Edward McGain had come home drunk. The weather was thick, stormy, and dark; similar to the inebriated man’s mood. The front door swung wide, letting in the icy wind, freezing rain, and the tall brooding figure of a man who’d had one drink too many.
Maggy knew he was in a rage before he’d even said a word. He staggered in, his bloodshot eyes searching for something to take his anger out on. The tiny timid woman stayed in her seat, a small high back chair in the corner of the living room, remaining as silent as she could. She shut her eyes and said a silent prayer, begging God to have mercy. She knew tonight would be a bad one. Ed wouldn’t need a reason to hit her when he was drunk. He’d only have to look at her, decide she was the reason everything was wrong in his life, and begin the relentless, unforgiving beating.
They’d only been together for six months, but it felt like a lifetime. The poor woman was too meek and too afraid to escape the relationship. Ed had threatened to hunt her down if she ever tried. He’d threatened to feed her to the dogs, or worse. She did her best to please him. She was a faithful, loyal, and more importantly obedient woman. She cooked all of Ed’s favorite dishes, and cleaned, and did all the laundry, just as he liked.
When Ed was sober, which wasn’t often, he was even a nice and charming man. It was that charming, handsome, sober man Maggy had fallen in love with. But things change. Ed’s country music career wasn’t picking up like he had hoped, and the drinking had become more frequent. Along with the drinking came the violence and abuse. It was that version, the new darker version of Ed, that Maggie feared. It was that version of Ed who stood at the front entrance of the house now.
Slowly, teetering on unstable feet, Edward made his way into the kitchen and grabbed a beer from the fridge. He returned to the living room, took his usual seat on the right-hand side of the couch and cracked open his bottle.
Long moments of tense silence passed. With massive hesitation, Maggie debated speaking to the near stranger-like man sitting mere feet from her. Cautiously she stole a glance before returning her gaze to her knitting. Ed stared blankly at the wall across from him. Every so often he would take a long draw on his beer, gulping loudly and sloppily.
“You got something to say?” Ed slurred.
Maggie opened her mouth, unsure how to answer. The words catching on the tip of her tongue, her voice faltering. “H-how was the show?” She managed.
“Fine,” Ed responded, taking another swig.
“Was there a good turn out?”
“Good enough. You’d know if you’d been there.”
Maggie grimaced before trying to redirect the conversation, feeling it fall apart before she even began. “I’m sorry, honey.” She said quietly. “I had to work late again, you know how badly I need those extra hours. Did the crowd like your songs?”
“What are you saying? Need extra hours?” Ed spat, his voice suddenly becoming venomous. “You saying you need to work because I can’t support us?”
Maggie shook her head furiously. “No! That’s not what I’m saying at all! It’s just, you’ve been spending so much time with your band, and the bills have been, well they’ve needed to be paid and-”
“So you’re saying this is my fault! That because I’m in a band I’m no good?” He climbed to his feet, wobbling for a moment before turning to the small woman, cowering in her chair.
“I didn’t say that! What I-”
“So now I’m a liar!? Telling me I don’t know what I heard?”
“Please, Ed! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it like that! I’m sorry!” Maggie cried.
“Not sorry enough!” He stood over her, towering like a giant. The scent of booze and sweat emanating from him like a cloud. “You’ve never been supportive of my talent! Always naysaying! Well I promise you this, Edward McGain will be the greatest country singer to ever come out of this state, and no woman, not even an ungrateful, sniveling little bitch like you can tell me otherwise!”
Edward grabbed Maggy by the hair and yanked her to her feet. She screamed in pain as his tight fist wrenched at her scalp. With a swing of his mighty arm, he threw her into the nearby wall. She fell, slamming face first into the floor. Maggy began sobbing, realizing this was only the beginning. She lay there, staring at the floor, begging for God to save her.
The hard pointed toe of Ed’s Tony Lama’s slammed into her stomach. She gasped and yelled, the tears coming harder and faster than before. He picked her up again and held her face, inches from his.
“You’ve never thought I could make it!” He shouted violently, spittle flying from his teeth. “You’ve always thought I was a loser!”
“No!” Maggie gasped and cried.
“Well, who’s the loser now!?”
Maggie felt the blinding pain as Ed’s fist connected with her nose. Her eyes saw a flash of white light and stars before the room quickly slide out of view, and she hit the floor. He was on top of her now.
