The Little Woman
I think the little woman got a tad too honest with our local paper. They was interviewing people on the street, asking what did they look forwards to. Most said things like Christmas, going on my honeymoon, new tires for the truck. Not the little woman, though. All she had to say was two words, widow hood.
That was Friday. Today is Monday. A lot has happened in between, starting when she come home from Wal-Mart's with more stuff than usual.
I said I'd help her bring it in but she said she'd take care of it, and don't touch nothing. It's mostly women's things. I figured she meant maxi pads and Summer's Eve and such, but when I finally seen what else it was I got the willy-nickers.
What's all this crap for, Geralyn? I asked. You think money grows under trees?
Don't bark at me, she says. They's things I need.
Except she didn't need no Husqvarna chain saw. She didn't need no battery acid and no duct tape and no plastic tarp. And most of all she didn't need no super concentrated ant poison with the words "fast acting" on the label.
I asked her what she got that for and she says carpenter ants. Carpenter ants? I remind her that we're in a goddam trailer. There ain't no wood in here except the furniture, and most of that's plastic.
It ain't my fault we live in this here dump, is all she says. And then she loads up Hoover's bowl with Sam's Club dog chow and sets it down out side for him, and smokes a cigarette while she reads her Husqvarna manual. But what in God's tarnation did she buy that saw for since we ain't hardly got no trees?
While she was out I snuck a peak at her computer because I knowed there had to be a hint some where. First thing I seen was an e-mail from some place called Disappear.com that said, "Thank You For Your Recent Order," which struck me as peculiar. So I Googled Disappear.com and seen a fancy page come up that said, "Planning a disappearance? Our proprietary method is affordable and safe. Plus, it's guaranteed to work!" And they showed a photograph of Jimmy Hoffa, which must of been there president or founder, but then I heard the porch floor creek and got up fast before the little woman walked back in.
I was headed for the kitchen to grab a Miller Lite when she pushed past me and plunked her fat ass down at the computer. Straight away she asks me, Jarvis honey, why's my chair still warm? I guess you left a lot of heat on it last time you was there, I say. Clever wise cracks is a way of life for me, but the little woman, she don't always find it entertaining. She narrows up those eyes of hers and says to me in a voice so cold it sucked all that butt heat off her chair, what was you using my computer for?
Now, I couldn't let her see I figured out her plan to poison me and cut my body into little pieces and wrap it up with duct tape in a plastic tarp. I had to come up with something fast. So I took a long draw on my beer and said to her real humble-like: pornography.
Oh, yeah? she says, and laughs at me, like har-dee-har-har. What kind of porno was you looking at? I told her, Britney Spears's private parts—which I wasn't, but that was a pretty safe bet. And she says, but you ain't even connected to the internet! Not any more, I say. When I heard you coming I logged off. She logs back on and sets to looking where I been. She won't find no porno, that's for sure, but she will find Disappear.com. So once again I have to think real fast.
Wait a minute, Geralyn, I say, and change the subject: What's that there Disappear.com thing? Suddenly she's rattled. I have no idea, she says. I just want to see what kind of porn they's got on here. She clicks on Google Images and types like mad into the search window. Soon the whole computer screen starts turning pink from all that naked flesh—and not just Britney Spears, but other stars who got their pictures took up skirts while bending down or sliding in and out of cars. And some of them's so real and life-like looking, I swear that if the dog was there he'd press his nose against the screen to see if any of them smelled. I seen one nice Britney picture right away but Geralyn clicks on a different one that was zoomed in tighter on the crotchy parts, which makes her giggly again.
She says to me all playful-like, you must be horny, Jarvis, honey. I can tell. I seen how you was looking at them girls and wishing they was me. (Actually, that would be the other way around, I almost said, but kept my mouth shut.) Now she's tugging at my zipper, making funny little kissy noises, and telling Mister Happy to come out and play. I tell her Mr. Happy can't get up right now because he has to take a leak, and she goes back into the kitchen.
