(Content Warning: Blood, Gore, Murder, Language.)
Some wounds will never heal. That’s why I carry a roll of duct tape wherever I go. I’ll just bleed out until there’s nothing left of my soul. Sure, you could make changes like using super glue instead, but in the end, you realize that you control nothing in life.
Yeah, I know I sound like a complete narcissistic ass for saying that, but you don’t know the whole story.
When I was born, a Voodoo Man saw fit to place a curse on me. My mother told me all about it when I was just three years old. The only thing my mom wanted was for me to be born healthy because sickness ran in our family. She said the Voodoo Man came to her in a dream and made a deal with her. My health for three strands of her hair, but giving me good health would leave a curse on me. With no rhyme or reason, this was the only explanation he gave.
My mother figured that it was a small price to pay. Without asking what the curse was, she plucked three strands from her golden locks and handed them to the Voodoo Man. I’m not exactly sure what the curse does precisely, but I do know that I’m cut off from the rest of the world. I can’t feel love or be loved, and I’m forced to witness others experience what I can’t.
Currently, I’m thirty-four years old and work part-time at JJ’s Hardware store. The job is excellent. I really enjoy watching couples come into the store holding hands, so lovey-dovey. I often wonder what that feels like, and it makes me long for what they have. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried to fall in love and have someone love me back, but it never works. I get sick, and it feels like the Voodoo Man himself is squeezing my heart.
Have you ever wanted someone so bad that your heart aches? I have, and it’s not fun. Especially if they don’t want you. It feels like someone punching you in the stomach and then sucking all the air from your lungs.
There’s this one girl, her name is Ann, and I’ve been obsessed with her from the first moment I laid eyes on her. She has long brown hair, blue eyes, a slender body, and a booty that looks so delicious. Mm, I could just eat her right up!
Anyway, Ann started shopping at JJ’s three months ago; that’s when I first noticed her. Ann came in to buy some paint one afternoon and forgot to buy the brushes she needed and ended up coming back later that evening. Wouldn’t you know it, I was there both times to help her out.
My eyes lit up like fire as she winked those beautiful black eyelashes at me. Ugh… I could have melted right there and then, but I kept my composure. She was the match, and I was the fire. In my mind, I could picture the two of us dancing under the moon and trying our hardest to keep our hands to ourselves. The thought only lasted a few seconds before I felt the pressure in my heart.
I would spend countless hours stocking store shelves and running the register, hoping that I would see her with every door chime. I had to think about Ann in spurts because of my heart problem, but for every ounce of pain, it was totally worth it.
A couple weeks went by with no sign of my precious Ann. I began to wonder if she had found another store for all of her home improvement needs. The only one I could think of was Dan’s Hardware, downtown, but I don’t think she would go there because his prices are always inflated. I imagine that she has good consumer sense and is a savvy shopper. The thought of her shopping at another store and talking to one of their employees infuriates me. She belongs to me!
Another week blew by with no sign of Ann, and I had to work the closing shift. It was rough because you never knew when your shift would be over. Once the store was officially closed, the register had to be tallied, floors swept, bathrooms cleaned, and products returned to their rightful place. It was very hectic.
Anyway, it was a Friday night, and JJ’s were pretty busy. There was a lot of work that needed to be done, and only Jack and myself were left working after our coworkers went home.
Jack was throwing a fit because he had a big date that night, and he just wanted to leave. I really felt bad for him and a tad bit jealous. God, how I would love to trade places with him, but such thoughts are folly. I told Jack to go ahead and leave and that I would take care of everything. He was so happy; I thought he was going to jump through the roof and into the stars.
I have no life, really. The only thing I have back home is my mother. She’s been in failing health the past few years, and I just didn’t have the heart to send her to a home. So, she stays with me in my tiny apartment while I work to pay the bills. She’s my mom, and it’s the least I can do. I can’t love my mother, so I find other ways to compensate. Working as much as I can is one of those ways.
With the store closed, I locked up when Jack left and started working on my tasks. The night was blowing by so fast that I almost didn’t hear the pounding on the main door. Almost.
I dashed to the door, and standing behind the streak-free tempered glass, was Ann. My Ann. She looked very stressed until she saw me staring back at her. Ann’s frown disappeared, and a sweet heavenly smile tugged at her lips. I couldn’t hear her speak through the glass, but I could tell that she wanted in, so I opened the doors for my dream girl.
“Oh, thank you, Kevin!” she uttered.
I smiled and locked the doors as she slid by me. I could smell her magnificent perfume, and it mystified me. “It’s no problem. We actually just closed, but you look like you really need something….”
I’m so glad she came to see me!
“Ugh… yes, I do. My kitchen sink is leaking, and I need a new trap for it. This is the only place I know that might have it.”
