Two, Now One

When Pamela Tedesco arrived in the emergency room, nose pulped, more teeth out than in, scalp almost clotting amid now-hairless patches, she vowed she’d never go back to Lyle.

When she bought the pistol from the TriCounty Gun and Rod Show, wearing a black tam with widow’s veil like a late-show femme fatale, Pamela told herself it was for self-defense. She’d stay away from Lyle’s rat-trap apartment—from Lyle, king of the rats. Cross her heart and hope to die.

Wandering the aisles of Fortuna’s Sexporium—the bruise around her eye still an oil-spill rainbow—idly placing handcuffs and a ball gag in the red plastic handbasket, Pamela swore she and Lyle were finished. Maybe she’d find a new lover by the motel pool.

At the Smart & Final, picking up fireplace matches and Sterno, Pamela dreamed of outdoor brunches and chafing dishes. Her days of 99-cent pizza eaten only after Lyle had flung it, smeared it, ground it into her face were— so help me—over and done with.

Greatly relieved, she let Lyle in after he tracked her down at the Cozy Cabinettes Motel—where police would find him, bound, gagged, gunshot through both knees and terribly burned, maggoty in the bathtub while water overflowed the washbasin across the room.

There were two things Pamela Tedesco hated—well, one now. Gutless women sickened her.

© 2006, 2024; first appeared in print in Flashing the Gutters, June 2006

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