Birthday Reflections

My birthday has come and gone. 26 started as good year for me. It was the year I got married. I should have taken it as a good sign when I went one birthday without bawling my eyes out. 27 was not such a lucky start.

My 27th birthday began horribly. I had to spend it with my angry husband and alienated biological father. My husband and I got into a HUGE HORRENDOUS argument over the fact that my useless father doesn’t have a vehicle. He had a 2 o’clock curfew for the half way house with no ride home.

Jake would not allow us to give him a ride because of the contents of his pockets. He had good reason to deny the request seeing as we never know what he might be carrying- but Jake has been pulled over exactly ONCE in the almost 4 years I’ve known him.  I figured it would be safe enough, so I argued with my husband.

I had a mental breakdown first thing in the morning since we were arguing about it as soon as we woke up. He screamed bloody murder at me in the car and told me he didn’t care about me. On my birthday at some point he inevitably suggests we shouldn’t be together anymore. He has a specialty in fucking the day up, always needing to bring me to hysterical tears.

I was bawling in the walgreens we went to pick a father’s day card from. My birthday was 2 days before Father’s Day. I was already late to my meeting with Johnny. That was traumatic in and of itself, standing in the walgreen’s greeting card aisle tears streaming down my face as my husband disrespects me and cusses me as I frantically search through the cards.

So many wrong cards for Johnny; Best Dad Ever, You’re My Super Hero, Thank You For Always Being There For Me Dad, I Love You. It’s more like-

Dear Biological Father;

I wish my mother had never told me about you. She kept the secret from me for over 20 years, what was the rest of my life? I would have preferred she took her secret to the grave. I don’t want to know you or love you. I wish you were a long-forgotten lover of hers. I wish you had remained a distant memory from her past. I wish you had never reconnected, or ever showed me any love. I regret knowing about you, and wish I could forget she ever told me about you. 

Be Gone.

On the way out of Walgreens, Jake threatened to throw me out of the car and leave me. He screamed more at me, and I bawled uncontrollably because he’s always threatening me with divorce, making me feel like I’m not wanted.

When we got to my mother’s house where Johnny was waiting, Jake went so far as to threaten to leave me alone. He got in the car and started it up. I stayed standing on the porch in front of the front door with my heart in my throat from my nervous breakdown and the stress of seeing my father for the first time in two years, before I collapsed into tears out of sight of the front window and by my mother’s front yard fence.

There were so many feelings mixed with Jake’s hurt he inflicted. I hadn’t seen my dad in two years on purpose. We hadn’t spoken, and I felt wretchedly guilty about shutting him out of my life. I felt ashamed of myself. I was scared to look him in the eyes. I was afraid he’d look at me with an angry or injured expression, and I felt like I couldn’t escape.

Instead he held me non-judgmentally while Jake was making me cry. His embrace was so warm and sincere I definitely felt comforted from my earlier breakdown. I cried in his arms, but I think he thought I was emotionally charged from seeing him again, which I was partly. It felt good to be forgiven without having to ask.

I hate him for loving me the way I want to be loved. No one has loved me like him since my ex Elizabeth and my Grandma. He doesn’t believe I can do anything wrong. I am golden to him, and it’s a fucking crying shame to be so revered by someone you cannot even bare to speak with.

It feels wretched to me, to crave his perception of me and his love, but to not be able to welcome him into my life. I feel like me and my parents are standing on two different sides of a canyon, I can’t love them even when I try.

If I want Johnny’s good, I have to accept his bad, and I won’t. I can’t. So if I can’t stomach his bad, I don’t deserve his good. You can’t pick and choose what you want from a person, you get all of them or nothing. And with Johnny, I find myself wondering how safe nothing is.

Is it worth this empty feeling inside?

 

Some Dads Don’t Come Home

After all the worrying I have done – after all the dread I felt knowing this day would come….. Fate still has a way of throwing me for a loop. My dad has been in jail, and I have purposefully alienated myself from him. I haven’t been interested to know him, or believe any word he’s said. He would say he’s going to be different, full of the Lord, that he doesn’t want to go back to jail. It’s hard to believe him, maybe he doesn’t right now, but they always forget. Someone who’s a repeat offender like himself.

