Head Trauma/Rana Kelly

Brew_CoyoteiStockphoto_FDannerB_webFrom 2000-2005, I was married to a meth-addicted diagnosed psychotic antisocial personality named Jason. The following events are true and accurate to the best of my memory. There are just some things that you can never ever wipe away. Bloodstains are really stubborn and difficult to get rid of. Names have not been changed, because fuck protecting the guilty.

Jason loved killing things. He relished killing animals. He would kill one any chance he could. Usually, when hunting, he used a 30.06 deer rifle with scope. He was a rather poor shot, but he managed to kill a lot of animals in a lot of different ways despite that. He was a serious gun nut. Because America. Other guns in the house included his father Charlie’s .243 deer rifle with scope, one antique 12 gauge shotgun with a deadly broken, loose trigger and no safety, a more reliable 12 gauge, my vintage Remington 12 gauge that Jason gave me as a gift. Yay. His father Charlie modified it for a small woman like me by cutting down the stock so that it would fit me. In the house there was also an SKS assault rifle (that I had ignorantly filled out the paperwork for before we had married so that Jason could get it because he already had violent charges on his criminal history that I didn’t know about.) He modified this prize with an illegal 25 round clip. Aside from those, he also had a .22 rifle, a Colt .44 revolver that kicked like a mule, and a vintage Rutger .22 pistol from World War II.   He also had a PSE hunting bow and arrow. The man was armed to his disgusting, rotting teeth.

When Jason was a child, fur trapping was legal. His father Charlie made Christmas money from the fur trade. Ironically, Charlie had a knack with animals and when he and Jason’s mother Darlene were dating, he worked with the Disney corporation training animals for films. He had pet ring tailed cats and even a cheeky talking raven. He may have trained animals well, but he was a shitty father. He took his sons trapping with him when they were toddlers, just barely walking. At the tender age of two, Jason saw his father trap animals; bob cats, coyotes, ring tailed cats, skunks, anything really. A day or so after he set the traps, he would walk his trap line to see if he had caught any poor souls. If he did, he would bludgeon them to death in the head with a baseball bat because a bullet hole was considered a flaw in the fur. A two year old monster-to-be watched that and absorbed those images. I think we all know that it’s those kinds of macabre images that never leave us alone. They haunt us at night like poltergeists, flailing and writhing behind our eyelids, filling us with lung crushing dread and terror. Jason learned how to kill early and well and he learned to relish it too.

In the final year of our marriage we lived in a small town called Oracle, Arizona. It was a higher elevation than the closest city of Tucson so it was a bit cooler. It wasn’t as white trashy as the neighborhood towns that surrounded it, but it wasn’t not white trashy either. One day, we had javelinas get into our yard. Javelinas are in the porcine family. They are Arizona’s wart hog, basically. They’re naughty, can get into garbage, but it’s only because we have stolen their habitat and they’re hungry and thirsty in the wild, so they come into civilization. A pack got caught in our front yard which was fenced. Jason let most of them out but trapped one by closing the gate. He ran and got his bow. He was so, so excited. Like a little kid. He had never been able to actually take down anything with his PSE. Now he had a captive audience with nowhere to run. He killed one of the female javelinas. The arrow took her in the shoulders and she screamed and screamed and screamed. Oh how she screamed. I’ll never be able to put that sound to rest. He had a horrible zeal, a satisfied bloodlust in his eyes, especially when he threw her corpse into the garbage bin so that he wouldn’t get caught for animal cruelty.

Because he was a bad shot and hunting only came once a year and offered one tag for one deer, he would often just poach for fun. He would also set now-illegal traps. One day my youngest son Kiah, who was two at the time, and I went with him to check one of those traps. It had been successful. He had bagged a coyote. He stood there, gnawing at his front paw, trying to get loose. His foot was probably already broken, but wolves and coyotes are known to, if trapped long enough, chew their own paws off to get free. Trust me; my paws are long since gone. This coyote was beautiful. His fur was multi-hued, painted with the desert. He was obviously terrified and frantic when he saw us because he knew what was coming.

I sat there and watched this moment in abject horror. It was quick but it lasted for hours. No, years, because I can still see the moment so clear in my head that it’s completely pivotal. It was just like the moment in “House of 1000 Corpses” when Otis shoots that guy on his knees; it’s in slow motion. The director Rob Zombie wanted to make the scene horribly, horribly cold so the camera pans out slowly, slowly, slowly until it’s from quite a distance and at such a slow speed that you see the small puff of smoke from the barrel of the gun, hear the bang of the shot, and see the victim get hit in the head and slowly fall back to the ground dead. There’s no music, no background sound. Nothing to absorb the impact of the misery. The scene is pure torture.

Jason walked up to the coyote. He stood just out of reach so that the coyote could not bite him. He pulled the hammer back on his Colt .44 and pulled the trigger. He hit the coyote point blank range in the face. He brought the lolling body and parts of the trap back to the truck and threw them in the bed. Kiah, my little innocent boy, had seen exactly what I had. I sat in the truck quietly as Jason laughed and started on the road home. I sat sideways, my back against the passenger side door and looked out the back window into the bed. I stared at the blood spattered carcass in the bed of the truck wishing that it was me. I would have taken that bullet for him in a heartbeat. When we got back to his parents’ house, Jason threw the carcass in the garbage because it was just a soul, and it didn’t matter. I guess it’s because Jason had no soul, so he wasn’t bothered with anyone else’s, especially a mangy useless coyote. I mean, who the hell cares about them, right?

Rana Kelly has been a poet since childhood, a writer since she was a teen. She published her debut novel, Until Her Darkness Goes, in 2015.  Her chapbook, Superstition, is forthcoming this summer.  You can read more of Rana’s writing at 2nd star to the Left, straight on ’til morning

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