Some Severe Situations #5: “Marital Splat”Books/Art/Culture,Features/Interviews,Home,News Joe DeRosa
She couldn’t believe she married the prick. Furthermore, she couldn’t believe she spent forty-three years of her life stuck in that dead, joyless union. But what was more unbelievable than either of those two unfortunate truths was the fact that she was so desperate to get out of it that she handed her secret life savings—all five-hundred and thirty-seven dollars of it, still in the dusty shoebox, crooked and creased from being shoved down between the wall and the dresser—over to that messy woman for a black magic “disintegration” spell; something out of an old-wives’ tale that would miraculously do her husband in for good. And what was even more unbelievable than that was the goddamned thing worked.
This was a problem.
That wasn’t her husband on the bed anymore. It was a pile of mush. She’d never seen authentic mush before, but this must be what it looked like: brownish and lumpy, like an eclectic batch of ingredients left in the Crock-Pot for too long. His body was there an hour ago—before the reading of the foreign-tongued phrases on that cracked piece of yellowed paper—but now, sludge. She didn’t ask for a sludge spell. She asked for a disintegration spell. What would have been much more suited to her needs—and quite certainly cleaner—would have been an evaporation spell. And it was only now, while staring at that steaming, stinking, juicy puddle of mess, that she realized the unfortunate limits of her own vocabulary.
The devil lived in the details, just like her mother had always said.
Funny enough, despite its revolting qualities, the gooey mound was the closest thing to a decoration their windowless, bare-walled bedroom had ever seen. Since the night they first consummated their relationship in it, not so much as a candle had ever graced the bureau or a wreath ever adorned the wall. He wouldn’t allow it. And funny enough, despite its revolting qualities, the gooey mound was just about as pleasing a sight as her naked husband was on the night of the wedding. Somehow, she managed to grit her teeth and make it through the repulsive duties of that carnal act; now, if only she could do the same with this one.
What an unfair outcome. What an infuriating mess. The whole point of murder through magic was that it couldn’t get pinned on her; no weapon, no fingerprints, no need for an alibi. What could the authorities have possibly found her guilty of? After all, as far as they would know or, more importantly, be able to prove, the big lug was there when she went to bed and strangely absent when she woke up. That’s it. They could search for the guy for years. They’d never find him. They’d never find a body. And without a body, there was no crime, just another inexplicable case of a person gone missing.
She was prepared to endure the trials that might accompany such an unsolvable mystery, but not the headache of having to clean up a crime scene. What the hell was the point of the spell if it was going to cause such a mess? She might as well have just dumped a vat of acid on the son of a bitch. It would’ve produced the same outcome, and undoubtedly been a hell of a lot cheaper. Still, somehow the idea of using acid to kill someone seemed even more far-fetched than this entire voodoo scenario; so there was no use in regretting what was already done.
Now was the time for focus. She needed a remedy. There was no chance of talking her way out of this pickle. That notion was hopeless. And justifiably so, since the best story she could come up with was that burglars broke in while she and her husband slept and dumped a vat of acid on her better half. But again, acid just wasn’t conceivable. No. She had to take action. She was going to have to do the one thing she’d tried to avoid while executing this entire, despicable plan. She was going to have to get her hands dirty.
Burn the bed! That was the first thought. In fact, burn the entire goddamned apartment, to hell with the neighbors. Light a match and walk away. Jesus. This was desperate. It had been hard enough coming to terms with her spite, and justifying the disposal of the one man responsible for it—but could she also allow the innocent building tenants to become casualties of it, too? It wasn’t fair, and she knew it. Her mother had always told her about sleeping in the bed she made for herself, and boy did she make one today. Fire was out.
If the vacuum was worth a piss, she might be able to suck the bastard up, right off the sheets, but so much for pipe dreams. Last Christmas, the stingy shit managed to buy her a used Hoover so cheaply constructed it struggled with lifting even a lint ball off that eyesore of an industrial carpet in the dining room.
The dustpan came to mind. She could use it to scoop and scrape his remains into the mop bucket, then empty the bucket, little by little, into the garbage disposal. But then she remembered the blizzard, and the shoveling of the wet snow, and how with each shovel-full she managed to get more on herself—and the surrounding ground—than inside the plastic mouth of the trowel. At least now the mess was contained to the bed. The dustpan would just spread it all over, to the corners, to the ceiling. Who knows where in hell the garbage disposal would send it? That’d be just terrific: swearing to the police she had no idea of her husband’s whereabouts as remnants of his liquefied body dripped onto an officer’s head. It was a no-go on the dustpan and bucket thing.
What about another spell? Maybe she could revisit that old hag and purchase the goddamned evaporation spell she should’ve bought in the first place. The thought was a novel one, but inherently problematic. She’d already given the wench the entirety of her secret stash. And what was tucked away in the kitchen cookie jar would barely be enough to feed her until the life insurance check came through. Had the bum even kept up on the payments? And even if he did, how would she manage to get the life insurance money if he wasn’t pronounced dead? And how could he be pronounced dead without her somehow incriminating herself? She hadn’t thought this through.
If she went to the witch and explained her poor choice of words when buying the disintegration trick, she’d surely get a refund or at least a full credit, then she could make an exchange for the spell she really needed. She smiled…then chuckled…then flat-out started laughing. What, was she going to show up with a receipt? Her laugh rolled over, almost uncontrollably, to a cackle, perhaps because of the desperate absurdity of the idea, or just the realization of how screwed she really was. No money, no hope, and no way out of this situation. This was rock bottom.
She slumped down onto the floor, landing next to the piece of paper the spell was written on. She had dropped it there earlier when the sight and sound of her husband screaming and melting gave her a shock. She rolled onto her side to face it, perhaps maybe even to give it the finger. It was worthless. A life savings spent on a solution that only managed to create an enormous problem.
Then it hit her.
The idea was so obvious she felt downright embarrassed she hadn’t thought of it sooner. This was a gem of a plan, too good to fail and too easy to botch. Disintegrate the disintegration. Read the spell over again and have it work its magic on that slop pile on the bed. What a perfect scheme. Her troubles were answered.
When the police found not one but two chunky puddles of blood and flesh, they were just as disgusted as they were perplexed. It was unfortunate that the curse only worked on living things. The old witch told her that at the time of purchase. Not that she heard it. She wasn’t much for paying attention to the details. So that damn Devil, who was down there hiding in them, got overlooked again. And now she was gunk, like her husband; two miserable loads in death just as they were in life.
And a circle of cops stood there, gagging while scratching their heads.
And one managed to choke out a few words: “It sounds crazy, but it looks like someone broke in here and dumped acid on these two.”