MY DAY – PART 3

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We all make mistakes.  Forgiving ourselves is the first step to healing.  Not allowing ourselves to think about our mistakes is denial.  Please enjoy Part 3 of My Day.    

 

PART 3

 

JANIE WATCHED HER HUSBAND, Paul, from their upstairs window.   It had taken him forever to leave the house.  She told him she had a busy day.  He should have left a few minutes after their kids got on the bus.  Not twenty minutes later.

 

Paul backed his eleven-year-old Volvo sedan out of their driveway into the street.  She wondered why he stopped in the middle of the street.  He had better not be fidgeting with his cell phone.  Signs with a picture of a cellphone with an X through the cellphone were on poles throughout the neighborhood.  Not to mention that it was illegal for him to hold a cellphone while driving.  Get caught and the ticket was five hundred dollars.  Paying out more money was exactly what they needed.  She crossed her arms.

 

Move your butt out of the street, she thought.  A blind curve in the street was behind him.  If a car came around that curve, it would rear-end him.  He would be at fault.  “Don’t be an idiot, Paul!” she yelled as if he could hear her.  “Get out of the damn street!”  As if he heard her, Paul’s Volvo drove off.  “Unbelievable.”  She watched the Volvo until it was out of sight.

 

Janie rushed downstairs and cleaned up.  Dishes were put in the dishwasher.  Food was wiped off the counters.  Trash was put in the trash can.  Chairs were pushed in under the table.  She did a quick sweep of the kitchen floor.  Clorox wipes were used on the floor where there were drink and food stains.

 

Janie stood in the kitchen doorway and looked it over.  Everything was where it should be.  Less for her to do later.  She rushed upstairs.

 

She removed her robe while walking and tossed it on the bed.  Her night shorts and tank top that she had slept in were dropped in the hamper.  She did one thing after the other.  Never slowing down.  It was all systematic.

 

In the bathroom, she reached into the shower and turned on the water.  She loved her new bathroom.  It was only two years old.  It was much bigger than the old one.  New glass shower, white floor tiles, white sinks, marble countertop.  The contractor took a small part of their master bedroom and made it part of the bathroom.  Janie and Paul had doubted he could do what he told them he could do with the extra space.  They were surprised and pleased when he did it.

 

Janie stepped into the shower.  The water spraying on her was as hot as she could stand.  She scrubbed her body with a coarse body sponge.  The sponge was to exfoliate and deep clean.  Her skin was always red and raw when she finished.  But the redness lasted twenty minutes.  It was worth it.  Her skin felt really clean.  She turned off the shower and opened the door.  Steam poured out of the shower.

 

She quickly dried off with a giant fluffy towel.  With her back to the mirror, she looked over her shoulder at her butt.  She grabbed her butt cheeks and squeezed them.  Too much, she thought.  Her body was twenty pounds heavier than she liked.  But she could live with it.  It did not seem to affect how she lived.  Yet it still bothered her.  More than it should.  Today, however, not so much.

 

She went into her closet and knelt down in front of one of her dressers.  She pulled out the drawer above the last drawer.  She put both hands under the bottom of the drawer and felt two small handles.  With her fingertips on the handles, she slid a hidden drawer out from under the bottom of the drawer.

 

The secret drawer was three inches deep.  Inside was a black dress and a diamond necklace with matching earrings and bracelet.  The jewelry was a bit over one-hundred thousand dollars.

 

Janie checked her watch and dressed quickly.  Her family had put her ten minutes behind.  She put on a pair of black velvet heels to finish off the outfit.  She looked in the full-length mirror.  She studied herself from different angles.  Satisfied, or settling on good enough, she grabbed her full-length overcoat and headed downstairs.

 

She went down the hall through the door that led to the garage.  Her ten-year-old Honda minivan was the only car inside it.  She got in and started the engine and looked into the rearview mirror.  She paused and questioned who the woman was who was looking back at her.  It looked like her.  An earlier version of her anyway.  But she had changed more than anyone knew.

 

When the garage door was high enough, she drove out into the street.  Her speedometer was above forty miles per hour before she knew it.  Twenty-five miles was the max.  Police officers enjoyed giving tickets in her neighborhood.  Not that it was bad.  She just did not need one.

 

The worst that could happen was if a neighbor saw her pulled over and dressed like she was.  Good luck with explaining that.  Who wears one hundred thousand dollars of jewelry to work?  The questions Paul would ask?  The rumors that would come?  She exhaled at the thought.

 

She slowed down and watched her speedometer.

 

I hope you enjoyed PART 2 of the story.  Drop me a line and let me know what you think.  See you next time.

 

Thank you,

Stephen Wallace

MY DAY – PART 2

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Janie feels the stress of life.  It may take her to places she doesn’t want to go.  Please enjoy Part 2 of MY DAY.

 

PART 2

 

JANIE STOOD AT THE STOVE.  She kept looking over her shoulder for the kids.  Where were they?  Why were they not downstairs already?  She expected the three of them to come down at once.  They were late.

 

Leslie, their fourteen-year-old daughter, came down first.  She poured a bowl of Cheerios.  Despite Janie telling her to eat some egg whites and eggs.  Leslie told her she was watching her weight.  Janie argued had she not heard about the benefits of protein?

 

“That’s how I lost twenty pounds last year,” Janie said.  She looked over her shoulder at her butt.  “And your father said my rear has never looked better.”  She shook her rear.

