Killer

Slicing him open wasn’t really an option; Marissa couldn’t stand the sight of blood. In fact, she cringed anytime she saw a sharp knife, so the thought of shoving a blade into someone over and over again to kill them was one that sent her to the bathroom to vomit.

Shooting him would be just too chaotic, she figured. Plus with her luck, the bullet wouldn’t hit him properly and he wouldn’t die. And Marissa knew if there was anything she had to get done right, it was killing her husband Stan.

She plotted for days, months. She thought about all the movies and TV shows she’d seen, all the books she’d read that involved a killer. She was going to become one: a killer. It’s not that she was going to go around killing all men named Stan; but she knew she would go to prison, she knew she’d be labeled as a killer once she did it.

Killer. Marissa Mercoli, killer. Husband killer.

The idea of going to prison frightened her, but the idea of living her life knowing that her own fucking husband raped her when she was a child… Marissa felt submerged in a deep black hole. She felt trapped. The only light she could see and grasp was that which would come after killing the prick who raped her when she was only 9 years old.

“The gig is up, fucker,” she thought, squeezing out a bottle of eye drops into his carton of orange juice he always finished within three days.

***

Poor, poor Stan.

Marissa looked down at him, pants around his ankles as he lay in a fetal position on the blue tile floor next to the toilet.

“Did you really think I’d never figure it out?” she asked him, shaking her head. “Stupid fuck.” She kicked at his feet.

The paramedics came first, quickly followed by the police. Marissa was handcuffed and put into the back seat of a squad car.

At the station, Marissa was pushed into a cell until a gruff female guard finally came to unlock the gate and called to her: “Mercoli?”

The guard took Marissa to a secluded room and told her to take off her clothes. “Underwear too,” the guard barked.

Standing in the dank room, Marissa was ordered to raise her arms as the female guard snapped on a pair of latex gloves and started feeling around her naked body to see if anything was hidden.

“Open your mouth,” the guard ordered next. “Flip the top lip… the bottom… lift up the tongue.”

Marissa kept thinking about when she was 9–if she could survive that, she could survive this.

“Lemme see the souls of your feet.”

Marissa lifted a foot behind her.

“Other one.”

Marissa eyed the orange uniform neatly folded on the bench and prayed for the guard to tell her to put it on.

“Bend over for me, please.”

Marissa started thinking that maybe she should’ve called 9-1-1 sooner and gone into hysterics over finding her husband passed out on the floor of the bathroom, instead of nonchalantly calling hours after he died and shedding no tears.

“Cough.”

Tears seeped from Marissa’s eyes as she let out a whimper of a cough.

“Put on your uniform and lessgo.”

Marissa draped herself in the orange uniform and shuffled down the hall back into the cell where she waited for someone to tell her what to do next.

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if interested, you can find more from Marissa’s story HERE.

more from the interview

“I have spent years chasing the tail of my darkness.”

“Yes?” Dr Axelrod responds, lifting his eyes from the notebook he feverishly writes into. “And what have you discovered?” His eyes lock with Marissa’s. He needs her to spell it out for him so that it’s on record.

Marissa smiles again, then looks down at the floor before continuing. “I didn’t even remember I was raped. I blocked it out. I blocked out a lot of my youth, but there was always something inside me that ached so bad. The sun would be shining, people would be singin’ and dancin’, but something felt dead in me for so long.”

She looks at Dr. Axelrod again. “When I met Stan,” she continues. “Something changed. It was like things weren’t so fuckin’ dark anymore. It was like the sun was shining down on me, too, and I could finally sing and dance with everyone else.”

“Mmm.”

“I know it sounds corny and cliché but it’s how I felt; things were just so fuckin’ great between us.”

“Marrisa,” Dr. Axelrod says. “When did you remember being raped? What happened to make you remember?”

“Oh doc,” Marissa sighs. “Can I have a smoke first?”

“Not allowed.”

“Of fuckin’ course,” Marissa snaps. “Fine.”

