Drama Suspense Fiction

“Stop right by that mm…hiccup…mail-box!” Carol signalled to the taxi driver. “I’ve got something ur ...hiccup...gent to post.”

“What, right here miss?” the driver moaned as he slowed to a near halt.

Too soon the door of the taxi flew open missing a startled pedestrian by inches. 

“Whoops,”Carol giggled.

     “Watch it lady, are you trying to get me fired?” the driver protested.

Carol slid out of the taxi revealing a suspender clad thigh. The disgruntled driver, now feeling compensated for the unexpected stop scrambled out to assist her.

 “There that’ll show him,” she muttered to herself as the distorted mouth swallowed up her small brown package. Arms akimbo, she slumped back into the car urging the bemused man to continue onwards.

The taxi driver took off muttering something about women not being able to hold their drink. At any other time Carol would have drawn from her plentiful repartee some witty chauvinism retort but she was too far gone to resent the remark.

“Wake up lady, you’re home!” he announced, shaking his head as the car arrived at her destination. “Not much chance of making the old man’s supper in that condition,” he snickered. “Only six thirty in the evening too.” 

Deliberately avoiding eye contact, he thrust an arm over his shoulder, “That’ll be fifteen eighty.” The hand wafted impatiently, “I hope it was worth it,” his contempt was obvious. “You’re going to have a real hum dinger of a hangover tomorrow.”

Carol pushed two crumpled notes into his eager palm, telling him to keep the change. 

Delighted by the unexpected large tip and clearly relieved to be getting rid of his inebriated passenger, he helped her out of the cab and deposited her at the end of her driveway.

Inserting her key into the lock was a mammoth task. Only after several attempts was she eventually successful. 

As she entered, she could just see the top of Rob’s head protruding above the sofa, “You’re home early hon,” she slurred as she made her way into the kitchen to make coffee. “He’s taken me for granted once too often,” she shouted between the rooms — a trait Rob hated. “I told him to stick his letters where the sun doesn’t shine.” Unperturbed by the lack of response she continued, “He’s going to get such a shock Monday hic … morning.” 

One of her shoes flew past Rob’s ear like a wayward missile as she staggered towards the lounge with two overfilled cups balanced precariously on a tray. Completely unaware of what was about to confront her she lowered herself into the chair.

 “Whatever you’ve done you’d better undo it pronto,” Rob snapped. “It may have escaped your notice, but while you’ve been enjoying yourself, I’ve been in casualty.” 

     Carol hastily dumped the flooded tray onto the side table. To her horror, as the two images in front of her merged, she observed her stern faced husband, horizontal on the sofa. A solid plaster cast extended from the toes of his right foot to just above his knee.

 Her jaw dropped, “Oh my God! What happened?”

“I fell off the scaffolding,” he sighed, now satisfied that she’d finally taken notice of his incapacity. “I’m going to be laid up for at least six weeks.” 

Carol suddenly realising the full extent of her after work activities gasped, “Oh no! What have I done?”

“Yes what have you done?” he enquired.

Carol dropped a small dictaphone onto the table and proceeded to relay how she had regrettably handed in her notice. She began by working on his understanding nature. “Mr Jones…just as we were packing up to leave, insisted that I, during my weekend, must type up an urgent letter, requesting immediate payment, from a client who had been ignoring previous communications.” Her eyes met his anticipating mutual indignation. “I recognised I was slipping back into the depression that his demands always triggered, so called in at a bar with the girls — just to calm my frayed nerves.” 

There she’d sewn the empathy seeds. “ After the third large Chardonnay and encouraged by the rest of the group …but against my better judgement,” she slipped the last comment in as she felt her colour rising. “I thought it would be fun to record an offensive message over his dictation, telling him he was an obnoxious excuse for a human being. Somewhere within the tirade of abuse I suggested that he should sleep with one eye open.”

“Someone,” she rolled her eyes, “produced a strip of postage stamps and a brown envelope, thinking that it would be hilarious to mail the tape to him.” 

She shook her head, frustrated with her recklessness. “ I just threw caution to the wind,” she sighed “and obliged, stuffing the cassette without thinking, into the envelope and scribbling the company address on the front.” 

Panic began to consume her. “ I wrote the words PERSONAL in block capitals instead of his name so that he would be sure to get the full extent of my message.” She frantically rubbed her forehead.

