Thursday, April 9, 2015

What Price for Love



"My god Jamie, what have you done?" I said it out loud as I shook my head and scanned the damage. He'd left a huge mess this time. Blood spattered on the walls; it was everywhere. And pieces of... flesh. It was going to take me hours to clean it up. I hadn't gotten used to it. I never would.

He had blacked out again. He was lying on the floor next to what was left of her. His hand still gripping the knife and a piece of her dress. Her head was turned towards him, her brown eyes open and a half smile on her face. He had done that; positioned her afterward.

"Oh James..." I tried to speak but I felt it rising in my throat; the sandwich I'd had an hour ago mixed with bile and stomach acid. I opened my purse and threw up inside it; all over the plastic baggies I'd brought. I should have been better prepared. It hadn't made me sick like this before.

I told myself I didn't care. I looked down at him; lifeless like the corpse next to him. He was a beautiful monster. Light blond hair with curls at the nape of his neck and honest blue gray eyes, with the longest, darkest lashes I'd ever seen on a man. He looked like a harmless California surfer instead of the serial maniac he was. And I was in love with him.
Years ago I'd found him like this with another dead girl lying next to him. He'd strangled her. I'd disposed of her body then sat with him until he came back around. It had been the start of a three year love affair, and there was no turning back.

I went outside to look around. My car was parked on the street. Apparently he'd left his somewhere and they'd returned in hers; it was parked in the drive. I wondered why she hadn't pulled into the garage, he should've insisted. There were no neighbors with a clear line of sight; the house was on a lot at the end of the street. A cul-de-sac; it was a rule.

I couldn't keep doing this. It was sick. He was sick. And I was no better. I ran down the steps and fell to my knees next to a flower bed in her front yard. I heaved, once, then twice... thankfully nothing came up. There was nothing to be done about it; I loved him. But how many more would pay the price for my demented obsession with James Albright?

I felt safe when I was with him. I knew he'd never let anything happen to me, I kept him out of jail. I was his safety net, and... he loved me.
And in the eyes of the law, I was an accomplice. An accessory after the fact. I couldn't stop him now even if I wanted to, and he knew that.

But I didn't want to. He knew that too. I enjoyed his devotion and it made me feel special that he allowed me to live. But I couldn't keep cleaning up after him; it had begun to make me physically ill. And it was my DNA that was being left all over everything. I was as careful as I could be, but forensics were tight these days. They knew what was going on. And as much as I took away evidence of him, I left some of me behind. Maybe he knew that too.

I forced myself to calm down. Slow breaths and a little blue pill did the trick. I could do this.

I retrieved plastic gloves and towels from the car, and my 'kit', which contained garbage bags and disinfectant cleaner. I pried the knife from his hand and took the piece of her dress. I washed the knife in the sink and put it back into the wooden holder on the counter. The small ripped piece of cloth went into my purse, along with any pieces of her. The purse would have to be burned now anyway. I was having to improvise, and I didn't like that. That's when stupid mistakes were made. Jamie had taught me that.

I wrapped her body in one of the huge black bags from my kit and dragged her to the garage. If he'd had her pull in like he was supposed to, I could've put her body in the trunk of the car. Now I wasn't sure what to do. I rolled her out the door onto the garage floor and left her there. I'd have to wait until dark, or until Jamie awoke. He would be disappointed in me. I'd let him down.

I feared no retribution, he would hold me and love me. Kiss me and tell me it was okay. I lived for those moments of approval. And I'd worked hard for each one I'd gotten. But I was at a loss this time, I couldn't carry the body by myself. He would have to help me. Wasn't he the one that hadn't followed the rules? I wouldn't dare point that out.

I returned to the bloody mess in the living room, sized up the situation then headed to the kitchen. I filled the sink full of soapy water and got to work. Within an hour I had most of the blood mopped up and the dirty towels in my trunk.

I sat on the sofa and flipped through fashion magazines as I waited for James to awaken. I watched him for another hour. How I wanted him to kiss me and tell me how much he loved me. Why wasn't he waking up?

Now it was getting dark. I'd been there for three hours. Something was wrong. I knelt down, placing my hand against his cheek. It was ice cold. He was dead.
Later I'd find out that he'd had a cerebral aneurysm. His death had been quick.

It was better than he deserved.

