The booze had worn off. Rick was running on pure anger. His wife was truly an ice queen, along with a dozen other “four letter” words as she called them. He was sure he could run A through F without thinking. He had been fantasizing over this in theory for months. The various intricacies of which had been jokingly planned and planted over weekend hunting trips with the guys. Now was the time. Gabrielle had finally taken it too far. She had been the reason for the snow. Her hot cocoa mug had been sitting in the sink when he had gotten home. She had warmed her 2% milk on the stove top, melted in the chocolate and made her favorite winter drink. The drink she loved most in front of the fireplace or watching the snow from the porch. It was her fault it snowed. Her’s and her stupid hot cocoa. She had willed it to happen, probably hoping that something awful happened to Rick on his way home. She played innocent, but he knew her. Everything Rick did was because of her.

Rick lowered the mirror and watched as his unconscious wife laid in the cab of his truck. The snow had stopped by the time he had gotten her in the cab. There was no evidence of the snow as they had left town and gotten on the highway. Further proof to him that it was all her fault – the fishtailing down the block, the accident on the driveway – all of it had been because of her. Not anymore though. Rick was tired of Gabrielle’s shit. The way she provoked him. The way she challenged him. The way she carried on with his friends, despite the fact that she was his wife. His wife. Not theirs, and certainly not anyone else’s. His. If she wasn’t going to play by the rules, then she wasn’t going to play at all.

Pulling down the dirt road leading to their hunting cabin Rick reviewed his plans. Gabrielle had spent so many nights of their marriage making him out to be the bad guy it wouldn’t be hard to force her hand. She would run. She would have to, or else what were her Big, Bad Husband do? Rick grimaced as he parked the truck. She wanted to believe she had a brute of a husband, and Rick would play the part tonight.

The first step was getting Gabrielle out of the truck and inside the house. Gabrielle stirred as Rick dragged her out by the legs and threw her over his shoulder. He adjusted his grip and closed the door. He walked up the worn pathway, up the front steps, and across the porch. Finagling his still somewhat unconscious wife, Rick opened the door. Cleaning his feet off on the mat, he entered the cabin and walked past the foyer to the open living room on the right. Carefully he avoided bumping his wife’s head on the walls and furniture leading to the couch. After dropping Gabrielle on the couch, Rick headed back out to the car. He grabbed his bag, his wife’s cell phone, and his pack of 100’s. Rick reentered the house, placed the bag in the foyer, took off his wife’s shoes and left them on the side of the couch. He pulled the blanket over her, and headed back out to the porch. Walking around the wrap around porch, Rick approached the backdoor, the one that lead to the kitchen. Reaching into his pocket he took out his work booties and covered his boots. In two forceful kicks Rick was able to break the door in, pushing through the broken frame he walked through into the kitchen. He walked over to the stairs, the ones that lead to the second floor bedrooms, turned on his heel and ran out the kitchen door. Rick stopped after leaping off the last stair, delicately took off his booties one at a time and managed to get himself back onto the porch without leaving additional footprints.

Rick pulled out his pack of cigarettes and paced around the wrap around porch – just up and down the one side twice, smoking his cigarette, making sure he walked with all his weight and his ashes trailing from his cigarette as he went. Walking back in the front door, Rick yelled for his wife to get up. Get up, he screamed, there’s someone in the house. In a daze, Gabrielle opened her eyes. Her head was throbbing. She was hardly able to focus. All she could hear was her husband screaming. Looking up she saw Rick standing over screaming. He went to grab her, she plunged into the back of the couch. It sounded like Rick was screaming that someone was attacking her. But it was him. It had to be him, who else would be in their home? Gabrielle tried to look around, it didn’t look like their home home, but it was a familiar place to her. If only Gabrielle could think. Rick watched as confusion spread across his wife’s face. She had no clue what was happening. Rick yelled into the phone again, “someone is attacking my wife. Hurry.”

For the first time in their marriage Gabrielle did exactly what Rick had wanted her to do, she screamed and pushed herself off of the couch stumbling forward through the coffee table as Rick hung up with 911. As his wife scrambled to get up, Rick ran a lap through the downstairs as if he had chased after the attacker through the kitchen, down the hall, and into the living room. When entering the living room for the second time, he stopped and put on his work booties once more. Taking another lap around the downstairs, Rick ran avoiding repeating the same pattern as his previous runaround. With the booties on he lunged at Gabrielle, who had just found her footing. Rick cut her off at the front door. She turned on her heel and ran for the kitchen. Blundering through the broken wood, Gabrielle fell forward rolling down the stairs. Gabrielle screamed, and clawed the woodchip laiden path ahead of her, trying to get up. She looked over her shoulder as Rick broke through the last of the door and jumped over the stairs. Landing like a cat, he laughed as Gabrielle ran off toward the woods.

It was like herding cattle. Never in her life had she been the obedient wife Rick had signed up to have, and now, in the moment it truly counted, she was doing everything Rick wanted her to do. He didn’t even have to say yell. She did though. Her screams pierced the air, like music to Rick’s soul as she ran through two bear traps. The first caught her leg propelling her forward. Rick watched as if in slow motion as Gabrielle’s face landed in the dirt, her throat lining up almost perfectly with the base of the bear trap. A silent laugh overtook Rick as he stood in disbelief. Half of his plan had worked. He stayed, almost for too long, as the blood continued to leak from the neck. Her body had twitched at least twice in the moments after he was sure she was dead. Rick imagined she died in a lot of pain. Running off to the side, parallel to the border of where the forest truly let itself untangle, Rick ran back to the house. He hadn’t planned out this part, not as fully as he would have liked. It hadn’t mattered, as if blacking out himself, he had somehow managed to make it back into the house. Taking the booties off, he did sprints back and forth in the hallway as if he was trying to trap the invisible attacker. Running out the front door, Rick dashed to his truck and hopped inside.

Rick dug his lighter from his pocket and lit the booties on fire. Throwing them out of his window he watched as they burned, spreading their flames onto the grass. Rick started the truck and kicked it into high geared. Peeling out from the driveway he made his way around the house and toward the forest. Replaying Gabrielle’s final steps Rick yanked on the steering wheel as if to avoid it, crashing into a large tree no more than twenty feet from his widower’s body. For the first time in the years since he said “I do,” Rick felt vindicated. As his truck made impact with the tree, his body lurched forward into the windshield. It grew cold and dark as the sirens approached. They would save him. They would save him, and have to break the news of his wife’s untimely death. His life would once again be his own.

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