"The Black Widow" is over. It was much condensed and I changed the end to make for a good feeling at the end. All too often, I wanted to be a tad macabre with my stories and usually ended up making them nicer ...
Having a little trouble with Simon. He has decided to be "King of the Castle" and will not allow Tacky on the porch to get her food. As you can see, he has made himself a crow's nest out of the rail planter to watch her better. I didn't see her for a couple of days and I was pretty worried about her and ready to wring his little neck if he had really hurt her. Sigh, I guess I will have to try to re-home him if they can't get along. Found Tacky in the part of the garage where we keep the lawnmower, so she is okay for now. (Whew!)
A happy picture of Jill. Looks like it's time to take her for a tooth cleaning. That smile won't last when she finds out.
All Souls Day tomorrow today. I just finished coloring this, I like it.
On other fronts, DH had appointment with the cardiologist, the girl at the desk called and confirmed the time and date, I had the phone on for him to hear it too. I wrote it down and DH put the info in his phone at the time. So, the day came, he drove like a crazy person to get there in time. I guess butter wouldn't melt in that jane's mouth when she told him as he skidded into the office, "Doctor doesn't see anyone on a Tuesday, your appointment was yesterday." She wanted to reschedule, he told her to call if there was a problem. This was the third time they had a mix-up with the time. A nurse called later and said he was fine.
I had quite a few ripe tomatoes, so I tried my hand at roasting them. The smell here in the house was almost overwhelming. Mmm, that roasting garlic!
We finally had a hard frost. The fig tree leaves are all curled and getting crunchy. Summer is officially over. Sigh ...
The ride to the hospital gave her
mixed feelings. The unknown made her want to get away and yet she was happy
that the horror was over. Newsmen, cameras, and people pushing a microphone
into her face met the ambulance, and wanting information. At that time, she was
just a survivor of a grisly murder scene. Her father had murdered her mother,
tried to murder her, and then he bludgeoned her uncle to death. When they found
Arnold’s body, the police tried to say she had killed him. Until his autopsy,
they wouldn’t know how she had done it. They put her in a room by herself with
an armed guard stationed at the door. A nurse came into the room to clean her
wounds. She began asking questions, and then she took her picture. Mallory
screamed for the guard, who took the camera away from the nurse. Three days,
she sat in her room alone, and then the guard was gone. Her father had taken
the police on a chase through town, crashing headlong into the bridge supports.
There was another onslaught of doctors, police, and reporters.
A detective told her that Arnold
had suffered from a heart attack; she was off the hook for his demise. Mallory
had figured that, they could have asked her.
Some paper shuffler found her
marriage records and she was news again.Many of
the nurses made her feel dirty, as if she had gone along willingly with their
crooked schemes. Some of the nurses stood up for her, feeling pity for the
young girl forced by her parents to marry at such a young age. They questioned
her, time after time, asking who her relatives were, and where they lived. The
funeral had come and gone for her mother before she got out. She didn’t care,
not having any feelings of affection for her.
Once the bruises healed, they moved
her to a different kind of hospital to sort out her mental issues. When the
newsmen tried to talk to her, insinuating that she had participated in the
plans of killing off the old men, she threw things at them or screamed. She
often wished she were back in the basement, by herself. The constant poking and
picking of her brain was as uncomfortable as life had been with Gabriel. Why
couldn’t they just leave her alone?
Of course, this gave the headshrinkers added
fuel for their fires, saying she was apathetic. They said she was antisocial.
She wouldn’t watch television. The shrinks thought it was odd behavior. She
didn’t want to hear the news bulletins about the ‘Black Widow’ anymore. Even
the orderlies were calling her the Black Widow behind her back, though, loud
enough for her to hear. They made jokes about her. She had a roommate, who gave
her a wide berth, staying out of the room whenever possible. Rumors had spread
throughout the hospital about how strange she was. Mallory didn’t have a single
friend and the only visitors she had were police or detectives, to ask more
questions about things she didn’t know.
One Saturday afternoon, Doctor Kane
summoned her to his office. He told her to sit down, handing her a pill and a glass
of water, which he instructed her to take. Then he started talking about his
flower garden to let the pill begin working.
“Mallory,” he began, “The people who
you thought were your parents... well... they most likely bought you from
someone that took you from your home when you were a toddler. We have no way of
knowing, they may have taken you themselves. The police found your real
identity through your fingerprints at the house; you were finger printed when
you were two.”