©2015 Garden Summerland




Thursday, March 12, 2015

Cheater



John asked me to meet him at a diner two blocks from our apartment. Reluctantly I'd agreed. I knew he was upset with me, and I wasn't in the mood for a confrontation. But I'd been caught, and I had to face the music; smooth things over, make my apologies and promise not to do it again. I had a speech memorized.
"So what now?" I played with a pink package of sugar substitute, flipping it over and over with my fingers. I didn't look at him; it was part of my act.
"What do you mean 'what now?', nothing now. You go do whomever you wish, and I'll do the same." John's voice was calm and steady. He meant it.
"Just like that? It's over? Come on I'm sorry. Look, I made a mistake. I..." I didn't get a chance to finish, he angrily interrupted me.
"Don't, okay? Just don't."

He snatched his jacket from the back of his chair, threw twenty dollars down on the table and rushed for the door. He paused when he got to it but didn't turn around to look back. I heard the bell on the door jingle and our waitress call after him to 'come again'. I wanted to cry, but I couldn't. It didn't matter now. It was done. We were done. And I hadn't even gotten to recite my well rehearsed apology.

I was entering new territory now. I hadn't been single in a long time. Not since junior high when Frankie Anderson dumped me after I'd kissed his best friend Tommy on a dare. I guess things hadn't changed much since then. I'd promised not to do it again, but by the weekend, Tommy and I were going steady, and Frankie was a faint memory.

The waitress came over and picked up the money and the check. She smiled at me, oblivious to the scene that had just gone down.
"Would you like a refill on that coffee, hon?"
"No, thank you." I replied, still trying to remember how it felt hiding under the bleachers with Tommy; our lips pressed together and my eyes wide open, hoping we wouldn't get caught. And of course we did. Frankie and Tommy had fought over me; both of them got suspended for two days, and I got a reputation. One I'd never live down.
Now fifteen years later the same scenario was playing out. Only this time, I hadn't been dared. I'd chosen to meet Colin at Mason's Motor Lodge just because I wanted to and I hadn't kept my eyes open. I hadn't cared if I got caught; I knew John would never leave me. He loved me. He had too much invested; we'd been married for nine years. He would forgive me, just like he had the last time. And just like I'd done to Frankie, I'd promised it would never happen again.
I lied.

But this time, John didn't forgive me. Now I'd lost my husband and my lover. I hadn't considered that one. Colin bolted as soon as he found out that John knew about us. I guess he was afraid John would confront him. I kind of wish he had. At least then I would have known he cared. Or maybe then I would have felt something.

What made me cheat? Not just with Tommy or Colin... there had been many others. A long string of lovers I'd kept on the side; even before I'd married John. There was always someone else... a back up. I lived for the excitement, the thrill of almost getting caught, but there was more to it than that. As long as I cheated, there was a part of me that could never be known; never be shared. It was a secret I kept for myself. That made me selfish and a liar; but I could live with that.

For just a few minutes, I sat feeling for sorry for myself, sipping my coffee and eyeing the apple pie on the counter. As my eyes sought out the waitress, I noticed an attractive man at the end of the counter. I looked him over, visually undressing him and imagining how he would look fresh from the shower, wrapped in one of my towels. It wouldn't be cheating now.
I finished my coffee, thanked the waitress and left her to tend to the hot guy at the counter. I was practically a single woman, free to be with whomever I chose.
Where was the fun in that?

 © 2015 Garden Summerland









Thursday, February 5, 2015

Blurred



My hand was numb from holding a bag of frozen peas to the side of my face. My head ached and it was difficult to open my mouth. But it was my own fault, wasn't it? I'd consented, I'd said it was okay. And now... he was gone and I was left nursing my wounds. There were marks around my wrists where he'd tied me with cord. Did I trust him? Did I trust myself? Sexy and mysterious. It was just a game. No it wasn't.
The safe word.
I'd said it once and he hadn't stopped. Then I screamed it. I was scared and crying. He cut me loose and then he left.
I was alone and hurting, inside and out.
It wasn't anything like it was in that damn book. And it had sold millions. I was sick in my soul.
There was no gray, only red, it was the blood on the sheets.
I fell back onto the bed and curled into a ball and cried. I was afraid to get up, afraid to try to walk. I was injured, and I wasn't sure how badly. I was going to have to call someone. I had no idea who. I was ashamed and embarrassed. Who could I tell?
I was going to have to tell someone.... I needed to tell everyone. To make sure that it wouldn't happen again; to me, or to the countless other girls that had believed the lie. The real story held within the pages of that now famous book was subtle, and no one ever noticed; it was fiction after all. It had seemed romantic and glamorous, yet it was very convincing on a whole other level. It was a demented fantasy, and I'd bought it, I'd read it, and I had loved it. I was learning something very dangerous.
But mere knowledge just wasn't enough, I'd sought it out in real life; I wanted the dark mysterious man with an all consumming desire for me, a love beyond compare. He would make me feel special and cherished, and I would do anything he wanted. I'd sought him out because I'd made myself open to it, open to be abused. I had said it was okay. I had been wrong, it wasn't. It was a twisted fairytale I'd read and wanted to live, and he had taken it even further. Where was the line? It had been blurred.
It was 'okay' he said.
We had a safe word.
I ended up calling my dad. I will never forget the look on his face when he walked into the room and found me, his little girl, broken and battered, sitting on the edge of my bed. I'd been used by a man I thought I knew, that I thought I cared about, that I thought cared about me. A man who had called what he'd done to me 'love'. I think my dad was even more hurt than I was.
It was a lesson hard learned; I will never again put myself into a position where I need a 'safe word'.
Because there isn't one. None that will protect your heart and your spirit once they have been broken.

