11 in Stepping into Psycho

  • June 26, 2022, 3:41 p.m.
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  • Public

Just when Carissa had been looking forward to returning to the daycare center not only to get away from Flora but to see if she could get someone to help her escape the woman and her unpredictable temper, Flora announced that she would be on vacation next week.

“Why so suddenly?” she asked her. “I thought you weren’t going on vacation for another few months or so.”

“I wasn’t. But then a coworker from India wanted to go home during that time because some of her relatives there would be celebrating birthdays, so we agreed to swap vacation time. We get two wonderful weeks off,” Flora said excitedly.

“We?”

Flora nodded.

“I don’t understand. How am I on vacation, too? I don’t have a job.”

“No, but we’re a team, so when I’m on vacation, you’re on vacation.”

Carissa felt her heart slowly begin to sink. “Wait. This doesn’t mean I don’t go to daycare for two weeks, does it?”

“It sure does.”

“But Flora, I can’t afford to take that much time off from physical therapy. You’re a nurse. You know that.”

“Yes, I do know that,” Flora said with a hint of irritation in her voice. “That’s why I’m going to make sure we do some exercises together each and every day. You don’t think I would be stupid enough to let you fall behind and get out of shape, do you?”

Carissa didn’t say anything. Instead, a few minutes later she asked, “So what are we going to do? Do you have any specific plans? I’ll understand if you want to travel. Being alone a couple weeks won’t kill me. It might actually be good for me. I’m up to the challenge if need be. It would be a good test.”

“A good test for what, Carissa?” Flora asked, icy blue eyes turning cold. “To see how well you can do without me in the imaginary apartment you think you’re getting?”

Carissa felt both hurt and angry. “Why is it imaginary? I do get disability benefits. It would just have to be an old dumpy studio or something. But it’s not some far-fetched idea that’s totally out of the question, Flora. At this point, there’s nothing to say I can’t make it on my own.”

“Hey, we’re almost on vacation, okay? Let’s not talk about that now. We can deal with your apartment dream some other time. Right now I want to go out to eat because I don’t feel like cooking tonight.”

“Well, I want to deal with it now. In the meantime, I’m down for going out to eat. Let’s discuss it over dinner.”

“Let’s not.”

They left a little early so as to avoid the dinner crowd. There was still plenty of sunlight. Every now and then a cluster of wild turkeys would block traffic and they would have to slow down and sometimes stop completely until they cleared the road. Tonight, however, Flora was in no mood to wait for the pair that was standing in the road as if they owned it.

Carissa watched in horror as Flora plowed right on through, striking both birds with a loud thud. She cried out and then turned to glance out the back window. There were no cars behind them, so Carissa could easily see the tangle of blood and feathers lying in the middle of the road. “Oh, my fucking God!” Carissa exclaimed. “What the hell? Why did you just do that?”

Keeping her eyes focused straight ahead Flora said, “You’re the one that always says to hit the fugly fuckers, so why not?”

“Why not? Are you out of your fucking mind? How could you not know I was just saying that sarcastically? It was a joke, you stupid idiot!”

“Don’t you dare talk to me like that! Also, if you don’t want to be taken literally from now on then maybe you better not say anything at all.”

Carissa looked at her disbelieving. “You’re a fucking sicko. I’m gone first chance I get! And don’t think I don’t think you’re behind those emails either.”

Flora slammed on the brakes. The car stopped with a screech and a jerk that jolted every part of Carissa’s body. With fire in her eyes, Flora turned to face her and said, “If you don’t shut up now I’m going to beat the shit out of you. Literally.”

Carissa was too angry to be as scared as she probably should have been. “Fine! Do it! Do it so I can have you arrested for assault and an easier time getting away from you while you’re in jail.”

But instead of attacking her, the deranged nurse’s face broke out into a wide and amused grin. “You really do have quite an imagination and some seriously high hopes, don’t you?”

“There’s no imagination involved here. That’s just common sense. Beat me up and you’re going to jail.”

Flora just laughed, further fueling Carissa’s anger and determination to break away somehow despite how helpless and trapped she still felt.

They entered a Chinese restaurant a few minutes later.