“I have different parents? Do you
know where they are?” That was great news she thought. Her heart raced and she
began to feel dizzy. Whatever the pill was that the doctor gave her wasn’t
working too well. The room around her began moving in slow motion, as the
doctor called someone into his office. The door opened slowly and gradually the
doorway filled with a tall, thin man, who wore a hesitant smile. The man said
something to her, but her heart was pounding so loudly and he spoke too softly
to understand what he said. He walked toward her. Mallory slumped down in her
chair as she passed out.
Waking on the sofa in the doctor’s
lounge, Mallory saw the man seated in a chair across the darkened room. He
watched her with sad eyes that looked as if he had been crying.
“They tell me that you go by the
name of Mallory,” he said. “I doubt if you remember me, but I am your father,
and we named you Hope.”
“We... Do I still have a mother?”
“Yes, but she thought she would
come at a different time. We aren’t together anymore, I’m sorry.” He looked
overwhelmed with emotion.
“Do you have any pictures?”
“No, I’m sorry, I left in such a
hurry when they called, I didn’t think about it. I called Amy, your mother,
from the airport. You look a lot like her. Can we go for a walk or do you have
to stay in the building?”
“You’ll have to ask Doctor Kane
about the rules. I have never had a real visitor before.”
Her father left the room and
returned with Doctor Kane. He released her for a weekend visit, to see how
everything went. He instructed Mallory to put a change of clothes in a bag to
Her father looked worried and
embarrassed, as he asked the doctor where an inexpensive motel was. The doctor
was prepared; he had coupons for motels and meals ready, in an envelope in his
pocket. Many of his patients would never see a visitor if it wasn’t for some
kind of compensation. He knew this was not the case in this instance. There was
a motel within walking distance.
“She is ready to be released, if
she has a place to go. I didn’t know you and your wife had divorced until I
called. It’s not an ideal situation. She needs introduction back into society
in a family setting, but you can’t do that. What are her mother’s
circumstances? Does she have a stable home environment for her?”
“I don’t know much about Amy’s life
anymore. She’s married again and has three small children. When I told her that
they found Hope and told her that I was coming up here, it had been a couple of
years since we spoke. I lied to Hope about Amy coming at another time. She didn’t
mention it. I think Hope would be walking into a built-in babysitter position.
I don’t know if that would be good for her or not.”
“I don’t see any information about
her siblings, where are they now?”
“Richie died in the service last
year and Emily is in college. It costs a lot of money these days. I do
appreciate the coupons, thank you.”
“Well, you two enjoy your visit and
I will look further into it. Do you think you are ready to take on the
“Let’s see how this weekend goes,
but yes, if at all possible I want to take her home.”
Mallory stood in the doorway, mouth
open, unable to speak. She had a brother that died, a sister somewhere off in
college, and a mother with a new family of her own. She cleared her throat. “I’m
ready,” she said quietly, praying silently that she was.
Standing in front of Judge Brown,
she pleaded with her eyes, trying to get him to pay attention to what they were
doing. Her father poked her in the ribs, whispering mean promises if she said
anything, as he winked at the Judge. She was married to Arnold Vogel, a tall,
skinny man of 70. He put her to work, stacking cord wood, as soon as they
arrived at his log cabin. He ordered her around all day and expected her to
welcome him into the marriage bed with open arms. She fell asleep, but he had
his wedding night anyway. She may as well have been a knothole in a fence. He
took one of his little blue pills every night, even if she was on her monthly,
it made more sheets to wash. He taught her how to use the chainsaw, making yet
another chore for her to do. She missed Joseph with his kind and gentle ways.
Arnold didn’t have a telephone. One
day he clutched his chest and keeled over, she couldn’t call for an ambulance.
She would have to try to figure out how to drive his truck; she had seen him do
it several times. It was up in the woods. Running to get the old pick-up, it
bucked toward the house, but by the time she went back inside the house to get
him, he was already dead. She emptied out his pockets, pulled off his ring, and
packed her big suitcase. The truck jerked down the driveway as she headed for
town, grinding the gears. Freedom was so close. Then the motor made a loud
knocking sound, dying on the road in a dark cloud of smoke. Managing to pull it
over to the side of the road before it quit rolling, she snatched her suitcase
from the back. It was still a ways to the bus stop; her feet would have to get
her there. That was when Uncle Carl caught up with her. The nosy neighbors must
have called the family when she drove noisily out of the yard.
Spending the time in the basement,
had given her a lot of time to think. Without chores to have to concentrate on,
her mind was free to fantasize. Many
delightful scenes played, danced, and frolicked through her head. Her thoughts
of revenge, tickled her fancy. Visualizing her parents, splayed out on the
floor as Arnold had been, made her smile. It was a great thought, but the
mystery was how to make it materialize.
