Thursday, May 2, 2019
Flash Fiction Friday, Week 18 - Mother Knows Best
The prompt this week was as follows: Imagine you’re in a pub, or café, on a rainy day. You hear a conversation next to you. Is it intriguing? Dangerous? Do you join in? Do they leave too soon?
As a writer, I’m always watching and listening. I don’t deliberately spy on folks, mind you. It’s just a lot of harmless eavesdropping. But after hearing snippets of a conversation as people stroll by, story ideas are born and plot problems are resolved. At times though, it may be a better, and safer, idea to turn a deaf ear, so to speak, and get back to reading your paperback. Sometimes, what you don’t hear does you more good…
Mother Knows Best
Thank goodness this booth was available so I can have some privacy. It’s the perfect spot to sit and think when your whole life is in the process of exploding in your face. Second from the entrance, along the wall, and next to a window with a view of the lake. I’m sure the waiter thinks I’m crazy because after he put my menu down on one side, I immediately picked it up and moved to the other side. Why do they always put you facing the door? I don’t want anyone and everyone coming in walking by me giving me, and whatever lunch I ordered, the once-over. At least, not today. Definitely not today. Sitting with my back to the door and looking out at the lake with rain gently falling, makes me feel as if I’m alone on an island. And free. Free from worry. Free from pain. Free from betrayal.
Zach and I have been married for almost five years, and out of nowhere, he starts lying about working late, and he’s vague about where he’s been. I go to his job site to surprise him with dinner, and his car’s not in the lot. When I ask him where he was, he hems and haws and says he’s hungry and wants a sandwich. That’s not an answer. I’ve always believed he was my perfect soulmate, but now? I’m so confused.
“Yes, this will be great. We’ll both have coffee and a piece of cherry pie. That okay with you, Jeanine?”
“Perfect, Zach. I’ll have to get going if I’m going to meet my brother-in-law by 3. Stan’s had it ready since day before yesterday, but I just haven’t had time to drive into the city. This weather’s been so nasty, and traffic there is a headache anyway, but heavy rain just makes people drive crazier on the interstate. It’s let up quite a bit today, so I’m going to take a chance.”
Great. A couple just sat down in the first booth and they’re both loud. It’s not bad enough that our neighbor is remodeling his garage and I have to listen to banging and electric saws. No. Add to that my car’s in the shop, and I had to call a taxi so I could go out to have a quiet lunch while I try to decide whether to file for divorce. On top of all that, these people are named Zach and Jeanine? Zach’s my husband’s name, Jeanine’s my best friend’s name, and her brother-in-law’s name is Stan. What are the odds that…wait. For real. What are the odds? I know Mother used to always say ‘Gloria Marie, mind your own beeswax, and do not be a Nosy Rosy.’ Sorry, Mom. Special circumstances. I need to lean farther back so I don’t miss a word.
“So, he’s totally customized it, and it looks just like the one Gloria and I saw in the museum?”
“It’s a perfect match. I wasn’t sure it would be possible since the design was so old, but he managed it. It’s so fitting that when she gets it, it’s exactly like the one she admired in a civil war setting.”
I remember that exhibit. It showed soldiers in a battle, and they all were holding… oh my God! They’re going to shoot me with a replica of an antique weapon? How do they expect to get away with something like that? They probably figured out a way to silence it somehow. But that’s not possible. I know what they’re going to do. Put a pillow against my head and then fire the gun. Bastards. Both.
“I have to tell you, Jeanine, I really can’t wait any longer. She needs to get it sooner rather than later. I think she suspects something because she’s been acting strangely. You know how Gloria is. She sees a plot everywhere, and everyone is a conspirator. I want this to be the ultimate surprise. How about game night this Friday? As soon as we’re done with Monopoly and dessert, bang!”
“Friday it is, Zach. I’m certain she’ll never see it coming.”
“You’d better get going if you’re going to beat rush hour coming back.”
“I can’t wait to see the look on her face when you let her have it.”
I can’t wait to see the look on your face either, bitch, because I going to have a surprise for both of you too.
“That was a great game, and I loved that pie. Is it getting hot in here? I feel odd.”
“Me too. Babe, was that pie fresh? I feel kind of dizzy.”
“Me too. Flu? Gloria, you ok? My head hurts.”
“I feel fantastic. You too won’t be sick for long though. Remember that floor cleaner that was recalled? The one that was odorless, tasteless, and lethal following ingestion? Well, silly me. I didn’t throw mine away. I added it to the filling in your pie.”
“What? Why would…”
“I was in the next booth at the Pub. I know you two were planning to kill me tonight with a duplicate of a gun we saw at the museum.”
“That’s crazy. No. The wedding rings on the Southern belle. I had a duplicate set ma…I can’t see…”
Oh. That exhibit.
“Yes, my broth…jewel…my nails are bl…God, the pa…”
So, Zach hid my birthday card under the game board, and the wedding ring set was in Jeanine’s handbag. He wrote that when we got married, he couldn’t afford fancy rings, so he wanted to make it up to me. Apparently, Jeanine’s brother-in-law is a jeweler and he molded both rings himself. They do look exactly like the ones on the mannequin. You were right about eavesdropping, Mom. I won’t tell her because I’ll never hear the end of it. I wonder if her basement floor’s been cemented over yet. Where’s my cellphone…