This story is by Christy Brown and was part of our 2021 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The day they said, “I do,” Alvin Dimler started drugging his wife, Nila. He spiked everything from her coffee to tacos with Devil’s Revenge, an old Dimler family concoction. Passed from father to son, the drug was guaranteed to make the most independent woman compliant.
For years, Nila catered to Alvin’s every whim. But over time, Devil’s Revenge decimated her body and mind, leaving her incapable of performing basic task.
Alvin’s father always said, “Once a woman is used up, it’s time for an upgrade.” His dad upgraded five times before a catastrophic stroke ended his life.
After months of planning, Alvin sent his children away for the weekend so he could murder his wife in peace.
He whistled as he covered the kitchen floor, counters, and cabinets with thin sheets of plastic. Alvin had observed his father’s upgrades and knew splattered blood could get into the tiniest crevices.
Satisfied with his work, Alvin led Nila to the kitchen and ordered her to her knees. He took a big swig from his bottle of whiskey then lifted the hammer over his head. As the metal met his wife’s skull, his daughter, Monica, burst through the door. She forgot her backpack.
Alvin hunched his shoulders to fit his large frame into his lawyer’s passenger seat. Roberto Ramirez gazed over the steering wheel in his immaculate black suit and crisp white shirt.
Alvin had no use for gays. But Roberto got his cellmate, Benny, released, so he overlooked his sexual orientation. Seventeen years into his life sentence, Alvin was freed due to a procedural mistake.
Roberto pursed his lips. “This is a bad idea.”
“They’re my kids,” Alvin responded.
“Your daughter’s testimony put you away.”
“That was a long time ago,” Alvin said. He flashed an angelic smile. A smile that charmed the strict prison staffers and made his incarceration a cakewalk. But, inmates, like Benny, knew the real Alvin.
Roberto rolled to a stop in front of the cottage style home. “I should go with you.”
Alvin clasped Roberto’s shoulder and squeezed. Roberto winced.
Alvin slipped from the car, delighted he inflicted pain on Roberto. “You worry too much.” He peered back as his attorney. “Go see that boyfriend of yours. Sounds like a real keeper. Can’t wait to meet him.” Alvin swallowed his disgust as he shut the door behind him.
Roberto drove off as Alvin reached the porch and rapped his knuckles against the solid wood door. A face appeared, and Alvin’s breath caught in his throat. His daughter was a mirror image of her dead mother.
Monica’s eyes widened. “You’ve got some nerve.”
“I just want to talk.”
“There’s nothing to say,” Monica said.
Monica started to close the door, but Alvin wedged his foot between the door and frame. “Ten minutes, then I promise I’ll leave.”
Monica sighed, then stepped back and extended her arm, giving her father access. He followed her into an airy living room with photos of his children and their mother adorned to every wall, telling a story that did not include Alvin.
Alvin whistled through his teeth. Yep, room for one more. “Nice place. Heard you’re an assistant at some big drug company.”
Monica folded her arms over her chest. “Researcher.”
Alvin raised his hands in surrender. “My bad.” Someone’s gonna get knocked down a few pegs. His hand brushed his jacket pocket that concealed a bag of Devil’s Revenge.
“You should have called.”
“Figured you’d hang up.”
“Probably. I don’t talk to murderers.”
“I was exonerated.”
“You’re out on a technicality. You’re not innocent.”
Alvin forced a smile. “Maybe we can talk over a drink.”
She marched out of the room. “Iced tea?”
“Got anything stronger?” Alvin called as he followed her to the kitchen.
Monica yanked the pitcher of tea from the refrigerator. “Adding alcohol to this reunion would be a mistake.” She slammed the door, then grabbed two glasses.
Alvin imagined his hands tightening around his daughter’s neck. “You’re right.” He scanned his surroundings. “Where’s your brother?”
Monica slid a glass across the island to Alvin. “Jamie’s at work.”
“Good, it gives us a chance to clear the air.”
“Clear, the air?”
He nodded and took a deep breath. “I forgive you.”
Monica’s mouth hung agape. “For what?”
“Testifying. Family doesn’t turn on their own.”