I lived in dread knowing the day was coming, he would be out and I would have to face him. After months of silence and dejection- see his face, tell him, “I had nothing nice to say to you, so I just didn’t say anything.”

Now I have learned from my mother that he is out- and he is not coming back. I expected my mother would be there for him, and she would bring him home. He would move back in and they would go back to their topsy-turvy stupid relationship. First, they love each other one moment and hate each other the next. Not to mention all the drug use. I was scared of him sucking her back in, or vice versa, him trying to do good and her refusing to follow along, dragging him back down.

Instead, he has bounced from prison to a half way house somewhere in our city and he has not sent word to my mother or myself. He has disappeared without a trace. My mother inquired at the prison one day and found out that he had been released from there, and I cannot imagine her heart break. I worry about the woman all the time, and him not coming back to her has her on my mind more often. I worry about her. I hope she’ll be okay, I feel bad for her that her lover has….. disappeared like this.

I feel guilty. I feel bad. He got the message. I don’t want you. I didn’t, but do I still not? I feel some kind of void in my chest wondering how I have let him go. Have I done the right thing, was I a royal bitch? The man bears my name on his knuckles as a sign of his love, and this woman snubs him, a woman he wants to love. She won’t let him love her because his destructive life hurts too much. It hurts to be near, the love isn’t enough.

Did I miss out on something though? It is always nice to be loved, adored. I was a golden light in his eyes, and it’s hard not to be swayed by such a thing. No one has loved me like that since my Grandma and Elizabeth. Someone who thinks you can do no wrong, turns a blind eye to all your faults. I feel remorseful missing out on that. He just wanted to love me, and I wouldn’t let him. Couldn’t let him. Pushed him away.

Did I mean to push him so far?

Oblivious by Miniature Tigers

Lately I feel like a blown out birthday candle
One look in the mirror and I know the party’s over
And yeah, I want a big house
With a swimming pool
Fuck it, baby, I got you
(Fuck it, baby I got you)

I’m so lost in my head
It’s way too real out there
I’m lost in a day dream
Oh yeah, I don’t care

I’m oblivious, yeah

Spaced out in a daze I couldn’t hear you
The music drowns you out I didn’t care
Oh yeah, I didn’t care
I know you want a quiet house
With a lemon tree
I’m sorry baby, you’re stuck with me
(Sorry baby, you’re stuck with me)

I’m so lost in my head
It’s way too real out there
I’m lost in a day dream
I don’t care

I’m oblivious, yeah
I’m oblivious, oh
I’m oblivious, yeah
I’m oblivious, oh whoa

Your love girl, ain’t no dungeon
So tell me why do I run then?
Tomorrow you can scold me
Tonight, can you just hold me

Read more: Miniature Tigers – Oblivious Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Dear Daddy

I need a moment to mental pause my life. I’ve been  feeling more and more overwhelmed lately and unable to perform at work, at home, in Life in general. I had a four day rest from work, but it didn’t rejuvenate my batteries. I still feel quite ill at ease.

My dad is going back into the general populace someday soon, and the sooner the day looms the more upset I get. I am both glad he will be out and utterly dismayed. I dread having to face him- it’s uncomfortable to stand in front of a man who loves you, and sneer down your nose at him. Disdain. Unhappiness. Harbinger of chaos, you are my undoing. I loathe you, thank you for loving me, but it doesn’t feel like enough. I need you to step up and be better, climb out of the shit. Abandon your old skin and your old ways. Become someone new, a more improved version of yourself. Stop making me witness this train wreck we have now.

Dads & Drugs

Today, I was vexed when I looked down at my cellphone and saw it was my dad calling. My biological dad, not my first dad. It is tiresome how I always have to clarify whom I’m talking about when I say “my dad.” Who, Eddie, the man who believed was my father for over 20 years? Or my second dad, my real dad, whom I’ve only known for less than 3 years? And he has literally spent half of that time incarcerated.

