The buzzing bees in his head, how could he think?
He could just burn the place down. That would be easier. This house was filled with her taint. Lingering memories. How long had she been lying to him, pretending she was one thing while being another, destroying every stone in the foundation of their marriage? Twisting the evidence to show what she wanted him to see. Misdirection, lies, destruction…The bees dropped away into the hives of his imagination as inspiration struck him. “Ah, Carolyn…you always were my muse.” He lifted her body and placed her on the bed. “I will make them see what I want them to see, what they want to see.” He kissed her one last time. “Goodbye, Linnie.”
He tore down the lace curtains and ripped them into shreds. Wrapped them around her arms and tied her hands to the bed. Misdirection.
He went downstairs and found whiskey and scotch in the great room. He considered a tumbler or a shot glass, but really, what’s the point of that? He took a drink, straight from the bottle, then another, and another, and another, stopping only after the eighth chug. His sinuses burned and his eyes fogged up inside his retinas. One stiff swallow for every year they were married. It would make hurting himself easier.
He climbed back up the stairs and turned around, staring down the steps to the tiled foyer below.
Fuck, he had to be insane to do this. He walked backwards until his back hit the wall. He didn’t feel as drunk as he had hoped. He wished he could remember how to pray. Fuck it, after all this, he had to belong to the Devil now. He dashed to the top of the stairs and dived.
He felt every single step on the way down. His breath broke in pieces when he crashed onto his elbow somewhere around the sixth stair. He tumbled to a stop, legs splayed above him, and every ragged breath he drew burned like fire. Excellent, a couple broken ribs…that should add verisimilitude. He wheezed a short laugh. He gathered up his legs beneath him and carefully stood. A slight sprain in one ankle, hopefully many bruises. No blood. He thought there would be blood, splatters and splatters. Like Alfred Hitchhock had tossed him down the stairs. Or something.
He staggered to the kitchen and found a kitchen lighter, one of those stupid-looking gun-like things made for grilling. He tucked it into the waist of his pants. He also dug out one of Carolyn’s prized damascene carving knives. Prized for extra sharpness. He grimaced. “Its like shaving, Just think it as shaving.” He sliced his eyebrow in half. It was a bare pinprick of pain compared to the rest of him. Hot blood rushed down his face. Verisimilitude. That should do it. Blood in the eyes stings like a bitch. He groped around for a rag and held it to his face. He didn’t know what else he could do to himself. Binding would require markings and evidence he had neither the time nor energy to make. He had to go with what he was able to do, and hope it would be enough to make it believable.
Fabrication. Misdirection. Now it was time for destruction.
He limped back up the stairs, every hop eliciting a sharp breath, every breath a gasp of pain. He held the rag to his eye. It wouldn’t do to get blood on the carpet up here. He stood next to the bed, looking down. He poured the remains of the whiskey and scotch on her face, her body, her clothes, her hair. The bedding turned brown.
He pulled on Carolyn’s ancient tweed coat. It was warmer than any coat he had ever owned. And it was her’s; he would like to keep something that was her’s with him.
“Well, Linnie. This is it; the descent into hell.” He struck the lighter and flame flared up, dancing in anticipation of the immolation yet to come. He set it to Carolyn’s alcohol-drenched brown hair. Flames rose up in an instant, consuming her face.
He watched the flames grow to engulf the bed that was once theirs. He breathed in the smoke deeply, welcoming the black cough. Soon enough he would “escape” to his neighbor’s house. What was his name—Joe? John? Jack—yes, Jack.
Jack, robbers are burning down my house. My wife—my wife!
Lies, lies, all of it lies, and every bit of it seeded with truth. Thieves broke in, cut him and tossed him down the stairs, and while he was unconscious, raped and killed his wife. And finding nothing to steal, burned the house down.
Lies and misdirection, lies and destruction. He closed the tweed coat around him and staggered back down the stairs, leaving the inferno behind.
He hoped it would work. And if it didn’t, well at least he had taken the chance. He would never have won and married Carolyn, if he hadn’t taken that chance.