A grieving and suicidal widow gets a very unexpected visitor on a snowly Valentine's Day, but nothing is quite what it seems...
Deb, Debbie, Deborah by Shane Migliavacca
Music by Ray Mattis http://raymattispresents.bandcamp.com
Produced by Daniel Wilder
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Deb Debbie Deborah
The cat thinks I’m fucking nuts. She may be right. I’m wearing my nicest dress, Dean Martin is on the stereo and I have a gun to my head. I’m dancing with my dead husband on Valentine’s Day.
Angel, our cat died three days ago. Her ashes sit on the mantle in an urn next to my husband’s. I see her on her favorite spot on the couch, watching me. She really is an angel now.
I pull the hammer of the revolver back… I’m ready to join them.
“Son of a bitch!”
“Good job Deborah.”
I forgot the fucking bullets. I drop the snub nose on the coffee table. I haven’t found where Johnny hid the bullets.
He bought the gun for me, worried about us being all alone out here in the boondocks. What good is a gun if the bullets are hidden?
Excuse me Mr. Rapist, while I find the bullets to shoot you. _ _ Maybe Johnny never got around to buying any.
“Ain’t that a kick in the head, Dean?”
I drop to the couch defeated. My mind isn’t what it used to be. Grief and despair have pushed everything else out to the point that I have trouble dealing with day to day shit. It’s for the best I suppose.
I’m not a religious woman, but I’d like to think there was something waiting you know? After… that I could be with them in some kind way. If there is a God and suicide is a sin, I’d better not risk it. Being sent to hell, I’d never see them again. If you ask me, this is hell. This world.
Johnny. My Johnny. I miss that lopsided grin of yours. The way your stubble felt when you kissed me. How your hair fell across your eyes when you woke up. The touch of your course hands on my shoulders. Gone. All gone.
Five and a half years ago, a drunk driver named Dave Robbins. Johnny had been on his way home from work when the bastard ran a red light and struck Johnny’s car. I still remember the trooper showing up at work. He stood there in his uniform, looking so out of place. His words were unintelligible as my heart pounded in my ears.
They gave that man ten years in prison. Ten fucking years! He took away our future and they gave him ten years. He got out in four for good behavior. Good fucking behavior. I dreamed about killing him for so long. How I’d do it, how I’d drag it out, make him suffer. I’d even toyed with the idea of killing his family in front of him. But no. There was Angel to think of.
The cat, a house warming present from Johnny, got me through that first grim year.
She was there for me when I got home from another dreary day at work. Happy to see me, purring her feline heart out. She was such a tiny little thing when he surprised me with her.
She hid under the couch for the first couple days, until one night I sat on the couch watching the evening news, waiting for Johnny to come home from work. I felt something small and warm curl up next to me. Now she’s gone to. I’m left all alone in this house that used to represent our future together. A house that’s become a tomb.
The house was so empty and vast when I’d come home from the vet carrying little Angel’s ashes in a small container. Nobody there to greet me at the door. I dread the thought of coming home after a day at work to this empty, godforsaken place. But I’ll have to.
I took a couple sick days, told Emily I had a bug. They don’t need to know the real reason. Most of them look at me with some sort of pity. Walking on eggshells around me. The others treat me as if this sickness in my heart can simply be sent away. That I should be able to “Get over it” and move on.
There is no moving on.
I could take some medication I guess. Something to help me. At the cost of this hornet’s nest of pain in my stomach. The pain that helps me remember them… that keeps them in my thoughts. Would I lose their memory in a haze of medication?
The record ends. I stare at the snub nose. I should really find those bullets.
There’s other ways I could do it. Pills sure or the old razor in the bathtub bit. Those are easy enough I suppose. Hanging myself is off the table. I can’t tie knots for shit. Besides some idiot might think I was trying to get off and died by accident. Shit. Fuck it. The phone rings. I pick it up, looking at the number. It’s Cathryn Wade from work. Probably checking up on me.
“How you feeling trooper.” She answers in her unbearably cheerful voice. I lie. “Ok, just a bit of a bug.”
“You need anything?”
“No, I’m fine. Thanks.” I want to hate her for caring. Damn it, I just can’t.
The phone crackles with static. “Aren’t you forgetting something Deb?” Another voice asks.
