Reba Nesbitt knew her husband Jeff would be coming home tonight. Although he cheated on her now and then, Jeff never stayed overnight any place. ‘Now isn’t that white of him always coming home like that,’ one of Reba’s African-American nail parlor friends had once told her right in front of all the customers. Tonight the question was what time he’d come home. She knew he’d left his law office shortly after eight. His usual hour of arrival on nights like this was between twelve and one a.m. She slowly closed the drawer to the elegant, thin-legged entrance hall table.
Reba didn’t know how long she’d been nodding off but she now heard a key opening the front door.
“I’m sick of this,” she told a tipsy Jeff, confronting him in the hallway, “and I’m gonna change it.”
Jeff smiled his traditional, condescending my-family’s-better-than-yours smile.
“And how do you plan to do that so suddenly, Reba dear?” he asked. “You gonna leave me? Boo-hoo-hoo.”
“I don’t have to,” Reba said as Jeff stepped past her to go upstairs. She waited a moment till he was at the foot.
“Jeff, you dropped something.” She held a closed left fist out to him.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Oh, but you’ll have to come close and look,” Reba said, smiling a bit like an imp.
“Look, Reba,” he said moving toward her. At that moment Reba brought her right hand from behind her. It held a steely object.
As Jeff crumpled to the floor in shock, blood splattered everywhere—on the wallpaper, all over the hardwood flooring, onto Reba’s pajamas and robe. Actually, she was beginning to feel some relief already. Later she’d feel even better. The bloody mess was worth it and she’d clean it up later. Or somebody would. Right now she had to concentrate on keeping calm and see how she could manage to rough herself up a little. Then she’d have to call an ambulance and the police.
Reba felt nothing but good fortune that night. Fortunately Jeff had kept a loaded revolver registered in his name in the house and Reba knew not only where he kept it, but how to use it. And fortunately the kids were grown and none of them was living at home. Thank goodness Jeff had roughed Reba up in the past more than once. At least two incidents were on file at the area police station.
Reba sat in a wing chair and began tearing her blouse a little. She realized she was free. Then she began crying. She couldn’t help it. If anyone was the emotional type, she was.