 

“Gross, Mom,” Leslie said.  “I’m eating.”

 

“When you’re finished, go up and tell your brother and sister to hurry,” Janie said.  “Tell them if they don’t hurry up, I’m going to start picking out what they’re going to wear to school on casual days.  I’m not kidding.  They better not miss that bus.  That goes for you too.  I have several showings today.  One’s early.”

 

“Okay, already,” Leslie said.  She turned the bowl up to her mouth and slurped the remaining milk from it.  Janie told her she had great manners.  “I’m rushing like you told me.”

 

Paul came downstairs.  He was showered and wearing just pants.  He gave Janie a sneaky smile.  Janie looked at the clock on the wall and squinted at Paul.  “You told me to hurry,” he said.  “It’s my turn to help with the kids.  That’s why I showered first.”

 

She looked at him sideways and peered up the stairs.  She made sure Leslie was gone.  “I’m not giving you a blowjob,” she said with her mouth half-closed.  “Not this morning.”

 

“I’m doing what you asked,” he said.  She told him he was only on time because he wanted her to do it.  “That was great three weeks ago.”  She told him it did not mean he was getting one every week for doing his small part.  “That’s not fair.  You owe…”

 

Daniel, twelve, and Karrie, ten, came bounding downstairs.

 

“The threat of me picking out clothes worked, huh?” Janie asked.

 

“You don’t know how to pick out our clothes,” Daniel and Karrie complained.

 

“I know that,” Janie said.  “That’s why I won’t be wearing them.  You will.”  She kissed them both on the cheek as they closed their eyes and winced.  ”Keep your eyes open the next time.  If not, I’m going to take you to school and kiss you in front of your friends.  And they’ll be sloppy wet kisses all over your faces.”

 

“Ill,” Daniel and Karrie said.

 

“You’re the sheriff,” Janie said to Paul.  “Make sure they’re on the bus.”  He saluted her.  “We pay for those buses.  Private school with their own private buses.  How much easier can life get for them and expensive for us?  So, they better be on that bus.”

 

“I have it under control,” Paul said in a pleading tone.

 

She walked upstairs and yelled down the hallway.  “Leslie!  You better be on that bus!” she yelled.

 

“I will, mom!” Leslie yelled from inside her bedroom.

 

“We pay for those buses, you know,” Janie said.  She heard her phone ring from inside her bedroom.  “Get out of your room, Leslie, and downstairs.  “I mean it.”  She rushed to her bedroom and looked at the number on her phone’s screen.  She questioned whose number it was.  But answered it anyway.  It could be important.  “Hello?”

 

“We’re still on?” a female’s voice asked on the other end.  Janie went over to the bedroom door and closed it.  She then paused and looked out the window.  “Are you there?”  Janie looked at the wall and closed her eyes.  “Janie.”

 

“Yes,” Janie whispered, annoyed.  “Never call me this early.  You know this.  My family is here.”  The woman apologized.  “Bye.”  Janie hung up.

 

Janie was angry.  She had enough on her plate without this woman adding to it.

 

Thank you for stopping by.  I hope you enjoyed Part 2 of the story.

Have a great weekend.

Thanks,

Stephen Wallace    

My Day

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For many of us, the holidays mean more spending.  Too much spending.  We have our present bills, and new bills are about to be added.  But we want that joy of spending.  Sometimes we have to get creative to produce the joy we want.  Check out the short story My Day PART 1.  I hope you enjoy it.

 

PART 1

 

JANIE SAT UP AND GASPED.

 

Her eyes sprung open.  Her hands moved furiously through the air.  She screamed.  But nothing came from her mouth.  She panted, trying to catch her breath.  Her head jerked from one corner of the room to the other.  Where was she?  It was too dark for her to see.  Then she realized where she was.

 

She was in bed in her bedroom.  The curtains over the windows were partly opened.  The moonlight that shone in confirmed it.  It was a dream.  She exhaled.  She was not being strangled to death by a stranger.  It was a dream.  It was all a dream.

 

She breathed through her nose with her mouth closed, trying to be quiet.  She pushed her fingers through her hair as she looked at the clock on her nightstand.  It was two a.m.  She laid back down and told herself she had to go to sleep.  She had a big day ahead.  Being exhausted would make it even harder.

 

After a few minutes of laying there and looking up at the ceiling, Janie was snoring.

 

Loud music woke Janie.  Stevie Ray Vaughan was singing The Sky Is Crying.  She reached over to the nightstand.  Her fingers patted the top of the nightstand in search of the alarm clock radio button.  She pressed the button down.  The music stopped.

 

Janie lifted her head.  Her half-closed eyes saw the clock.  The red numbers read sixty-thirty a.m.  Four and a half hours had gone by that fast?  Too early to get out of bed.  She put her head back down and dozed off to sleep.  Less than a minute, she was snoring.

 

Her head shot up when she heard the radio again.  The time was six fifty-five a.m.  She pushed her husband, Paul, on the leg with her feet.  He had not woken up on the first or second alarm.  He could sleep through anything.  Not her.  A mild stir from anyone in the house and she was awake.

 

Paul turned his back to her and slept.  She put both feet against his butt and pushed him again.  He grunted and reached back to push her feet away.  She slid her body down the bed until her feet were on his upper back.

