For the Love of Pete by Corey A. Edwards

I killed the hands last night, now I am free.

I wake up and the air is still filled with the electricity of blood. I open my mouth and inhale, tasting it. Did it really happen? Are they really dead? Am I the one that killed them?

It all seems so impossible.

They were nasty and yet I loved them. Oh, if only I could have . . .

But it is wrong.

And how many times have I sat like this and thought such things?

It is done, now. All I'm left with is the taste in the air and feelings of regret and sorrow yet also joyous victory for my work, while harrowing, was no sin but the work of God. God working through me, as Pete says.

Pete is so smart, so close to God. I love him. It is hard to believe that I’ve known him for less than three months. Since we met it has seemed a new life and thus forever. He has remade me and now I, him.

Before Pete there was no one, not since that horrible mess in Lancaster with the children.

No. Lancaster is over, over and done, and so is my lonliness. I can forget it. It didn’t happen. The world is new. Now, when I leave the house, I can smile and hold my head up straight. Pete says God loves me and I can feel the truth of that. Can’t you?

I feel like collapsing in exhausted relief knowing I’ll never have to sit and think about it anymore. No longer to be plagued with those hopeless thoughts, impotent and empty, because I finally found the strength inside. The strength to kill the hands.

I did kill them, didn't I? The hands? -Yes, there they are, still on the table, drying.

They sit there like large, pink spiders; lifeless and cold, drained of their power over me. Oh, how they once wanted to caress me, to fuck my holes. I thank God for sending Pete to warn me, telling me how evil they were. Pete said it was a deep sin. He read to me out of the Bible about how, if something offends you, like your eye, you should cast it away from yourself.

They look so harmless now, but I won't go near them. The urges may still be trapped within them.

Oh Pete, I cannot imagine how I survived without you.

Had to throw up. Nothing came out but bile.

It was looking at them, all curled up in the pool of blood, that made me sick.

I wonder how Pete is. I want to check on him, but I'm afraid. Is he as happy as I, now that it's over, or does he feel only the regret?

I wonder.

He probably wants to be left alone, as I do. It's understandable to need the time to think these things over. To make it all right within yourself. Don't you agree?

Of course.

In order to love them without judgment, to forgive them and bring them wholly into myself, I have decided I must eat the hands.

I tried to eat them cold, but they were too tough. My stomach revolted during the attempt and suddenly I was swimming in hot blood. It pulsed and sucked at me, trying to pull me under. I awoke on the floor near the table having swooned. It took me awhile to regain my strength, but I did.

I boiled them and broke them apart, pulling the meat from the bones. They were not so bad then, almost tender. There were some stringy parts that were too tough to chew so I put them aside to dry. I ate as much of the flesh as I could but it was heady. I had to stop.

The bones are fascinating and delicate and I enjoy touching them. Playing with them. I layed them out in their original configuration as I ate, remaking them –no longer afraid. The many bones of the wrists remain an insoluble puzzle, however.

I like pushing all of them together in a pile and feeling them; my collection of uneven beads. They make such a pleasant clacking when jumbled together, a musical plink when dropped one by one onto the plate. I will keep them forever.

A plane flew overhead as I did the dishes and I wondered if it wasn't God coming to get us. To take us up to be near him and do more of his work.

I watched it until it disappeared in the perfect blue of the sky, it’s white contrail fraying behind it but it didn't stop.

Not for me.

I felt it was only right that Pete should partake in the remainder of the meat. After all, he was the one who opened the door to God for me. I went to the closet and untied him but he just sat there, the stumps of his wrists held close to his chest even with the rope slack in his lap. He is very cold and pale and it worries me. I think, maybe, the plane that passed over was God and He took Pete with Him.

Pete is so pure but I am not. I had to close the closet door again before . . .

I sat and cried, feeling so alone as I nibbled the last of Pete's poor, poor hands.

I awake and the feeling is back and I shiver with fear. I think Pete may have been wrong. The hands are dead but it isn't. The urge is still alive. No, God, please no. I cannot.

I keep going to the closet to look at him. He’s there, between my galoshes and the green sneakers I never wear because they hurt my feet, curled up on the rug like a beautiful, little forest animal. I look at him and I know he loves me.

On that first day, which seems so long ago and also just like yesterday, when he came to the door with his pamphlets and bible, I was afraid until I looked into his eyes. Just one accidental, momentary glance and I could see the open, honest love for me in those beautiful eyes of his. So I smiled and I talked like I haven’t done since before Lancaster, and we even laughed together. My pulse was racing. I felt good and real for the first time in forever. I couldn’t believe my ears when he asked to come back and then actually did come back and kept coming back once, sometimes twice a week! Pete talked with me, heard me. He helped me, gave me stength. And he loved me.

Now I look at him and there is such warmth in my heart for him -but it isn’t pure. Save me Jesus, I want to touch him. I want to undress him slowly and hold him, finding his warm love for me inside of his skin, even if I have to dig. I know that what I ask is wrong. Pete knows, too. He said so many times. Now he is with God and I am here, alone, and growing weak.

I can't ignore it any longer. It is, as with the hands, something I cannot afford to ignore. It is a sin. An abomination before the eyes of the Lord. For you see, we were wrong. It wasn't in his hands, or maybe it was, but now it is in my own. They are as hungry with want as Pete’s ever were. They want to touch, and stroke, and fuck the holes, but I can't let them. You know I can't.

I'm crying now because I'm so weak. Weak and dizzy. And it hurts so bad. It was so bad that I kept passing out and screaming –just like Pete. And, also, I'm scared. I'm scared because I do not want to go to hell and yet I cannot figure out how to cut off the other one.

cae 2004