Short story: Madness

She wore her madness as lightly as the pale beams of the autumnal moon. What chance did I have? I had no defenses against her. I was a lowly mortal and she some heavenly creature, or forsaken demon from some unfathomable hell. All I knew was she was an otherworldly being, and I was besotted, feeding off her madness, sating some unquenchable thirst, some unknown longing in my soul.

I had lived a life devoid of passion, a life not worth living. I married an unimaginative woman whose only goal was to push out children with assembly line efficiency. One child, a second, and then a third. We started working on our fourth, our sex life as monotonous as our lives. No euphoric release, no joyous climax, only a feeble thrust, a perfunctory kiss, and an almost impotent issue. How we managed even one child, I’ll never know.

This was my life, and I lived it without complaint. I didn’t know better. I didn’t know about the thrill of schoolboy crushes, of the devastation of an unrequited love. I didn’t know that there was more to the human condition than blindly accepting your fate. I didn’t know I had had a choice. I spurned risk for the safety of a certain, easy life.

I wouldn’t know anything until I came home and found her in our bed with another man. Theirs was no feeble attempt of lovemaking. It was raw, it was passionate, it was intense. I could hear her scream as I stepped out from the car. I could smell them as I opened the door, my children listening in. Then again, maybe they were his.

I crossed the threshold into our room, and he looked frightened, but my bride looked back unabashed at being discovered. I sensed she relished making me into a cuckold, impotent and ineffectual, emasculating me so utterly. I confess I didn’t care too much. I didn’t love her. I never did. I left slightly aroused at the sight of such wild and carefree passion. That it was my wife made it even more exciting.

That was my first taste of madness. I left my house almost immediately, listening to the strains of the headboard hitting the wall percussively, listening to my wife moan excitedly, wondering what bastard her brood belonged to. I knew they couldn’t be mine. I was relieved. They didn’t care that I left.

I drove to the nearest bar, a strip club a few miles from the double-wide I had recently called home. I’d return later for my belongings. At the moment I needed to clear my head. I needed something for something had been roused in me, some latent potency that yearned for release. I had considered going back and forcing myself on my wife, maybe trying to join in, I didn’t know. I had no experience in the matter. I needed to sit and consider my options.

I walked into the bar, and it was still early. The afternoon shift was still there, the B and C squad. They were overweight, with visible stretch marks and cesarean scars. Their breasts drooped too much, or a few were too large and too perfect maybe for so ragged a troop of dancers.

Then I saw Diamond walk onto stage, and this beast in my chest roared with approval. Like the others, she was past her prime, pushing forty if not older, but she was feral on stage. A few men paid for her attention, but not enough. I could tell she demanded more in her younger days. Why she hadn’t quit yet, I didn’t know, but I was grateful.

She saw me and winked, but I sat rigid, not knowing what to do. I had never been to a regular bar, much less a strip club. A few of the house regulars laughed at me, a few yelling taunts at me and one gloated happily, but Diamond could sense my desire. She knew I needed her, perhaps before I knew it myself.

She walked off stage and a few minutes later returned and sat beside me, wearing a thin negligee. “I’ll have a drink, if you’re buying,” she winked. I nodded to the bartender who poured her a shot of something and handed it to her. “Salud,” she grinned.

“Cheers,” I stammered, holding up the bottle of beer I was nursing.

“Never seen you here before, Jacob, is that right?”

“How do you know my name?” I asked, shocked that she could possibly know me.

“Did you finally walk in on your wife?” She cocked her head, a sad smile on her aging face.

“You – you know about that?”

“Sugar, we all know. Your wife’s been fucking anyone and everyone for years. Hell, we all been placing bets as to when you would find out. Shit head over there,” she pointed to the guy with the gloating look about him, “just won the bet. Pity. You’re a good looking guy. What’s wrong? Does the plumbing not work?”

“Excuse me?” I stammered again, shocked as she racked her nails down my neck. I gasped as I had never felt such a thing. My nerves screamed and I tensed, not out of fear but out of desire. “Look at you,” she smiled approvingly as she glanced to my crotch. I covered myself clumsily, not wanting her to see my arousal, but ran her nails under my chin and forced me to look at her. “Sugar, it’s okay. You’ve never been properly introduced to a woman, have you?”

“I’ve been with my wife,” I said lamely.

“That bitch ain’t anything but an easy lay,” she laughed, then looked apologetically at my wounded pride. “No offense, but everyone in here has had a go. Even a couple of us girls, but not me. My baby sister went to school with her, and she was just as trashy then. You were just the poor sap she chose to take care of her while she fooled around behind your back.”

