by Dameion Becknell
Narrated by Bob Eccles
Pendleton County Psychiatric Ward. A white room with soft-blue trim and one tinted window. An armed guard stands beside the locked door. The woman seated over the desk from me, she says Please state your name.
And I say Eunice Cecil Fanny.
That is not your name she says, terse, matter-of-factly, and perhaps even a little snide. Her hair is pulled up into a tight bun atop her head, like a black brain that has somehow grown outside of her skull, and her eyes are shit-brown behind her smart glasses. Her lips, thin and severe-looking, seem incapable of forming a smile. I hate the bitch already.
I say You’re the one asked for my name. It’s Eunice Cecil Fanny.
That is not your name. Again, short, terse.
I look away from her. I look at the guard beside the locked door, the floor, anywhere but directly at her. I feel at the whittled-down, sharp-tipped toothbrush lodged deep under the skin and muscle of my right thigh, and then I tell her that maybe she’s just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I tell her I don’t much like her face.
The guard beside the door moves timidly in his stance, unsure or dumb or maybe just a coward.
She asks Are you aware of a condition called dissociative identity disorder.
She sighs. She says to me What is it that you are thinking right now? Can you tell me?
And I say Yes. We will kill you.
I’ve known Eunice now for about eleven years or more. Fanny, she come along some four or five years ago of a hot night in August. Maybe it was 2007. Maybe not. I can’t be so sure. It was real hot outside though, the night she come along. I remember that, and how later on in the night, how we killed that famous rock-n-roll singer, out there in Owensville. I’m left to reckon if maybe he wasn’t from around them parts, visiting family or whatnot. I don’t know.
The three of us walked by him along this alleyway, just behind Goldie’s Pub. This was in the night when this happened, and them sodium lights looked an awful lot like dirty-yellow linens from overhead. I remember that. And how he kinda just stood there, twitching like a fly on sticky paper.
He said, “You all got any dope, man?”
Mother as my witness, that’s how he said it. Just as easy as if he’d known us all his natural born life.
Fanny giggled, said, “You looking for some action Jackson, or are you out to bale Dale?”
“Come again,” he said, short-like, the way a person will when he’s both irritated and confused.
His long blond hair kinda seemed to catch hold of the dirty light from overhead and sort of hang onto it. So when you got to looking hard at it, his head was like a mess of crimped wires all lit up from the inside out. Hell, it damn near got to where only thing you could notice was all his big, frizzy, glowlight hair. It about liked to of drove me nuts.
He said, “Do you know who I am, man?”
“No,” Eunice said, his voice just as rough as sandpaper across a dry board. “Who is it you claim to be?”
“Carson Ortiz,” he said. “Lead singer of Crow Dust, man. You’ve heard of Crow Dust, right?”
He looked god-awful under them dirty lights, standing there, dope-sick and all out of sorts; kinda like a shivering junky skeleton inside all that bad hair.
Fanny said, “That’s a big nope to the dope, mister.”
I said, “And we ain’t never heard of no rock band like the one you say, neither.”
Although the truth of the thing was that we had heard of that band, and plenty.
“Real big,” Carson Ortiz says. “Yeah. Real big time act. We rock the fucking world, man.”
Eunice asked him, he says, “Tell me, are you right handed or left handed?”
Carson Ortiz shut his mouth and kept it there. Eunice, myself and Fanny, we held quiet too. You could hear somebody yell inside the pub and then there was just the silence. Small, faraway music from the jukebox. A car motored along the street with its horn going.
Fanny said to him, “I could go down on you. Right here, if you like.”
“What?!” he yelped, like she’d just told him to wrap his lips around hog balls or something.
Eunice barked, “What, you don’t think she’s good enough for you?!”
Carson Ortiz said, “What the–”
“Yeah,” I said. “Sing your way out of this one, Big Hair.”
“What the hell’s your problem, man?”
“You,” Eunice said, and his voice carried like something out of a grave.
“I’m out of here,” Ortiz said, and made to move forward, went sideways, hesitated, stopped and said, “Just what the hell is your problem with me, man? You know who I am?”
“Maybe you’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Eunice said, cool, calm, and just as cheesy as some dude from a spaghetti western flick. “Or maybe I just don’t like your face.”
Carson Ortiz, with a dumb look splitting his face into a low, tight frown, he says, “You watch a lot of too many movies, don’t you? Coming off with lines like that. What the hell, man?”
We kept our mouth shut.
