Well, after a hairy school week, I flopped into my recliner, pulled up the latest prompt offered by Weekly Writing Prompts and tinkered around with each of the five ideas. To follow is the one that inspired me the most: “One bullet is a lifetime supply.”
PROMPT: One bullet is a lifetime supply
May 30 5:25 a.m.
Lindsey Brewster lifted her head off the pillow long enough to readjust it so she could fall asleep for five more precious minutes. Soon, the snooze alarm on her clock would bleat for the last time. Whatever she had done, the day before, she would do all over again. Pull self upright with her only good hand. Hobble downstairs on one crutch to start the coffee. Wake up five-year-old Crane and get him dressed so her mother could drive her to her job at Denny’s.
Oh, for the luxury of calling in sick – again.
The hand she wrote with was braced with a cast clear up to her elbow. Her left foot, broken in two places, throbbed after her husband slammed the car door on it when she didn’t get into the car fast enough. She needed more pain pills, but the doctor said, “No way”.
Truth is, she mused. I need to be in the hospital. And Rance should be in jail.
She ran water over last night’s dinner dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. Bending carefully, she groped under the sink for the dishwasher pods but found only liquid soap. Remembering Rance’s hair-trigger rage at coming home to an amoeba of soapsuds spreading on the kitchen tile, she backed away.
Nope, she thought, remembering how he stood over her and forced her to mop it up. I am not going through that, again.
Two nights ago, he had packed her and her broken foot into his pick-up and driven to an emergency room at a different hospital. In order to evade suspicion, he had taken her to every hospital in Fort Worth: Harris, Baylor, and even John Peter Smith. This time, it was North Hills.
The reactions were always the same. Sucked-in breath and shocked eyes.
“What happened?” a triage nurse would ask.
“I ran into something”, Lindsey would say.
Something like a mean husband.
She swiped away the tears stinging her swollen eyes, as she tried to remember happier times. Like, before they married.
June 1, 2011
When Lindsey Myers, a newly-divorced young mother, gazed into Rance Brewster’s golden brown eyes, she saw a hero. An EMT for a Fort Worth ambulance crew, Brewster with his burly physique, swarthy good looks, and homespun charm appeared to be everything she had wanted in a man.
As they grew closer, one question –the deal breaker – burned like acid in her heart.
How will he treat Crane?
As their relationship escalated. Rance gradually earned Crane’s trust. One day, as they navigated the hilly terrain of the Fort Worth Zoo, he turned to Crane and held out his hands.
“Here, buddy, wanna ride on my shoulders? These hills are kinda steep.”
After piercing him with cobalt eyes, Crane held out his arms for Rance to hoist him onto his broad shoulders. Before long, Crane acted as though he belonged there.
Two months later, as they were perched at the top of a Ferris wheel, Rance presented Lindsey with an engagement ring. Although the diamond was only an eighth of a carat, Lindsey flashed it proudly wherever she went.
Then, a week after their honeymoon, she began to see changes. At first, she doubted herself when his snide comments and criticism pricked her heart.
“I was only kidding,” he grumbled. “Can’t you take a joke?”
Next came the “accidents”. Branding her arms with cigarette burns. Yanking her hair so hard that her scalp tingled. Calling her a stupid whore after she happily announced their baby was on the way.
Candlelight dinners and “honeymoon” trips, flowers, and candy followed.
Two weeks after they brought their own little spitfire, Penelope, home from the hospital, Lindsey walked into the nursery to find Rance standing over her crib. Eyes once misty with “new-dad wonder” burned with suspicion and doubt.
“Who’d the red hair come from? No redheads on my side of the family.”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. Could be from someone in my family.”
“Hmpfh”, he snorted. After pulling the cover a bit too close to the baby’s tiny nose, he lumbered into the kitchen, popped the top off a beer, and hurled himself into his recliner. Within minutes, the thin walls between the living room and the nursery shuddered from a Dallas Cowboys game cranked up as loud as it would go.
But the din in the living room was no match for their daughter’s strong lungs.
“Shut that brat up or I damn well will!” he would bellow.
Before long, Lindsey had Rance all figured out. One glimpse of Penny’s copper curls sent him stalking from the room, cranking up the television, and yelling and cursing when he heard their children cry.
Yet, for all his yelling, it had been just that — noise. Oddly enough, he hadn’t laid a hand on Crane. Penelope — his own daughter — was a whole different matter.
At her first birthday party, Rance swirled his beer as he watched the celebration from behind the screen door.
“Hey, Rance,” urged Lindsey’s dad, camera in hand. “Come get in the pictures!”
“Catch you later, maybe,” Rance mumbled, faking a grin.
“Yes, come on out, Rance,” urged her mother, as she rose from a chaise. “Come take my chair. Penny’s about to blow out her first candle.”
Brewster’s lip curled. His eyes narrowed.
“Bet-ty, I’ll be out in a minute!” he nagged, biting off the last syllable of his sentence.
“Cut that out, Brewster,” her dad chided. “We’re not idiots.”
So went family celebrations – especially the kids’ birthdays . If they were not about Rance or for Rance, he went out of his way to make everyone else miserable. To Lindsey’s shock, her husband had become two people in one body. And, from one minute to the next, she never knew which one of them to expect.
Still, in spite of his threats against Crane or Penelope, Rance had never hurt either one of them. At least, not yet.
One stormy June night, around 11:30 p.m. Lindsey had straggled in from working a double shift when she heard Penelope scream from the upstairs bathroom.
“Noooo, Daddy! You hurting me!”
“Aw, quit’cher cryin’ or I’ll give ya somethin’ to cry about!”
Short of breath from taking the stairs two at a time, Lindsey banged on the bathroom door. When Rance didn’t open the door, she rattled the knob. It was locked.
“Rance? What’s going on in there?”
“Mom-meeeeee,” Penelope shrieked, between gasps.
Suddenly, her strangled cries were followed by a sickening glub-glub. Shoulder to the door, Lindsey rammed it open and barged in.
Lying face-up and unresponsive in the bottom of a tub full of soapy water was her daughter. Frantic, Lindsey fished her limp body out of the suds, stretched her out on the bath mat, and began CPR. Through her tears, after five failed attempts, Lindsey wrote down the time of death on a scrap of toilet paper.
“Shit,” huffed Rance. “I was only givin’ the little brat a bath.”
Her blazing green eyes leveling at her husband, Lindsey cocked the gun.
“What the hell? What’re you doin’, Linds?”
“You son-of-a-bitch,” she spat, as she aimed the Colt at his heart. “You’re goin’ down!”
With a single blast, Brewster’s chest exploded against pink tiles.
After making sure the monster was dead, she punched in 9-1-1 with fluttery fingers and hit “Call”.
“Nine-one-one,” answered a female voice. ” What is your emergency?”
“ I just shot an intruder.”
I’ll fill in the rest when they get here.
Still in shock, Lindsey cradled her daughter in her arms. As she waited for the ambulance, she smirked at the irony of it all. She had found only one bullet in Rance’s pistol. For someone who never — ever — expected to shoot another human being — especially her husband — she had done a good job. For her, that one well-spent bullet was a lifetime supply.