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Violence is Blue

Nola and Lance’s argument turns deadly.

By C. L. NicholsPublished about a month ago 7 min read

Inside Lance and Nola Thompson’s modest home, an all-day argument continued. Lance swore that Nola was screwing around on him but that he wasn’t nobody’s fool. Especially not hers.

Although she told only the truth, Nola held back a few details that if Lance knew, he would kill her. She hadn’t gone to bed with another man. Not yet.

At the carpet factory, Jason Singleton’s eyes telegraphed torrid intentions that made her tremble with a dark need she hadn’t known she possessed. Her marriage three years ago had been a wishful solution to a lifelong problem rather than due to any all-consuming fire for Lance. Her father beat his wife and whipped his daughter whenever he was in the mood. And he’d been in the mood often.

Nola didn’t hesitate when handsome Lance Thompson proposed. As a final result of her desperate act, she’d traded an alcoholic father for an alcoholic husband.

When she looked toward the curtainless window, Nola saw it was dark outside. Bitterly she realized they’d wasted another day on worthless bickering. Lance had gone further than ever before, his outrageous accusations piling up like storm clouds. Childhood experience told her that something awful happened on Lance’s job last night. As a security guard, he usually worked alone on graveyards. Nola suspected Lance drank heavily there, also. She was always at the factory before he returned home.

Had he been fired?

She looked over at Lance’s closed eyes, drooping head. It had taken most of a case of beer, but he was out.

Nola felt nauseous. On top of their heated quarreling, thoughts of Jason now only made her feel grimy. Lance rarely put her in the mood, but he was her husband. She decided to let Jason know, in no uncertain terms, what her position had to be.

As she walked from the living room into the hallway, Nola shucked her dress. She reached back to unclasp her bra then clicked on the bathroom light before closing the door. She leaned over, twisted the faucet. Water struck the bottom of the tub, splashing up into her face. When steam rose, she added cold water. The rusty knob complained.

Nola straightened then shook her head at her reflection in the cracked glass, another victim of Lance’s frequent temper tantrums. She and Jason were impossible. Nowhere would be far enough from her husband. He’d hunt them down and then she’d pay.

Besides, if she left Lance she had no place to go. Not back home. Since her mother’s death, Sam Brickman lived alone. Nola would assume Nora Brickman’s role in his heavyhanded attentions. Her shoulders sagged. She was stuck.

Nola pushed down her panties. Frowning, she kicked them atop the heap of dirty clothes in the corner. Soon after their marriage, Lance had patted her head. My Little Neat Freak, he laughed. Everything started to slide not long after. Not only the house. She stared into the mirror, examining her lined face and tangled hair She was too tired to do things right. With a spark of insight, Nola realized that she’d come down to his level.

She stepped into the tub, closed the plastic curtain, flipped the lever. When she dipped her head, waterfalls issued from strands of hair. She began to relax.

Nola felt the change in air pressure rather than heard the bathroom door open. She stiffened then identified the splash as her husband relieved himself The steady flow went on for an impossibly long time, gradually lessened, then ended. She waited for the toilet flush, wanting to be alone again. A minute passed.


The light went out.

A rusty squeal. Nola immediately recognized the sound. The cold water faucet was being shut off. She jerked the curtain back and tried to hop out to escape the hot water.

Rough hands pushed her backward. In frenzied panic, she tried to shove back.

Her feet slid on the wet porcelain. Nola grabbed blindly at the shower curtain. It slipped repeatedly between her fingers until she was lying on her side in the tub. Another whining noise, then even hotter water rained down. Scalding spray penetrated, seared her flesh like acid.

She scrambled to rise. Strong arms embraced her in a mad parody of love, keeping her in place. Nola slithered through them onto the floor. She fell onto her side. Breath expelled in a whoosh. She flopped onto her belly then propelled herself forward.

Her head rammed the closed door.

As she reached up, Lance grabbed her foot and yanked. Nola lunged forward. His grip loosened.

She stood, groping for the knob. It wasn’t there.

The hoarse voice, nearly unrecognizable, made her jump.

