She sits in the plush mud-brown leather chair, spinning the delicate diamond and ruby ring around her finger. “When did I become this person?” she mumbles, her bright blue eyes staring blankly into the clear diamond. Alex can’t look at her even though he knows her gaze is settled on him. He looks out of the floor-to-ceiling windows, watching the remaining burnt orange leaves float to the ground on a cold November evening. There is nothing he can say to her now. She keeps talking, rambling at him, over and over. But he blocks out the voice he knows so well, instead magnifying the sounds of Bowie purring softly in his sleep, and the woodpeckers pecking away at the pine trees in the yard. How did it come to this? This wrongness, the feeling that everything is lost. He knows that she thinks it’s all down to her; he could tell her it’s not, and it would be true, but he doesn’t want to. He doesn’t want to hear his own voice in this catastrophe unfolding before his eyes. He doesn’t want to speak, then hear her contradict him, tell him over and over that it was all on her. So it’s best that he keeps quiet. For now at least.
Alex remembers the exact day he bought the 9mm colt. It was June 12th 2011. Isabelle had been paranoid for weeks, after a house two blocks away – albeit on a less secure estate – had been robbed in the middle of the night while its residents were sleeping. He told her it happened because they didn’t have an alarm system. But she wouldn’t give up. “We just need to be safe” she told him; her eyes darted around the room as she spoke. Looking back on it, Alex should have taken that as the first sign. So a week later he finally relented, went downtown to ‘Pete’s Pistols’, a well known but still shady (in Alex’s opinion) store, which was tucked away in an alleyway on 8th street. The whole thing was the most uncomfortable experience of his life.
As the bell on the heavy metal door rang behind him, Alex jumped. “How can I help ya’ today?” Alex looked over at the register in front of him, noticing who he presumed was Pete, slouched against the wooden counter, reading a motorcycle magazine. Typical, he thought. But even though the store itself was much less shady than he’d envisioned, his palms were sticky as he spoke
“I uh, I, I need to buy a gun”
“Well” Pete chuckled as he spoke “ya’ might just be in the right place”
“I, um, just something easy to use, just point and shoot, you know?”
“Son, do ya’ even know how to shoot?”
“I think I’ve watched enough action movies to know what to do”
“Alright, son. What ya’ looking for is a simple pistol. Probably nine millimeters, just for protection, right?”
“Yeah. I mean it’ll probably never get used anyway”
“See here, this colt?” Pete pointed at a small, nondescript black handgun “I think this is what ya’ looking for; small enough to keep in ya’ bedside cabinet or in ya’ kitchen drawer”
“Yeah, yeah that’ll be fine”
“three hundred bucks Son, comes with two rounds”
“Sure” Alex nervously plucked his wallet from the back pocket of his jeans, took out $300 cash, and filled out the necessary paperwork while Pete double-checked the money and put the pistol in its case. Pete handed Alex a small, beige business card “Ya’ should take a trip down to this place, son, ya’ need to know how to fire it, god forbid it’s ever needed.” Alex observed the card, the address of the closest shooting range on one side, a silhouette of a gun on the other “tell ‘em Pete sent ya’, they’ll teach you half-off.” Alex nodded and picked up the small black case, and with still sticky palms, left the store.
When Alex got home that evening and showed Isabelle the gun, she smiled, “I knew you loved me” she purred into his ear as she pulled him close “we’ll always be safe together now.”
Alex and Isabelle had regular movie nights; it’s something they’d done every other Friday night for the whole course of their relationship. They took it in turn to pick movies, and something Alex had always liked about Isabelle was her insistence that they never watch anything like The Notebook. She detested romantic movies, even romantic-comedies. The second Friday night in August, It was Isabelle’s movie choice. As they sat down to watch Hostel, Alex began thinking over his wife’s past movie choices. “Why did you pick Hostel?” Isabelle glanced quickly at Alex, then averted her eyes back to the television screen
“Darling, you know I hate those ridiculous movies all about love”
“I just…I prefer to be realistic”
“That’s, that’s not what I meant babe”
“Realistic. What’s realistic about gore?” Alex began to get frustrated at his wife’s answers.
“Some people are just built that way.”
