An inevitable fate awaits those who stare too hard at the inkblots.
A Troublesome Muse Writing:
Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster.
And if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
- Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
November 17, 2006. Bought this journal from the bookstore across the street three years ago. Watched their wary eyes wondering why I even bothered to do so. Suffocating walking in there. The stench of old and damp paper, leather-bound books, dust and age filling my nostrils. Choking. Tightening the noose around my neck. Each torturous step in the hunt for something to write my spiraling thoughts in. My decaying mind.
“I want you to look at it and tell me what you see.”
Inkblots. It’s supposed to mean something, but she does not understand. She believes she heard someone call this kind of thing the ‘raw-shark’ test. Why? It makes no sense that black inkblots in shapeless designs would be connected to something from the sea.
“Will you look at it, Veronica? Will you do that for me?”
He’s fat and smells like hair gel. There’s the lingering scent of aftershave – Old Spice – the kind her father used to wear. She squirms in her seat, her cotton panties getting damp. She’s aroused. Hopelessly aroused. But it churns her stomach too, makes her want to vomit. Old Spice does that to her every time. She reaches for the card – 6 ¾ by 9 inches – and stares hard. She’s sweating bullets now. Beads of them popping out like zits on her pallid skin.
“Pretty…butt…butterfly,” she whispers, barely audible in the tiny room. He sits back with a satisfied grunt, scribbling in his notepad. He fails to see the glazed look that fills her eyes, the slight tremble of her hands. The inkblot – pretty butterfly – takes on a completely different shape. It’s squishy – pink and gray matter – brain matter. There are dark blobs of blood oozing from it, forming a pool that begins to flow to her bare feet. She has to remember it once belonged to mother.
November 18, 2006. Had that dream again. I hear their screams. Mom and Dad. As usual. Dad’s late from work. Mom’s not too happy. He calls her a slut and I slip out of bed. Careful now. Careful. Don’t want to make Daddy upset. There’s the loud sound of flesh against flesh. Not the other kind where Mommy screams ‘Don’t stop!’ and Daddy says ‘You’re my bitch now!’ This is the painful kind. The one that makes my head begin to hurt and makes the world turn black. I’m wearing my pretty pink pjs with the flowers that Daddy bought for me. Because he says it shows my cute little butt.
“Good. Good. We are making progress.”
She blinks but says nothing. It’s another day. Monday? Tuesday? Who knows? The same old routine. She begins to bite her nails.
“Nasty habit there,” the fat man says with an attempt at a smile. She gnaws faster. Biting it to the quick. She just might taste something coppery soon.
“How are you being treated here, Veronica? Do you like it here? They are nice doctors and nurses, aren’t they?”
Is he kidding? Just yesterday she was forced to give Nurse 1 a blow job. She bit him hard. Got a blow on the head for her efforts.
“So tomorrow’s your birthday, eh?”
She stops biting. Birthdays. When was the last time she celebrated it? She vaguely remembers Mommy with a cake, laughing and telling her to blow out the candles. That was the year before her brain matter plopped to the floor.
“How old will you be, Veronica?”
She darts out her tongue to lick her lips and then her teeth. They feel crusted with plaque. She needs to brush her teeth.
Fat doctor laughs as if he’s heard the funniest joke in the world. She doesn’t get it.
“You’ll be eighteen, sweetheart. And do you know what happens when you turn eighteen?”
Blades of sunlight dance across the table, flood her white shapeless gown with yellow and make her black hair seem golden for a moment. She has an idea, but she keeps quiet.
November 19, 2006. Had that dream again. Becoming more vivid in my mind with each passing day. I creep down the stairs and something shimmers in my vision. ‘Oh no! Stop it,’ Mom is saying. She sounds scared. I’m scared too. I think I pee a little in my panties. ‘Stop it, Brad! You’re crazy!’ My tears fall before I can stop them. Don’t know why I’m crying. I don’t like Mommy’s watery voice. I don’t like Daddy’s silence except his breathing. Harumph. Harumph. Like a steam engine. I think I call out ‘Mommy’. But she cannot hear me. Her screams of horror drown out my strangled voice as I stand at the doorway to the kitchen and witness hell.
