Wednesday, April 11, 2012

j is for jugular

A-Z CHALLENGE (hosted by a variety of writers) : April's task is to write something, anything using the letters of the alphabet as an inspiration for each post. In honor of one of my favorite authors, I will use Sue Grafton's title set-up: J is for... K is for... L is for... (and so on.).

Clara walked into the staffroom, at the preschool where she worked, to put her valuables in her personal locker. She said hello to the several women sitting down, eyes transfixed to the television. None of them responded to her greeting, not even with a wave of their hand. Clara sat down, figuring she best listen to what was so interesting on the local news.

"They are calling him the Jugular Killer," the reporter stated, seriously. "The latest victim was discovered late last night......"

Once all the information had been given, the small group of women began discussing the case, wondering how many guys would have to be killed before the police captured the person responsible for the deaths that were occurring regularly, for the last 6 months.  The Director wondered, "why only men?"

Just then, they heard the jiggling of the glass door, assuming it was a parent trying to enter the school, to drop their child off, before rushing to work. Clara walked quickly towards the front of the building, unlocked the door, and greeted the families with a gentle smile. "Hi, Miss Clara!" students said, as they walked to the mudroom to remove their coats, and sweaters, hanging them in the closet built specifically for their pint size.

Clara was a very pretty girl. She was tall, about 6 feet, with deep red hair, and slender. Many people have told her should could be a model. And, although those comments are flattering, she has no interest in being noticed for her looks. She'd rather that others consider her as intelligent.

Her coworkers, the parents, and especially the kids adored Clara. To them, she seemed pleasantly happy, and interesting, in spite her aloofness; her stand-offish behavior. Many women, and especially men, wondered why she wasn't in a relationship. She never gave them a detailed answer whenever someone asked; rather, she'd simply say she preferred her independence.

After a hectic, but very productive day at work, Clara put her feet up on the ottoman as she slouched down on the denim covered couch. The news report was on, again, reviewing the events regarding the strangled man. "I don't know what happened," the dead man's distraught girlfriend cried. We had a fight, and he slammed the front door behind him. About 20 minutes later I heard someone scream...." She couldn't finish. She covered her eyes with the palm of her hands, pressing them hard.

"He deserved it," Clara reminded herself.

Six months ago her mother was killed at the hands of her abusive husband. Clara's stepdad. It didn't matter how accommodating her mother tried to be, if he found any kind of fault, he'd begin by belittling her, and finally giving her a harsh beating. As a child, Clara hid in her bedroom closet listening to her mother's anguish, unable to do anything to help her.

Six months ago Clara had her first kill. Her stepdad. As he stood over her dead mother, angry, yet crying how sorry he was, again and again, over and over, Clara reached out with a surprisingly powerful grip and choked the hell out of him. Leaving his lifeless body slumped in the corner of the kitchen, near the trash can.

Something changed in her that day. Something menacing took over. She decided right then and there, that no matter what, she would never let any man threaten a woman.

Without turning off the TV, before Clara fell asleep on the couch, she wondered if she'd ever find solace, and some kind of true happiness.

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