“Cat? You there?”
I can hear something metallic on the other end. “Have you checked the basement?”
“Who is this?” I ask, my voice trembling. No answer. “Goddammit it! Who is this?”
“Are you okay Deb?” Cat ask, sounding a bit shaken.
“Yea-Yeah, just this bug. I think I need a nap.”
Before she can finish saying goodbye, I hang up.
What just happened? I’m not even sure. I take a deep breath.
I get off the couch. Maybe I should just go buy some fucking bullets.
Looking out the window, I see I’m not going out anywhere today. The snow is coming down in a heavy white blanket. Frustrated I turn the TV on.
“They’re calling it the Valentine’s Day Blizzard.” The weather man proclaimed. As if he was proud father praising his golden child. These cocksuckers really piss me off in how much they get off on bad weather. I think they get hard over delivering bad news.
“Expect record snow falls.”
“Expect me not to give a fuck.” I say. Wishing about now the gun was loaded, so I could shoot the TV.
I never hated anybody till Johnny died. Now I can’t stand anyone. Most of all myself. The smiling weatherman is replaced by a nicely dressed Chinese woman. “The day’s other big story: All but one of the escaped convicts have been captured.” Police gather round an overturned prison bus in a ditch as the anchorwoman goes over the details.
“Police are still searching for Charles Lee Andru. Convicted serial killer and rapist. He’s considered highly dangerous, should you spot him…”
Why do these assholes always have three names? Is it a serial killer thing?
They linger on his face. He’s handsome enough, except for the scar over his left eye. Crazy burns hot in those eyes. Even in a photograph, you can feel his stare penetrating your soul.
Bored, I walk out to the kitchen. A drink maybe. And a sandwich.Dirty dishes clog one of the two sinks. I’ve let the house go to shit. Haven’t felt like cleaning since the cat died.
I pour myself a glass of brandy and make a roast beef sandwich. I hold a stainless steel knife in my hands. Catching my reflection on blade. The house isn’t the only thing gone to shit. I look terrible. My hair’s a mess and there’s bags under my eyes. Fuck it all. Why should care how I look? It’s all a sick joke. The blade quivers in my hand.
So sharp. One of those ‘As Seen on TV’ jobs you can get at Save-Mart. Why, I bet if I just took the knife and sliced.
A sweet, sing song voice echoes out from the living room.
Has to be. A coincidence.
“Deb.” The voice giggles.
“Who’s there?” I call out. Feeling a bit embarrassed because it’s most likely the TV. I grip the knife. Stepping into the short hallway, I walk towards the living room. I can hear a soap opera on the TV. I stop and listen. Under the din of dialogue from the TV I hear the wind outside. The tic tic sound of snow and freezing rain against the windows.
And then… floorboards creaking with the unmistakable sound of someone walking over them.
“Debbie.” The voice giggles again. “Come and find me!” I storm into the living room, ready to confront the weirdo intruder.
“You picked the wrong fucking time.”
I switch the TV off and I listen again.
Maybe my mind has finally hitched a ride to crazy town. The house is still, silent, save for the wind and snow out side.
The furnace in the basement rumbles on, making me flinch. I laugh like a maniac. Tears sting my eyes as laughter gives way to crying.
I really have fucking flipped out.
Wiping them away, I see them there, reflected in the black of the TV screen. Watching me from the hall. Darting away before I can turn.
Scrambling to my feet, I grab the empty gun and give chase. I can hear them upstairs.
"Yesterday, upon the stair, I met a man who wasn't there! He wasn't there again today, Oh how I wish he'd go away!" The voice sang out from somewhere upstairs. I know that poem. From long ago, when I was a little girl.
I creep up the stairs, no easy feat since they’re creaky as hell.
A door slams shut somewhere upstairs. How the hell did they get in? I didn’t hear anything. Everything is locked. I didn’t forget something, right?
With a knife in one hand and an empty gun in the other, maybe I can scare the living crap out of them.
Why am I scared? I was thinking about ending my life moments before. No, it’s not death that frightens me, it’s what could happen in place of that. Rape. Being maimed. Being paralyzed. A coma. Those things frighten me. A living hell I can’t escape. I search the upstairs, trying to look as badass as possible with an empty gun. That’s when it hits me.
