I skipped a stone over the lake and froze with fear. A bloated, rotted hand had reached out of the water and caught it. Some secrets refuse to stay sunk.
My partner, Ryan and I have been together for four years. I’m in retail management; he’s a wedding coordinator.
Two months ago, he worked a very peculiar wedding. That’s when this all started.
This couple only hired him on at the venue as the ‘day-of’ coordinator. It’s basically the least expensive package the venue offers. He’s only there the date of the wedding–mostly to help you overcome any snags that arise: stereo systems not working; admonishing your guests smoking under the pavilion…I’m sure I’m understating things. There’s more to it than all that.
“They were strange,” he began.
“The couple?” I asked.
He licked his lips, “everyone. It was a goth wedding. The entertainment was techno and a fortuneteller.”
That sounded different.
The bride told him to go have his fortune read. (The brides always love him.) As he was about to take a seat, the psychic stopped him declaring: “There is darkness over you. I will not do yours.” I thought that was strange. He didn’t. He told me it had happened before. A different psychic. That sounded like bullshit.
Changing subjects, I asked, “let me see the cake?” He always takes pictures of the cakes. This one was, predictably, draped in black fondant. It was a deep violet inside. The exterior was decorated in gray vines and topped with two crows–one wore a black mourning veil. “That is so weird,” I mumbled.
“Not the weirdest.”
He begins to tell me about a man. A groomsman who wouldn’t stop hitting on him. An older man, tall and gaunt. A face folded and folded again by time until it cracked with overuse. He wore powder makeup on his face, starkly contrasting to the yellowing teeth hidden beneath his lips. His hair was long and gray draping over a milky left eye wildly rolling around behind a lid bisected with puffy scar-tissue stretching from eyebrow down to his leathery cheek.
As Ryan told me the story, I couldn’t help laughing, poking fun about his new boyfriend The Cryptkeeper.
“No he was fucking disgusting,” Ryan said shaking his head, “sometimes I want to hit people but it’s work so I can’t. He didn’t touch me though, just kept sneaking up behind me saying the most fucked up shit.”
The first thing he said was: You’re beautiful. Can I make you mine? Ryan told him no, but thank you very much for the compliment and curtly walked away. It got progressively worse throughout the night as the man became less sober: I’m always gonna be there in the back of your mind. And the third time: You smell delicious, and probably taste sublime. Then finally the apex was something along the lines of: Spread you apart so I can slither inside.
And that’s when I gagged. “That’s fucking disgusting!”
We live in a rural area. Our lot is flag shaped sitting behind another lot adjacent to the main road. We own our lot and a strip of land between two others allowing us to drive up. There’s no other houses around ours so we basically live in the middle of the woods with a lake out back.
The thunderstorm that night was intense. Already asleep when it started, I woke just as it was worsening. As the wind howled and the limbs of the trees beyond our walls groaned with straining protest, there was a sudden pressure of something large and heavy landing on my chest in the darkness.
Wining in desperation, our dog Brutus, who is neither brutish nor as gallant as the name sounds, was trying to bury himself beneath the blankets.
He hates thunderstorms.
Ryan was awake now as well but just barely, mumbling, “don’t be scared widdle-baby. You can stay right here between us.”
Somewhere in the darkness, we could hear the steady drip of water on the floor. “That fucking leak is back. Do you hear it?” I asked Ryan.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
I turned on the light.
Dressed in black, the leak, an intruder dripping with rain.
Ryan fired the gun before anything I saw registered. He’d pulled it from the drawer and shot so quickly, I didn’t even have time to be shocked. Standing in the corner on Ryan’s side of the bed, suddenly revealed by the lamp, was a man. The milky eye, framed with puffy scars fixated on Ryan. His right hand was down his pants, masturbating furiously. He was smiling even in death.
We really should have thought things through better. It was self-defense against a home invader. We should have called the police. We panicked. Dragged him into the vacant lot in front of ours. Buried him in the pouring rain. Kept it secret.
It rained again the next night. Brutus was in our bed once more–the ever worthless guard-dog. I heard again the steady drip, drip, drip of rain as it fell from his long, thinning hair; heard the rustle of his hand in his pants in the darkness.
I clutched Ryan fearfully–waking him.
Already dead, cold, and covered in mud before killing him a second time. How could we explain that? Now we definitely couldn’t call the police.
Since burying him didn’t seem to work, the next morning, we burned him. Gathering the storm’s fallen detritus, placing him within, drenching it all with the contents of a jerrycan. We set him ablaze in a pyre.
After killing him the third time, we dismembered him. The tissue, being scorched now, sloughed easily away from the bone. Carefully disarticulating every limb in our kitchen, weighing them down, and casting them into the lake. He’s not been back for a fourth visit. It’s been two months.
We kept it secret.
But some secrets refuse to stay buried, burned or even dismembered–sunk beneath gently lapping waves.