He said, “Look man, I just want some dope. That’s all.”
It was Eunice brought out the long blade.
I hollered, “Don’t do it, Eunice. It ain’t never once been worth it.”
I can’t recall just what it was Eunice said to me–reckon he told me to shut up–but I do remember how all the blood shined like motor oil under them dirty lights from overhead, and how Carson Ortiz kept right on wailing Dope–just some dope. Awe man! C’mon, man! The blade, every time it hit home, it made this squishy thudding sound. One time it even made the sound of ripped paper.
But yeah, that was a hell of a hot night in August when all that Ortiz stuff went down.
That was the night Fanny come into our life.
Pendleton County Psychiatric Ward. A white room with one dark-glass window. Blue trim. Soft on the eyes.
The woman across the desk from me, she says Share with me a few of your major concerns in life.
I say Everybody all the time saying go go go! and stop stop stop! I mean, how do we know when to stop or go? That’s my only question. I have a lot of questions, sure, but that’s the significant one for right now. Say it, and we will hear it, but it still doesn’t make any sense.
What else does not make sense to you? she asks.
Bills. I say There’s another one to keep you on your heels. Electric bills, water bills, the garbage man bills, mortgage payments, credit cards, car payments, taxes, taxes, and more taxes; toiletries, food, drink, kid-costs, womanly-costs, self-costs; and so it is that every fucking thing costs something.
She says Do you consider these to be articles of great concern to you, then?
Are you deaf, lady?
She scribbles on a piece of paper, looks down at her lap, over at the guard, and then back to me. She says What is it that you want to do most right now?
I waved the pistol in the counterwoman’s face, asking, “So, are you right handed or are you left handed?”
You could hear the rain pelting the station roof overhead, coming and going in torrents of slashing nonsense. It came in such ways that you could picture the wind folding the rain into contradictive sheets along the rooftops, the pavement. Then the rain ceased altogether.
Again, I said to the counterwoman, “Are you right handed or left handed?”
She didn’t answer. Maybe she was playing dumb, or worse, ignoring me. I couldn’t be so sure. I could feel blood rise hot into my face.
Fanny said to the counterwoman, “I hear people next door. What’s next door to this place?”
Still the counterwoman didn’t answer.
It was a small-town convenient store in Amelia, Ohio; four miles west of Owensville. Beyond the adjacent doorway, the same one that Fanny had mentioned, you could hear what sounded like a man and a few small children. You heard how some kids program played loudly over a television.
I said to the counterwoman, “Maybe you should fucking answer her.”
“Sir,” the counterwoman said with great desperation. “I am so confused right now.”
From outside I heard a distant roll of thunder pull closer, gather, swell to a rippling crescendo overhead, loud and immediate, and then it moved onward, away, lagging in the greater distance beyond. I recalled how my grandfather used to always say that thunder was the angels bowling in heaven. Then I remembered just how many times my grandfather had molested me and my brother and my cousins, sometimes all of us at the same time, as a group, and then I remembered how full of shit he had always been.
“What’s in the side-room?” I asked the counterwoman.
“Nothing,” she said. Her voice proved an inferior liar to her face.
I said, “Nothing is unknown, naught, zero. There is definitely some things in that room.”
Fanny said, “Is it another establishment, or do you live– Is this a family-owned store?”
I said, “When I was nineteen, I sawed my grandfather’s head off with a hacksaw. Of course, that was after I’d already poisoned his morning coffee with rat poison. Nowadays, you know, nowadays I wish I hadn’t poisoned him first. But I’m content with having used a hacksaw. Messy.”
The counterwoman, she just glared at me, walleyed.
Just when I started to think it peculiar that Cecil hadn’t opened his big mouth yet, he said to the woman behind the counter, “This heat is causing your hair to curl up at the ends, you know? Just a little bit. Still looks full and shiny, though. It’s got a good natural curl about it. I can tell that. I’m real good with hair. You use straightening gel or a flat-iron on it?”
I said to Cecil, “Would you shut your hillbilly, wannabe coiffeur mouth for a change?”
I could feel Cecil’s hurt; him blushing from the inside out, like a sudden hot rush of blood in your veins.
He said, “You ain’t gotta be eight kinds of asshole about it, Eunice.”
The counterwoman stood there the way statuesque just stands there. She even had this granitic look about her.
Fanny moved for the side door.
“No!” the counterwoman said with hopeless urgency. “You can have all the money, all the goods, whatever. Please . . . just take what you came for.”
