The Evil of Two
by Brian D. Roth
“These sheets reek of peculiar cologne,” Larry Crandall admonished his wife.  He was silhouetted by a red moonbeam.  

Ruth could not see his features in the dark, but sensed his eyes penetrating her from across the bed.  The look was heavy,

“Smells like Versace Signature,” Larry said.  ”You know full well I wear Obsession.  There’s someone else, isn’t there?  Isn’t

Ruth had never heard Larry shout before. Her heart jolted.  Larry had always been soft-spoken.  That was not how he spoke
to her tonight.  Tonight he was loud.  He spoke bullets with his voice.  

Ruth did not know what to think or do. Her husband, the man to whom she had loved for more than six years, the man who
draped his arm around her while she lay beneath the covers, was behaving irrationally.  A man who could not so much as
swat at a mosquito had become threatening.  She had never sensed that from him.  Not ever.             

What was going on?  What was wrong with him?  
Ruth shook her head.  She crawled out from underneath the covers and swung her legs out of bed.  Fear nearly caused her
to lose her balance when her feet hit the floor.  She struggled to stand. Her black hair tussled over her shoulders, which
were soaked with cold sweat and trembling.   Her hazel green eyes widened.  She barely blinked.

Larry pushed the covers aside and advanced toward her, muscles moistening beneath his undershirt.  “Who is he, Ruth?”      

Ruth backed away from him, panting. She shook her head.                                                                                                            

He crept toward her, his glare hooking onto her like an irrevocable accusation.  “Who is he?”
Ruth did not answer, could not answer.  Words had frozen in her throat.               
Hovering over her, Larry blocked her path to the master bedroom door.  He pursued her toward the oaken wardrobe on the
opposite side of the room.    

Ruth was cornered.  
An autumn draft rattled the blinds.  Her only chance of escape was to leap out the window and fall two stories.  She had no
choice but to face him.

Ruth stammered before whimpering.  “Yes.  There is someone else.  His name is Larry.  He is my husband.”     
She wasn’t sure what he had expected her to say, but that she should have to tell him this imbued her with terror.  Part of her
wanted desperately to ask this man where her husband had gone and what he had done with him.  The rest of her could not
bear to know.  She feared the answer might shake her to pieces.  She could only hope that somewhere inside this beast Larry
was still there, still whole, and that he would emerge.  

Ruth realized that while they were of two minds, this Larry clearly refused to accept that both he and her husband shared the
same body.  He did not even seem to notice Larry’s Karat gold wedding ring glittering in the dark.  
Larry scowled at Ruth as though her words struck him like stones.  His lips drew into a snarl.  His eyes narrowed with
conviction, conveying their own message.  You’re married and you didn’t tell me?  How long has this been going on?  You
lied to me, you bitch.  I thought I was the only one."            
His demeanor shifted.  He sighed, cogitated, and raised a hand to his forehead to massage his temples, appearing to be
struggling with an internal conflict.    

Ruth imagined the man with whom she had once exchanged vows wallowing beneath layers of camouflage, his arms flailing
for a vine, a fallen branch, anything he could use to lift himself out of this peril.
Larry had flailed in vain, it seemed.  His hands curled into submission.  His arms fell to his sides.  Larry closed his eyes,
frowned, and vanished into an abyss.  The other Larry, the one who seemed to have been summoned by the red moon the
way a predator is summoned by the scent of blood, was all that remained.

Ruth cowered against the oaken wardrobe.  Her hazel eyes swelled to absurd widths.   
Larry reached toward her with hands of fury.  They closed around her throat.  

Ruth gasped.  

Although she clutched at his wrists, her strength, much like the air in her lungs, had become constricted.  Ruth grew limp.  
Her eyes glazed into stones.  Her lips turned an icy blue.  Only then did he let go.

                                                                                    *                         *                          *
By the time Larry Crandall arose from the darkness of the stranger that had engulfed him, it was already too late.  His beloved
Ruth lay sprawled alongside him on the floor in their master bedroom, her throat plum red, eyes bulging.  Her mouth hung
open.  Blood leaked from her lips and onto her lavender blouse.  

Shock encompassed Larry as though he had plunged through a sheet of thin ice.  His heart froze in his chest.  He possessed
only enough strength to hold his wife in his arms one last time.