You Went To The Wrong House

Still.
No Response.
This wasn’t the first time that Murray and Maria had stopped speaking after a ridiculous disagreement turned into a vicious fight complete with name calling and storm outs.
It had been Murray’s turn to slam the door in a huff. He couldn’t believe that they had argued for nearly two hours about pre-moistened antibacterial wipes and whether they should be stored in the kitchen or in the bathroom.
But it wasn’t really about that.
It was really about Maria accepting a job in San Diego without telling Murray in advance. He could feel Maria pulling away, like she no longer wanted to be in the relationship and he figured the best way to fight it, would be to fight with her.
It never occurred to either of them, until an antique lamp was broken or a rental car was keyed that there were other ways to communicate disappointment.
He had left on foot just as the postman was starting to deliver packages on their street. They had just moved to Emerald Drive together six months ago, and already Maria wanted to leave. Not only their lovely home but she wanted to leave Doywood all together. I guess that’s what happens, Murray thought when you decide to marry a younger woman.  Emerald Drive was a picturesque neighborhood. The kind you always see in the backdrop of wholesome sitcoms, with manicured wintergreen boxwood bushes and clever and cute mailboxes shaped like fish. Emerald Drive was the kind of place where good, decent, god fearing people held wine cooler block parties and welcomed new neighbors with homemade gluten free cookies on their doorsteps. The air smelled fresher than in the city. The green leaver were greener.
Murray hadn’t realized how far away from Emerald Drive he had walked; he had spent the entire time looking down at his phone. He had called Maria 3 times but it went directly to voicemail. He had texted her 10 pages of I’m sorrys and 3 pages of I love yous and even a page or two about how she wasn’t anything like her harping stupid mother and she really hadn’t gained as much weight as he led her to believe while they were fighting.
Maria was the most beautiful woman he had actually ever seen in real life.  So tender and limber and tall. As he walked he realized that he was lucky to have her, even if it wasn’t forever. Even if she would rather be tanning on Mission Beach or going to Comic Con without him, Murray couldn’t leave Doywood. He had just accepted the job of his dreams a week ago to the day. He had finally become the Superintendent of the Doywood Public School District where he had done his student teaching after college.
It was where he met his sexy little wife. What the hell would he do in stupid California?
Didn’t matter.
All he wanted to do was make up with her and they would figure it out together.
He texted her again.
Nothing.
He looked up and noticed the greens on the leaves were a little less green and a little browner than they should have been. The clouds started forming overhead and he could hear dogs yelping. It didn’t sound like the cute handheld dogs peppered in pocketbooks like on Emerald Drive. These sounded like hungry homeless dogs, howling.
Just as Murray turned around to head back in the direction that he came from, he received a text.
It was from Maria.
Finally, he thought.
The text read:
Help…I…
The rain came down in sheets. There was no place to take cover. Murray’s heart raced.  His first thought was, I am too old for this shit. He hadn’t run in 10 years.
He took off anyway, toward home and dropped his phone into the street. It slipped right out of his wet hands. He didn’t stop to retrieve it. The rain was fogging his glasses. It was coming down way too hard. Murray was running drenched.
He turned left and then realized he should have made a right. The rain was heavier than any he had ever known and the thunder rolled through and clapped in his ears. He could barely see the street sign 10 feet in front of him. He continued to jog and noticed that none of the houses looked familiar. He couldn’t see the street signs at all anymore. The rain cried on him.
Something was wrong with Maria and he couldn’t get to her.
Now he was fucking lost. His phone was probably washed into a sewer after all of this rain.  The postal trucks were nowhere to be seen. Not a soul was alive on the street but him.
At the corner, he could see the lights on in a lovely Craftsman-style bungalow on the corner. They family that lived there had cute pink butterfly chimes hanging from a potted planter out front and a lovely pink porch swing that was flying back and forth in the storm. Murray raced toward the house and the screaming dogs sounded a lot more like coyotes in the rain.
When he got to the front door he could hear some jazz type instrumental music playing, with the crisp crackles of a record player. He banged on the door wildly, soaked to the bone.
A sweet youngish looking woman, possibly a teenager like his wife, danced across the living room with her arms held out as if she were being swung about by an invisible partner. Murray banged again. The girl held her finger up and then dipped herself backward. The song faded out and she curtseyed; but Murray couldn’t tell if anyone was in the room with her or watching her performance from outside. She sashayed to the door, and slowly thumb turned what sounded like several rows of deadbolt locks. She opened the door, without ever looking to see who was standing there and skipped into another room.
Murray stood in the door frame. He turned back to the street. The sky was nearly black and the rain hadn’t let up at all.
“Excuse me, miss? Are your parents’ home? May I come in to use your phone? It’s an emergency! Please.”
He yelled to her without entering.
He could hear her laughing hysterically from around the corner.
It was a sexy flirty laugh.
He covered his growing dick with his wet hands so it didn’t show through his pants.
“Did you know,” she said, without coming back into view, “seahorses are monogamous and mate for life?” She kept laughing.
She sounded 15. Maybe 16?
“Ma’am? Hello? Miss, please…”
“Seahorses, she said reappearing in a red sequined floor length gown and thick blood red lipstick, her arms behind her back, are also the only animal on earth where the male is the one who bears the unborn.”
The girl was stunning. And so familiar. Her clavicle was large and perfect. Her throat long and probably never kissed before. The dress was skin tight.
Lightening crashed near the porch. Murray, startled, jumped into the house, and slipped on the pink runner just inside the door.  He was lying on his back when the overdressed teenager pulled up her gown revealing nothing underneath and straddled his wet body. The crimson lipped girl bashed Murray over the head with a flashlight that she had been hiding. She clasped her legs around him, and as he tried to squirm backward out of the door, he could hear her tiny voice echoing out while she hit him with the flashlight repeatedly, “Bet you also didn’t know that seahorses change color while engaging in an eight hour courtship dance with all sorts of beautiful underwater spinning around swimming side by side with their beloved….”
 