I am really resentful that he landed himself in jail again. Both he and my mom were addicted and also running their own game. It was simple, Johnny got caught and got thrown in jail. That was over a year ago. He told me today that at the beginning of 2017, he should be moving to a half way house in Oklahoma City. I thought it was incredibly tactful of my dad not to bring up the fact that I haven’t written him. I don’t normally take his calls, or return his texts with any frequency. I have chosen to freeze him out, make him feel my absence while he is gone so he won’t take advantage of our time together. He treats my mother poorly even though he’s inside and she’s outside and still heartily dedicated to him.

I don’t actually like my biological dad. He has been a harbinger of chaos in my mother’s life. We have a complicated relationship. He thinks the world of me and speaks very highly of me, so it’s hard to have hard feelings towards him when he’s so nice to me. But at the same time, everything he says to me is a lie and I expect him to fall right back into his old ways again when he gets out. I don’t trust him or my mother to do the right thing. I desperately want them to live a drug free life and stay out of trouble, but one must wonder if that’s like asking a cheetah to change it’s spots……

I want to have faith, I just feel so drained.

Don’t disappoint me anymore. I hate hearing from my biological dad. When he texts me or calls me, it upsets me because he’s trying to get in when I’m trying to build a stone wall to keep him out. Leave me alone. Learn your lesson. I don’t have any use for either of my parents if they are on drugs and in danger of getting thrown back into jail.

I’ve always lived by the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” That explains my silence towards Johnny. I want him to feel my condemnation, but I fear I can’t tell him anything about how I feel. It’s unkind to send a fellow in prison mean letters, so I just don’t say anything. He wants to hear from me, and I get agitated when I think about forging a connection with him. Stay away from me until you’re ready to do better. It’s so hard to set boundaries with people. I agonize frequently over whether or not to send him a letter with my clear expectations, No. 1 on the list:

Get & maintain a legitimate job
Pay Your Bills
Stay Off Drugs
Remain loyal to each other

Can that really be too much to ask? My mother and father’s relationship can be explosive like dynamite. One week they’re besotted with each other and talking everyday and other weeks, she asks me if I have heard from him at all. They fight, and they bounce back together. He gives her a lot of shit that in my mother’s past life, she would never ever have taken from a man. I don’t think he deserves her sometimes, and most of the time I think he’s a loser and I’m upset with her for wanting him so much, so they can do bad together.

But at least they’re together that way.

My own success weighs heavy on me.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TOBY!!!!

My boss gave his two weeks notice. Now people will look at me, pay attention to when I show up for work and how I behave. My responsibilities will increase and my hours as well. I will make hard calls, keep up with purchasing in all regards. I will make schedules, update need to know information. I will have to check the sales ladies information, because she’s a little spacey at best.

I got pulled over by a highway patrol the other day. I was going to try on wedding gowns and I told him I was late. Now, it has been some time since I got pulled over on the highway, and I accidentally made him follow me for awhile, not knowing what to do. I just took the nearest exit off the highway because that’s what made sense to me.

However, when he caught up to me, he was quite irate. He was sarcastic and mean. He saw I definitely need corrective lenses to drive and he was like, “So you can see. Don’t know why you’d blow past a highway patrol like that.” Well, obvs… I didn’t see you lol

He ended up coming back to the car and he had only written me a warning. He let me off, and said it seems like there is a lot going on in your life, and you need to pay more attention while you’re out here on the road.

Pay attention. I guess you could say that has been hard. I have paid attention while my waistline expands and paid attention to my sudden spikes in anxiety. The prospect of being the big boss is making me want to run the other way and not step up to the plate, I want to be lazy and stay where I am but not if it means anyone will think less of me. I regretted it the last time I didn’t take a management role and I had the opportunity to. I was jealous when I let my last opportunity go, at our hotel I could really have things good if I could just get my personal affairs in some semblance of order.

My life falls apart around my ears. Nothing is really wrong with it, but everything is. I eat all night out of boredom and don’t care that I am supposed to be minding my p’s and q’s and watching out for the deadly disease that killed my grandma; diabetes. I am a likely candidate, and still I stuff my face.

