The Voodoo Wedding Dolls
by William Quincy Belle
“Did you remember to take out the garbage?”
Gus froze, his hand on the handle of the meat drawer. “Aw, shaddup,” he muttered under his breath.
“You forgot, didn’t you?” Sitting at the kitchen table, Kira studied the newspaper spread out before her. “They always come first thing in the morning. It has to be out at the curb tonight.”
He pulled out a package of ground beef and shut the refrigerator. “I know. I know. I didn’t forget.”
“You forgot last month, and we had to go two weeks with the same garbage. Those cans stank to high heaven. I had to hold my breath every time I lifted the lid.”
Gus opened a cupboard and took out a mixing bowl. “Okay. So I forgot last month. I’m not going to forget tonight.”
Kira leaned over the paper, a pair of scissors in hand, and clipped out a page. “That’s what you said last month, and you still forgot.”
He set the bowl and ground beef on the counter, back turned to his wife. “Aw, Jesus,” he mumbled.
“What did you say?” She cut out another square of paper.
“There.” She put down the scissors. “Now I have a coupon for two dollars off a can of coffee.” She watched as Gus gathered together various ingredients: bread crumbs, eggs, spices. “Don’t make a mess on my counter.”
“I cleaned it after breakfast.”
“I’ll be careful.”
“I’m always cleaning up after you.”
He stood still, clenching the salt and pepper shakers.
“Oh, look: a coupon for milk.” She picked up the scissors and held the page with one hand, lining the blades up with the edge of the flyer.
“Back in a sec.” Gus walked out of the kitchen.
Kira twisted her wrist to cut out the far side of the coupon, holding her tongue between her lips as she carefully followed the outline.
“Ow!” She stopped and rubbed her right elbow. Holding her arm up, she looked at the joint, turning it back and forth while pulling at the skin. She flexed her arm several times before rubbing her elbow again.
She picked up the paper and cut along the dotted black line.
“Ow!” Her hand jerked and the paper ripped. Kira dropped the scissors, this time reaching down to rub her foot. “What the hell?” She held out her leg, crossing it over the other to massage the ankle. “Damn, that hurt!” She bent low to better look at her foot under the edge of the table.
The muffled sound of a toilet flushing came from down the hall. Gus reentered the kitchen and went back to the mixing bowl.
“Did you put the seat down?”
He sighed and left the room.
Kira uncrossed her legs, wiggling her foot on the floor. “Humph.” She picked up the scissors.
“Oh!” She squeezed her eyes shut and brought her free hand up to her head, wincing as she kneaded her temple. “Jesus.”
Gus walked back in. “What’s the matter with you?”
“I have this stabbing pain in my head.”
“I don’t know. Just before I had a sharp pain in my elbow and my foot. I’ve been getting these weird, stabbing pains all over my body for the past month, ever since we took that drive in the country.”
“We’re getting older.”
“Speak for yourself.”
Gus shrugged and started to combine the ingredients.
“You think I’m old, but others don’t.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“But you thought that. You think your wife is an old woman.”
He rolled his eyes as he cracked open an egg against the bowl.
“I’m not old. Dan, down at the store, told me I was pretty.”
“You know Dan only has one good eye.”
Kira glared at his back. “Thanks for making me feel so good about myself.”
Gus shot her a glance. “What?” He took out a plate and began to form hamburger patties.
“You don’t appreciate me.”
“That’s not true.”
“You hate me, don’t you?”
“What are you on about?”
“I’ve had about all the bull I can take from you. You’re lazy. You’re stupid. And you’re ungrateful for all I do around the house. I’d like to see how long you’d last if I wasn’t here.”
“Would you calm down? All I want to do is cook up some hamburgers for dinner. I’ve got a nice macaroni salad, and I bought some Neapolitan ice cream for dessert. Would it be too much to ask if we don’t fight for once?”
“Sure. Fine. Whatever. But you’re just going to make a big mess, and I’ll have to clean up the kitchen all over again.”
Tucking the end of a plastic bag of buns between two fingers, Gus picked up the plate of patties. “You go pick out a film for us to watch tonight, and I’ll go out to the barbecue.”
“Fine.” Kira crossed her arms and frowned after his receding back. “Go to hell,” she said to the empty room.
* * *
Gus pushed the door open and a metallic ring sounded out.
“You’re not going to buy anything.” Kira clicked her tongue, disapprovingly.
Gus looked up at the bell mounted over the door.
“You’ve got more than enough crap. You don’t need anything else.” Stepping into the shop she stood in the middle of the room and scanned the various displays. “Antiques? How about ‘old crap’?”
