The Elephant In The Room



Scene Title The Elephant In The Room
Synopsis William Dean has found his.
Date September 21, 2009


The faucet always leaked. It's the first thing that sound reminds him of, that constant drip of the garden spigot. The sun shines bright through dusty windows, the way the garage always was. In a way, the scent of oil and gasoline brings him back to that day too. As real as the sharp pain in his forehead when he hits his brow against the underside of the Chevy Nova. "Ah fer' fuck's sake…" Plastic wheels roll across concrete, and when William Dean slides out on a creeper from beneath his car, there's a red scuff mark on his forehead and a small scrape of blood. Thick fingers daub at his brow, one hand on the dirty floor as he pushes himself up to sit straight.

It's only now, dabbing his fingers at his brow and checking them for blood that he realizes how low the sun has gotten on the horizon. Tired eyes squint at the afternoon glow, head tilted to the side, lips pursed together. An oily rag is produced from his pocket, dabbing at sweat on his forehead, pulling himself up to his feet with a roll of one shoulder. "S'fuckin' hot out today ain't it Mike?" Blue eyes turn to a mechanic leaning under the hood of an old pickup truck in the garage. The younger man hesitates, turning to look over his shoulder to Bill, smiling crookedly.

"Go'n outta' here Mikey, yer' shippin' off to th' sandbox next week. Go home an' see yer little girl, yeah?" The oily rag is balled up in Bill's hands, shoulders rising and falling in a shrug. Mike cants his head to the side, offering Bill up a nod and nothing more than a smile as he watches the older man shuffle out from inside of the garage's bay doors to the street. Sixteen days he's been working on that piece of shit car, sixteen days of slouching sales and long nights. Looking around at the car lot, there isn't much he can think of that keeps him here. The buzz of his phone in his pocket, however, reminds him why the village of Sleepy Hollow still matters.

"Hello Chestnut!" Both of Bill's brows go up as he shouts the embarassing welcomg into his phone, a smile rising up onto his lips. The voice on the other end is a grounding force for him, keeps him here, keeps him in a relationship that hasn't worked for almost as long as she's been alive. "How's my little girl doing eh? You home?" The question's a loaded one, he doesn't care where his daughter is, he cares where his wife is, what she's doing.

A smile is offered to the air, weaving between a pair of used cars as he listens to her, the smile more genuine than any of the words offered to her. Helena knows just how strained the marraige is, and somehow it's the fact that she knows that makes it hard for Bill to explain how he feels to her. It makes it hard to be a father, when all his daughter sees is how he's strugglingto be a husband. But there's still that struggle, if nothing, he's taught her perseverence. One day he'll learn to regret that decision.

"Well, don' forget I've got you for the weekend. M'just gettin' out've work now, so I'll be by t'pick you up in just a little bit'a time. A'went grocery shoppin' this time too, so we won't have that problem we had las' time, yeah?" The smile he offers her over the phone to her response is followed by the way he's tried to end his conversations with her for months now. The same words, ones she might not well believe;


"…A'love you too Chestnut." The words come out of parched and dry lips, sweat beading on a reddened brow, head lolled back against the arched back of the folding chair. One arm lays slack at his side, fingers twitching, and the way Bill Dean's eyes remain half-lidded means it's not the peeling wallpaper of an abandoned life-insurance firm in the ruins of midtown that he's talking to. It's his little girl. Not far away, a bubble rises in the nearly empty water cooler.


The afternoon resembles something out of a fairy tale. Rays of sunlight filter through the branches of pine trees, dandelion seeds seem to hover weightlessly in the air along with the glimmering wings of dragonflies, and Evelyn is in her garden. The yellow of the sunlight, the orange of the sunset clouds, it all contrasts against how red he recalls the tomatos looking. They hang red and plump on the vine, glistening with beads of water. The hose has been unscrewed from the spigot, but that valve never turns shut all the way.


When his brows tense, there's a coarse gurgling sound at the back of Bill's throat. Thick arms reach up into the air, fingers curling at phantoms just out of reach, hands trembling and eyes almost closed. With pupils unfocused against the hazy light that comes in thorugh the venitian blinds, everything seems more real— more like then— than it really is.


