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American Fiction Suspense

Item #1

He’s been thinking about it for months now, just quitting. It shouldn’t be hard and truth told it would be harder on everyone if he kept going. Sitting back in his recliner with a pad of paper and pen he decided to write down his resolutions for the next year. His mother had trained him in this habit decades ago.

It didn’t always work, planning and promising activities, or in this case the cessation of activities. He could quite literally dig out resolution lists from years gone by. He kept them to remind himself of how far he’d fallen. Each 31st of December he’d form a list, store it in the drawer in the kitchen and shake his head If he didn’t see the check mark to indicate he’d triumphed. If he had he’d smirk.

He thought briefly about the mother who’d told him the lists would keep him on the straight and narrow. He wondered if she knew then, were her mother instincts that good or was it hopefulness? She’d died, it was going on ten years now. He still honoured her memory by continuing the lists but that was as far as the ‘honour your mother and father’ thing ever got. The father thing was a joke, his real daddy had left the state when he was in primary school. The next couple of ‘dad’ types lasted three and five years respectfully. His mother had eventually given up looking and then she gave up for good.

He moved past the kitchen and down through the double wide, heading for his bedroom at the far end. It was always so much colder down here; he should just sleep in the living room in the winter. There was no one around to argue the case. Valerie left his life last February, just before Valentine’s Day actually. He chuckled and considered it was a good thing he hadn’t bothered with a card, ‘that would have been a waste of four bucks.’ He changed into his best jeans, he only had three pair but they were distinct types in his mind. He had his ‘going out’ pair, his ‘working’ pair and ‘hanging around the house’ pair. Throwing on a shirt, boots, and his suede jacket he got himself ready to hit the bar.

As he heaved his six-foot frame into his truck he noticed with alarm that his stomach, once flat was advancing toward the steering wheel with momentum. He’d been handsome once, women used to tell him that all the time in his early twenties. The phrase had stopped coming from painted lips sometime ago. He shook his head, slightly sad with the progression of his life. Maybe he should take the resolution thing more seriously this year, really give it a try? He snorted and parked his single cab to the side of the roadhouse. He could hear the music pumping out and ran a large hand through his full head of dark curly hair. His sky-blue eyes scanned the parking lot. He made note of a few vehicles.

 The gaudy tinsel hung from the ceiling, cardboard images of Santa and Rudolph were still up from Christmas last week.  He assumed they were trying to keep the festive spirit going as long as they could. The bar was a local, ‘everyone knew your name kind of place.’ It could be a good thing most days, but as with life in any small town, if someone wanted to keep their sins a secret it could be tough. He ordered a beer with eye contact and one finger raised; Tracy brought it over to his table wishing him a Happy New Year. He nodded and grinned, they’d had more than a few nights together this year and he could feel his lust rising. She was barely dressed in cut offs and a top tied under her ample breasts. Her long legs were bare, tiny feet thrust into red cowboy boots. It was her homage to Daisy Duke she’d admitted when he’d approved the first night.

He ran a hand down her arm and asked what time she finished work. She shook him off and glanced behind her. Tracy was almost smug when she told him she was seeing Jake now, and there wouldn’t be anymore midnight visits to his trailer. He was annoyed, what did Jake have that he didn’t, besides a bar of his own that is. Jake White was a former bodybuilder, former Marine and he was almost a double for Matthew Mcconaughey, there was no competing with that was there? He decided to leave it for now and looked around the place while he drank his Bud. He spotted a couple of workmates from the factory and waved his beer at them. They invited him over so he strolled to sit at their table for a spell.

The night wore on, he had more beers, chatted up some women he went to high school with years ago. They were both in town to visit family for the holiday and decided on a drink together. When the lights came up to announce closing time he popped a mint into his mouth and headed to the parking lot. He was striding towards his truck when he noted the design on an SUV a few spots over, “Jake’s Place” was stylized on the doors. He scanned the building for any cameras. Old Dan had never bothered with that ‘new-fangled’ security, but this guy was military and had a different mindset. He didn’t see anything and wandered over pretending to admire the paint job. He dropped to his knees and made a few alterations before getting back into his truck. He drove carefully back to the trailer park, keeping half an eye on his rear-view mirror the whole time. It was only a ten-minute trip but he didn’t want the sheriffs on his ass.

He woke up to the sun in his eyes and banging on his front door. Dazed and half-asleep he stumbled over his boots on the way. He was surprised to see Tracy on his doorstep, she was crying, mascara ran down her face, blonde hair falling into her eyes.

“What’s wrong Tracy honey, why are you crying?” He pulled her into a hug.

“Oh Randy, Jake’s d d dead. I didn’t know where else to go, I’m all shaky, can I come in and sit down?”

“Oh yeah, come on it, don’t mind the mess. I crashed on the couch last night.” He opened the door wider and let her in. He sat her in his recliner and handed her a piece of paper towel from the spool on his counter. He didn’t have any tissues and he figured that toilet paper would have been a bit crass given the situation. She cried and hiccupped for a few minutes and he waited patiently, perched on the arm of the sofa. She told him about her visit from Vern the deputy this morning. She’d phoned the office when Jake hadn’t shown at her place. She had left the bar first, he said he’d head over after he did the cash out.

“When three o clock came and went I had to wonder if maybe he just decided to go on home instead of coming to mine. I called and sent messages but no answer. Vern came by an hour ago and told me they’d found Jake in his Tahoe at the bottom of the ravine. Vern figures Jake was driving tired but they’re going to check the brakes anyway.”

She trailed off and sobbed again. Randy thought it was a bit over the top, they’d only started going out a couple weeks ago, she’d mentioned that last night. He put on his phony supportive look though. He nodded when she asked if she could use his ‘powder room’ to clean up a bit. When she’d tottered down the linoleum floor, he started to clean up. It was just as he heard the toilet flush that he looked at the paper in his hand. He pulled the drawer and shoved it in. The last thing he needed was Tracy finding reading his resolution list, especially as the first item on it had a ‘done’ check mark next to it.

December 26, 2021 20:43

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4 comments

Craig Westmore
17:54 Jan 02, 2022

Great story, Maureen! I like the eerie, creepy ending and the details throughout that show his character and fit his actions. My favorite line is, "The phrase had stopped coming from painted lips sometime ago."

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21:40 Jan 02, 2022

Thank you so much for this review, it was an interesting prompt wasn't it? I enjoyed writing this one but it took a fair bit of editing, I do tend to go on :)

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20:47 Jan 03, 2022

This story was executed so well. It definitely had a creepy vibe but I didn’t see that twist coming at the end! Awesome descriptive writing! I loved the line, ”he noticed with alarm that his stomach, once flat was advancing toward the steering wheel with momentum.” Great imagery here! Such a good story. I so enjoyed reading this!

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17:45 Jan 04, 2022

Thank you Heather, that part may be just a bit autobiographical ha ha, even some of us women have expanding middles. I really appreciate that you took the time to write out a review! Happy New Year!

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