Norma was a bitch no matter how you looked at it. A god-awful, razor-tongued, snooty-nosed bitch.
Of course, Squinch Campbell hadn’t known that when he married her. Like everyone else in town, he had thought he was one lucky son-of-a-gun to be getting such a fine, upstanding woman for a wife. How could he have known that behind her angel face hid the daughter of the devil himself?
God almighty, the woman was downright mean. She was gonna drive him to an early grave, most likely planted right beside them other three husbands of hers.
If he didn’t get rid of her first.
Squinch had never contemplated murder before marrying Norma Bindie; why he couldn’t even so much as squash a bug. But he’d never had anyone pick and peck at him constantly, criticize every single thing he did and didn’t do, all the while looking at him like he was a pile of dog shit they had stepped in.
Norma had been sweet as sugar until he slipped his dead mama’s wedding band on her finger; then she had turned into Mr. Hyde’s twin sister. She moved into his house, a two-story Victorian he had inherited from his dear mama, and took over like it was her own. She did the same with his bank account. She took and took, but gave nothing in return other than sarcasm and insults.
She was smart, though, he would give her that. No one but him ever saw her mean side. He reckoned only her husbands had been so privileged in that department.
Now here he was one year into wedded bliss, and was losing his hair, had developed tremors and eye twitches, suffered migraine headaches, and was nursing an ulcer the size of Texas.
Something had to give.
There was no option but to kill her. She had already told Squinch in no uncertain terms that if he filed for divorce, she would take him for everything he had. And he had no doubt she would get it. All she had to do is bat those baby blues, shed a few tears, maybe show a little cleavage, and any judge in these parts would give her anything she wanted. He should know; she had played him, and most likely the three fellas residing in Cherry Creek Cemetery whose graves she cleaned and tended the first Sunday of every month.
But how to do it?
Poison was out of the question…too easy to trace. A car accident? He didn’t know enough about the workings of a vehicle to pull that off. Hire someone to do it? With his luck, he would proposition a cop posing as a hit man. Had seen that happen on TV. Every plan Squinch hatched, almost immediately he saw the pitfalls.
Until Norma handed him the solution on a silver platter.
They were at a dinner party hosted by the bank president, Daniel McFee, and his wife, and as usual when in public, Norma transformed into winsome Dr. Jekyll, treating him like a king.
About halfway through the meal, a little rat-dog darted into the dining room, yipping and yapping to beat the band. Norma scooped it up and started blubbering baby talk to it. Squinch saw the way she looked at the little mutt, all lovey-dovey like, and knew what to do.
He called Olivia McFee the next morning, and asked where he could get a dog like hers—a Chihuahua, she called it—and that afternoon drove into the city and purchased one. It barked the entire forty miles back, and Squinch was hard pressed not to strangle the damned thing. He had always disliked small, nervous breeds.
But he could put up with it. For a while.
When Norma came back from her weekly tennis game around sunset, she scowled at Squinch, her eyes thin slits of suspicion, when he told her the dog was a present. And for a few days, she was standoffish to it. But it wasn’t long before she accepted the dinky Chihuahua, and soon it was jumping up on her lap every time she parked her butt. Then she named it Prince and started taking it with her everywhere she went, its head poking out of her humongous snakeskin handbag.
Squinch saw the adoration in her eyes when she looked at it, and it looked at her the same way. On the other hand, every time he got near, it snarled and barked like it wanted to tear him a new one. He didn’t mind. He hated it as much as it hated him. All that mattered was that Norma loved the little bastard and that everyone who knew her, knew it.
Squinch stood in the hallway, his back plastered against the wall to one side of Norma’s closed bedroom door, listening to her cooing to the rat-dog. Today was the day. He was ready.
Her voice got louder, the door opened, and she stepped out, the Chihuahua cradled to her breast like a baby.
He watched the sway of her hips beneath the zebra-striped robe as she walked away without seeing him. Took in the glossy fall of white-blonde hair cascading down her back. Remembered the porcelain skin and luscious lips. Thought about what could have been. And sighed.
Then the rat-dog poked its head above her shoulder, spotted him, and took in barking.
Squinch moved fast, coming up behind Norma at the head of the stairs. She whirled around just as he was about to push, her big eyes rounding in fright.
He didn’t hesitate; his hand shot out, contacted a full breast, and shoved.
She dropped the Chihuahua. In his peripheral, Squinch saw it flopping down the staircase, heard its yips of pain. She staggered but didn’t fall, and he saw she had snagged the banister with one hand.
Norma glared at him, her perfect features twisted with hate. And she kicked, landing a jarring blow to his shinbone.
His leg almost buckled; he stumbled back.
And she came after him.
A small fist connected with his nose, fingernails raked his face.
Squinch howled, both in pain and in anger. Damn the woman! How was he gonna explain the scratches? The dog would take the blame for tripping her and causing her to fall down the stairs and bash her head in—and it would be bashed in, one way or another—but how was he gonna pass off the claw marks?
She kicked again, a kneecap this time.
Why did she have to make everything so hard?
He swung, his fist plowing into her face, and damn, it felt good. Blood spurted from a split lip. A laugh bubbled up in his chest and spilled from his grinning mouth.
Norma staggered back, reeled off the banister, and came down hard on her butt. In two long strides, Squinch reached her, grabbed an arm, and yanked up. Time to finish it.
God almighty, she was a handful…twisting, jerking, kicking, swinging. But he held tight, ignoring the pain inflicted by her flailing hands and feet, and finally managed to pin her arms to her sides and her back to his chest. He inched toward the top of the stairs.
And his foot came down on something soft, moving.
He stumbled. Backpedaled. His feet tangled. And arms windmilling, he fell backward.
He had a flash of the rat-dog’s teeth bared in a triumphant grin, then he hit on his back, his feet coming up over his head, and he was rolling down the stairs. Pain exploded in his shoulder, his elbow, his hip. A bone snapped in his forearm. His head smacked something hard. A sickening crack, bright lights.
Norma placed a single red rose on Squinch’s ornate, marble headstone, brushed a tear from her pale cheek, turned and walked away. After raising his hind leg and letting go right about over Squinch’s face, the rat-dog trotted after her.
Never brought me a rose.
Didn’t shed nary a tear for me.
What did you do to rate marble?
Squinch turned a deaf ear to Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s (that’s how he had come to think of Norma’s past husbands) incessant whining; he had bigger fish to fry…two of them, in fact.
One was choking the life out of the four-legged bastard that had killed him, and the other was getting even with Norma the Bitch.
There was no way in hell he was gonna rest easy until he accomplished both.
©️2019 KT Workman
Photo via Pixabay