“I just want to look around,” Gus insisted, bending over a display case and examining the contents.
“Don’t buy anything,” Kira said again as she walked over to a table piled with clothes. She sorted through several items. “This is junk.”
Kira turned around to see Gus wearing a newsboy cap. “You look dumb. Take it off.” She went back to inspecting the clothes.
He sighed and laid the cap back down.
She picked up a white lace scarf and held it up. “Look at this. It’s gorgeous.” She turned to a mirror fixed to a nearby pillar and wrapped it around her neck. She posed, turned, and posed again. “This is fabulous. I’m going to get it.”
Gus picked up a carved wooden box and took out a handsome fountain pen.
“Are you kidding me? You have more than enough stuff. You certainly don’t need that.” She held up one end of the scarf and read the price tag. “Only eight bucks; what a steal!” He eyed her as she walked to another clothes rack. “Ooh, jackets. Nice.”
He forcefully set the box down and wandered down an aisle toward the back of the store.
“Don’t buy anything,” she called out.
Strolling between cabinets, he eyed knick-knacks of indeterminate age: books, records, old appliances, dish sets, silver utensils in worn wooden cases. He stopped and gazed up at a deer head mounted on the wall.
“Is that your wife?”
Gus whipped around. “Sorry?”
“Is that your wife?” A wizened old woman stood behind Gus, staring toward the front of the store.
“It’s not going so well.”
He glanced to the front at Kira now dressed in a brightly-colored, sequined jacket. “No. Not really.”
“We only go through life once; too bad it has to be so difficult.”
“My husband was a bastard.”
“He used to hit me.”
“I think, however,” continued the old woman, “that the psychological abuse was tougher to take.”
“What do you mean?”
“Everything I did was wrong: I was stupid, useless. I was a worthless part of his life, and he would have been better off without me.”
Gus furrowed his brow. “How?”
“I killed him.”
He chuckled. “Really, now. That’s quite the admission.”
The woman gave him a stony look. He stopped smiling.
“It was the only thing to do,” she said matter-of-factly. “He wasn’t going to change, so I had to get rid of him.”
A muffled voice called out. “Don’t you go buying anything behind my back.”
The old woman shook her head. “It’s the only thing you can do. She isn’t going to change. You must get rid of her.”
Gus took a step back up the aisle. “Yeah, sure. I’ll keep that in mind.”
The woman grabbed Gus’s wrist. “I’m not kidding. This isn’t a joke. You only have one life. Don’t waste it on somebody who’s ungrateful, who doesn’t care about you, who even hates you.”
He stared, wide-eyed, at the bony hand.
“I can help you.”
She took out a plastic sleeve from one of her many pockets. “Take this. It’s your escape plan; your way out of an impossible situation to freedom and happiness.”
Sudden footfall grew louder as Kira approached. “Gus, where are you?”
The old woman thrust the packet into his hands before disappearing through a curtained doorway.
“You better not have bought anything when I wasn’t looking,” Kira said, appearing beside him.
Gus shoved the envelope into his pants pocket. “No, I didn’t buy anything. Just looking.”
“Good. Let’s go to the front so I can pay for my items. Although I have no idea where the shopkeeper is.”
“Uh, I think she’s in the back.”
* * *
A “Go to hell!” echoed through the empty room.
Kira picked up one side of the newspaper and examined the tear in the page. It went through the middle of a coupon for a dollar off dish soap. “Aw, hell.” She let go of the paper and tapped one finger on the tabletop. Tilting her head to one side, she looked up toward the ceiling, took a deep breath, and exhaled noisily.
Kira pushed back her chair, stood, and walked into the living room toward the entertainment center. She picked up the remote and flicked through the stations. The late-afternoon sun streamed through the front window, and she was forced to move to one side to avoid the glare on the screen.
As she paged through the movie choices, a metallic reflection caught her eye. She stepped closer to the unit. On one shelf sat two figurines: a man in a tuxedo and a woman in a white gown. Their plastic base was labeled Just Married, a souvenir from their wedding ten years ago.
Kira picked up a silver pin from behind the figurines, the object which had first caught her attention, and held it up to the sunlight. It was a needle with a decorative head in the form of a skull and crossbones. She examined the back of the shelf, moving her head back and forth to look around the plastic figures.
Behind several books pushed to one side she saw a piece of clear plastic. Pinching it between her fingers, she pulled out a thin packet marked Voodoo Pin. Below were instructions in fine print:
Have your revenge against those who oppose you! Stick a pin in your favorite doll and unleash the power of the occult against your enemies. See the results and believe! This is not a novelty item. This pin was blessed by Papa Doc himself.
