Mr. Dahl calls me into his office one day and asks if I want to take a job driving a truck of spearmint oil to North Miami Beach.
“It’s not your usual route,” he says. “But Sack is having that Lasik surgery on his eyes and can’t do this trip.”
I pretend to be put out, and then reluctantly agree when he offers me time and a half. Score-score! As I pass through the long stretch of Everglades called Alligator Alley, I wonder what is going through Leroy’s mind. Did he really think I wouldn’t find him? That I’d let it go? I laugh out loud and turn up my music. Taylor Swift, man; gotta love her.
Leroy is much the same. His hair, his diet, his job. His smug fucking face. I admire his moving across the country to get away from whatever trouble I could bring. It took dedication.
He must have Pine-Sol’d the shit out of his new house, the OCD beast. The morning after I drop off my load, I enter Leroy’s house much the same way as I did the last time. Everything is set up similarly, except he finally bought a new kitchen table. I like it; it’s black. I find his porn stash under the bed and page through the magazines while I wait. He has a gun in his bedroom, hidden behind the air conditioning grate. This is for me. I’m honored. I play with it for a while before I get bored and go look for a snack.
He gets home at six o’ clock. I hear him whistling as he walks through the door and drops his keys on the table. I know what he’ll do next; I smile when he opens the fridge and the bottle clanks. It’ll be a PBR for Leroy. Some things never change. I situate myself in the far corner, next to the window, and point my gun at the door. When he sees me standing in the shadows, Leroy Ashley drops his beer.
“Well, hello there,” I say.
The Pabst pools on the tile while Leroy stares at me.
“Oh come on,” I say. “You thought they’d keep my crazy ass locked up forever?” I toss him a pair of handcuffs. “To the bed,” I say. “And it would be my pleasure to blow a hole in that smug little mug of yours, so no tricky business.”
He lumbers forward. I watch him, my finger hooked around the trigger. I want him to do something stupid, just so I can shoot him. No. I can’t get emotional. An eye for an eye. I have to do this the just way.
“Anything you’d like to say?”
“I’ll fucking kill you, you cunt.”
I backhand him. “You’re all talk, you fuck. You should have done it when you had the chance.”
Oh my God, he’s so angry. I sit on the edge of the bed closest to his head.
“Tell me something,” I say. “Were you born this way? If you had better parents, would you still be a rapist?”
He blinks at me and yanks on his handcuffs. I tap him on the forehead with my pistol.
“Fuck you,” he says.
“Leroy.” I laugh. “I have blonde hair!” I pat my ponytail to make my point.
“I don’t think you would. Seriously, that’s the saddest part. If your mom hadn’t been a selfish cunt, you’d be a semi-normal person.”
“Don’t talk about my mother,” he roars. I’m happy; it’s the first time he hasn’t cussed at me.
“You think we’re different? You’re better than me? I see the sick in your eyes,” he says. “I’m going to kill you.”
“This was a good conversation,” I say, patting his head.
He’s hollering loud as he can, eyes burning with hate, when I inject him with a sedative. Right in the neck. He flinches and tries to bite me. I smack his cheek and tell him, “No.”
I wait in my corner while he falls asleep, humming the new Taylor Swift song that I heard on the ride over. When Leroy is asleep, I cut off his penis. I put it into the little pink cooler that I brought with me and cauterize his wound with a new pink Zippo I bought at the 7-11.
I pack ice around his member, and then I take his eyes. Super messy work. But I think it’s fair. Without eyes, he will no longer be able to see women or carry out a plan to hurt them. I take off his handcuffs before I leave and pat his belly. “Rot in hell, you sick fuck.”
I carry the cooler with me, on the Greyhound back to Miami. It sits in the cab of my rig until I throw it into the desert somewhere in New Mexico. I didn’t know I was going to allow him to live until he let me live; an eye for an eye. But he will not live the same life as he did before. Perhaps this one will be worse than death. Leroy Ashley has been brought to justice.
I WAS BORN SICK. As was my mother, and her mother before her. It’s in our marrow. The eating house calls to me one day, and, just like that, I pack up my things and go back to the Bone. I don’t even have to think about it. It’s just time to face who I am. I paint it red, for all the blood I’ve shed. Then trim the windows in the purest white. I hire a man to lay new wood floors, and replace the cabinets and countertops in the kitchen. By spring of my first year back, the eating house has new smells, a new glow. There is even a shower in the bathroom where the old, chipped blue tub once sat. It has shiny glass doors and sprays water from two directions. It’s still the same, scary house, but I fixed it up to serve a new purpose. Dr. Elgin calls me once a week for the first year I’m back, but then I stop hearing from her. I think she knows I’m okay now. Mo knocks on my door almost every afternoon during the winter. We drink hot chocolate in front of the fireplace, and he tells me about the girls he likes at school. In summer, the most I see him is when I drive by a field and watch him passing a football back and forth with his buddies. He lifts a hand to wave at me and goes back to what he’s doing. He still hardly ever smiles, but I’ve come to like that about him. If I’m lucky, he stops by with a basket of blackberries that he’s thought to pick for me. I grin and bear those summers, because Mo always comes back to me in winter. My father comes to see me once, when he hears that I’ve moved back to the Bone. He’s old; his skin hangs from his bones like it’s melting away. I sit him at my new kitchen table—black, in honor of Leroy—and make him tea. He wants to tell me he’s sorry. I take his apology because I know he’s just a fucked up human like the rest of us. Before he leaves he tells me where he buried the tiny coffin I found that day in the oven. I’m glad. I want to take my sibling flowers. He tells me it wasn’t his baby, but I don’t believe him. He might have apologized, but he’s still a lying scumbag. He dies two months later. I won’t be taking him flowers, but I’m glad he made his peace.
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