©2015 Garden Summerland







Friday, January 9, 2015

Dirty Angel



      I opened my eyes slowly and looked at the ceiling. It was late, maybe around midnight or one in the morning. The room was mostly dark, with only a sliver of light from the outside streetlamp finding it's way around the tightly drawn blinds. I rolled over pulling the thin holey blanket up around my neck. I wished I'd had socks, my toes were like ice. I stretched my legs out and moaned. My back was stiff from sleeping on the floor for the past several weeks, and I'd had a hard time adjusting to sleeping all day so I could stay up nights. As a knee-jerk reaction I said a silent prayer. I knew I should have been grateful I had a roof over my head and a blanket; some didn't. I closed my eyes again to try and get more sleep. I hoped I'd been forgotten. Then the door creaked open and I heard voices in the background.
     "Christa? Get up." It was the gravely cigarette ravaged voice of a boy two years younger than myself; Davin. He'd helped me get set up here; introduced me to his friends, and made sure I'd stayed mostly sober. His program seemed to be working this time. I hadn't had a drink in four days, but I still craved it; I wanted one now. No, I needed it. Of course I could get it if I really wanted it. Liquor was cheap and easy to come by here. But if I got caught with alcohol this time, I'd lose more than blanket privileges. I wasn't afraid of Davin, but his older friends were hardcore. I'd learned my lesson the last time; my wounds had healed, and I'd missed a nights work. But now I knew how to behave. They were nothing if not effective.
     I held my breath and didn't move. I wanted him to think I was still asleep. I'd brought him over $200 the day before. He could give me a break.
     "Hey... I know you're awake. Come on, we got shit to do okay? This place ain't free you know. Don't forget who got you off the street and brought you here. You owe me."
     Yeah, I did know it wasn't free. And he was right, I owed him. Only the jury was still out on exactly what his repayment should be. Reluctantly I rolled back over. I could see his dark silhouette outlined against the bright lights coming from the hallway. He looked like an angel. A dark, dirty, smoking angel. My hero. In another life I think he might have been my baby brother, but in this one, he was my pimp. He had kept me sober all right, and given me food and a place to sleep. All of the other girls said it was more than I deserved; and they would know, they'd been at this longer than me. I was the new kid on the block. Six months ago I had a nice bed to sleep in, inside a warm house, with hot food and nice clothes and a mom and dad that loved me. Only I didn't love them, or at least I thought I didn't. All I wanted was to get away, to have my freedom from them telling me what to do. Now I cried myself to sleep every morning, sleeping on a cold hard floor in a broken down abandoned house, after performing unspeakable acts in the middle of the night. I hadn't gained much freedom after all.
     I sat up and pulled a cigarette pack out of my jeans that were rolled up as my pillow.
     "Got a light?" I asked in my now usual monotone. Soon my voice would sound like his.
     He extended his hand and tossed a lighter to me. I lit the cigarette and sat smoking it with the blanket pulled around my naked legs. He kept standing there. Waiting.
     "Well I'm not gonna get up with you just watching me. Go on. Lemme get dressed. I'll be out in a minute. Jeez."
     "That's my girl." He took a long drag on his own cigarette and laughed as he closed the door behind him.
     I put my jeans on and gathered what few items were my own; a comb, a lipstick, ten dollars and a fake id. I shoved the pieces in my pockets and slipped on my filthy sneakers. Then I took the blanket and laid the cigarette down on it and watched it until it began smoldering and finally caught fire. It was an old house, it wouldn't take it long. I went to the window and pried off the last two boards I'd been loosening every chance I got. I scraped my arm as I climbed out, and the fall jammed my right ankle. But I walked away. I limped across the street, and slowly made my way up the hill heading towards the main highway. When I felt I was at a safe distance, I turned to watch as the entire house was engulfed in flames. I could see a few of the girls in the yard, and I think a couple of the older men escaped. But I never saw my dirty angel emerge from the house.
     I didn't wait any longer. As I heard sirens blasting their way through town, I turned and painfully started on the long journey back to the home I'd mistakenly ran away from six months ago. And I never looked back again.
     Sometimes I wonder what happened to Davin. Is he alive today or did he burn to death in that decrepit shack that had been nothing more than my prison. I felt no remorse for anything I had done; I wondered if he ever had.