I am fucking nuts.
There’s not a living soul up here. I search every room. Every nook. Every cranny. Under the beds. In the closets. Not a sign of anybody being here other then me. Nothing out of place, nothing touched.
Feeling tired, I walk into the bathroom connected to the bedroom. I run cold water over my face and stare at my haggard reflection in the mirror.
Through the open door, I see the bed. Sitting there, legs hanging over the side a dark figure watching me.
I spin around, nearly slipping on the tiled floor.
“Who the fuck?” I blurt out.
The dark featureless figure, almost an outline of a young woman, it’s long hair in pigtails, hang down on black shoulders, tilts it’s head and waves.
“Hey Debbie, long time, no see.”
I gawk at it for a few minutes, speechless. There’s something about this… thing, this girl, that seems familiar. Something’s been buzzing around the back of my head all day, wanting to get out. Is it this?
I should feel scared. Yet I don’t. I feel oddly reassured.
“What’s wrong sunshine? No hello for good old Maddy?”
“Maddy?” I stammer, my mouth suddenly dry. “Was that you? Running around the house?”
“None other! Don’t you remember Deb… how we used to?”
I rub my head. There’s a stabbing pain. Something wants out. “Poor old Deb. Went and grew up.”
It’s a delusion, that’s all. I walk out of the bathroom waving my arms about.
“Go away, you’re a figment of my deteriorating mental state. Your not real.”
Good old Maddy slides off the bed, sauntering towards me.
“Not real?” She pokes me with an ebony finger. “That real enough for ya?”
I flinch as I involuntarily back up.
“You made me! Poor little Deb. Her parents are always fighting. Nobody at school likes her. She reads too much. She’s too much of a tomboy. Boo-hoo!”
Maddy mocks me, making a tearful face.
“Somebody needed a friend and Maddy got the call.” Her voice suddenly changes, becoming cold. “Until somebody tossed me aside.”
Maddy backs away from me, her gaze locked on me. “But I didn’t go away. Couldn’t! That figure in the corner of your eye? That shadow in the dark room? That was me.” She does a little jig. “You can’t kill yourself Deb. I won’t let you.”
“If I made you! I can unmake you!”
I grab a small ceramic statute on the dresser and throw it at this Maddy. It bounces off her head, when I expected it to pass right through.
“Oww!” She hollers, the manic joyfulness gone from her voice. “Bitch!”
She runs out of the bedroom, holding her head. I can hear her feet on the stairs as goes down.
Looking down at the plush, royal blue carpet, I see a trail of crimson.
I follow Maddy’s blood downstairs to the kitchen. Bloody handprints on the door frame welcome me as I enter. Maddy is bent over the sink, washing the blood off her forehead with a wet towel.
“Fuck you Deb. You always did have a temper.”
She turned to glare at me, a gash of bright crimson and her black forehead. She holds the wet towel to it as she finishes off my glass of brandy. Leaving behind bloody fingerprints on the glass.
“I’m sorry… I think. Y-you can feel pain?”
“Well, no duh! Of course I feel pain.”
She pours herself more brandy. Gulping it down in one go. “This is some good shit. By the way, got any bandages?”
I go to the downstairs bathroom, grabbing some bandages from the medicine cabinet.
When I come back Maddy and her bloodstains are gone. Suddenly I feel lightheaded. My head buzzing. I take more aspirin then the recommended dosage. Lying down on the couch, I feel as if I’m melting into it… becoming one with the upholstery.
I wake sometime later. The sun is low in the sky. Snow is still falling, but not as heavy as before. My head feels better now. Maybe that was all a dream. The snub nose sits on the coffee table next to the knife.
I’d left those upstairs.
Yes, it was all a dream. I’d just fallen asleep on the couch and dreamed the whole damn thing. A fever dream.
The floorboards upstairs creak and my heart skips a beat. This is an old house. It’s just settling that’s all. I pick up the gun, still no bullets. That hasn’t changed. What also hasn’t changed is it’s still fucking Valentine’s Day. Why couldn’t I have just slept through the rest of it. Instead the day won’t end. Dragging on, not letting me forget what I’ve lost.
