Katie by "Splatter" Joe Solmo


     Katie pulled the roast from the oven, her eyes darted nervously to the clock on top of the General Electric stove. Paul should be home in five minutes, and he will be hungry. The aroma from the succulent meat assaulted her nose as she placed the pan on the surface of the stove. She checked the potatoes, tender. Her heart began to slow down a little when she realized that dinner should be done before he stormed in.
     For six years she has made his dinner, cleaned up after him and made herself available to his sexual whims, but it never seemed to be enough. Sometimes it felt like every three days they had some kind of meltdown, some kind of problem that Paul liked to fix with violence. 
     She remembered the first time he hit her, it was only a month after their wedding, the honeymoon ended abruptly when he smacked her so hard she fell to the floor with a welt on her face. Her world shattered then. He never once showed any sign of aggression towards her or anyone else. The emotional shock of that strike hurt almost as bad as her face, almost. 
     She cried that night, for hours while he sat in that ragged old green corduroy recliner. She wished she could blame it on the beer, but he was sober that first time. In fact he didn’t start drinking heavily until after that.
     Kate tried to find solace in the thought that he drank more now because he felt guilty about what he had done to her. She tried to rationalize it a dozen ways, but just when she had herself half convinced of whatever excuse she made, he would do it again. Not always a smack, not only with his hand, it had escalated over the years. 
     Katie put the freshly mashed potatoes on the table, Paul loved mashed potatoes, and he could eat a pot of them by himself. She subconsciously put her hand to the back of the head in remembrance of when he had thrown a bowl of mashed potatoes at her for being cold.
     “You should have known better, I get home the same time every night, bitch,” he snarled with venom that day. She still found bits of mashed potatoes a week later.
     She sliced the roast, steam rising as its juices flowed onto the platter. She heard the sound of Paul’s pickup pull into the driveway. There was no way to miss the truck, it hadn’t had a muffler in three weeks. Hurriedly, she placed Paul’s plate at his usual spot on the table, dumping 2 heaping spoonfuls of mashed potatoes onto his plate.
    She flinched in reaction to the door opening. The foot falls of her husband grew louder as they fell on the hardwood floors she polished weekly. She closed her eyes and whispered, “Please be in a good mood,” a mantra she recited daily, to no avail. 
    Paul entered the kitchen, dirty from working all day at the factory. He stormed towards the sink, without saying a word and began to wash the grease off his cracked hands. Katie reached inside the fridge and grabbed a bottle of beer. She placed it next to his plate just before he turned around. 
    His eyes surveyed the table, as if looking for something to bitch about, and with a sigh he plopped himself down at his table. With his fork he poked at the meat, and then ate a forkful of mashed potatoes. He grabbed his beer and started to raise it. 
   “What the fuck, how am I supposed to drink this, the top is still on!” he said in a raised voice. 
    “I’m sorry Paul, one second,” Katie replied, digging in the drawer for a bottle opener. 
    “I should open it on your fucking head,” he said as she turned back towards the table. “Probably wouldn’t do any fucking good.”
    Katie reached with hands shaking like she had the DT’s and tried to put the opener on the top of the bottle. 
    “Jesus Christ, look at ya. Give me the fucking thing,” Paul said and grabbed the opener out of her hands. With a hiss and a pop the top came off the bottle and he tossed the opener down on the table. 
    Katie skidded into her seat, opposite him and took a slice of meat and put it on her plate. It was a little rare for her, but it was the way Paul liked it. She began to cut it up with her knife, her hands still shaking a little bit. 
    Paul dove into his dinner without another word, devouring his potatoes, and looking towards the bowl for more. Katie put her knife down and scooped a generous portion onto his plate. He nodded towards her with a grunt. 
    Katie put the first piece of meat into her mouth, the first thing she had eaten all day, actually and began to chew on the rare flesh. 
    “For fuck’s sake Kate. I can hear ya chewing all the way over her, it’s gross.” Paul burst out. 
    Katie sighed and swallowed her half chewed meat. It sat like a lump in her throat for a second, but just as soon as the panic started in, it went down. She looked up at Paul. 
    “What?” he said, oblivious to her struggle. 
    “I almost choked,” she replied. 
    “Well maybe if you didn’t chew like a fucking cow you wouldn’t have that problem. You can’t even chew right. Why do I keep ya around? Can you tell me that?” Paul said shaking his head and piling more food into his mouth. 
    “I’m just lucky, I guess,” She said. She meant it sarcastically but over the years learned to mask the sarcasm in a neutral tone. Paul had never caught on to it. 
