Case#002 The Split Woman

by Ivan

Case No. 002…The Split Woman

Filed Under…Homicide(?)

Relevant Date(s)…1988


The couch rocked back and forth as he grabbed her hips and pushed them down on his member. His eyes dead set on the curtains in the dark past them. Neon lights underneath the slit, the perfume of other dancers wafting past him as he continued careening her body closer and closer to him. Already down two hundred. Soon to be down fifty more. She turned to him, her hoop earrings dragging across his face.

“How about it? A hundred fifty and I’m yours for twenty minutes.” She said.

His eyes looked down. He was glad he took out only four hundred. He was glad it was cash. He looked back up with the lone trail of sweat down the side of his face.

“I don’t have anything for you. Sorry.” He said.

It was twelve at night when he left. Out in the parking lot, his back leaned against the car to steady himself. He put his hand to his chest and took out his phone and breathed heavy. Three missed texts from his wife. And him with the same excuse; ‘drinks with co-workers’. As if anyone at work would have a drink with him. No one liked supervisors. Or perhaps no one liked Boen himself.

He set the phone down. He leaned back, his hands on the dashboard of the car and he breathed. He looked for the pills inside his car, shuffling through pictures and through paperwork and all manners of excel sheet. Shuffling for the pill bottle. His hands shook as he took a few. Something for the palpitation. For the stress. A heart attack at forty five, Boen, it’s in your future if you don’t take care of it! The doctor had said.

The pills in his mouth, he swallowed dry but felt no choke. He looked out the frost tinted windows and watched the trail of smoke his breath made. It was not cold when he had arrived, but three hours later could change a lot. The heater started and the engine started and the car squealed with the smallest of movements and vibrations. Above the flashing strip join casted purple on him – Di inity best girls in town. No V. That one was broken. He started out with the car and in the headlights across the street spotted a pale face. Beautiful. He shook his head and turned the corner. She disappeared. Just another night in Havenbrook.

His little house did not feel hospitable in the silence. He was careful turning the knob and stepped quiet onto the rug, careful with his keys as he set them in the cat shaped bowl next to the front door. The dead-muteness of the foyer and house raised the blood pressure in him. Walking. Bumping into the table. He looked up, expecting someone to rush around the corner. No one ever came. He passed his sons room and opened the door. The boy was sleep gentle, turned away from the door. Tawny hair parceled in the slit of light. Boen took off his shoes and inched towards his bedroom. His wife too, back turned against the door. He did not shower. He went towards the counter and sprayed himself with a double dose of his every-day cologne, for this every-day occurrence (at least for the last month or so). Then he laid in bed and waited for dawn.

He did not shower before he left for the warehouse. He arrived in a sweat, looking at the steel shutters come up as Jose pulled at the metal chain. Five in the morning. He counted, what was that, four hours of sleep? Three? He rubbed his hands together stepping onto the concrete floors, his breath trailed him.

“What are our numbers?” He asked to no one in particular.

He checked the sheets, he checked the orders and he started. In minutes the floor was lively. As more arrived, the noise increased and the yelling began between workers. A paper company, moving and boxing different layers of papers for different people. Some for print, and some for notepads and some for news paper companies. Rolls and rolls, machines worked by pygmy’s and bored flunkies in the back of the warehouse where paper shoots were squeezed together and spat out sheets and sheets of paper onto a cardboard rod. And him, laboring with the rest just to move it out of the warehouse. Palettes set up on the driveway, for they had no room in the docking station. Big sixteen wheelers rolled up with their contents empty, the drivers usually tired and smoking out the rear window. Exposed copper piping and electrical panels were kept with loose screws onto the walls. Walls of rusted metal, a mezzanine corrugated and uneven with patchworks of sheet metal and quartz. People ran. The machines malfunctioned off and out of some divine will (and a few smacks in the control panel) turned on again.

“Hurry the fuck up, get that palette on there!” Boen said. It was about midday. His voice hoarse. Dry. And the workers would look back, spiteful, of course. All of them all the time spiteful. The forklift operator slow, on this particular thursday, his prongs chafing against the floor as he moved and struggling to align to the palette. Boen walked up, climbed on the rear. Yanked at his waist. The man jumped down and almost fell. He wiped the sweat off his brow and sucked in his lips and observed Boen from the bottom.

