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American Drama Fiction

This story contains sensitive content

[Domestic Violence and a Murder - Suicide].


Where I come from, the Sunday Service has to be quick because the fields and men are dry. The preacher knows we’re having a barn raisin', and he’s mindful of that fact. I like the preacher despite his big nose and his greasy hair. He looks funny, and most people find him unappealing and offputting, but I don't mind. He’s a good person in my book. 


Where I come from, people help each other. The barn raisin' should be fine as we‘re just slappin' on the face boards today. Everything should run smoothly, sept Roy is ornery and a jackass. I call it bullyin'; I am twice the size of the guys he picks on, and he never comes at me. 


Where I come from, men settle differences with fists. Today if Roy starts pickin' at someone, I might have to give him an edu-ma-kation. He’s a long drink of water with roach eyes and a watermelon-shaped head; his punches have no weight.


My Irish roots are such that if I got mad and fought, it wouldn’t be a long stand for the other guy. I stand only 6'3" but have girth. 


Some people get their strength from the lord, but I get mine by carrying logs all day. Roy should stick to the Lord. Instead, he sticks his little fist into the body of a lady. Her name is Ellie. 


Preachers say what God has combined – no man should tear asunder. 


Where I come from, the community works together to help a neighbour. The boys and I dragged logs for two weeks straight to ensure we had enough to complete the job. The framing completed a month ago was solid; the day would go by fast – we were only putting up panel barn boards – unless somethin' took us off course. We'd done this so many times before; it's like we were experts. After a while, it got crazy hot, and we couldn't quench our thirst with water. 


That's when along comes Ellie, the most beautiful woman in Bryerton. It‘s too bad she’s married to that half-wit of a husband, Roy. She is petite and looks excellent in her scoop neck dress and pearl earrings that try to hide her cute birthmark on the right side of her cheek. Her hair is sunshine yellow and pulled back in a bun. Her apron covers most of the dress, but I know her figure is perfect, and her legs are long and luscious under that covering. 


Where I come from, men appreciate what a woman can do for them and are grateful. She comes out with a smile on her face and lemonade, freshly squeezed (I'd imagine) with glasses for all. As we sat enjoying a break, suddenly, Roy hauls off and whacks Ellie a good one, sayin' there's no ice in his lemonade. Ellie immediately runs into the house to get some ice. She keeps apologizin' and tryin' to be brave, but Roy made the situation so public: it’s like God, and all of his angels dared me to turn away.


"Hey, Roy, why don't you pick on someone your own size? Huh? You pick on runts and women but conveniently leave Ike and me out. What's the matter? Are you afraid to get beat? Cause it looks like your having fun beatin' on Ellie here. If you ask me, any man who is nothing but a coward and a no-good nick beats on women. How's about you test your luck with me?"


Roy becomes antsy and unruly. "I don't fight for the sake of fightin'. You ain't done me no wrong, so I ain't fightin' with you, Hank." 


"I got news for you, Roy; I saw you strike Ellie, and where I come from, that is just wrong, so now your fight is with me. I'll larep the Jesus right outta you where you stand."


Roy squares off and takes the fighter's stance. Roy manages to get one shot off that I dodge, and then it’s game over for Roy. I pummel him with shots to the body and the head. The other guys pull me off him, or it might've ended in disaster for Roy and me. 


I beseech Ellie, "let Roy take care of himself and go home with me. Roy doesn't deserve you or your care." 


As Roy stood up, I bellow, "your days of bullyin' and shit-kicking around your wife better be over, or I'll give you an ass kickin' that'll make you wish you were dead. Clean up your act, man, Jesus H Christ!"


Roy bleeding, and bruising, needs to be cleaned up and looked after. Ellie obediently runs to his side. He welcomes her arm and supports back to their house. 


The men look to me for direction now. The work resumes, and Roy eventually returns and works alongside the others, including me. Roy has a new attitude and is better with the men; there are no more insults or jabs now; it is all forgotten.


Finally, the last barn board is put in place, and all the men are beat and start heading for their homes. 


The following day Ellie's sheets weren't hanging on the line like they usually do, nor were her sweet rolls wafting through the air. I worried now and knew something was amiss. I got the preacher, and we went round to the house. We knocked but to no avail. The back door was flapping against something, so I went around to the back. I ululated with grief. 


Where I come from, men don’t beat their wives to death. There before me, I saw my beloved Ellie spattered with blood. Her yellow hair was now covered red. Poor thing must have been like this for hours. Her face sploshed in her own blood; the contusions profound; she looked horrific. Suddenly I heard rustling as someone had just come around from a nap. 


In a fury, I made my way toward the noise. I saw Roy, an empty whiskey bottle by his side. I grab Roy up, striking him relentlessly. The preacher pulls me off him: My knuckles all swollen and bloody. I returned to Ellie's cold, blood-congealed-covered body, held her and cried. The preacher said a prayer.