“Am I a joke?” I cried, ashamed as my eyes watered.

“Depends,” Diamond replied.

“On what?”

“On what you do now. Do you accept defeat or do you pay her back.”

“Pay her back? How?”

She took my hand and led me to a room in the back. She closed the door and pushed me roughly into the chair. Without warning she pulled off her top and took off her panties and then she danced for me. I shook with fear, but more with anticipation. It was not a sensation I had ever felt, and she knew it.

“Relax, Sugar,” she smiled. “This one’s on the house. You’re a good guy, a hard working guy. She didn’t deserve a man like you. You didn’t deserve a bitch like her.” She leaned in, her breasts pressed against my chest, she whispered into my ear, “Let me help you. I’ll show you what a real woman can do.”

“Uh – okay?”

And she danced for me, and the sight was more erotic and intoxicating than I could ever have imagined. It was sensual in a way that my wife never could have managed. My wife, not yet thirty, never looked as desirable as Diamond. There was something animalistic in the way she moved, a predator toying with her prey before the kill, and I longed to be devoured.

Before anything could happen a sudden knock on the door stopped everything cold. “That’s it for this now. If you want another, you’ll have to pay, but I’ll cut you a break, Sugar. Oh, and by the way, I get off in thirty minutes. I never tell clients when I’m getting off. Meet me at the diner off of 127 if you want to continue this.”

She didn’t say another word but strode out the door. Some guy held the door open for me as I walked out. He gave me an almost imperceptible nod and a wink and I paid for our drinks and left. Thirty minutes later, I waited at the diner Diamond had told me and sipped a cup of weak coffee. She walked in, looking remarkably normal. The cheap makeup was gone, as was the negligee. She looked like a suburban soccer mom wearing capris and a tank top. Only the feral look in her eyes remained.

“I’m glad you’re here. I hope that means you’re ready to embrace the madness.”

“The madness?”

“Sugar, there’s more in you than what you’ve been led to believe. Come on. Let’s go to my place, and I’ll show you wonders your wife never could have imagined. We’ll dance on the grave of your marriage, resurrect your tattered manhood, and I’ll make you a proper man. That’s if you think you can handle me. What do you say?”

I felt as though I were making a pact with the devil. Then again, maybe she was my guardian angel sent to save me from despair. I didn’t know, but I took her proffered hand and she led me out. The next hours of my life were spent in a tangle of limbs, of sensations I had never felt, and a passion that had eclipsed everything I had ever felt.

And her madness fueled the newly kindled fire in my soul, and I became her devoted and willing slave. And when my wife’s eyes came to fall upon me again, she realized her folly. I was everything she had ever wanted, but she had squandered it on a series of cheap flings. Diamond had made me into a proper man. I could never go back to being in an unfeeling life, devoid of everything that made things worthwhile. I had embraced her madness, bathed in her light, and shunned the darkness in which I dwelt for a lifetime.

But nevermore.


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Short story: The raging storm

He sat stoically as he read her text. He couldn’t fall to pieces in public. He had clients to deal with, coworkers to work with. No, his private hell would have to wait. He’d have plenty of time to fall apart when he got home. All the time in the world. Maybe all of eternity to piece himself together.

She had been his saving grace, his last hope at finding love. While he seemed uncaring, he was in fact an unrepentant romantic. He was the type to cry at the movies, to be moved whenever he saw a beautiful sunset. He appreciated art, and music, and he felt keen and deeply. He was a passionate man, a man of strong emotions. Often those emotions were like a tide, drowning the weak with it, leaving him alone on the banks of the shore.

But Toni was not like other women. She matched his passion. Their love was a tempest at sea, waves crashing upon the other, winds howling, the fury of the rain destroying everything in its path, but always they remained at the end, their lovemaking the more satisfying. No one doubted that they belonged together.

They had lived together for several years, planned on getting married some fine day, though neither was eager to disrupt the status quo. Nothing was amiss that morning when he went to work, nothing until he read the text.

“I’ll be gone by the time you get home.”

No explanation, no warning, it was just over. He tried several time in vain to text her, to call her, but her phone had been shut off. Calls to her mother we also ignored. All her friends claimed that they had no idea what was going on. He had been cut off, left in the dark. The storm had been replaced with a dangerous calm. He feared what the silence portended.

He went through the motions, and no one knew that something was amiss, except for a few that actually knew him. He went through the day, dealt with his clients expertly and professionally. He knew how to control the raging storm within. It would consume him at nightfall, but for now he had work to do.

