When was the last time you locked your car?
If you live in a big city, that’s a rather dumb question. Of course you lock your car. When the streets regularly run red with blood, it would be foolish to set a trap for yourself, wouldn’t it?
But not everyone lives in a big city. Not everyone even lives in a big town.
There are bound to be some people out there like myself, living in a village of less than 1,200 people. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine walking through town and knowing the names of every person you come across? Growing up always looking at the same small collection of streets, the houses forever unchanging? It is a special kind of hell, one that I am very well acquainted with.
The worst part about small towns, though, is the drama. Everyone knows everyone else’s business. You can’t take a shit without someone talking about the smell. And the worst kind of shit is love affairs – they come with the added benefit of trying to find a partner who isn’t related to you some way.
I found one such a boy. Tommy Allou, who came with a set of dark brown eyes, black hair, and slender wrists. He was a foreigner, at least to us: His parents had moved from Mississippi. They could never really be a part of the town because their roots lay somewhere far away.
Not that it mattered to me.
We were together since freshman year. He was just my type; he was different than the farmer boys that drove their tractors to prom and slapped my ass as I walked down the street. He read books, actual books with no pictures, and wrote poetry. Oh, sure, it was terrible poetry, but at least he wrote SOMETHING. Most importantly, he knew about life beyond this shitstain in southern Minnesota.
I always imagined he could take me away from here.
That was, of course, before he betrayed me. Do you know who he cheated on me with? Annika Reese. ANNIKA. REESE. That rich little farmer’s brat whose daddy’s dairy farm supplied almost all the milk in the state. I always thought Tommy liked girls who could actually read, who had ambitions. Turns out, Annika’s double-d’s and gaping cunt rated higher than having a brain.
I went from love to hate overnight. It’s a thin line that divides them, of course. And dancing along the line is never any fun.
So I pushed myself towards hate. And I pushed hard.
Tommy may have come from some big city in Mississippi, but he adapted to our ways quickly enough. He stopped minding the smell of pig shit in the mornings. He threw out his fake cowboy boots to avoid becoming the laughingstock of a real country town.
He stopped locking his car at night.
They say that revenge is a dish best served cold. That, of course, is bullshit. Revenge is best when it’s molten, all your hate blinding your inhibitions. It allows you to do things you’d never have done were your conscience intact. Of course, the downside would be the danger: Crimes of passion are most often perpetrated by criminals who get caught.
A few nights ago, I snuck out to his car. I made sure to go when it was dark, but early enough that he wouldn’t be needing it yet. He’d be hopping in his car and sneaking out to meet Annika around midnight, once her daddy was asleep and she was safely on the loose.
I had about six tins of Planter’s Peanuts. For four years, I didn’t eat any peanuts. Tommy is deathly allergic, you know? He can’t even be near the peanuts without his throat clenching up.
I put most of them in the backseat, pouring them on the floor of the car. Their salty scent dispersed into the thin air like poison. It was poison. After I’d poured all six of the tins – it was almost overkill, with how thick they covered the floor – I pulled an old snot rag out of my pocket. I wiped out the inside of the tins, making it greasy with peanut oil.
I caressed the steering wheel with the rag, spreading the oil all over its shiny surface. My heart was beating fast with excitement. The car was truly glorious, a deathtrap if I ever saw one.
After that, I waited.
I waited in Old Miss Mary’s bushes. The old bitch is blind as a bat, she’d never notice me. No one would. When night fell in the little town, everyone retreated into their cozy rooms. The evil that lurks in the darkness of small towns is far more sinister than any commercial New York murder that plays for weeks on the news.
It’s a secret evil.
I waited for a few hours before I saw him stepping out of his house. The awful surge of hatred that overtook me reminded me of how much I used to love him. How much I still loved him, I guess. Love and hate are two sides of the same coin. The person you love the most is also the person you hate the most.
I let all the hate descend upon me at once.
I watched him open his car door. He paused for a moment before sliding behind the wheel – my heartbeat quickened, as I was sure that I’d been found out. Much to my relief, he simply shook his head and got into the car. He must have been in a hurry, for his defenses to be down like that.
He drove for a few feet before the car coasted to a stop. I watched him flip on the interior lights, his mouth pulling the shapes of a few well-known expletives. I used to love that mouth. Now, I felt a chill of pleasure as he took his hands off the wheel and plastered them over his face, a misguided attempt to protect his mouth.
I smiled a bitter smile as he pushed open his door and fell out onto the street. He floundered for a while, a fish out of water, a cheater out of his element. I could hear the harsh whistling in his throat before it closed off for good – thank God.
It was done.
They found his body the next morning – no one looks outside for the monsters in the dead of the night, you know.
There’s only one person in the town who could have done this, only one person who hates him enough to have killed him. You may be expecting the police to have knocked on my door after they saw the salty death crouched in his car. You may be expecting my face to be plastered all over the news.
But then you’d be expecting the town to give up one of their own.
His death was ruled an accident – the strangest accident that ever hit the Allou family, but not the strangest to occur in the small town. Such incidents are common here, and they’re all buried in the graveyard just off of Route 25.
The Allou family has been screaming for my blood, of course, but the police shut them down pretty fast. Soon enough they’ll leave this hellhole in a huff, their bloodlust curbed by the terrible ache of their grief.
As for me? I’ll always be safe. I hate this small little slice of hell, that much is clear. But there is one thing that I can take comfort in: The town will always protect their own.