Short Take: “Sick, Part III,” Christa Wojciechowski

Pros: Morbidly fascinating
Cons: Rather unlikable characters
Rating: 4 out of 5

Christa Wojciechowski’s novella “Sick: Part III” is part of her SICK: Psychological Suspense Series Box Set. In volume I, Nurse Susan Branch tried to juggle a job with taking care of her seriously (and mysteriously) ill husband, John. She lost her job only to find out that he’s been causing his own injuries and illnesses out of a need for attention and a deep-seated masochism. In a fit of anger she attacked him, and in volume II he told her all about his childhood and tried to convince her that now that she’s let her violent side out, they’re perfect for each other. Now Susan has to make a false police report of an intruder in their home to explain why her husband is so terribly injured. Unfortunately for her, one of the police officers becomes convinced there’s something more going on than the husband and wife are saying. And it’s Susan the police suspect of ill-doing. Just to make things worse, for once John is genuinely ill–he has cancer. And Susan won’t be home to take care of him this time.

As before, these characters are over-the-top and unlikable, but it’s hard to look away from their shared perversities and bizarre problems. John is so self-centered that he even believes that Susan is kept in jail because her being away is what he deserves for being so manipulative. Absolutely everything is about him in his eyes. But it’s interesting to see how at least part of how bad he’d gotten was due to her enabling as well, when we inevitably have a moment of seeing them together again. They’re both profoundly messed-up people, and well, maybe they do deserve each other in some strange way.

Content note for sex, detailed deterioration due to cancer, and violence.

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