Somehow he managed to survive the day. Already he could feel the veneer peeling back. He needed to be strong just a little longer. His goodbye to his coworkers was a little more curt than usual, his smile seemingly forced, but they were all professionals. They gave him his space. They knew he would come back in the morning, and whatever issue was bothering him would be dealt with.

But he had no plans on returning. Not tomorrow, not ever again. He drove to the nearest liquor store, bought a bottle of their most expensive whiskey, and drove home. He opened the bottle as soon as he shut off the car and downed as much as he could handle. Already the tears began falling, the first signs that presaged the impending storm.

He took a few more swigs, and stumbled out of the car. He could not handle his liquor, which was why he rarely drank. He was all about controlling his emotions, but he intended to lose control. He had no need of restraint. The full force of his fury would be unleashed.

He walked to their bedroom, ignoring everything else. In the room, her clothes were strewn about, as though she wanted to make a hasty exit and couldn’t decide what to take. That more than anything, even more than the one solitary line defeated him. She was obsessive about keeping her spaces clean. She had no intention of returning, of that he was certain.

He stumbled down the hall to his office and fell onto the sofa and continued to drink. Already a quarter of the amber liquid was gone. He drank some more and broke down, racked in rolling waves of sobs that seemed unyielding, so utterly despondent that he didn’t hear the alert notifying him that Toni was messaging him.

He drank until he could feel nothing, or maybe until he felt so much that he became numb to it all. He tried to stand, stumbled a bit and fell face first, grazing the side of the end table with the side of his face. He briefly registered the throbbing pain, but he pulled himself up, crawled to the safe, and managed to enter the combination on his forth attempt.

Once inside, he opened a small locker, the one where he kept his gun, and pulled it out. He laughed because he had always kept the gun loaded in spite of Toni’s protestations. Had he had needed to load it, it would have defeated him in his present state, but all he had to do was to release the safety, put the gun into his mouth, and press the trigger….

 

When Toni returned the next morning, worried as to why he hadn’t called her after her last text, she raced into the house. Her father was doing okay after his heart attack. Fortunately it was a minor thing, not requiring open heart surgery. He’d have to undergo a procedure soon to open up a couple of blockages, but he would be okay.

She walked into the office to drop off a couple of packages that were left on the front door when she saw his legs from behind the desk, and the walls behind him splattered with his blood and Toni screamed.

It took the investigators only minutes to deduce what had happened. He had only gotten the last line of Toni’s message, the one telling him of her father’s emergency, and that she needed to race the three hours to where he lived, that she we would be back as soon as she could, but that she would be gone by the time he got home.

And he never read her last message, telling him that her father was okay, and that the worst was over. “I love you,” she wrote him the last message, the one he would never see, “and I’ll see you in the morning.”


Short Stories

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Short Story: The price of love

Love is stupid. Yeah, I said it. Maybe love makes people stupid, or at least makes sane people do stupid things. Maybe it’s part of it, or all of it, or maybe it’s just me. I don’t know. I used to know, just like everyone’s an expert until you’re mired in something and you realize just how little you know. I just don’t know.

Right now she’s clinging to life on the barest of threads. The doctors say she’ll go at any moment, but they’ve been saying that for almost a week. Experts my ass! It hurts to see her like this, a woman in the prime of her life. She should be living her life, but the irony is that if she were, she wouldn’t be here with me. Like I said, love makes people stupid, me included.

I was never the kind of guy girls noticed. Sure they were nice to me, smiled at me, became my friend. I was, as I later learned, non-threatening. I was safe, the kind of guy they could trust, the guy they could talk to because I was understanding, and kind. I was the kind of nice they all claimed they wanted, but in reality didn’t. I soon came to believe that nice was code for loser.

Then I met Carly. Carly was like the rest of them, except she gave me something no one had ever given me: a chance. We started dating my sophomore year of college. She had broken up with her boyfriend, a star on the basketball team. He was the typical douche athlete, and all the women wanted him, and he obliged, never mind that he had a girlfriend.

So she dumped him and soon started dating me. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but I was just a rebound, worse still that she used me to make him jealous. Losing out to a guy like me made him crazy jealous, and I was too blind to see it. She soon dumped me and took him back. I was devastated.