“Let me do it.” Boen said. He was a terrible driver.

Rushing through, pushing palettes into other palettes, deeper into the cargo of the sixteen wheeler sitting in the parking. Men on the other end trying to align with the jack.

“We’re only hitting a quarter of the daily quota, come on guys.” He said, coming out the forklift.

This was the day. The whole day. Little moments like these. It was no surprise no one ate with him in lunch. It was no surprise he ate in his car, burritos in brown paper and thin foil from a food truck. That brief ten second of interaction with the cashier being his only moment of kinship. Lunch spent at ten in the morning, with six hours left to go. The day passing by him. Himself lost in the loneliness of the warehouse. Concrete jail. Warden and prisoner all the same. He chewed. Meeting at eleven. He chewed. Talk with shipping in an hour, something about the barcodes. He chewed. Sixty boxes left. He chewed. The whore on Breeker Street. Come the end of the day. He was wiped. Two hours left and the last of the factory’s necessary labor split amongst four palettes at the edge of the yellow painted docking area. Men looked up from the mezzanine, their arms at the guard rail.

“Wake up people, wake up!” Boen said. His heart palpitated. The final truck droned in the parking, a white one that said Joseph and Jacob moving services on paint almost stripped off the side of the walls. It hummed and the smog rolled past Boen. The shutters scraped against the already full trunk. The driver pulled at the chain, struggling to get it down.

“There’s no room, pal.” The driver turned back. Just like his underlings had said. Just like he knew.

Boen nodded. He got into the safety box of the forklift. The palette suspended already in the air. He tried pushing it, crushing the wood. The driver squirmed, twitched, he looked away.

“You’ve gotta take that out man.” The Driver said.

The day’s end waiting for him here.

“Excuse me?”

“That don’t fit. It’s not even closing, see?”

“We paid for all of these palettes.”

“You’ll get another guy to come in later or tomorrow. Just take it out, man.”



“We paid for every palette.” Boen said.

“Pal. The don’t. Fit. I’m not going to drive with an open door. Take that the fuck out or I’ll call my people.”

Boen looked at the Driver. Looked upon his lanky frame and the cigarette sticking out the edge of his mouth. A hat fitted baseball cap fixed upon him, shading his already browned face. The just-barely youth tensed at the face. This wasn’t the first time either had this conversation. Boen felt his chest clench and he grabbed it for a moment before he worked the palettes down. The whole factory looking at him as he did so. Unimpressed faces, always unimpressed. All of them. Everywhere. The Driver sighed. Closed the door in front of Boen and drove. Boen slouched in the seat of the forklift still running, with the palette still on the forks. His chest more pained than before, he turned his face and surveyed the floors and they all turned away from him. As ashamed as he was.

“Fuck.” He said.

“What was that?” A worker at the door said.

Boen grabbed his face and rubbed his eyes. The day worn upon him, on his shoulders for which he slumped. Filling his chest, of which it pained. The whole world against him.

“Fuck!” He hit one one of the levers. The forks tilted down, the palette slipped and cracked and rolls of paper jettisoned out the boxes. Fuck, Boen screamed. He moved another lever in panic. The prongs tilted all the way to the floor and he backed up and sparks shot out. The prongs dragged against the floor and he made a half-donut. He backed up more. Hit the wall. Stopped.

Boen breathed, finally.

By the time he’d leveled it all out and shut the machine off, the manager had come out. He snuck up behind Boen, bending down and looking at the broken prong. A jammed chain, a bent tip.

“What the fuck, Boen?” His manager asked.

The workers turned away, the scene so grotesque it seemed like voyeuristic sadism to even watch. Schadenfreudian porn. Boen did not turn, his shoulders slumped, he looked at the machine, then out and around himself, out through the little square towards the parking lot. The many cars and the chainlink fence and the trees growing just outside, an underpass somewhere to the side that echoed the noise of trucks driving fast past the warehouse. No birds roamed here. No animals, save for those auxiliaries stealing food left on the floor. He stood and absorbed the noise only to find it muted – or perhaps him too hyper sensitive to the voice of his manager.

He did not turn around.

“Did you break it, Boen? Can we replace it?” He asked.

“Yeah. We can replace it.” Boen said.

“Can I see you in my office?”

