In 1976, the lead guitarist of the band "Blue Oyster Cult" wrote and sung the song "Don't Fear the Reaper". This man's name was Donald Roeser, and his song would become an immensely popular hit. In an interview about the song Donald stated:
"I felt that I had just achieved some kind of resonance with the psychology of people when I came up with that, I was actually kind of appalled when I first realized that some people were seeing it as an advertisement for suicide or something; that was not my intention at all. It is, like, not to be afraid of [death] (as opposed to actively bring it about). It's basically a love song where the love transcends the actual physical existence of the partners."
The reason people had linked the song to suicide was because of the chorus mentioning Romeo and Juliet, two characters in a Shakespearean play who had killed themselves due to a misunderstanding and faulty love.
While the song may not directly be about suicide, there was one thing that Donald never addressed, and for good reason. The actual inspiration for the song. You see, while the song itself is supposed to hold a cheery message, the original story contained a much darker tone.
There was a night when Donald and his friend, Tommy sat at a bar together. They had been close ever since meeting each other in their freshman year of high school and shared many fond memories of playing in various cover bands together. The two had a couple of drinks and shared quite a few chuckles as time flew by, and they enjoyed each other's company very much. It was after quite a few drinks that Tommy decided to share a story with his dear friend, Donald. A story that would cause Donald to think long and hard about life and death. This was the story of Tommy's parents and an incident that occurred when he was a small child.
Because of what happened, Tommy was taken to a foster home where he was raised with a new family. When he was older, his family decided to tell him the grim story of his birth parents. A story that would be told to Donald that night at the bar and inspire a hit song. A story of love, hate, and betrayal fused together to cause disaster.
This is that tale.
Mary Richardson was a very lonely woman. Growing up, the kids at school would never play with her. She was fine with it though. She preferred to be alone in the quiet. It allowed her to think about anything she wanted. As a young woman, she often kept to herself with her nose in a book. Mary lived a very dull life as you could imagine, and she had no plans of mixing it up. But that all changed when she met a rather charming fellow named Max.
When Mary first laid eyes on Maxwell Edward Paddington, something within her lit up. His young eyes burned with such intensity, that he instantly captured her heart as soon as she saw him. Within a month of meeting each other, the two were a young couple deep in love. He made everything make sense to her, he made her feel less alone, and he made her the happiest woman on the planet. Because of Max, the timid woman changed her perspective on life and even changed her goals and aspirations. She was still a sheepish woman, but somewhere deep within her was a growing confidence. She had previously thought that isolation was the best path for her life to take, but that was before she met Max.
It wasn't long after they got together that the two became engaged. It was on a cool night at the lake that Max proposed to her, kneeling down and asking her a life-changing question. She gleefully accepted of course. Her eyes glowed with excitement when he took their relationship to the next level. Their wedding was a small one, and certainly less than glamorous. It didn't bother the two lovers though. They knew that if they had each other nothing would ever go wrong. And for several years, they lived in harmony and their hearts pumped to the beat of the same drum.
Soon after Mary married Max she bore a child. After much thinking, it was decided the baby would be named Tommy. It wasn't too long after this happened that Mary started to notice something strange about Max. Although he was delighted to be a father, he kept to himself more than he used to. For instance, when Tommy spoke his first word Mary was ecstatic. Max, however, simply smiled while leaning against a wall, hands tucked inside his pockets. This behavior caused Mary to become slightly concerned about him, especially as it continued. She saw it happen when Tommy took his first steps. She saw it happen as Tommy was able to walk on his own without help, and she even saw it as Tommy used the toilet independently for the first time. She wasn't too concerned about it, but she did find it odd that whenever she brought the matter up he shot it down.
This activity went on until Tommy was two years old. There was always something about Max that seemed off to everybody, especially Mary. It wasn't too long before she became suspicious, and it wasn't much longer before her suspicions were confirmed. One day Mary was early coming home from work. Upon walking up the front steps to her door, she found it slightly ajar already. Stepping into the house she found the air to be still. She walked down the halls and to the bedroom where she found the door to also be open. Peeking through the crease of the door, she saw something that almost caused her to totally lose it. Her husband and another woman whom she had never met sat before directly in her vision.
