12/12/14
Jilted
By Kathy Steinemann


A hard object hit Doreen’s dive mask. Momentarily disoriented in the icy depths of the mountain lake, she reseated her mask and tapped her dive buddy’s elbow. Ken twisted, his fins churning up sediment from the wreck. She gestured to explain what had happened, and they peered through the murky water.

A cinder block with a canvas bag attached to it lay in the silt. They checked their dive computers. Only two minutes left. They hurried to free the bag from the block.

During their ascent into the warmth of the shallows, they scanned the surface. No boat and no noise except for the sound of their bubbles.

Ken towed their burden ashore. Doreen, exhausted from the strenuous surface swim and high-altitude air, trailed behind with their dive flag. They stripped off their equipment and hacked with their knives at waterlogged ropes and knots until they were able to open the bag.

Doreen screamed. Ken vomited.

They laid their scuba gear under a tree and stood several feet away, staring at their gruesome discovery.

Hoof-beats pounded nearer. Two horseback riders called the police and stayed to help. One of the animals raised its tail, depositing a smelly pile on Doreen’s fins. But she didn’t notice. She knuckled her fists to her temples and rocked, rocked, rocked.

Scents of vomit, horse manure, and pine trees mingled in the air. Ken sniffed, moved closer to the bag, sniffed again. Then he let out the breath he’d been holding prisoner, and laughed. The laugh became hysterical. He wiped the tears from his cheeks. Then he turned silent as everyone glared at him in hushed horror.

A horse snorted. A squirrel scolded. A faraway train whistled a warning at a traffic crossing … and the waiting continued.

The police finally arrived—and they snickered when they examined the contents of the bag.

~*~

On the opposite shore of the lake, a small cabin with a private boat launch nestled among the trees. Its owner, Betty, stood in the small living room with scalpel in hand. She was tired of being jilted, and none of her ex-boyfriends was beyond the reach of her revenge.

Vapid eyeballs, pale faces, blood-stained necks. Those guys couldn’t jilt anyone without heads now, could they?

William had been the first. What joy she had experienced as she stroked his lifeless cheeks and felt the red goo slide between her fingers. He hadn’t taken long. The others? Well, once she realized how much she enjoyed it, she started to prolong the pleasure; and each time, the disbelief and pain etched on their faces grew progressively more horrific.

A canvas sack full of body parts. It was grotesque. It was fulfilling. It was art.

Ted was Betty’s latest victim. She stepped away to survey her work. He was almost ready for a watery burial. Dismembered. Submerged. Forgotten.

Only one more trip to the middle of the lake. One final, watery burial.

She smiled.

The wax sculpture looked just like the real Ted. It would rival the best of Madame Tussaud’s creations—and it was excellent therapy.


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Kathy Steinemann has loved writing for as long as she can remember. During the progression of her love affair with words, she won multiple public-speaking and writing awards. Her career has taken varying directions, including positions as editor of a small-town paper, computer-network administrator, and webmaster. She’s a self-published author who tries to write something every day.



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