It was dark when he came out. And his chest hurt. He was given a citation, as a supervisor. And given a recommendation – relax. That it would cost them. And he needed to be safer. But that also he needed to be more efficient. Quicker. Yet more attentive. Harder working. But lax enough to not let the nerves catch up to him and well. Again, he needed to relax. The horse-rope pull, his body taken to pieces by the Roman jockey yanking at his every limb every which way. He was the last one out the factory and breathing heavy as he turned off all the lights from the fuse box. And shut every locker and secured every chain. First one in, last one out. He sat in the parking lot. The night just about to set in. He wasn’t even tired, his body was too numb and his limbs too electric to feel tired. He sat in his car and waited with his hands on the steering wheel. An old honda civic, cracking and whining at every small move he committed to on the road. He did not drive though, not yet. Simply waited in the parking. Breeker Street. Industry District, Havenbrook. You could always tell by the ocean and smog mixed air. A salty-grease scent that came from the west.

Boen turned his car on and went to the bank.

An ATM specifically. He took out eight hundred dollars. He went to a bar and drank a little and drank some more in the car when he picked out Bnazepril pills from his little week-day orange tinted box the nurse had organized for him. He swallowed. He drank. He sat. He was not drunk (not that it’d convince an officer}, he was sure he was not drunk. This was it. Sitting in parking lots wasting the day and waiting – his hobby. And he waited alright, all the way until eleven. Just before midnight. Just enough to get five hours tonight. If he were quick about it. He went back to the strip club on Breeker Street, away from down town. On the perimeter, where roads turned formless and boundless into expanses of spotty-asphalt and creosete-growing patches. That point of duality between nature reclaiming and man reconquering. He waited on the street and lurked with his high beams on. The cars behind him few. He pulled over to the side. The strip club some ways ahead of him. And Boen himself arguing whether he should or shouldn’t be there.

That was until he saw her, or the back of her neck. The woman with the long black hair. She sat underneath a lamp post on a bus bench. She turned her head and her pale face looked at him.

Asian perhaps? She was so pale. So small. A living Geisha, he did not know people could be that clear white. Alabaster. Statuesque. He rolled up next to her. Crisp air hit him and he pulled his jacket lapels up and around his neck. He tucked his chin and stuffed both hands in his pockets.

“Hello.” Boen walked around and away humming car towards the street. The concrete was uneven. He almost tripped.

She smiled at him. Her leg showing from a slit underneath her black coat and dress, slender. Red platform shoes. It almost looked disjointed, her body. The limbs extended out and pale but her torso itself dark under the coverings and invisible in the night. Around them were more empty warehouses, some mechanics and a carpet-installer. Pawn shop up ahead. The strip joint back behind. And beyond that – empty buildings, mobile homes, native reservations. A flat desert scape without interest for humanity or its engineering.

“How much?” Boen asked.

She did not speak. She put her pointer on her lips and smiled.

Boen smiled.

“How much is that?” He asked. “I’ve got…I’ve got a lot.”

He patted himself down and looked for his wallet, his heart racing. First he took out one hundred. She didn’t budge? Why would she. He offered five hundred yesterday. Right.

Six hundred then? She smiled. Nothing. No nod, no nothing.

Six hundred. Seven. Eight! Eight hundred dollars.

“Just for thirty minutes. I fuck you out back, right there.” He turned and pointed to the car with his thumb.

When he turned back, she was stood and away from him, gone from one lamp post onto another. Almost into an alley in the ruins of Breeker street. Old machine shops and fabrications.

“Hey. Wait.” He said. He jogged. His heart raced. He clenched it. His head felt dizzy. He felt light up above the chest, but heavy in the legs. So heavy. Like he was sinking into the broken asphalt. He turned a corner on some graffiti, and she was gone. He looked at the empty alley. A wall at the very end, some apartment complexes and tagged brick walls to his rear. Broken glass to which he turned away from. They say you can feel being watched. And he was sure at that moment that it was true.

He walked out and back to his car. The strip club beyond him, but something unappetizing about it. As if his palette had shifted in the maturity of his tastes. Why wouldn’t it? There was no woman like the prostitute on Breeker Street. No other woman like her. With her flawless skin, and her ruby lips. And that bare body. Nothing at all.

