For Better, or Worse?

By Talia Cydney

Willing expedition of the approaching sirens, I knelt by Ellie’s bruised, bleeding body. 

“You’re next, if you don’t disappear,” Karl growled at me, fists clenched. I was going nowhere; I knew he would finish the job if I did.

“Please,” Ellie moaned, “just go. He’s been inside for manslaughter before. He will kill you.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, but I still couldn’t bring myself to walk away from my best friend. We’d been here before, the three of us. She had only been married three months, and already it had come to this. I clenched the leash of Ellie’s alert, quivering German Shepherd, Sam, the only thing between myself, Ellie’s wide-eyed psychotic husband, Karl, and his escape route.   

“You heard her, she disrespected my mother. She had this coming.” He boomed, flailing his hands, ice blue eyes bulging like billiard balls.

“No, no one deserves this no matter what she allegedly said. You could have killed her.” I snapped back.

“Next time I will and there will be a next time. She got off lightly.” He looked smug.

“Not if she presses charges and I back her up. I know this isn’t the first time, but I’ll try damned hard to make sure it’s the last. You’re going back to jail where you belong.”

“She wouldn’t live to press charges, and neither would you. Don’t you remember your close encounter with my pick axe? Do you know who I know?” Karl dropped his cigarette butt and snorted derisively, head tilted.

“Yes,” I said, “but I still came back so perhaps the question should not be who do you know, but who do I know?” My stomach was lurching, but Karl didn't know that. This wasn’t the time to show fear, or back down to bullying; a bluff seemed my best shot.   

Illuminated only by blue flashing lights, I stared defiantly into Karl’s eyes, inches away. Sam tugged at the leash.

I acknowledged the doubt that flitted momentarily across Karl’s eyes. Smoke curled methodically around his lips as he exhaled slowly. 

“Bring it on.” He growled menacingly.  The gauntlet was down.

I stared back, rebellious, “I intend to.”

Karl stared at me from the back of the police van. The doors shut. I knew in my heart this wasn’t over; Ellie was already defending his actions. 

Twenty-nine years have now passed. Karl was right; it wasn’t the last time. He never did go back to jail, and Ellie never did live to testify. I never saw him again, thankfully. I don’t know if the rebel in me could have stayed the course.

defiance, bravery, friendship