Setting the packaging back on the shelf, Kira picked up the figurines. She looked at the pin, then back at the dolls. She turned the base and touched the right hand of the female with the point of the needle.
“Ow!” She jerked and dropped the pin. Shaking out her hand, she inspected closely first the palm, then the back of her hand. There were no visible signs of injury, but she had felt severe pain. Kira wiggled her fingers. Everything seemed to be in order.
Picking up the needle from the floor, she eyeballed the two figures. She touched the left foot of the female with the needle’s point. “Jesus!” She hopped up and down on her right foot before testing the left. “Crap; that hurt!”
Kira studied the female figurine: the head, the arms, the legs, the torso. “This can’t be the reason for the sharp pains I’ve been feeling for the past month.” She scrunched her face, deep in thought. “Can it?” Her gaze fell upon the male figurine, and she gave a slow grin.
Walking back through the house she went out onto the back steps, surveying her husband working over the barbecue. She held up the figurines, and with the needle poked the right hand of the male doll. Gus yelped and dropped his spatula on the grill in surprise. He shook his hand and grabbed the fallen utensil.
She stabbed the left foot.
“Ouch.” Gus hopped several times on one foot before bending over to look for any damage.
“This is so much fun!” Kira said, delighted at his pain.
He twisted around, eyes widening when he saw the figurines. “You bitch.”
She stabbed the man’s right thigh.
“Jesus!” Gus massaged his leg. “That hurt.”
“Does it now? How many times have you hurt me, Gus?” She jabbed the head viciously.
“Ow! Goddamn it, Kira!” He gripped his temple with his free hand, and flung the spatula.
Kira half ducked as the utensil fell short of its mark and clattered onto the steps. She laughed.
He picked up a glass ketchup bottle and cocked his arm. “Stop it or I’ll—”
“Or you’ll what?” she said, smirking. She raised her hand to stab the figurine, but there was no needle. She scanned the steps, but seeing nothing looked up. Gus took a step forward, and wound up to throw the bottle. Kira grabbed the right forearm of the male figure, pressed her thumb against the elbow, and yanked.
The plastic had broken clean off, and Gus stared in horror at the stump of his arm. Hurriedly, he untied his apron and wrapped it around the bleeding wound.
“Whoa!” Wide-eyed, Kira glanced between Gus and the doll.
“You bitch! I’ll kill you!” He picked up a carving knife from beside the barbecue and stepped toward her once again.
Grabbing hold of the groom’s left leg, Kira pulled it off. Gus collapsed forward, screaming in pain. “Oh, for the love of God!”
He gave her a pained look, but she only grinned. “Well, you bastard, who gets the last laugh now?”
He sobbed. “Oh, you cruel bitch! You’ll rot in hell for this.”
She walked down the steps and approached her husband.
Gus wept. “Go to hell, you rotten excuse for a woman.”
Kira walked around him, snickering.
“I’ll see you rot in prison for the rest of your life.”
Holding up the two dolls she grabbed hold of the male’s head and pulled. Gus stopped yelling. It was quiet. She dropped the piece of plastic.
“Kira! What the hell is going on? What happened? What happened to Gus?”
Kira spun around to see their neighbor, Frank, standing at the fence.
“I’ve called 9-1-1.” Frank’s voice was hysterical as he held up a cell phone. “Help is on the way.”
She pondered both the decapitated body of her husband and the two figurines. Kira tilted her head and listened: a siren could be heard in the distance. Her gaze swept over Gus’s head, with its eyes wide open and face frozen in a look of pain and terror. “Uh-oh,” she mumbled. “How am I going to explain this to the cops?”
In panic, she backed up and stumbled, throwing her arms out so not to lose her balance. She had tripped over Gus’s severed forearm.
Kira sniffed. There was smoke; something was burning. Slowly, she became aware that smoke was billowing up from her dress. There was a sudden whoosh as she was engulfed in flames.
“Ahhh!” She frantically patted at herself, prancing back and forth. Snatching the hem of the dress, she tugged it over her head and cast it aside.
She stared at her empty hands: they were red and hot. Kira cast her gaze over the grass, then turned to the barbecue. There, in the middle of the grill, were the two dolls. She took a step forward, but her body drifted downward, as if she was sinking into the ground. She took a second, halting step and reached toward the figures. Her outstretched arm sagged at the elbow, bending downward until her forearm fell off. She eyed the melting couple as her legs gave out, and she sank to the ground. Gus’s body was on fire, black smoke curling upward.
Kira felt herself burst into flames. She wanted to scream, but no sound came from her jawless mouth.
Copyright © 2017 by William Quincy Belle