Invisible matters of the mind turned real into the written word.
|Life was a silent place for Andrea Norton. She had become what Marty began calling her the day after they got married. “You dummy. You can’t do anything right.”
His hands and feet got into the act, teaching her how right that was. Why she had stayed when the beatings didn’t end, was what made her the real ‘dummy’. “I’m sorry. Please. Forgive me. I love you so much. I just want the best out of you, don’t you see?” Marty would say, asking forgiveness, offering yet another in an endless line of little boxes with jewelry inside as presents.
Some instinctive feminine intuition made her begin hocking the gifts, replacing diamonds with glass. Trust once lost is not easily replaced. Andrea hid the cash behind the framed art her husband bought and loved so much. “Dummy. You don’t understand modern art. It is a matter of perspective,” Marty’s grip on her arm tightened. There would be a bruise there when it left.
His latest purchase looked like scattered little boxes to Andrea’s eye. One’s winking at her, perhaps with jeweled eyes flashing inside. There was just about enough money saved up for her planned escape. Marty was going to kill her one of these days. The beatings had gotten worse. “There’s nothing wrong with your throat, my dear, that time will not heal.”
Yes, Andrea Norton was truly a dummy now. Something went wrong with her vocal cords when Marty tried strangling her. She had no voice now. There had come a curious lull in the beatings after that. “I like you quiet as a church mouse,” he’d told her, rapping his knuckles against her forehead.
He seemed to feel less threatened with her made mute, more helpless. Even if she wanted to, there was nothing she could say to use against him. She was a dummy in more ways than one. “What am I going to do with you? I can’t take you out looking like that.” Marty exploded into another rage.
Marty shifted his gaze away from her. She knew that she wasn’t a pretty picture any longer, with two black eyes beaten into her head she no longer looked like a trophy wife. Dark glasses wouldn’t do inside the art museum ceremony honoring Marty’s years of service as director. “I don’t know if I can stand the thought of retiring, my dear, of being around you 24/7,” Marty sighed and said.
His fingers twitched and crawled the air. It made Andrea flinch. Marty laughed, a strange diamond light flashed in his eyes. The next gift coming wouldn’t be a tiny box. It would be coffin size, Andrea realized.
“I don’t want to do this. It is for your own protection,” Marty urged, tying Andrea spread eagle'd to their wedding bed. “Can’t have you running around hurting yourself, like you do. People will talk.”
Flashbacks turned into finding Marty digging his fingernails into her wrists making sure the binds were tight enough. “They whisper already about how you harm yourself on purpose. Pity. Doing it for attention. A misguided search for love. What I put up with.”
Andrea knew better than to return his gaze. Her’s went up to Marty’s favorite work of art, the one of the colorful boxes hanging on the wall above her head. “Pay attention.” Marty’s slap across her face rocked her head in a stinging rebuke. “Dummy. We’re going to finish this up here and now.”
The knife cut into her flesh when Marty sliced at the silk ties he liked to wear, he’d used to bind her. Her blood, wiped like Indian paint across his brow made him look more savage. “You can talk if you want to.”
Andrea felt herself jerked onto her feet. The knife trembled next to her throat. “We’ll let my favorite picture decide. Tell me what you see, dear wife. We have but few moments before one of us must go.”
It was Marty’s new pretty young assistant fawning over her husband that would be taking Andrea’s place. Andrea had seen the writing on the wall when her husband began working late nights at the museum. He was stealing masterpieces, replacing them with fakes created by his assistant’s own hand. Selling them on the black market. “Look at the boxes, my dear. It is a matter of perspective. I”m in a hurry. What do you see, dummy?”
The knife pricked its first weeping red tear of blood. Marty forced her head up. “Speak,” he whispered against her hair. His breath tickled her ear, urgent, fast, needing an answer. “Or, I am done with you. It is your own fault we came to this pass. I tried to turn you into a work of art. You failed.”
How the blade stung against her throat. Her last seconds were tumbling Andrea into dark oblivion. She felt sorry, not for herself, she would be free. Marty’s assistant didn’t know what she was in for. “Enough,” Marty’s voice spoke for her. It was more than enough. It was beyond what Andrea could bear.
She took her final look at Marty’s favorite painting. Perspective. Marty was right. It was how you looked at things that made things real. The boxes reshaped in her mind like one of those old Rubik's Cubes. It was as if they were the lock to opening a door. “Good bye, dummy.” Marty said, “That’s no answer at all. I gave you all the time you are going to get.”
Time and space whirled around Andrea’s mind, little boxes inside her winked and opened up. All the pent up force of the years she’d been beaten rose up. Andrea screamed a silent, agonizing scream of total despair calling out to the darkness close at hand.
She heard the knife clatter to the hardwood floor, the slap of Marty’s hands going to both sides of his head, Why was he trying to pull his own ears off? Fascination took hold. Andrea watched the darkness flood into her husband’s eyes. Was he stark raving blind? Instead of taking his rage out on her, the man was doing it to himself.
Andrea reached down, unsteadily rose, handing Marty his knife. It was his to do with as he wanted. The picture in her mind was filled with little boxes opening up, revealing all the times past when she’d been beaten for being a dummy.
Pain blinked and flashed in her husband’s mad eyes. He pummeled his face with the fist in one hand. The sharp blade hovered in the air from his other. Which way would it descend?”
Unable to move, Andrea looked towards the painting on the wall for an answer. “I’ll kill you, yet, you damn dummy,” Marty swore, bringing his knife blade winking down towards her. “You can no longer torture me.”
Andrea heard the shot ring out before she saw the third eye appear and blink red in the middle of Marty’s forehead. Meant for her throat, the knife slit her cheek open instead. All the tops of the open boxes in her head swung shut. The painting on the wall blurred and the boxes returned there to themselves.
“Bastard,” said Marty’s assistant, letting the gun drop to her side. “He beat me, You dummy, how could you let yourself let him do this to you?”
The woman meant to take over Andrea’s place in Marty’s universe had just saved her life. “Come on. I’ll call the police. I thought he loved me.” Tears winked in the woman’s eyes like little diamonds.
Andrea took the woman in her arms, rocked her gently, letting the diamond tears fall and wet the face of Marty Norton staring sightlessly up at them.
Dumb luck stared back.