by Kenneth Burch
From where she stood, the lights made a clear and certain path to the target in mind. A patch of grey clouds had found themselves collecting about and swelling with the oncoming of night rain. The street was dark save for a small house light a block away. The Elmhearst traffic light, provided little help and after 10:30pm had become a blinking caution yellow. A dark blue trench coat had all but covered her 5' 3" frame as she reached up to wipe away at the drops of rain, now spotting her face. Crystal clear images flash in her mind, the moments leading up that one moment in time where her life took a fast right turn, ending an otherwise happy time. She had finished school and was making arrangements for college and who knows what next. Her father, an always protecting man, was ever so proud of her and her younger brother Aaron. Susan had dreams of one day becoming a social worker, her devotion to the homeless and those in need was a trait she got from her mother. One morning, Susan had awakened from a deep sleep. Her father had been outside her window, raking the leaves that had gathered along side the house. She turned wiping the sleep from her eyes, to see her angel standing in the morning sun. He turned as if to feel her watching him and smiled. Susan was daddy's little girl, always was, always will be. As her sweet sixteen party got underway, she found nothing more exciting then watching the many friends gather around the pool and splashing about, cheering her name. Earlier that week, she and her mother had picked out the most wonderful pink dress and matching handbag. Her best friend in the whole world was Millie Thomas. Susan and Millie had known each other since grade school when Millie had moved here from Boston. Here was now Delaware, small and somewhat friendly town, depending on who you spoke to.
How long had she been out here? two maybe three hours? It's hard to tell when your mind was operating on a self induced mission. All senses tend to go about their own way, collecting data and focusing in on one objective, getting it done. Susan's dad was Herbert Stone, a seemly mild man with strong beliefs in family. He had gone off to Vietnam without so much a thought, when his number was called. Like so many, he came home afterwards, like so few he survived. He later worked for a small company where he helped make drill bits for Sears department stores. Susan's mom was a woman with a kind face and warm heart. She was the kind of woman that most men would find impossible not to love. Gentle and kind, she spent most of her adult life helping those at church and of course, her two most sacred pride and joys. So when a young and handsome Herbert Stone had asked the lovely and kind Jamie Auston to marry him, she smiled and of course said yes! Susan thought back to her childhood. She focused on the time where she and her dad, had gone fishing. Her brother Aaron was recovering from chicken pox and had to stay in his room. Susan and her dad had taken a small dirt road, that twisted and turned until it found a pond, one filled with frogs and fish. The two had spent all morning and most of the afternoon, trying to surprise mom and Aaron. Aaron had caught three sun fish one time when he and dad came out here last year. She still remembers that big ole grin of his, heart filled with pride. Susan's mother had picked up her only son and held him high, tears of joys streaming down her face. This afternoon, belonged to her and dad. She could still remember the smell of his aftershave and those brown boots he wore. There was that funny way he walked with one hand in his pocket, and always jingling his change. Between the thump, thump of those boots and ching, ching of the change, almost sounded like music to Susan's ears. Daddy music, she sometimes called it. That afternoon, after a late lunch of ham and cheese sandwiches, potato chips and root beer soda, lots of laughter and quality time with her dad, Susan broke Aaron's fishing record, by two. She was all smiles walking home with a bucket of her catch in one hand, and her dad in the other. The sound of a truck's horn snapped her back to the current time real quick, as it shifted gears and pulled across the only lonely traffic light in town. Susan watched a stray dog darted across the street, turned and ran back into the darkness. She wiped her eyes and clutched her hand around the top part of her jacket, she could smell the stress on her now, her eyes cleared and darted once more. She looked down at her watch, 11:46pm it read. In the fall of 1989, Winter had come in something awful. The states economy had made a turn for the worst and jobs were drying up faster then a puddle of water on a hot Summer's day. Mom had baked cookies and Aaron was out back in the shed putting his personal touch on the snow sled he and dad made. Susan and helped mom make the cookies and with the extra dough left over, made a special cookie for her dad. She had placed the chocolate chips on the cookie to make a face with a big smile. It had come out perfect too. She raced upstairs to his room to find him sitting in his favorite chair, at his desk. She said "Daddy, look! I made you something, mommy tried to help but I wanted..." She then noticed that her dad had not moved. He had always dropped whatever he was doing when he heard his little girls voice, but not this time, this time he remained silent and still. That week was the worst week of her life. Susan's mom had made the funeral arrangements and managed to keep it together, until most of the family and friends had gone. Then after seeing Susan and Aaron to bed, she walked into the room once shared by a loving husband and friend, and broke down. Outside the closed door, a young and beautiful Susan cried herself to sleep. "Bye daddy" in her whispers.
