The Broken Line, 56: Psychopath

(Missed the last chapter? Go to 55: Meltdown.)

I DROVE UNTIL I found myself at Warrick. It was about three a.m., but I didn’t need to explain anything to Zora. The sight of me was enough.

“Jesus, Lacy.” She pulled me into a warm hug. I felt a few tears trickle down my face. I think I might have just stood there, dripping tears and swaying until my legs gave out, if Zora hadn’t steered me to a small bedroom with an iron bed and a patterned quilt.

“I’m not here!” I mumbled as I fell against the pillow.

Read more »

The Broken Line, 55: Meltdown

(Missed the last chapter? Go to 54: Ride the Red Horse)

I SHOVED MY way through the dense and—it seemed to me—hostile crowd around the dance pool. Stalled behind two pasty-skinned guys who were about as wide as they were tall, I saw Branson turn and slide an iridescent silver card through an access slot. He opened the door that lead to the secured areas of UrgePool.

Ducking under one guy’s arm, and sideways around a protruding gut, I hurtled the last ten feet toward him.

“Branson!”

His head snapped around to face me, eyes widening. Next to him, a tall brunette in a black mini-dress and boots put her hand lightly on his arm. It’s what I would have done if some wild-eyed woman had burst in on an intimate conversation I was having with my date. Read more »

The Broken Line, 54: Ride the Red Horse

(Missed the last chapter? Go to 53: Bad Wifey)

I FOUND MYSELF sprawled on my back, on the hood of the red mustang, staring up at the milky spray of stars above. It was strange. I’d been hit by a car, but neither the initial impact nor the impact of my fall had felt like more than a dull thud.

Maybe I’m in shock, I thought. If so, shock was a rather peaceful state. Time seemed to have slowed down too, because the car was still rolling along with me plastered to the hood, like one of the wooden women who used to adorn ships’ prows. The though struck me a hilarious.

As the car stopped, I slid halfway off, catching myself with my feet. The driver, a stocky man in blue work clothes jumped out. “God! Miss, are you all right?” He had a thick Brooklyn accent and a patch on his shirt that said Humphrey.

As I tested my legs, Humphrey hovered over me, arms outstretched in case I fell. “Maybe you shouldn’t move. I can call an ambulance … should I call an ambulance?” Read more »

The Broken Line, 53: Bad Wifey

(Missed the last chapter? Go to 52: Liar Interuptus)

John mutters phrases I can barely hear and understand even less. “Plant the six gifts. Eat the six. Eat for long life. The flower of the sixth.” The words sound familiar—a memory edging closer, filling me with fear.

I try to pull away, but he holds me tightly with his left hand. With the other, he pulls my dress up, so hard it tears. He fumbles with his zipper.

“Stop!” Read more »

The Broken Line, 52: Liar Interuptus

(Missed the last chapter? Go to 51: Voices in the Rain.

Feeling festive, I choose a strapless peach sheath that highlights my new tan, and a matching, embroidered half jacket. I stare at myself in the mirror. It’s like I’m wearing a costume. Lacy Strong, starring as The Socialite’s Wife. I have to admit I look good, though. It’s like I’ve taken on the reflected sheen of this beautiful life, glowing like an actress seen through a soft focus lens.

As I descend the stairs, I find John waiting, elegant in a light gray suit, the same color his eyes. He grins and hands me a jewelers box.

“What’s this?”

“I got it for Valentine’s Day, but … well, I’ve been waiting for the right time.”

The box contains a diamond teardrop necklace, easily three carats. “John, is this real?”

“Of course.” He looks a bit offended.

“I’m sorry. I just can’t believe … It’s gorgeous! Thank you.”

“Get used to it,” John turns me around to fasten the necklace. I feel the cold weight of the diamond against my chest. He buries his nose into my hair. “You are the most intoxicating creature I’ve ever known.”

I turn to kiss him on the cheek, but John swivels his head and our lips met. Instinctively, I pull back. Read more »

The Broken Line, 51: Voices in the Rain

(Missed the last chapter? Go to 50: Fertility Fetish)

JOHN STARES OUT the window. “What the hell?”