I can still see the big wide damp spot underneath where she was sitting at and even now the very memory of that, not to mention other things, like to make me retch. Why don't you go out in the yard and take your leak, she calls to me. I'm making us some ginseng iced tea. Can I put a shot of whiskey in yours? This sends another round of willy-nickers up my spine. We ain't got no whiskey bottle any more, but there's all that poison.
The minute I come back inside she waddles up to me and holds out two big glasses of iced tea. I hesitate, but she puts one in my hand and clinks them both together. How can I ever wiggle out of this? Cheers, she says. What for? I ask, but she don't answer. She just kind of purses up her lips and makes her eyes all fluttery, which ain't pretty when she's still got sausage in her teeth and ain't trimmed all the wart hair off her chin.
Now she coos at me, all lovey-dovey like, and teases me about a blow job after lunch, which she ain't never said that to me before. First let's have some iced tea on the porch, she says. She gives a little shove and next thing you know I'm back outside where not five minutes earlier I was peeing in the bushes, right about where Hoover's snoozing in the shade. Out the corner of my eye I spot the chain saw and the duct tape and the big blue heavy plastic tarp all stacked up neat-like by our trailer, just waiting to be used. And here I am with a glass of poison in my shaky hand and I ain't found out yet what the battery acid's for.
What's wrong, honey? she asks. I tell her I could use a cigarette right now. But you ain't smoked since we got married, she says. And I go, yeah, but I sure got excited after looking at all them sexy ladies on the internet and thinking about you. She lumbers up the steps to go inside and grab her pack of Virginia Slims and when she's gone I switch the glasses. When she comes back, I hold mine up to hers to clink. To happy days, she says, and guzzles half a giant beer glass full of poison ginseng tea. I took one small sip of my own, which tasted quite all right, then licked my lips and watched the little woman's face for a reaction. I seen her eyes get kind of blank and empty-like and start to popping out a little, and her cheeks was turning purple too, so I asked her what was wrong. Goes down kind of warm, she said. I sort of winked at her and seen her start to choking and then go foaming round the mouth, and that was when I knew for sure she had the poison glass and, by that time, so did she. She kicked her legs and stomped her feet a couple times, which woke up Hoover, then grabbed her self around the Adam's apple until her eye balls spun around and that's when she keeled over. The dog cleared out of the way just a second before she fell into the bushes right where he was at. I checked her and there weren't no pulse. Now I got a dead wife on my hands, but it was self defense.
I didn't want to call the sheriff yet. It might bring trouble if the authorities was involved. They'd do tests and find the poison in her body and her glass, which would have my finger prints as well as hers. They'd find the chain saw and the duct tape and the plastic tarp, not to mention everything on her computer—which they wouldn't know was hers. They'd ask me why I ordered a how to kill somebody manual from Disappear.com, and why I just bought them things at Wal-Mart's on my debit card, and why there weren't no poison in my glass. Oh, and by the way, sir, would you mind telling us what is your particular fascination with Britney Spears's lady parts and did you decide to kill your wife when she discovered your addiction to pornography?
Fortunately, I took the time to think things through real careful-like. I ain't got no real close neighbors so time and privacy was on my side. I had a decent range of options but every one of them had something wrong with it. I couldn't bury her on the property right away. That's the first place cops would look on the off chance somebody wound up missing her. But if I carried her off in the back of my truck, I might get caught—and, besides, I couldn't load her body by my self and if I used the come-along it'd probably pull her arms clean off.
I decide to sit out side to smoke a joint and think some more on what to do. Hoover smells it right away and comes up to me and wags his tail. He never liked tobacco smoke but he's got a taste for quality weed. I blow some smoke right in his face so he can breathe it in, which I taught him how when he was just a puppy; he enjoys it just like me. Smoking gives me quite an appetite so I got some jerky and a box of cheese curls and a couple more Miller Lites to wash it down. Hoover's hungry, too, but I don't give him nothing because he's already ate. I go back inside and look at naked pictures on the internet before hitting the sack around midnight because the TV's broke.
