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rape.

I kept walking but the word followed me.

Rape. Rape.

I walked faster, I was almost running now.

RAPE. RAPE. RAPE.

I dropped my purse and ran. The thin fine hairs at the nape of my neck were caught in a brutal grasp. I screamed but the wind tossed my piteous cry aside. There was a fire in my skull and bite marks on my neck but I kept fighting. I was sobbing as he twisted my hair up and back. My head smashed into the side of a tree and I saw stars. Terrible hands clawed at me. I kicked him and twisted aside. The fire hydrant was near the corner. Right by the mailbox. He shoved me up against it and my head spun. A heavy boot stomped on my foot, there was another glassy starburst of pain in my head, I felt myself falling….

My sister is dead. I set the journal back down still thinking. She lied to me.

It’s early now. The apartment is quiet. I put my journal back in my nightstand and threw the covers back. Don’t think. I went into the bathroom and pulled my hair back and put my workout clothes on. I thought about my sister as I pulled the laces tighter on my running shoes. They had been expensive but they were worth it.

Six months later…

I was waiting for her at the pub. It was a snob place. She was just like her sister. We sat for a while and she let me buy her a drink. I knew the moves, you had to take it slow with someone like her. She wasn’t like her sister. She sure looked like her though. They both had that curly blonde hair and that nice fair skin. They said the same kinds of things too. I chatted her up and ordered another drink. I smiled at her. Girls like it when you smile at them. It makes them feel good. What the hell was she saying now? 

I held onto my glass with a white knuckled grip. “I never said it would be hard to kill someone, I said it would be hard to get away with it - but then again, maybe not.”

I looked at the glass of swirling wine in her hand. I was going to kill her. And she was going to help engineer her own death. I smiled at her, she gave me a fragile white glance so I kept talking. “What do you mean?”

“It’s relatively easy to kill someone.” I couldn’t forget that he was a murderer. My sister had been smart. She had been a lot smarter than I was, prettier too. I suppressed my loathing for him and looked shyly down at my shoes. They were flat soled and flat heeled. Just in case I needed to run.

She couldn't even look me in the eye she was so shy, her sister hadn't been like that. “How would you do it, kill someone I mean?” Her sister had been smart. I couldn’t forget that. I still had scars on my hand from where the bitch had bitten me.

My eyes focused in on his stinking glass of raw liquor and I smelt his fetid breath. I held my glass of Merlot closer to my nose. “It would depend on who I wanted to kill.”

“Who would you want to kill?” I almost laughed, this was just too easy.

I pretended to rummage in my purse but my hands were stiff and cold. Not as cold as he was going to be though. Vengeance simmered within me and warmed my blood. It strengthened my resolve. I even managed to toss my hair back. “In my opinion it’s better to be on hand when you’re trying to kill someone. Like if I ran a red light and smashed into someone. You don’t always have control over the situation and..., and there’s no such thing as the perfect crime.”

I smiled at her again. “How would you engineer a situation like that?”

I took another tiny sip of Merlot just to try and blot out the stench of him. It didn't work. “I’d be on a three-way call, I know where they are, but they don’t necessarily know where I am. That would be a way, or…,” I licked my lips nervously. “Or if you were clever enough you could make someone disappear, that’d be easier than killing them.”

“How would you do that?” I was curious to see what she came up with. Maybe she was even smarter than her sister had been, maybe not though. I leaned forward, she was starting to relax. I smiled at her to encourage her. She took the hint and kept talking.

“If..., if I worked with someone, someone like myself. I don’t have a lot of friends. I don’t have any family close by, sometimes, sometimes I feel so alone in the world. I feel as if I don’t have a friend who really understands me….”

I nodded to show her I understood. There was a beauty mark on the side of her neck. Her sister hadn’t had that. I wanted to bite it but first a kiss. She kept on talking and I kept right on listening, nodding and smiling at her.

“If I had someone like that who worked for me,” My hands trembled again so I put them in my lap. I was so nervous I wasn’t sure if I could go through with this. I felt as if I might laugh hysterically and I was so scared. Adrenaline screamed through my veins and my left foot bounced frenetically. I wiped my sweaty palm on my knee and gave him a quick look.

I smiled at her again. Just to show I was listening.

“I’d pretend I was going to quit. I’d ask her to draft a letter of resignation and when she left for the weekend I’d print it out and put it in her desk, that way it looks like she intends to quit, and then..." I was having trouble even getting the words out. "Then it’s no surprise when she calls in sick Monday morning. And, you're, you'd have to get there early to take the call that was never made and then Tuesday, you happen to discover the letter, that way your prints on it are legitimate and by the end of the week the temp agency will have her position covered. She’ll be gone then.”

I nodded again. That was good about the prints. Her sister had always had good ideas too. “What do I do with the body?”

The body was me. I had to remember that. He had done away with my sister and he could do away with me. “I’d wait for a good snowfall. If, you could put the body in one of the dumpsters behind the bank and..., and no one goes back there ever.”