I remember one Valentine’s Day, Johnny made his specialty for dinner, spaghetti and salad. We watched an old western on the TV. Something starring the guy that played Superman’s dad. It had been an exhausting week for both of us and we fell asleep on the couch halfway through the film, my head on his shoulder. The holiday didn’t end in a moment of passion, it ended in a moment of mundane tenderness... and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
A knock at the front door startles me out of my fond memory.
I wait, holding my breath. Perhaps it was just a noise and not somebody at the door… some snow falling off the roof or the like.
Then another knock comes, ruining my fabrication. Followed rapidly by a third.
“Hello?” A man asks from the other side of the door. “Is anybody there?”
“Don’t answer it.” Maddy says, dropping into the recliner in the corner. The chair’s old springs straining from the sudden weight.
“Fuck me.” I blurt out in surprise. “Where did you come from?”
I notice her features have become more defined now. The darkness lessening somewhat. Her head no longer has a bandage nor a bloody gash.
“I’ve been hovering about sleepy head.” She tilts the recliner back. “You know, you talk in your sleep?” Maddy looks up at the ceiling. “Who’s Rex?” Johnny used to kid me about talking in my sleep. Rex… why does that name seem familiar? “Hello!” The knocking at the door becomes more aggressive.
“I can hear you in there, please come to the door.” The man pauses. His voice sounds strained. “I need help.”
I pick up the empty gun. Holding it like some magical charm capable of warding off evil as I approach the front door.
I look through the peephole at the man outside. He stands on the porch, a desperate look etched on his face. His hair looks recently shaved off, and he’s wearing snow covered clothes and a band-aid on his forehead over his left eye. The man looked over his shoulder anxiously before turning back to the door.
“Please. You have to hurry.” The man pleads as he knocks again.
I reach for the deadbolt.
“I wouldn’t do it.” Maddy warns me. “Shush.”
I turn the lock on the door. Only partly convinced there’s really someone out there and it’s not another delusion.
I pull open the door a little, peeking through the crack at this unwelcome stranger. His clothes look ill fitting, a size or two too big for his frame. Behind him, I notice his tracks through the ankle deep snow.
“You took long enough.” The man grumbles.
The man shivers, looking around. “I’m freezing out here, can I come in?”
Can I trust him? Should I?
“What are you doing way out here in a storm?”
Suddenly, violently, he pushes the door open. Knocking me to the floor. I land, hard on my back. The air knocked out of my lungs. The empty gun sliding across the floor.
“I don’t have time for your shit!” He angrily screams as he slams the door shut. Gasping for air, I try to get to my feet, get a weapon. It’s no use. The man pushes me to the floor with a snow covered boot.
“Is there anyone here? Are you alone?”
His head darts back and forth as he takes in the room. He gives me another love tap from his booted foot, before retrieving the gun from the floor. He checks the cylinder, laughing.
“What were you gonna do? Wave this around and use harsh language to scare me?”
Maddy slides up behind him. “Told you not to let him in.”
“I didn’t let him in.” I manage, able to breath again.
The man looks around, perplexed. “The fuck you talking about lady?”
“What do you want?” I ask. “I don’t have any money?”
“We’ll see about that.”
He pulls me up, dragging me to the couch. Both our eyes go to the knife on the coffee table before meeting again. He me hurls me into the couch. When I manage to sit up, he hits me in the face… hard… hard enough that the world goes black.
When my eyes open again. The man stands over me. The knife in his hand.
“Just what the hell were you up to here?” He leans forward. Giving me a good view of the knife. “I’ll ask you again: Is there anybody else here?”
I shake my head. Noticing I’ve been tied to a dining room chair in the living room. I can taste blood on my lips.
“If your lying I can make it very unpleasant for you.”
I glare at him. More angry at myself then him. For once I should have listened to the delusion prancing around the house.
As he looks down at me, I recognize who’s invaded my home… Charles Lee Andru, serial killer and rapist.
With this revelation a stark fear creeps into my belly.
Yes. I want to die. But not like this. And not by his hand.
“I’m gonna go poke around. You sit tight.” He goes to leave and stops. “Last chance, there’s nobody here, right? Because if there is… they’re fucked.”
