Originally published on Thumpcity.com

Good Night, Sweetheart

Long-suffering husband was not exactly what Dick Lansky had in mind when answering the age-old question, "What do you want to be when you grow up Richie?" He, like all boys of eight, had harbored visions of a pro baseball career, cracking bats, roaring crowds, that sort of thing. Now, some 30 years later, he was a pathetic shadow of former promise. Golden boy gone wrong he thought with an inner smirk. And all because of his crazy ex-wife. "Take my wife - please!" echoed with a repeating laugh track in his frightened and angry mind.

When they met, he and Jane had that electric pop they talk about in those sappy romance novels his sister Doreen used to love. Her grey eyes hunted his own with a heated determination he had taken for lust at the time. They were one of those couples that married in the blink of an eye but without the happily ever after part. Locked up your own wife, what the hell kind of husband are you? The demons were in full force today and the slant of sunshine on the ground was no match for their dark merriment.

His eyeballs burned, begging for closure. As he drifted off the nightmare began…

Half-lowered sunglasses couldn't hide her stare. It was like being watched by every school principal and nun in the history of time. He squirmed in his sleep subconsciously remembering his hard-on that day. Flash to their wedding day and that devouring stare across the wedding cake, which unnerved and excited him with an undercurrent of something else, something nameless. A cold sweaty thing. Fear something at the edge of his brain whispered. And then the guilt and humiliation mingled with relief at the doctor's words; "The kindest thing to do would be to commit her here at Bournemouth." She'll be taken care of, watched closely." It was the 'watched closely' part that had appealed. It was her turn to be watched.

The phone's discordant wail woke him up. Disoriented, he fumbled for it.

"Lo?'

A pause alerted him to a possible telemarketer trying to tell him he won a grand prize and all he had to do to claim it was go see this resort yadda yadda. He hated these calls in the middle of dinner. What sadist thought up that little sales ploy? But instead of the usual click followed by a nasal Southern twang he heard nothing.

"Jane, zat you?" Still nothing.

"Listen asshole, I don't have time for this game--go call some chick and tell her you're doing a red lace underpants survey but leave me the fuck alone!" He slammed the phone down, scratched his boys, well, boy actually, now thanks to Jane, and squinted to see the clock radio across the room. Five-fifteen. He'd only been out a few hours but had that headache from oversleep, nonetheless. He ambled to the kitchen to check the contents of his fridge. A lonely beer bottle winked at him as if to say "C'mon pal--let me take your troubles away." His ten-year-old, Angie, would be home from ballet soon and he hadn't gone shopping.

Takeout again, he sighed.

Thinking a shower might revive him just enough to tolerate the boundless energy of his tutu-clad daughter, he headed for the master bedroom. A bedroom he'd never been master of as long as Jane was around. He'd have to move soon but the prospects were dim at best. With a crazy wife who had a tenacious lawyer ("that prick" as Dick affectionately referred to him), he and Angie might end up at the Y if things didn't change soon. What a fucking life he thought as he turned on the tap. His water pressure was like being pissed on by an old lady. The thought made him crack a smirk as the hot water started to make him feel human again. As he soaped up he couldn't help but remember that fateful night when Jane had snipped his ball right off--Bobbitt-style. Unlike that other poor slob, though, he hadn't been asleep, just post-love drowsy. The agony, the blood, the ambulance, his own hysterical shrieks You sound like a woman--oh, that's right you practically are she'd laughed. The guys from the institute (no white coats in sight) carted her off. I'll be back for the other one, sweetheart. They'll make a great pair of earrings. Yeah…his wife the comedian. She and that Lorena bitch could start their own club. He could see it now; a room done all in pink ruffles with mounted male genitalia on the wall. Women in battle fatigues sitting around smoking filtered-tip Marlboros. I warned him if he so much as looked at another woman I'd cut it off. He just wouldn't fucking listen.

Shaking off the few drops of old lady piss and his morbid thoughts he threw on his ratty UMASS T-shirt. How many times had he rescued it from Jane? Now he'd trade this T-shirt and any other item he owned including his precious signed Jackie Robinson card just to get his goddamn ball back. Extensive testicular damage precluded saving the left teste, amputation was determined the best course of action to staunch the bleeding and close the injury… He'd glimpsed his chart one day and couldn't believe what he was reading. My wife did this to me. For better or worse my ass - divorce was determined the best course of action when the marriage could not be saved due to a certain ball snippage incident perpetrated by so-called loving wife.

