Saturday, May 24, 2008

Where do the stories come from?

I found one of my old laptops from about ten years ago. This is some of what was on it and I have to wonder-where did this come from? Where was I going? The only thing I can come up with was that about 100 years ago I used to teach woman's self defense and some of the women there would tell me their stories. When they talked I would feel their pain, fear and then I would feel anger. I could teach them how to fight, get out of certain holds but I couldn't fight for them. I couldn't go into their homes and grab the guy by the neck and...well, you know. Most of these women were bright, smart people who, for some reason, got trapped by something we could never understand unless we walked in their shoes.
Anyway, I don't know where this story came from, but that might have been it. Here's a clip: CHAPTER 1

Nishi set a mug of steaming coffee on the table at Deacon’s place. He liked his coffee strong and black and in its spot before he came down to breakfast. They had been married almost ten years and Nishi knew the rules.
Rules, Deacon explained in his authoritarian way, gave us order and without order the human race was going to hell in a handbasket. Rules were what, Deacon said, separated the respectable people from the animals. Nishi knew all the rules well. Deacon had taught her each and every one with the back of his hand. And even sometimes a closed fist or two if she was a bit slow to take up on his method of instruction.
“Four eggs, scrambled.” Deacon entered the room, tying his tie as he came. “I hope the grapefruit juice is fresh squeezed.”
“Good morning, Deacon.” Nishi took the eggs out of the fridge and took a bowl down from the cupboard to scramble the eggs in. She kept her back turned to him as she whipped the eggs with a fork. She used extra light virgin olive oil to grease the pan and turned the stove on low. One ounce of cold water, added slowly so the eggs were equally hydrated, a dash of salt and into the frying pan.
Yes, she knew all the rules.
A chair scraped across the tile floor as he sat down and a second later he was slurping his coffee. Nishi hated when he did that, slurped as he drank. It was bad manners. She had tried to correct him on it once in the beginning of their relationship but he had corrected her instead. According to Deacon, no self respecting wife corrected her husband. Another rule. Now she just squelched her irritation and did her best to ignore it.
Nishi stirred the eggs in the pan and turned to take the pitcher of grapefruit juice out of the fridge. She carefully poured a glass for Deacon and one for herself. Another of Deacon’s rules. He thought grapefruit juice helped burn fat and his wife wasn’t allowed to gain an ounce. She weighted in once a week, every Saturday morning, with Deacon looking over her shoulder. Nishi would drink his grapefruit juice and sip coffee to wash away the taste. She hated grapefruit juice. She took his to the table.
One lightening quick hand reached out to slap her across the face and Nishi dropped like a rock, hitting the back of her head on the fridge door as she went down and dumping Deacon’s grapefruit juice across the table.
“You didn’t make this juice fresh. You made it last night.” He said calmly.
Shocked from the vicious attack, it took Nishi a minute to recover. “No, Deacon, I didn’t. I squeezed it this morning. I swear.”
Deacon got out of his chair, his only sign of anger was in the dark flash of his black eyes. He took a moment to straighten his tie and smooth back his sleek raven hair before he moved over to where Nishi lay. His voice was hard, “The juicer is clean and sitting over there on the counter and you’ve only been down here a few minutes. Not long enough to make the juice and clean out the juicer.”
Nishi didn’t say anything. Deacon was right. She had snuck down here last night, after Deacon went to bed and made the juice. She was just hoping to get a jump on her morning chores and she was sure he wouldn’t notice. She began to cry. Her face hurt and she was sure he had loosened one of her teeth. The coppery taste of blood filled her mouth.
“I’m sorry, Deacon, I—I’m sorry.”
Deacon lifted the pitcher of juice off the counter and examined the yellow liquid. He brought it to his nose and sniffed.
“Never, ever try to outwit those who are smarter then you, Nishi.” He paused, a sadistic smile curling his thin lips, and slowly dumped the cold grapefruit juice over his wife’s bowed head. He poured every drop out and then gave the pitcher a little shake so as not to miss a drop. “Look what you made me do, you little bitch!”
The acidic juice stung her eyes and blurred her vision. She raised her head as she tried to wipe it away, thinking he was through with her, when Deacon dropped the heavy glass pitcher on her head. It caught her just above the right eye and sent black shards of pain through her already throbbing skull. Nishi cried out and the pitcher hit the floor beside her bare feet and shattered, sending sharp slivers of glass out around her prone body.
“Damn you bitch!” Deacon yelled, leaning over her, his face twisted an ugly shade of scarlet “You got my new pants all sticky! Now I’ll have to go change and probably be late for work.”
Nishi knew enough to try to apologize. She had once tried to keep quiet and curl into a little ball when Deacon started in like this, but her lack of response always fed his anger. “I’m sorry.” Her voice was broken. “I’m so sorry, Deacon.”
For one minute she thought he was going to kick her but then he seemed to reconcider. The juice, Nishi thought, he’s afraid the juice that covered her would dirty his Italian leather loafers.

Later, Nishi would think if she only held her tongue at that point perhaps she never would have killed him. If she had only held on to one tiny shred of decency she might never have found the insanity to do begin her journey, but she didn’t.
“I’m sorry. I won’t do this again. I was only trying to save time. I’m sorry.”