You Went To the Wrong House
A Short Story by TL Banks
Murray’s head pounded.
His left eye was swollen.
He was lying on a sofa.
It was still raining.
The blinds had been pulled but he could still hear it beating against the glass.
He couldn’t move. None of his muscles seemed to respond the commands coming from his brain.
His vision was hazy and he scrunched his nose. He didn’t have on his glasses.
He was unshaven; which was weird because he shaved every day. He could have sworn that he had shaved that morning.
What was he doing here? Where was here? He could see what looked like a painting on the wall opposite the end of the sofa. His shoes were off and he had no idea what had happened to his socks. The painting looked like it might have been of a pink seahorse but he couldn’t be sure.
He tried to speak but no sound emerged.
Where was Maria?
Damn it, Maria.
What had happened?
Help…I…
He couldn’t sit up.
Was she okay?
He could smell coffee brewing.
The pretty girl in the gown came around the corner, with a child’s pink tea set and a pot of coffee. She was wearing the sexy red sequined dress.
She attacked me, he thought and told his body to grab her throat. He would show her. He’d pull that sequined dress right over her little head and give her what she was asking for. That would teach her.
It took all of his energy to lunge forward and within a few seconds he was on the floor, face down.
“Oh Alistair, what are you doing my love? You know you aren’t allowed on the carpet,” she sang.
She put down the tray, got on her knees and pushed him back up onto the couch. She smelled like baby shampoo.
His eyes watered with rage.
“Would you like a cup of coffee, darling?” She asked.
She grabbed his head and made it nod yes.
“Wonderful, I knew that you would. I made it just the way you like it, no cream, two sugars.”
She sat down on the sofa and lifted his head so that his face was on her warm lap. She put a swirly straw into the coffee and pushed it up to his lips.
Murray’s face was buried into her perky breasts and scratchy sequins when he took a sip and some of the lukewarm coffee dribbled down his cheek.
The girl laughed.
“Oh Alistair, I adore you so much you filthy little slob.”  She wiped the coffee with her hand.
Murray couldn’t keep his eyes open another second. He became uncontrollably drowsy and drifted off into a coma like sleep.
 
