PTSD
 




Kathryn Lynch




Copyright 2018 by Kathryn Lynch




Photo of hogs at a fence.

The Old Lady was breathing heavily. In previous years, she would not have struggled with the saw, but the arthritis in her ankle was slowing her down. The need to dispose of his body had become her number one priority because he was crammed into the shower of her trailer home. The weather was getting warmer and she needed to clean up.

It had been two days since her long-owned .357 Magnum discharged a shot into the back of his head. She was overcome by the immediate fear of discovery because the weapon had shaken the trailer off the Richter Scale. At the same time, when she looked at him, a sense of peace that she had not experienced in 30 years seeped into her soul. No matter what happened now, it was in a very real sense—over.

He was lying in the middle of the floor, so if anyone came to check on the noise, she would die in prison. For twenty minutes her heart pounded. Sweat rolled down the sides of her face. Deliberately, she willed herself to take in deep oxygen-rich breaths.

At last she began to think that she might pull it off. Dragging him by the hair, she rolled him into the shower and closed the door. Blood had pooled on the floor so she encouraged her big dogs to clean up the mess. Absent modern forensic testing, everything looked good. The shoes she had been wearing tumbled dutifully in the washing machine.

At first she intended to feed him piece by piece to the dogs, but bones left behind in the yard might be picked up by her daughter or her two grandchildren who lived in the house next door. Even if she managed to coerce their silence, this would strain the relationships she had with them. If they chose the moral high ground and called the police, she was done. Too risky.

So she had settled on the pigs. The farmer who raised hogs down the road had crowded the animals into a small field. Visitors at the fence were greeted by the four-legged disposal units looking for a handout. She would give them what they wanted.

It had begun as a happy story nearly 30 years before. She was a skilled attorney, tall, powerful, reputed to shred witnesses on the other side of a case, leaving little credibility behind.

He called her office one afternoon, expressing the need for legal representation. They met for the first time in a small conference room at the Courthouse. The way he looked at her made her strangely uncomfortable; too personal. In a few short weeks she was hooked. Love had come unexpectedly but she was happier than she could remember.

They were married one weekend in Reno. On the way back to her home, they spoke of and planned for the future. She would open a larger office. He would be the Investigator for her criminal cases.

Happiness came to a swift and shocking end five days later, over some dog food. Because her home was small, she stored the dogs' supplies in the trunk of her car. That afternoon she had gone outside to haul in a bag of chow. The phone rang inside but the caller was gone by the time she carried in the heavy bag and answered.

When he entered the house, she could tell from his face that something was terribly wrong. He had called and she hadn't answered. He wanted to know where she had been. She had been home, she insisted, finally remembering the quick trip outside for the dog food. “He knew where she was”, he countered. “She had been visiting the man next door”. Had it not been such a surprise, she would have laughed aloud. The neighbor man was in his sixties and his wife lived with him. He struck her for the first time then, knocking her off balance to the floor.

When he was away, he called her every hour. If she didn't answer he would let the phone ring up to a hundred times until she picked up. Ranting like a madman, he would announce that she was "going to get it when he got home".

It was almost impossible to concentrate on her cases. If her client was a male, he pressured her to finish or drop the case. She turned down new cases involving males. The criminal practice dropped off. It was increasingly difficult to pay the office rent.

He berated her for not making enough money. He would get money for the both of them. One day she returned home to find him counting large amounts of cash on the bed. When she asked what he had done to get it, he punched her in the face, kicking her repeatedly after she fell. "He would kill her", he said "if she ever told anyone about the money". Fear filled her soul. She was emotionally dead.

She began to live a wooden existence, fueled by fear. Three or four times a year there was another pile of money on the bed. The money bought her the most expensive clothes. They ate in the finest restaurants. The office rent was always paid but her law practice had dwindled down to almost nothing. They continued to socialize with attorneys and judges, ever the picture of success.

Then one day a small paper stuck to the bottom of the wastebasket caught her eye. It was a wrapper that banks placed around bundles of cash. The name of the bank was clearly visible and she knew from watching the news that this bank had recently been robbed. A bundle of cash and the wrapper was all that the FBI needed to take him away. He was sentenced to 30 years for nine counts of bank robbery.

It was over, she thought But of course it had never ended. Years of counseling had failed to restore her zest for life. Her law practice never really recovered. She had lost the opportunity to be appointed to the bench because she had been married to a bank robber. She was wary of men. At night she stayed home; no more parties with other attorneys or judges. She was diagnosed with PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

She heard from him through letters sneaked out of the prison and mailed to her by visitors or released inmates. The message was always the same. He would come to her home when he got out and she better have his money for him or else. The FBI had confiscated all of the cash in the home when he was arrested. It made no sense.

After 5 years, she knew that he would never go away.

After 10 years, she decided to kill him. She had played the scene a thousand times over and over in her head. For years the loaded gun had been hidden behind a planter next to her chair.

When the new car pulled into the yard, she knew that the time had come. He was older, slower now, but the expression on his face sent chills into her bones. Opening the door, she told him that she had his money in the back. He had taken three steps before dropping like a stone from the impact of the bullet.

It was hard work. Blood spattered the shower walls as the saw made its way through the flesh surrounding the bones. The feet came off above the ankles. The hands were next. She tried not to look at his face when she removed the head. Resting frequently, she finally managed to sever the torso and its contents in two It was dark when she finished bagging the pieces and placing them on the passenger seat of her car.

Early the next morning, before the farmer reached the field, she went to the pigs. The animals hungrily devoured the bags' contents, grunting with pleasure. In a short time, he was gone.

Returning home she disposed of the empty bags by burning them in the woodstove. The shower was next. Cold water, a strong brush and the flexible showerhead soon gave the stall a normal appearance.

Wearing rubber gloves and carrying an overnight bag, she carefully drove the rental car to the office at the airport. No one paid attention as she slipped the vehicle into a line or rentals, leaving the keys in the ignition. Bag in hand, she dropped the gloves inside and entered the terminal building to call a cab. On the way home, she told the driver about a trip to Denver to visit her son.

The Old Lady had never been so exhausted. It was over. Tomorrow, she thought, things would be different. The peace which enveloped her--relaxed her deeply. Her eyes closed and she slept as only a victor can sleep.

Sometime in the night, she breathed her last.

Epilogue: The car rental company couldn't find the renter to settle up his bill. The vehicle was cleaned by the regular maintenance crew and the car was rented to another person two days later.

The Old Lady's ashes were shaken over the Pacific Ocean from the beach where she liked to read and think about times past.

In the Fall, the pigs were taken to the slaughterhouse where they fetched a good market price because the locals always supported home grown food products. Some said that this year's meat was "particularly tasty".



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