At twenty- four, Susan was deciding whether or not to move out west. She was talking with Millie one afternoon about living in the state of sunshine and music when her two way clicked on. She put Millie on hold and switched over. "Hey Girl! Want to go out tonight?" the voiced asked, It was Gwen Nickolas a coworker and friend. Gwen love to do girls night out. She was about to tell Susan who all was going when Susan said, "Yes". She needed a little break. Work had been stressing her out lately and with her dad's birthday coming up next week, things were only going to get worst. She hung up with Gwen and switched back to Millie who had an awful habit of eating while talking, on the phone. "That was Gwen, she wants to go out tonight, feel up to it?" she asked. Millie had thought about it, and decided to pass. Her boyfriend Pete was bitching about how she goes out too much. She loved Pete, but like so many men, he was immature. She thought it best to give him a little less to bitch about, she really wasn't in the mood for him tonight. The night air had felt good that evening and Gwen and a few others, had picked Susan up and was making their way to Scott's Bar and grill. A small but nice family owned business, 10 years in the making. Susan had a few drinks and danced for awhile. There were lots of people there considering the size of the dance floor, and the music was loud. Susan's long brown hair had managed to come loose from it pinned up style and swung to the left and right, as she danced. She was having a good time and enjoying the added attention, when the heel of her shoe broke. She looked down and laughed, kicking it to the side. She removed the other shoe and danced barefooted on the floor. She walked over to the table where Gwen was holding up the broken heel and smiling. The girls at the table broke out laughing and Susan only then, began to blush. "Damn girl, dancing right out of your shoes huh? We must be really hot!" More laughing came and Susan ordered another beer. She had sat down at the table and was trying to figure out how the heel was attached, when she saw him. The music was thumping now and some woman was singing about her forever lover when Susan turned her attention back to the shoe. She looked up again this time to notice the tall man with blonde hair had disappeared. There was something strange about him she thought, something she didn't like. That night, became the worst night of her life ever. Having lost her father 5 years ago Susan had tried to put the pieces of her life together. She had finished school and managed to help her mother and brother. She remained close with her mother and even closer to Aaron. She had done the right things and been a good girl, as her father would say. She had tried to do the things she thought he would want her to do, trying ever so hard to please him, even in his new form. So she struggled with the questions of why, why had this happened to her? How could a stranger be so cruel? That was 3 years ago, to this night. The memories and hardships that followed still burned inside her. She remembered her mother's screams on the phone when the police called her. Her brother had jumped in her car and almost killed himself racing to the hospital. All had gone crazy that night and all she could do was wonder why. Her face was swollen and sore. Her legs were bruised and one was broken. The were marks on her back and neck as he held her down. The mere thought of it all would rocket pain up through her body and send her into the shakes. Her womb was burning now, as if someone had placed a lamp inside her, and again all she could do is wonder why. She would later try to describe him, but could never quite get it right. Days turned into weeks and the police still had no suspects. Shortly afterwards, her case and every thing about it, went cold. In time, they say all wounds heal. They say a lot of things that aren't always true. And as Susan sat one rainy morning, she realized what she had to do. It was just after midnight when she had pulled back her wet hair from her face. Had she been dreaming here in the rain? Had she drifted off, missing out on what needed to be done? "Oh god, please no." she whispered. The stray dog who had almost been hit by a truck earlier, had returned. Susan could see that he was hungry by the way he moved about. As he sniffed at the puddles of rain she could see his ribs show through a matted coat. She sat motionless and refused to move, from the shadow she now called home. It was then that she saw him. He was walking in the rain towards her. That tall figure and with both hands in his pockets and now dirty blonde hair, had turned her life upside down. He had pulled at her from the inside out and reduced her to shame. Still as she could, she remained in waiting. Her hand gripped the pipe she had found and held onto for the better part of a year. She had cried herself to sleep for weeks and months following what he had done to her. She cried for the helplessness and felt that empty hollow vessel that had become her life. She could feel herself wanting to fold backwards and cry again. In the rain, tucked away in the shadows she converted her sorrow to anger. Rage invited her and she accepted as her mind disconnected from its former place and time, reshaping itself. Her face flushed with blood and her hands strengthened. She could feel her legs steady themselves beneath her and in that instance, everything became sudden and clear. She pounced from a long seated position behind two steel trash bins. He hardly had time to notice what had happened, before she struck him with the start of many blows of a steel pipe. The first strike knocked him back. He tried to shake off the daze only to be hit again along side his face. Susan lifted her arm and swung the pipe backhanded, striking him directly in the mouth. Blood and teeth flew from a mouth frozen in horror as he dropped to his knees and tried to plea. She kicked him in the lower part of his jaw, knocking his head backwards to the wet street. She could hear the thud on skull to concrete, but paid no attention. Her heart was pushing more blood through a body that was working