“I don’t know why ya got me locked up in here, bub. I did nothing wrong.”
“Well, Mrs. Lakowski-“
“Call me, Nikki.”
“Well, Nikki,” the court appointed lawyer shuffled the papers about in front of him, “I um, can’t say I agree with you. You killed your husband, Nikki. Please tell me how that is ‘nothing wrong’.”
“Oh, Mr. Johnson,” she laughed, the cuffs around her wrist clacking together as she wove her hand to dismiss his comment, “Can I call ya Steve?”
“Well, Steve, ya just aren’t seeing the full picture! Yasee, what I did wasn’t killing nobody. I’d prefer to call it, my one, vigilante act for my life, I swear on my mama’s life, Steve. I wasn’t taking someone great from this world. Why would I do that? No no, I was taking matters into my own hands.”
“A vigilante act, Nikki? The law isn’t something that can just be played with, even if you promise to never break it again. But you do admit you killed your husband, Mickey Lakowski, Nikki? That’s a very serious statement.”
“Of course I admit to it. Steve dawlin’, why wouldn’t I admit to something like that? I ain’t stupid. Mickey was the worst thing that ever happened to me. My only regret was not killing the bastard sooner.”
“Mrs. Lakow- I mean,” he cleared his throat and adjusted his tie, “Nikki, do you want to go a bit more in depth about how exactly your husband was ‘the worst thing that ever happened to’ you? It could help your case and get you a shorter sentence.”
“Ya want the lie or the truth, love? I’ve got the lie pretty well memorized,” she chuckled half-heartedly at her own joke.
“Preferably the truth, Nikki. That’s what the judge will want to hear.”
“Figures. Well, Stevie, to tell ya the truth my marriage had been absolute shit for years. Which is saying something cuz we’d only been married for about ten. He hated Junior and baby Anna. Heaven forbid Anna made a single noise at night. He’d wake up like he was waitin for it, Stevie, then he’d just yell at her like them drill sergeants do on ‘Two Weeks in Hell’. He did the same thing with Junior, but I guess Anna doesn’t learn as fast as Junior did cuz Junior stopped cryin’ after a few months of being home from the hospital.
“But I kept goin with it, Stevie! After all Mickey was my husband! I had to love him. He knew better than me, right?” She paused waiting for an answer from the lawyer, who said nothing. “So one night, I was cookin dinner. Mickey was still at work. Junior was watching the TV and Anna was in her high chair, playin round with her Cheerios.
“The baked ziti is in the oven, Junior and Anna are both occupied, so I think to myself, ‘Oh what the hell? I’m going to read my goddamn magazine!’ So I go and sit down in the dinin room. All innocent right, Stevie? Well, bang! Mickey throws open the front door and comes storming in, yelling bout some awful assistant he got at work. Y’know he was the manager of Lakowski and Sons Construction? The biggest construction company in all of Newark, it was. Anyway, guess he had some shitty day at his shitty job where he does shitty work for his shitty salary. Then he finds me readin’ my magazine. Knowin’ Mickey, I set it down and get up to give him a lil sugar. But no no no! He starts bitchin’ bout how he smells something burnin’. Now I get up and smell the same thing so I go to check on the ziti and guess what, Steve? It’s a lil burnt. Oh no, whoopdy fucking doo.
“But knowin my ‘lovin’ husband,” her fingers made air quotes as she spoke, “I apologize real quick. But is that good enough for Mickey? No. So he hits me. A great right hook to my eye.
“I’m losing it now. Mickey has hit me before, but it wasn’t over fuckin’ ziti! So we’re yellin’ at each other and lil’ Anna is cryin’ and Junior’s locked himself in his room cuz he’s seen this same shit before. Mickey’s goin’ crazy, callin’ me names, and throwin’ shit. Now this stuff was normal when he gets mad. Lord knows how many damn IKEA lamps we’ve broken. But Anna is cryin’ in her chair and Mickey turns around and smacks my baby girl across her face.”
She stopped. Looking at her lawyer, whose face had turned white as a sheet.
“Nobody hits my baby when she ain’t even doing nothin’ wrong. I mean- ha- Anna has been cryin’ since day one, but Mickey never hit her until now.
“Over some burnt baked ziti.
“So I hit him. I finally did it, Stevie. I hit Mickey so hard my knuckles hurt. And, damn, did it feel good to finally do that. I was giving him what he’d been giving me for years,” she cracked her still bruised knuckles.