“Who’s the fucking loser now!?” he screamed as he hit her again, square in the face. She felt bones shattering. Her eye sockets, her jaw. He hit her again, and again, over and over.
“Who’s the fucking loser now!”
Edward hadn’t noticed what he had done until his fist connected with what felt like jello. What was left of Maggie’s face resembled a Picasso painting, warped and twisted, something entirely inhuman. She was dead.
In his intoxicated state, Ed had laughed. He hadn’t thought he was capable of doing such a thing, and yet, here he was, kneeling over Maggie’s body, blood soaking his hands and clothes.
“Well shit! Now look what you’ve done!” he said. “Do you know what they’ll do to me? You’re trying to ruin my career, aren’t you, you sneaky bitch. You wanted me to do this! Keep me from making it big!”
Ed climbed off of Maggie’s broken and battered body. He staggered about the room, looking for a way to rectify what he had done. His head swam and the room around him spun. He wasn’t about to let her ruin his chances of becoming a famous country music star. He knew what he had to do. He would hide her body.
No one would miss her, not really. He knew she wasn’t close with her family, she had told him once, though why he couldn’t care to remember. They wouldn’t come looking for her. And if they did, he’d lie about how she’d cheated on him, and left for another man.
Ed stumbled down the hall, devising a plan to get rid of all the evidence of his deeds. By tomorrow, no one would even know she’d been there.
The following morning, Edward woke with a pounding headache. The bright light filtering in through the open blinds was hot and blinding. He was lying, sprawled out, on the carpet in the living room. He raised his head and looked about. Beside him, on the floor were scrub brushes and cans of carpet cleaner. Beyond that, nearer the kitchen lay a bottle of bleach, and a polaroid camera.
At first, Ed struggled to remember the night before, and what had happened. But almost as quickly, bits and pieces began to return. He climbed to his feet, holding his fingers to his temples, hoping to abate some of the throbbing pain in his head.
Flashes of memory returned to him. Maggie screaming. Ed punching. Her dead eyes staring up at him. He’d killed her. Why the hell had he killed her? He’d been so drunk! Why had she let him become so drunk? His band, his career! If anyone found out, he’d be ruined! What had he done with her body?
Edward swiftly moved from room to room, looking in the front hall, the bathroom, the bedroom. There was nothing. He rushed to kitchen last and stopped at the sight. A roll of plastic sheeting, used for repairing the holes in the roof, lay beside a bloody hacksaw. A thin trail of blood led to the back door. Propped up against the white wooden door, was Ed’s large, black, guitar case.
Slowly the man made his way through the kitchen. He reached out, grasped the handle to the case, fearing he knew what had happened. He picked up the guitar case. It was heavy. Heavier than he was certain it should be, even with the instrument inside. Ed lowered his head and let out a long heavy sigh.
No one could ever find this case, he thought. If they did, it would be the end of everything for him. Ed placed the guitar case back down on the floor and turned back to the rest of the house. He would have to finish cleaning up what he had started the night before. He scrubbed the carpets, bleached the saw and brushes. Then he bagged everything up and threw them in the dumpster.
Last, Ed faced the black case beside the back door and contemplated what to do with it. He couldn’t throw it away. Someone would surely take a look at a guitar case in the garbage and open it. And he couldn’t leave it in the house. What would happen with the…remains…began to smell? He had no choice but to lock it away. He had a storage unit on the other side of town, one he rarely used. As long as he paid his rent, no one would bother looking inside. And if he kept it wrapped in plastic, tucked behind the furniture he kept in the unit, where the odor wouldn’t grow too strong.
Edward grabbed the case, hoisted it outside through the back door, tripping over a pile of garden tools and shovels in the yard, and threw it into his pickup which was parked around the side of the house. He drove it to the storage unit across town. There he waited, watching for others, suspicious of everyone he saw. When he was certain the coast was clear, he quickly strolled to his garage, opened it, and tucked the guitar case inside, burying it under boxes and furniture where no one would ever see it.
By the time he’d returned home, Ed had become rather pleased with himself. He’d done it. He’d cleaned up, and cleared away any evidence that Maggie had been killed. Beginning the next day he would tell people the slut had left him for someone else. Some dirty hippy or something. Then in a couple of weeks, he would take her things to goodwill and donate them. In time, she would be forgotten, and he, well he would be free to pursue his career.