The telephone rang; her father
answered it, talking quietly so that she wouldn’t hear the conversation. After
he hung up, he talked to her mother, whispering. Then her mother opened the
basement door and just stood there with her hands on her hips, her silhouette
dark against the bright kitchen light.
“We have to go to the lawyer’s
office now, Mallory. He has an opening at two o’clock so you better get up here
and make yourself presentable,” she said.
“What are you going to do, if I
don’t? Are you going to beat me up some more or kill me? Do what you have to
do. I am not going through hell again, to make you rich. That should be my
money, not yours,” she said with an attitude.
Her mother slammed the door; the
plates on the kitchen wall clattered. Then she stomped across the kitchen
floor. The argument that ensued between her parents was loud enough for the
neighbors to hear. The argument stopped after Mallory heard a heavy thud on the
living room floor.
The door to the basement swung open
hard, banging against the kitchen wall and her father clomped down the stairs.
She stood there waiting, ready to die. He grabbed the neck of her T-shirt and
dragged her up the stairs, as she let herself go limp to become dead weight.
She had no plans on helping him out; it was her only defense. Her father was a
big man, weighing more than twice, what she did. As he pulled her through to
the bathroom, she noticed her mother on the living room floor. Blood was
draining out of her ear and nose. Her mother’s eyes were open and lifeless,
staring into space.
“Wash yourself,” he demanded.
She stood there, gasping for breath
from him hauling her by her shirt. Her neck was raw. Looking in the bathroom
mirror, she could tell that washing up would not make her look good, let alone
presentable. He stood in the doorway with a crazed look in his eyes. Knowing
that he had come completely unhinged, she now was positive he had chosen to
kill her if she didn’t comply. She hoped that she would give up the ghost
quickly, the way her mother had.
Uncle Carl came into the house, his
heavy footsteps seemed to pause in the living room then he stood behind his
“What the hell have you done, Ben?”
“This little bitch won’t clean
herself up to go get our money!”
Even Carl could see that his
brother had lost touch with reality when he tried to reason with him. She could
tell by the look on his face that the wheels in her uncle’s mind were spinning.
He tried to sound sympathetic, telling her clean up and he would take her into
town. He said that he would put her on the bus as soon as they got their money.
She knew he was lying. Carl didn’t have a compassionate bone in his body.
“No, that’s my money, you didn’t have
to sleep with that slimy old man, I did!” she said, and that was the last thing
she knew until she saw the officer lean over her, to shut off the cold water in
Soon was too soon. They went
through the same procedure with Gabriel Coffin. Gabe was seventy-five and very
forgetful, not interested in sex as much as looking at her. He made her walk
around the house in an apron, nothing else. She spent most of the time posing
while he took pretend pictures. If he didn’t like her pose, he used the fly
swatter on her butt. The next time she posed the same way, he was pleased. He
took her grocery shopping and forgot where he had left her. A very frustrated
man, he took his forgetfulness out on her. Once, she hid the fly swatter and
she told him he left it somewhere, so he hit her with the slotted metal spoon
that left huge welts. The fly swatter magically appeared because it hurt less
and didn’t bite into her skin.
She wished that Gabe were not just
mentally sick, but he was healthy and she thought that he could go on like this
for years. She began to hate him; he knew it and he remembered enough to let
her know that if she filed for a divorce, he wanted every dollar of his money
returned. It was then that she realized her parents had sold her to him. Her
parents would have to sell their new cars and they would take it out on her.
She decided he was the lesser of two evils and tried to make it work.
He had an accident and the doctor
said he couldn’t drive anymore. She had to take driving lessons and get her
license to take him for his doctor appointments and shopping. They bought a
used car and she had to hide the keys. They had some awful arguments about it,
because he would forget that he couldn’t drive. She felt as if she was living
in hell and wondered what she had done wrong to deserve it. One day, he found
the keys when she was taking a shower. She didn’t hear him start the car or
drive it down the gravel driveway. When she came out of the bathroom, he was
gone with the car. She called the sheriff’s office with the tag numbers,
explaining the situation. Two hours later, an officer was at the door, Gabe had
another accident, wrapping himself and the car around a tree.
After the funeral, the lawyer
handed the check to her father; he explained that since she was under-age, he
would take care of it for her. She didn’t even get the house, nothing but her
clothes. At their house, she accused them of selling her for their gain and it
had nothing to do with finding her a good husband. A horrific beating and a
night in the basement, made her more receptive to their finding her a husband.
