If You Gaze Long Enough . . . by Joe Haward

Punk Noir Magazine

 

I never imagined that the man of my dreams, who repeatedly made me live through nightmares and suffering, could finally change. But he has! Kind and caring, passionate and thoughtful, actions and emotions I believed were impossible for him. How life has transformed for us!

The first time that he hit me, I swore never to return to him. But such was the power and depth of his remorse, coupled with the undeniable love I held for him, I went back. And things were good, for a while. Then I came in late one time after a night out with the girls, and he was waiting up, bottle of vodka in one hand, leather belt in the other. Screamed I was having an affair. 

That was the second time he hit me.

Life somehow settled into a rhythm, me accepting my lot. Months bled into years, and, to be honest, it all becomes a bit of a blur. But, hand on heart, I never stopped loving him, despite everything he put me through. 

Some days he’d humiliate me in front of his mates, treat me like a servant, something of little significance, calling me names. One time Tommy stood up for me, told Pete that he shouldn’t speak to me like that. I was beaten up that night, accused of sleeping with Tommy.

Don’t get me wrong, we had our good times too. I still remember the week we had in Ibiza. Sure, he drank too much, but we laughed like teenagers, made love, and soaked up the beauty. It was a magical time, “the best of times,” as that Charles Dickens fella once said. 

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I can still remember the day Pete first started feeling ill; Valentine’s Day of all days. I don’t usually worry about all that romantic, sentimental bullshit, but the day before, Pete had been really sweet and cooked me dinner. Now, he never cooked dinner, but told me he was tired of eating my shit, and decided he was better off making tea for the both of us. Sitting down together, I had the biggest smile on my face because I knew he actually loved me. Too busy watching the football on his phone, he didn’t notice me smiling all the way through eating my tomato pasta. I felt wonderful, truly alive, eating dinner, made by my man, just for me! That night I drifted off to sleep wondering if tomorrow, finally, there would be flowers and a box of chocolates waiting for me?

There wasn’t. At first I was upset. Really upset, like something snapped within me. In all our years together Pete had only bought me flowers once, but I actually thought, after cooking dinner the night before, he was going to surprise me with a beautiful bouquet. 

Now, normally I wouldn’t say anything, keep it all bottled up. But I couldn’t help myself. I told him exactly what I thought, how upset I was, and that I wanted him to start being romantic, start showing that he loved me, like last night when he prepared dinner for us both. 

To my shock, he agreed! We sat together over the kitchen table, and he explained to me that he had planned to get me flowers, but he hadn’t been feeling well. Pains in his stomach, apparently. I suggested going to see the doctor, but he didn’t want to make a fuss, especially not on Valentine’s Day when we should be together. I’d never heard him say anything so sweet to me in all the years we had been together! This was the first time he had ever thought of me over himself. After telling me that, I didn’t need flowers or chocolate! I got him to sit on his favourite armchair, put his feet up, whilst I made him a nice cup of tea, with a slice of homemade chocolate cake. 

He slept most of the day, bless him. That evening he said he was feeling better, and, much to my embarrassment (and joy!), put our first dance on the CD player. There, in our tiny living room, we danced to Something About the Way You Look Tonight, and I was transported back to our wedding day, twenty five years earlier. 

It was a small event, registry office, and a few friends in Pete’s local pub, with fish and chips for dinner, and a buffet in the evening prepared by the landlady of the pub, Brenda. I found a dress in a little charity shop on East Street, and Pete wore a new fitted suit from a tailor his best friend had recommended. 

I still remember how safe I felt in his arms that night, and, despite everything, as we danced in our living room on that Valentine’s Day, I felt safe again.

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About a week later and Pete was still not well. He kept complaining that his stomach hurt, so I took a look at it, but couldn’t see anything wrong. Although feeling ill, he made sure of paying me a compliment, every day, and telling me how much he loved me. I always knew he could be this kind of man, that he had the potential to be a loving husband, all he needed was for me to stick around, and stay patient. 

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It has now been two weeks since Valentine’s Day, and Pete continues to lavish me with gifts and surprises. This morning I came downstairs and the darling had put balloons up in the living room! He told me that it was the anniversary of our first date. I can’t believe he remembered. The balloons were a dark red, symbols, he said, of how deeply he loved me. He wanted to make me breakfast, but I told him to rest and conserve his energy. Poor thing is still not feeling well.

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We watched a romantic film tonight, snuggled up on the sofa together. After the movie had finished, he looked at me—gazing with such love and intensity that I nearly cried—and told me that he only had eyes for me. In all our years together, I have never known him to be like this. What a gift these last few weeks have been. I love you Pete!

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Neighbours reported the smell coming from Pete and Gina Fulford’s home, in Buller Road, on 7 March. No-one had seen the couple for a few weeks. Pete Fulford’s best friend, Tommy Simpton, later told police that he’d spoken to Gina a few times, asking if Pete was okay because no-one had seen him down the pub for a while. She had told Tommy that Pete was fine, but had given up drinking to try and help the stomach issues he was having. 

Police entered the home the evening of 7 March, and found Mrs Fulford sitting in the kitchen, clutching a glass jar, muttering to herself, a large smile on her face. She did not look up, nor appear to register the presence of the officers in her home. Her blonde hair was crusted with clumps of blood, whilst her hands and face were slick red.

The two police officers who first arrived at the Fulford’s home have been given two weeks compassionate leave, and an opportunity to receive further counselling. 

Mr Fulford was found in the living room, sitting on the sofa. He was naked, save for a pair of black socks. His stomach had been cut open, with further lacerations across his torso and face. Carrier bags filled with Mr Fulford’s organs and intestines were sat around the room, red ribbon tied to the handles, as though Mrs Fulford was trying to make balloons out of them. The whole room and carpet was soaked and covered in blood, with officers unable to comprehend the devastation they found.   

On arresting Mrs Fulford on suspicion of murder, officers noticed her left arm was broken, with deep bruising and swelling running all the way up it. 

She screamed when officers took the glass jar away, repeating over and over that her husband only had eyes for her. The jar contained two eyes, assumed to belong to Mr Fulford.

Early indications suggest that Mr Fulford had been dead for approx three weeks, murdered on or around Valentine’s Day.

https://www.joehaward.co.uk/