Friday, February 7, 2014

A Final Shot at Love


The picture had been a red flag. Clare had found it in his jacket when she was gathering up laundry. It was a picture of a waif-thin blonde pixie, naked as the day she'd been born. Scrawled on the back were the words, "Wish you were here." Bradley had laughed it off as a bawdy joke from the lads on his rugby team. He seemed so solicitous and contrite for the next several days she felt silly thinking anything else. She had let it go.

When their wireless telephone bill came, Clare was quite surprised to see over a hundred calls had been made to a number in Chelsea she was entirely unfamiliar with. She wasn’t sure what to make of the fact each of those calls had been placed from Bradley’s phone. Since all of them had been made during the evening hours he’d been away, ostensibly “working late”, her first assumption was they had to have been something work-related. Had so many of them not been made at hours too unusual to have been explainable as being related to work, she’d have thought nothing more of them. The inexplicable calls were a red flag. She had let it go.

Having always been raised to believe it was the duty of a good wife to keep a spotless home, Clare left not one speck of dust about to speak ill of her dedication. One day she had even gone so far as to search out the tarnished brass key to Bradley’s home office. He disliked her being in his workspace and she, generally, acquiesced to his desire to have his inviolate personal space. Still and all, she’d not been in there for months and it must be sorely in need of some tidying. While straightening his desk, her eyes fell on a yellow Post-it stuck to the desktop calendar. "Thames River Valentines Cruise" it read, with a slip number and time. Bradley had told her he would be out of town on business for "the lovers' holiday" and would make it up to her upon his return. This was the final red flag. She had not let this one go.

It wasn’t as if she and Bradley hadn’t had their rough patches. He’d not advanced as quickly in his career as he’d planned and made no bones of the fact he felt Clare was to blame. He’d chided her at length that her demure manner and working-class roots were inadequate to the responsibilities of a proper corporate wife. Her inability to say the right things, laugh at the appropriate jokes, identify with and emulate the wives of his associates had made him the odd man out.

For the next three years she’d done everything within her power and many things she’d never thought herself capable of in the furtherance of Bradley’s career. A promotion had come bringing with it not only more prestige and power but increased responsibilities. Their relationship had become less troublesome if only because they saw so little of each other. Between his increased workload and her role as the wife of a corporate executive they spent precious few hours together beyond sleeping time.

As unwilling as she was to countenance the possibility of Bradley stepping out on her, there were simply too many unanswered questions and suspicious occurrences for her to dismiss any longer. A resolution…a closure was called for and she would, as she had so many times in recent years, summon up the requisite fortitude to find such.

She stood in the cool shadows of the dockside evening and waited for...what? Did she crave validation of her worst fears? Did she seek a logical explanation for unsubstantiated suspicions? As unsure as she was of her desires, she was most unsure how she would react to any of the prurient scenarios that tortured her imagination day and night. She remained stoic and undecided until she glimpsed Bradley, striding confidently through the crowds. His left arm embraced...her...the elfin slut!

Conjecture vanished, sanity fled and time froze as Clare reached beneath her coat and withdrew her father's old service revolver. Her first shot struck Bradley's whore squarely in her face. Her head vanished in a crimson cloud of displaced flesh and fragmented bone. Her body dropped like a marionette with cut strings to the grimy cobbles of the quayside. Clare did not see her fall as she had already turned her attention to a more pressing matter.

Before he could react, Clare shifted her point of aim and fired twice more. Both bullets struck Bradley scant inches below his expensive Gucci belt.

Wrestled to the ground by horrified bystanders, Clare found herself praying. She prayed…not for forgiveness or understanding or for absolution but for...life. She prayed Bradley would live. She prayed he would live a very long and very dysfunctional life and that for the entirety of that life that he would exist as no woman's lover ever again!


This story was written for the Friday Frights web site where I am a regular contributor as is written for the monthly theme of: Grotesque Love. 

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