By: Brian M. Van Hise
Some folks live their lives full of regrets. Regret not having played football in high school, regret choosing the wrong major in college, regret meeting the wrong boy or girl. Others tend to live without regrets, feeling that the natural course life takes makes us much stronger and better prepared for unknown challenges.
I do have one regret that night.
I regret not bringing my umbrella.
Of course, I hadn’t intended on hitting that jogging woman or needing to get out of my car at all really, but when Linda insisted I open the trunk and show her what was inside, I realized that in doing so, Linda’s hair would get wet. Sticky wet from the rain. And it would get matted and knotty, kinda like the dead girl (well, apparently alive still) and I would likely spend the better half of the evening brushing out Linda’s hair after she had dried it back home.
“Open the trunk,” she said, looking at me wide-eyed.
I didn’t hesitate, but just reached over and depressed the lever. I heard a click come from behind us. I looked in the rearview mirror, seeing the trunk now slightly open. Part of me expected it to spring upward and hear the girl climb her way out. When that didn’t happen, Linda opened her door and stepped out.
“Honey,” I called out after her. She turned briefly to me. “You’ll get wet” was all I could think of to say. She grimaced and closed the door behind her.
From the driver’s seat I watched through the mirror as she lifted the trunk. It covered her face through the reflection so I could only guess at what horrid expression must have struck her then. I gulped slowly, wanting to take my eyes off the mirror but couldn’t. She didn’t say anything, nor did the jogger girl. Both women seemed absolutely silent.
A realization struck me. Just an hour earlier I had discovered my wife’s dirty secret about another man. And now, she was discovering my dirty secret about another woman. Albeit different secrets of different natures, it gave me pause as a rationalization of sorts. Who was I to judge and criticize her when–
Linda lowered the hood a little and walked around to the passenger side of the car. She opened the rear door, not saying a word to me, and reached for the black squeegee. She gripped it firmly and shook it briefly in the air. Then she closed the door, raised the trunk once more, and through the rearview mirror I could see her hold the squeegee high up in the air. Then a moment later it came crashing down, punctuated with a sharp THUD sound, the force of which shook the car, feeling for a moment like a small schooner on a swelling ocean wave. The force of her blow moved my insides up and down, up and down. Like the drop from a roller coaster.
Anyway. Like I was saying, I had a realization. Who was I to judge and criticize her secrets when I myself had a new secret I was keeping about another woman? Granted, I hadn’t been having sex with her and certainly didn’t know her name, but it was somehow similar, wasn’t it? I tried to keep this thought in my head, because I had a feeling that if I kept thinking hard enough about it, I could expand it into a larger thesis…heck, maybe even a publishable article for Psychology Today if I worked hard on it.
Linda slammed the trunk shut, tossed the squeegee into the backseat, and got back in next to me.
“Drive to Brooks Bridge.”
I swallowed hard.
“Just drive to Brooks Bridge now,” she commanded, not looking at me.
I started up the car once again and began to drive. One blow was all she had given the poor girl. One good, solid blow, from the hard edge of the plastic squeegee was all that was needed apparently, to wipe out a life that had been dangling on anyway. Dangling was a good word to describe a life that could be closed out by a squeegee. Dangling like the headphones she’d been wearing I guess.
I rolled down my window as I pulled away from the side of the road.
Brooks Bridge was only about two miles off.
I picked up the bloody squeegee from the backseat, passed it into my left hand, and started to scrape the rain off the windshield. Blood from the girl had mixed in with the drops, but I suppose it was a good way to clean it off. After all, once I got the wipers fixed, I had every intention to return the squeegee to J&J’s Texaco on Route 3.
Linda spoke again: “We need to get rid of this body.”
To be concluded in Part V…