overtime. There was a cough, and blood spurted from his mouth as he tried gathering a network of fear and uncertainty, swirling together in a twist of chaos. His body had gone on vacation, leaving pain and horror behind. He tried to get up only to be knocked back down. There was a taste of steel and rain in his bloody mouth. He tried to focus and make out the attacker, she was female and that brown hair could only be... More pain shot from below as he felt and heard his leg snap at the kneecap. Pain forced its way through a mouthful of blood, only to be stopped by the gray duct tape she had placed around him. He tried to kick out and move only to find the other leg being snapped. More pain, more blood this time squirting from his nose. With both legs broken and a face matted with blood, she began her mission. Upon his chest she sat, looking down on him in the rain. He could see, with the one eye not closed, who it was. Her fear had left her body, and gone straight to his as she pulled back her hair, giving him one last look. With that, she picked up her pipe, and closed his other eye. It would be the last image, he would ever see. With hands bound tight, she turned him over. She had taken the clothes hanger, from her closet. The very one used to hang the dress she wore that evening, that one evening of fun when she and her friends, had gone out. Now she twisted it apart, wrapping it around his neck. She pulled it tight and could hear the once tough man whimpering like a little boy. The sound of this angered her. She stood up over him in the rain and kicked him in the face several times. Standing, panting she flipped him over and unfastened his pants. More begging and pleading cried from inside him as pain from all over his body, tried to shut down his nervous system. She pulled down his pants to what was left of his knees and exposing his bare ass to the night of rain and shoved the bloody and slightly bent pipe, up his ass. He yelled out as she pushed it in deep and pulled it out. The tape held well, despite the blood, spit and rain. Again she pushed it, shoving her steel dick in his ass. The smell of shit and blood never smelled sweeter, she thought. And she took as much time as she felt she needed. By 3:12am Susan had stalked and waited for the man who turned her life into hell. He had taken from her that which she was. He had torn her insides out and left her hollow. Three years, she had awakened from nightmares and sweaty sheets. But now, it was his time. He will pay dearly for what he had done to Herbert's daughter, to daddy's little girl. She raped him, raped him in a way only few could imagine. She had returned the favor she felt she owed him. Animal in its attack, had worked. There was now a burning sensation inside her, making its way to every muscle in her body. Her senses were trying to find their way home and she kept them at bay. She was not finished yet, not by a long shot. She knelt down beside the form of broken blood and tissue, the duct tape still covering his bloody mouth. She wondered if behind those closed eyes and mouth, was there a smile. The mere vision of this, flew her into rage and she stood up lifting the pipe of shit and blood, slamming his mouth close. She could feel his teeth give way and drop into his mouth of blood and spit. Relief came with the thought that he would have no choice but to have swallowed some, maybe most. She looked down at this pile of once man and wondered of his shame. How did he like it? How did it feel? Would he have nights of horror? Would he spend hours in the shower, trying to wash what she had done to him? Would he shake if another woman walked to closely, or yelled out around him? It was these and many other questions she pondered that night looking down at this once man. She decided the answers would all be the same, no! with this, she decided to finish it. She picked up the pipe and slammed it down on his fingers, breaking every bone. She turned him over and kicked him in his nuts as hard as she could. She looked to see the expression on his bloody puffed face, and liked what she saw. She kicked him again and again, adding 14 times and all. With nothing left inside her and the rain preventing him from passing out, she decided to send him home. She reached down and untied his hands. With a shattered jaw, cracked skull both eyes busted for life, and a set of legs, no longer useful, she set him free. "Go home you shit of a man, go to where you life holds no value, make it if you can." I'm sure he would have wanted to speak if he could. The metal clothes hanger around his neck and broken jaw made it impossible. Bleeding from the head and face, he moaned and tried to move. She backed away watching her work and admired a job well done. He was finished, that much was for sure. But she wanted to watch just the same, wanted to see with her own eyes, the half life form that had wrecked her. With the remaining night rain falling, she looked on. He crawled, with nothing left in him, he crawled on a belly of blood and flesh, like the animal he was. It was then that she tossed the pipe into the sewer nearby. It had more then served it purpose. She continued looking back at him as she made her way home. She had gone about four blocks when a truck zoomed by. It was a delivery truck no doubt dropping off bread somewhere, Susan hardly moved when it flew past her, splashing rain water on a drenched survivor. There are some things, that no water can wash away, was tonight one of them? She thought. It didn't matter, nothing much mattered anymore. She had done what was needed to do. Life will continue to deal its trick cards, but she will be ready, and she will wait again if she had to. Just a few blocks away, a driver in a delivery truck on an early morning run would strike and kill a man found crawling in the streets. Police would arrive and no charges would ever be filed. The next morning, Susan awakened from the best night of sleep she had in years. She would pour herself a cup of coffee, and after reading the morning paper, call her mother to tell her she loved her. Moments later, the sun would peek from behind clouded skies, brightening a new day.