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COLD-BLOODED KINDNESSNeuroquirks of a Codependent Killer, or Just Give Me a Shot at Loving You, Dear, and Other Reflections on Helping That Hurts
By Barbara Oakley
Prometheus BooksCopyright © 2011 Barbara Oakley
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA KILLING IN MILLARD COUNTY, UTAH
I don't know why we're here, but I'm pretty sure that it's not in order to enjoy ourselves. —Ludwig Wittgenstein (Wittgenstein also noted: "A good guide will take you through the more important streets more often than he takes you down side streets; a bad guide will do the opposite. In philosophy I'm a rather bad guide.")
Carole Elizabeth Alden stood scared in the shadows, a sweaty target in the cool Great Basin evening. She had spent the evening slipping from room to room, always one step ahead, trying to remain unseen.
The caged rats, dead several days now, were drying. But the lizards were alive—alert and nervous in their separate cages. The snakes waited motionless, their pit organs attuned to the heat of potential victims.
But rats, lizards, and snakes were the least of Carole's worries. She was a tiny thing—a whisker short of five feet. Her husky husband stood a foot taller—if he wanted to, he could wrestle her to the ground in a second. If that happened, there was no telling how things would unfold.
In their cages, the lizards skittered again.
She could hear Marty coming down the narrow hallway of the double-wide trailer that was their home. At least, until their real home could get built. Marty, she knew, was strung out on his favorite trio—alcohol, marijuana, and methadone. That was always when things would be their worst. Carole tried hard to keep her children shielded from the worst, which is why she had sent the ones still living with her away for the weekend.
Carole's children meant everything to her.
She tensed in the shadows.
Carole was handy with a gun; she had used one before to kill coyotes. Even so, her hands leapt up with the kickback, as if someone else had taken control of them. The blast happened too quickly for her to process—all she could hear now was the ringing.
When she looked at Marty sprawled on the floor in front of her, she was scared.
Marty's body was flaccid, as if he'd just passed out in a drunken, drugged stupor. Again.
She watched. A minute passed. Or maybe it was hours.
His shirt fluttered. A breath? An errant breeze from the air conditioner?
Maybe he wasn't really dead.
She had to make sure. Didn't want to come close until she was sure.
She needed a pillow.
Moments later, one was in hand.
She squatted low in front of Marty and propped the pillow against the top of his head, which was lying right eye down, tilted toward his chest. Then, still squatting, she aimed the muzzle of the Smith & Wesson .38 at the pillow and pulled the trigger. The bullet drilled parallel to the floor through the pillow. It bored through the crown of Marty's skull and into the softness beneath. In less than a hundredth of a second, Marty's ability to speak, if it had even remained, was wiped clean. Vanished, along with his sense of logic, numbers, and ultimately, self. Damage done, the bullet slid through the roof of Marty's mouth, blowing out under the left side of his chin.
The gunpowder smelled oddly like urine. But it was hard to tell—the house itself smelled like death.
Carole covered Marty with a blanket so she wouldn't have to look. She was tired now. Very tired.
She awakened with a start. Sliding from the couch, she realized she had to get Marty out of the house. Fast.
Carole was petite, but she was also strong. She was used to carting Marty around when he'd passed out. She'd done exactly that when she'd picked him up from the middle of the street earlier that evening—with a little help from bystanders—and stuffed him in her Jeep to haul home. But she'd never realized before that dragging a living body is different from toting a corpse in rigor mortis. Marty's two hundred–plus pounds had become pure stiff dead weight. No matter how she tugged, pulled, or wrestled, she couldn't seem to move him.
Rope. That was it.
The new lariat was stiff—perfect for her purposes. She lifted the blanket and slipped the loop around his feet. Alternately pulling and pushing, she was able to inch the lasso farther and farther up his body. It rested finally just beneath his armpits.
Then she went outside to clamber into the Jeep—a gift from her sister and brother-in-law to lift her from her hardscrabble life. Counter-cranking the steering wheel, she backed toward the house, twisting to look through the dusty rear window.
With the Jeep now as close as she could get it to the back door, she jumped out to hook the rope she had snaked out the door onto a tow strap, then around the trailer hitch. She was back in the Jeep within minutes.
Bald tires whined against the gravel, spinning uselessly against the weight of the body.
Marty wasn't moving.
No go. Damn!
The tires skidded and spun in the gravel, their last bit of tread finally gaining traction, thrusting the Jeep forward.
Inside the house, the rope sawed taut with a hissing zzzzz against the doorframe. Marty's body sprang into motion, careening in a momentary resurrection against the row of cages stacked against the dining room wall. The snakes recoiled, hissing. Marty's body bounced back toward the foyer, leaving a trail of blood and taking out a bookcase as it careened its way toward the back door.
At the threshold, the body stopped momentarily—jackknifed against the bulging aluminum frame of the doublewide. Then, with a thwap, Marty's torso gave just enough, his body sailing out into the yard, taking out a back porch support post on the way.
There. Marty was out.
She jumped out of the Jeep and went around to stare at the body.
The next part wouldn't be easy.
Excerpted from COLD-BLOODED KINDNESS by Barbara Oakley Copyright © 2011 by Barbara Oakley. Excerpted by permission of Prometheus Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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