BEATINGS

beatings

PROLOGUE:

A long-fingered hand with sharpened fingernails painted jet black cradled a glass of bourbon – not top shelf, not bottom shelf but mid-range. Strong, high-proof and serviceable for the taste of the discerning and violent consumer. Another hand of similar make and model held a menthol cigarette burned halfway down, also of a potent variety however predictably high-priced, held betwixt thumb and forefinger in the European fashion rather than between fore and middle as common in America – though this was both the origin and the habitation of the one so imbibing.

Reddened eyes stared coldly and without lustre from beneath thick black brows, ringed in darkness though not that of an artificially cosmetic nature as she herself only adorned herself as such for the most dramatic of events but rather with that darkness which comes naturally from long days of arduous toil, induced stress and little sleep.

An old-fashioned wall clock clicked over one minute, then another, as her cigarette burned down, the ash beginning to droop sullenly and the two ice-cubes in her libation begin to melt and meld in a visually sickening oily fashion with the whiskey. The thirty-third minute of the third hour of the afternoon came with the full circumambulation of the second hand, audible in the otherwise quiet rambling country house and her face became alive, suffuse in the angry blush of rage as she flung the glass against the door frame, shattering it.

She rushed toward the door and began undoing the myriad security mechanisms as the sound of sirens erupted from the old highway beyond the field.

CHAPTER 1:

Always hatred, always – galvanizing her spine like a steel rod throughout the day and most of the night, in fact. Lying there beneath the skin, causing full-body tension throughout her musculature – muscles taut, ready to spring to action at the slightest hint of any goddamn thing, ready to spring for a bit of predatory activity or what her husband liked to call “pro-active self-defense”, like them snarling bobcats she heard fighting up in the hills as a girl.

Oftentimes anger – mostly impotent in days long past, impotent in that there wasn’t nearly a suitable outlet for it – but would an outlet only increase its potency, giving fuel to the figurative fire? That was a bit too philosophical of a peregrination for her liking, but an issue all the same and one she hadn’t quite worked out yet, though an outlet – suitable or otherwise – was always appreciated. Smashing a log against a tree was one thing, kicking a trestle and then having to deal with the afterburn of some ruined infrastructure and perhaps a half-ruined foot was one thing. A well-decided upon target and an expertly aimed – if somewhat brutish in delivery – cinderblock lobbed through a glass window (or a saw through a trestle – bigger trestle, preferably someone else’s) – or a coiled belt unfurled against someone else’s… well, there’s time enough for all of that on down the line.

Rage? Oh yes, rage was the absolute best of the whole entire goddamn lot – best left for those special moments, letting that particular screw out of the driver (or putting that particular pilot – well-pepped, mind you, into the cockpit) too casual-like wouldn’t do at all, not in a law abiding society. But when it came unbidden, or in that exact right moment where the Supreme Being turned the red light into a green (Code Green?) and gave you a free-pass A-’okay then that was, well, that was sweet, sweet possession.

She shifted from her thoughts and likewise shifted out of the old and somewhat dilapidated La-Z Boy (brand authenticity, unconfirmed) that was her somewhat supine place of residency during the off-hours during the day as well as being the usual place of living by her husband – also semi-supine, also during off-hours (though mirabile dictu – questionable) of the nocturnal hours, when she was displaced to the couch – or wandering about the outlying field through the near knee-high brush (the crop, she knew not – ruining the fallacy that everyone who lived rural had the wherewithal of a farmhand, much less that of a survivalist who knew which way was south-by-southwest depending on the fucking moss growth on a pine.)

Sometimes she would wander farther than the outlying field and find herself sulking around, slinking aimlessly in a few foot diameter by the mouth of the long dirt driveway – the mouth of their (rented) property to the highway or byway, depending on one’s unique perspective. To the mailman and to the form-fillers and form-readers it was still a “rural route” with an attached number, though she had thought that that particular nomenclature had gone out of use though not apparently in this part of the country.

Further than the mouth of the drive she didn’t often wander – at least by foot – and if by car, not alone, as her husband was the only one with a license and if that was expired (which she didn’t believe it was) he was at least the only “trained driver” on the land, her having never had the particular interest nor proclivity to put herself behind the driver’s seat (though there was certainly the pressure to adapt – a long, long time ago, it seemed now.)

And so she would stand – atop piled sand, driven down but still pliant beneath her feet and potentially dangerous embankments along the side (dangerous for those driving to fast, though obnoxious might be a better term) and flat, slightly cracked blacktop (greytop?) a foot off – seldom travelled but when so usually by the gusto and beer-filled operators of the modern two-ton truck, fast-food wrappers, beer cans and sometimes emptied cardboard twelve-packs or suitcases (beer suitcases – that means eighteen-to-twenty-four cans, for the inexperienced) flying from the fully descended electric windows, the sounds of the most recent culture-affirming Nashville band wafting through the windows. The other travellers, equally fast, would cruise by – often at similar speed but slightly less reckless – in newer model luxury cars, windows firmly sealed whatever the weather (to better cushion themselves to the peculiar and oh so custom comfort that their heating and air-conditioning systems afforded, at their expense – damn mother nature in the process) – off to one place or another, usually the other – her little patch of open road passed by and forgotten without so much as a thought.

She herself though had much to think about on this little patch of land – whether it be by day, when she stood demurely far back from the road proper to avoid the sight of any passing cars or by night – when she stood closer, sometimes standing in the middle of the faded middle line itself, by god, though quickly retreating to the shadows of the copse of crooked pine trees that provided some small concealment (the military-formation lines of planted regrowth, expertly spaced apart in the property across the street affording no such sanctuary.)

Where to go from here? The paths that had been well trod in the past, mostly by impetus of her husband (of which she – meeting him near the zenith of his more subversive activities, upon which immediately descended the beginning of twilight as the case often is in cold hard reality, had played a part) were only filament shadows on the night-like existence that they lived. Sure, there was maintenance – and maintenance well-maintained, thank you very much – no luxury, but much more luxury than they had bargained for in the interim – within the standards of the atypical rural American outcast. But as the wise-men (or malcontents) once said, living simply isn’t life. Where was the verve? The proverbial English cut of the dash? It didn’t seem to be here, that was sure enough – and the opportunities didn’t seem to be presenting themselves to the opportune, at least not in this squalid little sector of the backwoods.

That mild discontent swirling in her mind, lazily mind you, but present nonetheless, she slowly shuffled one-foot-in-front-of-the-other back down the sandy driveway to the house, presently empty, her mate and sole physical companion off exerting himself in his own lone daytime pursuits (equally grim – though he probably didn’t think so) – back through the door onto old wooden floorboards sinking here and there, catching the light glumly shining through the dry-rotten cheap curtains there and then – to lay upon a couch bought originally by someone else and to consider thoughts probably considered by millions of humanoids before her and after her alike, marginal in scope and partial in realization for a marginal and partial people.

Advertisements