“Today, we’re going to try something a little different. See? No ink blots.”
The stench of Old Spice is overpowering. She moans a little. She can feel her Daddy’s hands on her again. Painful yet so much fun.
“I want you to talk to me like we’re friends, Veronica. My name is Bernard. My friends call me Bernie. Can you call me, Bernie? Hmm?”
She sucks on the soft padding of her thumb … and nods. Sure. Whatever he says. She’s hot, though. Needs to take a shower. She stinks. Maybe he can smell it. The scent she gives off. That dirty scent that makes Daddy want her so badly. That makes all the men want her.
“Now, tell me Veronica.” He leans forward, closer over the small table between them. She can see the fine lines on his moist face. “Why did you kill those people?”
November 19, 2006. Daddy straddling Mom on the kitchen table. Holds out her wrist and pins it down with one hand. Lifts the other, the cleaver sparkles like diamond in the glow of the night light. ‘Teach you to touch some other man besides me!’ he grunts and swings. Chop! Neatly. Like a pro and five thick lumps fall to the floor and roll around…toward me. They wiggle a bit and I see white bone and cartilage – Mom’s nicely manicured fingernails as red as the blood that pools around it. I can only stare in morbid fascination, her screams no longer a factor.
“Veronica? Will you tell me why you felt you had to kill those people?”
November 19, 2006. Only stubs left. Spurting jets of blood like a faulty faucet. She’s crying, blubbering, begging, pleading. He’s not listening. He captures her other wrist. Holds on tight. Chop! Five more thick lumps fall to the floor. The clatter of her wedding ring joins in the cacophony. It’s quickly covered with her blood. I always thought the ring was pretty.
Bernie sighs. She’s not helping much today. And such a pretty girl too, he thinks. If only she wasn’t so crazy and we had met under different circumstances. Goodness knows I’d fuck her pretty little brains out.
He scribbles in his notepad. ‘Signs of abuse. Noticed a bruise beneath her chin this morning. Wonder if she got into another fight. Must speak to Dr. Melrose about solitary confinement. She is a danger to everyone including herself.’
Suddenly he hears a shift and lifts his gaze…
November 19, 2006. ‘Watch this, sweetheart,’ Daddy says to me. He’s breathing heavier now. He’s not so healthy anyway. What with his drinking and all. Mom’s stopped screaming so loud. I’m grateful. I don’t want the neighbors coming over to see this. It’s going to be difficult cleaning up the mess. ‘This is what happens to women who fuck with other men besides Daddy.’ He drags Mommy by the hair – her once beautiful long black hair. She’s like a rag doll with stubs for fingers. Snot runs down her nose into her swollen mouth, lips cut and broken. Her eyes are tightly shut. Purple and as big as cotton balls. ‘Don’t let her see,’ she croaks. “Don’t let her see…urk.” It sounded like an ‘urk’ anyway, like she had swallowed her tongue. Daddy flings her away to reach for his lucky baseball bat behind the washing machine. He holds it up, winks at me and taking a stance, brings it down. Hard. On Mommy’s head. It splits wide like a walnut and my pretty pink nightgown is quickly drenched in warm red blood. Over and over. Keeps beating her open until there’s nothing left. I think I hear screaming. Oh yeah. That’s me.
He never saw it coming. No weapons are allowed in the room. Too dangerous after all.
One minute she is a mindless zombie, a drone, a puppet, but she moves swiftly (years of living with Daddy had taught her that) and buries her crusty teeth in the meaty part of his arm. His yelp of surprise and shock is more than enough. She grabs the pen before it can drop to the floor and with a grunt, buries it into his left eye, through cornea and choroid, blood vessels and retina. His howl of agony ushers in the guards who struggle to tear her away from her victim. Her hand seems glued to his face, the blood an adhesive to seal their fate.
And she’s smiling. Smiling. She just can’t stop smiling.
November 20th, 2006. Got nothing more to say. Don’t give a fuck anymore, anyway. Where I’m going, journals won’t be needed. And if I see Dad again, I’ll ask him how it felt to have a cleaver stuck to his head. Just a heartfelt gift from his little ‘Baby Girl’ who sees pretty butterfly ink blots in her perpertual abyss.