Driven Picture of Tobi.

C. Lee Finkle
© Copyright 2000 by C. Lee Finkle

Tobi's wedded bliss was short lived. Her loving husband Derrick turned out to be a monster. What makes battered women remain with their abusive spouses? Was Derrick's demise a product of his own doing, or are we all just cogs in a wheel of fate that we do not control?

Teary eyed, Tobi wiped the blood from the knife. It wasn't supposed to happen like that, but Derrick's lifeless body laid sprawled out on the kitchen floor.

Tobi had feared Derrick was about to beat her again, and quickly raised her hand, not realizing she still held the knife she'd been chopping vegetables with. As Derrick lunged for her, the butcher's knife blade slid silently, smoothly between his ribs.

"These things happen." Tobi shrugged her shoulders, hummed the Funeral March, and cleaned away the mess she had made.

"Poor Derrick. I begged him to treat me right." She felt the side of her face. Cuts and bruises lingered from his rage the night before. "I said, Derrick, someday you'll regret hurting me. Didn't I say that to you?" Tobi spoke as she rolled Derrick's lifeless body up in a quilt.

Tobi had to figure an easy way to get the body out of her house by herself.

She sat awhile at the kitchen table, drank tea, stared at Derrick, the lifeless bundle, and thought.

"What am I going to do?" Tobi twisted her dark curls around her fingers and pouted. She had been teetering on the verge of a breakdown for some time.

As Derrick's temper worsened, the beatings became more frequent. His family knew what was going on, but tried to stay out of the couple's affairs.

The doorbell rang and broke the spell that had enveloped Tobi. She sat stunned. The fear and anxiety she had kept welled up in her since she had stabbed Derrick, were trying to leak out.

"No, I won't panic. I must not panic." She whispered to herself. Tobi stood and walked to the laundry room, stripped off her clothes, wet her hair, and wrapped a large bath towel around herself.

Taking in a deep breath, she walked to the living room to answer the door. Peeking out the long window panel next to the door, she saw her brother-in-law, Matt.

"Oh, Matthew. I'm sorry, but Derrick isn't here right now, and, well I was showering." Tobi kept the door partially closed.

"Sorry, Tobi, but I just dropped by to get the pistol from Derrick."


"I lent Derrick one. He said he wanted to take it to a shooting range for practice to get the feel before he decided what kind he wanted to buy. He said you had gotten threatening phone calls and had problems with prowlers."

"I wasn't aware that Derrick borrowed a pistol. When did he do that?"

"The other night. He said he'd be done with it today. I know Derrick well enough to know he wouldn't have cleaned it. After being shot, well, it should be cleaned." Matthew's real worry had been leaving the pistol in Derrick's possession.

Tobi's mind raced as she tried to figure out what to say. "You know, Matt, I'll bet that is where Derrick is now. He didn't say where he was going." Tobi avoided eye contact with Matt. She felt afraid, for some reason, that Matt could read her mind.

A cool breeze pushed its way through the open door, and made Tobi shiver. Goose bumps flooded her body.

"I'll be back later tonight, if you don't mind."

"N-no. Sorry I really must finish getting dressed to go to see my mother. I'd invite you in, but . . . "

Matthew spoke softly and soothingly. "Tobi, it's okay. See you later, around eight?"

"Eight is fine." Tobi shut the door, she leaned her back against it and let out a sigh of relief. The air rushed out of her lungs, whooshed upward and blew her drying bangs about.

Tobi got dressed, glanced at the clock, it was noon. Derrick had gone to his maker an hour ago. At least Tobi thought it had been an hour. She was confused, and time seemed to be out of sync, unimportant, yet extremely important all at the same time.

"What were you going to do with that pistol? You had some plans for it, didn't you? Shame on you, telling Matthew those lies." Tobi gave a spiteful kick at Derrick, the quilted lump, but the doorbell interrupted her again.

"Now who?" Tobi was flustered. She went to the door and decided she would tell whomever it was that she was on her way out. When Tobi got there, it was a stranger.

"Mrs. Frisk?"


"I'm Eric Wise from your life insurance company. Is Mr. Frisk home?"


"Well, the other day I was here, Mr. Frisk took out a life insurance policy on you for $250,000.00. All I need is his signature, and yours, then we'll be all set."

"A policy on me for $250,000.00?"

"Yes. I'm glad to see that you are feeling better. Mr. Frisk said you were sick the other day."

"Sick? Oh, yes, thank you. I'm fine." Tobi had automatically kept the bruised side of her face hidden by the door as she peeked around at the man. "I don't know when he'll be home. If you leave the papers with me, I'll see to it that he signs them and mails them into the company. Is that okay?"

"Sure, good day then."

"Good day." Tobi's voice was so cheery it sounded melodic.

She returned to the kitchen.

"You rotten son of a bitch!" She kicked Derrick's limp body over and over, until she fell to the floor weeping uncontrollably.

After a spell of crying, Tobi straightened herself up.

"Got you first." She said in a childish voice.

Tobi left the house through the laundry, into the attached garage. Out there she found some clothesline rope, and brought it back into the kitchen. She tied a piece of it to one end of the quilt to close that end off. Then a longer piece to the other end of the quilt, and used it to drag Derrick's body out of the kitchen and into the garage.

