Domestic Disturbance



God, we fought like dogs. No use in denying it. It’s true to say it was passion but all the assholes in the world would say that’s just me trying to get lipstick on a pig. Doesn’t matter anymore, but for the sake of telling the story I’m gonna insist: it was passion. Loved that woman with a power that terrified me—terrified me she’d meet someone better, which would’ve been easy, terrified something’d happen to her at her job (she worked in a fuckin’ nail salon and so I spent time researching hazards in nail salons), terrified she’d just disappear like a dandelion spore, float off into a sunray and morph with all that light. Lyla was that beautiful to me—ninety pounds soaking wet and barely a hair on her golden body besides her honey hair to my two hundred pounds of mediocre man meat. I didn’t start off doing anything more than worshipping her but the fear crept in as it does and by our second year we were gnashing teeth and I was putting holes in the plasterboard on the regular and the cops got accustomed to coming around, would look all tired and put out when we answered the door, like they were our parents and we ought to have been sleeping. But wasn’t ever a mark on either one of us and so they always just threatened us with noise complaints. Neighbors hated us of course. I liked to tell my buddies too that it was the fuckin’ that bothered them the most, but truth is that the fighting was probably louder and certainly worse to listen to. I was jealous, sure I was. I’m not even ashamed of that. I heard a preppie kid in a bar say one time that jealousy was for insecure men and yet when I stared over at him he cut his eyes away and hit the road without even finishing his funny little drink. So I don’t know about that.


Anyway, point is, that on a November night not two days after Thanksgiving we were laying it out like we never had before: leftover turkey was mashed in the rug and glasses were broken in the sink and Lyla had definitely pointed a carving knife at me and I had taken a hollow-core closet door off the hinges and decorated it with fist holes. Phone rang off the hook, neighbors stomped and banged and eventually the officers showed up. This time one of them, it was a skinny Mexican cop, he told me, no shit, wagging a finger at me that you know, Elway, sooner or later everyone thinks you gonna actually hit that woman and kill her. Now, I have no way of telling you why the way he said that struck me as funny and I bet Lyla couldn’t tell you either, even though she was the one that started crowing first when I shut the door on the coppers. Like he’d said something really funny. I don’t know, I guess when you get deep enough in a spit and vinegar kind of love affair, you forget what you’re even fighting about—I couldn’t tell you now what it was that night. Sometimes you’re just fighting and the only way out is walking or fucking, at least for me, because, see, I wasn’t ever going to lay a hand on Lyla. Maybe that’s what was funny to us. We got straight to ripping shirts off each other in the living room and stumble-wrestled our way to the bedroom and I don’t mind saying I was already pumping away by the time her back hit that thrift store mattress. We got into that rhythm of it where it’d get real quiet and we stared into each other’s eyes as I went harder and harder. That’s what was happening: me, on top of Lyla, my hands on either side of her face, trying to pump my way right into her blood, like I wanted to disappear inside of her, when the frame snapped and the bed caved inward like a goddam taco and my hands slipped onto her throat as we fell downward and her neck snapped under my fingers.


When that Mexican cop came in to cuff me, I could see him trying to look angry. But he looked more spooked, like he’d jinxed the holy hell out of me, Lyla, and just maybe himself.

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