Do You Love Me?

By Kate Shapiro

I never should have let Ben come home, he promised he would stop drinking and he did for a little bit, and I thought even though I have a restraining order against him, he said he had quit drinking, and he had quit pills, and I wanted to quit pills too, and I thought: it’d be nice to be with him, just him, the real him, but then he waited until I fell asleep last night and went to the store and drank two 40s and invited this girl, who he may or may not have been trying to fuck I don’t know I read the texts and he says it’s nothing but who can tell, over to sell her Xanax and shorted her or something I’m not sure I was asleep, so she started yelling and he tried to hit her, well he did hit her, and my roommate woke up and tried to intervene and the girl ran away then so he started hitting my roommate too and she started screaming my name, Melinda Melinda Melinda and that’s when I woke up and she was scratching at his face, and he was bleeding and so was she and my roommate’s boyfriend was trying to hold her back and even though she was 100 lbs she kept squirming out of his arms to scratch Ben with her jagged, unclipped fingernails. It was clear he was drunk, and probably barred out too, and I hated him because he said he wouldn’t drink, he said he wouldn’t do this again, but here he was and he kept trying to talk to me but I wouldn’t. He asked if I wanted a Xanax and I said no and he then tried to put it in my mouth but I shook my head, then he put his fingers in my mouth to hold it open to shove pills in that I kept on spitting out and my roommate’s boyfriend said he was going to order a pizza then stepped out of the room, and Ben kept on shoving pills in my mouth, and I kept on spitting them out, and my roommate was crying and trying to keep him away from me because he kept trying to put his arms around me and kiss me too, and Ben kept saying Melinda do you love me? Tell me you love me. My roommate’s boyfriend came back and said that he didn’t order pizza and that he called the cops instead and I was upset, see, because Ben has warrants for assault and I guess for violating his restraining order, domestic violence stuff against me and the pigs want him bad. He’s facing real time. If my boyfriend’s roommate had asked me to call the cops or if he had called them in front of me I would have said no, please, no, I love him, I love Ben, but he didn’t ask probably because he knew that and I was happy he didn’t ask really because Ben broke his promise to me and was completely fucked up and I wouldn’t speak to him, I wouldn’t speak to him ever again, and it was good that he was going to prison, I was happy he was going to prison. The cops came really quickly, like I said they really really wanted him, and my roommate’s boyfriend let them in, one of them was squat but not fat and the other was tall, both white, and when Ben saw them he immediately started screaming and he lunged at my roommate’s boyfriend and the cops intervened and pushed him face front on the ground and the squat one put his knee into his back and Ben asked what was going on, who are you guys, and they said it’s the police your girlfriend called the cops, and he said, Melinda you would do that, and I said no I would never do that, and then I snapped my mouth shut because I forgot I wasn’t talking to him but it was okay because in the space it took for me to answer his question he forgot the cops were there because he was so fucked up on pills, Melinda kiss me he said, and I shook my head, and he said I’m sorry these men are on top of me will you kiss me, and the cops said you have bigger problems than a kiss buddy, and Ben asked who they were again, and the cops said we’re the police, and Ben said pathetically I can’t go to jail again, and my roommate said you deserve to be in jail, and Ben started crying saying look at my face, and the police found marijuana and pills in his pocket, and he would have gotten a possession charge if he didn’t tell them it was mine for my anxiety and the tall cop politely handed me the drugs like it was nothing then they spent a minute telling Ben that he had to go down the stairs, that he violated a restraining order and he had warrants out for assault, and Ben kept saying what are you talking about what are you talking about and they finally said they couldn’t explain it any other way and they heaved him up and he screamed that they were hurting them, his arm, his arm, and recoiling away and they said we’re not touching your arm, and there was confusion about where his shoes were and which shoes were his and which shoes were my roommate’s boyfriend all the while my roommate saying you deserve to be in jail and while they were hauling him out of the house he screamed Melinda, do you love me? Do you love me, Melinda? Do you love me? I said you did this to yourself, and then the police told me I could pick up his wallet and incidentals tomorrow at county corrections if I wanted, and then were gone and it was very quiet. I thought it was good he was going to jail and I couldn’t believe he lied and drank while I was sleeping and I wondered what he would do when he was out of jail and that since he wouldn’t remember any of this would he think I called the cops and come after me again, like he did a few months ago, when I had to move out of my house and into a hotel because he was trying to kill me and I had to tell my friends not to tell this person, this person who was my close partner and who I could tell anything to where I was. The cops said he would be in jail for a long time but what if he wasn’t, he’s bailed out, or there’s overcrowding or whatever reason the cops let people out of jail, and he came back and terrorized me more, and got drunk and looked through my phone and deleted the contacts of any men he found, and I had to move again, this time out of the city, or maybe I’d have to kill him, like actually kill him to get him to leave me alone, to be safe finally, or for his own good. His own good, ha, like it matters, like it even fucking matters, the good of the world, what a joke, a few years ago when Ben was better we were watching YouTube videos in bed about this guy, Albert Widmann, who was a chemist in the Nazi euthanasia program and he advised the chief planners on the most suitable means of performing mass murder and he recommended carbon monoxide and gave technical instructions to all the various participating doctors on how to administer it to mass quantities of patients at a time, and then after, how to extract gold fillings from the bodies, and he processed orders for deadly medicines for special euthanasia sites and tested them on disabled patients in certain hospitals in Belorussia with the Einsatzgruppe, and he developed special poisonous ammunition for handguns and tested it at Sachsenhausen Konzentrationslager. After the war, when he was caught he was only sentenced to five years in jail for aiding and abetting murder but only for the poisonous ammunition and later he was charged on another thing but he gave 4,000 DM to a foundation for disabled people and the government decided that’s that and he became a varnish manufacturer. Anybody who belongs in jail doesn’t stay there very long. Ben just called me through a third party and asked if I was still his girlfriend and I hung up. I wish I had let him put the Xanax in my mouth.

Kate Shapiro was born and raised in Dallas, TX. She graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2012, and is currently an MFA candidate in Fiction at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her work can be seen in Thought Catalog and Chicago Literati and is forthcoming in Fence. She won first place in the Summer Literary Seminars 2018 Fiction Contest. 

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