(This story is part of a continuing series, An Assault in Venice. Part 1 starts here.)

I wouldn’t, of course, take Jay up on his offer… But if I did, would I want the thug to be killed in a counter attack or would I want him to be maimed beyond recognition? I decided he shouldn’t be killed. In a perfect world, they’d string him up, get a confession out of him on tape as he told them exactly what he’d done to Jeanette and then they’d do the same thing to him. After he went to the hospital, he’d go straight to prison. Then, when he got out of prison, because of course he would, he’d get another visit.

Those are the sorts of things that filled my head.

In one scenario, I confronted him myself. Not that I expected him to have much compassion but I wanted to make it clear to him that actions have consequences.

I thought about Marathon Man, that horribly violent movie where Dustin Hoffman’s teeth get pulled out with pliers. I thought about old mob movies where they cut off people’s fingers with bolt cutters. I decided I wanted this man to be physically altered—something that would compromise him, something that would remind him of the wrong he’d done. Maybe they would cut off his whole hand. And then leave him, taking the hand with them.

I’d be sitting in a room staring off into space, daydreaming scenes of violence, and finally come back to myself, stunned. Whole days were going by while I was fixated on revenge.

I called Cagney incessantly. I wanted her to let me off the hook. If she could arrest him then I wouldn’t have to imagine myself as executioner.

Jeanette’s brother Richard had arrived, and they made a date to come back to the house and pack up her things. During the month since the attack, everything had been left as it was. Cagney had cleared it as a crime scene, and there was no way I could allow Jeanette to see it like that. Oddly enough, I didn’t want to hire some service to come through and swab up all the remains of the event; it seemed like some kind of healing ritual to do that myself. But I certainly couldn’t do it alone so I asked my neighbor Rob if he would help. We gathered buckets, towels, sponges, bleach and other cleaning compounds and entered. The room was a temple of some sort: a place where lives had been indelibly altered.

We started from the outside, washing away the footprints and stretcher tracks. We scrubbed the step just inside the door. With my sleeves rolled up, my hair pulled out of my face and yellow rubber gloves up to my elbows, I felt like a worker in a hazmat facility.

We bypassed the carpeting for the moment and moved into the kitchen. Both of us got down on our hands and knees and began scrubbing the blood from the tile floor. Rob was near the stove while I was near the table.

The bucket of water was quickly stained red. We kept dumping it out and refilling it, tossing it across the floor and sponging it up.

He stopped for a moment. “Look at this,” he said pointing.

There was blood droplets splattered at the base of the stove. Then we noticed it on the walls near the floorboards. I circled the small room, crawling over toward the counter. There were more droplets along the bottom of the cabinets and also in the space underneath them. I moved back to the table; the blood hadn’t just splattered up the chair legs but it was also on the underside of the tabletop.

“Oh my god,” I said realizing. “He beat her head against the tile floor.”

…go to Part 18