 

“Wake up,” she whispered.  Paul did not move.  The radio playing and pushing him did not make him move.  “Get up.  You have to help the kids get dressed this morning.  Remember.  I have an early showing today.”

 

“Okay,” Paul said in a raspy voice.  “I just need to open my eyes and adjust to the light.”  She told him there was no light.  That he needed to get going.  “Why don’t you start without me?  I’ll join in later.”

 

She got out of bed and went across the room and flipped the two light switches.  All the ceiling and floor lights came on.  Paul pulled the blanket up over his head.  She walked over and yanked it off his head.  He covered his face with his hands.  She left the bedroom and went into the bathroom.  She returned holding a spray bottle.  She stood next to him.  His hands covered his face.

 

“Didn’t want to do this,” she said.  “But you left me with no choice.”  She aimed the nozzle of the bottle at his face and squeezed the trigger.  A stream of water hit his hands.  He jumped up.

 

“Why?” he asked, wiping his hands on his plaid boxers.  She laughed and told him he asked for it.  He had asked for it.

 

Paul was late for a meeting two weeks earlier.  He was never late for meetings.  The night before, he had stayed up and watched his favorite football team play.  The game went on longer than he thought it would.  But he did not go to bed.  He watched until the end.  The next morning he woke up thirty minutes late.  He was upset with himself that he had to rush through his morning.  Stuffing down a bagel, he told Janie to spray him with water if he did not get up on time again.

 

“Forget I said that,” Paul said.  “That was a stupid thing to say.  I wasn’t thinking that day.”

 

She laughed and wrapped her arms around him and kissed him.  “You’re cute when you’re mad,” she said.  He told her he was cute and stupid.  “You married me.  You must not be too stupid.”  He told her she had a point.  “See, that was a great answer.”  He squeezed her and kissed her on the cheek.  “Do you still find me sexy and beautiful?” she whispered in his ear.

 

“All day and every day,” he said.  He wondered where her question came from.  Janie had never asked that kind of question.  She did not lack confidence in herself.  Many forty-five-year-old women complained about their bodies and looks.  Not her.  Not that he had ever heard.  “I’m sorry I haven’t jumped your bones more lately.  I’ll do better.”

 

“You better,” she said and kissed him.  He sensed something was off with her.  But what?  They kissed again.  “I know you told me not to worry.”  She sighed.  “But I am.”  That was it.  He knew what it was.

 

She was referring to their finances.  Their three kids were in private schools.  That came to forty-five thousand a year.  The renovation of their house was far more than the estimate.  They had not planned for that much.  That bill was close to two hundred thousand.  And the house could use an additional one hundred to two hundred thousand dollars more in renovations.  If they had known the real renovation cost, they would have sold the house “as-is.”  To add to their financial stress, Paul’s sales manager’s position could be eliminated.  His company was about to merge.  No one knew—even senior management—who would stay or who would go.

 

“We’re fine,” he said.  “We’re doing okay.  Stop worrying.  We’ve always come through.  And, several recruiters have contacted me already.  Other companies are showing interest in me too.”  He kissed her.  “So stop worrying.”  He hugged her tightly.  With two fingers she wiped tears from her eye.

 

She sniffed and smacked him on the butt.  “Okay,” she said.  “You’re right.  I panic too much.”  She kissed him.  “Your turn to wake the rugrats.”

 

He stumbled out the bedroom door and yelled to their kids to wake up.

 

Janie felt guilty watching him leave their bedroom.  Tears filled her eyes.  She went into the bathroom and washed her face.  Her stomach hurt.  She quickly knelt down and stuck her head over the toilet bowl and vomited.

 

On her knees, Janie straightened up and flushed the toilet.  Her hands were on the toilet to steady herself.  Her head was spinning.  She stuck her head back over the toilet bowl and vomited.  She waited beside the toilet for the queasy feeling to subside.

 

She spat into the toilet bowl and got to her feet and looked in the mirror.  “You’re an awful person,” she whispered at herself.  Everything had gotten away from her.

 

She rinsed her mouth, washed her face, and headed downstairs to make breakfast.

 

I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of this story.  I will post Part 2 this week.  Eventually, I will post on consistent days.  I just need to figure out which days.  Have a great week ahead.  Thanks for coming by.

 

Thank you,

Stephen Wallace      

WAIT – PART 1

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When a fifty-year marriage slips away, what happens to the couple?  Do they slip away too?  Let’s find out in Part 1 of Wait.  Wait is a 3 part story.  Thanks.

   

PART 1

 

FRED STOOD ON THE antique chair.  He shifted his weight to his left and right foot.  The chair was sturdy.  A wonderful piece of furniture.  He hated to treat it in such a disrespectful way.  His black shoes were scuffing up the chair’s white upholstery.  That would have driven Barbara to kill.  He laughed a silent laugh.

 

The set of four Walnut Chippendale Chairs was a gift to Barbara.  She loved antique furniture.  He loved buying it for her.  No one was allowed to mistreat any of her antiques.  If anyone did, they were banned from their five thousand square-foot museum.  A museum was what he called their house.  Barbara called it home.

 

Barbara would have been driven to kill if she had seen him in that chair, and if she was there.  Since she was not, it did not matter.  He could scuff up the chair and anything else he wanted at will.

 

A tear rolled from the corner of his eye and down his cheek.  It lingered for a second and dropped onto the marble tiled floor below.

