The hatchet was heavier than she expected.
Jo wasn't the handy type, and tools and their uses were elusive to her — how things are put together, how they work. But hatchets were different. They were all about deconstruction and undoing, and Jo liked that.
Whoever had left the hatchet in the hall closet (the landlord? the fire chief?) had positioned it next to a small red fire extinguisher. If Jo had ever noticed it there before, she didn't remember. But now that Lars was gone, she could see what was left in his place.
She got dressed and headed in to work. It was the off-season and the casino was at half-capacity, but the HR department was still trucking along with new hires. Dealers. Floor managers. Cashiers. Each needed a snip of hair sent to the lab for drug testing.
Jo meticulously matched the ID numbers on the lab reports to the names of the new hires. The results were given in picograms of drugs per milligram of hair for amphetamines, cocaine, opiates, marijuana.
This one parties a little. This one parties a lot. This one was high when he came in for the test.
Jo wasn't sure how it happened, but like a fly to shit she ended up back in Lars's rejected personnel file.
Trying to get him a job had been a colossal waste of time. He had outdone himself that day — the numbers were off the charts.
By now Jo already knew the score, but she felt compelled to look again. Eight thousand pg/mg of cocaine.
"Asshole," she murmured. But she didn't mean it.
That night, she knocked back a few beers sitting on a plastic chair on the patio. Hadn't he said she was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen? Hadn't he bought her lacy underwear, and played his guitar for her, and given her a ring?
She watched cars pass by on the highway and thought about promises made and promises broken.
She thought about Lars's face when she'd walked in on them. He hadn't bothered with apologies, hadn't even bothered to push the girl's head away from his lap.
"Fuck it," was all he'd said.
She drank a few more beers, and by the time she was in the car, she knew where she was headed. It wasn't the first time she'd been down this road.
The car was all over the place. Jo was losing focus on the white lines she was aiming for. She kept trying to remember the thing they say at weddings. "Love is patient. Love is kind."
She added a few of her own. Love is sober. Love keeps it in his pants. Love doesn't screw you over.
She turned the radio up. Love wrecks things.
Jo barely noticed the hatchet sitting on the seat next to her. She didn't remember bringing it.
She stumbled up to the door of Lars's new place and peeked in the front window. She saw nothing. Just black.
She went back to the car for the hatchet and sidled up with it held like a tennis racket, ready to swing. She tried to focus on what was in front of her.
At first Jo thought she couldn't do it, but then she imagined Lars inside, on top of that girl. The image fueled her, and she pumped her fists around the handle and tensed her shoulders.
She tried to swing the hatchet, but flinched and paused. She was afraid of breaking something between her and Lars for good.
"What's there to break?" she asked no one in particular.
Jo wished she could turn the hatchet on herself instead. "Love is patient, love is kind," she told herself. "Love is patient, love is kind."
She stood, frozen in the moment. Love hesitates. Love uses her head. Love holds its damn horses.
Her arms were getting tired, but she thought of Lars, butt cheeks tensed and ready to thrust.
She pulled the hatchet back and threw all of her weight behind it. She wished it was his head.