So all of that was Sunday afternoon and night and it's Monday morning now. I walk outside to take my normal leak and Hoover don't come up to me as usual. Instead I see him lying on the ground all bloated up and half unconscious with his tongue half hanging out and covered with this bubbly drool. His breathing is real slow. I see now what his problem was: he had the munchies when I got him stoned and, since I didn't feed him, he went over to the little woman's corpse and started in on her. First he nibbled at her arm and got his self a bone to play with, then he pushed her skirt up with his nose and ripped her belly open and ate his fill, and more, of human chitlins. What's left of her is on the ground between the bushes. I can't hardly bear the pain of it. When I went to bed last night my wife was dead. Now on top of that my dog's took sick. It looked like rabies but it weren't. It was all that poison in her that he must of ate, the very stuff she bought to kill me with. (This would prove to be my lucky brake but I was too up set about the dog to see it then.)
I go inside and dial up 9-1-1. After six or seven rings a lady answers. I holler in the phone, all breathless-like. This is Jarvis Parker over here on Highway 24. Send Sheriff Walters right away! She tells me in a half bored tone of voice, I can't send help without an address, sir. The sheriff knows right where it's at, I say. Are you in any kind of danger, sir? she asks. And I say no, but a rabid dog just killed my wife. Are you sure she's dead, sir? I tell her yes, because the dog ate parts of her. She says, Mr. Parker, do you know the owner of the dog. I say, you're talking to him. I see, she says, and what's your pet's name, sir? And does he have his current shots and K-9 license? You don't need to ask me all these questions after I just lost my wife, I said. Sorry, sir, I'm just following procedure. But she promised she'd have Sheriff Walters come, and half an hour later he showed up.
Straight away the sheriff noticed Hoover in his agony, all twitching and drooling, rolling his sad brown eyes around and making painful sounds, and examined him real careful-like. He told me it was definitely rabies and one or the other of us had to shoot him as a matter of public health, so I walked over to my truck to get my .22 and send old Hoover into doggie heaven. Once I put the rifle back on safety and leaned it up against the trailer, Sheriff Walters shook my hand and told me he was sorry about Geralyn, how she laid there all chewed open with her parts exposed. He tries to comfort me: Jesus, Jarvis, that's about the worst I ever saw. You must be heart broke. I told him that would be a mild word for it; when a man comes face to face with death it changes you forever. He don't know all what I mean by that but nods and puts his hand on my shoulder. You'll get through this thing, he says, and I'll do what I can to help.
I told the sheriff that was decent of him, but I didn't even know where to start. I never planned for anything like this. The little woman and me... well, we never talked about funerals and such. That don't matter any more, he says. Anything you planned ahead of time would be out the window now, considering the mode of death. What you've got to do is creamate her on account of the rabies, and the dog—what'd you say his name was? Hoover, like the vacuum cleaner, I explained; he was always over eating, just sucking it all in—if we let him, he'd gorge his self till he got sick—but he never got fat; must of had worms... Sheriff Walters cut me off. It's a crying shame about your Geralyn and Hoover, he said. But the point is, ordinary burial just ain't safe. What if some bear or coyote digs them up, and then the buzzards get to them? That's how rabies spreads around. So you've definitely got to have them creamated.
Maybe I'll take care of it here my self, I say; still got a cord of fire wood left. No, he says, you've got to take her and the dog to Riverside where there's a licensed funeral home. Funeral homes do dogs? I ask. The sheriff tilts his head and winks at me. Technically not, he says. But they don't have to know. The way you do it, see, is wrap them both together in a tarp or something. You got a ground cloth and some rope, ain't you? I show him the pile the little woman left beside the trailer. Good, he says, because you should attend to it today. I'll give you a hand, long as I'm here. You'll also need a legal Death Certificate, which I can write one up for you right now, considering the cause of death is so straight forward. I'll just put her name on it; the dog don't need one in this county. So I gave him Geralyn's full name and Social Security number and date of birth and height and weight and all that stuff so he could put it on the form; and we upped her weight from 205 to 280 to allow for Hoover.