“Two?” asked the petite and friendly-looking hostess.

“Yes,” said Flora.

They followed the young hostess whose ponytail, straight, black and shiny, bounced with every step along the way. When they were seated they were asked if they wanted any drinks.

“Coffee would be nice,” said Flora.

Carissa gazed up at the hostess. Dark eyes contrasted against her light flawless skin. “I’ll just take a Diet Coke, please.”

When the hostess left Flora took a menu and began to comb through it. When she noticed that Carissa hadn’t looked at hers she said, “Do you know what you want?”

“I’ve lost my appetite,” Carissa said with a wave of her hand.

“Okay. Your loss.”

Carissa looked at her incredulously. “I still can’t believe you ran those turkeys over. Every day you step a little further into psycho.”

“Carissa, not here, not now,” Flora hissed through gritted teeth.

Before they could argue anymore, the waitress, similar in appearance to the hostess though taller, stepped up to take their order.

Flora ordered a rib dinner with exotic vegetables and Carissa decided to order some pork fried rice if only to have something to do while she waited for Flora to eat her meal. Better to eat than just sit there, plus it was more money Flora had to spend on her. As long as she was stuck with the murderous psycho, she was going to get whatever freebies she could from her. As much as the woman sickened her and had a way of killing her appetite, she knew it was important to eat and keep her strength up anyhow.

Flora ate like she hadn’t eaten in years. Carissa wished she would slow down. The longer they stalled going back to the house where she had to be alone with her, the better. She felt uncomfortable around her no matter where they were, but it was definitely a little more bearable in a public setting with dozens of people around than when she was alone in the house with her.

But eventually Flora finished her food and she’d finished most of hers. In the car on the way home, they didn’t speak. Carissa was afraid to say the wrong thing. Besides, she didn’t want to talk anyway. She had nothing to say. All she wanted to do was get away and put Flora in the past. She had no idea what kind of future was in store for her and she didn’t really care at the moment. All she cared about was making Flora a thing of the past.

Carissa wasn’t sure what to do. She went back and forth in her mind between wanting to call the police when Flora wouldn’t be around to hear her and just waiting until she got back to the daycare center and could speak to someone. Tears of frustration began to well up in her eyes.

At the house, Flora placed a hand on her back startling her so badly she nearly jumped out of her skin. “Oh, my God, you scared the shit out of me, Flora. Please don’t sneak up on me like that again.”

“I didn’t,” Flora said in a tone that was a cross between matter-of-fact and defensive. “You had your head buried in your hands, so you couldn’t see me.”

Carissa looked at her, body stiffening in fear. “What do you want?”

“Dessert.”

Carissa knew full well what that meant. “I’m not in the mood, Flora. I’m tired, I’m upset, and I don’t feel well.”

Flora leaned dangerously close. “Tough. I just treated you to a fancy dinner you’ll never afford on your own, so get in the mood, lady.”

“No! I don’t owe you shit and I don’t want you near me. I’d rather be out on the streets with nothing but scraps of food thrown in a dumpster to eat than here with you.”

Flora shook her head sadly. “All because of a couple of wild fucking turkeys no one cares about.”

“That’s not all it’s all about. It’s about a lot of things and you know that.”

“If you tell anyone the secret I told you…”

“I won’t. I don’t give a shit about what happened decades ago. I only care about the here and now.” This was partially true. Flora’s confession had bothered her immensely. But that was something that happened years ago that had nothing to do with her.

“Okay, okay,” Flora relented. “We’ll switch up for the night as a compromise.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I always thought I would get a real kick out of being dominated. Why don’t you take ownership of me for the night? Instead of me doing you, you do me however you want. Use me, abuse me, dominate me…”

“I don’t want to dominate you, Flora. I don’t want to dominate anyone. I just want to get the hell out of this house and on my own!”

“Okay, if that’s the way you feel and you’re sure that’s what you want to do, then go.” Flora began pushing her toward the door.

“Flora, I just…”

“Nope. You want out, so out you go.”

Flora opened the door and shoved her out into the chilly evening and then slammed the door shut behind her.

Wow, that was easy, thought Carissa. Now what?


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