Love Me Tender

The snow fell faster and became heavier, forcing Benjamin to turn his windshield wipers on. He sighed. He left work early for this reason specifically. He’d heard a storm was on the way and he hated to drive in any kind of we weather- liquid or solid- so he’d told his boss that his wife, Janet, was sick and had called him from home asking if there was anyway he could leave work early.

He’d work at his job for over four years, but did the boss even recognize the blatant lie? Benny wasn’t married and hadn’t been on a date in over three and a half years.

“Ok, tell her I said to get better,” his boss had said. Cretin, Benny thought.

A car came towards him on the road so he turned his lights from bright to the lowest setting, then flashed them back on after they’d past each other.

He sighed again. He’d given four years of his life to the restaurant, over 60 hours a week, and did anyone really know him there? Did anyone even try to get to know him? No! Why would they? Better yet, why should they? He’d never showed interest in anything or anyone but his job. He kept to himself and kept the place running. Still, wouldn’t someone have wondered about him? Talked to him for more than fifteen minutes about something other than food?

He gripped the steering wheel harder, his knuckles turning white. He made sure to keep his eyes on the road, but he wasn’t looking at it- not really. He was remembering every day of the last four years, remembering why Barbara had left him three and a half years ago, why he’d grown so far apart from everyone.

It really was all Barb’s fault. Everything that happened was all her fault. She screamed so much at him about working such long hours and hardly having time to be at home or to see her. She hadn’t understood that, in the beginning, he needed something for himself. Something that was separate from her. Then the screaming started and it was no longer going to work because it was his thing, but it was to get away from her; to get peace and quiet.
He laughed. Peace and quiet at a busy restaurant? No, it wasn’t more peaceful or quiet there, but it was diverse noise instead of one woman screaming and crying at him. It was more relaxing at work. Plus, he did his job well so no one there could yell at him.

Then she surprised him, which really shouldn’t have been much of one. Barb, his girlfriend for three years and his fiancée for two, said she couldn’t handle the stress, the lies, and the deceit that kept building in their relationship.

“I’m leaving, “ she said one night right when he walked in the door. She stood in the kitchen, with the lights off, her red coat on, and bags at her feet. He didn’t notice the bags until a little bit later though.

“Oh? Where are you going?” he asked, but before she could answer he continued, “Aw, crap. On your way home could you pick up a gallon of milk? It totally slipped my mind.” He set his keys down on the counter, which was littered with dirty plates, forks, knives, spoons, and various cooking items. He took his coat off and said, “Why are you sitting here in the dark?” he asked and turned the light on. Then he spotted the bags at her feet.

“No, I’m leaving, Ben. For good. I can’t do…” she paused, “this. We aren’t even in love anymore. I’m not sure that we ever were. We just… lusted for each other I guess, but even that’s faded. We hardly ever have sex and when we do you don’t even look at me. It’s like a routine with you.”

He shut the door and took his shoes off. “For good? This is how you tell me? You don’t sit me down and try to work it out?”

“For good. I’ve tried to talk to you, but you never listen or you’re pulling ungodly hours at the restaurant. And, trust me, I’ve thought about other ways to tell you. A phone call, a letter, just simply walking away and never speaking to you again. I needed to do it in person though. I figured you’d respect me more if I did.”

“Oh, yeah? You figured I’d respect you more for having the gall to tell me in person that you’re done, that you quit? Forget you!” he shouted and she flinched.

“I’m sorry, “ she said and picked up her bags.

“You’re not leaving,” he said. “Not like this.”

“Please Benjamin. Don’t blow this out of proportion.”

“Blow it out of proportion! This is our life you’re talking about. You’re the one blowing it out of proportion, the one who is just done. You seem to have no problems doing it either.”

“You aren’t you anymore Ben! You’ve changed!” she shouted and tried to move past him.

Rage took over his body and red clouded his mind. He grabbed a dirty knife that lay next to his keys and stabbed out, no coherent thought going through his mind.

She cried out and clutched at him. He stabbed her again and again in the abdomen. She collapsed on the ground, twenty stab wounds bleeding profusely.

“Why?” she whispered, blood gurgling out of her mouth.

“Because I still love you,” he said.

Lights glared through his windshield, surprising him enough to turn the wheel slightly right. He straightened it back, but the wheels caught a patch of ice and his car slid out of the right lane, into the left lane, and off the road, slamming into a tree. He was launched out of the driver’s seat, through the window, and crunched limply into the tree. The visor in his car popped down displaying the “Wear seatbelts” warning.

“Sir, you better come in here,” a deputy called from the master bedroom.

The captain walked into the room and gagged. The air was full of black flies and on the bed underneath the comforter laid a mostly decayed body. The comforter had turned a greenish-black with the stain of decayed goo that had once been Ms. Barbara Feech.

“We’ve checked all the other rooms. This is the only bed in the house, and the other side of it has been in use. He slept in the same bed with her body,” the deputy said.

“Bastard got what he deserved,” the captain said and threw up onto a red coat that had been thrown on the floor.

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