The Victim

Chapter Three: Ascent

A postmodernist play with a bang

The theatre is packed. We’re attending a wonderful postmodernist play called “clouds,” where men and women dressed as cars, phones, refrigerators and other commonplace items simulate “mating.” There’s not a single word in the whole two hours it’s supposed to last. But my heart beats like it’s about to explode. I’m dizzy, burning up and sweating.

My husband notices my altered state. “Are you ok?” he asks concerned. “It may be early-onset menopause,” I reply. My lady problems disgust him enough not to ask a second time. We’re sitting next to each other in our own theatre box. With us, there’s two members of our private security detail. “I’m thirsty,” I say to my husband. He sighs. “You didn’t bring any water to swallow down this monstrosity?” he whispers, making me laugh genuinely. I shake my head. He looks at our security guards and signals them to come closer. “Please, fetch a bottle of water, some snacks and any booze you can find.”

They nod and leave. The truth is my husband has been using them as busboys more than security, thinking he’s untouchable. Shortly after they leave, I look at him. Now my heart is running wild. At first he smiles, but then, it’s like he realizes something’s wrong. My hired gunman enters the box. “Who the f-word are you?” says my husband. The former reporter gets in front of us and pulls out his gun. “S-s-s,” at first he’s stuck saying it, “Sic semper tyrannis!” he yells before he starts shooting.

The loud bangs pierce our ears. The sweating bullets pierce our skin. My husband receives several shots, and I myself get shot in my left arm. The crowd below flees the theatre screaming. Our security detail quickly gets back before he has emptied his clip and shoot him. One of the bullets bursts the former reporter’s skull, killing him instantly. I’m covered in all our blood, and look at my left arm in horror. The pain is unbearable. Then I look at my husband, who is trying to speak as blood spurts from his mouth.

“Get a paramedic quick!” yells somebody. They cover me with a blanket and throw my husband to the floor. “Is there a doctor? We need one, fast!” yells someone. I can barely make out what they say, with my head still ringing from the shots and the pain pulsating in my arm. They try to carry me away, but I refuse and kneel by my husband. He’s looking at me in horror as his life escapes him.

I whisper into his ear so only he can hear me while I stroke his hair. His eyes open wide and he tries to raise his hand, but he suddenly stops. I break down crying. Someone pushes me away to apply CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) on him, but it’s too late. He’s gone. Shortly after I lose consciousness and fade into sleep. I dream of him being dragged to a burning pit by his feet as he screams at me “w-word!” along with other, more bizarre dreams I forget as quickly as I dreamt them.

I enter a trance where a procession of doctors passes before me, all the while heavily sedated. Eventually, after an unknown period of time, I wake up in my hospital bed. My friend from school is there, holding my asleep daughter. It’s dark outside. I try to speak, but my sandpaper throat only produces a faint growl. My friend realizes I’m awake, so she leaves my daughter on her chair and rushes to hug me. I cry bitter tears, unable to stop myself. She gives me water, then wakes up my daughter, who yells “mommy!” when she sees me.

“H-how long have I, have I been out?” I struggle to ask, my throat still hurting. “It’s been almost a week now,” says my friend from school. “You lost a lot of blood.” She stops and comes closer to whisper: “It was foolish to do that,” looking at me while stroking my hair, letting me know she understands what happened. “Did he make it?” I whisper. She shakes her head. I sigh deeply. “Also,” she says. “Th-the network. It’s ready to—”

Uncle bursts in by my daughter’s hand. She’s run to fetch him. She’s jumping up and down saying “Look, mommy’s ok, I told you she was ok.” Uncle sits at my bed, and my heart rate increases, but I try to control it. He has tears in his eyes. “The f-worder that did this to you… To my nephew… he’s dead. Oh… thank god you made it through…” He hugs me. I feel very violent about it.

The nurse comes in and announces I need to rest. My relatives oblige and leave the room. The light is turned off, and I’m left alone in the darkness. Left to wonder what this means to my daughter. She has lost her father and seen her mother nearly die. I didn’t think about what this would do to her. What if she ever finds out? She will hate me. She will hate me forever. Wh-what have I done?