Mary walked through the door and stood before the two. Max looked up at her with a shocked expression on his face. Meanwhile, the woman quickly covered herself with her own clothing. Mary pointed her finger in the direction of the woman and weakly muttered one word.
The woman quickly dressed and hurried past Mary. Mary didn't even look at her as she darted out the door and exited the house. She held her gaze on Max for quite some time, and for a while, neither of them moved. For a while, neither of them could even begin to speak.
The discussion following that event was an awkward one for Mary. She wasn't sure what she wanted to say to Max. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she struggled to compose herself. Her voice was shaky and weak, but words still managed to slip through her lips somehow.
"Wh... why?" was all that she could manage to say to him. Max looked towards the ground. He appeared to be ashamed of himself. Ashamed of what he had done to her and the way that he had kept it a secret for all those years.
"Babe... look... I'm sorry, ok? I didn't mean to hurt you like this. You know you're my girl and always will be, right? You know I love you."
His voice was sincere and broken. She wanted to believe him. She wanted the whole thing to blow over and never come up again. But she had to know why he would even think about doing what he did. She had to know, so she asked.
"Why did you do it, Max? Was I not good enough for you? Is there something I did to make you do this...? I don't understand..."
For a moment, there was silence. The two of them sat facing each other, neither daring to blink. Max chewed on his fingernails while his eyes darted across the room frantically. He bit down on the nail and rubbed his face with his hand before answering.
"No, it wasn't you, ok? It was never you. I just did something stupid that I shouldn't have."
He placed his hand on top of hers. She pulled away in a single jerky movement and glared at him. Max sighed heavily before continuing.
"I love you with all my heart, Mary, that's why I married you. You're the girl I chose because when I saw the light in your eyes it reminded me of the stars twinkling in the night sky. Do you remember the nights we spent together, laying side by side? We would look up at the stars and embrace each other for hours. I remember those times, and they're so, so special to me. I don't regret those memories, but I regret what I did today."
Mary smiled a little upon hearing this. She did remember those warm summer nights with him. They were perfect. They were the best nights of her life and she loved every bit of those memories. Max outstretched his hand and wiped the tears from her face. She didn't pull back that time.
"Max, you know that you're everything to me and I don't ever want to let you go. But you must promise me that you won't ever do this again. Can you do that?"
"Of course, dear. Anything for you."
The two smiled at each other before Max kissed her with a passion like no other. Mary thought back to before she had Max in her life. She didn't even know if she could call what happened before she met him life. It was so dull... so bland. The feeling of hurt and betrayal eased to the back of her mind as she settled into bed with him that evening. She slept soundly through the night. Her mind was clear, and her confidence was regained. She believed in Max and his promise and didn't doubt that the previous incidents were just bumps in the road of her marriage. After all, all relationships had trying times, and she was sure this was just one of them. What she didn't know, was that it was only the beginning. What she didn't know, was that there was much, much more to come.
Max kept his promise to Mary as she had expected him to. For the next few months, nothing unusual happened and things started to settle down. Tensions fell, and the two lovers felt the same as they had before the previous incident happened. Max smiled and laughed in the company of his son, and Mary slept soundly at night with the weight off her shoulders. To her, Max was only human. He was bound to make mistakes sometimes, and what he did before was just a small mistake.
One night after Tommy was sent to bed, Mary sat down on the couch with a concerned look on her face. Max had left the house earlier that day. He had told her he was heading off to meet some friends at a bowling alley and promised her he would be back by seven. Her eyes wandered to the clock resting on the shelf before her. It was Eleven, and Max hadn't even called her yet. She tried calling him of course. He just never picked up. After a few minutes of waiting she wanted to call the police. It wasn't like him to be out so late, and it certainly wasn't like him to ignore her calls.