“And I just kept goin’. I couldn’t stop. Before I knew it, he was on the kitchen tiles, nose bleedin’, eyes barely open. Stevie, I didn’t even know I was that strong! Now I’m standin’ over him and I’m yellin’ about how much I hate him and I’m thinkin’ he’s knocked out and so I just say that I want a divorce. I felt like it needed to be said y’know? But I didn’t really feel like I meant it.
“But that sure woke him up quick.
“He smacks my knee and I fall down. Goddamn that hurt, Stevie. He knew I have bad knees. But now we’re on each other’s level . Me on my knees and him trying to stand up. So I just push him! Push him hard away from me. I just want away from him. And you know what he does?” she stared into the lawyer’s eyes, daring him to answer. “He falls over and cracks his head on the corner of the oven.
“I wish he didn’t die like that.”
“I wish I could have killed him better.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t tell the judge that, Nikki.”
By Hope Fletcher xoxo
I sit by the windowsill. Father yells at me. I refuse to listen to him. I close my eyes, the darkness surrounds me.
Father is at work today. Silence. Peace. I find myself sitting at the windowsill again. I watch the empty street. I close my eyes, the darkness surrounds me.
Father comes home early from work. He yells at me again. It is noon. The sun makes heat waves on the asphalt outside my window. A girl drives by, the windows of her car rolled down. Her hair is red and beautiful.
Father tells me he was fired yesterday. The company had too many workers. It had to happen. Father leaves to find work after two. I sit by the windowsill and wait for him.
Father came home late last night. He yelled at me. I’m not worthy of his kindness, he told me. He should have put me up for adoption, he said. I go to bed. I sit by the windowsill. The girl with the red hair drives by in her car. I envy her.
Father still can not find work. We receive a notice from our landlord. Two weeks to pay our bills. Father cries. Not at me, but for himself. He is full of self pity. I do not envy him. The girl with the red hair drives by again. This time she uses her turn signal indicator. I wonder where she is going.
Father looks for a job today. I went outside today. He does not know. He will never know. I sit on our front lawn. I see the red haired girl as she drives by. I wave at her. She smiles at me. I go back inside. I look around our house. If you could call it that. Dirt cover the area. Everywhere I go is messy. I return to the windowsill. I close my eyes, the darkness surrounds me. Blocking out the hell in which I live in.
Father hit me today. Someone saw me yesterday. No one is supposed to know I live here. My face is red and puffy. I can’t tell if it is like that from the tears or from the force of his hit. I sit by the windowsill. Father comes up from behind me. He closes the blinds. I don’t deserve to see the outside world, he tells me. I disobeyed him. I sit on the floor and cry. I want to see the red haired girl. I want to envy her. I want to be her friend. I do not know what a friend is. I want to know.
Father did not want to leave me today. He leaves anyways. He has to find a job, he justifies. I go outside again. I do not fear the punishment awaiting me. I see the red haired girl. She does not drive today but she runs. What is she running from, I wonder. She waves at me. I smile at her.
Father does not know I went outside again. I want to keep it that way.
He left this morning. Off to find work again. I do not miss him. I go outside. Today, I walk around. I see a bird and a squirrel. I did not know there were squirrels here. I read about them in books. I pick up a flower.I throw it on to the road. The red haired girl drives by today and smiles at me. She runs over the flower.
Father found work yesterday. He starts next week. He is frustrated by this fact. He wants to start now. We’re going to have to move. I do not want to move. I cry. I had the red haired girl to keep me company now. He does not know about her. He tells me to start packing. I have nothing to pack.
Father is at work. I go outside. I see another bird and another squirrel. The girl with the red hair drives by. She is on her cell phone. I hear sirens wailing. I go back inside.
Father works again. I go outside. I do not see the red haired girl. I throw a flower into the road again. I do not see a bird or a squirrel.
Father comes home. He yells at me. We received another notice, reminding us to leave. I cry. I must see the girl with the red hair again.
I sit by the windowsill. Father is at work. I see a couple drive by in a nice car. The red haired girl is in the back seat. She looks like Father just hit her. I cry for her. I hope her father does not hurt her too.
We have three days left until we have to leave. Father wants to leave tonight. I gather my belongs. He puts them in the car. We say nothing. We leave. I close my eyes, the darkness of the road surrounds me.