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Deceit for some people is just another part of their personality.  For Carla, it’s an art.  Read more about Carla in Part 4 of The Perfect Community.  Thanks.




CRYSTAL GASPED.  SHE WAS looking at Jay as he slept.  Jay did not hear her.  He was snoring.  His hands were under his head.  He was in the fetal position.  She shook him.  Jay moved.  But he did not open his eyes.  She nudged him again.  He sighed and smacked his lips and kept sleeping.  She punched him in the arm.


Jay popped up and looked at her.  He was breathing hard.  “What is it?” he asked.  “What’s going on?”  He looked around the room.  The blue walls reminded him of being outside.  The sheer curtains were letting sunlight through.  He squinted when he looked toward the windows.  Then he looked directly at Crystal.  She was sitting beside him.


Crystal’s arms were folded.  A scowl was on her face.  Her hair had a slept-in look to it.  One side of it was smashed against her head.  The other side was pointed in the air.


“What is it?” he asked.  Crystal could only look at him.  He was confused at her silence.  “What?  What are you looking at?  What’s wrong?”


“Those better not be what I think they are,” she said, pointing at him.  He touched his face.  “If they are, we’ve got problems.  Because I know you were not in bed with me last night.  Because, when I woke up you were not around.  I’m not going to ask where you went.”  He blinked at her and squinted.  “Don’t act like you don’t know?”


“What are you talking about?” he asked.  “You sound crazy.”  He hunched his shoulders.  “Be more specific.”


“Go look in the bathroom mirror,” she said.  He asked why.  “Go look in the bathroom mirror.  No excuses.  Don’t want to hear it.  No nothing.  Just go look.”


Jay got out of bed and went into the bathroom.  There was silence for a few seconds.


“Damn,” he said.  “Unbelievable.  This isn’t going to heal anytime soon.”  Crystal was saying something to him from the bedroom.  “I can’t believe she did this.”  Jay came out of the bathroom.  Crystal was sitting on her legs on the bed.  “You know who did that?”


“I’m sure you have a good excuse,” Crystal said.  “Remember we talked about the strip clubs?  Not going to them.”  She was referring to one night three years ago when he was drunk.  A few friends persuaded him to go with them to a strip club.  “Whatever it is, if it starts with another woman, I’m out of here.”


“Well, I guess you’re going to be out of here,” he said.  “Because it does involve another woman.  Your crazy-ass mother.  I’ve told you about her.  Over and over.  You always have an excuse for her.  Always forgiving her behavior.  I’ve told you she has a problem.  Last night she tried to choke me to death.  Her hands were almost wrapped around my throat.  They would’ve been around my throat if they were big enough.”


“You’ve got to be kidding,” she said.  “You’re trying to tell me my mother, one hundred and thirty-six pounds at the most, did that to you?  And, you’re serious?  You just stood there while she choked you.  Just eating it up all the while she was choking you nonconscious.  That’s what you’re saying?  You just stood there?”  She paused.  “Do you know how sick that sounds?  Do you think I’m stupid?  That’s what it sounds like.  Like you think I’m stupid.”


Crystal jumped out of bed.  “Burn marks, nail gouges, bruises, my mother did all that?” she asked.  “Why?  Why would she do that?  What possible motivation would cause her to do that?”


“I’m telling you….”


“You know what?” Crystal asked.  “I know you’re daring me.  I’ll take that dare.  We’re going downstairs and settle this.  If you’re lying to me, we’ll never talk again.  Not only will I leave you…this is so far beneath you to blame this on my mother.  It’s unforgivable.  So, you think about it.  Either I go or not?  You fess up.”


Jay crossed his arms.


Crystal headed downstairs.  Jay followed her.  He was telling her not to make a big deal out of it.  That her mother was not going to take responsibility for it.  What Jay did not want to do was to get between Crystal and her mother.  Their relationship was too close, as far as he saw it.  But he kept quiet about it.  No one got between them.


Carla and Frank were already in the kitchen.  They were laughing and eating what looked like bacon.  But knowing the health-conscious Carla—no matter how crazy she was—she would not dare get caught eating pork bacon.  It must have been turkey bacon.


Crystal said in a loud voice, “Mother, Jay is saying that you did this to his neck.”  She was pointing at Jay’s neck.  “And, not some woman he may have met at the bar.  A bar he went to after I fell asleep.”


“I didn’t go to a bar,” Jay said.  “This is crazy.  That was almost four years ago.”


Carla looked at the two of them with a half-smile and half-smirk.  Jay could see what she was thinking.  Her cold eyes said it all.  Even though they were green, they were empty of emotions.  Her stare reminded him of a cold black hole.  What she was doing was considering if she should screw him over or not.  Or, should she take the right course of action and let him off the hook.


“She did it,” Frank said.  Crystal shot her mother and father looks.  “She did it to me, too.  It was in a different situation when she did it.  But, she did it.”  Frank looked at Jay.  “Our situations were different, weren’t they?”


“Oh dad, come on, that’s disgusting,” Crystal said.  “The thought of that is too much to take.”


“I’m joking,” Frank said.  “She told me what happened.  And she told me how she did it.  But, she didn’t tell me she hurt his neck.  What she told me when we woke up was that she showed him one of her self-defense moves.  She learned it in her mixed martial arts class.”


“Mother,” Crystal said.  “I can’t believe you did that.  What we’re you thinking?  You could’ve seriously injured him.”


Carla shrugged.  “I didn’t think I was hurting him,” Carla said.  “I forgot he’s fragile.”  Jay wanted to tell her she was psycho.  “We were just having fun and fooling around.  I showed him a choke hold that our instructors taught us.  He was supposed to get out of it.”  Crystal shook her head.  “I didn’t know I was hurting him.  We did have the lights out.”


“Wait a minute,” Frank said.  “We had the lights out too.  This conversation is getting interesting.  Why would you have the lights out?”


“Dad,” Crystal said.  “Don’t make this any worse.”


“Not like that,” Carla said.  “You two are dirty-minded individuals.  He was sitting in the dark thinking.  I came downstairs to get some tea.”


Jay had to force himself to keep his mouth closed.  Carla gave him a sneaky glance.  Jay wanted to say she was lying.  She had just come in from wherever she came from.


“So we kept the lights out and talked,” Carla said.  “That’s when I challenged him to get out of my survivor hold.”


“His neck looks awful,” Crystal said.  “Mother, you need to apologize to him.  This is…”


“Knock.  Knock.  Knock.”


They looked in the direction of the door.  They could not see it from the kitchen.  They could only hear the knocks on it.


“This is early for visitors,” Frank said.  “Anyone should know that.  It’s probably one of the neighbors needing to borrow something.”  He went to the door and did not come back for a minute or so.


They heard Frank talking to someone.  Carla went around the corner to see.  Jay and Crystal waited for her to come back.  Then they went around the corner too.


Two police officers were standing in the doorway.



What would bring police officers to a house like Carla’s?  We’ll see in the next part. 

Thank you for coming by.  I hope your week is going well.  I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

Take care of yourself.


Stephen Wallace