Divorcing a mentally incompetent wife turned out to be more than its share of complicated. Those grey eyes, that stare. Hunting him, mocking him. Had he ever mistreated her? Cheated? Hit her? Never--it wasn't in his code. He'd taken the gruff advice of his old man to heart, "Never hit a girl. But especially never hit a woman. And keep your fly shut." Apparently. Pop's recipe for a happy marriage was bullshit. He should've listened to his mother, God rest her nagging soul, "That girl's trouble." Understatement of the fucking millennium, Ma. He heard a scratching sound in the kitchen.

"Ang? Zat you hon? I know, I know what you're going to say - no food, Dad. We'll have to order out again sweetie, 'k?" No answer.

"Ang?"

He headed towards the kitchen where the scratching sound was turning into a scraping metallic scree-ee. Nothing there. Hmmm. He'd have to call that exterminator guy again. Looks like their little rodent visitor friends were back. Terrific. He hated the lil' fuckers more than he cared to admit. Dirty little bastards. Jane had been the less squeamish when it came to that stuff. Spiders, too. She'd killed 'em all pretending to eat their corpses washing them down with her white-wine spritzers. Ah-the arachnid aroma and delicate woody flavor is tantalizing to the distinguishing palate she'd giggle. She'd had her moments in their early years together. She wasn't always so, well, fucked up. It was a gradual descent into hell, and she'd dragged him with her. In her defense, he'd gone willingly, at first. Role-playing with the whips had been kinda fun in its own sick way. Going to those peep shows together had been a definite turn-on. But when she started in with the Satanism shit he was definitely out. Just don't go slaughtering any chickens hon, he'd teased her thinking it was some Rosemary's Baby phase that would pass with time. She'd always been intellectually curious, insatiable, really. But this Satan thing was different. She voraciously read up on the subject and little by little she started getting this fanatical gleam in her eye and that Chuck Manson fidget. He'd even gone to a priest about it, secretly and shamed at his duplicity. I mean, here he was asking some geezer who probably gave it to the altar boy what to do about his wife's sudden fascination with evil.

The shrine tipped him off that something was seriously wrong and that this 'phase' was getting out of control. She had built it in their garage amidst the lawnmower, rusted bikes and other assorted crap accumulated over a decade. Using his workbench she swept aside the wrenches and hammers and draped a black velvet cloth over it. On top of the cloth she'd arranged all this gothicky junk…old postcards of martyred saints with arrows sticking out of various body parts, gory S&M magazine pages splattered with what he hoped was red paint and an honest to God - pun intended - skull and crossbones with those toy rubber snakes pouring out of the eye sockets. Vincent Price couldn't have done better. Arranged in a pentagram on the floor beneath it all were several red and black melted down candles and a crimson satin cloth and cushion presumably to kneel upon while worshiping Lucifer.

He'd freaked. Pleaded with her to get help. Played on her sense of mother-guilt saying that Angie would be permanently damaged if she didn't cut this shit out. Even went so far as to try and leave highlighted Bible passages on the altar next to the creepy skull. None of it worked. She never slept and hardly ate. She started becoming paranoid, following him to work, then following him everywhere. He couldn't get a moment's peace. He'd found needle syringes once when taking out the trash. When he confronted her she'd just laughed and called him "provincial." He was losing her. It was killing him. Once as an act of rebellion against her newfound religion he'd stayed out all night mainly to get a break and out of curiosity to see what she'd do. Big fucking mistake. He'd come home to his daughter crying with a black eye that mommy'd gone crazy and asking if it was something she did wrong. Nearly broke his already cracked heart into a zillion pieces to see his kid's bewilderment. She'd shit in their bed. Their bed. She'd slashed a dozen of his ties and tied them together stringing them across the room. She wrote a note in purple ink and hung it on the tie clothesline. Gone to hell. Weather's nice. Wish you were here.

They'd seen a shrink that time who gave her meds and seemed to get it saying it wasn't uncommon behavior for a woman who'd had a miscarriage. Jane'd had three at that point. He wasn't unsympathetic. They'd cried together over each little death. Jane got better for awhile. Stopped wearing those black Fleetwood Mac rags and started to be a wife and mother again. Or so they had all thought. She was the consummate actress. Then she must've stopped taking her meds. Then she cut off his ball (sparing his dick thank sweet Jesus). Then they took her away and he and Angie tried to re-glue their shattered life back together. He made pancakes for breakfast and dinner three times a week. She went to school. He went to work. Life resumed.