I shake my head again. Satisfied, he leaves me alone as he searches the house. Our house, Johnny and me and little Angel. He has no right to be here! Fear begins to give way to anger. This time directed towards this interloper. I can hear him in the kitchen, opening and closing the fridge.
He walks back into the room, eating a leftover chicken leg. “Good chicken, you make it?” He smirks a greasy chicken smile.
I stare holes through him. Imagining his body being riddled with bullets… jerking around in a death dance as flesh and bone are shredded in a hail of lead. Of course that would leave a hell of a mess… one I really wouldn’t want to clean up.
“You know, you look like shit?” He remarks, setting a plate with the half finished chicken leg down on the coffee table. “I mean other then where I socked you in the kisser.”
I watch as he looks out the window.
“This is perfect. With the storm and this place being between the middle of nowhere and East Jesus… the cops won’t be around. I can definitely lie low and catch a breath.” He bends down close to me and locks me in his gaze. “And I definitely plan on having some fun before I go.”
He tries kissing me on the lips. I manage to pull away and he kisses my cheek.
I turn my head in disgust. Seeing Johnny’s urn on the mantel, I start to cry. I don’t want him to see this. Not my Johnny.
The bastard notices my tears, sees the urn and the picture of Johnny next to it.
“Aww, what are you crying about sweet cheeks.” He picks up the picture, gawking at it with those soulless eyes, before turning his attention to the urn. “This your dead hubby?”
“Fuck you.” I spit out between sobs.
“You will. Don’t worry. You will.”
He drops the picture to the floor, shattering the glass.
“First, I think I’ll look around, then freshen up. Maybe take a nice shit and see if you still have some of your old man’s duds. Seeing your little shrine here, I’m willing to bet that’s a ‘yes’.”
And then I’m left alone.
Left alone to think about this mess I’m in. Mess? It’s a fucking nightmare.
I can hear him moving about the first floor. Ransacking the place and making comments… stoking the boiling anger inside me.
I struggle against the ropes holding me to this chair. I flex my muscles, imagining myself bursting the ropes through sheer force of will. When this fails, I slump in the chair, tired and defeated.
Maybe I will die this day, just not how I envisioned.
“Come on! You can do it kiddo!”
Maddy sits down on the floor in front of me.
“Easy for you to fucking say.” I grumble. “Why don’t you help me?”
She lies down on her side, propped up on one elbow. “It don’t work like that. Got to do it yourself.”
“That fucking figures.”
“Cheese it.” Maddy warns me.
I could hear him coming back down the hall. After a tense couple minutes of waiting he appears in the doorway.
“Not much down here. Got a question though. What’s with the lock on the basement door?”
I shrug. “I don’t know. Doesn’t everybody have that?”
“Sure. I’ll deal with that later. For now, I’m headed upstairs. Hope this shithole gets better on the 2nd floor.”
Maddy sticks her tongue out as he walks away. “What a dick.” She turns back to me.
“C’mon! Now’s your chance! While he’s screwing around upstairs.”
“I’m thinking. I’m thinking!” I say before letting out a loud fart.
Maddy backs away, waving at the air. “Oh fuck. Really?”
“Sorry. Just the stress.”
“I think something died.” Maddy coughs. “You could kill him with that reek.” “Sure, you can smell that, yet you can’t help me.”
“Hey, I don’t make the rules.” She stands. Holding her nose. “I’m gonna sit this one out.”
Maddy leaves. Finally a chance to think. I can hear him upstairs doing god knows what. Maddy’s right. I have to get free. Unable to do anything but look around the room and think, I start to form a desperate plan.
By the time he comes back downstairs dressed in some of Johnny’s clothes, night had fallen outside and I had a plan.
He now has a piece of paper in his hand. He holds it out, showing me a newspaper clipping about a missing man.
“Who’s this? You got all these clippings about the search for this guy?” He picks up Johnny’s picture from the floor. Shattered glass falling to the floor. “Don’t look like your husband.” He grins. “Did you have something on the side?”
My heart races. Somewhere deep in my mind, a loud banging starts. A door that desperately wants to open begins to crack.
“I know who you are, Charles Lee Andru. You’rw on the run.”
He grins a devil’s grin. “My reputation precedes me. Then you know how dangerous I am.”
“I know your just a sad, sick shit, who gets off hurting women.”
“Then you should be nice to me.”