We left Roy's home as we brought Ellie's body to the undertaker. 


Leaving the undertakers, we heard a gunshot. It confirmed what I already knew. Roy was a coward in life and is a coward in death. Ellie's tragic and untimely demise broke my heart.


Roy was buried in an unmarked grave, while Ellie was buried in my family's plot.



September 16, 2022 15:57

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13 comments

Michał Przywara
20:55 Sep 27, 2022

Well written and enjoyable, despite the sad subject matter. I think the major strength of this piece is the voice. Things like the "Where I come from" repetition near the start was a good call in establishing the narrator. It's ultimately one of those senseless tragedies, where the survivors are left wondering "why?" Roy comes across as that dissatisfied, self-loathing kind of bully. Perhaps he was never able to reconcile what he wanted life to be, with what it was. And poor Ellie, loyal to a fatal fault.

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Lily Finch
22:24 Sep 27, 2022

Thank you, Michal. Yes, the subject matter is unfortunate. Thanks for saying that about the voice others have mentioned that too. Thank you. Oh, I think Roy was humiliated one too many times, and he took it out on Ellie and then realized there were consequences, and he has nobody left now to live, for he kills himself.

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Tommy Goround
06:48 Sep 28, 2022

Pardon to interject/survey... When one hears of these things in the news... do they think the suicide that committed the murder is a coward? Some of us think that _not_ killing yourself after playing judge/jury/executioner is a cowardly act. Worst, it seems almost hypocritical. A man lies in jail because he was caught killing his wife/lover from jealousy, loathing --whatever. He lives and is caged only because he is caught. If he _had_ to kill someone, why was his life better? It seems like a topic that is so long in the news that w...

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Lily Finch
18:12 Sep 28, 2022

He is a coward because he beats women and guys smaller than him. He cannot face anyone worthy. Yes, that makes him a bully too. But one can be both, right? The only person who thinks he is a coward is the narrator in love with Ellie, or at least he is the only one who voices it. The narrator sees that Ellie's death is directly related to spite. Out of spite, Roy kills her, knowing neither man will ever have her around again. It is a brutal way to kill someone, I would imagine. I don't assume that - I think they have mental health issues whe...

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Michał Przywara
20:42 Sep 28, 2022

Heh, that's a very broad question :) Not at all my area of expertise either, so all I can offer is my opinion. I suspect they are viewed as cowards (by some) precisely because they *don't* sit in jail. It's seen as the easy way out, skipping past the justice system, the trial, the punishment (maybe particularly so, if you don't believe in an afterlife), etc. You don't have to look anyone in the eye, acknowledge what you did, or suffer through the guilt (of course, not everyone would feel guilt, but that's a separate matter.) I can imagin...

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Tommy Goround
20:52 Sep 28, 2022

Good question back. Recidivism always has the problem of allowing someone to do the same crime twice. This is historically probable in many countries of the world. Serial killers are put back into society because countries like Brazil have a mandatory 20-year maximum etc. Typically the only capital offense that the bulk of people appear to justify is the harming of a child. That is they can conceive of killing the convicted because chemical castration doesn't work. Because it is too dangerous to ever let some people out of jail. Ok. The r...

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Lily Finch
02:32 Sep 29, 2022

I believe it is a matter of skipping a lot of things. Death is so final and appears like an 'easy' way out of things for some. I mean that it is viewed as a viable option. So when someone is already disturbed, it escalates quickly to murder suicide. I know the media carries too many stories because people like to know details. To me, that is disappointing and just shows the callous disregard we have for events that are so tragic. So maybe it is not that important then after all? LF6

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Tommy Goround
20:03 Sep 26, 2022

Ok.... So this is a number one spot for me. Quito is number two. I don't know why you keep the stories up that are not as good as those two. Especially in the same week.

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Lily Finch
22:22 Sep 27, 2022

Ok - I'll take 'em down! Really? I kinda don't think they are on the same playing field. Do you? But ok. LF6

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Justine Carbery
17:03 Sep 26, 2022

Great voice- very authentic, and a tight narrative structure. (the switching between present and past tense was confusing sometimes. Was that deliberate?)

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Lily Finch
17:16 Sep 26, 2022

Yes. I was trying out something different. Wasn't sure I could pull it off. Thanks for your comments. Maybe I should change it up then. What parts were confusing in particular? LF6

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Tommy Goround
01:01 Sep 22, 2022

Check out 'hunger artist' by Kafka. Did he stretch the story too long? 'last leaf' by O'Henry could probably be six sentences for plot. What would you cut from his story?

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Tommy Goround
00:51 Sep 22, 2022

4*

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