It's beer o'clock he thought. One wouldn't even be enough to take the edge off but it would quench a few stray thoughts and he could always go to the packy for more liquid fun later. He'd sneak it before Angie came home all shining and pink from her plies. Daddy watch this she'd squeal showing him her newest moves. God, he loved that kid. Cracking the beer he took a long, cold swallow and blessed the brewery that gave him this Zen moment. His warped advertising copywriter mind rose up from it's cave and started in: So you've got a wife in the bin, a kid to support, a mountain of bills, one testicle left, grab a brewsky and say Fuck it! Blue Mountain: The answer to your prayers! Except he didn't have many prayers left. Not anymore.

He turned on the six o' clock news to unwind to other people's tragic lives and that's when he saw it…

"Residents of Suffolk County are urged to be on the lookout for three escapees from Bournemouth Institute's Hospital for the Criminally Insane. The breakout occurred earlier this afternoon after a guard was stabbed with a fork in the groin area and temporarily immobilized…… This just in: Two of the women have been apprehended and returned to the Hospital but the third, Jane Lansky, is still at large. It is not known Whether Ms. Lansky is armed. Here is a photograph of Ms. Lansky that was taken recently. We repeat, any information leading to the capture of Ms. Lansky should be directed to the local police."

The station then shifted to earlier footage of the President of the Hospital Board saying that the Hospital would assume full responsibility and would be tightening up security measures to ensure that this wouldn't happen again. Shit, shit, shit! It didn't take a rocket scientist to do the math here. Stabbed with a fork in the groin area had Jane written all over it. Now fucking what? Call the cops? Those same jerks who'd looked at him with horrified pity and just a tinge of contempt when he'd been loaded into the ambulance that night? Sucking up his pride he dialed 911. They put him on goddamn hold. He asked for the desk sergeant and identified himself filling the donut-eater in on his precarious situation here. The guy was useless telling him, "We've got a man patrolling your house every half hour sir. The situation is under control." Apparently this guy had never met Jane Lansky. Jesus, Angie…He hung up with the useless guy and dialed the carpool mom of the week. Explaining in rough terms the danger he asked if she'd mind taking Angie back to her house. She agreed without hesitation and he wondered not for the first time if when all this was over he could get into her pants. She was a single parent, too and probably as lonely and horny as he was. Anyway, first things first, Jane was out and that could only mean one thing - he was fucked. Royally.

"Honeeeeeyyyyy, I'm hoo-ome." The singsong voice of his psychotic worse half rang through the house causing his remaining nut to shrivel in well-deserved fear. Fuck! How'd she get in? He'd changed the locks a few weeks ago. He considered hiding but felt stupid. Maybe just face the witch and outmuscle her. After all, this time, he had the advantage. He'd bought a gun and slid it out of its locked hiding place.

"Remember lover? We said 'til death do us part. But then you locked me up in that pit. Now it's time to pay up. You know what I want. I told you I'd be back." Her laughter was the giveaway - she was here for blood.

He heard her footsteps approach in time to his rapidly beating heart. Any second now and she'd be here. Could he pull the trigger? What would she be armed with - a fork? The thought penetrated through the fear giving him a moment's pause. After all she wasn't evil…she was sick. She was the mother of his child. They'd loved each other once. How had it come to this?

She opened the door and jumped in the room like a feral hyena. In a flash she was on him like white on rice. She was biting his neck and he tried to hit her away with the pistol but the pain was excruciating. He felt something sharp penetrate the hand fiercely covering his privates. It was a syringe. All of a sudden he felt dreamy - she'd drugged him. Through a haze his panic faded in and out. He feebly fended her off and aimed the pistol at her. She loomed over him baring her bloody teeth and laughing shrilly. He managed to crawl crablike away from her kicking his legs in a rubbery Rockette motion. There she was Jane, Jane, Janey…he was seeing triple. He aimed for the one in the middle and pulled the trigger. A red spot appeared right between those grey eyes, silencing the laughter and the staring. Blackness swam up to him and took him into her arms. 'Til death do us part, Jane darling. You got your wish after all. Goodnight lover. The bell's ringing and the fat lady's singing and this is some good shit you gave me baby. Goodnight sweetheart, well it's time to go…Goodnight sweetheart, good night.

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