She walked down toward the road….
The biting wind passes through the thin material or her summer coat; summer coat?, only coat!
She thinks ruefully of the coat that her sister, Marge had given her, as a Christmas present, a few hours previously. It had been a beautiful coat and had immediately become the most expensive item of her meagre possessions.
He had applauded, when she had unwrapped and put it on, a look of pleasure on his handsome face; he always looked great, when he smiled. Of course, he only smiled in company.
It was the loveliest coat that she had ever seen, she had said so. He had seen her eyes and assessed the genuine pleasure there; she had dropped her guard, just for a second….but enough. He was drinking of course. It was Christmas; a great excuse, not that he needed one.
Her brother-in-law, Ken, had kissed her, platonically, just on the cheek; a typical brother-in-law type of kiss. The drink would have disguised His darkening features, from any but the most knowledgeable observer. She barked a short ironical laugh; she was the only knowledgeable observer there, or anywhere – no one else knew!
Faint hope had blossomed, as the day had progressed. He had been the life and soul of the small gathering. It had been like old times, back in the heady courtship days, when her every whim was catered for – almost embarrassingly – immediately. She remembered her mother’s statement; ‘He’s too good to be true, that fella…’ What an intuitive aside that had proved.
Afternoon passed into evening and sped to night, as it is wont to do in the bleak winter season. Her sister and husband had to leave at ten o’clock, Ken had drawn the night shift and there was nothing to be done; it went with the job. The goodbyes were protracted and more kisses were exchanged, season’s greetings offered and countered – again.
They stood in the doorway, His arm around her shoulder, waving at the diminishing lights as the visitors drove away. He was very drunk now, his fingers lanced into her upper arm muscle, hurting. Maybe he’s holding himself up, she remembers thinking; still the hope, fearfully tinged but hope, nonetheless.
‘You enjoyed that didn’t you?’ he had requested.
‘It was a good day, I thought Marge…..’
That was as far as she managed to reach into the sentence. The blow came out of nowhere; at least she had no recollection of seeing it coming. There wasn’t even any pain immediately, just a flash of bright lights, before the black curtain fell. She had seen the curtain too many times but had thought that tonight…… Fool, you bloody fool, she thinks, her lips depressing into a thin blood filled line, as the wound re-opens, making her gasp.
She is not sure, whether or not she actually passed out but the next thing that she remembers is Him, standing in front of her, her new coat in his hand. She blinked and widened her eyes, trying to steady her shivering vision. He strode somewhat unsteadily past where she lies prone and on, out the front door.
He threw the coat, her beautiful new coat, down on the gravel and walked around it, turning to face the doorway.
‘You love this, don’t you?’ he shouted toward her. ‘I seen you, kissing Ken…you’d have done more than kiss him, wouldn’t you, hey? You’d have taken his fucking cock and sucked him off for this rag, wouldn’t you? Well it can have some of mine instead….are you watching, you fucking slut?’
She had watched, as he pulled down the zipper on his trousers, taken out his penis and started to urinate on her coat.
‘How do you like that then does that make you horny too? Hang on, the fucking show’s not over yet bitch; you’ll love the ending; the finale….hahaha’
He staggered off, in the direction of the garage…..
When he eventually returned, he had had a large can with him. She recognized it as the petrol can, that was kept for the lawnmower…some sort of special mix; she didn’t understand it – the garage was his domain alone.
She had watched, as he screwed the cap off the container, this time his back was to her. He was laughing; a kind of manic giggle, like a naughty schoolboy, she remembers thinking. He had tipped the can and proceeded to pour the contents, over the – now sodden – coat. He had kept pouring until the can had been virtually empty. Casting the can aside, he fumbled in his pocket and taking a box of matches, turned back toward the house.
She remembers the look on his face, when he observed her standing, leaning against the door jam, holding the gun. His smile had frozen; it did not disappear, just froze….
‘Where….how did you get that…..what…’
She pulled the trigger. The double recoil had sent her staggering back into the hallway. The pain in her right shoulder was immediate and intense. He had shown her how to hold the shotgun, laughing at her clumsy effort to heft the heavy weapon but had not let her actually fire it. Someone as stupid as she, he had claimed, could hurt themselves.
She had risen unsteadily to her feet, her head pounding and agony clawing at her right side, from her shoulder down into her breast. She ‘plodded’ in a flat footed march to where he lay. One shot had caught him square in the middle of his torso, creating a kind of hole, the size of a small mixing bowl, the second much higher, had blown away the left side of his face. She remembered his favourite greeting, which he reserved for her; delivered whenever he thought appropriate;
‘You’re an awful fucking mess, a big useless fucking mess!’
She walked back inside the door. Lifting her coat from the rack, she shrugged painfully into it.
Exiting the house, stepping over the shotgun, she walked passed his body and out of the corner of her eye, noticed the box of matches lying next to his carelessly flung arm. She bent down, picked up the box and opened it. She stepped to the side of the coat, removed a match from the box and striking it, watched it flare before dropping it onto the coat. The material turned to flame, giving off a rancid smell.
She watched it for a while, before turning away and walking down toward the road…