She came out of the walk in closet holding a dark paisley neck tie and held it up for him to see.
“That’s my good tie,” he said. “Hell, no.”
“What then?” she shook it impatiently.
“Use the gold tie with the green stripes.”
“I gave you that gold tie,” she said, wounded. “You don’t like it?”
“It doesn’t go with anything.”
She walked back into the closet and came out with a rayon gold tie with hideous green bars like a school crossing zone. “Anyway, it’s made strong,” he said. “You can’t rip it, no matter what.”
“You just don’t like the stuff I pick for you, I know better than you. You get your shitty taste from your mother. Jesus Christ, that woman.”
He took the tie from her. “I don’t care, this is the right one for this kind of thing.”
She stood petulantly in the closet doorway. “You ought to consider what I want once in a while,” she said. She was already dressed for the evening. She wore pink bunny slippers and a tattered, pink bathrobe. Her hair was in curlers, maybe so he couldn’t grab ahold of a hank and drag her around by it. The curlers were hidden under a red Rosie the Riveter kerchief with white polka dots. The old bathrobe was tied off with a cloth belt in a simple loose slip knot, one that could be undone with one swift solid yank as he slammed her up hard against the bedroom wall screaming “Give it up, bitch!” so loud it always made his eyes pop.
Under the bathrobe he knew she’d be wearing her oldest pair of panties, probably with a small tear along the seam to facilitate one handed ripping while he squeezed her neck with the other hand. And her breasts would be bare. He liked that part. It was sexy, but practical too, just like the belt. As they grew older her breasts changed; swelled, sagged, saddened and the big down pointing nipples had become a little more wall eyed pointing away from her chest in opposite directions. They’d tried it the first time with a bra and discovered how very hard it was to rip it from her while running down the hallway, thrashing and fighting, all those straps and tiny buckles and damned little hooks. The movies made it look easy. In the real world it was like trying to rip the bridle from a panicked horse, until it became impossibly tangled around her ears and she’d laughed and cussed at him for ruining a pricey Toulouse Chez fashion bra and the moment was just hopelessly lost. Also it was nice without a bra. It was more exciting – more satisfying – to be able to tear her robe open and just have them hanging down there, ready for him to go to work on her with nothing in the way.
“So where you wanna rape me at?” she said. “Garage?”
“Garage floor is cold.”
“I don’t mind.”
“Last time you hit your head.”
“I changed the oil yesterday. Hard to get engine black off your back. And if you get skinned up, its bad for the wound.”
“Goddammit, Henry, did you get oil on the garage floor and just put that goddamn kitty litter on it? Did you? Don’t you clean up after your shit? Are you a grown man?”
“Nobody gets raped in a garage, Fran.”
“Plenty women get raped in garages, I’ll bet.”
“Those are parking garages they get raped in.”
“It ain’t, I don’t know, authentic, trying to get all raped to pieces in your own garage. It’s silly, is all. How about I go ahead and rape you on the bed?”
“Like that’s authentic? That the best you got for me? The bed?”
“Women get raped in their beds once in a while, more than the garage anyway.”
“I mean I want you should be happy and all, but come on. The garage?”
“You don’t want to haul off and rape me in the dark when I’m getting out of the car?”
“There’s cockroaches in that garage, Franny. You know about me and roaches.”
“I don’t know what kind of crazy grabasstic motherfucker rapist you think you’re supposed to be.”
“I’ll rape you up good and plenty on the bed just fine, you’ll see and I’ll give you a nice massage.”
“Ain’t no mean ass hell fire rapist ever gave a massage I ever heard of.”
“You might need one.”
“Oh bullshit. You wouldn’t know how to rape a damn chicken if somebody was holding it up for you. Okay, bed then.”
“Good,” he sighed. “I’m sort of tired anyway.”
“Some hellacious scary motherfucker rapist you are.”
He wrapped the tie around his left fist and looked over at the bed. What was the matter with a perfectly good bed? It was solid brass, with heavy vertical bars on the head board you could tie a woman’s hands to, nice and tight. Took two men to lift it. Franny wouldn’t be going anywhere tied down to that thing. Hell, you could hog tie a woman like Franny to that headboard and go to town on her up one side and down the other. Tie her legs up to the foot board too if that’s what she wanted. Rape the holy shit out of her all night long if she wanted it that way. What was it about some dirty garage that seemed to get her off so much? Any sensible woman would rather get it on a nice clean bed any night. She’s plain crazy.
“What do you want for work tomorrow?” she said. “I got to get my ironing done first.”
He went in the closet and picked out a blue cotton dress shirt and navy khakis. And that blue paisley tie, to tick her off. He handed them to her. “Back in a few minutes, honey, you know I won’t let you down,” he said. “Just be ready.”
“You be ready,” she said. “Get your pecker up good or you’re gonna have a long night, I guarantee.” She turned to him as he was leaving. “Henry.”
He looked back, “Yes, Franny?”
“You’re good to me, Henry. Love you.”
He closed the bedroom door and heard her inside setting up her ironing board and turning the TV to Miami CSI. He listened to the voices hum as though underwater.
He rolled up the tie and put it in the back pocket of his jeans and began going around the house methodically turning out the lights. He checked the cat’s dish to make sure it had Purina and let himself out the back door.
