Edith McCarthy liked to peep on potential clients before meeting them. She had parked her van near their Dutch Colonial-style home and was looking through her binoculars. What she saw through the kitchen window did not surprise her. Missus Collins, the lady who had phoned her, was getting fucked like a bargain priced prostitute found on a street corner with a broken light. She was bent over the kitchen table, panties down below her knees, as the broad shouldered man pounded her. Edith decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and presumed the man to be her husband.
Edith placed the binoculars on the seat next to her, rubbed her eyes, and started up the van. She had seen enough. The couple looked happy—they fucked like it at least—and added to this Missus Collins had said they had recently purchased the home. Edith had the inspiration required.
Back in her small apartment on the other side of town, she paced the living room as she counted down the time until she was meant to meet Missus Collins. She couldn’t stand waiting and decided to get through some training. As she never entertained guests she had set up her own little gym in her living room. Cash was tight, so it was mostly a bench and some free weights. Edith picked out her favorite CD, Classic love songs of the eighties, which she had managed to shoplift.
As her portable CD player pumped out the tunes, she did bicep curls, staring herself in a body length mirror. There was no denying the extra few pounds she had put on since getting out of prison—she had been convicted of assault—but she had also gained more muscle. Having just turned forty-two, standing five-foot eleven and weighing a hundred and sixty pounds, she felt good. She clenched tight on her next curl and grimaced, wanting the bicep to pop. The steroids she had purchased from a man riddled in acne at her gym had been worth it.
Prison had changed her. She had not learnt any rehabilitation, if anything she had discovered how to hate more and from a place deeper within. In fact, she had learned to love the hate, to turn into something beautiful. She had also learned how to take better care of herself in a fight and how to get away with certain things.
Edith finished up her set, wolfed down some food, and showered.
When Edith arrived for her meeting with Missus Collins, she found the lady dressed impeccably in a gray skirt and floral white shirt. She also found out Missus Collins first name was Tiffany. Tiffany’s heels clacked on the wooden passageway as she led Edith to the first room she wanted to have painted.
“I was so surprised to find a female painter” Tiffany said, entering the empty room. “Have you been in town long? We have just recently moved here, this is actually the first home we have ever purchased, we are so excited.”
“Nah, I move around a lot,” Edith said.
“Well, this is to be my office, I am a realtor, oh, remind me to give you a card before you go.”
“The other room, just down the hall to the left, will be my husband, Harold’s, entertainment area, mostly for him and his buddies to watch sports. You know how it is.” Tiffany smiled. “He was here earlier, but will only be getting home at four, has some or other meeting.”
Edith nodded. She was glad both rooms were on the bottom floor and that she now knew for sure she had already seen Harold that morning. Good, good, they’re in love, how sweet, Edith thought. She checked her wristwatch. It was only one o’clock. There was more than enough time until Harold arrived.
Edith took a notebook and pencil out from her back pocket. She pretended to start writing things down while looking over the empty room. “You have your color in mind already?” she said.
“Yes,” Tiffany said. “A pastel blue. I don’t want it to be too distracting.”
Edith frowned. “How do you feel about red? Bright red?”
Tiffany shook her head. “No, that would drive me mad. Definitely a light, soft blue.”
Edith took a step towards Tiffany. “No, I am afraid that is just not possible. It will have to be red.”
She reached for Tiffany’s wrist.
“What the fuck?” Tiffany said, pulling away.
Tiffany’s reaction speed surprised Edith, but Edith had natural close-combat skills ingrained in her from prison. She moved right up against Tiffany and stabbed her in the lower part of her neck with the pencil. Tiffany let out a shriek; Edith pulled her close and pressed the pencil in deeper. A stream of red blood shot out from Tiffany’s neck, landing on the light gray carpeting of the room. Edith released Tiffany, who fell to the floor and began crawling for the door.
“Look what you made me do,” Edith said. She reached for Tiffany’s legs and pulled her back. Tiffany tried to scream but all that came out was a gurgling sound. Edith turned her over and dodged a kick. Tiffany’s neck was bleeding profusely and even her mouth had become an exit point for some crimson blood. The sharp copper smell hit Edith like a slap to the face.
“Fuck woman,” she said. “You’re wasting the blood. We don’t waste the fucking blood.”
Tiffany tried to kick out but couldn’t lift her leg high enough. She attempted to roll over again. Edith figured Tiffany was trying to escape again and assisted her. When Tiffany was back on her stomach, crawling with less impetuous than a few moments ago, Edith brought her right boot down on Tiffany’s lower back.
There was a dull crack sound. Tiffany’s body writhed back and forth then stopped. Edith moved closer and brought her boot down on Tiffany’s neck.
Edith said, “Fucking blood wasting bitch.” She tensed, her arms became rigid on her sides, but she calmed and found focus. She made her way to her van, now she needed her equipment.
When Edith returned to the room, she stepped over Tiffany’s body and placed her portable CD player in the middle of the room. She pressed play. Her favorite CD immediately soothed her. She put her empty white five-gallon bucket near Tiffany and then lifted Tiffany’s neck over it. Edith removed the pencil and watched as the blood began pooling at the bottom of the bucket. Fortunately, she had a few techniques to extract a bit more blood, but she didn’t need too much. The room was small.
Satisfied with the amount of blood, she added her own special mix. This mix not only helped to thin out the blood but also helped it to dry faster. Edith poured some of the blood, now mixed, into her roller tray. She dipped her roller, which she had attached to a longer frame, into the tray.