©2015 Garden Summerland

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Widow



Don grabbed Cassie by the waist and hoisted her up onto the kitchen counter. She squirmed in his grasp and whimpered as his mouth went to her throat. She looked up at the ceiling and her eyes rolled back in her head as he ripped her blouse open and his lips traveled sensuously down her bare flesh. She thought of Tom and tears stung her eyes.
“No, Donnie, we can't do this here... not now.” She pushed him away and pulled her blouse tightly around to cover her nakedness. She folded her arms defensively across her chest unsure of what to do next. She was confused and hurt, the passion he'd always stirred within her brought out long repressed feelings of guilt and shame. She had truly loved her husband.
Don stood temporarily dumb struck in front of her, his face flushed, his dark blond hair tousled and his green eyes wild with lust and frustration. 
Cassie shook her head, “I'm sorry.... it's Tom. I just can't. Not... not yet.”
Don took her face in his hands, “Cassie, come on. It's been six months.. nobody expects you to become a nun.”
Hot tears rolled down her cheeks. “I know that. I just... I'm sorry.” 

She hopped down from the counter and ran out the back door, never stopping until she reached the open field behind the farm. Their farm. The place Tom's parents had helped them buy. The place the two of them were gonna grow old together; the place they were gonna raise kids. Lots of 'em. Tom had wanted a big family, as he'd been an only child.
Cassie fell to her knees on the muddy ground and cried until she threw up. She lay on the ground looking up at the early evening sky as tears continued to flow. She couldn't stop herself from pleading with God again... 'Why? why?".

All of her dreams had died on June 7th in car accident on Route 10... he had been two miles from home. Two miles. She'd never understand. If only... the question burned in her mind. If only she'd taken him to work that day. But he'd wanted to drive his truck, said he was gonna pick up a load of gravel on his way home. She'd been after him for weeks to fix the walk from the house out to the detached garage. A long weekend was coming up and they could work on it together. Fill in all the empty spots and sparsely filled areas.
She'd smiled and kissed him on the cheek. The last time she ever saw him. She heard the sirens, the police and the ambulance. It was a quarter past seven, the phone rang. It was Don. He said he'd come get her and drive her to the hospital; there had been an accident. She knew. 

It all seemed like a dream... a nightmare. She could barely remember any of it now. She'd almost lost her mind. The only reason she'd made it this far was because of Don. He'd been her best friend since she was five years old. He had always loved her, even when she didn't love him back. Even when she fell in love with his best friend Tom. Even when he'd kissed her on her wedding day and she'd slapped him. And now.... she was confused and hurting and frustrated as hell. She wanted to die, she wanted to love him back, she wanted to disappear inside herself and never feel anything again. She wanted Tom back. She was going to lie in the mud forever.

She heard footsteps crunching leaves. 

"You gonna lay there all night? Want me to get you a blanket? Gonna get pretty chilly out here all by your lonesome. 'Less you want some company? I'll lay out here with you and we can stare up at the stars forever." Don had a way of saying the most insane things in a way that they made sense.
Cassie sat up and looked up into Don's kind face. Deep inside, a part of her did love him, maybe a part of her always had. But she couldn't get past her guilt. She wasn't sure she'd ever be able to.
"Nah, give me a hand. I'm gonna go take a shower." She held her hand out to him and Don helped her to her feet. He wanted to kiss her again but settled for pulling her in close and holding her for as long as she let him. 

"I love you Cassie. I will always be here for you."