As if that is not enough, I worry all the time about my parents. My parents who make me feel ashamed whenever I spare the time to think on them. I feel like I never say anything real to them, because I keep my anger to myself. I let them think I’ve adjusted to the way things are and that I’ve forgiven them their youthful foolishness.

My mother was a beautiful teenager. She had many suitors at the time she became pregnant. There was speculation about who the father could be, each candidate less desirable than the last. She had (and still does have) horrible taste in men, and they were all related to gang activity in some way.

The real story of my birth is that during the time my mother was pregnant, my father was carted off to rehab against his will. He had a record and he had to go, and he had no way to call my mother in those days and tell her what happened. He asked his mother to go and explain, but she never did.

When Johnny was released from rehab and knew my mother had a baby, he came to see if I was his. The story goes that when he came to the door, my uncle answered the door and told him my mom didn’t want to see him no more. She had moved on, as any young beautiful girl would once she’s assumed the father of her illegitimate baby has disappeared on her. She chose another man to be my father in his absence, and she had to stick with the story.

Johnny went away, mad at her. If she didn’t want him, he didn’t want her. He thinks I have forgiven him for this, that they were young and somehow I guess not at fault for that reason alone. He called me on Father’s Day to tell me how proud he is I was his first creation and that he thinks our connection is very important. I wanted to say very badly, “Yeah, it was real important the first 20 years of my life.”

He knew about me. He could have tried harder. He wrote my mother and me off. Maybe he wasn’t completely certain he was the father, but you would think a guy would not rest until he found out before he gave up. They were young, and he didn’t want me. No one wants a baby when they’re that young. I still feel upset though, that my heritage was hidden from me. It was for the best, since Johnny would not have been a good dad for me either, growing up. I was better off with the family I had. It makes it hard though sometimes, I feel alienated from him in that way. He had all that time to try and seek me out, and he never did. Now you think you can worm your way in so easily….?

You can call, but I might not answer.

My dad tried to call me, and I had conflicted feelings about it. I’ve been mad about him lately, my attitude has shifted. I told my friend and boss Latta, “I didn’t answer because I didn’t feel like being upset.” And he said that was a valid point, no blame there.

He’s still in prison. My mother is still hanging on his every word. She loves him and still wants to be with him even though he’s a loser. I know he loves me, but I feel bitter, being abandoned in this way. Mom stands by him, and meanwhile I try to forget him. Calling me wrecks that, please don’t call me. I don’t know what to say: “I’m angry, I wish you were here. Thanks for fucking that up.”

Feeling dark??? I found a delightful depiction if Edgar Allen Poe works put to animation on netflix and it got me started on a kick. I went and read The Black Cat and so I’ll post it here for you [original link]

The Black Cat

 

by Edgar Allan Poe
(published 1845)

  

    FOR the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence. Yet, mad am I not — and very surely do I not dream. But to-morrow I die, and to-day I would unburthen my soul. My immediate purpose is to place before the world, plainly, succinctly, and without comment, a series of mere household events. In their consequences, these events have terrified — have tortured — have destroyed me. Yet I will not attempt to expound them. To me, they have presented little but Horror — to many they will seem less terrible than barroques. Hereafter, perhaps, some intellect may be found which will reduce my phantasm to the common-place — some intellect more calm, more logical, and far less excitable than my own, which will perceive, in the circumstances I detail with awe, nothing more than an ordinary succession of very natural causes and effects.

From my infancy I was noted for the docility and humanity of my disposition. My tenderness of heart was even so conspicuous as to make me the jest of my companions. I was especially fond of animals, and was indulged by my parents with a great variety of pets. With these I spent most of my time, and never was so happy as when feeding and caressing them. This peculiarity of character grew with my growth, and, in my manhood, I derived from it one of my principal sources of pleasure. To those who have cherished an affection for a faithful and sagacious dog, I need hardly be at the trouble of explaining the nature or the intensity of the gratification thus derivable. There is something in the unselfish and self-sacrificing love of a brute, which goes directly to the heart of him who has had frequent occasion to test the paltry friendship and gossamer fidelity of mere Man.

