The Color of Jealousy
by Jenny Decaillet
"Damn" . . . she thought . . . "I blew it again!"
Resting her head against the cold hard iron bars, she felt an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, along with anger at her obvious lack of self control. Once again she had proved them right, despite all the hours she'd practiced her answers to the questions she knew they would ask, despite the vow she had made to herself to give them the answers they wanted to hear. Once again she lost the battle to regain her freedom . . . She knew the game. She'd tried playing it before, and lost. This time she thought it was going to be different. When they asked if she were sorry for what she had done, she had told them yes. But that wasn't good enough for them, they insisted she be more specific.
"Are you sorry for the murder of Juanito Chaves?" they asked.
"Yes," she had answered, offering no other explanation.
"What would you have done differently, if that same situation were today?"
"I would have left."
"Left, where would you have gone?"
"I would have gone to a shelter for battered women."
"Did you know about a shelter at that time?"
"Then how could you have gone to a shelter?"
"I would have looked it up in the phone book."
"Why didn't you look it up then?"
"How could I have looked it up, if I didn't even know it existed?"
"That's what we just said,"
She had started feeling agitated, thinking their questions stupid and rude. She shuffled around in her chair, even though she had promised herself to remain in control.
"Why are you trying to trick me?" she asked.
"Mrs.Chaves, we are not trying to trick you. We only want to know if you feel any remorse for the horrible crime you committed. So far we have not heard anything to indicate that fact. If you are sorry, you are going to have to tell us you are sorry for taking a life. That you are sorry for killing a man in his sleep, that you know now it was an unfair and cruel thing you did. "
"Yes, what. Yes, you feel remorse?"
"Yes, I feel remorse."
"Yes, you are sorry for taking a life?"
"Yes, I am sorry for taking a life."
"And, yes, you know the crime was horrible, that it was unfair, that it was cruel?"
"Yes, I know the crime was horrible that it was unfair that it was cruel." She wondered to herself who were these people. Did they even know anything about what led up to the horrible, unfair, cruel crime she had committed? Did they even care? What were they trying to do here, anyway? Did they enjoy their jobs? They seemed to be bombarding her with question after question.
They did not ask for any explanations, or for any reasons. Did they even care about Johnny's jealousy? She remembered the time they had gone out on New Year's Eve . . . She really hadn't wanted to go, as Johnny always drank too much and then, there were problems. They were sitting at a table, she had wanted to order orange juice, but Johnny insisted she order beer. When he left to go to the restroom, a tall fellow walked up to her and asked if she would like to dance. She was about to say no, when Johnny returned. His eyes narrowed, and she could see his nostrils flaring. She knew there was going to be trouble.
He walked up beside the man, picked up his glass of beer, smiled at him, and said, "Hello, did you want something at this table?"
The man, smiled back, and said, "I was asking the lady if she would like to dance. She looked like she was alone."
"She's with me," said Johnny flatly, and with that he spun around, holding his glass in his hand and slammed it into the man's forehead. "You better leave, or I'll kill you next time."
The man was bleeding profusely, broken glass had shattered all over the table and the floor. Several men, she supposed were the man's friends, approached the table.
"Let's go outside," they said.
Johnny then grabbed a pool cue, and started hitting them with it. They could not seem to get away from his fast-moving arms. One by one they were hit, and left bleeding.
After they were gone, everyone backed away from the table. Johnny sat down beside her, put his arm around her, and kissed her. He leaned over and whispered in her ear, "You bitch. All this is your fault for the way you act. You think I don't know you were giving that guy the eye? You're mine, and you'd better not ever forget it."
Did they care that she had lost all her teeth as a result from being slammed in the mouth with a full beer can, after Johnny imagined she had waved at someone? Did they know her eardrum had been broken and she was in danger of losing her hearing in that ear? Did they know the nights she sat up waiting, trying to keep the food warm and not drying out so that when Johnny came home he would not be angry? Did they know the nights she had to clean food up from the floor, the walls, and even on the ceiling? Did they know how it feels to have a gun waved at you by a man so crazed, anything could happen? Did they know how it felt when shots rang out at two a.m., and bullets entered the floor three inches from her feet? Did they know how she prayed that her sleeping children would not wake up and come into the living room to find her face swollen and bleeding? Did they know how she wondered which one of her children would find her dead in the morning, and then who would take care of them afterward? Did they know what horrible things jealousy could cause?