Marissa shifts, bringing her knees into her chest so that she hugs herself on the chair. “I didn’t remember till after me and Stan got married, obviously. I mean, who’s gonna marry their rapist? That’s just sick. So one night we went out to the bar and had some drinks and stuff, and when we got home, we started going at it. You know. And we’re both kinda drunk and it’s getting really heated and stuff and all of a sudden, he pulls at my hair.” Marrisa closes her eyes again and holds her hands to her head. “He yanks at my hair and just kinda snaps my head back a bit and just holds it there for a second too long and that’s when it comes back to me like a motherfuckin’ semi runnin’ me over.”

She opens her eyes and looks at Dr. Axelrod who’s writing in his notebook. “I let him keep drillin’ me and when he finally came and released my hair, I looked at him and it was like I was nine again. It was like I was laying on that cold stinky clammy garage floor. In the dark. All alone.”

Marissa inhales deeply before resting her chin down atop her knees and exhaling. “He rolled over and outta bed and went to the bathroom, and I re-lived the nightmare from twenty years ago in my head. I started shaking bad and he came back to bed and saw me shaking and went and turned the heat warmer. I started screaming like mad but I don’t think it happened outta my head, ya know? Because he just turned the notch on the thermostat and went and sat by the computer.”

“Did Stan rape you when you were nine?”

“Yes.”

“Did you confront him after remembering?”

Marissa didn’t answer. She just sat in the chair hugging herself, rocking a bit.

“Did you confront him about the rape after remembering?” Dr. Axelrod prodded again.

“Not until I killed the motherfucker.”

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Lucy

Daddy named her Lucy the day he gave her to me. We were at a carnival and he won her for me by shooting water onto a tiny target to make a small horse win a race against other shooters—mainly me and my brothers Andrew and Mark. From all the toys he could’ve picked, he chose the little rag doll with the orange dress, and as soon as the attendant gave her to him he smiled and handed her down to me.

“What’s her name?” I asked while hugging her.

“How about Lucy?” Daddy answered, whistling and singing an old Beatles song.

“I love her so much, Daddy!”

Lucy’s arms and legs fit perfectly in my hand so that I could drag her around with me wherever I went. She had this long gold curly hair and she wore an orange and green dress. I tried changing her clothes more than once but it never worked; the dress was just a part of Lucy. Sometimes I’d put other clothes on top of the dress but after a while, I just let Lucy be who she was.

I was seven when Daddy gave her to me. I remember a lot about that time. We all went camping and stayed in a pop-up camper with no running water or electricity. But we had so much fun. Lucy was at one of the carnivals near the campground we stayed at. That was also the vacation when I learned how to swim because my older brother Andrew pushed me into the pool. I wasn’t so happy about that and it took me a day before I’d go back near the water but then when I did, I wasn’t so afraid of going underwater anymore, and I started swimming through the water with my whole body submerged. It was pretty awesome the way the whole world just kind of turned into a blur as soon as I was under the water. I loved pushing the water away in front of me and kicking my legs at the same time to glide along. I imagined myself up in the sky, finding my way through a big white fluffy cloud.

That was the best summer vacation ever.

Mommy made french toast over a campfire for breakfast one morning, then fried some fish we caught one day for dinner one night. We went on hikes through the forest and slapped our skin to rid itself of bug bites. We ran and hopped on the hot sand dunes to get into cool water to go for a swim in the lake. We ate ice cream and ice cones like it was our job.

I don’t remember a lot from my youth but some things can’t be forgotten. And every time I see Lucy on the shelf next to some of my favorite books in the world, I always think of that summer and smile.

Life was really good then.

 

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fear

There was a loud crash in the hallway and Marissa slammed her face into a pillow to stifle a scream. She lay still for a minute, ears listening for any little thing while her mind thought of what she would do—pretend to be asleep? try to attack? try to hide?—when the intruder found the door to her room.