She insisted they look for a younger man with a stable mind or she wouldn’t do
it. Another beating and two nights in the basement and she became submissive.
Mallory was not quite seventeen.
Two weeks later, she was standing
in front of the Judge again. The man they picked for her was a little on the
chubby side, but he had all of his hair and teeth. She became Mrs. Joseph Rica.
He did insist she call him Joseph and not Joe, but he seemed a pleasant sort, a
man about sixty. He owned a cute little stucco house on the edge of town with
flower gardens in the back yard. She did wonder why he had to pay for a wife
when he could find one on his own. Their wedding night was a shock; he
explained that if she wanted to back out that now was a good time. He wore a
strapped-on prosthesis, telling her they had to consummate the marriage to be
legal. Blushing the whole time, he related to her, the account of an angry
husband and his erring wife. He had to use a bag, and he had very little
Joseph worked and she was on her
own during the day, cooking and cleaning. For the first time, she felt like a
wife. She would drive him to work on days when she went shopping. They became
good friends and were like any other married couple except for in the bedroom.
She was happy for a change. It lasted for almost eight months, and then Joseph
had a heart attack at work. He passed away after triple by-pass surgery. She
was truly heartbroken this time.
Again, the lawyer gave the check to
her father and she had nothing but her misery. They left her alone for a while,
at least until the cash began dwindling. Her parents had gotten used to living
high on the hog. They blew most of the money on vacations, furniture, and gambling.
Mallory would break down in tears every time they mentioned finding her another
husband. Finally, her father had enough of her crying and gave her a real
reason to cry. After a day in the basement and a visit to the doctor for a
broken nose, they let her black eyes heal and took her back to the courthouse.
She regained consciousness, lying
on the basement floor with a horrible headache. Her pockets were empty and her
finger was sore, they had wrenched her wedding ring from it. The knuckle was
purple and she imagined her face was too. The basement was inescapable; she had
tried before. They had the windows nailed shut to keep her inside, it smelled
of mildew and backed up sewage. Water bugs and roaches crawled everywhere. She
wondered how long they would keep her down here this time. The last time she
refused to cooperate, it had only been a day, but they couldn’t take her to
town with her face all bruised, swollen, and scraped. They would have to wait
until she looked acceptable.
The basement door creaked, and she
heard a soft thump on the floor just before the door squeaked shut again. Feeling
around in the dim light, she found a brown paper lunch sack with a sandwich and
juice pack inside. Eating the peanut butter sandwich, she hoped they had laced
it with rat poison. No, she knew she would never be that fortunate.
Two days passed, her mother called
down the stairs, “Mallory Borden, are you ready to behave yourself now?”
“It’s Mallory Vogel now, remember?”
The door slammed shut. If she had
said, what she had wanted to say, her father would have pounded down the stairs
and knocked her lights out again. She anticipated they wanted her to show up at
the funeral, and accompany them to the lawyer’s office to collect what they
considered their money from the old man’s estate. She would stall them as long
as she could. Why hadn’t the authorities figured out what her parents were
She remembered her first marriagewhen she was sixteen. Shuddering at the
mental image, she remembered how Mother had dressed her up in a pretty, white
dress, and bought her flowers. She hadn’t met the groom before her wedding day
at the county courthouse. John Sawyer was almost eighty years old and a pig;
literally, he hadn’t bothered to take a bath or so much as a put on a clean
shirt when they stood before Judge. The overweight old man wheezed, and his
breath was foul, as if his lungs were rotten. He seemed delighted to get him a virgin bride to share his life
with him on the farm. She watched while they signed a bunch of papers, then the
Judge married them, and afterward, he gave her father a wad of bills, and she
thought the man was wealthy. The old farmhouse he took her to after the
ceremony, was in danger of falling apart. Her wedding night was a nightmare.
She had no experience, the girls at school had kind of told her about it, but
they had not prepared her for what happened. Within a week, she was a widow. He
suffered a stroke while he was on top of her, dying before she could work her
way out from under him.
She actually cried. The day before,
John took a bath for her and brushed his teeth. His brain was simple, but he
hadn’t knocked her around as her father had. Mallory thought she could tolerate
him. After his funeral, she had to go to the lawyer’s office and her parents
made her sign the insurance check over to them.
They had taken her home to mend her
broken heart and see the doctor for the infection John had given her. Her
mother explained that this was the way of marriages that she had been married
several times before she married Mallory’s father.
“It’s just a matter of finding a
good match,” she said, “Everybody does it this way. John did not inform us that
he was ailing or we would never have permitted it. We will try to find you
another husband soon.”