Black Betty

Betty was a special child. Before she could even speak a fully formed sentence, she had murdered her father. In all fairness, she barely did any of the actual work: a push was all that it took and the forces of gravity took care of the rest. In retrospect, it hadn’t been Joe’s best idea to roll up close to the cliff’s edge to peer over it. It only took a gentle push from his daughter to literally send him over the edge. The unfortunate fisherman who had been close enough to see her father fall to his untimely death, described the event in a surprising amount and detail to Officer Brinesworth, who had the good sense to exclude from his report the exact amount of rotations that the wheelchair and its occupant completed before they both crashed down into the rocky shoreline below. 

Betty’s mother blamed herself for not stopping Joe in the first place and then for letting go of her daughter to take a picture like her husband had asked her. While her composition was spot on, the panicked face of Joe already halfway off the cliff and a cheerful Betty watching him make his way down to his untimely death wouldn’t make a good Christmas card, it had cleared Betty’s mother of any wrongdoing during the following investigation.

Their relationship became even more complicated the day Betty’s second grade teacher Larissa Woolworth died in an unfortunate and tragic accident during a class trip to a museum. 

According to several eyewitness reports, upon seeing a large mammoth skeleton, Betty excitedly ran up to the display and ended up stumbling into the large skeleton. Later investigation revealed that the exhibit was installed incorrectly, leading to the collapse of the entire structure onto the 36-year old teacher. All Betty had to do was push ever so slighty in the right spot. Everyone agreed it was a miracle that Betty was not harmed.

While Betty was cleared of any wrongdoing, other than maybe being a child that got a bit too excited about old bones, Betty’s mother couldn’t help but be reminded of the past. It also did not help that PTA meetings became suddenly much more awkward. Word travels quickly when your child accidentally kills a teacher.

While many of the children in Betty’s class were shaken up by seeing their teacher being crushed to death by the bones of an extinct creature, they still treated Betty like most other children their age. That changed on Betty’s first week of high school, when she had inadvertently killed the schools principal Carl Hamfjord with her backpack. The rumor amongst her grade was that in a fit of rage she had beaten the poor man with her backpack and then thrown him through the window of the third floor.

The reality was much more mundane than that. While making copies, Betty had left her backpack on the floor behind her and, as the principal left, his feet caught in the straps. He stumbled head first out of the room into one of the large glass windows across the hallway. While the glass did not break, the entire window, including frame, just broke out of the wall, taking the principal and Betty’s backpack down with it. Luckily for Betty, Mr. Hamford’s secretary Mrs. Whistler witnessed the entire tragic event, for which she is still attending weekly therapy sessions.

Initially Betty’s mother insisted that Betty see a therapist of her own, but after the practice burned to the ground with the therapist barely escaping alive, Betty’s mother decided that there was no need to risk any more lives than absolutely necessary, when her daughter was spending most of her time alone in her room, kept mostly to herself, had good grades and didn’t do any drugs. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t all bad.

Betty’s mother didn’t use to be a superstitious person, but after your child is involved in three accidents resulting in the death of equally many people, you stop and readjust your view of the universe. Betty tried her best not to let her mother’s worry about inadvertently murdering another person rub off on her, but at school her new nickname Black Betty stuck for the rest of her time there.

To Betty’s relief (and that of her mother’s and the rest of the staff at the high school), she wasn’t involved in any more freak accidents or accidental deaths. The day she graduated high school, Betty even allowed herself to be hopeful that she could put all of this behind her.

A few months after graduation, Betty had been working the night shifts at their local Blockbusters. She had no intention of going to college or pursue any specific career. For now she was just glad to not be surrounded by kids her own age that whispered to each other when she was nearby and to finally earn some money. Most of her classmates had went off to college and Betty had settled into a steady rhythm of sleep and work.

One night she was looking through the classifieds of the local newspaper, keeping an eye open for any places to rent on her pretty measly salary. She had just circled an advert for a room for rent when she heard the screech of tires in front of the store. Since it was the end of her shift, she was the only person in the store when three masked people pushed into the store. The smallest of the three was clearly in charge and pointed a gun at Betty, while the others pushed video tapes into big canvas bags they had brought with them.

She did not realize she was being robbed until the mask gunman shouted his command again: “The cash! Come on, Missy. We don’t have all evening! Open the register!”

Betty had never considered that someone might rob a Blockbusters, especially not in their small town, so she was caught off guard, to say the least. 

“Do you want a bullet in your pretty head? Lets go!” the man shouted. 

Betty had no intention of dying a hero’s death for a video rental store, even if her manager was a pretty cool guy. She pressed a few buttons on the cash register and a drawer flew open. The man walked behind her counter and pushed her aside. Betty sput her hands on the desk behind her while keeping an eye on the robber who was now shoving the earnings of the day into his coat pockets. 

“Is that all? Where’s the rest?” the man asked once he had emptied the drawer.

“I’m sorry, but this is all.” Betty replied “We empty it every night and Tuesdays nights are super slow.”

 The robber lifted his gun to her head, the barrel pushed against her forehead “Don’t mess with me! Where’s the money?”

“I told you,” Betty felt behind her and her hand found the stapler “Tuesday’s are slow!” 

She had no intention of dying a hero’s death, but she also had no interest in dying because her robber was bad at planning and anger issues. Betty closed her eyes and clenched her teeth as she swung the stapler at the robber’s head. The hefty piece of office equipment connected with the robber’s temple with a satisfying thud and the man fell sideways, his head hitting the corner of the yellow countertop, leaving behind a red spot as he crumbled. As the man hit the floor, a shot went off and for a horrifying moment, Betty thought the man had shot her. When she heard a groan and gurgle she turned around and saw one of the other men grasping for his throat, stumbling sideways into the shelves, spraying blood from his throat all over the shelves next to him, before he sank to his knees and ultimately crumbled onto the dark beige carpet where he laid motionless. The third of the group had just seen his colleague crumble to the floor in a fountain of blood after hearing a shot and decided that no amount of video tapes was worth whatever had just happened. Betty watched the robber run out of the store only to be hit full force by a speeding pickup truck, who then proceeded to crash into the robber’s getaway vehicle. 

Standing next to the lifeless body in the middle of a Blockbusters at the end of her shift, holding a stapler in her right hand and looking at the burning wreck across the street, Betty realized that something might be wrong with her.

Note: This First Draft was part of NaNoWriMo 2021 – 30 First Drafts in 30 Days

🎼 Achievement by pilotredsun

📷 Chartbusters – Please Rewind by M i r u

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