Thursday, March 31, 2011

We've Had Four Weeks Of Couples Therapy And I Still Want To Kill You

Wendy. Darling. Light of my life... Listen.

We've done everything Dr. Petersen said. The communications exercises, the conflict journaling, all of it. And last night when he had us do some joint meditation and focus on finding the core of our being, on discovering who we both truly are down deep, you know what I realized? I am an alcoholic who really, really wants to dismember his family and then kill himself so he can live in the Overlook forever. Let me out of the freezer, don't let me out of the freezer -- that's your choice. But I'm not going to change.

I should have seen it coming. The therapist has been talking about how we have to move past our zero-sum dynamic and try to reach a situation where we can both win. But if I keep chasing you down the halls with an axe, and you keep chopping wildly at me with that butcher knife in a desperate attempt to survive, where are we going to find a place to compromise? Lloyd was saying that the other night, and I tried to argue with him, but the guy had a damn point.

I want to kill you. You don't want me to kill you. It's as simple as that. One of us could give in and pretend to be happy, but then we wouldn't be true to ourselves, would we? Do you really want that? Is that a good thing to teach Danny about relationships?

Where is Danny, by the way? Hey, just asking. Calm down.

Look, don't get sad about this. Look at it as an opportunity. A challenge for both of us to try to live authentic lives. I'm going to explore this new relationship with the ghosts who are driving me to kill, and you're going to try like hell to get that radio working. We both have needs, Wendy. Why can't you see that? Why can't Dr. Petersen? He should just admit that we're better off on our own. Especially you, if I find a way to break this door lock.

You fell in love with me, because you said I was always real -- do you remember that? You said I never try to pretend I'm something I'm not. Well, this is me, and I'm telling you I'm trapped in a hotel with a woman who sounds like a chipmunk and a kid who talks to his finger, and I want to kill both of you. That's my truth. I need to know you understand me, Wendy, and I need to leave this on good terms. How about opening this door and giving me a good-bye hug?

Heh. Sorry. Had to try that.

I think this is where the conversation ends. Goodbye, honey. I'll always have feelings for you. Mostly murderous rage, but still. I'm going to sit here and wait for unholy forces to let me loose, and you're going to go discover what I did to the Snow Cat. We each have a journey.

Kids Draw Cthulhu

COC-2 by David Milano

COC-2, a photo by David Milano on Flickr.

A man named David Milano took part in a creative retreat for children in a choir. And he had an idea for a project:

This time I wanted to try something more structured so I pitched the idea to them that since it was getting on to Halloween how ’bout drawing some monsters? And not just any monsters but creatures from the writing of H.P. Lovecraft‘s Cthulhu Mythos. Now, only two of the kids (the older ones) had any knowledge of who Lovecraft was or had read some of his stories. So, I was able to introduce the kids to these creatures pretty much fresh with no previous imagining of what these monsters look like.

I put on some creepy Lovecraft inspired music and over the course of about an hour I told them synopsis versions of three of Lovecraft’s tales (The Shadow Out of Time, At the Mountains of Madness, The Call of Cthulhu) getting quickly through the set up and on to the descriptions of the monsters.

Above is a picture of Cthulhu drawn by Kailan, age 8. But there's more. Milano helpfully provides us with three galleries of refrigerator art of the damned:

Gallery 1: The Shadow Out of Time

Gallery 2: At The Mountains of Madness (Look Billy, a Shoggoth! Don't tell your mother about any of this.)

Gallery 3: The Call of Cthulhu

This prompts a question, of course: Should your kid be exposed to the pulpy nightmares that lurk just outside our perception, planning our doom? I don't really know the answer to that. But this crap is still way less disturbing than most of what Disney puts out. (Special thanks to KG for the tip.)