Carly, just so you know, was, in those days, a beauty. The years and her illness have ravaged her, but beneath her withered and pained expression lingers the ghost of her former glory. She was blond, with hazel eyes, pale skin, and the cutest freckles on her nose. She had a magnetic personality, and she could make friends with anyone, even a recluse like me. She drew people to her, a flame pulling in another moth to become her next victim.

She was my first girlfriend, my first grown-up girlfriend, I should say. I had a few summer flings in camp growing up. Hold hands, an awkward peck on the lips, that sort of thing. I lost my virginity with her, fell madly in love with her, and it tore me to shreds being dumped the way she did me. I was just a cog in her plan to win back her dream boy.

I fell to pieces. No one knew it by seeing me. I was so straitlaced that no one would ever have seen my inner turmoil, not that anyone was close enough to have known. I was for all intents and purposes, friendless. I suffered alone. I just turned my attention to my studies to cope.

But I had become obsessed with her, but I just accepted it. What could I do? Even I, for all my naivette, understood that I had no chance to win her back. I could admit defeat and walk away with some vestiges of dignity, or I could pine for some woman who had made a fool of me.

Funny thing is that dating her had made me seem more interesting to some other woman. I began to date. I found a serious girlfriend my junior year, and we dated for almost two years, up until a week before graduation. I found myself as I broadened my horizons, and I found some confidence as I came into my own. I had become a man.

But I never got over Carly.

She would come around every so often, this damned woman. Every time she dumped a guy, or they dumped her, she would come by. I broke off a few relationships because of her, including that serious girlfriend, someone with whom I could have married. I know because she had been hinting at it for months. I loved her in a way, but she wasn’t Carly. She couldn’t compete with her, and she never knew she was competing with her. I did her wrong. I did to her what Carly had done to me, and I regret it.

Carly knew that I was obsessed with her, and she took advantage of it. She used me to boost her ego when she was feeling down. She used me to get over her failed relationships. I was nothing more than a plaything to occupy her time until some more suitable asshole stole her attention.

It went on like this for a couple of years, until the year we became 27. Almost everyone we knew was getting married, having children, settling down. Carly decided it was time to grow up and get with the agenda and get married, so she did, to a guy named Kurt. Just like that, I was cast aside for the last time.

By then I had grown used to it. I was tired of it and it came as a relief. Yes it hurt, and yes I cried, but I was also glad that I could gleam some measure of closure. This cruel game had come to an end, and I could finally move on.

I met a girl, dated, and we became engaged. Everything was going great, until Carly came into the picture to ruin my life one last time. My engagement fell apart, mainly because of Carly, but also because my fiancee was cheating on me with one of my friends, something Carly was all too happy to point out.

Carly’s marriage had fallen apart because her husband wanted a family, and she couldn’t conceive. It was impossible. Uterean cancer had taken her chance of having a family, and with it her hope for the life she had wanted.

The cancer was in remission, she told me, but I think she knew something that she didn’t let on, that the cancer would return, which it did a couple of years later. In the meantime, we rekindled our relationship, and this time it stuck. Carly had become domesticated. Gone was the wild girl I had fallen in love with. Her love was subdued, tamed, and I think it was because she knew she was dying soon.

We got married as soon as the ink from her divorce had dried. At thirty-one I had my dream woman, but I could sense that it was not going to last. Her fire had been extinguished, and she no longer felt the need to lead me on. I knew she was using me again, and because I was so in love with her, I let her, and I let her to this day.

She came back not because she loved me, but because I loved her. She knew no one would take her. Carly was damaged goods. Those are her words, by the way, not mine. She didn’t want to die, and though the doctors had told her that her cancer was gone, she felt that they were wrong.

After four years of marriage, the cancer came back. This time there was nothing to be done. It had spread to her lungs, her kidneys, her brain. It was attacking her, killing her slowly, and no chemotherapy, no radiation, could save her.

Now, a week before our fifth anniversary, she lays in our bed, a hospice worker coming in daily to check up on her, and a nurse does as well. She didn’t want to die alone and she knew I would take her back.

I hate myself for letting her do this to me, but I am powerless. I’ve come to believe that I don’t really love her. I think I’m obsessed with her as the woman I couldn’t hold on to, Now that I have her, I’ve come to see that I don’t love her like I thought I did. Even so, I never walked away. I’m a nice guy after all. I ended up with the girl, though not in the way I might have wanted, but I have her. Til death do us part. I just wish I hadn’t had to find a way to give her cancer to make her come back to me. I wish I didn’t need to kill her to keep her from leaving me again.

She’ll never know that my work with cancer was never to find a cure, but to learn to manipulate it, to weaponize it. She’ll never know, and soon, she’ll never know anything again.

