Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sensitive Skin

He played with insects, small things. He collected miniatures and knick-knacks and raided his sister's doll house to hold the tiny chairs...to turn them in his hands...to close his fingers around them until their sharp edges were traced into his soft flesh. His hands were too soft. This was one of the things he hated about himself. Skin too pale. Skin too soft. The doctor said he had sensitive skin and wrote a note that turned into a special soap that morphed into the kind of ruthless self-loathing that makes sense only in hindsight.

He never wanted to hurt anyone. He got confused. Things got jumbled up. She was the catalyst. She made him look at himself differently. She imposed some kind of worthiness that jumbled the wires up...confused the circuitry.

He was content to absorb the sun and light and let it bounce off his pale, soft skin. He expected so little from himself. He was content to not make a mark in the world. He was happy, invisible, pale and blind like those worms at the Natural History Museum.

She built him up and it was against everything he fucking believed. She was so goddamn cheerful. The first time he hit her it felt so fucking good. It hurt his soft hands, and it left her standing with an 'O' for a mouth, confused. She looked so fucking stupid. The dumb bitch. He spit on her and laughed. She cried and he slapped her so hard it spun the world around.

Then, he cried. She cried. She wrestled the knife out of his hand. It was going to open him up and allow the evil to pour out. It was supposed to be his fucking baptism and she stole it. His salvation. He was so sorry. She hid all the knives and matches and she watched him. He was grateful. He found a screwdriver at the bottom of a kitchen drawer and hid it on top of the heater where she would never see it.

She was going to save him, see? He started hitting her more often and she started thinking that maybe she had been put there to save him from himself. She went to work with bruises that were hard to explain. She withdrew. She had found her calling and that was all that mattered.

Sex confused him. He liked to hurt her while he fucked her. She didn't ever tell him to stop. Face shoved up against the wall, tears and blood. They both shook with the power of it. It was fucking undeniable.

She wanted to take him to meet her parents. She kept asking until he couldn't stand it. He punched her in the solar plexus and she dropped to her knees. She grabbed for him, and he smacked her down again. She was standing up when he returned from the hallway. The sun was creeping through the shades they always kept closed.

"I love you."

"I know you do...I know you didn't..."

The screwdriver went in so easily. Soft skin. Her eyes went wide as he pulled against the suction that held it to her neck. He turned his grip on the handle. He laughed at the blood. He stabbed until he could no longer hold the plastic grip. Until he was heaving, laying on the ground beside her. Blood everywhere.

The police car pulled up slowly and two men with guns got out. They saw him, scraping his hands on the sidewalk. He was covered in blood and his palms were shredded. He did not see them. He did not answer their questions. They stood and watched him and slowly, ruefully, he raised his eyes. He smiled at them. He raised his palms. Not a surrender...just so they could see...what he had done. They asked again, but he was not listening anymore. He spoke from somewhere far away.

"She's inside. I killed her."

"Why?"

It was a rookie question and his partner scowled at him over the chirping radio.

"Because I loved her."

The cuffs were like ice water. His vision came in and out. He felt like he couldn't breathe. They handled him roughly. Nothing sensitive about it. He smiled and thought about the scars that would finally bind his hands.

20 comments:

  1. This, Dan, is one of the best things you've written. I'm not sure I have the words to describe just how powerful I find this. The entire structure, theme, mood, the imagery. Overwhelming. Really, I don't think I'll get over this one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, thanks Jo. Really. I'm glad it worked.

      Delete
  2. Whoa. That is some powerful shit right there. Well done, JD!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yep. My kinda story. You do this well. Would like to see more. Yep. Yep.

    E.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You just got to hit the archives brother. ;)

      Delete
  4. Yeah, it's true, genre doesn't matter. This is horror, sure, but really it's people, it's what we do. If you only call it "horror", you forget about the "love" part. This is writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks D. I was hoping that this would illustrate my point. ;)

      Delete
  5. Holy shit. Major power. Killer last line. And this one: "He was content to absorb the sun and light and let it bounce off his pale, soft skin."

    ReplyDelete
  6. I sure hope Dan remembers us little folk when the offers start rolling in.

    Evocative work as always, Mr. Mader.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks brother. And I'll remember...so far I have some leftover pizza I'm down to share.

      Delete
  7. You've done it again - found something sympathetic in a character who would otherwise be totally reviled.

    ReplyDelete
  8. JD, you have a gift, a gift of living inside other people's minds. Long enough to wrench out a story. Sometimes full of bliss. Other times, sorrow . . . or anguish . . . so palpable I want to cry for a long, long time.

    How do you do that? Do you even know?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Erin. I watch people a LOT. And I have known lots of different kinds of people. And I practice like mad. ;)

      Delete
  9. Holy crap, Dan. Way to go. You have a gift, bro'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, my friend. I appreciate it.

      Delete
  10. It's an too-common refrain. "I did it because I love her". This might help us understand it the thing the rest of us can't understand. Truly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, this is an interesting story. I like it, but it also makes me immensely uncomfortable because it is, sadly, not far-fetched.

      Delete

Please leave comments. Good, bad or ugly. Especially ugly.