The grin Fanny wore looked more like something dirty smeared across her face. When she spoke, her tone matched the dirty grin: “I assure you, I intend to take just what we came for.”
I said to Fanny, “If you’re too long in there, even a minute too long, then I’m coming in after you. Bring them all out here, with us.”
The counterwoman croaked something unintelligible, her mouth pulled tight as a red ribbon that had been slashed or gruesomely arranged there.
I held the pistol out before me, said to the counterwoman, “If you move, I will shoot you in the right knee, then your right elbow, then your right–”
Cecil said, “Dang, Eunice, why’s it always gotta be the right side of everything for?”
“Shut up,” I said.
The counterwoman whimpered a litany so low under her breath that I could not distinguish one word from the next.
Cecil asked of her, “You throwing spells down on us, lady?”
Fanny went to the door, opened it, looked back slyly over one shoulder before pulling the door after her. I counted the passing minutes.
The blood roiled hot behind my face, seeming to poach my eyeballs.
I counted off what might have been eleven minutes in passing before she came back out the door. She stood there, in the store again, the door behind her half-open, which let on to a living area where a television indeed played some kids program. A cartoon. It might have been SpongeBob. Maybe even Scooby-Doo. A man stood beside Fanny. He wore a green t-shirt and no pants. His shoes and socks were still on though, his mouth gagged with what I took to be his own underwear, spit and tears running down his face and over the gag, which clung like thin clear stalactites from his chin. His hands were somehow kept behind him. His penis looked used up by recent events, warped, half-swollen and bent out of true.
I knew what she had done in there.
“You crazy, whorish bitch,” I said.
“Gee wiz, daddy-o,” she said. “Hit me with words that hurt, why don’t you.”
The woman was gone from behind the counter now.
Cecil said, “I can’t hear them kids back in there no more. Fanny, why is it I can’t hear the kids no more?”
Fanny said, “Shut your mouth, Cecil.”
I peered hard at Fanny. I said to her, “You know that I’m going to have to kill him. You know that, right?”
She said, “You do the ladies. I do the fellas. That’s the deal, right? Speaking of which, you seem to have lost your lady.”
I glanced out the big store window, could see how a light fall of rain had started outside, and how the counterwoman was ducked just behind an ice machine, peering in, watching me, watching her half-dressed, violated husband; and how her eyes were vicious-looking in the watching. I knew she could not leave off from this place anymore than a statue could will itself to depart from its mount. After all, everything that she held close to her heart resided here–whether it be dead or alive.
With her face leaned at a ludicrous angle from just around the ice machine, I shot her through the window glass. She tumbled backward into the coming rain and just lay there, her face near-gone; her worry and her stress and her compassion for the people dearest to her all gone. Then I shot her husband in the throat, all but decapitating him.
Cecil said, as if he hadn’t even heard the shots, he said, “No, really, why is it I can’t hear them kids back there no more, Fanny?”
You can’t stop looking at the dead cop sprawled in the street. His arms and legs are hacked from his torso, placed wherever happenstance has arranged them, and his head, well, you have shot it so many times now that, no matter how hard you try, you can think of no better simile to describe it than a tomato smeared across the concrete. He’s just one good torso laying there, suited in his ragged blues. You have inflicted this gross damage with the long blade and the one pistol you always carry.
You are in the city of Cincinnati, on Vine Street, and no matter how much you try to focus on this one massacred cop, you cannot for the life of you ignore the legion of police cruisers and armed cops, or the wail of sirens that now surround you, how each one of them has his or her weapon pulled, held on you alone. In seemingly every window of every surrounding building there are pale faces twisted with both worry and curiosity. These are the faces of common people met with the uncommon. It’s like being in a spotlight. It’s like theatre but only better. It’s real.
The guy over the bullhorn says, in a voice both mechanical and grim, he says, “Put the weapons down and place your hands on your head.”
You say, “But I’m just a lady.”
And everyone of them look at you like your crazy.
He says, the guy over the bullhorn: “Put both weapons down, back away from the officer”–meaning the butchered cop–“and place your hands on your head.”
You wonder if the cop’s face isn’t kind of cute behind that bullhorn.
You bring to mind exactly how you got to this point. The bank job. The nine or more hostages. A pregnant woman that you shot in the stomach. The three guards. And now this spoiled cop, out here on Vine Street. How he’d tried to stop you when you made your initial break from the bank. The cop, well, he was ugly even before you shot him in the face, and so you feel somewhat vindicated by the fact that you have erased something hideous from the world.