Love is stupid? Maybe, but love turned me into a monster, and I’ll never be nice again.

 


Short Stories

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Previous story – Porcelain

 

Dark thoughts

It’s dangerous when I’m home alone. I have nothing to occupy my time, and the dark thoughts that usually cloud my mind are free to run wild. My insecurities are ripping at my soul, and I feel lost, afraid, alone. It’s been a while since I’ve felt this way. At least to this degree.

I’m working on my project, reading and rewriting one scene at a time, but there’s something that is driving me crazy, a hope, a desire, a connection that I was praying would come about that I feel is slipping through my fingers, if even it existed in the first place. I’ve been beginning to question if it had.

The uncertainty is weighing me down, making me reevaluate what I want to do. I have nothing to tie me here anymore, and I’m beginning to believe it may be time to walk away and search for whatever it is I’m missing elsewhere. I don’t think I’ll find it here.

When I look at my job, it’s going well, better than I thought it would. I’m now considering my future with the company. Do I want to move up? Would it be possible to move out of working at the store level? What am I capable of doing? Do I possess the skills to be successful in this company?

I have always maintained that money is not what motivates me. It isn’t. Money, for the sake of money, doesn’t sustain my soul. I need something that motivates me, something to sustains me, something that makes me feel proud. I haven’t found that anywhere. I need something that does.

I have my writing, for sure, but even there I’m slacking. I don’t know if I have the skill necessary to write well enough to succeed as a writer. I don’t know if anyone would care to read what I write. Maybe all I lack is confidence, though I haven’t had anything to boost my confidence, either. I’m probably being too hard on myself.

As much as I’m complaining, I’m probably happier than I have ever been in my life. I feel freer than I ever have. I’ve been coming to terms with who I am, which has been a difficult road to travel. I’m not yet at the end of that particular journey, but I’m further along than I ever dreamt possible.

But for all my happiness, I feel as though I’m missing something, and that’s what has my dark thoughts depressing me. I’m looking forward to trip to Georgia later next month, and in a few months, my trip to Florida. I need an adventure, but I need more than that to sustain me. I need to recharge my soul, my sense of purpose. I want someone, too, to connect with. If only I were so bold.

And at that, I’ll get back to my writing.

My promise for 2017

writewhatscaresyouAnother year has come and gone. On a personal level, this year has been the best year so far. I’ve let a lot of my anger and bitterness go. I’ve accepted some hard truths about myself. I’ve opened myself up more than I ever have. I’ve discovered that I’m capable of loving and being loved. I’ve discovered that I am able to be happy.

However, this year has not been so good as far as my writing. I’m just not taking the time to do it like I should. Work has completely taken over everything, especially these past few months. I’ve taken on more responsibilities, and in turn, it has diminished the amount of time I have to simply sit down and write. When I have the time, I’m so exhausted that I end up vegging out in front of my laptop and while away watching videos on YouTube. I love Grav3yardgirl, in case you’re wondering.

I haven’t worked on anything other than my NaNoWriMo novel, which is no where near complete. I’ve written a lot in the way of short stories, but my blog has been neglected. I haven’t done any book reviews since February, and I promised someone I’d do one. I promise to get to it in January.

My blog is suffering. I don’t receive the number of views I was getting in previous years, mainly because I’m not writing. I don’t write much because I’m busy on a personal journey, one that I chronicle elsewhere, but not ready to share with you. It’s deeply personal, one of self-discovery and acceptance, but there is still a ways for me to go before I’ll share it here.

As for reading, I’m not reading as much anymore. I miss it. I miss sitting down and losing myself within a story, of tagging along for the journey, wondering where the author intends to take me. I miss letting my imagination run wild as I picture in my mind, the action written before me, translating words into action.

So, for my 2017 resolutions, this is what I resolve:

  1. Read more
  2. Blog at least twice a week
  3. Set aside time to write on my works in progress
  4. Love more and hate less
  5. Forgive and let go any lingering resentments
  6. Exercise my body as much as my mind
  7. Learn something new
  8. Travel as much as I can
  9. Learn to live and embrace what life has to offer
  10. Be happy

This is what I resolve. I want to improve my life, to find love, to find happiness. I want to get back to following my dreams of becoming a writer. I want to explore who I am, what I am, to write about my life. There’s a lot to do this next year. 2016 has brought me closer to the person I’m supposed to be. I can’t wait to see where 2017 takes me.

Happy New Year to all my readers, and keep reading!