Rorschach. Laurie. Keeping watch and shaky alibis.
This is a companion piece/sequel to The Lean and Hungry Type. (I'm beginning to think I just wanted to write something that made a throwaway reference to Oingo Boingo's cover of 'Violent Love.')
There's a man starting to decompose in an alley on Rose and Fifth.
Multiple fractures to the skull, the apparent cause of death, once leaked spiderwebbed rivulets of congealed blood. Police are unconcerned. A routine mugging, they shrug. This complacency allows them to disregard the fact that the corpse's wallet remains untouched.
Countries are no longer at war with each other, yet they're still in constant battle with themselves.
It takes a while before she starts to become suspicious. For all her faults, stupidity is not one of them. She's begun to notice. Notice how his hours at the dry cleaners curiously pattern hers; how, like clockwork, he steps inside their cramped apartment not long after she arrives back with groceries or from completing another long shift at the garage.
She thinks he doesn't trust her. Not true.
He doesn't trust anyone else.
She doesn't know; can't understand. Not with her biased, liberal, needlessly forgiving mindset. Not in the way he can.
He watched. Each afternoon at the diner, where she sat nursing coffee on her lunch break. Watched the scum move in close to her. Make unwanted advances. Touch her hand. Fail to leave when she ignored him, obviously uninterested. Expect her to bend to his whim as if she were a common whore, easily bought by charm and expensive cologne.
It was a problem that needed to cease.
He frowns, regarding the crimson-tinged pants laid out on the table. Messier job than he expected. He sets to work on removing yet another stain from the city.
She must approve; approve in the way she does those nights when she's lying next to him, unashamed to touch him - somehow not repulsed by something that's disgusted him since he was a child. She is gentle and predatory, patient and impatient all at once. She knows firsthand what it's like to be exploited for her body, and he, too, is familiar with the taste of churning bile in his throat whenever he remembers his mother, who chose to pursue such a vile means of existence.
He wonders how she can be so calmly accepting of her own mother, who forced her into something like it.
Yet there is something to be thankful for. He know they're both spared from certain tragedy because of their fathers; good men. Uncompromising men.
(Her face grows hard and bitter whenever he speaks of this. He's learned not to anymore.)
The gloves are what give him away.
The tiniest detail ends up being the biggest; he had hidden them, carelessly, in the bottom of the drawer where he kept his notebooks. Figured they could be cleaned at a later date; that, perhaps, he might need them again soon, anyway.
To say she is displeased is an understatement.
The crack of her hand against his face is expected; her knee shoving violently into his gut is not. A bottle of disinfectant and a roll of paper towels lay discarded at her feet. Hands clenched at her waist, hair tied in a loose knot and dirt smudging her cheeks, she looks ridiculous and furious and beautiful.
The man had children, she tells him, landing another blow to the side of his face. Of course she didn't like him, but he had children and she's no saint, either, and how fucking selfish can he be.
She strikes again and his head knocks against the wooden sliding door of his closet. She's relentless. Feral. Exhaustion has drained some of the skill from her movement, but not enough to matter when he is not fighting back, and he cannot be truly selfish when he thinks that all along she needed to let her discontentment out, she needed this. He knows it is not him she is really angry with.
When she sinks her nails into his hipbones through his clothing, she's still whispering defeated insults.
He doesn't tell her that he does not regret it.
His real face has been burnt past recognition years ago. There can't be shame in this; not now. Not now that he's permanently disguised - crippled - as Kovacs.
She continues to claw at him, leaving jagged, gaping wounds. He relishes the burn of her fingers, exhaling brokenly; it is a scouring of the filth inside of him. She can cleanse him; she is his solvent.
The business end of her lit cigarette moves slowly over his flesh. Down the shell of his right ear. Against his collarbone. Slides down, further, before it digs in unforgivingly. She glances up when he doesn't scream. It's already extinguished by the time she gets to his navel. She pauses to light another, ghost of a grin on her lips, the new torture instrument clamped between her teeth as she steadies the lighter.
A crooning voice, wildly energetic, pulses through 102.4 WKSM's haze of FM static --want to make violent love, to you by the moon above-- and she tilts her head, slightly, towards the radio on the dresser.
It's always been one of her favorites.