His name is Ted — no, his name was Ted. Well, I guess it’s still his name, he just won’t be using it anymore, that’s all. And he won’t be using it anymore because he’s dead. And Ted is dead because I killed him.
Now it’s not what you think, it wasn’t like a murder-murder, Ted wasn’t innocent, you know. I had a very good reason for killing him — and yes, that’s what every killer says, but in my case, it’s actually true.
In my defense, I did spend the better part of a year trying to forget him, trying to ignore the voice in my head who talked about killing him, and told me how I could do it.
Then there he was at Jonny O’s, laughing it up, while my life had fucking cratered into a pit of depression and guilt. I watched him and my anger grew. Then the battle inside my head began again:
Don’t do anything stupid, Jules.
Go over and let him know who you are.
Just ignore him, Julie.
That bastard has the nerve to be looking over here and flirting with you.
Let’s just go home.
Let’s kill him.
It was that last comment that lingered in the air the longest. It just kept swirling around me, becoming more and more concrete. Then it fully formed into what I knew I had to do as soon as I saw him again. What I meant to do since that terrible night.
Ted had no idea who I was as he casually flirted with me. I allowed it, knowing what was coming his way, but I wondered how many other women were out there like me, used so brutally and then discarded like trash.
“Let’s go someplace quiet,” he said.
I nodded and told him, “Sure.”
Don’t go, Julie, don’t do it, my very vocal conscience said.
I’ll be fine, I told that worried voice. I have the gun.
The aforementioned gun is one I’d been carrying for protection after that night. It was tucked away safely in my purse, and I patted it gently while we sat at the bar.
“Let’s go to the lake,” Ted said.
The lake was a notorious make-out place, everyone in town knew that. We also knew it was practically deserted this time of year because it was too cold to sit in your car and make out. I’m sure Ted was very happy the place would be deserted — but so was I.
I sat down trying my best to avoid Ted’s empty gaze, and the small dribble of blood coming from the right side of his mouth, not to mention the gaping wound in his abdomen where the bullet tore through leaving a hole the size of a tennis ball.
Even in death, his face was still quite beautiful, and I couldn’t help touching it. It was cold though, and clammy, and I quickly pulled my hand away, absentmindedly wiping it on my jeans. That’s when I noticed his blood splattered all over me.
The lake water was freezing, but I washed my face and hands in it regardless. But my clothes, they couldn’t be helped, so I pulled on my coat and buttoned it up, so I wouldn’t be reminded of what I’d just done.
Shooting someone is not like in the movies, let me tell you. Nothing can prepare you for the horror of it — nothing.
Dead Ted’s tattoo was what I focused on during the whole ordeal, and I memorized that tattoo so I could describe it to police.
It was unusual, for sure, and ugly as shit. It was a snake that started on his left shoulder and wound its way down his arm, the tail ending just above the wrist, then forking into five snake-like fingers. The middle one was flipping the bird. Yeah, old Ted was a class act.
I talked to a detective named Richards or Richardson, something like that. He said, “Did you go home with him willingly?”
“Yes, but —” I began, however, I didn’t finish; I didn’t even file a report. It was subtle, but the detective made his opinion known with the slight shift in his chair, and the faint raising of his right eyebrow. He thought I was just some woman who changed her mind and was now crying foul. I didn’t even bother telling him about the tattoo. I went home and never said anything to anyone else about our night, Teddy. All I wanted to do was make you hurt like I did. I thought ending your miserable life would make me feel better.
Do you feel better? Dead Ted asked.
“No, Ted, I don’t.”
Oh yeah, Dead Ted was now talking to me. The consequences of my actions, I suppose, or an indication that I was losing my mind — it was probably a bit of both.
It was eerily quiet at the lake, except for the ringing in my ears from the gun blast. It had been at least an hour and it was still there, a constant reminder that I’d just shot a man. He didn’t think I would do it, and maybe I wouldn’t have if he hadn’t tried to grab the gun.
Oh, that’s good, Julie, blame the victim.
“Shut up, Ted.”
I pulled out a pack of cigarettes. “A habit I picked up after our night together, Teddy. They help with the panic attacks. Want one, Teddy boy? Oh yeah, I forgot, you quit.” I laughed and knew I was definitely losing my mind right there next to Ted’s lifeless body.
“Remember when we first met, Ted? Remember that night?”
It was the party in Windham.
“Bingo, Ted, that terrible party in Windham. It was awful, in more ways than one. Come on, Jules, we’ll have a great time. That’s what my friend Paula told me, only she never showed up.
“Sorry Jules I can’t make it, Eddie called, he wants to see me, give our relationship another try.