    “Well one of us has to be lucky, and it sure as shit ain’t me,” Paul said wiping his mouth with his sleeve and pushing his seat back from the table. He let out a burp and polished off his beer. “Beer me,” he said and stood up. 
    Katie grabbed another beer from the fridge, opened it and handed it to him. He took a pull off the bottle and turned and left the room without another word. A few seconds later the sounds of the nightly news could be heard from the next room. 
    “Why do I put up with this?” Katie asked her self again, what must have been the thousandth time. She sat down and started to eat, now finally able to do so in peace. She almost made it through the meal before Paul called out to her from the living room. 
    “I need another beer,” he said. 
    “Get it yourself,” she mumbled under her breath, but put her fork down and grabbed Paul another beer. 
    “I’m gonna be home late tomorrow,” Paul said burping in her face, and laughing about it. 
    “How late?” she asked. 
    “I’ll be home when I get home. I don’t know,” he said. 
    “Should I skip making dinner?” Katie inquired. 
     “No make it, I will have it when I get home,” Paul said. 
    Kate rolled her eyes just out of his sight as she returned to the kitchen to clean up after dinner. She sighed at her half eaten plate, now cold. She enjoyed doing the dishes, usually that was the only time he left her alone. When she was finished she hesitantly entered the living room, taking care not to walk in front of the TV, she had learned that lesson before. Her hip still gave her trouble on cold, rainy days. 
    “You hear about that piece of shit they caught that was diddlin’ those kids?” he asked. 
    “No Paul, I have been cooking all day,” she replied. 
    “Well if you put that much time into dinner you would think it would have tasted better,” he retorted sarcastically. 
    “I’m sorry, I will look for a better recipe,” Katie said. 
    “Won’t do any good, I think you reached your peak,” he said finishing off his beer. 
    “Do you want me to get you another beer?” she asked trying to change the subject. 
    “No, I will get it, you would probably fuck that up too,” he said and rose out of his chair. Her eyes followed him with a hateful stare until he was out of sight. She quickly glanced at the mahogany gun cabinet that adorned a corner of their living room. Sometimes she fantasized about leveling the barrel at Paul’s face and pulling the trigger, it was one of the things that kept her going. 
    Katie wasn’t even sure if the guns worked, Paul hadn’t used them in the entire time they have been married, and they didn’t look cared after when he brought them to their home. It would be just her luck she would pull one on him and it wouldn’t fire, then he would probably use the hammer on her again. She still couldn’t bend her right wrist the way it should. The nurse at the hospital knew something was fishy about her story of falling in the shower, but Paul warned her about telling the truth. The fear of getting it two-fold upon returning from the ER kept her mouth shut. 
    A crash erupted from down the hall. “Fuck!” Paul exclaimed from down the hall, he must have headed towards the bathroom after stopping at the kitchen. 
   “Are you ok Paul?” she asked, honestly not caring if he fell and broke his neck, other than how much he would take it out on her when he got better. 
   “Do people yell fuck if they are alright, Brainiac,” he yelled out. 
    Katie rolled her eyes and sighed. It looked like she would have to help him. She walked down the hall towards the bathroom. She could see Paul’s foot in the hallway. He must have fallen. She stepped over him to get a better look at the situation. Paul had fallen and smacked his head on the corner of the sink vanity. Blood was dripping into his eyes from a cut on his forehead. 
   “Let me get a washcloth,” she said and reached into the linen closet. Next to the stack of white washcloths was a large pipe wrench that Paul had brought in to fix the bathroom sink with. Something he never did fix and they still had a bucket in the sink they would dump down the shower drain since it leaked underneath. Her eyes hesitated on it for a few seconds. What a useless, terrible person Paul was, she thought. 
   “What is taking so long?” he said from the floor, trying to get to his hands and knees. 
   “Lie still Paul, I don’t know how bad it is yet.” She wet the washcloth and kneeled down beside her husband. She padded the wet cloth on his cut gently. 
    “Ow! Take it easy, you slut,” he said pulling away from his wife’s touch. 
    “Hold still, I can’t get it cleaned if you keep moving,” Katie replied. 
    Paul pushed his way up to a sitting position, with his back to the toilet. Now Katie could get a good look at the cut. It ran from his hairline down almost to his left eyebrow, split pretty wide. She thought she could see his skull through the half inch wide opening the corner of the vanity made on his face. Served the bastard right, she thought. 