Opening the door, he slid his fingers in the crack and pushed slowly trying to hold the knob whenever the hinges made noise. A criminal entrance. He wiped his shoes and put them to the corner next to a basket with heels and a pair of child’s sneakers and tip-toe’d on the hardwood hall. His hands were out and in front. Boen touched around and felt for the walls and tables, his keys firm in his hand and pinched quiet tight. He stopped at the frame leading into the kitchen with the cat clock above ticking and looked around. The dark was steeped into his house all encompassing. His very form without definition, he raised his hand in front of his face. Turned it. Could not see himself. It must have been one in the morning. And he could not believe a thing of what happened, only that it did happen. There was eight hundred in his wallet that he didn’t even have the pleasure of having spent. The weight of, heavy in his pocket. He sighed.

“Disappointed?” She said.

His shoulders hiked. He turned towards the obscurity. Something moving in the dark but just barely. A silhouette of a silhouette. He turned on the lights and it blinded him. Blinded her too. Joan, who turned her face down and returned with narrowed eyes. The silk nightgown around her covering everything. She looked like someone in a morgue. She sat on the dinner table with piled dishes behind her. She tilted her head. Boen looked, frowned. He leaned against the wall with his legs already pointed for a fast sprint, a man about to run from the police. He opened his mouth but no words came out.

“Tough night, huh.” She said.

Something jumped in his throat. He swallowed.

“What’re you doing up so late?” He rubbed his eyes.

“Waiting. What about you?”

He bounced off the wall and slid the keys on the kitchen counter. He paced and moved his hands. His head rattling, turning, as if the muscles in his neck had been reduced to gelatin.

“I caught up with the boys at the factory. We went out. Team bonding.” The sweat came down the back of his neck.

“Oh? How’d the bonding go?”

“I didn’t get close at all.” He said. “They’re all young with their own lives. You starting to feel a generational gap?”

“That’s why you were sighing?”

“Yeah.” He shook his head. “Yeah. Yeah.”

“You must have drank a lot.” She said, almost smiling.


“And you’re tired.”

“Very. Extremely.”

“Let’s not keep you up then. Bed is over there. You remember, right?” She pointed.

As if he’d forgotten. Perhaps he had. She had her fingers interlocked in front of her, she studied him and her gaze drilled a hole through him. One that trailed him as he slunked towards the bedroom. He paused and looked around the corner once more.

“You’re not coming?” He asked.

“No.” She said. “I think I’ll stay here for a while.”

He walked in the dark of the hall, the kitchen lights shutting behind him. The door to his sons’ room shutting abrupt in the dark. He paused, heard the hard floor creak. It was not his wife. If only he could get rid of the coil in his stomach, the rusted metal turning and turning. Springing to no particular emotion, just tightening in his belly paunch. He went to the bed, took off his shirt.

He could hear her breathing. Even as he laid down on his bed. He could hear her, down the hall, breathing. Choking up some. Muttering. Those low frequency noises of muted suffering. Just loud enough that he could not sleep and so he didn’t – not an hour.

And Joan never went back into the bedroom with him.

That was the last day he spent at home. He rented a hotel afterward. Motel 66, down Breeker Street.

Each day he had gone to the little ATM by Breeker Street, next to that pawn shop and had taken out a hundred dollars more. Tapping his fingers along the glass screen as the invoice loaded. His wallet would get heavier. He would feel smaller. He’d wait on the broken road of Breeker Street, past Industry, past Divine and the pawn shop and he waited. The Geisha girl had not been there the next day, or Thursday, or Friday. His wife had called him every day – enthusiastic about it. He didn’t make much of a fuss about it. Every night his thoughts would fall deeper and deeper into daydreams of enjoying the girl. Ravages, heavy thrusts he was no longer even capable of. It helped get his mind off his family. On Friday she called him a monster. He did not feel like a monster, but he assumed that’s what he was and so he threw the phone at the hotel bathroom mirror, like a monster. Not that anyone cared in Motel 66.†1 A few miles off of Breeker. Sitting on the bed with his arms to his knees, knowing he’d already lost his job. Feeling better for it, funny. No more whispers behind his back. No more obligation to numbers and graphs. On Saturday he picked up the pieces of his phone and flushed them down. Some were jammed in the toilet hole.

It was good to be alone. Felt natural. Normal.

