talk in person,” he said. “No. I don’t want to see you,” she said. “Come on. One chance. I’m coming over,” he said. “Do not come here,” she instructed. “See you in a bit,” he insisted. Then the phone went dead.
At the halfway mark of the hour long television show, there was a knock on her door. It couldn’t be him. She didn’t leave the front doors open for him. When she knew he was coming over she often left the doors unlocked. Partly because she wouldn’t have to worry about putting on clothes to let him in and partly because she was too embarrassed to have anyone see her letting him in. There was many a night she wondered why she ever got involved with him.
There was a knock on the door again. She let out an exasperated sigh. She peered through the peephole and eyed his forlorn face. She opened the door. “See what you made me do?” he asked. The gun hung in his left hand.
She gasped when she spotted it. She ran back into the apartment. Caught off guard, she had cornered herself. “Look at what you did,” he said following her into the apartment. His expression didn’t change. Silent tears streamed down her face, dripping profusely off her chin. “Look at what you did!” he demanded. “Please don’t kill me…” she pleaded.
He raised the gun and blew his brains out. Grey matter, skull fragments and blood splattered all over the walls and her face as his body crumpled to the floor. The one eye remaining in his skull remained fixed on her. He had no intention of killing her physically. But he had killed her emotionally, mentally, spiritually. There was no telling when she would be resurrected. Who would clean this up? And remove the body?
So many questions ran through her mind then her mind went blank while the coroner bagged the body and wheeled it out on a stretcher. She stared blankly into space. Hadn’t moved in hours. Her respiration barely six breaths a minute. Crime scene cleaners were called in to handle the sterilization.
No one would know he was dead. His estranged mother lived in Oregon and didn’t have a listed number. His brother from a different mother struggled daily in the South Carolina backwoods, last he knew. He was headed for Potter’s Field.
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