Cassie nodded her head and relaxed into his chest. She needed to be loved almost as much as Don needed her to love him. Maybe one day she would.

 ©2014 Garden Summerland

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Lesson



I found them online. Searching forums and chat rooms, message boards and alt groups. It took a while, but it was worth it. They were cheap; the website was called "Satisfaction Guaranteed". Within days, business owners Krager and Stark pulled up in my drive. They just nodded at me as they got their worn black satchels from the back of an enormous black SUV. We walked in silence to the house; I held the front door open for them and we walked into the living room.
"Nice place... ah...Ms. Smith." Stark said as he looked around appreciatively. I had no fear he was casing the place; petty theft wasn't in his repertoire.
"Yeah, thanks. Um... he's downstairs, sedated like you suggested. I had a hell of a time getting him down there." They exchanged glances as I led them down the hall to the basement door. I slid the dead bolt back, and slowly opened the door, waiting to see if either of them went first. Neither of them did, so I headed down into the damp coolness of the finished basement and they followed carrying the tools of their trade slung over their shoulders. I wondered exactly what the big black bags contained. Rope? Duct tape? Chains and saws? Knives? An ax? I shuddered. Maybe I wasn't up for this after all. I just wanted to teach him a lesson.
Stark got to the bottom of the steps and waited. "Well we'll knock off a few bucks for that. You've already done the hard part for us, you'd be surprised how many people don't have the stomach for this. And the fact that you're sticking around for the main event, lady I'm impressed. Are those the magazines?"
They were rolled up in my hands. I looked down at them and shook my head.
"Yeah just two of them. They look well used, I figured they must be his favorites. Is that what you needed?" I had no idea why they wanted to actually see what he was looking at. Wasn't it enough that I told them about it? I'd almost burned them.
Carl was on the concrete floor in the corner; I'd propped him up against the cement wall and he was slumped over. Stark walked over to him, dropped his satchel then took his foot and pushed Carl away from the wall. He fell over hitting his head on the floor. I caught my breath, what if it had cracked his skull? I turned to go back upstairs. This wasn't what I'd wanted.
Stark called out, "Handcuffs? Nice. You really were ready for us, weren't ya?" He snickered and glanced at Krager who was lighting a cigarette.
I wanted to tell him I didn't allow people to smoke in the house, but that somehow seemed ridiculous under the circumstances.
I nodded my head and started up the stairs.
"I'm gonna get something to eat." I called back over my shoulder. There was only silence. I left them to their work. I didn't want to see it, I just wanted results.
Six months ago I'd found out my husband had a pornography addiction. Magazines and DVD's, internet chat rooms and twice he'd paid for personal performances from some stripper website. He'd paid over $600 dollars for one of those shows. I looked at the date, it was the day after our anniversary. The one where he'd said he didn't have the money to get me a "nice" present. We'd been married 12 years. I was heartsick and in shock. He'd never shown any interest in anyone other than me. Things had always been... good in that department. Or so I'd thought.
At first I cried. Then I'd decided to leave him. Then I got angry. Really angry.
He had humiliated me. He had lied to me; kept his secret life... well secret. I wasn't going to take this lying down. I thought of all kinds of vengeful scenarios... but all of them involved degrading myself in some manner and I refused to sink to his level. I wasn't about to have a revenge affair just to even the score. He needed to be humiliated back. Now I was the one going online, visiting chat rooms. But I was collecting information. With a few phone calls and for a little more than what Carl's stripper shows had cost, I was going to get satisfaction. Guaranteed.

A week later I was sitting in the diner across from Carl's office downtown. I looked up at Stark and he grinned a surprisingly perfect smile. He was very pleased with himself. He pushed glossy photographs across the table. They were fanned out and I could clearly see the look of humiliation on my husband's face. I remembered the layout from one of the magazines. Red high heeled pumps, ripped fishnets and a corset. Only in these photos, it wasn't a buxom brunette wearing them, it was my husband; in full make-up and he was bound and gagged. They had put him in the position of the poor unfortunate girl from the magazine. He needed to see how it felt to be objectified and used, and from the looks of it, he had. I still wasn't quite sure what all they had done to him. I never asked, and he never said. But I was pretty certain it had worked. Stark seemed anxious to give me details, but I didn't ask him either. Something deep within me told me that I really didn't want to know.
The waitress approached to refill my coffee and I moved the manila envelope to cover the pictures. Stark smiled again and looked up at the waitress. She winked at him and took forever to refill his cup.
When she'd finished and walked away, I picked up the photos and put them back in the envelope. I didn't want to see them. It was embarrassing. Now that my initial anger had dissipated, and my husband had been punished, I saw no need to further my relationship with Stark and his associate. I took a fat white envelope from my purse and laid it in front of him to conclude our business.
"That should do it." I spoke softly and took a sip of my coffee.
He picked it up, looked inside and nodded.
"Well Ms. Smith, if it doesn't, you know where to reach me. Oh, and we do keep negatives on file, just in case. That was in the agreement."
"Yes, I know. I don't think there will be cause for anything further. He has been a changed man ever since."
"Oh yes ma'am, I'm sure of that. Once is usually all it takes. But we have had instances..."
I interrupted him, "I have your number."
I took the pictures and got up from the table. I wouldn't need to call them again. I was going home to a candlelight dinner, flowers and soft music, and my husband waiting with a glass of wine in hand. He was back, the man I'd married all those years ago.
Yes, he had learned his lesson, and I'd learned mine.

