‘Out Damn Spot!’
By Maz McCoy
Not my usual sort of story. Don’t read it if you’re susceptible to sad stories or have had a bad day.
The scrubbing brush moved briskly back and forth, back and forth. The woman concentrated on the red stain, pushing the brush across it with both hands, back and forth, back and forth. This was crazy, it wasn’t true, it wasn’t real. If the stain was gone then he wouldn’t be. He would be here with her, standing beside her on the porch, his arm around her, watching the sun rise as they always did. It was all a horrific nightmare and when the red stain disappeared she would wake up and he would still be here.
She brushed a strand of hair from her face and dipped the brush in the pail of water before dragging it across the porch boards again. Instead of making the stain disappear the water spread it further.
“Darn it!” She pushed the brush again, back and forth, back and forth.
A brushing sound had roused him from a nap; it was the first sleep he had had in the past two days. He scratched the stubble on his chin and yawned as he followed the scraping of a brush out onto the porch. He found her there, on her hands and knees, furiously scrubbing at the blood stain.
“Molly.” She didn’t respond. He tried again. “Molly.”
He moved around her and crouched in front of her. She showed no sign of acknowledging his presence, so he reached out his hands and placed them over hers, stopping the brush.
“Molly, stop,” he said, gently.
She looked up at him, the tears in her eyes matched by those in his own. There was so much pain and anguish in her eyes, he wanted to find some words of comfort for her, but he couldn’t find any for himself, so what use would he be to someone else?
“I thought if I could get rid of it…” She looked down at the blood stain.
He understood, but removing the evidence wouldn’t bring his partner back.
“$10,000. Was that all he was worth?”
“No, it wasn’t.”
“I thought after all these years, they’d stop coming.”
He had hoped that too, but they both knew, while there was still a price on their heads, there would always be someone hoping to make it rich by turning them in.
“He never suspected a thing. One minute he was standing there talking to them and then…” She looked back at the stain.
A sudden thought struck her. She looked up at him, horrified.
“You can’t stay here! They’ll get you too. You have to go! I can’t lose you both!”
It was true. There was a good chance they would be looking for his partner; expecting him to show up now, to be there with her. Molly dropped her head.
“What am I gonna do without him?” He met her gaze and he didn’t know what to tell her because he was asking the same question himself.
“What am I gonna do without him?”