 

Fred reached up over his head and took hold of the noose and pulled on it.  A saxophone played an old song in the background.  He shook his head and thought, What timing?

 

There was a version of the song with words.  This version was just music.  The name of the song escaped him.  He wished he could remember it.  It was once one of Barbara’s favorites.  How he had forgotten so much about her.

 

He slipped his head through the noose and around his neck.  He moved his feet into the right position and tightened the noose.  He exhaled and looked off in the distance and wondered if he should wait.  He looked down.  A cell phone was in the chair between his feet.  Its screen was black.

 

What if the phone’s screen lit up?  What if a call came?  He told himself he was only delaying the inevitable.  It was not as if he was killing himself.  He was already dead.  Barbara saw to that earlier.  This was just the final act.

 

He reached over his head and pulled down on the rope.  It was secure and tight around the upstairs’ railing.

 

He did not want to get hurt from jumping off the chair.  Not finishing the process would only add misery to the pain he was feeling.  His heart would not be the only thing that was broken forever.  Becoming an invalid by his own hands would be hell to live with.

 

He put his forefinger and thumb on his tie and made sure it was straight.  When they found him he wanted to look his best.  He checked the buttons on his jacket.  They were all buttoned.  He slid his hands over his jacket.  A five-thousand-dollar suit should not look like junk on a man.  He laughed again.

 

Damn.  Even when the end was near, she found a way to enter his thoughts.  He could hear her saying, in her calm logical voice with love in every word for him, Darling, you’re about to end your life.  I don’t think you should be concerned about how you look at the moment.  Instead, think about whether this is the best solution for what you feel.”

 

“I love you,” he whispered.

 

He knew full well it was too late.  The words he spoke in this final hour were for his benefit.  Not hers.  He wished he would have said them more often to her and meant them.  He had squandered all those years they had together.

 

Each morning he would tell her how much she meant to him.  While he spoke the words, another woman’s perfume would drift from his body.  For him it was a souvenir from the night before.  It was just one of many.

 

For her it was another stab in the heart.  A kick to her stomach to remind her where she ranked with him.  A brutal slap in the face to let her know she was not in charge.

 

Yet she took it like a woman who loved her husband and wanted to hold on to a marriage that she cherished.  But, he refused to see her struggling and drowning to hold on.

 

Selfish and full of conceit, he could only see what he wanted.  He bought her everything she wanted.  She never had to want for anything.  Why wouldn’t she be there for him?  Her bed should have been available to him.  He had needs.  Some were extraordinary.  Beyond what she could provide.  Why shouldn’t he have pursued the unimaginable and made it his?

 

One night, in their bed at two a.m., Barbara told him she could not take it anymore.  He was killing her. He was killing her from the inside out.  She needed to know he would be there when the time came.

 

He pretended not to understand what she was saying.  Instead of apologizing and saying how wrong he was, he said nothing.

 

At nine a.m. that morning she walked out the front door.  She never said anything to him.  He would not have known she was leaving if he had not seen her from the window upstairs.  Going down the driveway to the street she was pulling her giant suitcase behind her.  It took a few minutes for it to register with him.

 

He rushed downstairs and out the front door to the street to be with her.  He put on his casual act and asked where she was off to so early.  The look she gave him crushed him immediately.  She did not have to say where she was going.  To spare him, she stayed quiet.  That did not stop him from pretending that things were not too bad.

 

A taxi stopped at the curb next to them.  The driver got out and walked over to them and stood and waited.  The situation was uncomfortable for all of them.  Barbara looked at the driver and told him to load the suitcase in the trunk for her.

 

While the driver loaded her suitcase, she and Fred stared at one another in silence.  He searched desperately for the words to put an end to what was happening.  He always had the right words to say.

 

Barbara waited for him to come up with the right words or actions to get her to stay.  She wanted to help him.  But, if he could not say it, it would not be real.  Which meant he could not save them.

 

The time had come for him to reach out for her.  It was time for her to mean more to him than anyone or anything else.  It was not happening.

 

Both their eyes were dim.  The excitement was gone.  Neither of them had anything left to save the other.  In that moment, they both realized the chance to save their relationship was gone long ago.

 

The driver opened the passenger’s door.  There was a slight pause.  Nothing was said.

 

Fifty years of marriage and friendship ended when she stepped into that taxi.

 

He watched her as she sat and looked ahead.

 

Her eyes filled with tears.  She was yelling at him internally.  Say it.  Say it.  I will get out and stay.  Just give me a reason.  Damn it.  Say something.

 

The driver seemed to sense this was the last chance for them and shut the door.  He went around to the driver’s side and got in.  He put the car in drive and paused as if to say to them, do you understand that this is your last chance? 

 

She looked out the window at Fred.

 

The driver sensed it was time to go and drove off.

 

Fred breathing hard now.  Seventy-five years old.  This was not the way he saw himself going out.  The only love he had ever known was gone.  The only life he had ever wanted was finished.

 

He clamped a handcuff on one wrist.  He then put his hands behind his back and handcuffed the other wrist.  He could not embarrass her again.  If his hands were free, he may try and cower out of it.  She needed to know that, in the end, this was the most heartfelt apology he could give her.

 

He looked at the phone between his feet.  It should not light up, he thought.  He did not deserve it.  She deserved better.

 

He looked up and stepped off the chair.