   “You might have to go to the hospital for this, it’s pretty big,” she said trying to rinse the blood out of the washcloth. She knew if she ran too much water the bucket would fill and she would have to dump it. She turned back towards Paul. Blood still flowed freely from the cut on his head. 
   “We need to put pressure on it, or something, we have to get the blood to stop,” she said. 
   “Just put a fucking bandage on it you useless bitch,” he snarled and tried to stand, but his body gave out on him and he slipped back to the floor. 
   “Of course, you know best,” Katie said and turned back towards the linen closet. The top shelf held all their first aid materials. She rummaged through the various bottles on the shelf, peroxide, alcohol, iodine, they had it all. 
    “Fuck,” Paul said weekly, and it drew her attention to him. He was sticking his finger in the cut. “My skull, I can feel it. I hear it creaking inside my head,” he said.
    The hair on her neck rose as she thought about that for a second. His skull was fractured from the fall. This was a serious injury. His life was in jeopardy. Even though he had been nothing but a monster to her, she still felt a sense of urgency to get him help. Would he do the same for her? He never took her injuries seriously. 
    She turned back towards the closet and pulled a roll of bandage from the top shelf and some medical tape. Should she disinfect it? She didn’t know and didn’t want to make it worse. She cringed when she thought of putting peroxide or something else that would sting inside a wound that big. 
   “Come on, before my brain falls out,” Paul yelled from behind her. With his left foot he kicked the back of her leg. She clenched her teeth as she placed the bandages on the countertop. 
    “You would need a brain to have one fall out,” she said aloud. A sense of elation flooded her body as she finally said something to him and not under her breath, but she still instantly flinched. 
    “What the fuck did you say to me?” Paul said trying to stand again. This time he managed to fall to a sitting position on the toilet. 
    “I said goodbye, Paul,” she replied and turned. In a flash the wrench came down on his head, just to the left of his injury. Paul went limp from the strike, but she wasn’t done. Years of abuse and repressed emotion filled her and gave her arm strength as she struck again, this time right into his wound. She heard the bone crack and felt it give way. A clear liquid started to drip out of the wound. 
    She screamed out loud and grabbed his hair in her hands. “How does that feel you fucking asshole!” she yelled and threw him to the floor. He landed face down on the floor just like when she found him. 
    A proverbial lightbulb appeared above her head. She took the wrench and washcloths and carefully walked out of the bathroom. She carried them wrapped in a towel out the back door. A few seconds later and she had them stashed away in the tool box of his truck in the garage. 
    She ran back into the house and peeked in on Paul. He hadn’t moved at all, in fact he wasn’t breathing anymore. She double checked the scene one more time before returning to the kitchen. 
    Katie took a deep breath then picked up the phone and dialed 911. When the operator picked up on the other end she thought of the saddest moment of her life, when her dog was struck by a car, and in a shaky voice said, “Please help, my husband has fallen in the bathroom. He isn’t moving.” 
    “We will send EMS right away. Is he breathing ma’am?” the operator said. 
     “It doesn’t look like it, I’m really concerned for Paul,” Katie said. She stayed on the phone answering questions until she heard the sirens approaching. “I can hear the ambulance, they are here,” she said to the operator. “Thank you for your help,” she said and hung up the phone smiling. Paul hadn’t moved or breathed this whole time. No matter what happened she was free of his tyranny. 
    She was proud of herself for the first time in a long time. She had forgotten what that felt like. Being constantly put down had ruined her self-esteem. Focus Katie, focus, she said to herself as the paramedics entered her house with a stretcher. She forced a tear out of her eyes and ran up to them acting hysterical. 
    Later that evening, after the police had come and took pictures of the scene, she drove his truck down to the lake and walked out halfway across the bridge. She remembered swimming here when she was a teenager, it was really deep. She dumped the evidence off the bridge and watched as it sank out of sight. She was so focused on it she didn’t notice a woman approaching on foot. 
    “Katie?” the woman asked. “It is you,” she said and put her arms around her. 
    “Mom, how did you find me,” Katie said, this time with real tears coming from her face. This time not from sadness. Her mother disowned her when she married that piece of shit, Paul. Now he hasn’t been dead a day and she was getting her old family back. She hugged her mother tightly. 
    “I heard what happened,” her mother said. 
    “Mom, I have a confession to make,” Katie said and put her mom at arm’s reach. 
    “Never utter the words you are thinking about uttering dear, no one needs to know,” she said looked her daughter in the eye. “If you didn’t I would have, after that last time I was planning it.” 
    “Thanks mom,” Katie said and smiled. They both walked back to their cars together as the sun set. 


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