He finally slept without the days weighing on him. Without anything weighing on him, with the images of the Geisha lifting him in his dreams. No more fucking forklifts. Or fumes. Or tired glares. No more paying for that shitty house-! For a wife who did not even fuck him-! or family. Responsibility ages you, they don’t tell you that when you’re young. And boy was he an old forty. It wasn’t the years that’d done it, it was the stress of the years. Time was just time – a gallery of all his hope and desire. Cells were just cells – the predetermined physical make. You see, none of you dies ’till life comes to collect. The wear came from the world. And who’s helped me? Who?

He sat thinking a lot before he left Sunday night to Breeker Street. Skipping almost, outside of his car as he waited by the side of the road. The dirt patch expansive next to him. Lamp posts at even intervals guided the the road. He stopped for a moment and let the engine run. Then he approached slow, neon signs of bright light and color appearing close to him from a strip mall as he came to the bus bench. The words were gone. Only the bright yellow remained. This was the spot. The bench had no advertisements, no mark of repair. Here in this place where infrastructure ceased. The paint was chipped off the wooden bench, fliers for year old sales or politicians were crumpled in between the seats. Plastic water bottles lingered, a smell of urine like bacon grease rose up and through the window of the car. Condoms, coiled tapeworms caught in the drainage grills.

Boen stepped on the brake. He left his car and stood next to it, with his hands in his pocket. He breathed in the scent. He turned his head and raised his collar to his cheeks. His eyes felt bloodshot. He blinked and rubbed his nose bridge. He was fired a yesterday. Laid off. Whatever it was his boss made it look like. He only knew because he needed his last paycheck. He had fifteen hundred in his pocket and a dwindled savings account in the back of his mind. The stains of day old tv-freezer dinners were still on him. And he approached, jumpy and shaking his head. He came up to the bench. The lamp post flickered above. The skyline was devoid of stars. Only the city light of Havenbrook shown past the hump on the road, past the pawn shop sign or gasoline station marques. He stood. He looked around. He sat on the bench. Then stood again.

For a moment he felt stupid. Only then and only for a moment. It passed as he narrowed his eye into the alley.

“There you are.” He smiled.

Boen ran up. She was there. White in that dark passage, somewhere in the shadow of an apartment building. Cardboard flattened next to a dumpster. Chainlink half torn down, an alley half-dirt path expanded out. Rough grass grew out the cracks in the concrete. The buildings were far past condemned. They were ruins. She stood by a wall and retreated into the dark. It was as if her torso had gone first and her head followed, into the dark turn of the alley.

Boen did not hesitate. He ran. He reached for his wallet. His heart beat fast.

“Just ten minutes.” He said. “Please. I have nothing.”

He saw her in the alley corner. The nubile face. Somewhere in the far end of it, the lamp post light no longer reaching them. He approached. The large brick walls overhead to his rear. His shadow wide and tall as he came closer to her.

Then. His shadow shrunk in the dark. Or perhaps something devoured it, the building? The light disappearing behind him? He followed the girl, only seeing her pale face.

“I have almost two thousand.” He took out his wallet. “Come. See. See.”

She smiled.

“What more do you want?” He asked.

He walked slow. They were coming to an end in the alley. A white cinder block wall. An overpass above, a large flood line underpass the brick. Behind the chainlink. Behind the ruins on Breeker Street.

She stopped. He didn’t. He walked forward, looking for that pale face in the dark. Narrow eyed. His hand shaking with the bills in them. He cupped them as if in prayer.

“Please.” He said. “I’ll give you anything.”


He smiled. The sweat came down his face. He shook. He felt hot.

She blinked once. He stopped. She opened her maw, mouth growing wide.

Her neck cracked, her face shifted and wandered left. A headless woman, it seemed, head wandering out. It floated in the dark expanse. That bright pale face levitated attached from a spine like a fishing line. Her body remained stationary. Boen took a step back, eyes wide. Her head floated up and approached. Her body remained there. Pale legs. Pale arms.

The face came closer and her figure took form. Little limbs grew out her elongated vertebrae. Her head at the end. Smiling.

He took a step back. Tripped.

“Anything, you say?” The Split Woman said.

The face got closer. The mouth grew wider. Boen screamed.

But there was no on there to hear him.


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