The cool early October air was sharp and refreshing. He felt a little more alive. He walked to the end of the backyard and stood in the dark looking up at the moon and stars. The house was dark now except for the light in their bedroom. The windows were closed so that she could scream for help and howl and beg for her life and raise hell generally without the neighbors down the road getting the wrong idea.
Close to the moon he picked out the Big Dipper. He followed the dipper’s leading stars and picked out the North Star, there it was, and over there, that was Orion. Orion was the second constellation he’d learned as a Cub Scout. He pointed and followed down Orion’s belt to the sword holder thing – there. Now, that star, the second star, that wouldn’t really be a star at all it was a nebula. Hell, he thought, that’s where they make stars. Ain’t nature something?
He saw the light change in the bedroom. She’d have packed up the iron. She was ready, but he wasn’t. His pecker wasn’t up at all. . He unzipped his pants, felt the cool air on his balls and felt them retreat into his body. He spit in his palm and worked it a little, trying to get it up but it wasn’t cooperating.
He imagined a scene, maybe in a women’s prison and he was the only man, locked in among the women by mistake. The only hard dick around for a hundred miles. A murderously horny, vicious, Mexican drug dealer lady, big breasted and hairy. Standing naked next to him in the prison shower yelling at him - “Get it up, bitch!” She’d holler insults at his manhood, stepping her legs wide apart. “Get that pecker up bitch!” That got a little bit of a rise. He tried to imagine terrorized Franny tied to the bed weeping and pleading, nononono, please no, not me no, but with legs cooperatively spread eagled, as he shouted threats at her. He got a little harder. But still. Well. He spit in his palm and worked it a little more, imagining himself satisfying the hairy horny Mexican murderer lady up against the wall of the shower room as the other women masturbated and cheered him on.
That worked. That usually worked.
Here we go. Got it up bitch.
He zipped up and moved silently across the lawn, taking his shoes off at the door. He turned the knob slow and opened it carefully, wondering at himself, knowing he could raise a huge din and she’d never hear him coming over the TV sound. He closed the door behind him and passed the kitchen table. Pile of mail. Huh. He opened the refrigerator a crack for the light and picked up the envelopes and sorted through them. Junk. Junk. Junk. Gas bill. Shit. He tore it open, listening for the sound of the bedroom door but it remained closed. He always came in through the adjourning bathroom door anyway. Just more stealthy somehow. Fuck this bill. It’s way up for this time of year, he thought. Its laundry. Running that damn laundry machine every damn day like hot water grew on trees – she think we’re running a hotel here? Why she gotta do laundry every day? Talk to her about that later, big man. Gonna go show her what happens to women who think they gotta do the laundry everyday. Show her good and righteous, fuckin’ A big buddy.
Give it up, bitch!
He tossed the mail on the table and took a step away and his foot hit something on the floor that rolled to the wall, bounced and rolled back. Snowball’s red rubber ball. He picked it up. He held it to his face and opened his mouth, touching it to his lips. Just right. Now that, that was a real nice touch. She’d love that. Hell, next time he’d put chocolate syrup on it.
He rinsed it under the faucet and dried it with a paper towel, in case she asked later. His pecker had sagged considerably in the meantime, mostly because of the gas bill, and he had to conjure the hairy horny hideous Mexican drug dealer woman, banging her hard against the shower wall tiles while women prisoners cheered and bringing himself back into the spirit of the thing. He continued down the hall. He was inside the bathroom. He hesitated outside the connecting door to the bedroom, readying himself to burst in. He put his hand on the door knob.
Give it up bitch! He mouthed the words.
In the kitchen something fell on the floor. He froze listening. He waited. There was only the TV. He stood listening.
Had he locked the door? He thought he had. Did he? The hall seemed somehow a tad brighter. A light?
“Somebody there?” There was no answer. He stood still and waited. Maybe nothing.
But why was there light?
Hunching slightly he padded silently down the hall towards the kitchen, listening.
The refrigerator door was ajar, the light was on, shining dimly in the kitchen like a candle. But he’d closed it. He was sure he’d closed it. Pretty sure. Well, maybe sure. Sometimes stuff pushes it open. He stood still, listening to the far away voices in the bedroom, thinking of her in bathrobe and curlers waiting. Grabbing. Resisting. Tearing. Breasts swinging – give it up bitch!
Standing in the kitchen, he felt in his heart, deep inside something he would have thought impossible. A gathering darkness, a quiet flowering of evil.
This is how its done, he thought. Real world. This is what it’s really like to do this to somebody. Goddamn, it . . it . . . feels powerful.
The stranger’s sleeping house. The woman alone. The fear, the leering thrill of standing and listening, waiting for the inner signal to take the next step. The rubber ball in his fist. The unbreakable necktie rolled up in his back pocket.
I want to hurt her, he thought. It seemed like a revelation. He felt the darkness move and for a moment he feared for her.
He pushed the refrigerator door closed with his fingertips. He stood still, listening in the dark, tasting it. He’d never been this urgently erect in his life. Oh, he was ready now. Oh amen, yes Franny. Daddy’s coming.
He turned to the hallway, stepped away from the kitchen. Unfastened his belt and dropped his pants on the floor in a heap and kicked them away. Felt a sudden cold breeze that made him turn.
The back door was open. That couldn’t be.
Hot breath on his neck. A hand on his shoulder. Sharp metal sticking the skin of his back. Burning as it went in.
A man’s hard voice in his ear.
“Time to give it up, bitch.”