“I did everybody a favor,” you shout. “He was one ugly son-of-a-bitch, I tell you. Said his name was McCreevy. . . . And you gotta admit, that’s even an ugly name, daddy-o.” You tell them your name is Fanny, but that we usually just call each other Eunice Cecil Fanny. “That’s what they call us,” you shout.
Your eyes become suddenly transfixed on a certain police officer. He is common only in that he has his pistol drawn, his stance concrete in its task; yet for his strong jawline, his hazel, deep-set eyes, the way his mouth kind of curls up on the right side: with the acknowledgement of these attributes he becomes instantly special, beautiful, and so he has been particularized from out of the flock.
And as you are held in check by this one cop, you feel the multiple prongs from the stun-gun embed into the good flesh of your back, one in the upper portion of your ass. You feel how it feels like being hit with a swarm of oversized bees. And you are jittering, spastic, floating, numb atop a smooth and subtle wave of concrete, comfortably forgetful of who and what you are. Then you fall into utter blackness.
When you awaken, you are confined to a white room. Just you, Eunice and Cecil.
Ah, alone at last.
Pendleton County Psychiatric Ward. Soft blue trim lining a white room, squaring it off into neat, unified sections; just the way life is often times thought to be compartmentalized, categorized, put into neat shapes. There is the comfortable nothingness of the one dark window. An armed guard beside the door. The woman across the desk, she asks did I kill all those people for the thrill of it, the emotion, or the just the circumstance of it.
I really can’t understand what she’s asking me.
She asks What is your name?
I say Eunice.
Is that your true name, Eunice?
Are you sorry for the crimes you have committed, Eunice?
No. Crimes are judgments passed by people who fail to notice them for what they really are.
What are they, then? . . . What is crime to you, Eunice–what does it mean?
Crime is a personal passion unfettered.
What do you mean by that, Eunice?
You know damn well what I mean by that, lady. And you need to stop calling me Eunice.
She peers at me, asks What is your name?
Is that your true name, Cecil?
You can always ask my mama.
Are you sorry for the crimes you have committed, Cecil?
What crimes? I ain’t done nary a wrong thing in my natural life.
She says Do you also call yourself Fanny?
Bitch I say I will kill you and your children then take your husband for myself.
The guard shuffles in his place. The woman over the desk, she peers at her pen and paper for what feels like a long time. I see water come into her eyes, and then her eyes become hard with determination.
She says Is that what you want to do, Fanny?
I do what I want, daddy-o.
Are you bisexual then?
I say Lady, you call me that one more time and I cannot promise you that I won’t come over this desk.
She says Am I now talking to Eunice or Cecil?
What do you mean?
She gazes at me. Then, calmly Well, you were just speaking in a feminine voice, and now you are speaking in your normal male voice. So, I’ll ask again. Am I speaking to Eunice or Cecil?
Whom am I speaking with, then?
I don’t say a dang thing.
I do not shape an answer.
I seal my lips like an envelope to some adolescent love letter writ in the echoing nostalgia of youth’s hallway, boy to girl, girl to boy; letters of full bloom, recollections of almost any man or woman’s sweet, sad, haunted reckoning. Sealed.
She asks Are you familiar with a condition called dissociative identity disorder?
Should I be familiar with your lingo, doc?
She sighs. She says It’s otherwise known as a multiple personality disorder. It’s extremely uncommon.
And that means what to me exactly? You saying I’m uncommon?
Something akin to a smiling grimace crosses her lips. Then she asks Tell me, what is it that you want to do most right now?
The guard moves in his stance, coy, doubtful. I pull the whittled-down, sharp-tipped toothbrush out of the flesh of my right thigh, and there’s a greasy wet-sound that comes along with it.
I say to her We want to kill you.
BIO: Dameion Becknell is the author of over a hundred short stories and a half-finished novel, none of which are worldwide bestsellers. In his free time he likes to sit nude and scribble odd elliptical patterns on cave walls using sidewalk chalk, crushed raspberries, and Washable Markers. While this activity is not yet world renowned, it does garner a whole lot of attention. He lives in Covington, Kentucky with his son (Little Big Man), and he also has a seriously smoking-hot sexy best friend/girlfriend that he will someday soon call his wife; should he be so lucky. His half-finished novel is not available from Scribner or Vintage or Avon, or any other mass market publication, but it never hurts to daydream.