“Well, let me see if I can find one for you. Just don’t tell my boss.” I chuckled at the awkwardness of the situation. I thought for a moment that she had come just to see me…
We walked side by side down the dark aisles until we came to the plumbing department. I led Ann to the pipe fittings, and I watched Ann rummage through the different sizes. My eyes betrayed me, and I found myself staring at her voluptuous body.
“I found it!” she boasted.
Snapping back from my fantasy world, I mumbled, “Great.”
She waved the fitting in front of my face and asked, “How much do I owe you?”
“Oh, don’t worry about it. For you, it’s on the house.”
I watched her face light up like the Fourth of July. “Really? Ah, that’s awfully kind of you!”
“Anything for our best customer!”
I watched her mosey past me with a dash of excitement in her stride. I half expected her to give me a hug at least, maybe a soft peck on my cheek. But no, was that too much to ask for?! Besides, I already closed the register, and I can’t legally make any sales after closing hours.
If my boss knew I did this, he wouldn’t hesitate to fire my ass! I thought Ann liked me. I thought she felt something for me. I hate this curse and the Voodoo Man who burdened me with it. This act of kindness should have sealed the deal for me!
As I stood there, wallowing in my self-pity, Ann’s soft voice brought me back to reality.
“Hey Kevin, could you unlock the doors for me?”
“Oh, yeah, I’m coming!”
That little witch! She got what she wanted from me. I’m just a tool for her materialistic needs!
I ran towards the doors like a knight rushing into a dark cave to face a fearsome fire-breathing dragon. I saw Ann annoyingly looking at her watch. She is not the woman I thought she was! She should just come out and say that I’m too slow for her.
I slid past her again, and my nostrils caught a whiff of her scent. I knew at that moment what the fragrance was. Deadly passion fruit.
Approaching the door, I reached into my pocket, searching for the keys. “Could you please hurry, Kevin? I need to get back home, so I can fix this.”
Wait…. What’s this?
As I grasped the keys, I felt my trusty box cutter rub against my hand. In one fluid motion, I spun around, swinging the cutter at Ann’s beautiful soft neck. With the blade fully extended, I felt the cutter slice through Ann’s flesh like a hot knife through butter.
Ann grabbed her neck to stop the blood from gushing out and gave me a shocked look.
Now she sees me!
Ann fell back against an endcap of paintbrushes. I think she tried to scream or call for help, but the only sound I could hear was a soft bubbling noise. Well, wouldn’t you know it, one of the first things that brought us together is now the last thing she’ll ever see.
I stooped over and watched the life drain from her eyes. Serves her right!
It took me a little longer that night to clean up the mess. I threw Ann’s body in the dumpster out back, because after all, that’s what you do with garbage. I triple-checked that I didn’t leave any evidence behind and went home to momma.
Mom was watching tv with a strange tall man sitting next to her on the couch. She looked perfectly calm yet, disturbed at the same time. The man looked blurry, like he was there but wasn’t.
“Mom, who is this guy?”
I saw a solemn tear slide down her cheek. “Oh, my dear Kevin. You did something, tonight didn’t you?”
Confused, I mumbled, “Um… what do you mean?”
The strange man stood and cackled like a witch. “My son, this is the Voodoo Man I told you about!”
The Voodoo Man spoke in a deep husky voice, “At last, your destiny has come to pass.” He walked towards me and dangled three strands of hair in my face. It was my mother’s hair.
“What do you want with us?” I asked, my voice quivered like a virgin preparing to lose their innocence.
“You belong to me now,” he said, grabbing my arm. “Come along. The night be a wasting!”
“Mom?!” I cried.
She looked at me and explained. “You must go with the Voodoo Man, or he will reverse the curse. He told me what you did to that young girl. How could you do that?!” In between sobs, she continued, “The Voodoo Man has three locks of my hair, and that gives him the power to control you. If you don’t do as he wishes, he will give you every disease known to man, and I can’t let that happen.”
I looked at the Voodoo Man, and he smiled back at me. His choppers were like shark teeth, and his eyes were yellow. That’s all I could make out; the rest of his features were blurry. “Mom, I don’t understand. How can this be?”
“All I wanted was for you to be born healthy,” my mom snapped. “Go with him, or doom will be upon you, and I will be forced to watch you suffer!”
“Ha, ha, ha, ho, ha!!” laughed the Voodoo Man. “Three locks of hair I have. Not two, not one, but three. My magic only works with three. Now you belong to thee! Ha, ha, ha, ho, ha!!”
I looked at my mother, and, in our eyes, we both knew it was our final goodbye. The Voodoo man snarled at me and gnarled, “I be having big plans for my new serial killer. Oh yes. Ha, ha, ha, ho, ha!!!”
Then we faded away, leaving my mother weeping on the couch.
Maybe in my next life, I might be able to love and be loved.
Daniel R. Hayes