Five years passed. Edward McGain’s paranoia faded and in time, he had become a famous country music star. His latest album, City Slicker Blues, had just gone platinum. Ed was living the high life and loving every moment of it. he’ d just been told by his manager that he’d been booked for the CMA’s and he might even have a chance at playing the Superbowl. Nothing could have been better. Any part of his past, any moment of darkness that he’d experienced had been long forgotten. Replaced with memories of sex, drugs, and the rockstar lifestyle.
But it was Ed’s success that would ultimately lead to his demise.
He was sitting on a long white sofa in his million dollar mansion outside of Nashville, drinking a glass of whiskey and doing blow with some hookers when his phone rang.
“Hello?” Ed answered.
“Hey, Eddy, it’s Karl.” His manager said on the other line. “Remember that charity gig you signed up for?”
“Yeah,” Ed replied. “The one where we auction off a bunch of my old shit and give the money to orphans or something like that, right?”
“That’s the one. Well look, we’re down here at that storage unit you gave us the keys to. There’s a lot of stuff in here, Eddy. Anything you want to keep? Or is it all fair game?”
Edward leaned forward over his coffee table and snorted another line of cocaine. “I’ve had that shit forever. Just get rid of it all.”
“Okay, Eddy. You got it.”
The call ended.
At first, Ed couldn’t place the nagging feeling at the base of his skull. But as the night, and then the week went on; as he came down off his high, and he began to sober, it dawned on him. There was something in that storage he didn’t want to sold. Something he didn’t even want to found.
Quickly rummaging through his pockets, in a near panic, Ed searched for his cell phone. He dialed his manager’s number. It rang, then rang again.
“Come on!” He shouted. “Pick up!”
“Eddy! Glad you called. “ his manager said.
“Look, Karl, that charity auction, when is it?”
“Well, that’s just it, Eddy. I was going to tell you, the whole thing is going great! It started an hour ago. So far we’ve raised thirty thousand dollars!”
“It’s already started!?” Ed screamed.
“Yeah, why? You change your mind about coming? The press would eat it up if you came! It would be great!”
“Just give me the address!” Ed demanded.
Within a matter of minutes, Edward McGain was on the freeway, speeding toward the auction house. He had to stop them from selling that guitar case. No one could know what he’d locked inside. No one! Even if he had to sell his entire fortune getting it back, he would.
Ed’s mind raced. All he had worked for, all he had accomplished, would simply be thrown away all because of that dumb bitch he’d dated once. Even now, as he drove, he could feel the rage building inside him. The rage only she could make him feel. It was all her fault. She had held him back, kept him from becoming a star. Made him angry. So angry. Now, even in death, she threatened to take away his fame, his fortune, all the things he’d wanted so badly. Ed was seeing red.
He’d been so distracted, so angered, so violently infuriated by the mere thought of Maggie, Edward didn’t see the semi truck weaving in and out of traffic beside him. Later, when the police would interview the truck’s driver, they would quickly discover the man had had too much to drink. It would take significantly longer to identify the car the truck had run off the road, or it’s driver. The burning heaping pile of steel and rubber would take hours to retrieve from the ditch it had rolled into. The firefighters would recover a charred corpse, and the only coroner would eventually be able to identify Edward McGain’s teeth through dental records.
The news would report the event as a tragic loss of life. The CMA’s that year would commemorate the singer as a talented man, taken too soon, and the Superbowl would eventually find another star to replace the one they had planned on.
The pits of Hell, however, would cheer and celebrate as a frightened timid man too cowardly to accept his own mistakes, was dragged into its depths, pleading for forgiveness, and begging for a salvation that would never come.
As for the guitar case, it sold at auction that night for three thousand dollars. The money would go to benefit a shelter for battered women, in Nashville. The new owner would take the case home, break open the lock, and discover inside an old, worn looking guitar. Beneath the instrument, tucked into the felt lining of the case, was a photograph. In the picture a simple green lawn at night, a small mound of dirt, and a pile of garden tools and shovels. Scrawled on the back of the photo in marker were the words, “Who’s the loser now?”
Written By Rick Bishop