Along with movie nights, Alex made sure that he and Isabelle had frequent date nights. These happened on the Fridays alternate to movie night. The Friday after he bought the colt was date night. He took Isabelle out to Tristan; a fine dining restaurant downtown. Alex ordered the sous-vide beef rib loin, and Isabelle ordered veal in two preparations – rare. As she slid her steak knife into the veal and blood oozed out of the incision, she took a deep breath and bit her lip as though, Alex thought, she was turned on by the sight of the almost-raw meat. She then looked up at him, a half-smile, which in any other situation would have been a turn-on, and bit her lip again.
Alex decided in late July that he should take Pete’s advice and learn to shoot, so on a hot Sunday morning, he took the thirty minute drive over to the range. Of course Isabelle wanted to know where he was going, so he told her he was visiting his parents. He knew by saying that, she wouldn’t question him further. As he drove up to the range, he felt uneasy. Everything about this was against what he believed in. He never thought, or even wanted to be a gun owner. He never had that innate desire to shoot. During his teenage years, unlike many of his peers, he never thought of joining the army. His thinking was purely logical – why would anyone want to put themselves in a known, dangerous situation? And to Alex, that’s what owning a gun was. A dangerous situation just waiting to happen. He’d seen the statistics, read about the many occasions that the victims of shootings were shot by their own weapons. He wanted to void that at all costs.
When Alex signed the paperwork at the shooting range to claim all liability if any accident was to occur, and handed it back to the man behind the counter, his already uncomfortable day was made even more so.
“I’m sorry…you know Isabelle?”
“She’s a damn sharp shooter, best woman we see here.”
When Alex got home from work on a cold November evening and opened the heavy Oak door of his and Isabelle’s home, he knew immediately something was wrong. It wasn’t the subtle scent of copper, nor Isabelle’s favorite red and black ceramic vase smashed on the floor of the hallway or the shell casing by the staircase. No, those were things Alex only remembered looking back on it. The house just felt wrong. He looked to his right and saw his wife sitting on the staircase, the colt in her hand. “Isabelle…sweetheart what happened?” Alex was having trouble keeping his voice calm.
“He…it wasn’t safe”
“sweetheart, what are you talking about?”
“I…I looked outside and I saw him walking up the driveway….why would he do that? He had something in his hand…he was going to hurt us we wouldn’t have been safe” As Isabelle spoke, her eyes glassy with tears, Alex looked at the situation around him. A splash of deep red decorated a space on the beige walls of the hallway.
“Show me” Alex spoke and held out his hand to his wife. She grasped it with urgency and slowly rose from her spot on the staircase. As she led him into the living room, he suspected the worst. What he saw was not what he had expected. From the splash of blood in the hallway, he’d suspected his wife of murder and immediately felt pangs of guilt for even thinking she could be capable of that. But she did have the gun in her hand; there was blood on the walls. However, as Alex looked carefully at the unconscious man tied with duct tape to one of the mahogany dining table chairs, he noticed the ‘perpetrator’ Isabelle thought had been coming to harm them was just Adam, the new guy from across the street. Alex knew he had to talk to Isabelle to calm her down, to get her to understand Adam was never a threat and to make sense of the situation, but she had a look in her eyes he’d never seen before. It was half lust, half pure insanity. She placed the gun on the cherry oak side table and walked calmly over to Alex. She tightened her hands around the lapel of his suit jacket and pulled him close
“I need you, I want you right now” she spoke in a low voice, her eyes locked on his
“It’s okay, he’s secure”
“I know darling, but that’s not what…” Alex was cut off mid sentence by his wife leaning in and kissing him with more lust than she’d ever shown before, he pulled away and started to speak again “…Isabelle, darling, that’s Adam.” All the color drained from Isabelle’s face as she stepped back until she hit the mud-brown leather chair and sat down quickly, as she spun the delicate diamond and ruby ring around her finger
“He was going to hurt us”
“No, darling, he was probably just coming over about the party on Saturday”
“He…that can’t be him”
“sweetheart, that’s Adam” Alex looked over at Adam tied to the chair, blood staining the shoulder of his khaki tee shirt and dried onto his temple. Isabelle started to shake and a single tear fell from her cheek
“When did I become this person?”
Alex looks over at the cherry oak side table. That’s where she left their 9mm colt pistol. Part of him wants to walk over to the side table, pick up the gun and end it all now. She just needs to be quiet. The woodpecker stops it’s drilling and her voice comes back into focus.
Created: Feb 08, 2012strawberry-vines Document Media