 

Some take the loss of a relationship harder than others—especially when they know who is to blame.  I hope you enjoyed Part 1.

Thank you for stopping by.

Stephen Wallace   

THE WALK – PART 2

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It is easy to go along with a group.  The question is how do you cope when you are alone?  Enjoy the final part, Part 2, of The Walk.  Thanks.  

 

PART 2

 

THREE DAYS AGO, THE five train commuters (Jeff, the financial analyst.  Cassie, the paralegal.  Dalton, the maintenance man.  Bryan, the electrician.  Dara, the insurance attorney.) had walked down the alley to Tenth and Far Street.

 

The group had steeled themselves for the homeless man’s verbal assault.  They were also prepared for any violence the homeless man would bring their way.  Each had their hands in their pockets.  They were ready to use their mace or knife, or worst-case scenario, the gun.

 

The group looked around for the homeless man.  Where was he?  They were halfway down the alley.  He should have assaulted them by now.  He must have planned a sneak attack, the group said.

 

They were almost at the end of the alley.  They were twenty feet away from Tenth and Far Street.  There was still no homeless guy.  They were surprised.  He did not come that day.  The group wondered aloud.  Was their fifty-meter walk to Tenth and Far Street back to normal?

 

It was that day.

 

There was nothing but smiles.  The group talked and laughed like old times.  One of them saw something up ahead.  It was odd that they had not noticed it before.

 

Near the street was a park bench.  It sat back and away from the street.  No one in the group had noticed the bench before.  As they neared the bench, the group took more than a quick glance at it.

 

“Stop,” Cassie said.  The others stopped abruptly.  “Look.”  She pointed at the bench.  “What is that?”

 

The group walked cautiously toward the bench.  A pair of old shoes stuck out from behind the bench.  The soles were torn halfway off.  They could see filthy socks with holes in them and dirty feet inside the shoes.  A pair of pants legs were slid up above the person’s ankles.  The ankles were dry and ashy.

 

The group looked at one another.  They moved in closer to get a better look.

 

Behind the bench and between the shrubs in back of the bench lay the homeless man.  Their torturer was lying face down.  He was in that filthy green jacket he wore.  The scarf he wore was around his neck.  An empty Gin bottle was on the ground.  It was a few inches from his outstretched fingers.  He did not appear to be breathing.

 

Someone in the group said they needed to call 911.  Jeff took out his phone.  Three hands put their hands on his and covered his phone.  Jeff squinted at the faces of the others.

 

The others looked at the homeless man and at Jeff.  He was still holding his phone.  He had not made the call.  The others shook their heads at Jeff.  He slowly got the message.  On the ground was their tormentor, their enemy.

 

Jeff put his phone back into his pocket.

 

This was the first morning they had had peace and quiet since the intruder showed up.  This was the first morning in eleven months that they could walk all the way to their offices in peace.  This was the first morning in a long time that they felt good about getting to their destinations.  This was the first morning that had felt normal in almost a year.

 

The group stood watching the homeless man.  They were communicating without words.  Their looks and body language said everything.  What if their mornings went back to the way they were?  Would that be bad?  Why shouldn’t their mornings return to normal?  What was this man contributing to society?  This man brought nothing to society except anguish and pain.

 

They cut their eyes from one to another.  It was as if they came to a consensus.  They had not seen this park bench that was out of the way.  It was hidden by unkempt bushes.  And they had been walking this same route for almost two years.  They could not be alone in not seeing it.  How many others had not seen it?  Maybe lots and lots.

 

The group looked up and down the alley.  No one else was around.  It was not a popular cut through.

 

Bryan looked at trash and old clothes lying nearby.  He suggested they cover the homeless man.  Someone said that was the least they could do.  Another said that no one would notice him for a while.  Her statement was clear to everyone.

 

They were not going to cover the homeless man for his protection or well-being.  This was their moment to possibly put a permanent end to his harassment.

 

They quickly piled trash and clothes over the man.  When they were finished it looked like a pile of debris.  A human silhouette was not visible.

 

The group pulled their jackets and coats closed as they stared down at the heap of trash.  It was fifteen degrees out.  The wind chill had put the temperature at eight degrees.  The wind was cutting through them.

 

The group hurried to Tenth and Far Street.  Before going in different directions, several in the group said, “We never saw him.”  They nodded to one another.

 

They went to their offices with a glimmer of hope that this was the start of a new day.

 

Three days later the group was back walking down the alley to Tenth and Far Street.  Their tormentor and his harassment were gone.  They had taken the initiative to rid themselves of their problem when no else would help them.

 

But the day did not feel new.  The terrain was the same.  But the mood was not.  The casual, friendly conservation was gone.  The peace and quiet were hard not to like.  They just needed to learn to live without thinking about the costs they would eventually have to pay.

 

The group stopped at Tenth and Far Street.  They glanced at one another and went in different directions.  There were no goodbyes.  No small talk.  Just guilt and relief and hope.  Hope that maybe, just maybe, one day they could forget what they had done.

 

Certain things are not worth the price when we think them through.  This group found that out too late.

I hope you enjoyed the final part of The Walk.

Thank you for stopping by.

Stephen Wallace  

 

THE WALK – PART 1

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The Walk is a 2-part story.  People with different lifestyles can become friends for reasons that are unique to them.  Enjoy Part 1.  Thanks.

