Rumley didn't come out of his room for three days. Jeremy got up and went to work and came home and ate supper and acted like nothing happened. Like he hadn't humiliated Rumley, or mortified me, or made an ass of himself. I did what I always did in times of crisis - I baked. Cookies and cakes and pies, sat outside Rumley's door in the morning and taken away, untouched, each evening. On the morning of the third day, I was desperately making Rumley's very favorite pumpkin muffins, when Jeremy breezed by with his stupid smell and popped one in his mouth. And I swear, that was the very first time I thought to myself -
This fucker's gotta die.
Now, I suppose that some of you might be wondering why I didn't just divorce Jeremy. I guess I could have. I could have endured the nastiness and the custody fight and the mental anguish that Jeremy would put me through. Because he certainly would have. He would fight me out of spite, not because he cared about our marriage or our son, but because he cared about making me suffer.
Still, better women than me had done it and come out the other side.
But the truth of the matter was, I just wanted him dead. Jeremy was a Grade A Piece of Shit. He was hateful and a drunk and, at the very least, strongly disliked by everyone who knew him. The only person who loved him was his meanass mother, and if I could have figured out a way to kill both of them at once, I would have. I started to think of it as community service.
Part of me wanted to just go at his head with a sledgehammer as he slept, but that would be messy. I wanted him dead, but I didn't especially want to get caught. I thought about car accidents and hunting accidents and toaster in bathtub accidents and all the ways normal, healthy people die when there's not someone trying to kill them. I finally settled on the first choice of husband killers since time immemorial, poison.
I went to the library two towns over and researched poisons. I went three towns over to buy them. I drove four hours into the mountains, where buying tarps and ropes was a common occurence, not the act of a desperate woman planning to off her spouse. I bought the tarps because, frankly, I wasn't sure yet what I was going to do with him. Burial seemed too risky, a lye pit seemed too prehistoric, and chopping him up into little pieces and burning him bit by bit over time seemed, well, it seemed a little too gruesome. I had the axe sharpened while I was out, just in case.
The perfect poison needs the perfect delivery system. Something irresistable to the victim. Stupid Jeremy loved my pumpkin muffins, and their spicy goodness would be the perfect disguise for the shitload of poison I was going to put in there. Jeremy had a habit of unhinging his snake-like jaw and inhaling an entire muffin. I wanted that asshole dead before he hit the floor.
It happened on a Friday. Rumley was headed to band camp for the weekend, and Jeremy wouldn't be home until late. The house was sparkling, and smelled divine. Cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin, arsenic - but mostly the first three. I pulled the muffin tin out of the oven and sat them on the cooling rack. I felt giddy, alive for the first time in years! You're going to die today, stupid stupid Jeremy! All the times he hit me or pinched me or talked to me like I was less than. That time he stuck his foot out and tripped me in front of everyone at my birthday party, then pretended not to notice me lying on the ground, Mostly, though, for hurting my son. Mostly, for ruining the best chance Rumley had to be better than his father. Unforgivable, I thought, and placed a warm, deadly muffin on a plate.
The doorbell rang and I saw the policemen on my front porch. My stomach lurched and my hand trembled as I reached for the door. They know, they can't know, they know, they can't! There was an old cop and a young cop, and they looked very serious, They were polite, and asked to come in and talk. The older one took me by the elbow and guided me to a spot on the sofa where I don't usually sit. He sat in my chair. Everything was backwards and I suddenly wished Jeremy were there to talk for me.
"It's about your husband, ma'am."
"I'm afraid there's been an accident."
Maybe if I just repeat the last few words of everything he says, I'll figure out what the hell is going on here.
"I'm sorry to tell you that your husband walked into the street downtown and was struck by a bus and killed."
I could see Jeremy now, crossing against the signal. Probably talking on his stupid phone, probably saying something stupid. People say it all the time, you could get hit by a bus tomorrow, but you don't actually expect a person to get hit by a bus.
It was pretty fantastic news, for me at least. I sat there chewing on my thumb, trying to work up some tears for the policemen. Trying hard not to show how excited I was. Just then, Rumley came through the front door. He looked at the policemen, then at me - "Mom? I forgot my bag?" He said it like a question. He said it like what he was really saying was 'what in the fresh hell is going on in here?'
"Honey," I said hoarsely, "grab your bag and wait in the kitchen, and I'll be right there." My son looked confused, but did what I asked. He was a good boy. We were going to have a good life together, just the two of us.
"Ma'am," the policeman said, "Can we call anyone for you?"
Party rental? Cruise line? Dom Perignon himself, if he was an actual guy?
"No," I whispered. Inside I was planning the rest of my life.
Pumpkin muffins, my favorite! I heard Jeremy say in my head.
Except it wasn't Jeremy's voice, it was Rumley's.
And it wasn't in my head, it was in my kitchen.
"RUMLEY!" I screamed, and the world went black.