They did but I wasn't going to tell her that. “Do you really feel that alone in life?”

I nodded tearfully. I hadn’t counted on being so emotionally overwrought but I hadn’t been able to sleep last night. I stared at the bloody pool of wine in my glass.

 “You’re not really thinking of quitting are you?” She wasn't her sister but she was good at her job. On the other hand, if she quit, that'd be better for me. I had to think about it. She was smart. I couldn't forget that.

Was he really that stupid? It was hard to believe. I nodded again and signaled for another glass of wine. What I really wanted to do was toss the rest of the one I had in his face. I was still nervous but I was more composed than I had been. I pretended to think about his question. “I don’t know, there doesn’t seem like a lot of opportunity for advancement where I’m at.” Because you always steal my ideas you stinking jerk. I hope your hemorrhoids are hurting too. He kept suppositories in his desk drawer. Way in the back, the generic kind. My sister had told me that. I smiled at the memory. My sister was with me again.

There were always advertising jobs around. I could always quit. Move, go someplace else. Maybe I'd take her with. Parts of her at least. “Maybe the two of us could take a trip someplace. We could go, someplace a little warmer.”

I forced myself to put my hand on his fleshy knee. His torn cartilage was another trick in my bag. I withdrew coyly and gave him a tentative smile. “I’d like that.”

You are so beautiful. Too bad you’re such a bitch. Are you going to scream like your sister did when I raped her? I smiled at her again as I pulled her gift out of my pocket. I learned that early on. You give the girls a gift. Girls like presents.

I took the tiny box from his hand. The jewelry gag was as old as the hills. I pretended shy embarrassment as I unwrapped the pathetic pendant. Silent and virtuous modesty sitting on the barstool. Fortunately he didn't expect me to say anything. I picked up my glass and smiled at him over the top.

She was overcome with gratitude. I knew I had read her right. Meek and mild, that was her. Her sister had been the hellcat. I lowered my voice to talk to her. “I saw it and it made me think of you.”

And the jewelry store will remember you and I know because I called. That’s good. And you never have cash. That’s good too. That credit card receipt you signed will be your death warrant. And I’m sure you don’t know that I have a gun. And a knife. Just in case. I smiled at him. I had to be brave. My sister was always the courageous one but I was learning. Her death had taught me a lot. “Did you ever think of running away, just leaving it all and starting over?”

I pretended astonishment, she couldn’t be as dumb as all that. She thought I wasn’t on to her. Her and her gags. I had heard of fingerprints. That necklace was the first thing I’d take off her lovely little body. Cheap whore.

“I have. But my wife…”

I nodded and shrugged as I slid off my barstool. “See you later.”

“I’ll walk you to your car, you never know what might be out there.”

“Let me stop in the ladies room first.” I walked off. My hands shook as I put on a fresh coat of trashy red lipstick. Was it too obvious? It looked like blood on my lips. I blotted it and pulled out the folded five-dollar bill I had prepared in advance. That was the prearranged signal. The bartender had been hovering by my side the entire night. His name was Reggie and I really owed him. He was the one who remembered that my sister always drank white wine. When this was all over… my eyes were determined. They looked like dark smudges in my face. I shook my head again. It didn’t matter what I looked like. Back at the bar I tossed the folded bill on the counter and then I smiled at him. “Ready?”     

I smiled at her as I held the door open. “I’d like a chance to get away, if your offer was serious.”

“Was the necklace serious?”

Her lovely white neck was so close. I licked my lips. She would be so tasty. “You didn’t put it on. It’s not serious until you put it on.

“Maybe you could put it on, later.” I made it as seductive as possible given the circumstances and the slush. I stuck my hands in my pockets so I didn’t have to take his arm and I kept my purse near me.

“Why’d you have to park so damn far away?”

I ignored him and kept walking. I could hear his labored breathing behind me. My breath made a puffy cloud of white and I pretended to fumble with my keys which wasn’t difficult. I was so nervous. How could he not hear the frantic beating of my heart? I opened the car door and sat down. It was almost time. I reached in my purse just as he leaned over. I closed my eyes and squeezed the trigger. I tasted blood and I saw some but he wasn’t dead. I hadn't killed him after all. He fell back and stared up at the sky. Tears streamed down my face and I pulled the trigger again. I heard the distant wail of police cars. My whole body was shaking and I was crying, trembling, freezing, sweating, unintelligible…

She had shot me. I bit my lip and shivered. Icy slush leaked through my clothes. I reached out my hand to touch her face but it fell to the side. I was dying. I’d never get even. She had shot me. Me. My hand was heavy. I was, very, I was..., I was tired. Cold and wet and very tired.

His body lay in front of me. A uniformed officer was by my side. I was tired but I felt good. I was free. Accidental death as a means of self-defense. It was a good feeling but the real gift was the freedom.

Truly, it is much better to give than to receive.

Especially a gunshot wound. I lifted my glass and drank another sip of my wine. I set the bottle down on top of the picnic basket and smiled at Reggie. Life was good.

I just wish my sister would be around to share it with.

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