Just as she was about to contact the authorities, she saw headlights shining through the windows and heard rubber tires roll up the gravel driveway. She watched as he barged into the house and sat down on the sofa beside her. She inhaled the aroma from his breath and immediately realized why he had been so late. Still, she was concerned for him and was glad he was safe.
"Max! I'm glad you're home. You should have come back sooner. Or at least called me and told me where you were. I was worried sick!"
He didn't even look at her as she said this. He kept staring at the wall. His eyes were fixated on it, intent on seeing something not there.
"Hello? Do you hear me? Max, I'm not mad at you. I'm not. I'm just worried about your safety. How much did you have? Maybe it'll be best if you lay down for a bit."
He slowly turned his head towards her and stared her down. She sank back into the furniture a little, somewhat intimidated by his gaze. Max stood up and walked past her and towards the hallway. She followed him and kept trying to get him to say something.
"Listen, Max. I don't know what happened or how you're feeling, but you NEED to talk to me. I'm your wife, Max. We're together. We need to talk to each other and help each other."
He turned around and faced her again. He positioned his face directly in front of hers. She could see his eyes. They were cloudy and wide, and his face was strained to the point where she could very clearly see the veins in his forehead. He had a much hoarser voice than she was used to. Very softly but with clear intent, he finally responded to her.
She was taken back by this. He had never talked to her like that before, yet here he was right before her very eyes. He told her to shut up. She gulped down the saliva that had been building up in her throat and choked out a faint response.
"I said shut up!"
Mary almost fell back upon hearing the words come out of her husband's mouth. She could feel tears well up in her eyes as he stared her down further. Her entire body felt jittery at the sight of his angry gaze. Time slowed down for her. Regaining her composure, Mary took a step towards her husband. Then another, and then another. She extended her arm out and allowed her hand to gently lay upon his shoulder. And then he did it. His eyes bulged, his body stiffened, and he struck her.
Mary didn't stick around in the room much longer after that. She ran to the bedroom and locked the door behind her. She threw herself on the bed and under the covers, burying her face into the pillow to hide the recently acquired red handprint on her cheek. She drenched the bed in her salty tears as a million questions ran through her mind. Why had it happened? What led to it? How could he? She was confused as to why he would, but she even started questioning herself. Perhaps it was something she had done. Perhaps she had been too nagging or annoying. Whatever the case, no amount of thinking could stop the sobbing. She kept at it until she wept herself to sleep that night.
The following morning, she found him asleep on the couch. She watched him slumber for quite some time before moving into the kitchen to make herself breakfast. She sat at the table pondering to herself. She hadn't a clue what she would say to him when he woke up. She still had many questions running through her mind, but when the time came she knew she wouldn't be able to ask them. He'd never acted like that before. He wasn't acting like the man she married.
When Max woke up he made his way over to Mary in the kitchen. Upon leaning in to kiss her she flinched and moved away from him. It almost disgusted her at how hurt he looked when she did this, but she quickly retracted that thought. She didn't want him to know how she felt about the previous night. Perhaps she was beginning to fear her husband. She would never have guessed that she'd fear him. Then again, she never would have guessed he would cheat on her or hit her. The day passed quickly for Mary. She didn't talk to Max that much at all. She couldn't find any words to say to him. As much as he had done to her she never felt the slightest bit of hate. She still loved him as much as she had years ago. It was her love and confusion that fused together inside of her. Max kept trying to talk to her throughout the day but could never fully get her attention. She thought he was trying to apologize but she couldn't be sure. She didn't hear the words he spoke. She felt stuck inside of herself that day forward, always in a constant daze.
