Despite knowing that “perfect” is an absolute and not subject to degrees, I couldn’t resist the title. So forgive me. Hope you enjoy the little fable I concocted.
JUST A LITTLE TOO PERFECT
What time was it!
I sat up and glanced at the clock on Luann’s bedside table. One fifty-five in the morning. Good Lord! I’d fallen asleep after she wore me out around midnight. What the hell would I tell my wife?
While scrambling around in the dark trying to separate my duds from Luann’s, I fabricated my yarn. I’d been at a bar. The Stoop. With two of my associates. Bart. Yeah, Bart was a barfly. And Christopher was a hanger-on.
I rushed into the kitchenette for a swig of bourbon to put alcohol on my breath before racing to my Lexus parked on a nearby street. My tires burned rubber on the way home, as I delicately balanced the need for speed with the need to avoid getting a ticket.
On the approach to the broad drive of my North Valley home, the perfect symmetry of the brick and stone edifice struck me anew. A perfect home. A perfect job. A perfect wife. A perfect life. Except something was off about it.
My accounting firm brought in someone from the outside to take over management when my boss retired rather than give the position to me. This perfect home suffered from aging plumbing and a structural fracture in two of the trusses supporting a heavy clay tile roof.
Helen, the beautiful, educated, cultured woman I married, was very good in dealing with people. A perfect mate for my profession. But all that beauty hid sharp talons capable of ripping the psyche as well as the flesh.
I entered the house through the garage to find Helen in a recliner reader absorbed in a New Mexico family saga novel called The Eagle’s Claw by local author Donald T. Morgan.
“Good book?” I asked, catching a whiff of the rosewater she usually wore.
“It holds my interest." She arched an eyebrow. "Aren’t we getting home a little late? Without even a telephone call.”
“Met some of the guys at The Stoop.” I spun my tale of lies, submitted to the inevitable questions, and considered myself lucky. Until I turned to walk away.
“What’s that caught in your belt?” Her voice hardened a little more with each deliberate word.
A chill ran down my back. With no idea what she was talking about, I stood glued to the carpet until she bounded out of the chair and snatched something that came free with a tug of my shorts. A pair of Luann’s pink, delicately laced panties. Oh, Lord! So much for carefully separating my clothing from hers.
Needless to say, my life was not so perfect any longer. Banished from the house, I now lived in a motel room. News of my marital problems spread after Helen’s divorce attorney interviewed Bart and Christopher about our non-existent night on the town. My problems affected my work. I’d be immersed in a client’s tax problem and find myself distracted by what had been my perfect life… before Pantygate.
After my new boss gave me a veiled warning about shaping up or shipping out, I woke to the fact that I might end up with nothing of that life left. Any divorce court in the land would award Helen the house and half my assets—there went the perfect house and the perfect wife. With my job in jeopardy, the rest of it could vanish, as well.
Frightened, I undertook a search for salvation—financial, not spiritual. Although I could probably use some of that, as well. I didn’t realize how desperate I was until I remembered Nick Shazinski.
We’d gone to school together back in the day but didn’t pal around. From the wrong side of town, Nick ran with a rough crowd. The local cops knew him well... even before we graduated. But we’d always gotten along in an arm’s-length sort of way.
I’d lost touch with him, but we reconnected one day in the office of a client named J. Butterfield Thomas, known to be the local mob’s preeminent attorney. My old friend did some of the lawyer's investigative work. Nick and I went to lunch a couple of times, and I even had him over to the house, mostly to see how my socially conscious wife would react. But Nick cleaned up well, and Helen seemed drawn to his rough side
I’d heard enough stories to suspect Nick might be the solution to my problem. So I put in a call to my old buddy to let him know I had a problem.
“I heard. You wanna talk it over?”
“Yes, but in private,” I said.
“My place or Butter’s office?”
“Somewhere we won’t be noticed. By anyone.”
“Oh ho. I get your drift. It’s that serious, huh?”
Uncomfortable over saying too much over the phone, I simply agreed.
An hour later, I nosed my Lexus into a big deserted warehouse on Commercial SE. Nick had chosen well. It didn’t appear anyone visited the premises often. As I got out of the car, Nick walked out of what had been the office when this was a functioning business.
“Thanks for meeting me.” I licked my lips and tasted fear. Could I go through with this?
“Big time. Ones that call for desperate measures.” I moved away to avoid looking at him as I spoke the fateful words. “I want to hire you. I brought $5,000 as a down payment.”
“Sorry, pal. But I already got a job. But thanks for the five grand bonus.”
My back prickling, my heart somewhere below my belly, I turned to find him screwing something long and chilling onto the end of a wicked-looking handgun.
No-name wasn’t a very good individual, was he? Of course, Helen was likely cut from the same cloth. Hope you got a kick out of this one. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com. As usual, thanks for being readers.
New Posts published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.