Thursday, December 14, 2023

The Rock and the Brick blog post #632

 Images Courtesy of IconScout and PNGkey:


After completing “Boy for Sale,” we have an inkling what private investigators go through in resolving their cases. Wonder if that’s really true? Do any of you know a PI who’d do something like that out of a sense of duty?

Today, we’ll have a piece of flash fiction. Hope you enjoy it.



My buddy spelled his name C-H-U-C-K while his wife penned hers as J-U-D-I. Misspelled it is more like it. I know for a fact she was plain Judy back when she was in pigtails. And so far as I was concerned, that said everything about their union there was to say. Charles, known to one and all as Chuck, was biscuits and gravy with eggs-over-easy, while Judi was more Swiss rösti with smoked salmon. That pegged the two of them perfectly in the mental envelope of my mind. I’d predicted domestic problems from the beginning, but they defied my logic and seemed the perfect pair of love birds.

For three years.

The first apparent crack appeared six months ago when Chuck let his mouth get away from him when four of us were having our weekly boy’s night out at Steve’s Neighborhood Bar.

Chuck, Billy, Steve, and I had gone to high school together, split up to attend different colleges, and returned home to pursue careers. I’m Perry, by the way, but years ago high school sportscasters dubbed me Brick—for that fabled brick outhouse—and Brick I remain today. Chuck and I ended up in the same architectural firm, me as an architect, and him as a draftsman and surveyor. Billy operated a first-rate auto repair shop in town, and Steve owned the bar where we go to water once a week.

Anyway, this one night, Chuck bellyached about a dress Judi’d bought for an upcoming shindig at the office. A way-too-expensive, filmy thing he didn’t even think was appropriate. Of course, we needled him about being king of his own household, which didn’t improve his mood any.

Over the next week, he showed up at work late once, unshaven once, and grumpy the rest of the time. The office shindig at the country club proved to be a big success, and while Judi looked like a million dollars in a filmy, pink chiffon thing, I had to admit it was a bit over-the-top for one of our affairs.

The second clue came when Chuck showed up at my house one night and asked if he could spend the night on my couch. I told him I had a perfectly good second—or even—third bedroom, and he could have his choice of either. He hadn’t arrive until late, so neither of us felt like talking much. I offered sympathy because I’d gone through all this a year or so ago when my wife and I called it quits. I kept my house; she took my money and moved out of state. You’d think that would be an open invitation to glory in my new-found freedom and paint the town, but I chose to remain monastic and concentrate on restoring my financial solvency. My Ex was capable of earning as much as I was, so she took her pieces of my flesh in the form of cash. I wasn’t saddled with alimony, thank goodness.

The next morning, Chuck and I elected to have breakfast at a little diner we both favored. To make a point—we both had biscuits and gravy with eggs-over-easy. He wasn’t very forthcoming, tending to nurse his coffee afterward and husband his words. I did draw him out enough to understand his brother-in-law had showed up, stayed the weekend, and cajoled Judi out of five hundred dollars.

He kept his own counsel at work, so I did likewise and didn’t mention the incident. But Friday night at the bar, he let it all out to his three buddies. Seems like five hundred bucks wasn’t all of it. Chuck’s wife had given her brother her car and was now agitating for another. She’d never liked the Chevy she’d driven for the last three years. Wanted something fancier, of course. Perhaps earlier I should have used the simile, Chuck was Chevy while Judi was Cadillac to explain them. Except, she was demanding something foreign. A Jaguar, I think. Who knew? I’d never have pegged her for someone wanting anything to do with the jungle.

The upshot was that I now had a houseguest at least once a week. Chuck’s golf game went to pot so badly he had to quit betting with us… couldn’t afford the club membership and the losses. Before the summer was out, it was clear to me his marriage was heading the same direction mine had gone. To oblivion.

Chuck didn’t have my hindsight and continued to insist they were just going through a rough spot. Mighty big briar patch… better part of six months now. He’d forgiven the five hundred lost to his brother-in-law, found a used Jaguar for Judi, and expected things to settle down. Didn’t, of course, she’d wanted a new Jag. Since he was absolutely sure she wasn’t running around on him in her new, used car, he considered everything had worked out okay.

Yeah, right.

Football season had started before my doorbell rang at night again. I opened the door, waved him in and hurried back into the den and the television set. Nothing was said until one team called timeout.

“So what’s up, Chuck? You in the doghouse again, or did you come over to watch the game?”

He almost broke up, which made me regret my flip remark. “She’s leaving me, Brick. Told me so tonight.”

“She doesn’t mean it.”

Yeah, she does. Already leased a place. Showed me the contract.”

“Oh.” I swallowed all my “you’ll be better off” remarks and took a good look at my friend. And he was my friend. My best… my closest buddy in the world. When we were teenagers, I’d had a crush on him. I would’ve been his slave, done anything he’d wanted, if he’d simply arched an eyebrow. From fifteen to seventeen, that is. I was seventeen when I met my future wife, and that changed everything.

The rest of the ballgame was lost, my time taken up commiserating with my buddy in his time of trouble. Didn’t offer advice. Knew from my own experience that advice wasn’t what he needed at the moment. Time for that later. He just needed sympathy. Empathy. Someone to be there for him.

Then he lost control. I’d seen Chuck grit his teeth at a broken ankle, take a brutal kidney punch in a teenage brawl, and let someone put a dislocated shoulder back in place, all without so much as anything beyond a groan. Never seen the guy shed a tear over anything.

Until tonight.

When the dam burst, I instinctively scooted over on the couch beside him and draped my arm around his shoulders. For fifteen minutes, I sat—semi-holding my best friend—while he hemorrhaged tears and words. Half the words so slurred I don’t know what they were. Eventually, the words ran out, but the tears didn’t. He turned into me and buried his head in my neck. I held him, not daring to move, for a long time. Well, probably wasn’t over a minute, but seemed like half an hour.

When he finally spoke again, the words were muffled.

“Thanks, guy… you know, for being a friend. D-didn’t mean to fall apart on you.”

“Don’t worry about it,” I said, patting his back fondly.

“Must seem like a pussy,” he snuffled, his lips tickling my neck.

“Nah. Seem like the same old Rock of Gibraltar to me.”

That had been what the announcer called him when he was a lineman on our high school football team. We’d been the Rock and the Brick.

“Quivering puddle of jelly’s more like it.”

Chuck, you’re more man than anyone I know,” I said.

“R-really? Hope for me yet?”

“You got lots of good times ahead of you. Better ones than with Judi,” I quipped, stressing the y that belonged on the end of her name. “You’ve got adventures you’ve thought about for years to explore, experiences you’ve only dreamed about—”

I lost the ability to speak when his lips suddenly covered mine. Surprised, shocked, I started to push him away, but relented.

Oh, what the hell! Might as well see what I missed back when I was sixteen.



It isn’t often we get to relive our sixteenth year, is it? Wonder how Brick enjoyed it.

Until next week, stay safe and stay strong. 

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

In case you haven't done so lately, please take a look at my BJ Vinson murder mystery series starting with The Zozobra Incident and ending with The Cutie Pie Murders. Perhaps one of the seven books might make a good Christmas present for someone you know.  There are also three standalone books.

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X: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.



New Posts every Thursday at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain Time. 


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