Monica shook her head. “Family doesn’t murder each other!”
Alvin held his daughter’s gaze. “She was suffering. I wanted to make it stop.”
“So, you bashed her head in instead of sending her to rehab?”
Alvin stared at the white tile floor while he choked down the rage building inside him. “I made a mistake, but I’ve changed.” Alvin lifted his head to meet his daughters eyes.
Monica froze. “I don’t believe you.”
“Please, give me a chance.”
Monica bit her lip and averted her gaze.
He glanced at the pictures on the wall. “I did make some good-looking kids. And Jamie… he’s a chip off the ole block. A real Dimler man. Must be beating girls off with a stick.”
“What’s so funny?” Alvin asked.
Alvin’s smile dissolved. “My sons not queer!” He threw his glass. Monica flinched when it exploded against the wall. Alvin leaned into the island and pointed at his daughter. “You’re a fucking liar!”
Monica smirked. “His boyfriend’s amazing.”
“You babied him just like your mother! Didn’t you? You made him a fucking pansy!” Alvin stalked toward Monica. His illusion evaporated.
Monica took a step back. “He’s always been gay. You were too oblivious to notice.”
Alvin pounced, pinning his daughter to the counter, his hand clasped around her throat. Monica gasped as she swatted at the butcher block until she wrapped her hand around the chef’s knife. Alvin gripped her wrist with his free hand and squeezed until she dropped the weapon, then shoved her to the ground and retrieved the blade.
He ran his hand down the smooth steel. “Could’ve used this in the joint.”
Monica coughed as she scrambled to her feet. “You’re a psycho!”
Alvin shrugged. “You got me.”
Monica balled her hands into fists. “Get out!”
“Not gonna happen, kiddo. I like it here,” Alvin said, then pointed the knife towards the shards of broken glass. “Clean that up and call your brother. It’s time for a family meeting.”
Alvin’s attention turned to Monica’s cabinets. He rifled through each one until he came across a bottle of whiskey. “Good girl. You remembered.” He grabbed a glass, poured himself a double.
“Leave now, or I swear you’ll regret it,” Monica threatened.
Alvin laughed and held the glass of brown liquid up to the light. “Oh, how I missed you.” He drank the whiskey down in one gulp. As Alvin poured another glass, the room spun, and his skin grew cold and clammy. Alvin gripped the counter to steady himself.
A slow smile stretched across Monica’s lips. “Something wrong?”
After being dry for seventeen years, the whiskey went to his head. Or so he thought until searing pain ripped through his brain. “Aspirin. Now!”
She shook her head. “Aspirin won’t help.”
“What…” Alvin said as he crumbled onto the ground.
Monica’s face was the first thing Alvin saw when he opened his eyes. He tried to speak, but the sound that came out was a mixture of a moan and a screech.
What the hell!
“I’m sure you’re confused,” Monica said wearing an expression filled with pity that made Alvin’s stomach churn.
“Benny filled Roberto in on everything you got away with while in prison. How you beat him every night and manipulated the staff. Since the system wasn’t making you pay, it was up to me.
“Convincing Roberto to help wasn’t easy, but he came around. He spent close to a year scouring your files until he found a way to get you released,” she said, then jutted her chin towards the other side of the bed.
Alvin shifted his gaze to find his son, Jamie, arm and arm with Roberto.
Monica dangled Alvin’s bag of Devil’s Revenge over his head. “Did you think your old tricks would work? What’s ironic; ingredients from your family recipe were used to make a drug to help addicts. And I put that same drug in your whiskey. Unfortunately, in high doses, it causes catastrophic strokes,” Monica said as she stuffed the plastic bag in her pocket. “You made the mistake of thinking I was like mom, but I’m a Dimler. Minus the psycho.
“I did give you something you never gave mom, a choice. You choose wrong.” Monica, Jamie and Roberto backed away and turned toward the door.
Alvin tried to yell, to move, but he could not. A tear of frustration rolled down his cheek. He was serving a life sentence without a chance of parole.
Get back here!
Monica glanced over her shoulder. “Goodbye, dad. Enjoy your living hell because this is where you’ll stay until you die and move on to the next version.”