For Elise Willis’ 15th wedding anniversary her husband gave her a black eye. It was her second in three weeks. “Barney, hear me out!” She said, returning home after the bastard had her arrested on false charges when she tried to leave him. “I’m—”
He struck her face with his fist. Kicked her in the shin. She fell. He stood there, laughing as she cried. The obese brute cast a huge shadow over her. “Think you’re gonna leave! HA!” He said, “Where you gonna go? Your Momma’s? She’s in the nuthouse now!” He laughed. “That’s probably where you belong!”
She didn’t know which hurt worse, the throbbing pain in her face or his cruel words. Elise sat there crying he walked out, and slammed the door. Off to the bar again. Off to meet another hussy. At least he’d be someone else’s problem tonight. She dried her tears on her sleeve.
Elise rose and went in to the kitchen to put an ice pack on her eye. The sinking feeling that there was no way out of this horrid marriage made her sick to her stomach. That night, as she lay in bed, she prayed for divine intervention.
The sun was shining brightly for a cold February morning. Elise awoke to the sound of her husband’s roar. “Bring me my breakfast, you skinny skankface!” It startled her from sleep. Her face still throbbed. Elise sighed, getting out of bed, brushing her long straw-blonde hair out of her eyes. She looked at her face. Eyes blotched from crying and still sore and bruised from where he struck her. “What’s taking you so long?” Barney shouted. Elise rushed into the kitchen. She winced as she walked past him, fearing yet another mean spirited and undeserved blow from his right hand. The big ogre leaned back on his chair, so that it balanced on its two back legs. Some day that chair is going to break from him sitting like that, she thought to herself. It would serve him right.
Then, she heard a creaking noise. Then a bang, as his chair broke underneath the weight of his immense ass. He crashed to the linoleum. She snickered.
“What’re you laughing at?” He said, glaring at her.
“Nothing,” she murmured in her usual timid manner. She knew by now not to make a bad situation worse.
“Forget it witch!” He said as he got up and dusted off his shabby suit. “I’m going through the drive through on my way in town. I don’t have time for your undercooked, salmonella infested eggs and your overcooked sausage. I’m getting’ my fat arse to work. You know, doing that thing where I make money so you can sit here and spend it on those home shopping stations!”
She rolled her eyes, “Hope your mood improves.”
“It will when I get out of here.” He held up his arm. She flinched, in fear. He laughed. “Wuss!” He called her, as he stormed out, slamming the door.
“Whatever,” she sighed from relief. She heard tires screech, as his blue Subaru pulled out of the garage onto Martin Lane. “He’s going to get into an accident someday.”
A bolt of red-hot lightening shot down from a clear blue sky. It struck the ground at the top of 5th Avenue in a small town that could be labeled “Anywhere, USA.” There was no rain, no thunder. Bobby Petersen stood at the bus stop; stared ahead, with wild-eyed amusement. It was amazing, and shone like a blood-red ruby. It had not been there a minute ago.
“WHOA!” The young boy exclaimed. The car of his dreams; that is, when he’s old enough to drive.
Elise finally got to have her cup of coffee. Naturally, she had to make another pot because Barney had consumed it all. Now was the only time of day she would have to herself. If she wanted to laugh about the way things used to be, or cry for the way things had turned out she could. And there’d be nobody here to make her feel uncomfortable. Nobody could tell her she was childish, or stupid, or crazy. Nobody would tell her she’s just being a drama queen.
Elise poured the coffee into a cup which was stained from years of use. She added artificial sweetener, and went to lift the cup of the steamy hot beverage to her lips.
Suddenly, she heard a loud SCREECH! CRUNCH! BANG! She jumped, spilling the coffee all over her pajamas. The burning feeling made her shudder. “Oh, crap. Could this day get any worse?” She ran into the bedroom, and changed into a sweatshirt and old worn-out jeans. She hadn’t had a nice outfit on since their third anniversary. It was the last one worth remembering; at least for her. She walked back into the kitchen. By now, she heard sirens. A police car and an ambulance raced down Martin Lane.
She finally got herself that much-needed cup of coffee and moved to the window. She spotted the local gossips, ambulance chasers, and other nosy types all standing on the corner of Martin and 5th with their arms folded. Some shook their heads. Morbid curiosity got the best of her. She threw on her coat, stepped into her tennis shoes and walked down to the corner to find out what was going on.
Margie Bell, Elise’s least favorite person, was standing there with two other housewives. “OOOH, Elise!” She said, moving straight toward her in that typical boisterous way. “I’m so, so sorry dear,” she said as she patted Elise on the shoulder.
“Huh?” Elise said, notably confused. “Margie, what’s going on?”
“It’s Barney…” She pointed to the scene of the car accident.
Sure enough, Elise saw the smashed up blue Subaru wedged between a telephone pole and a bright red Ferrari with merely a few dents on it.
“How…How…?” She said, in a hushed voice.
The sun was so bright it created a glare against the snow which only added to the haziness. She felt as if it was a dream. “Why does that sports car have so little damage to it, compared to Barney’s?” She wondered. “Where is the driver? And what about Barney? You’d think he’d be stomping around and screaming by now.”
“I don’t know, dear.” Margie said, “That red car just came out of nowhere!”
Paramedics pulled Barney’s lifeless, bulbous body out of the driver’s side door. The expression on his face looked angry, sneering. Like it had so many times when he was angry at her. She warned him that someday his face would freeze that way. She left the group of busy bodies, and moved closer. They covered his whole body with a white sheet, including his face. She knew what that meant. It was official. Barney was dead.
A police officer approached her and asked “You are his wife?”
She was unable to speak at that moment. She nodded. Then she murmured “Yeah.”
The officer kept talking but the words he said seemed like static. Inaudible. She was mesmerized by the red Ferrari. She stared in amazement. It shined like a ruby in the sunlight. The snow around it glistened like diamonds. She stared at it, and tried to hide the turned-up corners of her lips from her officer. Her hand covered her mouth, as she kept repeating “Oh, my God! Oh my God!”
She noticed the license plate of the bright red, glimmering jewel. KAR-MA. Does it say what I think it says? Am I seeing things? “Karma!” Elise said. “The license plate says karma.”
“Indeed it does,” Said the officer. “Are you going to be okay, Ms. Willis?”
“Yes.” She sighed, still staring at the license plate. Then, she gazed up at the sky. “Someone up there is watching over me.”
Karma also appears in my short story collection Black Widow & Other Tales