Max had promised Mary he would never cheat on her again, and he kept that promise. He then promised Mary he would never hit her again, and he kept that one too. Well, he kept it for a time. It started off infrequently. Maybe once or twice a month he went out late to the bar. Even then, he wasn't exactly guaranteed to hit her. But then it began to happen more often. After a while, he had gone out to the bar up to twice a week, and she never knew which days he would come back to hit her. Every time he walked into the house with that terrible stench in his breath she feared for her own safety. She wore long clothing in public to cover the bruises that she gained during those times, and she would make excuses for the ones she acquired on her face and neck. Many nights ended with Mary burying her face into the sheets and bawling her eyes out alone in the darkness. She couldn't leave him. Some nights she wished that she could just get out of there or call the police or do anything else. She knew what he was doing was wrong, but she had a life with him, and she knew that there was no life for her without him. Besides, she couldn't just rip Tommy away from his father. She was obligated to the marriage, and it would stay that way. Only death could do Max and Mary part.
She could stand the alcohol and the abandonment. She could stand the violence and utter heartbreak of what Max had done to her. But there was a night that it all changed. A night that pushed her over the edge and broke her. A night when Max came home in his usual drunken state and looked for his wife. She clenched her teeth and kept her eyes tightly shut as she awaited the now routine act to be committed against her. However, she never felt the sharp pain of his hand against her skin. No, what she heard, and then saw, was Max make his way towards Tommy's room. Mary ran after him and watched in horror as he dragged Tommy's flailing body by his collar and slammed him against the wall. Mary screamed in shock at the sight of her son being hit and begged Max to stop.
"Max, please let him go! He's just a child he doesn't deserve this!"
Max dragged Tommy by the hair and pulled him over towards Mary as he swatted the boy in his face. His face was drenched in sweat as he yelled at the top of his lungs in his wife's face.
"He deserved it Mary! He deserved it, and you deserved it. You both ruined this family, escpecially you!"
His speech was slurred by the alcohol and hatred running through his veins, but that didn't stop his words and actions taking effect on Mary. She felt hurt by the words he directed towards her. He told her that she was the problem with the family. That she wasn't good enough. He spewed insult after insult at her and for a moment her heart stopped and she felt the weight of his words crush her. But that feeling of dread and sadness was soon replaced by something different.
Again, and again, Max smacked and hit Tommy. His toddler eyes streamed tears as he shrieked upon each blow. Mary didn't know how he could do such things. She then considered that maybe this was always who he was. Maybe it wasn't their marriage that made him violent and sadistic. She thought back to the day she met him. She was a lonely girl without an ounce of confidence. He was a sweet, charming man. A man who took advantage of her insecurities. A man that knew a woman like her would never be powerful against him and would never dream of leaving him despite the pain he inflicted upon her. And as she watched him beat and abuse her own son, she felt something new. And she yelled out against him in what was the first time she had ever spoken out before.
"YOU GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF HIM!"
She threw her body between Max and Tommy, pushing Max away. His lips curled into a frown as shoved her to the ground and made his way towards Tommy. Mary frantically grabbed Max by his arms and pulled him back, but he simply threw her back down and continued his assault on Tommy. Mary reluctantly looked toward the kitchen and grabbed a nearby metal pan. She hit Max on the head, knocking him to the ground. She rushed over to Tommy and saw his unmoving body lying on the ground. Quickly, she placed her head over his heart; she prayed to herself that her dear son was alive. Listening closely to his pulse she let out a sigh of relief as she heard his tiny heart beating. Then, with incredible speed, she saw Max rush towards her and slam her against the wall. She watched in disbelief as Max threw her forward, his head bleeding profusely from where she hit him.
He had her pinned against the wall of the kitchen, holding her by her neck. She saw him reach towards the silverware cabinet and reveal a long, serrated knife. Her eyes widened as he brought the blade to her ribs and punctured her flesh, a grin aligning his face. She smelled the alcohol on his breath more than ever now. He never had that much to drink. She winced as he backed away from her, seemingly admiring his work of art.
"Mary... you broke my heart."
His words stung almost as much as the blade inside her. Even through her anger, she felt what she always had. She felt love. But she felt love for the man she married, not the monster before her.