“Millionth time’s a charm, I thought. But I couldn’t say this to her directly because my good friend Paula told me she was ditching me in a text, Teddy — a text. I waited over an hour for her, then she sends a fucking text.
“Stay at the party, meet some cute guy and tell me all about it tomorrow, were Paula’s famous last words.”
I turned to look, and old Dead Ted, he was sitting up, his once dead eyes were alive again, and the beautiful blue-grey color that I initially fell for was back. He still had blood dripping from the side of his mouth, and that gaping hole, but other than that he was the spitting image of the bastard who helped ruin my life. Yeah, I had lost it alright.
“So like an idiot, I stayed at the party, searching the room for at least one friendly face — instead I met you, Ted. What was that pick up line you gave me?”
Looking for me, I presume.
“You have quite the memory old Teddy, especially for a dead guy. It was such a pathetic line, but you were cute and I fell for it.”
Dead Ted smiled, a macabre and bloodied grimace.
“Then I told you, I was supposed to meet a friend, but she couldn’t make it. And what’d you say, Ted?”
Well, lucky me.
“Well, lucky me. I have no idea why that worked, but with those eyes and that smile, I would’ve fallen for anything.”
Then I took your hands, and they were shaking.
“You noticed that?”
Of course, that’s when I knew I had you.
“You fucking prick.”
Teddy had gone silent again. He had returned to that dead eyed corpse staring into nothingness.
“Don’t leave me now Ted, we’re just getting started. We went to your place for wine and conversation, as you said. I thought there was a possibility of something more happening, but you, Ted, you just went for it as soon as I stepped through the door. I didn’t even have time to take my coat off, you were on top of me, ignoring my screams. Didn’t your mama ever tell you that no means no, Ted? Guess not.”
Ted was still non-responsive.
“And when you were done, what’d you do then, Teddy boy? Oh, cat got your tongue? Well, I’ll tell you what you did. You shoved me aside and said, You can leave now, I’m tired. I was so out of it, all I thought of was, How am I going to get back to my car.
“I remember getting dressed and staring at that stupid tattoo, thinking, That’s what I’ll remember most — and I did.
“The anger came later, days later, in fact, after the shame and guilt, of course. Then when I saw you tonight at Jonny O’s, that anger welled up again. It was boiling hot. Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord. But since he was busy, and didn’t see fit to help me when I needed him most, I decided to take matters into my own hands.”
You did just that, Julie. Now what? he asked.
Now that you’re dead, Ted, I have to rid myself of you once and for all.
Ted had some rope in his truck, and I found a few largish rocks to weigh him down.
I began a mock funeral ceremony. “Here lies Teddy, uh … Hey, Teddy, I don’t even know your last name.”
I looked down at him, but didn’t expect an answer. Even as my mind was splitting from reality, I knew he couldn’t tell me anything.
“Here lies Teddy the asshole. May you rest forever in hell. Goodbye, Teddy old boy.” Then I rolled his body into the lake. It took a while, but after several minutes Ted finally sank, and with it, I hoped, the fear, anger, and guilt I’d felt since the party in Windham.
Then I backtracked through the woods, walking a couple of miles east of his truck. A nice man in a Honda Accord picked me up after an hour or so of hitchhiking. I hoped he couldn’t see the splattered blood that my coat was hiding.
“What’re you doing way out here alone?” he asked.
“Had a fight with the boyfriend. He threw me out of his car. I thought he’d come back for me but he didn’t.”
I was surprised at how easily the lies flowed from my mouth.
“That sucks. He sounds like a real monster,” Honda Guy said.
“You don’t know the half of it,” I said.
“Well, where can I take you?”
“Back to town, please.”
Honda Guy smiled at me, and I tried smiling back, really I did, but it was hard since Dead Ted was sitting between us.
Looks like it’s you and me, kid, Dead Ted said, doing a terrible impersonation of Humphrey Bogart, and flashing that horrible bloodied grin.
Ted returned with me from the lake, albeit still dead, and still with that gaping hole in his abdomen, and he hasn’t left. I see him when I go to bed, when I get up, at work, in the grocer’s.
Dead Ted was sitting next to me on the couch when we saw the news they’d found his body. He looked at me with a satisfied grin on his face.
Looks like the gig is up, he said.
I waited at my apartment, knowing my fate. After all, several people saw me leave the bar with Ted.
I thought it ironic that the officer who showed up to question me was the same detective who didn’t believe I had been attacked.
“I’m Detective Richardson,” he said, “My partner and I have a few questions for you.”
“Sure, come in,” I said.
And as I began answering their questions, Dead Ted sat next to me. You can do it, Jules, he said.
Then I told the detectives the whole story.