He's coming out of the house, buttoning his shirt, too-perfect hair messed up, washboard abs too sweaty despite how warm it is out. Dark brown hair with those fucking blonde hilights never pissed Bill off as much as they do now. The way Evelyn smiles reminds him of times he can barely recall, trips up to Vermont to watch the colors turn on the trees in the fall, trips out to the cape in Massachusetts, the first giggle his little girl ever gave. He made the first mistake, the way the marraige collapsed was Bill's fault, but it doesn't make realizing that his wife has moved on without him any easier. Only now can he feel the way his heart raced back then, the way blood pumps up to a round face and turns it as red as those tomatos, the way irrational rage and territorialism gets his blood boiling. Bill can feel his feet as heavy as lead as he watches Evelyn stand up, reaching out for him with one hand, brushing the stubble on his chin, the face that doesn't belong to her husband, the face of a man ten years younger.

He can't blame her.

But he does.

"You bitch!" The words come out as naturally as breathing, "You bitch!" Bill spits the words out as a hand wipes at his forehead, eyes bloodshot and vision blurry for the moments it takes tears to well up in his eyes. Proof exists only in the look of shame, guilt and surprise that crosses Evelyn's face, crosses the face of a man he never even learns the name of.

By the time Bill gets running, he can feel his blood pounding in his ears, feel the way his heart races and pounds against his sternum. All his weight is thrown at the sweaty stranger, a fist to his perfect jaw, a fist into one of his brown eyes turning it black and blue. They're both on the ground, the grass is cold, wet, but all he can feel is hot hot the sun is, and hot hard his knuckles smash into the man's face, and how Evelyn's arms wrap around him and try to pull him off.

The screams are still muffled, no matter how hard he tries to remember, her last words to him are something that escape like grains of sand between fingers. He turns around, an elbow to her nose, enough to water her eyes and bloody her upper lip. Even as Evelyn's staggering back, even as Bill struggles to remember her last words to him, he can remember his last words to her;


"I hate you…"


Anger wells up inside of Bill's chest, it's like a sickness that burns at his windpipe, causes his eyes to boil in their sockets and his skin to prickle with tingling sensation. By the time he sees Evelyn's friend getting up off of the ground, it's already too late to stop what happens next. The way he swaggers over to her, opens up his arms, the way she starts to walk towards him only to feel his thick fingers around her throat, thumbs pressing down on her windpipe. Bill's world turns upside down, fear replaces anger, cold replaces hot, black replaces white.


There's no shame in the way his lower lip trembles, the way eyes wrench shut and the salt of tears will add to the mustard stain on the collar of his shirt. Fingers curl around the sides of the chair, muscles tense, whimpering words plead out helplessly, "Stop." His mouth says no, but his body says yes.


Seven more people show up too fast, each one of them in a spitting anger. One of them finds the garden shears, and Bill's too transfixed on the way the tomato plants are attacking the man trying to strangle his wife. He can see coils of green wrapping around his throat, tomatos bursting to reveal slimy fluid and seeds, roots pulling up from the ground. It's not enough.


The vomit that comes reminds Bill of how it felt to run away.


Somewhere in the living room, Bill can see Deborah Cushing baring down on his wife, coming at her with those garden shears. He can feel everything, the hate, the anger, it's like a tide that crashes over his own fear, revulsion and horror. In the afternoon light, Bill can remember the way his wife's blood looks on her yellow dress, like tomatos and sunset. He can hear her muffled screams, the shears go in and out of her abdomen, rupturing flesh and letting blood as dark as ink spill out of her belly.


The floor of the office is cold, and his chair has toppled over. Curled up in the fetal position, Bill can almost taste the hatred and anger from the night before, can almost feel the resentment, anger, and betrayal. It's like it just happened, and in the back of his mind he can dully recall how empty that house felt the night afterwards, how he could never call his little girl Chestnut again. The ragged, breathless sob that comes next is punctuated by the feeling of worthlessness and disgust, but the steaming pile of yellow and brown next to where he lays shows that he has nothing left to throw up. Somehow the skeleton of a life he managed to put together after her death — after her murder — never managed to match up to the original. No amount of substitutes and surrogates felt like how his wife and daughter felt.

The feeling of emptiness in the pit of his stomach that comes next proves that he's never going back to that life, not after this, not after tonight. The empty syringe on the floor next to him proves something else…

…and the tiny, irridescent blue droplet clinging to the needle proves even more.

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