“It’s probably in the sorting office at this very minute,” she sighed cradling her head in her hands. “Reception always intercepts his personal mail, so there’s little hope of me retrieving it beforehand.”

 Rob groaned, “Well you’ve got some grovelling to do Monday morning if we’re not going to starve.” 

Carol, dropped to her knees, hoping to assuage his distain for her recklessness. All indications of intoxication were diminishing rapidly.

The agonising weekend seemed to drag interminably for her. She had a fair idea of how her boss would react to the tape. His reputation for a lack of humour was well established. She tried desperately to recall if she’d sent it anonymously, ultimately concluding that it was immaterial; he was sure to guess the identity of the narrator as she was positive she hadn’t wiped the rest of the tape containing the remainder of his dictation.

On Monday morning, the news of her drunken exploits had preceded her arrival. All eyes were upon her as she entered the large open plan room.

 The vociferous employees were perplexed by the absence of her usual haughty air of indifference. She’d frequently threatened to quit and Friday afternoon had been the straw that broke the camel’s back. She despised her boss and wanted a change. She thought Rob’s job could easily support them financially until she found new employment, so the tape would be an unorthodox way of resigning and would undoubtedly be a dinner party talking point in the future. However, today Carol exuded a distinctly nervous approach.

“Mr. Jones wants to see you,” one of the girls timidly announced. A deathly silence descended as Carol tentatively knocked before entering his room. The whispering group waited in anticipation of the inevitable, but were bewildered when she returned within five minutes with a perplexed expression upon her face.

Immediately her desk was buzzing, surrounded by inquisitive bodies demanding to know the outcome of the confrontation.

Carol, shrugged her shoulders and muttered, “Arrangements for a business meeting.”

“But what about the tape?” someone insisted.

“He can’t have got it,” she beamed. 

“Yet!” interjected one of the conspirators with a giggle.

“Shh … quick, look at this!” An excited voice whispered beckoning them all to come look at her computer screen and read a local news article. The whole group huddled around the desk aghast.

The article read, “The police are appealing for anyone with information to come forward regarding a malicious threat with blackmailing connotations sent to an elderly gentleman. A spokesperson for ninety-year-old Mr. Edwards has said they have no idea why anyone would want to threaten him. A female, clearly with some kind of grudge has made the tape. The address at 5 Ridgeway Drive, was almost illegible but a handwriting expert has said, judging by the way the address was scrawled, it was probably written by a person of low intelligence.”

The whole of the office roared at the last comment. Brian Jones’ door flew open to see what the commotion was. He just caught them reading aloud the tail end of the item. “Part of the tape was made by a male accomplice demanding immediate payment or consequences would be inevitable . This has baffled police.”

An instant clicking of machines commenced in deference to Brian Jones’ presence. “What on earth is all the fuss about?” he demanded.

One of the practical jokers of the group decided to enlighten him, “Someone sent a poison pen message to an elderly gentleman. But the strange thing is….” most of the group were trying to suffocate a fit of giggles as she continued straight faced, “the address is almost identical to this one, the only difference being it’s 5 Ridgeway Drive, and not 57 Ridgeway Drive,”

Brian Jones’ interest was increasing.

Coughs and splutters emerged from every desk.

“Well back to work now!” he snapped, eyeing everyone suspiciously.

 Immediately his door closed, the staff congregated around Carol’s desk.

“What do you make of that then?” gasped Margaret, the matriarch of the group. “Because you were so drunk you must have omitted the number 7.” She chuckled, “An easy mistake considering it was written, according to a police handwriting expert, by an illiterate.”

The practical joker piped up again, “Do you think we ought to ring the police and inform them of the error?” the laughter erupted again. “After all you do want Jones to get the message don’t you?”

“Shh…not now!” protested Carol “That was a lucky escape. Rob broke his leg so I can’t afford to lose my job now. I’ll send the gentleman an anonymous letter of apology explaining the mistake”

With a huge sigh of relief, she slipped her legs back under her desk.

Her reprieve was short lived, as yet again Brian Jones’ door opened, “Carol, that letter?” 

“Err yes,” she stammered.

 “ Did you manage to get it done over the week-end?” 

Carol’s heart skipped a beat as she swallowed hard on the lump that was stuck in her throat. An audible intake of breath was evident as the women waited for her reply.

August 30, 2021 12:59

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.