Maybe it isn’t just me. Maybe John hears it, too—the illusion of voices in the rain.

“What is that doing there?”

I strain to see through the misty, shifting blur. “I can’t see anything.”

John reaches out and picks something up off the windowsill, then opens his hand to show me a pale blue pill with a lightening bolt imprinted into it.

“I … I don’t know. I’m sure I took it this morning.”

“You’re positive?” John’s voice, disapproving and paternal. I felt the splitting sensation again—two Lacys, two Johns. Read more »

The Broken Line, 50: Fertility Fetish

(missed the last chapter? Go to 49: Snake in the Garden)

I’VE BEEN LYING in the sun only a few moments, it seems, when I hear the voices.

“… amazing recovery … looks twenty years younger.” A man, vaguely familiar.

“But she’s gone the other way. Or so I hear.” A woman. Smug.

“Maybe he stole the years from her.”

“Ooh, succubus.”

“He can suck my bus anytime.”

Laughter.

I yank myself up, suddenly sure they’re talking about John and me.

“Hello?” I call out.

No reply.

“Hello!” I make my voice cheerful. “It’s Lacy, your neighbor.” I cast about for faces to match the voices. “I fell asleep. Wondering if you know what time it is?”

The wind has picked up. Rustling through the oak leaves like distant laughter. I spy a knothole in the fence and peer through. I see a flash of white, like the tail of man’s shirt, darting away. Read more »

The Broken Line, 49: Snake in the Garden

(missed the last chapter? Go to 48: The Other John)

GETTING STRONGER. GAINING weight, which I need, though John says I’m beautiful just the way I am. I wonder why the anti-psychotic medications haven’t made me puff up the way my mother did.

Kitty. Flashes of her riding bareback, thighs gripping the horse’s glossy flanks. Her hair whipping like snakes. Her tense forearm grasping a knife, stabbing sacks of meat. I see her glance up from her drafting table, green eyes sharp, sketching with slashing strokes. Her finger jabbing at demons in her scrapbook as she lectures me. Yanking the white rose beads from my neck. My mother. A song I can’t get out of my head.

Dr. Rolfe says all children become disillusioned, to some extent, when they discover the frailties of their parents. But my mother attacked and injured my father in our house while I was there. More like a psychic earthquake. Read more »

The Broken Line, 48: The Other John

(Missed the last chapter? Go to 47: Sex Dreams and Secrets)

HANDS WITH LONG nails pinch me and then grab me roughly—lifting and shaking. Wanda’s face looms. I smell sickly sweet coffee on her breath. I gasp for air and then vomit a stream of bile onto her uniform.

“Filthy,” Wanda hisses. “Get into the bath.”

“No,” I moan, as she shoves me down the hall. “It can’t be true, can’t be.”

Even as I resist, the pieces click into place. The man’s clothes in the closet. John’s reportedly blasé attitude toward Dorothy’s affair with my father. Dr. Rolfe’s reaction every time I said Uncle John. Wanda’s shock when I mentioned the dark haired musician. My lover. The one who’d dumped me on the porch for my … husband to deal with? Read more »

The Broken Line, 47: Sex Dreams and Secrets

(missed the last chapter? Go to 46: Splitting in Two)

IN THE DREAM I remember the musician’s name—Branson.

We’re in the painting. Branson, John, and me. Both men stand naked and erect, staring down at me with flat expressions. They look impossibly tall, until I realize that I’m flat on my back, unable to move anything except my head.

I look down at my naked body and see vines like manacles holding me spread eagle on the ground. One vine runs like an IV into my arm, dripping a milky white sap into my veins.

Neither of men touch me. Instead they begin half-chanting, half-singing a haunting, erotic song. Their voices weave and twine together. I shut my eyes. I want it to stop but, instead, I moan and writhe, straining against the vines, climaxing against my will again and again. I open my eyes to see a thick vine thrusting in and out of me. I scream and wake myself. My body still pulsates from the orgasms. Read more »