Walt Haggerty had to die. He’d created Wally, but he had to kill him, too.
Wally first met Ellie through her photos. Her smile encouraged his pursuit of her (Or so Wally presumed.), as he captioned each color glossy. He toyed with her words, fondled her grammar, and caressed her punctuation until their turgid tale tiptoed up her pink knee-highs.
Per the photographer’s directions, she tugged at the stockings on the white furry rug with her legs divided at varying isosceles angles. Poppy seed freckles grew on her lightly furrowed tummy. A deep maroon tarantula birthmark wrapped its hairy legs around the inside of her left thigh. These would be airbrushed out in final galleys.
Wally didn’t care. She was his self-appointed goddess. He’d worship her in his personal sanctuary. She smiled at him; he smiled back at her.
Walt had written it thus.
He had Wally follow Ellie’s feline strides from the photo shoot down the block to a nearby bistro where she stopped for a mocha.
She pursed her red painted lips and blew on the hot liquid to cool it.
From the café’s window, Wally watched her stick her tongue in it to test it. He marveled at her pseudo-sexual act, born in his mind from so many lurid Letters to the Editor he’d corrected for proper sentence structure.
Wally would have liked to have slept with her, and done things together, like he’d read others had done with other women. In her interview, Ellie said she enjoyed intercourse.
Coitus would be decided by Ellie. Consensual sex. Her rape would never pass anywhere near Walt’s cursor.
Wally discovered where she lived from her personnel file—an apartment on the East Side, the fifty-second floor.
Wally leased one above hers. Just happened to find one there. Coincidental. He could hear her every movement, but he couldn’t see her, so he bored a hole through the ceiling above her bedroom. Ellie wouldn’t mind. In her interview, she said she was proud of her body. She said she’d “prance around without clothes in the winter and surprise Santa when he dropped down her chimney”—verbatim quote.
Walt didn’t care how others would consider Wally. They’d never read his story anyway.
Walt portrayed Wally as creepy lovesick—a more dogged, physically challenged superhero than serial killer. Protect Ellie, yes. Shower her with anonymous affection. And if she would have him? But Walt was still undecided about the whole coitus thing and how he’d have his protagonist play it out with his romantic interest.
Wally sent her flowers, chocolates, jewelry, and ladies’ things. Several pairs of knee-highs like the ones she’d worn for the magazine layout. He slipped humorous limericks under her door—nothing gross or explicit. He heard her laugh aloud.
Men visited Ellie in the evenings. She shared with each the sweets she’d received, and read Wally’s poems, asking each if it was he who’d composed them.
Wally heard steps patter on the wooden floor below him towards her bedroom. He couldn’t quite make out every movement. He listened to mattress spring’s rhythms. His mind’s eye saw her lover’s sticky organ pass by her thigh’s spider stain before entering her willing, wet web.
He imagined being him. He imagined being her, wearing his gifted stockings.
Walt found himself bemused. He discovered it was more and more difficult to go to work. His story kept him up at night, crafting the emotional spurt, the physical epiphany, the smooth twist where readers would comment, “of course, now I get it.”
He watched videos of The Lawnmower Man and The Matrix for hours until his eyes watered and his brain fried like it’d been electric shocked. He dreamed of morphing into Jobe or Neo, and injecting himself into his laptop like a human flash drive, living his story and having an intense, virtual reality with Ellie.
The more Walt had Wally watch and listen, the more he molded Wally’s emotions, and the more confused Walt himself became. Did he want Wally to have a relationship with Ellie, or did he want to be Ellie and have her yearning for intercourse with Wally? Walt had never been interested in the other women or men (for that matter) who’d been photographed.
What deep-seated desire had she unearthed?
Walt had Wally paying for her mocha and Danish at the coffee shop below their apartment building. The owner was told—in writing—not to reveal it was him. He enjoyed watching her cool the coffee, taking tiny bites of the pastry with her marvelous overbite behind swollen lips.
It’d been many months since the photo gig. Walt needed to inhale her scent, listen to her voice, and maybe nudge against her forearm. He had to research whether Wally truly wanted Ellie, or was there something else? This wouldn’t be a clichéd love story. Enough with the agonizing charade.
In line, Walt stood behind Ellie’s mini-skirt as she ordered.
She begged the young girl behind the counter for a clue as to who her generous suitor might be to no avail.
Walt ordered, and they both waited for their orders to be filled.
She glanced up at him. “Do I know you?” she asked. “Have we met before?”
Walt wanted to scream out, “I want you, I think. If not, I want to be you. I just don’t know. Can you read my thoughts and help me decide?”
But he’d been born mute. That’s how Walt had been created.
He shook his head.
“Sorry.” She giggled. “I didn’t mean to make you blush.”
I’m the one who’s sorry, he thought, backing away from her and walking to a table across the room.
So, this was how it would end. No words between them. This could never grow to romance—one way or the other. Walt had no place to take Wally in his love story. He’d created the beginning, muddled the middle, and now he’d have to develop the twisted climax.
Then, early one morning, Walt heard doors slam in Ellie’s apartment. He heard loud voices.
A male voice called her names— “a bitch, a whore, a worthless cunt”—calling his Ellie such nasty names.
He could hear her crying and screaming, “Get out. Get the fuck out.” Then, he heard what could have been the smack of flesh on flesh.
She then shouted, “Get off me. Get the fuck off me.”
Walt ran down the stairs to her door, opened it, and saw the beast on her. He grabbed a glass flower vase from a coffee table and slammed it across the backside of his head. He swung it again with as much force as his thin arms could muster.
The villain was unconscious, but alive.
Ellie’s raccoon eyes stared up at Walt. She coughed. Blood trickled down from her lips to her chin.
“You . . . You were at the magazine.”
She reacted different from how he’d imagined she would. Ellie was all business, a results-oriented feminist. She took charge, not waiting for him to write a message to pass to her.
“He’ll wake up. When he does, he’ll kill me. He’ll kill you. Help me move him.”
Wally’s Story’s ending presented itself as if it had always been there. Ellie didn’t need protection or his kindness. She wasn’t a damsel in an apartment tower to be rescued. He had conceived her as a fragile piece of toast he could butter up and someday munch on. She proved to be beef jerky, hard to chew, swallow, and stomach.
He didn’t like her much anymore. He didn’t much like himself at the moment.
Walt returned to his apartment. He typed his feelings and his future deeds into his laptop, and then returned to Ellie’s.
She helped carry her attacker to her balcony. They fumbled her ex-lover over the edge.
Walt could hear his body splat against the concrete. They’d blame Walt for the death, not her.
Ellie would explain how the men had wrestled. She’d have to smile with her overbite and show some freckled skin to camouflage how scrawny Walt bested her brutish boyfriend.
Walt knew she could make the police believe her. She’d fooled him.
He didn’t see any point in starting over again—mooning over another lingerie-laced, pretty face who’d grin at him through collagen lips. Another he could only pursue in a crooked fairytale sort of way.
Death would solve several issues. He’d never be confused again. Never have any more remorse at what he was or wasn’t, or what he did or didn’t do. Never write another story. Never live a lie. No more internal pain.
Walt sat on the railing’s edge. He didn’t remove his thick prescription lenses. Instead, he eyed her thigh’s arachnid tattoo, half-smiled at her puffy face, clutched his laptop and slipped backwards, letting gravity have its hard justice.
Wally’s Story would become thousands of kilobytes scattered next to Walt on the pavement.