GOODBYE, CRUEL RICHARD
Faye looked up from where she stood on the steps of the front porch. The wetness of an early afternoon found her in the calm before a violent storm. From a great distance, she saw a blue-black mass that churned its way towards her. Faye thought it looked more like a bruise than a hurricane. The wind whipped her hair against her expressionless face and began to jostle her. Soon it will be here, was all that she could think. It would be sudden and frightening and beautiful. And then it would all be over. She returned to her perch, a rusted iron swing by the front door, and kneaded her filthy hands.
Bill had slapped her in the face a few days ago. Hard. He said that she made him do it, that if she had done things right, there would have been no need to ever hit her at all. That was the heart of the problem between them as far as he was concerned: she kept saying and doing things that upset him. If she'd stop, they could be happy. After he left, as Faye lay on the couch with her head back to stop the bleeding, she realized that after ten years of marriage, she couldn't hear his apologies anymore. She had shut out so much of what he said and did that in a way, he wasn't ever really there until he took a swing at her. Which was probably why he hit her so often.
She wished she had the guts to kill him.
They had been happy but somewhere in there, they began to argue a lot. One day, Bill hit Faye and she didn't do anything about it. The next thing she knew, ten years had gone by.
When she awoke in near darkness the way she always did, when she felt him reach for her and pin her to the bed and pry her legs open and climb on top of her, Faye thought about having him killed. But then with her luck, she would get caught and have to go to jail for the rest of her life, or fry in the chair. So she began to consider other options.
She was watching the weather report one afternoon when she remembered a story she'd heard, about a neighbor's best friend's cousin's ex-girlfriend's neighbor. She got caught in a hurricane and was found several states away. Battered and bruised, broken legs, completely disoriented--but alive. That's when Faye realized that, although she was terrified of planes, she'd always wanted to fly. She decided that if the hurricane came close enough, there would be a flying lesson. She could hardly wait.
Faye had taken every precaution. Everything was unplugged, cleared away, set aside. Windows and doors were flung open as the wind whipped its way through the house, searching for something. Faye scrambled into a pair of steel toed boots, a large woolen sweater and finally a leather jacket. As an afterthought, she grabbed Bill's motorcycle helmet before heading outside. Maybe it will take me to a Chinatown somewhere, she thought to herself as she put on the helmet and stepped out onto the road in front of her house. Or someplace up North. Jersey or something. Anywhere but here.
The sky turned sullen. As the wind shoved her, she stood there, legs apart, arms akimbo, mesmerized by the fury that surrounded her. When she was small, they gave hurricanes female names but this one was named Richard.
" Don't that beat all?" Bill laughed one evening as they ate supper and watched Richard's progress on the news. "A homo hurricane."
Faye looked at the back of his head and thought, Who are you and why did I marry you?
The question fell between them like a brick. She wished she could hit him with it.
Faye leaned into the wind and staggered towards a clearing nearby. This is fun, she thought, and she laughed. That's when she heard Bill's voice, calling to her from somewhere near the front yard. He was waving to her, then walking towards her gradually, spewing obscenities. Something about you crazy dumb bitch, are you nuts, I'm gonna beat your ass. Something like that. He came home early from work and how he's going to ruin everything, Faye thought. So she began to run towards Richard. As she did, she involuntarily cried out for help and fell into a ditch, with a resounding thud. Startled and frightened, she pressed her face into the soft wet ground and sobbed uncontrollably. It was the very first time that Faye had ever done such a thing, in all the years that her husband had known her. Bill stopped for a moment, stunned.
By the time he realized what was really going on, it was all over.
All kinds of things seemed to be going up, up and away, into the darkness above them. Rooftops. Cars. Dirt. Animals. Bill was carried away, kicking and screaming, lost in the ever-widening swirl of debris that lifted itself higher and higher as it moved farther away until it was finally gone.
Faye closed her eyes and waited her turn but fortunately Bill was the last one scheduled for take-off. After a few hours, she worked her way out of the ditch and limped towards what was left of the house--her house now. It would be awhile before anyone found her. May as well wait out the rescue effort from the front porch.