Sample: Broken Ones

The pounding on my front door woke me, which told me two things right away. One, I’d overslept. Two, whoever was at my door was about to break it down, they were pummeling it so hard.

I straightened out the tee-shirt and drawstring pants I slept in and ran my fingers through my hair a few times, although from the feel of it, there was no taming it.

“Alright!” I shouted as I made my way to the front of the house. “Alright, stop it!”

“Marie!” came the answering bellow. “Marie, I know you’re in there!”

Everett. “Oh, god,” I whispered, unsure of what to do. A quick look around my living room showed that Marie and the kids had already left. The afghans were folded, stacked one on top of the other on one end of my old worn-out couch.

Everett started pounding on the door again.

“Everett, knock it off!” I shouted, and opened the door. He stood there, red-faced and panting, eyes wild. Everett has coffee hair and eyes, and just a hint of olive in his complexion, but at the moment it was as dark as a beet.

Everett Karrar came from a “nice” middle-class family in Point Loma. WASPy-types; they went to their church and attended fundraising events at local nonprofits. Everett fit their image of the good son--but to look at him now, you’d think he was a reject from some reality show. He was so mad, spittle was flying from his mouth with every breath.

“Everett, she’s not here,” I said, trying to project calm.

“I know she’s here!” He was trying to look past me.

“See for yourself,” I said, and stepped out of the way so he could come in and look around.
Everett stalked into the entryway. I watched him take in the empty living room, and his eyes came to rest on the afghans on the couch. Some of the red was fading from his face. He kept his eyes on the afghans and said, “She was here.”

I shrugged. “Yeah. She spent the night.”

His gaze flashed to me. Two spots of red stayed in his cheeks. “Where’d she go?”

I shrugged again. “I don’t know. You woke me up. I didn’t know she’d left.”

His eyebrows plunged down and his eyes teared up. His hands balled into fists. “Bull-fucking-shit, Louise. Bull-fucking-shit. You think you can hide my wife from me? My kids? Where is she?”

I stood with my hand on my hip, trying to look bored. Inside, I could feel my pulse accelerating, and my hands went cold. I wasn’t going to tell him where Marie went, and I wanted him out of my house. But Everett used to be a Marine, and although his body was going to seed, he was still a lot stronger than me.

“Everett, I don’t know,” I said. “She was here when I got home last night. She asked to stay over, so I said sure. Now she’s gone.”

Everett grabbed my arm, fingers hard and squeezing. “You think you can just laugh at me, don’t you, Louise! Who the fuck are you to get in the middle of things? She’s my wife!”

“Let me go,” I said, trying to yank away, but he kept his grip on my arm. “Everett, I told you, I don’t know where she is!”

“Yeah, you do,” he said, nodding. “And you’d better tell me.”

“Listen, you fucker, I’m not telling you anything!” I said, my temper snapping. I raised a bare foot and slammed it as hard as I could against his shin, raking down to pound his sneaker. It wasn’t all that effective, except that his face flushed bright red again. “Let me go!” I shouted.

Everett gripped my arm tighter and then threw me down and away from him. I stumbled and my knees hit the floor.

“Jesus, Everett!” I cried. I scrambled to my feet and pointed at my door. “Get out!”

He ignored that and strode towards me.

“Get the fuck out of my house!” I shouted. “You’re crazy!”

That’s when he punched me. I hit the floor again.

“You think you can hide my kids from me? You think you can hide my wife? Where are they?” he yelled. I tried to get on my feet again but my head spun and my jaw felt like it had exploded. “Where are they, Louise!”

I grabbed at the couch for support, pulling myself up. He was fucking crazy. I had to call the cops. On my feet at last, I lunged for the phone, which sat on a table by the wall.

“Oh no you don’t!” he growled. My feet flew out from under me—he’d knocked them out—and then the phone was in his hand. I don’t remember much after that.

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