This was Marissa; she was always afraid. Irrationally so. Ever since she could remember she always heard noises and saw things. When she was in one room, she was sure she’d see shadows quickly darting about in another room or down the hallway. Not all the time, not every day, but she saw these shadows and she heard strange noises quite often. Like the crash in the hallway.

There was never anything to come from the sights and sounds other than maybe an elevated blood pressure or a premature gray hair. Noises generally were a result of something getting knocked down from the vibrations of the trucks on the street she lived on, for example; shadows were just a result of her overactive imagination.

Nevertheless, Marissa always envisioned the worst.

When she was younger, Marissa was sure the car door would suddenly fly open and she’d be sucked out of the car as her mom and dad and brothers drove down the highway to visit family. She hated sitting against the door because of this, but she hated the middle seat more. At least if she was by the door, the chances of her little brother Mark puking on her were slimmer than if she was in the middle since her older brother Andrew refused to give up his seat behind their dad. Of course if the door did finally fly open, she’d be a goner for sure, but she figured that since the door never opened she’d stick with the safety of being able to rush out of the car when Mark puked. Because with Mark, it wasn’t a case of If he would puke in the car, it was always When.

Even when she was a child, it annoyed Marissa how paralyzed she became by fear, but as soon as the fear subsided, she wouldn’t give it another thought until the next time she was paralyzed.

Paralyzed by fear.

It was getting so bad she wondered if she’d ever live a normal life. At 23, and still living at home, Marissa let fear control her. It was like an abusive boyfriend, but of course Marissa couldn’t see this. And because she wasn’t ever the one amidst her peers to shine, even a little bit, Marissa felt doomed for a life of solitude as a result.

And then she met Stan.

Again.

the interview

She sank into the depths of her memories and couldn’t stop the tears from raining down her face, her heart pulsating in her chest.

“I’m in the alley,” Marissa says. “On my way to school.”

Her heart starts beating faster and faster.

“I see something. A shadow,” she shrieks. “And now I can feel a pull on my arm!”

Tears start forming gray dots on her orange shirt.

“The grip on my arm gets tighter and tighter and soon I’m hauled into darkness.”

Marissa starts sobbing and trying to catch her breath.

“There’s a pull on my hair. My head is being snapped back.” Marissa moves her right hand to the back of her head atop her short hair. “He won’t let go of holding my hair and pulling my head back!”

She shakes her hand off of her head.

“I’m wearing a Hello Kitty dress. It’s my favorite, and it gets ripped off,” she says, tugging on her orange top. “And then I’m pushed onto the ground. It’s cold and kinda damp. And I feel his knees pin down my legs.”

Marissa jolts her body erect. Her eyes still closed, she places her elbows on her knees, fingers on her forehead as if to drum out a headache. Snot runs from her nose and adds to the discoloration of her orange shirt.

“I start screaming and crying louder and louder but nobody can hear, nobody can see what’s happening.”

Marissa starts rocking back and forth.

“The next thing I know,” she continued, dropping her hands into her lap and opening up her eyes for the first time since Dr. Axelrod started the session. “I’m alone—at least I think I’m alone,” she said to the cement floor. “—in this stinky, clammy darkness. I can feel my eyes trying to open and adjust to the darkness and that’s when I notice the thin yellow line to my right. I crawl toward it, every bit of me aching.”

Marissa grabs her stomach as she continues to rock.

“I realized the light was outside of the darkness. I was in a garage. The light was the alley. I tried lifting the garage door but… I just couldn’t.”

Marissa stops crying. She takes in a deep breath and wipes her face and nose with the tissues in her lap. Then with a deadpan look, she finds Dr. Axelrod’s eyes and says, “I was next door to the house I grew up in. I was nine years old. The fucker who raped me was never found, but I’m pretty sure it was my older brother’s best friend.”

“Did you tell anyone you thought it was the friend?”

“I didn’t know or think it was him until much later,” Marissa said, her lips forming a grin. “His best friend’s name was Stan.”

“Like your husband?”

Marissa smiles for the first time during the interview.

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