She thought back to the night when it ended. She had been working; there was an evening meeting she had to attend. She arrived home, and when she was walking up the sidewalk to go into the front door, she heard a voice say, "You been whoring again?"
It took a moment for her to realize it was Johnny's voice that he was out there waiting for her. Then before she could even make out his form in the shadows, she felt something crash into the side of her face, snapping her head sideways, and she heard a cracking sound . . . she felt something warm running down her neck. She reached up to touch it, when another blow caught her on the other side of her face. She realized then what was happening, and tried to say, "Please." But the words came out muffled as another blow struck her straight in the mouth. She fell then onto her knees . . . and as she did, she felt his foot slam up under her chin, with a force so hard she lost her breath. She prayed the neighbors would hear, and call the police, but no one came. Finally he stomped to the car and screeched off down the street.
She crawled up the steps and got the door open . . . Her children were in bed, but one of her daughters peeked out the bedroom door and saw her mother lying in a pool of blood. She came running and grabbed the phone to call the police, and just then Johnny came in through the back door. He grabbed the phone, pulled it out of the wall, and pushed her daughter into the wall. She made it to where Johnny was holding her daughter against the wall with one hand, while his other hand started rubbing against her leg. "No," she screamed, "Get your damn hands off my daughter." He let go then and her daughter ran into her room and shut the door.
"You bitch," he said, "You screw every man in town, and you're worried about your daughter. Give me a break. Everyone knows you are a whore. Everyone knows you are a worthless tramp."
He went into the bedroom and lay down . . . falling asleep almost immediately. She crawled to the bathroom, pulled herself up to the basin and washed off some of the blood. Her eyes were swollen into little slits, and both were black. A sac-like pouch was protruding from her ear, filled with what looked to be blood. She walked into the bedroom and saw Johnny asleep. She knew he would sleep for at least five hours without waking up. Should she take her children and leave? Where would she go? She had no money. This was her house, why should she have to leave it? He should be the one to leave, but she knew he never would. And even if she left, as she had tried to do before, he would find her, and would kill her. She knew he would kill her someday anyway, but hoped the kids would be grown before that happened. She knew the only way there would ever be any peace in her life is if he were dead. She wished he was dead. She could kill him. She had five hours. Running into the kitchen, she took out the biggest knife she had, and walked back to the bedroom. Before two minutes had passed, she held the knife under his chin, took a big breath, asked God to forgive her, and slit his throat from side to side. She heard a groan, and was afraid he was waking up. She ran from the room, put the children in the car and drove away.
They spent the rest of the early morning hours driving around, stopping at a park for a while, but soon her children became hungry. She was afraid to go home, and yet where could she go? She would have to go home. Maybe he wasn't hurt too badly, and maybe he would forgive her. She made the children stay in the car, and she entered the house slowly and quietly. There was no sound anywhere. She walked through the house, came to the bedroom, opened the door, and there on the bed, exactly as she had left him, lay Johnny. She knew he was dead. Now what should she do? She called the police, and told them what had happened.
That was five years ago . . . Today she had been up for parole again, today she had blown it again.
"But what we want to know, is how sorry are you?" she heard the panel ask.
She snapped then, "I'm sorry. Yes I am sorry I didn't kill the bastard sooner. I'm sorry I let my children suffer living with him so long. I'm sorry I ever met him, and I'm sorry none of you give a good God damn about anything. ."
She knew what they were going to say.
"Parole denied, inmate demonstrates lack of ability to control her emotions, and shows no remorse."
She used a red crayon to write on the cell wall.
Stabbing pains that made me cry,
by a mind
Why, did I do this?
Love was lost, thrown away
It doesn't matter what I say.
You have won again today
The visions grew, in your head
and in its stead,
drilling poison to your brain
with accusations so insane.
Real or imagined, it's the same
agonizing... placing blame.
Seeing things that
were, or weren't there
you didn't care!
I feel it!
shadowed my world,
and clouded my sky.
invaded my peace,
Why, did I do this?
Some say jealousy is always green
but it's not, from what I've seen.
The raging flame, inside your head
was the color of
The color red!!
Copyright © 2007