I married early, and was happy to find in my wife a disposition not uncongenial with my own. Observing my partiality for domestic pets, she lost no opportunity of procuring those of the most agreeable kind. We had birds, gold-fish, a fine dog, rabbits, a small monkey, and a cat.

This latter was a remarkably large and beautiful animal, entirely black, and sagaciousto an astonishing degree. In speaking of his intelligence, my wife, who at heart was not a little tinctured with superstition, made frequent allusion to the ancient popular notion, which regarded all black cats as witches in disguise. Not that she was ever serious upon this point — and I mention the matter at all for no better reason than that it happens, just now, to be remembered.

Pluto — this was the cat’s name — was my favorite pet and playmate. I alone fed him, and he attended me wherever I went about the house. It was even with difficulty that I could prevent him from following me through the streets.

Our friendship lasted, in this manner, for several years, during which my general temperament and character — through the instrumentality of the Fiend Intemperance — had (I blush to confess it) experienced a radical alteration for the worse. I grew, day by day, more moody, more irritable, more regardless of the feelings of others. I suffered myself to use intemperate language to my wife. At length, I even offered her personal violence. My pets, of course, were made to feel the change in my disposition. I not only neglected, but ill-used them. For Pluto, however, I still retained sufficient regard to restrain me from maltreating him, as I made no scruple of maltreating the rabbits, the monkey, or even the dog, when by accident, or through affection, they came in my way. But my disease grew upon me — for what disease is like Alcohol ! — and at length even Pluto, who was now becoming old, and consequently somewhat peevish — even Pluto began to experience the effects of my ill temper.

One night, returning home, much intoxicated, from one of my haunts about town, I fancied that the cat avoided my presence. I seized him; when, in his fright at my violence, he inflicted a slight wound upon my hand with his teeth. The fury of a demon instantly possessed me. I knew myself no longer. My original soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from my body; and a more than fiendish malevolence, gin-nurtured, thrilled every fibre of my frame. I took from my waistcoat-pocket a pen-knife, opened it, grasped the poor beast by the throat, and deliberately cut one of its eyes from the socket ! I blush, I burn, I shudder, while I pen the damnable atrocity.

When reason returned with the morning — when I had slept off the fumes of the night’s debauch — I experienced a sentiment half of horror, half of remorse, for the crime of which I had been guilty; but it was, at best, a feeble and equivocal feeling, and the soul remained untouched. I again plunged into excess, and soon drowned in wine all memory of the deed.

In the meantime the cat slowly recovered. The socket of the lost eye presented, it is true, a frightful appearance, but he no longer appeared to suffer any pain. He went about the house as usual, but, as might be expected, fled in extreme terror at my approach. I had so much of my old heart left, as to be at first grieved by this evident dislike on the part of a creature which had once so loved me. But this feeling soon gave place to irritation. And then came, as if to my final and irrevocable overthrow, the spirit of PERVERSENESS. Of this spirit philosophy takes no account. Yet I am not more sure that my soul lives, than I am that perverseness is one of the primitive impulses of the human heart — one of the indivisible primary faculties, or sentiments, which give direction to the character of Man. Who has not, a hundred times, found himself committing a vile or a silly action, for no other reason than because he knows he should not? Have we not a perpetual inclination, in the teeth of our best judgment, to violate that which is Law, merely because we understand it to be such? This spirit of perverseness, I say, came to my final overthrow. It was this unfathomable longing of the soul to vex itself — to offer violence to its own nature — to do wrong for the wrong’s sake only — that urged me to continue and finally to consummate the injury I had inflicted upon the unoffending brute. One morning, in cool blood, I slipped a noose about its neck and hung it to the limb of a tree; — hung it with the tears streaming from my eyes, and with the bitterest remorse at my heart; — hung it because I knew that it had loved me, and because I felt it had given me no reason of offence; — hung itbecause I knew that in so doing I was committing a sin — a deadly sin that would so jeopardize my immortal soul as to place it — if such a thing were possible — even beyond the reach of the infinite mercy of the Most Merciful and Most Terrible God.