Derrick had woodworking tools and a nice workshop in a room at the far end of the garage. Tobi's hobby was working with clay. Her workshop sat next to Derrick's, but in a separate room.

Tobi dragged the body into the woodworking room, over to the area with the table saw.

Signs of death faded Derrick's beautiful olive colored skin into a sickening pallor. His brown eyes, still opened, still held that look of surprise he had when the knife slid into his body. They were just orbs of brown that peered out of a lifeless face. Tobi tried to close them, but it was too late. They were stuck open.

Tobi found some safety glasses, laid down a sheet of plastic drop cloth to place Derrick's body on, and got Derrick's carpenter's crosscut saw. She stripped Derrick naked and gritted her teeth as she cut off his limbs.

Tobi stopped, gagged and wiped the sweat from her brow. The deed was horrifying, but she did not want anyone to know about Derrick, afraid that the authorities wouldn't believe it was an accident.

Tobi opened the door that led to her workshop. She peered in there for a brief moment, took a deep breath, tried to clear her mind. Tried not to think about what she had done.

After dismembering and beheading Derrick, she took the body parts to the table saw, sliced them into smaller pieces until all of Derrick was sliced into small slabs of meat. Tobi would have to figure something out later about his head. His innards had been set aside. Tobi had decided that the smell of the body burning in her kiln wouldn't be as foul if she disemboweled Derrick and flushed the innards down the toilet. His heart and kidneys would have to be cut into pieces small enough to flush easily.

Tobi put the slabs into a laundry basket. After several trips to her workshop, she finally had all of his parts lying next to her kiln.

Tobi then selected a cone that she used for firing fine porcelain. It would reach around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Tobi gingerly arranged the slabs of Derrick in layers until the kiln was filled. She pushed the ignition button, then flicked some of the switches.

Tobi showered, then sat on the edge of her bed wiping her face with the bath towel. The whole day had become surreal.

She remembered Matt had said Derrick borrowed his pistol, so she quickly searched their bedroom. On the closet shelf, tucked away in Derrick's box of girlie magazines, the pistol nestled.

Tobi dressed and went downstairs to rest on the living room couch. She was exhausted.

Two hours later, Tobi stumbled into the laundry to wash the quilt that she had left to soak. The quilt in the washer, she made her way out to her workshop.

The ghastly stench of the burning flesh was overpowering. Tobi quickly turned on the exhaust fan to suck the horrid smell out of the building. It was not going to be as clean burning as Tobi had hoped.

She held her breath, knelt down on the floor near the kiln so she could see in the peephole on the kiln. The red-orange glow of the heat filled the bottom part of the kiln. The heat mirage gave the parts a wavy look. She decided to just flick the remaining switches, then hurried from the workshop.

It was time to do something about Derrick's head. She picked it up by his brown curly hair, and carried it into the house.

Tobi stopped in the laundry room with Derrick's head and dropped it into the laundry tub. She cringed at the thud it made in the molded plastic tub.

The doorbell rang. Matthew had come for his pistol.

Tobi threw a towel over Derrick's head, then tidied her disheveled look before answering the door.

Tobi acted perky. "I found that pistol when I was cleaning earlier. Come in, I'll just run upstairs and get it for you." Tobi got the pistol and returned.

"How is your mother doing?" Matthew asked as he took the holstered pistol from Tobi.

"My mother? Oh, I didn't go there after all. Some insurance man came that Derrick had called, then I remembered I had some ceramics in the kiln, everything just piled up on me."

"Is Derrick home yet?"

"No. I haven't even heard from him all day."

"Well, you know Derrick. Probably out drinking, playing cards with some of his buddies. Well, gotta go. Tell Derrick I came and got the pistol, and Tobi, if you need anything, let me know."

"Thanks Matt. I'll keep that in mind."

The distinctive sound of water as it splashed onto the floor, accompanied by a thud, smack sound.

"Oh, I forgot I was doing a load of wash." Tobi turned to dash off to the laundry room, but then stopped. She remembered Derrick's head in the laundry tub. Paralyzed, pale and dumbfounded, Tobi stood and stared at Matt.

"I'll help you clean up before Derrick gets home. I know he'd have a fit." Matt had thought the panicked look on Tobi's face was fear of Derrick.

"No, Matt. I'll attend to the m-mess. If Derrick comes home and we are here alone . . . well . . . you know him. P-please, everything will be okay." Tobi had grabbed Matt's arm.

"You sure?"


Matt turned and left.

Tobi rushed into the laundry room to clean up the water.

In the middle of the puddle of water lay Derrick's head, sudsy, colorless, gruesome.

"Tobi, I just couldn't leave without helping you." Tobi turned to see Matthew standing behind her. "Oh my God!" Matthew's mouth gaped open. He stared at his brother's head.

Tobi sat abruptly on her rear, her back against the washing machine. She laughed hysterically, holding it high by his hair.

Photo of the author. "Shall I quote the Bard? 'Alas, poor Derrick. I knew him well,' Matthew." She cradled and kissed the face of Derrick.


DRIVEN appeared in the December 1999 issue of YELLOW STICKY NOTES MAGAZINE.   She has won an honorable mention for a Writer's Digest Magazine contest in 1991, as well as poetry published in two anthologies. Her novel BEASTSis available at Publish America and Amazon.Com.  For more information or to find out how to buy it
visit her web site.

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