Edith made sure she got a good amount of blood on the roller and then made her way to the wall. She began in the middle of the wall to the right and half a roller length from the corner. This would help against the blood getting too thick in the edges. She made sure not to force the blood out of the roller. It didn’t take long to find her groove. Edith painted the room with Tiffany’s blood. She couldn’t resist singing along to her favorite ballads.
Edith sat on the large, noisy, and uncomfortable black sofa in the living room. Tiffany’s body had been wrapped in plastic and had been placed her in the van. Her equipment stood in the other room that still required painting. She stared into the blackness of the flatscreen hanging on the wall before her, breathing in deep. Her body still rocked with energy that she had received when painting the room with Tiffany’s blood. Glancing down at her wristwatch, she saw it was four o’clock. She tensed different parts of her body and felt the current rocket there. Her muscles hardened. She was ready.
The front door opened.
A man, who she recognized from the morning’s spying, entered the living room. He wore a neat navy blue suit, and a soft yellow tie swung around his neck. The man was attractive and Edith had to force down the jealousy she felt towards Tiffany. Such emotions had to wait, as there was a job in the process.
The man’s eyes narrowed when he saw Edith. “Oh, hello.”
“Hello, Harold,” Edith said.
“Ah, okay, are you a friend of Tiffany’s?”
“I am the painter.”
“Oh I see,” Harold said. His face seemed to relax. “I thought she was meeting you earlier this morning?”
“She was,” Edith said. “But she wanted me to get your opinion on something.”
Harold removed his coat. “I don’t really have much time. I thought she would handle all this. We’re expecting my parents this evening.” He removed his tie and placed both it and the coat on the side of the single-seat chair next to him.
“Where is she?” Harold said. He started walking towards the staircase. “Tiffany,” he called.
Edith got up. “Oh, I will show you. She’s here on the bottom floor.”
She led him to the room she had painted, battling to keep the happiness spreading across her face in check. It was not often she got to show off her work to a client.
Harold looked all around the room, shaking his head. “What the fuck is this mess?”
“The paint job, you don’t like it?”
“Just tell me where my wife is?”
Edith smiled. “She’s here.”
Harold stepped towards her. “Listen, I don’t have time for nonsense. Just tell me where my wife is and what the hell is going on? And what the hell is on the walls? It doesn’t smell like paint.”
“It’s blood. Your wife’s. Do you like it?”
Harold reached for Edith’s throat. “Listen you steroid junkie, tell me where the fuck my wife is.”
Edith hit Harold in his ribs with a clean left jab. He winced and bent forward. She pulled her right arm back and launched a right hook aimed at his temple. The shot clean and Harold nearly toppled over.
“What the fuck?” he said, trying to regain equilibrium.
Edith kicked at his left knee. There was a sharp pop sound. Harold buckled and screamed. He fell forward onto the bloodstained carpeting.
“You fucking crazy bitch!”
Edith walked towards him and lifted her right boot. “I have to break your neck now. I can’t be wasting any more blood today.”
“Get the fuck away from me you freak. I am gonna put you in jail for—”
Edith brought her boot down on Harold’s neck. The dull snap made Edith smile. She stood over Harold and nodded, realizing he was dead. Edith looked over to the recently painted walls and smiled. The current it sent through her almost brought her to tears. She wanted to savor the moment a bit longer, but she had more work to do.
Edith grabbed Harold’s feet and began dragging him to his entertainment room. “What lovely work I am doing these days,” she said to the recently deceased Harold. “You see, once I have finished your room, your new home will be the talk of the neighborhood.”
Once Harold was in the center of the room, she placed her bucket next to him. She reached for her knife.
Edith sat in the front of her van staring at the house. Both bodies were wrapped and in the back of her van. She knew a river where she could dispose of them, along with any other items from the house that needed to join. The cellphone she had been using while staying in town could also go. She had stayed in town longer than usual and knew it was a risk, but she had enjoyed her time here. The place had so much love to give. Her operations had also begun to run smoother.
I really did some impressive work here. Both those rooms came out just perfect. Oh, his parents are going to be so impressed when they arrive this evening, she thought. She waved goodbye to the house, and was about to start up the van when the phone rang.
“Hello, this is Welcome Home Painting,” Edith said.
“Oh hello, I was wondering if I could make an appointment for tomorrow morning. My husband and I purchased a home a few months back, and we received some great news this week, we are expecting our first child.”
“Oh that’s wonderful, congratulations.
“Thank you. We’d like to have the room we want to convert into a nursery painted. My husband also mentioned doing the garage while we are at it. It’s our first real home, and we want it looking great.”
“That’s great; you two sound so in love.”
“Ah, yeah, we are. My husband will be at home for the meeting tomorrow. I’m out of town until next week, but I’d like the work done as soon as possible.”
Edith smiled. One more job, she thought. “Well, I just happen to be free, finished a lovely job today. I can even start tomorrow after your husband has told me what he wants. By the time you’re back, I will be long gone any room you need painted will look beautiful. I promise you my work is incomparable.”
“That’s great, thank you.”
When done with the conversation, Edith started up the van, humming the tunes to one of her favorite ballads. She made her way to her apartment. The energy from the day surged within.
Edith wondered if this was what it felt like to be loved.
Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes short stories and flash fiction whether it’s ghost stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, slasher sprees, bizarre fiction, classic horror literature or erotica. The darker the tale the better. If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn’t, leave a comment below as it helps the authors.