The Gift of The Intercom
LC Van Savage
“I should never have gotten that @#$^& thing for her,” the stooped and angry man muttered as he shuffled into the kitchen. “Now she can get at me anywhere.” And as if on cue the newly installed intercom squawked out his name and he held his ears. “Harry! Get up here NOW! And bring me that sandwich fast, or else!”
When she got sick, Harry had hoped his wife of 47 years would just die, but she didn’t, and in a moment of weakness with hopes it would maybe make her be nice, he installed a cheap intercom system in case she really got sick and needed him. He would most obligingly have limped up the long staircase to watch her die, but she never did. She just kept on screaming orders at him just as she had when she was not sick.
The marriage was bad from the first and Harry realized he’d made the mistake of his life. But her parents had spent so much on the wedding he felt guilty about wanting to leave, so he tried to learn to live with his wife who tormented, shamed, embarrassed and hurt him increasingly. The emotional pain she inflicted on Harry got more creative as the years passed and she began to physically hurt him too, taking joy at tripping him, pulling him by his nose, twisting an ear as she passed by the kitchen table where he sat, knocking his tea onto his lap, poking sharp things at him, not hard enough to draw blood but enough to hurt.
“I am being abused” Harry kept telling himself, but he was afraid to leave because she swore if he left her, she’d find him and make his life a worse living hell and he believed her. Harry knew there was no escape.
They never had children, another reason for her to shame him by shouting in front of open windows in the summertime that he was “not a real man” and could “never have gotten her pregnant because he was a useless piece of garbage” and that she wished she’d found a real man with real man “abilities.” He’d beg her to stop, to shut the windows so the neighbors would not hear, but this made her scream out more demeaning remarks about Harry. The neighbors quite enjoyed Harry’s humiliations, thinking it was his job to man-up and make her stop. But he never would. He’d escape early in the morning to get to his job but she called him all day and screamed at him and everyone at his dull job could hear.
Now as his wife faked sickness she screeched constantly into the intercom from her bed. “Harry! Where are you? I need you! Bring me something to eat and make it snappy.” “Harry! Where are you now? I need some ice cream. Hurry. Get it NOW!”
“What was I thinking? I can’t escape her. Not here, not in the basement, not in the garage. She can scream out with that voice and find me, no matter where I am!” And he pressed his hands to his ears again but could still hear her.
It took ten minutes to kill her that night with the poker because she fought and screamed and screamed, her blood splattering the walls and bed and even him, but he didn’t care. Harry rolled her into a plastic shower curtain and dragged the grisly bundle into the basement where he pushed her into the hole he’d dug deep into the earthen floor that morning. He packed the cold, dark dirt around her and then took two days to cover the floor with concrete so smooth it was like glass. Harry was so proud of himself and was able to work with no screaming voice to hurt and humiliate him. He was finally at peace.
Every night after this, Harry would sit in front of his old phonograph and listen to the beautiful music he’d loved all his life but was never permitted to hear. He dozed one night in his recliner, the music soft and lulling. His eyes popped wide when it happened;
“Harry!!” the intercom screamed. “Where are you? I need you. Bring me ice cream, NOW!”
©2016 LC Van Savage
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