WOUND: The Characters
To be fair, sweetie, it’s just easier to tell you what happened.Mrs. Collins
Carol Collins left a lovely 2000-square-foot home, with an inground pool and delicate landscaping, a sunny but secluded deck and three full-time household assistants when the bomb-dropped in Chicago. She’d waited a day, for her husband to return from his business trip. She wasn’t sure he would. She wasn’t sure he wanted to. She knew he had a layover in O’Hare, but didn’t know when or what day. Carol Collins took little interest in Robert Collins. She took only his name and his bank account. In return, she bore him two beautiful boys and allowed him his small pleasures elsewhere.
When Bob turned up, ragged and smelling of charcoal and blood, Carol made up her mind and smiled. She’d already packed her boys’ things and some money. In her Coach purse was the single gun in the house and both boxes of ammunition. She had no idea how to load the thing, or unlock the safety device, but Carol was still in the performance stage of her escape. Deep down she assumed her husband would take care of everything.
He’d tried. Oh boy, how he tried. By the time Carol made it to the top of the staircase she understood that Robert Collins had changed. Saying little besides “Carol” and “boys” and “ghaaarrrgrr,” he chased her up the wide staircase into the upstairs hallway. Her boys stood at the end, outside of their room, right where she told them to wait. Her sweet boys, Jake and Blake, the little rhyming scheme that she picked the moment she new they were two and that annoyed Bob every time she called to them.
Her boys. Not Bob’s boys. Not now, as if they ever were.
The hallway ran long in the big house and she had time to catch Jake’s eye – he’s always been the stronger one, emotionally – and yell, “Get me your bat.” With no hesitation, the nine-year-old ducked into the bedroom he shared with his brother. He returned with an aluminum baseball bat, the word EASTON emblazoned on the side. He tossed it forward and, to her own amazement, Carol Collins caught it.
She spun, bringing the bat around with her momentum and connected with Bob’s head. Her luck held as he stumbled in his pursuit and she was able to swing again, adapting her backhand for the metal bat and landing it solidly under his chin. Blood flung out of his mouth and his crushed jaw hung open. The initial hit knocked skin off his temple and soaked his Armani dress shirt – that was a birthday present, Mrs. Collins thought.
Bob took a knee and instead of raising his hands to his injured head, like a human, he lunged forward, like something else, grabbing at her legs as she shielded her boys. She swung again and again, missing here and there, but connecting more often until what remained above the collar of her husband’s shirt was nothing more than a lump of grizzle and matted hair.
It was quite the messy divorce, Mrs. Collins would later say.
At no point did she tell her boys to run and hide. If she had to do this, they had to watch. Carol understood the world had changed, and they were going to change with it. They brought their most important belonging downstairs and showered in the small bathroom off the kitchen. They ate in silence and packed as much food as they could. Carol had the boys check for anything else – on the first floor – that they would need while she siphoned gas from Bob’s SUV into her van and two spare cannisters she found in the garage. The lingering tast of fuel in her mouth felt like a choice.
As the distant sounds of sirens tore through Pittsburgh, Carol, Jake and Blake left quietly in the dead of night and headed south. Her brother was just over the border in Kentucky. Perhaps he could take them in for a bit. Perhaps he could help her with this gun. There was a lot of things she needed to learn in this new world and there was no way she was going to let it take her boys.