Thursday, June 29, 2023

Momentum (Part 3 of 3 Parts) blog post #606

 Image Courtesy of Promescent:


 To reinforce my words at the end of last week’s episode… downhill. Definitely downhill. What’s poor Chuck to do?



Over the next few weeks, I came to understand something seriously dark was taking place in our household. I gave up trying to repair things and merely indulged in silence more often than not. Was that helping? Of course, not, but it was about all I was capable of at the moment.

There was usually a short break after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays before the after-hours social calendar fired up again. This meant Francine and I were stuck with one another. Go to work and come home. Home to an irate, unreasonable wife. She continued to harp on Helen, apparently genuinely convinced there was something between us. That didn’t mean she didn’t bring up the subject of James now and then, but I don’t know how she reconciled those two, unless she considered her husband of thirty years to be bisexual or something.

Finally, I’d had enough. We either had to settle this thing between ourselves or else do it through divorce attorneys. I couldn’t take any more.

Before going to our separate beds, I walked up behind her as she smeared cream over her face. I was never sure whether this was to remove the paint or to moisturize her skin, but in truth, I didn’t care. Her shoulders--bare except for the thin strap of her negligee—were still good, but again, I didn’t care. Nonetheless, I rested my hands on them, probably to keep from putting them around her neck.

“Francine, we can’t go on like this.”

Cold, blue-green eyes stared at me through the mirror. “And what do you propose we do? Are you prepared to give up your girlfriend. And your boyfriend.”

My hands tightened of her shoulders as a sudden anger gripped me. “Don’t be ri—”

“Ridiculous?” she asked. “What’s ridiculous is a man your age tomcatting around like that. You’re the one who’s ridiculous, and you don’t even know it. Laughingstock of the bank.”

“Where do you get ideas like that. My god, woman, all I do is work.”

“Oh, yes, work. Work at the bank. Work at parties. Work at golf. Work at the country club.”

“And you’re there with me damned near every time,” I blazed. “There’s no talking to you. I want a divorce.”

“A divorce? All that would mean is two houses, two sets of expenses. How are you going to afford that.”

“We’re not exactly poor, Francine.”

“Nor are we rich. We have what? This house… and its mortgage. A quarter of a million in investments. Split those up and see how long they last. You aren’t vested in your pension. The only thing of real value is the life insurance. And we won’t see a penny of that two million until you’re dead. And you’re disgustingly healthy.”

“I can’t believe this. Are we really going to end this marriage by divorcing.”

She studied me through the mirror. Her eyes—they were really nice eyes—softened a touch.

“I don’t know,” she said. “Maybe. Or maybe not. You’re right, it’s time for a frank talk. See if we can’t salvage something. She touched my hand on her shoulder. “I need a cup of cappuccino. Let’s go downstairs.”

Well, that was progress. “Okay,” I agreed, turning for the door. “But we have to be frank. Lay it all on the line. That’s the only way it will work.”

“Of course.”

“And you have to be prepared to take it, not just give it.”

“Of course, darling.”

As she trailed me to the stairway landing, I seriously—and I mean seriously—considered giving her a shove down the stairs. I could only imagine the peace and quiet of my household after that. And who knows, Helen might offer me comfort in the face of such a tragedy. After all, she’d suffered through her own.

To quell such wild thoughts, I started down the stairs before her. I hadn’t taken more than two steps on the steep staircase than a strange chill ran the length of my back. If I was thinking that way, why couldn’t she? And she got my insurance proceeds, not me.

The moment I felt her hands on my back, I lurched sideways against the banister.

A screech escaped Francine as she fought to regain her balance from the momentum of her hands pushing shin air. She almost succeeded but tripped over my right leg as I sprawled across the width of the step. Her voice died about hallway to the bottom, but she rolled silently the rest of the way, leaving her slippers strewn on the stairs. As she lay sprawled motionless on the hall floor, I couldn’t help but notice how shapely her ankles still were.

Snapping out of my spell, I raced to the bottom and felt for a pulse in her neck. Nothing. Nor was there a beat at her wrist. I stood for a moment staring stupidly before racing to the phone and dialing 911. With a sob—genuine, I think—in my voice, I cried for an ambulance and opened the front door before returning to sit at her side.

Then tears—for real this time—streamed down my cheeks. My wife was gone, but so was the harridan in my house.

The ambulance arrived with the police hard on their heels. There would be an investigation, I knew, but I was appropriately devastated, and the neighbors, friends, acquaintances would all swear we were a devoted couple. No financial irregularities, no affairs, no nothing to raise suspicions.

When they were gone, taking her with them, I sat on the bottom step and let my mind wander. I wasn’t the only one with a life insurance policy. She’d had only a million-dollar one. Not as stout as mine, but if I recalled correctly, it had a double indemnity clause.

 I wonder if Helen would be receptive? Or better yet, would James?

Definitely James. It was time I tried something new.



One might say Francine took the Stairway to Heaven. But wait, she was heading down, wasn’t she? And perhaps Chuck will get off scott free. After all, he didn’t do anything, did he? Or was his leg stuck out there specifically for his wife to trip over? Something to think about, at any rate.

 Hope you enjoyed my story.

Stay safe and stay strong.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

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Twitter: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.





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