“Bitch, when I’m done, your boyfriend can have what’s left.” Her shaky hand traveled across wood. The rough voice spoke into her ear. “What’s his name? Oh yeah, Jason Dickhead. He’d next.”

Just when she concluded she’d missed it, her hand painfully struck metal. She wrenched open the door, welcomed the dim light that spilled through.

Nola risked a glance back just as her husband’s arms spread out to grab her hips. She cocked her left leg then pistoned it back. Her foot thudded against his chest, drove him back toward the tub, boots slipping on wet floor. Lance went over backward. His upraised legs comically scissored the air. The hot water struck him in the face. His scream increased her fear. She turned away, then ran.

As she fled down the hallway, eerie whimpers trailed after her like air bubbles from an underwater swimmer. She rounded the corner, slowed into long tiptoeing strides. She looked toward the locked door on the far side of the living room. She wouldn’t make it.

Nola bolted for the kitchen.

Lance’s boots slapped behind her. She ran across the room, jerked open the silverware drawer. The tray slid out too far, crashed to the floor in a musical cacophony of spoons and forks. No knives. In her panic she’d grabbed the wrong drawer.

Nola dropped to the floor in resignation, and something jabbed the back of her thigh. She reached for the object, looked at its bloody tines. Clutching the fork tightly, she pointed it at her husband as he entered the room.

Lance laughed cruelly.

“You’re shittin’ me. What you gonna do with that. Eat me?” For seemingly the first time, he noticed her nakedness. “Honey, this is the sexiest I’ve seen you in a long time. And on your knees, too.” He laughed again.

“No, Lance,” her voice rasped into the space between them. “You leave me alone.”

“Alone?” Slowly, in regretful consideration, Lance swung his head in wide arcs. “No-no-Nola, can’t do that now.”

He stepped forward.

Nola rose swiftly from the floor, thrust the fork toward his stomach. Lance slapped her hand disdainfully. The utensil flew from her grasp and clattered against the refrigerator, spinning in eccentric circles before slowing to a stop.

They’d both paused to watch. In the ensuing silence, Lance looked back at her, grinning wolfishly.

“Now sugar. It’s high time you done your wifely chores.” His grin broadened. “And I don’t mean the dishes.”

He took another step. Nola moved to the side. He laughed.

She stopped suddenly and Lance slid past. Nudity allowed a latitude of movement she wouldn’t otherwise have, and Lance’s fingers clawed empty air as she changed direction.

Like a rabbit chased by eager hounds, Nola ran for the back door. Boot steps clumped louder as Lance regained ground. Mere bickering had escalated into a race for life. Fear softened her bones into rubber, and her legs almost gave beneath her.

Nola reached for the doorknob, and her fingertips brushed its smooth coldness before Lance snatched her hair, jerking her off her feet. She landed on her tailbone, a sharp pain jolting through her like electricity.

Lance whistled as he unbuckled his belt. His jeans dropped.

Nola rocked onto her back and shot her legs into his exposed groin. His breath exploded. Lance bent double, moaning, then fell forward.

She scurried to her feet, ran to the closet beside the back door. Reaching inside, she groped for the holster that hung from a peg behind their coats. She withdrew the handgun he kept there, always loaded. Gripping the pistol so tightly she shook, Nola turned back, aimed the deadly weapon.

Cheeks flicked with spittle, Lance held himself and groaned. Nola flicked off the safety, felt her fingers tighten as she gazed upon the pitiful man she’d married. She paused as a single thought surfaced.

Violence is his way, not mine. Suddenly disgusted, she turned and walked from the room.

Nola dressed hurriedly, grabbed her purse and keys. She walked into the living room holding out the pistol in both hands, anxious that Lance might have recovered.

He sat in his recliner. She gasped and pointed the gun at him.

Lance glared without speaking.

Calmer than she thought possible, she stepped outside, closed the door.

Nola stood under a full moon.

The rush of frigid air swept past her like freedom.

Short Story

About the Creator

C. L. Nichols

C. L. Nichols retired from a Programmer/Analyst career. A lifelong musician, he writes mostly speculative fiction.

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