******    ***** *****
Murray’s head pounded.
His eyes didn’t seem to be swollen anymore, because he could open them all the way.
He was lying on a sofa.
It was still raining.
The blinds were all the way down but the rain was extremely loud.
He couldn’t move his arms or legs so he tried to speak.
He managed a small Hrrrruuuhhmmm….
His vision was hazy and he scrunched his nose. He didn’t have on his glasses.
Heemmmm… heeeellluuummm… He hummed.
He turned to the left and realized his face was clean. No stubble. Hadn’t he had facial hair just a minute ago?
Where was he? He could see his bare feet and the seahorse painting.
He tried to speak again.
In the softest voice, he managed, helllllp me.
Maria.
Oh my god, my Maria! What had happened?
Didn’t she call him? Didn’t she tell him to come home?
He remembered he had lost his phone.
He remembered her last text.
Help…I…
His body was stiff. He felt frozen.
Was she okay? It must have been hours since she had sent that text! The most horrible scenarios flashed in front of his eyes. Someone else had her bent over his bed but against her will. Was she injured? Or worse, dead?
Oh Maria! Maria!
He could smell lingering coffee.
The girl in the gown came around the corner, and somehow seemed heavier and older although she couldn’t have been. He couldn’t know without his glasses. She appeared with a child’s pink tea set and a pot of coffee. She was still wearing the sequined dress but in his blurred vision it looked a little tighter as her plump breasts nearly fell out of the top of it.
This bitch, he thought. Help me, he pleaded.
She attacked me a few hours ago and laid me on this stupid ass couch, he thought.  Murray willed his arm to move but the only thing that happened is that his index finger twitched.
If he could only grab her damned throat.
She leaned in and kissed him on the forehead.
“Oh Alistair, how are you feeling?”
Help meeee, pleassse. Murray said. Imnotaleestare. Im-notttt- al-ee-staireeesss…
She smelled like lavender bubble bath.
His eyes watered. He noticed the pink ceiling fan spinning but the room was so warm.
“Would you like a cup of coffee, darling?” She asked.
She grabbed his head and nodded it yes. When his head was lifted, he was able to shake it free from her grasp. He slowly shook his head no.
Wassssss wronnnnnng wiffffff meee? Help meeee geeeeeto Maareeehaaaa…
“Shhh, shhh my love, the coffee is wonderful. I made it just the way you like it, no cream, two sugars.” She sat down on the sofa under him so that his face was on her lap. Her hot breasts hung down into his tear stained eyes. She put a swirly straw into the coffee and pushed it up to his cracked lips.
Murray refused to take a sip so the girl shaped monster pinched his nose and held his mouth open. She poured in some of the coffee, held his mouth closed again and rubbed his throat so that he would swallow.
The vicious girl laughed.
“Oh Alistair, you’re my seahorse. We’re going to swim together forever, just like they do, with our tails linked together swaying and swishing in the water day in and day out. I adore you so much you horrible piece of shit.”
She kissed him on the forehead again and pushed his eyelids down.
Against his will, he fell back into a long quiet sleep.
 
******    ***** *****
 
 
Murray’s head was woosy.
He opened his eyes to see a white wall with a small tv mounted to it.

The evening news was on.

He was lying in a bed with metal barriers up on both sides.
The sun was shining as it was going down over the horizon through the open window.
He could hear bits and pieces of the news report.
Man gone missing… found after years… held hostage…seahorses….
His left arm was attached to an IV drip.
He opened his mouth to speak but didn’t know what to say.
The reporter was still explaining…. No identification…. Alone for days… neighbors called authorities… kidnapper unidentified…
His vision was hazy and he scrunched his nose. He didn’t have on his glasses.
He turned to the right and squinted.
….unknown whereabouts….
What looked like his glasses were on the arm rest of the hospital bed.  He told his arm to reach for them, and it followed his command. He put the glasses on his face.
Investigators found the bodies of at least 10 other men in the basement…..
He begin to feel is face and noticed that he had lost a lot of weight. He felt his hair. He had been shaved bald.
He couldn’t see his feet under the covers but he could see the chart at the end of the bed.
…… time of death merely months before John Doe was discovered…..
If his arms worked maybe he could speak.
The reporter said, if anyone knows this man he is currently receiving treatment at the local hospital in the Emerald Drive Community Area of Doywood.
A picture of Murray flashed across the screen.
In the softest voice, he managed, “Hello? Somebody? Please?”
Maria.
Oh my god, my Maria! What had happened? Is she safe? Is she okay? How long had he been there?
He used the arm rails on the bed to slowly push himself up into a seated position on the bed. His legs were numb. He reached for the nurse call button near his IV.
He remembered her last text.
Help…I…
He was terrified. He had to have been away at least a while now, he knew it. Had she survived? Had anyone come to help?!
Maria!
A nurse entered the doorway and put up one finger.
Murray stopped pressing the button.
Someone he could not see had caught the nurse’s attention.
He could overhear the nurse talking about him.
“Yeah, the poor guy. Based on his pressure ulcers he has all sorts of bone and joint infections from being kept on the couch in that house. We’re giving him pain meds for the cellulitis but he was septic at first. He’s healing nicely and we think he will be okay but we’re going to keep him for a while longer just to be sure.”
“Do you know when I can see him?”
It was Maria. He knew it. It felt like he hadn’t heard her beautiful voice in years.
“We don’t want to have the patient go into any kind of shock. Let me do one more round of tests and if you would like to have a seat in the waiting room, I will let you know when the doctor is going to begin allowing visitors, are you family?”
“No, I’m not, not technically, not anymore.” She said.
Murray was about to call her name and tell her himself that it was okay for her to come in but then he heard her say, “I use to be engaged to him a few years back, before he disappeared. My husband and I just came, well we just came to see, you know, if he was alright… see if he needed anything.”
“That is very kind of you. Again, have a seat, and I will let you know, alright?”
A few years?
The nurse closed the door and went into Murray’s bathroom.
He couldn’t accept what he had just heard.
He looked down at his hands. They had aged and were sickly gray.
The nurse turned on the water in the faucet.
Years? His job. His Home. His Maria. Gone.
The water from the faucet sounded like tormenting rain.
Murray began to cry.
The nurse reemerged from the bathroom wearing a red sequined gown.
Murray frantically pressed the nurse’s call button.
“Shhhhh, Alistair.”  The nurse whispered with her hands behind her back.
“You fucking stay away from me. I know who you are bitch, I know what you did!”
The nurse pulled a tube of red lipstick from her bra and slathered it across her widened mouth.
The crimson lipped woman bashed Murray over the head with a flashlight that she had been hiding. She jumped on the bed and snatched the nurse’s call button out of the wall.  She clasped her heavy legs around him, and as he tried to squirm backward, she hit him again.
“I’m sorry I left you for so long, Alistair. I found us a new home! That’s why I was gone away from you, my sweet lover. No more neighbors either, my prince. I found you, you can’t leave me you, scumsucking toadstool!”
She tilted her head back and laughed. Loud and hard. The bed shook.
She leaned into his face. Her flabby old body pressed down on him.
“Seahorses are monogamous my darling and you know they mate for life.” She said.
He could hear her voice echoing out while she hit him with the flashlight once more.
She smelled like mothballs and peanut butter.
“Bet you also didn’t know that seahorses have no teeth and no stomach. If they don’t eat constantly, sweetheart, they die.”
She jumped off him and skipped to the bathroom. She came back and injected Murray with a needle.
The fluid felt so familiar in his veins, he almost craved it.
If he could only grab her damned throat.
She leaned in and kissed him on the forehead.
“Forever,” she said. “Now and always, Mr. Whitt….”
*****************  ****************************
Maria sat at the breakfast table with her husband Carl, eating cereal and reading news articles on her iPad.
 