On the night of the day on which this cruel deed was done, I was aroused from sleep by the cry of fire. The curtains of my bed were in flames. The whole house was blazing. It was with great difficulty that my wife, a servant, and myself, made our escape from theconflagration. The destruction was complete. My entire worldly wealth was swallowed up, and I resigned myself thenceforward to despair.

I am above the weakness of seeking to establish a sequence of cause and effect, between the disaster and the atrocity. But I am detailing a chain of facts — and wish not to leave even a possible link imperfect. On the day succeeding the fire, I visited the ruins. The walls, with one exception, had fallen in. This exception was found in a compartment wall, not very thick, which stood about the middle of the house, and against which had rested the head of my bed. The plastering had here, in great measure, resisted the action of the fire — a fact which I attributed to its having been recently spread. About this wall a dense crowd were collected, and many persons seemed to be examining a particular portion of it with very minute and eager attention. The words “strange!” “singular!” and other similar expressions, excited my curiosity. I approached and saw, as if graven in bas relief upon the white surface, the figure of a gigantic cat. The impression was given with an accuracy truly marvellous. There was a rope about the animal’s neck.

When I first beheld this apparition — for I could scarcely regard it as less — my wonder and my terror were extreme. But at length reflection came to my aid. The cat, I remembered, had been hung in a garden adjacent to the house. Upon the alarm of fire, this garden had been immediately filled by the crowd — by some one of whom the animal must have been cut from the tree and thrown, through an open window, into my chamber. This had probably been done with the view of arousing me from sleep. The falling of other walls had compressed the victim of my cruelty into the substance of the freshly-spread plaster; the lime of which, with the flames, and the ammonia from the carcass, had then accomplished the portraiture as I saw it.

Although I thus readily accounted to my reason, if not altogether to my conscience, for the startling fact just detailed, it did not the less fail to make a deep impression upon my fancy. For months I could not rid myself of the phantasm of the cat; and, during this period, there came back into my spirit a half-sentiment that seemed, but was not, remorse. I went so far as to regret the loss of the animal, and to look about me, among the vile haunts which I now habitually frequented, for another pet of the same species, and of somewhat similar appearance, with which to supply its place.

One night as I sat, half stupified, in a den of more than infamy, my attention was suddenly drawn to some black object, reposing upon the head of one of the immense hogsheads of Gin, or of Rum, which constituted the chief furniture of the apartment. I had been looking steadily at the top of this hogshead for some minutes, and what now caused me surprise was the fact that I had not sooner perceived the object thereupon. I approached it, and touched it with my hand. It was a black cat — a very large one — fully as large as Pluto, and closely resembling him in every respect but one. Pluto had not a white hair upon any portion of his body; but this cat had a large, although indefinite splotch of white, covering nearly the whole region of the breast.

Upon my touching him, he immediately arose, purred loudly, rubbed against my hand, and appeared delighted with my notice. This, then, was the very creature of which I was in search. I at once offered to purchase it of the landlord; but this person made no claim to it — knew nothing of it — had never seen it before.

I continued my caresses, and, when I prepared to go home, the animal evinced a disposition to accompany me. I permitted it to do so; occasionally stooping and patting it as I proceeded. When it reached the house it domesticated itself at once, and became immediately a great favorite with my wife.

For my own part, I soon found a dislike to it arising within me. This was just the reverse of what I had anticipated; but — I know not how or why it was — its evident fondness for myself rather disgusted and annoyed. By slow degrees, these feelings of disgust and annoyance rose into the bitterness of hatred. I avoided the creature; a certain sense of shame, and the remembrance of my former deed of cruelty, preventing me from physically abusing it. I did not, for some weeks, strike, or otherwise violently ill use it; but gradually — very gradually — I came to look upon it with unutterable loathing, and to flee silently from its odious presence, as from the breath of a pestilence.