©2014 Garden Summerland



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Bottle of Regret


Sarah opened her eyes and squinted as she glanced around the room. Her focus was a little off because she'd slept in her contacts. The blinds were drawn tightly but slivers of muted light filtered in here and there and she figured it was around eight-thirty in the morning. Normally she would have awakened at sunrise, but not today; not after last night. She stifled a yawn and fought the urge to stretch. The man from the previous nights debauchery was still asleep beside her and the last thing she wanted was to awaken him. There would be questions. Too many questions. And awkwardness, there was always awkwardness afterward. She hated that. It wasn't like in the old days when they'd leave you asleep in bed and plop a few bills down on the nightstand. But those days were gone. Now they wanted to face you in the morning, have chit chat and pay extra for a quickie after breakfast. She shuddered inwardly just thinking about it.
She slipped her hand from beneath the thin white sheet, gently rubbed her eyes and then massaged her forehead. Her entire head ached. Served her right, she'd broken her number one rule: no alcohol. An empty whisky bottle lay on the floor next to several condom wrappers. What had she been thinking?
She'd made the no drinking rule almost four years ago after she'd been severely beaten and left for dead by some creep she'd picked up on the corner of South and Main. He'd had blue eyes and a boyish grin and two bottles of tequila. And she'd ended up in the hospital for a week. She still didn't remember much about it. Then Carmen had fired her, put her out on the street; said she couldn't afford to keep insurance on girls that posed such a high risk. Sarah had been freelance ever since. At the time it hadn't mattered much, she knew that eventually Carmen would have found out she was underage and would've sent her packing for that. It had all been a blessing in disguise. Since she no longer had to hand over forty percent of what she made to someone else, Sarah could afford a nice apartment, high end clothes, a car and her own health insurance with no help from anyone. How many nineteen year olds could say that?
The man beside her rolled onto his back and began to snore. That was her cue. She carefully slid out of bed, retrieved her clothes from the bathroom and got dressed. As she pulled her sexy black dress over her head the man let out a loud snort and gasped for breath several times in succession. She froze and waited for him to open his eyes but he didn't. The sooner she got out of there the better. She grabbed his pants from the floor and found his wallet. She took three hundred bucks from the five he had and then flipped through his photos. She couldn't believe anyone still carried pictures in their wallet. It was old fashioned and sweet; she smiled sadly. No one had ever had a picture of her in their wallet.
There were several photographs of a school aged boy and a toddler girl; must have been his kids. There was a picture of him and a middle aged woman in a bikini at the beach; that was the wife. And then the last one was a little girl of maybe six or seven, lying in a hospital bed. She had black circles under her eyes, no hair and a huge smile on her face. There was an IV needle stuck in her arm, but she looked... happy.
Sarah got a lump in her throat and she dropped the wallet on the floor. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she looked over at the man now sleeping soundly.
From what she remembered it had been a pleasant evening. Drinks, but no dinner. He'd gotten them a room and they'd drank some more; she'd stripped for him, talked dirty and then they'd had sex a few times. Nothing kinky, nothing out of the ordinary, just straight sex. And then he'd gone to sleep, and she'd finished off the bottle and apparently passed out.
She slipped on her shoes and stood over him watching him sleep. She put the three hundred dollars on the nightstand and leaned down and kissed him on the cheek. As she left she grabbed the empty whisky bottle and took it with her. It no longer held whisky, but for her and a man whose name she didn't know, it would always be filled with regret.

©2014 Garden Summerland