Vigilante Commits Suicide after Pedophile Killing Spree
Wed, April 27, 2019 3:38pm EDT by Amelia Norcross
Unanticipated tragedy has struck in a small Midwestern Town of Doywood, as a total of 17 dead bodies were discovered in the basement of a Craftsman style Bungalow yesterday evening. Samantha Cresdin, the alleged murderer of the dead men who were found in her home, according to her older sister Karen, had been hospitalized at Pure Soul Psychiatric at the age of 7 after being raped by one of her elementary school teachers. She escaped from the facility at ten, Karen told Investigators. After searching for years the family had assumed Samantha dead according to reports. Samantha Cresdin was last seen wearing pink seahorse jammies by the orderlies at Pure Soul and by the time that Samantha was 16 no one who had started the search was still on the Doywood Police force. The official statement from the Doywood Sheriff mentions that after identifications were made of all of the dead men, each one had either been an alleged or an actual sex offender. Her final victim, Alistair Whitt, was determined to be the actual teacher who had assaulted the child and caused her break from reality and spawned the murderous rampage. Alistair was never charged for his alleged crime and eventually legally changed his name to Murray Madsen and continued to teach in the same district until he was named Principal of Doywood Elementary, home of the Striking Seahorses. After 12 years of service, he was named Superintendent of Doywood Public schools but before he could serve a day in office, he went missing.
The local Doywood Gazette confirmed this morning that Murray had been missing for 4 years, until a neighbor of Samantha’s noticed she hadn’t picked up her newspapers in a while and he hadn’t seen the owner, Fred Blankfield in months. The neighbor reported to the police of hearing a man’s voice yelling for Mother Teresa or Maria, from inside the house in Samantha’s absence but she couldn’t be certain.  She assumed it was Fred. The police found Murray unconscious on her living room sofa. Fred was among the bodies of the others, and he too had been an alleged pedophile in 1998.
A physician at the Doywood Medical Compound believes Madsen was kept intoxicated with Ketamine, GHB and Rohypnol and never moved from Fred’s sofa. Samantha had made a makeshift catheter for her victim during his time as her captive. Samantha’s former psychiatrist, Dr. Rosehinge, revealed that Sam had drawn pictures of Alistair during therapy and claimed she loved him.
“She said that many times”, confessed Rosehinge on this afternoon’s WXXD radio talk show. The Dr. revealed that Samantha was also suffering from several psychotic disorders including Stockholm’s syndrome while in her care as a child.
Many residents of Doywood have been dispersed by police today from the crime scene after the discovery of the bodies and are proud of the deaths in their home town. The number 3 trending hashtag on Twitter has been #SamanthaSaves for the past 19 hours as victims of pedophiles around the world show admiration for the suicide victim and not the men that she murdered. Some Doywood townsfolk have even begun placing flowers at the Doywood Elementary school and at Pure Soul Psychiatric in honor of Samantha against protests from the local church and the ACLU.
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