When Deacon left to go back upstairs to change Nishi picked herself up off the floor careful not to step on any of the broken glass. Her tongue probed her teeth, poking against them and feeling them shift. He had knocked her tooth loose. Her tongue sought the rest of the row of teeth on that side of her face. Okay, maybe two loose teeth. She took the dishtowel off the counter and dried her face. As she dabbed the juice off her forehead the towel came away with blood.
“Oh.”
Her voice was soft and sad. No hysteria, no panic. She had seen blood before. Often when Deacon was in a mood he would purposely draw blood. A slap to the face where the teeth would cut into the lip, gripping her hand so tightly her engagement ring would twist and tear into her fingers or a bash to the side of the head, splitting open the delicate cartilage of her ear. Blood didn’t frighten her anymore, but now, something in her brain began to work. The thoughts came swiftly through her mind as if this gash on her forehead had opened a window that was now letting in a tirade of insights she had not had before.
“Oh.” She said to the blood smudged towel in her hands.
Nishi turned toward the sink and looked out the window into the back yard. Spring was here and just yesterday she had planted flowers in the boxes on the deck. Impatiens and Zinnias.
Nishi hated Zinnias. Smelly, sweet little flowers. Deacon’s favorites. If it were up to her she would only plant Impatiens. Beautiful, colorful Impatiens. She would plant them all over the yard. Right now the Impatiens were planted in only one of the six flower boxes on the deck. Smelly Zinnias were in the other five.
Deacon came into the kitchen then and stopped. He looked from his wife to the mess still on the floor.
“Nishi,” his voice held a warning as he slowly crossed the room towards her. “What are you doing standing there when there is so much work to do? Do I have to teach you this rule?”
“Rule.”
The word echoed in her mind.
“Rule.”
What a nasty word. Nasty four letter word. Nishi felt the cut on her forehead tighten as she frowned. Blood on the dish towel.
“NOT ANOTHER RULE!” Her brain screamed. “NO MORE RULES!”
“Nishi….” Deacon’s voice was a hiss now as his anger mounted. “Damn you Nishi! Do you think I like teaching you the rules over and over again? DO YOU?”
Nishi’s gaze dropped from the bright flowers on the deck outside to the sink and there sat a knife. She had used it to slice the grapefruit last night when she made the juice. A light sticky coating of yellow liquid still coated its shiny surface. If Deacon knew she had left this knife in the sink he would have been so upset. How did she forget the knife?
“Everything has its place, Nishi.” Deacon would say, “That is a rule!”
It came from the block that sat beside the stove. It had six steak knives, one cleaver, two slicing knives of different sizes and this one. Oversized, serrated edge and the sharpest one in the block. Deacon hand bought the set in Macy’s for Nishi last Christmas. He said if she had the proper tools perhaps she could cook better. Nishi had been hoping for a new coat but Deacon had convinced her that she needed this more. And Deacon always knew best.
“Nishi!” Deacon’s voice was sharp and cut through her back bone like a razorblade. She flinched.
She could feel him advance toward her, the hairs on the back of her neck prickling in trepidation. She reached for the knife.
“Deacon.” She whispered.
His strong hand suddenly shot out and clasped the back of Nishi’s neck, cruel fingers locking into the delicate hairs at the nape. Nishi yelped in pain as her fingers clutched the edge of the sink so she wouldn’t fall. Deacon shook her by the hair. “You little bitch! What the fuck do you think you’re doing? Do you think this mess will just clean it self up?” He shook her so hard he made her teeth rattle.
Nishi didn’t think, she didn’t comprehend her actions. Everything suddenly seemed on auto pilot. The sun was still outside in her garden, the flowers were still in the boxes on the deck and, except for the grapefruit juice on the floor and the shattered pitcher, her kitchen looked perfectly normal. But this time everything was moving in slow motion.
The smelly Zinnia’s were staring back at her with orange and yellow eyes. There was one fat yellow and black bee floating lazily from flower to flower and all Nishi could think of was how much she hated those smelly flowers.
“If you had half a brain in that stupid little head of yours maybe then my rules wouldn’t be so hard to understand!” He shook her again, making her loose teeth shift and causing her to bite down on her rapidly swelling lip. “This time you’re going to have to be thoroughly punished.”
She just let Deacon turn her to him, lifting her up onto her toes and bringing her face up to his own. The hair at the back of her head screamed as it tore from its roots and in one swift move Nishi brought the knife around and plunged it into his chest. She pushed it though flesh and bone in one hard, crunching thrust with a strength she didn’t know she posessed. Warm blood gushed out over her hand and she felt its warm flow ooze under the sleeve of her robe and down her arm.
“It is the sharpest knife in the block.” Nishi thought numbly, Deacon’s own words echoing in her brain. “The sharpest knife in the block.”
Deacon’s eyes bulged and he looked down at the knife. His grip on her hair loosened and his sharp intake of breath sounded wet and throaty. As he exhaled again bubbles of blood formed on his lips. Without knowing what she was doing, whether out of anger or panic, Nishi twisted the knife slightly to the right and pulled it up. Deacon’s eyes rolled back and a strangled groan came out of his throat followed by a gush of blood. It soaked the front of his perfectly white shirt and designer tie and spattered down the front of Nishi’s robe. Then Deacon’s knees gave out and Nishi let go of the knife as he crumbled to floor.
Nishi watched as if her mind was disconnected from her body. She felt as if she was floating above it all, observing from another demenion the play acting out in her little blue and white kitchen. Deacon’s body twitched once, twice then the blood pumping from his chest slowed and finally stopped. As that last trickle of blood oozed out of her husband Nishi breathed a deep sigh of relief. She stood over him for the longest time, Deacon’s blood dripped from her fingers and stained the beige tiled floor, and did nothing. She just stared at her husband noting the patterns the blood had made on his Armani tie, the last bubbles of his breath popping open and drying on his lips and the sharpest knife in the house sticking out of his chest, crimson against that perfect white shirt.

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