When Junior was born it was the happiest day of my life. He felt so warm and full of energy the first time I held him. It didn't last. He got sickly, weak, stopped putting on weight. His skin got bad, splotchy and red. The pediatrician had never seen anything like it. He ran some tests, but it was all for nothing. Before the results came back the boy was dead in his crib. I wish to God that had been the worst part but it wasn't. As we stood over his body, holding each other and crying, it began to move again. For a moment I felt a surge of hope, like maybe we'd made a mistake and he was still alive. Then the throbbing pustules burst and a dozen fat, glistening, red grubs started crawling out and the screaming began.
When it was all over the doctors said it was some kind of parasitic beetle larvae. Nobody could figure out how he'd gotten infested in the first place. I've never been religious, but I couldn't help but think it was some kind of punishment. Punishment for cheating on my wife.
I'd met her one night cutting through the park on my way home from work. She was the most incredible woman I'd ever seen. There was just something about her, the way she moved, her smell, something that made me forget I was a happily married man. We fucked for hours in the dark under a tree in a secluded corner of the park. I didn't even care if anyone passed by and saw. Her touch was amazing, she did things to me no other woman ever had. I was rock hard for hours. Even after we'd finished and I came home, making up an excuse about bumping into a friend and having coffee with him on the way, I was still raring to go. Me and my wife screwed like rabbits that night, though it just wasn't the same as with that goddess in the park.
I went through the park every night. Sometimes she'd be there, sometimes not. I know it's selfish, but I couldn't help myself. Especially after what happened, my wife became a wasting, muttering shadow of her former self and couldn't stand to be touched. I was sympathetic, but a man's got needs, doesn't he? I started finding excuses to slip out to the park many times a day. When I was with her, nothing else mattered.
I should have known it could never last. One night I came home and my wife was waiting for me, a manila envelope in one hand, a knife in the other. She told me that she had suspected I was cheating and hired a PI to follow me. My heart sank and I was ready to confess everything and beg for forgiveness, but then things took a turn for the weird. She started ranting about how I was responsible for our child's death and lunged at me with the knife. I tried to calm her down, to figure out what she was talking about but it was no use. I grabbed the revolver I'd hidden in my desk and brandished it to try to get her to stop but she just rushed at me again.
I had no choice. It was self-defense. I think, perhaps, it was what she wanted.
As she lay on the floor, bleeding out of the bone shard-studded mincemeat the .44 magnum round had made of the left side of her face onto the carpet, I picked up the envelope of pictures the detective had sent her from her hand and examined it. And it is what I saw in those pictures, not my son being eaten from inside out, not my beloved wife forcing me to murder her, that has me holding this gun under my chin, working up the nerve to end the sick joke my life has become.
There was no other woman in the pictures. There was no other woman, period. Just a man with a vacant, drugged expression being embraced by a mass of squirming red grubs.