18 to 1
Tim Putnam

A t first, she was deliberate. Slicing the trachea with his hunting knife. A beautiful instrument, diamond tipped with a long, slender spine encrusted with gold.

A slow stab to his right hand. His screams were silent now. Her screams had been silent for thirty years.

The desert sun beat down. Sweat poured into his open wounds with a deep stinging burn. She stabbed the hand that once fondled her.

He struggled against the ropes that bound him, tied to stakes she had pounded in the night before.

The knife jabbed recklessly into his throat, collapsing his airway. Each blow struck more passionate. Four quick and brutal jabs punctured his lungs.

By the eighth blow, she released the fury of the little girl whose innocence died at the hands of this man.

The knife pierced his stomach.

His life stopped. She didn't notice.

"I love you," he would say. Blow nine drove through his now quiet heart. Red ooze pooled on his chest.

"It's okay to touch it," so she did, with blows ten, eleven and twelve. She was no longer an active participant. The ache in her heart numbed. She felt detached, spiritually disembodiment.

"I won't tell, so you, you'd better not," as the knife bludgeoned his mouth with blow thirteen. Fourteen and fifteen removed his ears. She now watched the scene from a the view of a coyote, sitting high up on a rock. Plastered in the blood of her father, her body was unrelenting. "Let me look at daddy's little girl." Sixteen and seventeen plucked out his sliced up eyes.

From the coyote, she saw the smoke from the fire she'd set in his Mexican adobe.

Out the corner of the cur's eye, she noticed a shadow race across the desert floor.

"I close my eyes, and I imagine you" he had whispered over the phone, telling her about having sex with his new wife. She slammed the phone down harder than blow eighteen slammed into the soft spot of his cranium.

She watched from the coyote as the knife stuck, temporarily lodged in his skull. Her bodily form struggled to pull it out. When the knife finally came loose, her body flung backwards, painted in blood red war paint, triumphant. For a brief moment of glory she lay on her back.

The shadow lunged at her, catching the hand which clutched the knife. The strike was quick. In one blow, the rattlesnake took her life. The coyote watched for a moment, then moved in closer for a bite to eat.

First published: May 10, 1999
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