 

PART 1

 

The five commuters on train sixteen would not look at one another.  They would share a quick glance and look down at the floor or away.

 

The mood amongst them was not like the mornings were four days ago.  Now, no one said hello.  There was no talk of family, friends, weekends, and the everyday hassles of life.  Everyone was somber.  The atmosphere was heavy.

 

Shame was part of the atmosphere.  Selfish guilt was on all their minds.  Yet they shared a sense of relief.  But they were too embarrassed to talk about it.  Any signs of happiness would show their lack of responsibility for what happened.  The act of trying to be sensitive was stifling.  It ruined their normally uneventful ride.

 

The fact was they had not killed the homeless man.  The elements did it.  They may have indirectly assisted.  But the elements shouldered some of the responsibility.  The man himself was most responsible.  He was the main culprit of his demise.  Not them.

 

For eleven months, that man had terrorized them.  He deserved what he got.  They all agreed to that.  The morning they heard about the homeless man’s death, they talked on the train.  They vowed to never talk about it again.  They had not spoken to one another for two days.

 

Everything was fine before that homeless man arrived.  The five’s relationship had fit nicely with the train schedule.  They were from different walks of life.  Jeff was a financial analyst.  Cassie was a paralegal.  Dalton was a maintenance man.  Bryan was an electrician.  Dara was an insurance attorney.  The train ride brought them together.  It created a fifteen-minute social group.  Then, the homeless man ruined it.

 

Monday through Friday train sixteen had arrived at its morning stop.  At seven a.m. the same five passengers were the last to get off.  The end of the line was what the conductor called it.

 

The five would disembark from the train.  From the side of the train station, they walked together to Tenth and Far street.  It was a fifty-meter walk down a narrow street.  It looked like an alley.  Not the safest either.  But the group of five was comfortable together.

 

At Tenth and Far Street the group went their separate ways.  But, not before saying they would see each other that night or tomorrow.

 

It was on that fifty-meter walk down the alley that the five first encountered the homeless man.  He had not always been there.  He showed up eleven months ago and never left.

 

On that fifty-meter walk in the alley, the man walked behind them.  He first asked for money.  When they did not give him money he called them names.  They were subjected to the worse language of their lives.  Every conceivable degrading name for a woman or man spewed from his mouth.  The daily barrage of verbal assaults became normal and grew worse.

 

The five complained that the homeless man had ruined the start of their days.  They joked that they wanted to kill the man after three months.  But, instead of killing him, they took their complaints to the police.  Nothing came of it.

 

The police told them the man had a right to be on the street, just as they did.

 

The group told the train’s management about the man.  The management did not have any power over anything beyond their trains and stations.

 

The five endured the homeless man’s verbal assaults day after day.  Their five-day workweek was akin to going through hell every morning.

 

The man relished his ability to get under their skin.  It was as if he found an open sore on them and shoved his fingers in it.  He did not only yell and curse them.  He got closer and closer to them when he did.

 

Two in the group suggested taking a taxi or Uber or Lyft to their offices from the train station.  Others said that they enjoyed the walk and refused to give it up to avoid the man.

 

The man seemed to know it had become a “test of wills.”  His verbal assaults got more vitriol.

 

The five waited and prepared for the day when the man would become violent.  Three in the group began carrying mace.  One began carrying a knife in his pocket.  The other carried a gun.

 

Groups can get protective when their territory is threatened. 

I hope you enjoyed Part 1.

Thank you for stopping by.

Stephen Wallace   

A DANGEROUS GAME – PART 9

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Monica decides to clear her name.  She questions if she is up for it.  When she looks at her choices, her decision is made for her.  Enjoy Part 9 of A Dangerous Game.  Thanks.   

 

PART 9

 

MONICA SAT IN THE Ford Escape and waited.  She was in the back of the parking lot of the Pale Motel.  It was dark where she parked.  She had intentionally chosen that area.  It was quiet and gave her time to think things through.

 

She wore a black dress, stiletto heels, heavy makeup, and a red wig.  The wig was hers.  The rest of the clothes and the Ford Escape was what the FBI agents gave her to wear and drive.  The vial filled with liquid was in her purse.  It was in the passenger’s seat.  She checked the time.

 

In five minutes she was to knock on the door of room 106 of the Pale Motel.  Her target from the photo was in that room.  He was waiting for her to show up.  Not specifically her.  He was waiting for a woman to show up.  The man inside room 106 liked women who looked like Monica.  The FBI and Monica, decided while sitting at her dining room table earlier, that she would be that woman.

 

Monica had reservations when the FBI told her what she would have to do to clear her name of murder charges.  The reservations lasted for a few minutes.  Going to prison for life or being on death row was far worse than helping the FBI arrest this man.

 

Monica had asked the FBI agents how they knew the man would be at the Pale Motel.  The agents told her they could not give her that information.  She just needed to do her part and clear her name.

 

Monica put on a light coat and got out of the SUV.  She walked toward the end of the motel.  Room 106 was two doors from the end.  That corner of the motel was dark.  Monica looked up at the light pole located by the sidewalk.  The big light bulbs were missing.

 

Monica paused and wanted to glance over her shoulder.  But she did not.  The two FBI agents told her not to look over her shoulder once she was in the parking lot.  They were watching her every move.  They also told her to remember that someone else may be watching her too.  She was to show no signs that she was not alone.

