By BR Chitwood
My name is Jessie Sparks, and this is my story.
As I walked the hard and gravelly path to Parker Peak some two miles up ahead, the tears were now dry scabby line-things on my cheeks. My gait was not hurried nor had the last two miles taken my energy away… if an explanation for my stamina was needed by some nosy– minded-auditor, none would be given.
The emptiness I carried in my soul was an all-consuming thing, blotting out each stride on the loose gravel. A rattlesnake under a tangled sagebrush raised his head toward me, hissed and rattled a warning. One-minded, I flung my right foot at the stone-eyed monster, missed, as his fangs just missed my sneaker bottom.
I didn’t stop nor change my pace, my eyes focused on the S-bends of the path in front of me. The peak seemed so far away. The cool air of November moved over my naked legs below my swim trunks but gave no hint of discomfort as I increased my already fast pace, feeling as though I could walk forever.
My mind was guided by a force that came naturally, spontaneously, and settled into some sort of favored mind gear. The emptiness within me allowed no set palliative regress nor selective choice option nor Aristotelian Logic.
For whatever the mind’s reason, I fell to the path, my forehead spilling blood from its encounter with a sharp-edged rock, and it all came swirling back to me – along with the flood of tears and brutal images…
“Go home, Jessie, we can’t finish the final clip section until Raphael gets the video to us. It was due to arrive by 1:30 PM at his offices, but ‘Express LTD’ had a problem and we won’t get it until 9:00 AM tomorrow morning. You’ve been working hard on this project. Go home and take a long nap…”
Home? Nap. Not likely.
I did leave work, and, driving home, I thought about Selena…we had not enjoyed a free weekday afternoon for some time. A ‘nap’? Euphemistically, the word had a much sassier meaning. I allowed my thoughts direction toward that loftier afternoon play period, and just as I smiled at my imaging, a sharp pain pulsed hard against my right temple, blurring my eyes and forcing me to the curb.
I sat at the curb roughly massaging my head and temples, the pain bringing nausea to the point of opening the car door and spewing a nasty smelling arc of multi- colored substance that brought another arc.
After the second ‘heaving’ I regained normal breathing and actually felt a great relief. I closed the car door, reclined the driver’s seat, relaxed my body with deep breathing, and quickly became restored to some sense of normalcy… I thought of Afghanistan and the bullet that almost brought my death.
Pulling away from the curb and heading home I pushed the Afghan thoughts away, the long stay at military hospitals as I underwent test after test, never being made aware of any particular anomaly – only that there could be some post-traumatic moments.
Pushing away the thoughts, regaining some levity of the afternoon with Selena, I drove the few remaining blocks with growing euphoria…hell, I was even singing my favorite country songs.
When I turned onto my street, my mood did a quick 360. Our house was halfway down the street, and I saw a car in our driveway. As I got closer, I saw the make and model of the car.
As I pulled to a stop behind the Mercedes in the driveway, my gut collided with my heart. I knew who owned that Mercedes. I knew why it was parked in my driveway.
My circuits went crazy, all systems cluttered with rising blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, sweaty-cold hands, face red, temples pulsing, fists pounding the padded dashboard. All reason, all sanity left me as I rushed from the car to my front door.
It was locked.
Half in the moment and half out of my mind, I managed in one attempt to splinter my ribbed-wood door and rushed to the master bedroom. The master door was closed and it too was soon splintered.
My first impressions on entering the room, a man on one side of the bed, a woman on the other side, both half-dressed – my stupid mind registered that the noise from the front door splintering sped up their dressing routine.
Yes, my wife, Selena was the woman. The man was not who I expected him to be, a stranger to me…a friend perhaps of the Mercedes owner?
Selena and the man both attempted to talk at once, explaining away their casual dress routines.
My eyes glared, and madness took over. I could not tell you how I killed them, who was first? the last? Madness obsessed me for long deadly moments, until a window lost its upper rod and fell to the floor, and the early afternoon sun poured through.
Something major snapped inside of me, and I watched myself, a mad man in a horror movie scene, screaming words unknown, inflicting death blows to two people whose faces I could no longer recognize
I left the ‘murder house’ and drove to Parker Peak… I know that because I’m now on the gravelly path leading to the peak. In between, I try for ‘no recall’ of the awful events that took place in that house.
Lying there on the trail to Parker Peak, tears flowing from my eyes like open faucets, I relived the moments of those brutal murders while passing out off and on from an overriding pain and emotion.
I also relived moments of happiness with Selena during the initial phase of our marriage, just after my return from Afghanistan, our trips to the beaches and the mountains, our reading moments in the library, at peace, comfortable in the silence and occasional glances and smiles of endearment.
It was all so good until the headaches and an old Afghan bullet wound had me acting crazy. Dark mean moods would come, moments which lacked clarity and meaning, screaming at Selena for no earthly reason. I hated myself for the ugly monster I became, and, in some grotesque way, I hated Selena for her crying at my obscene and Satanic ways.
After four years I left our marriage for a VA hospital stay of some length, the doctors at a loss to determine the cause(s) of my swings in mood, anger, and kindness. Selena visited me, and I could see, feel, sense her nervous behavior, her trembling words, her eagerness to be gone from my repulsive environment. I finally told her to visit on a bi-weekly basis because I knew the visits were taking their toll on her.
Along the way, doctors found promising new medication that would help the controlling anxiety and the dark moments of anger.
Some weeks later the VA doctors released me. They tried to reach Selena to let her know I was coming home, but the line was always busy or the calls were unanswered.
So, I would surprise her
On the way home, I stopped at a Florist for a dozen red roses, including a card with poetic love words. The phrase on the card sounded not like something I would say, but Selena would love it.
So, I arrived home and have described my homecoming welcome.
I was soon found on the Parker Peak Trail by some high school kids preparing their bodies for their upcoming Track Schedule, nice kids who seemed to have a lock on life, where they were going, what they were going to be.
Barely able to talk I asked the boys if they would take me to the VA Hospital. They would. They did, and these three guys would become my friends, even knowing my recent killing history.
I am writing these words from a large padded room in a secured facility. I’ve been here for seven months, hale and hearty, the demon inside me taken away through surgeries and pills. It might sound phony, but I like it here at the facility. The people like me, and I like them.
There is talk about my leaving here, make that, released from here, but I’m not sure I want to leave… There’s a lot of craziness outside this facility, and, well, I’m just not sure I could ever trust myself again
©By BR Chitwood – December 11, 2020
SPECIAL NOTE: The image that begins this story is actually from one of my book covers: “Mama’ Madness” – a 5-star read about a mother from hell and inspired by true events.
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