Murder Most Foul

Talking to yourself can be a dangerous enterprise – that’s what Beverly Orangehaze found out.   Beverly was a petite woman with an enormous talent and a raging imagination.   Her iron gray hair was coiffed high on her diminutive head.  Beverly was an artist.   She created cocoons sewn from detritus and silk.   Often she thought about crawling into a fetal position and sewing herself into one of her elaborate cocoons … that’s when she started to talk to herself.  Beverly was driven by loneliness.   The success of her art did not help.   She lost June five years earlier,  a woman she loved dearly. Everything changed after her lover was shot by a stray bullet.   She had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.   Beverly’s grief became a hard knot that would never be broken.  She longed for company.   Her friends knew Beverly Orangehaze as an artist.  They didn’t know the real person.   Beverly had become a commodity like her art.   As her loneliness increased she began to talk more frequently to herself.  She asked herself questions and received answers as if there was another person who lived inside her mind.   She talked about the weather and gossiped about people she passed on the streets.   It was an exercise of the imagination.  Her inner voice was comforting and seemed to enjoy the conversations.   On the anniversary of her partner’s death a new element entered into her conversations.   Her inner voice became surly and rather aggressive.  Beverly suspected the person she talked to was not just a voice in her mind.  She began to identify the voice as Jim.   Not only was Jim a man, but he seemed to be a brute.   He was no longer interested in answering Beverly’s mundane questions.  He wasn’t interested in made-up gossip.   Jim began asking his own questions:  “Why are you so weak?”  “Why do you let people walk all over you?  “Why is your art so meaningless?”   Jim began to badger Beverly.  Arguments broke out.   Beverly was no longer able to concentrate on her work, or on anything other than her conversations.  She suspected Jim was evil – that he was trying to make her do something illegal. Sure enough, Jim blamed Beverly for her partner’s death.   He said it wasn’t just a stray bullet that killed her.  He whittled at Beverly’s confidence and morality.  She begged him to stop.  Jim would have none of it.   He kept mocking Beverly.  He told her there was a gun that had been hidden in the house by a former owner.  Jim wanted her to use the gun and kill the people responsible for June’s death.  It got worse.   Beverly was seeing Jim, a troll of a man with the build of a wrestler.  She couldn’t discern reality from images in her mind.  Was he real?   During a terrible wind storm, Beverly confronted Jim. He was standing in her art studio.  He smiled like a smarmy lizard.   Jim was holding the gun.  She didn’t want to take it.   She didn’t want to kill anyone, but he was so insistent and she knew he was evil so she took the gun.   He laughed because he knew he was in total control.  He would watch her murder innocent victims and he would be triumphant.  Beverly thought about June, she held the weapon as her eyes filled with tears.   She was not a murderer.  None of this was her fault, but she knew Jim had to die.   She fired.   The bullet was aimed at her head.

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