 

Monica stopped in front of room 106 and knocked on the door.  Noises came from inside the room.  She waited and knocked again.  Scuffling and grunting sounds came from inside the room.

 

Monica pressed her toes down inside the heels.  It helped ground her.  That was all that kept her from running back to the SUV.  It occurred to her that the sounds she heard on the other side of the door may be someone getting rid of a body or something more sinister.  Maybe they were getting ready to do something to her.

 

She pushed back the fear and thoughts while she waited.  She hoped the door would not open.  But then, she did.  That man needed to be there.

 

It got quiet inside.  She leaned forward a few inches from the door.  The door opened a small crack.  Monica jerked backward.

 

The man in the photo with the wire-rimmed glasses was looking through the crack at her.  He stared at her without talking.  He looked up and down her body as if examining her.  She gave him a nervous smile.

 

He opened the door wider and motioned to her to come inside.  She hesitated and stepped inside the room.  She was looking the room over when she heard the door lock.  She glanced over her shoulder.  He had closed the door behind her and locked it.  He was putting the security chain on.

 

“I apologize for being paranoid,” he said.  “I just like to feel safe.  I hope I’m not making you nervous.”  Monica told him no.  She understood.  “By the way, my name is Harold.”  He put out his hand.  She shook it.  “And you are?”

 

“Cheryle,” she said.  The FBI had told her no real or last names.  The man would understand why.  Women like her who had affairs with strangers did not normally give real and last names in the beginning.

 

“I like that name,” he said.  “It’s pretty.”  She thanked him.  “Well, as you can see, I took the liberty to have dinner catered for us.”  Monica looked at the table ahead of her.  It had a white tablecloth and two large covered dishes and several smaller covered dishes.  “You like steak?”  She told him yes.  “Great.  I ordered the best the restaurant had.”

 

“You didn’t have to do that,” she said.

 

He looked at her with a frown and furrowed eyebrow.  He appeared as if his feelings were hurt.

 

“I don’t mean I don’t appreciate it,” she said.  “It’s just that men don’t go through all this trouble for me.”

 

“That’s too bad,” he said.  “You’re worth it.  You’re beautiful.”  He stared at her.  “Let me take your coat.”  He slipped it from her shoulders.  “Do you want to wash up for dinner?”

 

“Yes, thank you,” she said.

 

Monica went into the bathroom, closed the door and sighed silently.  Doubt rushed into her mind.  She almost wished she did not know what she knew.  She was not equipped to handle this man.  He looked like the photo—round face, glasses, round body.  Nothing was intimidating about him.

 

The FBI warned her not to let her guard down.  Men like him targeted middle-aged married women like her.  Women like her were easier to seduce and blackmail.  They had more to lose than just their reputations.  The FBI also gave her more information.  Sometimes, to pay off the blackmail money, these men had the women work off the payment through prostitution.  Not on the street.  But through their network of clients.

 

Monica gave herself a pep talk.  All she had to do was to pour the vial of liquid in the man’s wine.  Make sure he drank it.  It should knock him out in a few minutes.  She could then leave.  He would be out for a couple of hours.  The FBI would arrest him.  She looked at herself in the mirror and took a deep breath.  She could do it.  She went back out and joined the man named Harold.

 

He had the chair pulled back from the table for her.  She sat down and thanked him.  He took the bottle of wine from the wine bucket and popped the cork.  He allowed her to smell the cork.  He then smelled it.  “Nothing like a great bottle of wine to begin the night,” he said.  He poured her a glass and then himself.

 

He sat across from her and picked up his glass of wine.  “To a beautiful woman who just made my night better than I could’ve imagined,” he said.  They drank.  She was worried about drinking it.  What if he was drugging her?  But she had to take a sip.  He was watching her from over the top of his glass.  “I never thought the agency would send over a woman as gorgeous as you.”

 

He stood and walked to her side of the table and removed the cover from her chicken.  “This is delicious,” he said.  “I know you like chicken.  I did my homework.  This perfectly roasted chicken with red and white wine is to die for.  Enjoy.”

 

“Thank you,” she said.  To die for bothered her.  “You’re trying to spoil me.”

 

“You deserve it,” he said.

 

Monica was confused.  But she tried not to show it.  Agency?  Why had he said agency?  What was she supposed to be…?  Those FBI agents did not tell her she was supposed to be a prostitute.  That is what they meant when they told her to go as far as necessary to drug the man.  She was to have no limits.  They expected her to have sex with him if necessary.  She was not a whore, she thought.

 

For a brief second, she felt used.  She quickly turned off the thought.  Then she told herself to clear her name however she had to do it.

 

Monica began coughing.  She tried to control it.  She coughed harder and harder.  A piece of chicken had caught in her throat.  She could not believe it.

 

“Are you okay?” he asked.

 

She held up her hand that she would be.  But she kept coughing.

 

“I’ll be back,” he said.  He got up and ran into the bathroom with a cup to get her some water.

 

 

Monica is about to ruin the plan to clear her name.  I feel bad for her.  Nothing seems to be working for her.  Hopefully, she’ll get some luck on her side.

Thank you for stopping by this week.  I’ll see you on Monday.

Have a great weekend.

Thanks,

Stephen Wallace     

A DANGEROUS GAME – PART 8

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Is The FBI Monica’s only solution to get herself out of trouble?  Or, is there another way?  Enjoy Part 8 of A Dangerous Game. Thanks.