Reckoning (Part 5)

Two weeks goes by, and these are the three things that happen: 1) Mike and Marie are thinking of buying a security system, which means they don’t have one now. They have very good window locks, but Marie is worried about the basement windows in the backyard. 2) I’ve become eligible to buy a handgun in Virginia. 3) The window washer is finished with the building across the street. Every one of the windows in that big stone building sparkles in the sun like something out of a Windex ad. I stand at our grimy windows and look at the thing, and I feel sad and small and terrified just looking at that job well done.

It’s Sunday night. I only have two more vacation days, and I’ve told my boss I might take one tomorrow. I have to know. They’re going out tonight – a night on the town. It’s been so long, and they’re taking the baby to her mother. “He’s safer there,” said Marie on the phone. “We were supposed to have the security system installed, but they couldn’t come last week. It’s really bothering me – a house in the neighborhood was robbed when the family went away on vacation.” “I know,” her sister said. “You just can’t be too careful.”

I watch the two of them leave from the rental. He’s in a suit, she’s in a short satin dress, darkly colored, and even from here I can tell how stunning she looks. I watch them drive off, and I can’t move just thinking about her with him. But I have work to do. The window in back is easy, and the neighbors can’t see it. I pry it open and slide in, catching myself on some boxes. I stumble around down there in the dark, and for a long time I can’t find the stairs up, and I’m sure I’m going to get caught. But then my foot hits the bottom step, and I find my way up and out. The bottom floor rooms are small but beautiful – the living room’s filled with overstuffed chairs, old sofas and end tables. It’s cozy, unpretentious, and every surface has wedding and baby pictures.

In the back room there’s a nursery with a crib, toys, a bureau, and a baby monitor. I walk up the stairs and find their bedroom. Inside there, on the same wall as a neatly made queen-sized bed, is an old writing desk. I go through the drawers until I hit their medical file. I go through their records, and there’s nothing but flu medicine for the kid and mother and a physical exam for Mike. In their closet I find old papers bundled up in a clear plastic bag. I open it up and search their records back to last year, but there’s nothing – no falls, bruises, concussions, or broken bones. Nothing suspicious at all. I want to think there’s another way, but it fits with everything I’ve heard, every conversation Marie has had over the last few weeks I’ve been listening to her. There’s no way I can tell myself Mike’s dangerous anymore. He’s not abusing her. I don’t know what his therapy is, or how he changed his life, but he’s a different person now. They’re happy together.

Then I notice the smell. The whole bedroom’s filled with it, and it’s coming from their private bathroom. It’s the soap or shampoo smell I remember. Julie’s smell. Whatever she always used, Marie uses it. Did Mike buy it for her? The dress she was wearing – that beautiful dress. The way she cuts her hair. Has he done these things, or does she just do them because she knows it makes him happy? Or maybe she was just always like this, like Julie, and he was very lucky to find her. And either way, I’ve got to find out what it is that’s making that smell, because I’m swimming in it, and I can’t get away.

There’s no soap in the bathroom, only one bottle of shampoo, and it’s not that. I go through the lotions and creams on the sink, then under the sink, and then in the medicine cabinet. I open them one by one, smelling them. Nothing. I go through her bureau – through everything, every bottle and tube. I knock them over, and they spill out onto the floor. I kick all the wastebaskets over. I pull the drawers out of all the bureaus I can find, and I examine her clothes, each outfit, comparing them to find which ones smell sharper. I don’t know what it is, and I begin to tear the place apart even though this is not what I intended, not what I intended at all. I flip the bed, I take the jewelry, and I find a small stack of hundreds in Mike’s sock drawer and pocket that. I topple all the furniture, spreading everything out all over the floor, and I’m not even near done – something has come loose inside me, and I’m not even near done. I go downstairs, smash the TV set, throw the couch over, pull the plates and dishes out in the kitchen, breaking them in great clattering scoops, and by then the place looks like it’s been robbed, really robbed, just like Marie was afraid of, only I still don’t know what that smell is because I couldn’t find it, and because it’s one of the things Julie never even told me.

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