What added, no doubt, to my hatred of the beast, was the discovery, on the morning after I brought it home, that, like Pluto, it also had been deprived of one of its eyes. This circumstance, however, only endeared it to my wife, who, as I have already said, possessed, in a high degree, that humanity of feeling which had once been my distinguishing trait, and the source of many of my simplest and purest pleasures.

With my aversion to this cat, however, its partiality for myself seemed to increase. It followed my footsteps with a pertinacity which it would be difficult to make the reader comprehend. Whenever I sat, it would crouch beneath my chair, or spring upon my knees, covering me with its loathsome caresses. If I arose to walk it would get between my feet and thus nearly throw me down, or, fastening its long and sharp claws in my dress, clamber, in this manner, to my breast. At such times, although I longed to destroy it with a blow, I was yet withheld from so doing, partly by a memory of my former crime, but chiefly — let me confess it at once — by absolute dread of the beast.

This dread was not exactly a dread of physical evil — and yet I should be at a loss how otherwise to define it. I am almost ashamed to own — yes, even in this felon’s cell, I am almost ashamed to own — that the terror and horror with which the animal inspired me, had been heightened by one of the merest chimæras it would be possible to conceive. My wife had called my attention, more than once, to the character of the mark of white hair, of which I have spoken, and which constituted the sole visible difference between the strange beast and the one I had destroyed. The reader will remember that this mark, although large, had been originally very indefinite; but, by slow degrees — degrees nearly imperceptible, and which for a long time my Reason struggled to reject as fanciful — it had, at length, assumed a rigorous distinctness of outline. It was now the representation of an object that I shudder to name — and for this, above all, I loathed, and dreaded, and would have rid myself of the monster had I dared — it was now, I say, the image of a hideous — of a ghastly thing — of the GALLOWS ! — oh, mournful and terrible engine of Horror and of Crime — of Agony and of Death !

And now was I indeed wretched beyond the wretchedness of mere Humanity. And a brute beast — whose fellow I had contemptuously destroyed — a brute beast to work out for me — for me a man, fashioned in the image of the High God — so much of insufferable wo! Alas! neither by day nor by night knew I the blessing of Rest any more! During the former the creature left me no moment alone; and, in the latter, I started, hourly, from dreams of unutterable fear, to find the hot breath of the thing upon my face, and its vast weight — an incarnate Night-Mare that I had no power to shake off — incumbent eternally upon my heart !

Beneath the pressure of torments such as these, the feeble remnant of the good within me succumbed. Evil thoughts became my sole intimates — the darkest and most evil of thoughts. The moodiness of my usual temper increased to hatred of all things and of all mankind; while, from the sudden, frequent, and ungovernable outbursts of a fury to which I now blindly abandoned myself, my uncomplaining wife, alas! was the most usual and the most patient of sufferers.

One day she accompanied me, upon some household errand, into the cellar of the old building which our poverty compelled us to inhabit. The cat followed me down the steep stairs, and, nearly throwing me headlong, exasperated me to madness. Uplifting an axe, and forgetting, in my wrath, the childish dread which had hitherto stayed my hand, I aimed a blow at the animal which, of course, would have proved instantly fatal had it descended as I wished. But this blow was arrested by the hand of my wife. Goaded, by the interference, into a rage more than demoniacal, I withdrew my arm from her grasp and buried the axe in her brain. She fell dead upon the spot, without a groan.

This hideous murder accomplished, I set myself forthwith, and with entire deliberation, to the task of concealing the body. I knew that I could not remove it from the house, either by day or by night, without the risk of being observed by the neighbors. Many projects entered my mind. At one period I thought of cutting the corpse into minute fragments, and destroying them by fire. At another, I resolved to dig a grave for it in the floor of the cellar. Again, I deliberated about casting it in the well in the yard — about packing it in a box, as if merchandize, with the usual arrangements, and so getting a porter to take it from the house. Finally I hit upon what I considered a far better expedient than either of these. I determined to wall it up in the cellar — as the monks of the middle ages are recorded to have walled up their victims.