I ignore his words. Watching how my words hit him. “What’s wrong? Daddy beat you? Mommy didn’t love you enough? Boo-fucking-hoo Charlie!”
I fake cry. This was too much for him. He storms over to the mantle, grabbing Johnny’s urn.
“Shut your fucking mouth whore!”
He opens the urn, forcing my husband’s remains into my mouth. I choke on the ashes. My eyes burning. Finished, he throws the urn across the room.
“That’s one way to suck your husband.” The son of a bitch laughs.
I stain for air. Coughing out clouds of black. “That all you got pussy boy.” I say, hoping to push him further. “I bet mommy used to touch you and call you her special little boy and you liked it. Give you a nice hard one did it?” I smile with ash covered lips. “No, maybe it was daddy who did the touching.”
“Cunt!” He screams. Every letter filled with venom.
Lifting me and the chair off the ground, he slams me down on the floor. I scream out in pain as my arms are pinned to the floor by my own weight. Not wasting any time my now numb hand grope around on the carpet.
C’mon. C’mon! They have to be here, somewhere. Those shards of glass from Johnny’s picture. If I can just grab one and get enough time to use it.
But this enraged asshole isn’t giving me much of a chance. He looms over me, kicking at my downed body. I need to get a look at the floor. Thankfully, this douche bag didn’t see fit to tie my legs to the chair. I kick out.
After a couple tries, I score a direct hit. Hitting him in the balls. Doubling the bastard over and buying me some time.
I roll over onto my knees… my eyes searching the carpet.
There… a couple big shards of glass!
I roll back over onto by back, trying to keep the gap of the chair’s back even with the glass. I keep my eyes glued to the bastard as my fingers run over the floor, feeling for more.
Charlie glares at me as he clutches himself in pain.
The jagged glass cuts into my fingers when I find it. I poke my arms a couple of times as I line the glass up with my bonds. The glass slicing into my hands as easy as it does the rope restraining me.
I feel my hands come free as Charlie limps towards me. Anger, so intense I can feel it’s heat, boils out of his very being.
Freed of the chair, I push away from it, kicking it into his path. Pained, he barely dodges it.
His face red with rage, Charlie lunges at me. His hands at my throat, I strike out with the shard of glass.
“Thank you officer. I appreciate it.” I smile at the trooper on my porch.
“Just doing or job ma’am. The storm really hindered our search.” “Well, as you can see I really got snowed in here. Not that it matters, your the first visitor I’ve had in ages.”
After a little small talk, the trooper leaves. I watch him leave. Locking the door as he drives off.
I lucked out.
I was shoveling off the porch when the trooper showed up. My cut up hands covered by black and purple gloves. If he’d seen them, would he have know? Would he have probed further?
I don’t know.
I pick up a set of keys from stand by the front door. My hands still sensitive as they begin to heal.
I walk to the basement door. Unlocking the silver padlock and stepping down into the darkness. The nauseating smell of feces and piss burn my eyes and nose. I need to buy a couple dozen air fresheners for down here.
My hand runs over the wall. Stopping at the light switch. The basement lights hiss to life below me.
I feel as if a great millstone has be taken off my shoulders. During that fight with Charles Lee Andru, the door, buried deep in the back of my mind finally flew open. Just in time too.
I step onto the cold cement floor and I’m greeted by a pitiful sobbing grunt. Music to my ears.
“How are we doing today Charlie?”
Chained to a wall in a pair of stained briefs, my new pet groans into his cloth gag. His bare chest and back a map of scars and bruises.
I wheel out my tray of “toys” Selecting a nasty looking box cutter.
“Are we ready for play time?”
Charles Lee Andru, once a feared killer, tries to plead trough his cloth gag. No doubt begging me to let him go.
“Don’t worry love, the cops don’t even think your in this county anymore.”
From the other side of the basement, chains rattled as he stirred. A thin, filthy man emerged from the shadows, crawling on all fours. He knees bore the scars of two bullet wounds.
“Don’t worry Rex, mommy won’t forget you again.” I coo.
I turn back to Charlie. “I think Rex is a little jealous of you. Don’t worry, you two will have plenty of time to get to know each other.”
Perched on the stairs, Maddy watches with delight as I begin to slice.
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