We opened up the tarp out flat and dragged both bodies onto it, then folded it over like a beef and bean burrito and secured it with duct tape. The sheriff showed me how to wrap it in a criss-cross pattern so it looked real professional. Then I tied a rope around it and used my winch and some old scrap lumber for a ramp and managed to get them in my truck. Before the sheriff left he said again, my sympathies about your wife and dog; I was always partial to yellow labs. And I promised I would vote for him again.
I called up the Riverside Funeral Home and explained the situation on the phone and they said, sure, come right on down. By this point it was almost lunch time but I put my hunger on hold to do what needed to be done. It would be a forty minute drive. I packed a can of Miller Lite and rolled a nice fat joint to pass the time, then drove out Highway 24 to the tune of Dolly Parton belching out some old song I didn't hardly like, even though it sounded perky and God knows I needed an up lift. But it didn't seem at all respectful-like, what with my former loved ones all tied up in one big bundle there behind me in the truck bed and now getting drizzled on by rain (which by the way we needed). I was looking for a Christian station for some proper inspiration when I should of paid attention to the road. Next thing you know, I see a state police car in my rear view mirror, half a mile behind and closing fast. I flicked my doobie out the window and gargled out my mouth with beer, then found a can of WD-40 on the floor, which was the only air freshener I had, and sprayed some around the cab to kill the smell and also a little in my mouth, which saved my ass for the second time today—actually more like the third, considering I'm still alive.
The cop turns out to be a pretty looking red head woman with bright green eyes and a bodacious rack, but tough as nails. Sorry but I got to write you up, she says, all business-like. 78 mph and the limit's 45. You need to be more careful when the roads is slick. And by the way, what's that big blue bundle in your truck bed, sir? Wouldn't be narcotics now, would it? I told her no, ma'am, that there's my wife that died. I'm carrying her to Riverside to be cremated. You can ask the funeral parlor if you like. And then I tell her all about the rabies and the dog. I can see her green eyes soften at the sadness of my story. That's all right, sir, I'm inclined to take you at your word on that, she says, but she must of been one massive woman. 280 pounds, I said, and showed her on the Death Certificate. She notices Sheriff Walter's signature and says to me, good man; I voted for him. Me too, I say. Hell, we's in a red state, right? Red neck, red state. Then clear out of the blue she embraces me and shakes my hand. Listen, sir, she says, about the ticket: just show up in court, and I'm sure the judge will wave your points and fine once I explain your special situation. I know it's awful tough right now, Mr. Parker. You must be heart broke.
Heart broke? Suppose I am, I tell her, but that ain't hardly half of it. She gets back in her cruiser and heads back north on Highway 24. I go south to finish up my business. I pass McMcDonald's and the KFC place at the edge of town. My stomach's growling. I could put away a three-piece extra crispy combo and a piece of pie. On top of that, without quite knowing why, I get this funny sad and sentimental feeling, like I'm almost going to cry or something. And it ain't just the joint I smoked, though Mary Jane affects me in that way. This is where the little woman and me used to go for dinner once a week, but that was years ago when we was more in love and skies looked brighter then. I shouldn't let such memories get to me, but they still do. I try not to think about Geralyn laid out length wise in the cargo bed behind me, unaware of how she's getting rained on, or even that she's stone cold dead and rolled up with a dog inside that tarp she bought. Instead, I try to puzzle out the question: what on earth did she ever want to kill me for? I mean, there's got to be a reason for life's mysteries but I sure can't understand it, no more than a tired old yellow dog could figure out how all this happened either.
Giles Selig (a pseudonym) writes anonymously in Rhinebeck, NY, and is a member of the Hudson Valley Fiction Writers Group. His stories, poetry, and humor are seen in various print and on-line outlets. His credits (besides The Hunger) include Chronogram, Foliate Oak, Light & Dark, Broke Bohemian, Penny Shorts, Flash Fiction Magazine, Literary Yard, Corvus, Scarlet Leaf Review, Pilcrow & Dagger, Medium, Made-Up Words, Laughing Earth Lit, Henry, Edna, the Strange Recital podcast series, and more. His novella, Blaustein's Dream, will be released in May. He used to be an advertising and communications guy.