"You should have trusted me when I promised not to hit you. But I saw the look in your eyes. You feared me, Mary. Do you know how hard that was for me? How hard it was to know that the girl I loved didn't trust me."
She felt her body losing strength quickly. Her eyes fluttered as she saw him fade in and out of view. He continued to mock her, even though a part of him sounded sincere.
"I'm sorry, Mary. I never meant for things to be like this... but you didn't leave me much choice."
He turned and looked towards Tommy's unconscious body before looking back to Mary and smirking.
"But it looks like I've still got one little brat to punish."
He made his way towards Tommy, looming over his body as he contemplated what to do with the boy. It was those words, however, that caused Mary to regain some of her composure. He was going to hurt her son again. There was no way she could allow him to do that. She clenched her teeth and strained her face as she placed her hand on the wooden handle of the knife and pulled, ripping muscle and skin trying to get the blade out of her side. She felt the searing hot pain of the serrated edges tearing through her, but there was a force that overcame the pain. She had to protect Tommy. With one last pull, she dragged the blade out of herself and stumbled forward.
Max saw this and chuckled to himself. She wouldn't be hard to manipulate. He knew she was too weak to resist him, for it had been that way for years. She made her way over to him and pointed the knife his way. His eyes lowered, and he sighed deeply as he spoke with a soft and loving tone.
"Mary, look... baby. I'm sorry. I love you and Tommy more than anything in the world. You're all that I want and need, and my heart will always be yours. Please, Mary... I promise you. Remember back when we sat on the hill under the stars? How we held hands and kissed under the bright moonlight? I'll always love you, Mary. You're the woman I chose. We can be something again. We can relive the good days again.”
Mary stopped and looked at him. She saw the pleading look in his eyes and the way he smiled hopelessly at her. He looked like a lost puppy trying to find its way home.
"Yes Max, I do remember those nights on the hill. I remember them and love them, and I love the man that I spent those times with. I chose that man and I married him, and I believed in a happy future with him. He made me happy, and he made the world make sense to me. He was all that mattered to me, and without him, my life is barely a life at all. But you aren't him. I loved him, not you. He would never hurt me, and the only thing you've ever done is give me pain. And not only did you hurt me, but my son. I'm tired of being your plaything. I have to protect my Tommy."
With that, she plunged the knife into Max's neck, his body plopping to the floor almost immediately. He looked up at her with a shocked expression on his face. He was as surprised at her actions as she was surprised at his. He would never have thought she would find the strength to stand up to him. She never had before then.
Mary fell to her knees, clutching her sides. She knew she was running out of blood quickly and that she wouldn't last long. She fell onto her back next to Max and leaned over close to his ear. With the breath she had left, she whispered one final message into her ear.
"Max... I don't know what happened to you, but I forgive you. You gave me the happiest times of my life, and I couldn't live without you. I hope that wherever you are, the good in you opens. Your soul is beautiful, and I know the person I saw the past year isn't the real you. It's something else. Something ugly. But it isn't you.”
With that, she wrapped her hand around his and allowed her eyes to close. The two former lovers lay there, dead because of their own actions. Not long after those events occurred, a police officer arrived due to noise complaints from neighbors. Upon finding Tommy and the body of his parents they brought him in where he was raised by a new family and treated in therapy.
Max was a wolf, and Mary was the sheep. He gained her trust in marriage and preyed on her weakness. He did as he pleased when he pleased because he knew she wouldn't stand against him. He was insane, and he always had been. It was only when she trusted him most that he showed his true colors. He was her love and confidence, and as such he had control and power over her. A power that obscured his vision and brought forth the worst in him. Even still, their marriage was brought down by a faulty love. And despite the fear and insecurity she felt, Mary didn't feel fearful of death. Her love for Tommy and the man she had married overcame those fears and allowed her to take action. Action against a man who had used her to feel control.
Though she had every reason to be afraid, though she had every reason to give in and quit, it was her love that prevailed.
Written by Icydice