For a purpose such as this the cellar was well adapted. Its walls were loosely constructed, and had lately been plastered throughout with a rough plaster, which the dampness of the atmosphere had prevented from hardening. Moreover, in one of the walls was a projection, caused by a false chimney, or fireplace, that had been filled up, and made to resemble the rest of the cellar. I made no doubt that I could readily displace the bricks at this point, insert the corpse, and wall the whole up as before, so that no eye could detect any thing suspicious.

And in this calculation I was not deceived. By means of a crow-bar I easily dislodged the bricks, and, having carefully deposited the body against the inner wall, I propped it in that position, while, with little trouble, I re-laid the whole structure as it originally stood. Having procured mortar, sand, and hair, with every possible precaution, I prepared a plaster which could not be distinguished from the old, and with this I very carefully went over the new brick-work. When I had finished, I felt satisfied that all was right. The wall did not present the slightest appearance of having been disturbed. The rubbish on the floor was picked up with the minutest care. I looked around triumphantly, and said to myself — “Here at least, then, my labor has not been in vain.”

My next step was to look for the beast which had been the cause of so much wretchedness; for I had, at length, firmly resolved to put it to death. Had I been able to meet with it, at the moment, there could have been no doubt of its fate; but it appeared that the crafty animal had been alarmed at the violence of my previous anger, and forebore to present itself in my present mood. It is impossible to describe, or to imagine, the deep, the blissful sense of relief which the absence of the detested creature occasioned in my bosom. It did not make its appearance during the night — and thus for one night at least, since its introduction into the house, I soundly and tranquilly slept; aye, slept even with the burden of murder upon my soul!

The second and the third day passed, and still my tormentor came not. Once again I breathed as a freeman. The monster, in terror, had fled the premises forever! I should behold it no more! My happiness was supreme! The guilt of my dark deed disturbed me but little. Some few inquiries had been made, but these had been readily answered. Even a search had been instituted — but of course nothing was to be discovered. I looked upon my future felicity as secured.

Upon the fourth day of the assassination, a party of the police came, very unexpectedly, into the house, and proceeded again to make rigorous investigation of the premises. Secure, however, in the inscrutability of my place of concealment, I felt no embarrassment whatever. The officers bade me accompany them in their search. They left no nook or corner unexplored. At length, for the third or fourth time, they descended into the cellar. I quivered not in a muscle. My heart beat calmly as that of one who slumbers in innocence. I walked the cellar from end to end. I folded my arms upon my bosom, and roamed easily to and fro. The police were thoroughly satisfied and prepared to depart. The glee at my heart was too strong to be restrained. I burned to say if but one word, by way of triumph, and to render doubly sure their assurance of my guiltlessness.

“Gentlemen,” I said at last, as the party ascended the steps, “I delight to have allayed your suspicions. I wish you all health, and a little more courtesy. By the bye, gentlemen, this — this is a very well constructed house.” (In the rabid desire to say something easily, I scarcely knew what I uttered at all.) — “I may say an excellently well constructed house. These walls — are you going, gentlemen? — these walls are solidly put together;” and here, through the mere phrenzy of bravado, I rapped heavily, with a cane which I held in my hand, upon that very portion of the brick-work behind which stood the corpse of the wife of my bosom.

But may God shield and deliver me from the fangs of the Arch-Fiend ! No sooner had the reverberation of my blows sunk into silence, than I was answered by a voice from within the tomb! — by a cry, at first muffled and broken, like the sobbing of a child, and then quickly swelling into one long, loud, and continuous scream, utterly anomalous and inhuman — a howl — a wailing shriek, half of horror and half of triumph, such as might have arisen only out of hell, conjointly from the throats of the dammed in their agony and of the demons that exult in the damnation.

Of my own thoughts it is folly to speak. Swooning, I staggered to the opposite wall. For one instant the party upon the stairs remained motionless, through extremity of terror and of awe. In the next, a dozen stout arms were toiling at the wall. It fell bodily. The corpse, already greatly decayed and clotted with gore, stood erect before the eyes of the spectators. Upon its head, with red extended mouth and solitary eye of fire, sat the hideous beast whose craft had seduced me into murder, and whose informing voice had consigned me to the hangman. I had walled the monster up within the tomb!