The children were still, beyond all
reason, bouncing off the
walls when Ted brought them home from their trip to the zoo, Baskin
and the park afterwards. Ted was completely exhausted, and
the children should be as well, but years of parenting had taught him
Heaving a sigh and dropping his windbreaker unceremoniously over the
of the couch (an action sure to raise his fastidious wife to the
of annoyance), Ted headed to the modest bar in the dining room, where
fixed himself a strong drink.
“Daddy, it’s too cold in here,” came an
indignant voice from
waist level. Ted turned, rubbing his eyes, and looked down at his
“Your mother probably just opened the windows
to air the house
out. It was a nice day,” Ted explained, feeling the cool draft
“Well, it’s cold now.”
“I know, dear. Go put on a
sweater.” He spoke louder
so that the slightly older boy could hear in the next room, “And then I
want both of you to sit down at the table and do your homework.”
“Where’s mommy? I wanna show her Mr.
girl said, holding the new stuffed tiger up so daddy could see.
Ted could hear water running upstairs.
“It sounds like
she’s in the tub. I’ll go up and tell her we’re home and that you
brought home a real tiger.”
A dirt-and-sand-covered boy came into
the kitchen, “Ewww!
You’ll see her all naked!”
“Eww, yuck,” Ted said, “It looks like you’re
the one who needs
the bath. How do you manage to get so dirty?”
After a handful of minutes, Ted managed to get
the children to
sit down and pretend to do their homework. When he thought they
going to sit still for more than two minutes, he picked his drink up
the counter and headed up the stairs to say hello to his wife.
The large house was built into a hill, so that
the master bedroom’s
rear wall was on a ground level. Large bay window and a patio
out onto a nicely landscaped back yard with a clean blue swimming
The bedroom door was propped open with a large stuffed bear against the
draft from the open patio door. Ted stepped in.
“Honey?” he called, “We’re back.” There
was no answer.
Ted doubted he could be heard above the running water, and assumed that
his wife was dozing lightly in her scented bath bubbles. Ted sat
down on the bed and stripped off his socks and shoes, and tossed them
a pile along with his pants and shirt. He was getting up to take
his bathrobe from his closet, drink in hand, musing over sentimentally
tacky things to say when he entered the bathroom, when he noticed a set
of light muddy footprints leading in from the patio door. A similar
wetter and streaked randomly with red, led out again, spaced further
as of someone running. They appeared to be boot prints, large
It didn’t make any sense, and Ted followed the first set of prints with
his eyes to the large dresser behind him. He noticed for the
time in the dim evening light the half opened drawers and jewelry
on the floor around it. The muddy prints were smeared here.
His entire being tensed as he strode quickly
across the room
to the connected master bathroom. The door hung ajar, and there
vague wet bare footprints leading out, which ended in a shuffle off mud
and dampness. The door was splintered along one edge, and there
a hole at face level in the center of the door. All of Ted’s
thoughts of sex were replaced by a suffocating dread. The sounds
of the children downstairs and the birds singing in the crisp spring
were drowned out by the sound of blood rushing in his ears.
Drink long forgotten, but still in hand, Ted
pushed the door
open. The bathroom was large and carpeted, with a large skylight
above, large mirrors, and polished brass gleaming on the sink
The large bathtub was separated by a wall and frosted glass door.
Ted moved through a haze to the door, sweating now, too frightened of
he was going to see to call out to his wife. He was dimly aware
the water still gushing behin that door. The carpet in front of
was soaked black with water. After an eternity approaching the
his bare feet making squishing noises in the cold drenched carpet, he
his cold hand on the handle, fumbled it as his sweaty palm slid across
the brass, and finally managed to push the door open to the usually
shining condition of the bath area.
One step into the roomy alcove, the glass slipped
out of Ted’s
hand. He didn’t notice it, as his mind raced, taking in the scene
The huge mirror behind the pocelain shelf on
his right was shattered
in a sinister spiderweb from a smashed, small hole in the center.
There were streaks of crimson across the shelf, smeared across the
of jagged prisms of the ruined mirror. On the oppposite wall,
wooden towel racks were broken. One hung on is fastenings in two
jagged pieces, the other was splintered, and missing the dowel.
wall was punched through in several places, a few fist sized, more
as if they’d been made with a length of pipe or crowbar. Two more
bullet holes glared at Ted like eyes from the wall. There were
handprints of blood on that wall. One, slightly larger than
just below shoulder height, as if a man had leaned against the
The other, lower and smaller, was streaked downward, ending near the
rim. The floor sat under an inch of pink water, which flowed
Ted’s feet as the roaring tub continued to overflow. The water
freezing. Some part of Ted’s mind told him the hot water must
run out quite awhile ago. The toilet was destroyed. The
was punched through with what looked like one more gunshot. The
and lid were ripped half off, and sat askew, overhanging the rim of the
bowl, which was cracked in one place. There was a splattering of
blood across the rim, thick and dark red. Blotches of red hung
in the bowl’s water.
Directly in front of Ted, the bathtub was the
last place his
eyes passed over. The tiled wall was chipped and smeared in
with blood. The shower curtain was hanging by one ring, torn
and thrust aside. The curtain rod was bent in the center.
streams of water were shooting from the shower head, which had been hit
with some force, and was bent at a sharp angle toward the ceiling,
itself was darkened with water. Drips of plaster fell from it,
in circles in the tub, and flowed in little white currents toward Ted’s
ankles. The meticulously polished brass of the taps and the tub’s
faucet were tainted with more of the taunting red.
Ted allowed his eyes to drift along with a clump of
toward his wife.
The drink glass impacted the edge of the
counter beside Ted,
bounced, and spiraled downward again, its amber contents flying out of
it in strings of drops to sprinkle Ted’s legs.
The soap bubbles reached Ted’s wife, and he
stared at something
he wouldn’t really see for several seconds.
She floated in the still blood-darkened pool
of her bath, naked.
You’ll see her all naked! His son’s voice
banged and echoed through
his head. Her lower back was across the tub’s rim, her legs
out at strange angles, one foot propped on the remains of the toilet
Her thighs were cut and bruised, stained with her own blood and
else Ted didn’t want to admit to himself. Her head rested in the
back rear corner of the tub, eyes open and staring blankly at a point
the toilet. Her hair clung to her face, and was matted around a
gash where her face had been slammed into the toilet rim. The
towel rack dowel floated near her right hand, and the towel she’d had
around herself when she’d come out of the bathroom was draped over the
rim on her left. There was a messy line of blood leading up from
the back of her head, some of her hair clinging to it. A bullet
was centered with it just at her hairline.
The event flashed through Ted’s mind
uninvited. The horrific
scene told its own story. Quiet bath alone, getting out of the
tub to get a book or a cigarette, the screams and shots after the
in the bedroom, and the final fight, rape and murder, all these things
rushed through Ted’s mind’s eye.
The glass smashed on the floor, its remains
dancing in the currents
of Ted’s bride’s life.