 

PART 8

 

MONICA SAT IN A chair at her dining room table.  She was dressed in jeans and a shirt with bare feet.  The handcuffs were off.  The two FBI agents sat at the table with her.  They were on either side of her at the table.  They had positioned themselves to remove any thoughts that Monica had of running from them.

 

“Mrs. Jansen, we apologize for not taking off our masks,” one man said.  “We can’t.  We work undercover.”  Monica rubbed tears from her eyes and nodded.  “Mrs. Jansen, I won’t lie to you.  You’re in serious trouble.  You were set up.  It’s that simple.”

 

“You attached yourself to the wrong people,” the other man said.  “Now it has come back to haunt you.  We don’t think you’re a bad person.  You just got caught up in a bad situation.  Seeking excitement from those you don’t know can cause things like this to happen sometimes.  That’s what you were doing, correct?”  Monica nodded.  “Please answer verbally.”

 

“Yes,” Monica said.  “That’s all I was doing.  Will my husband need to know about this?”

 

“Mrs. Jansen, that’s the least of your problems at the moment,” the man said.  “You killed someone.  That should be your focus.  The men that you got involved with belong to a crime ring.  They are some of the best conmen around.  They find women like you.  Or, you find them.  They flirt.  They romance you.  They suck you in.  Before you know it, you’re having sex with these men anywhere and everywhere.  They convince you it’s just exciting romance and unadulterated pleasure.  No one needs to know.  What harm can there be with sex between consenting adults?”  Monica shrugged her shoulders.  “Try a lot.”

 

“See, what you don’t understand, Mrs. Jansen, is that these men had it all planned out,” the other man said.  “They date you.  They blackmail you.  And sometimes they kill you if they need to.”  He tossed a manila folder on the table in front of her.  Monica looked at it.  “Open it.  Look at each document.”

 

Monica slid the folder closer and opened it.  Inside was a photo of a woman who appeared to be in her late fifties.  Bruises covered her face.  Her eyes were swollen.  Her lips were split and swollen.  Bruises were on her arms and neck.  One of the men told Monica to look at the next one.

 

Monica looked at the next photo of the woman.  She was lying naked with a knife in her chest under a pier.  Monica closed the folder and looked away.  She slid the folder away from her and exhaled.

 

“We can’t go into detail,” one of the men said.  “But, that’s what happens when women try to end their relationships with these men without paying first.”

 

“That’s awful,” Monica whispered.  “I didn’t need to see that.”

 

“Yes, you did,” the other man said.  “This victim had a sexual liaison with her lover for three months.  She refused to pay him two hundred thousand dollars for his silence.  She was going to tell her husband about her indiscretion and try to restore the faith in her marriage.  That made her lover angry.  You were on your way to join this woman.”

 

“Mrs. Jansen, some women commit suicide to prevent facing their family and friends when blackmailed,” the other man said.  “They’re too embarrassed to tell anyone why they’re being blackmailed.  And, they know photos of them will eventually be on the internet.”  Monica swallowed hard.  “We don’t think you killed your lover.”

 

Monica sat up.  “Did they do it?” Monica asked.  “Did they kill that man?  The conmen.  Did they do it?  Did they?”  One of the men said yes.  “So that means I shouldn’t be charged with murder.  Right?”

 

“No,” one of the men said.  “You’re going to be charged with murder.  What we just told you about these men won’t matter in court.  The prosecutor is going to say you killed that man, your lover, in that house.”

 

“Your DNA was all over the victim,” the other man said.  “Blood, saliva, other fluids, it’s all yours.  Unless you get a break, you’ll be charged with murder.  Your case will be federal.  You could possibly get the death penalty.  We’re not trying to scare you.  We’re giving you the facts.”

 

Monica dropped her head in her hands and cried, shaking all over.

 

The two men glanced at one another.  “There is a way out of this, Mrs. Jansen,” one man said.  Monica looked up at him.  “But, you’ll have to do your part.  You’ll play the lead role in this plan.  I can’t lie to you.  It may get scary.  But, if you pull your part off, we’ll arrest one of the kingpins of this organization.  We’re confident with this man’s arrest you won’t go to court or be charged with any crime.”

 

Monica swallowed, wide-eyed.  “What do I have to do?” she asked.

 

One man reached down and picked up a shopping bag, phone, and envelope.  They were the items from the back of Monica’s SUV.  He put them on the table in front of her.  “Open the shopping bag and remove what’s in it,” the man said.

 

Monica reached into the bag and took out a black dress and a pair of black stiletto heels.  The man told her to open the envelope and remove the photo inside.  Monica removed the photo and put it on the table.  The photo was of a balding man with a round face.  He wore oversized wire-rimmed glasses.

 

“That’s your target,” a man said.  “The clothes are your outfit.  Here.”  He handed her the phone.  “This is the phone you’ll contact us with.  One more thing.”  The man handed her a three-inch-long pencil size vial filled with clear liquid.  “The top is on tight.  You won’t spill it.”

 

Monica squinted.  “I’m not sure what you’re saying to me with…all…this stuff,” she said.

 

“It’s simple,” the other man said.  “You’re going to seduce this man.  You’re going to drug this man and leave.  We’ll do the rest.  We’ll arrest him and get him off the streets into an FBI interrogation room.  We want to nail this network of criminals.  They’re preying on innocent women across the country.”

 

“You’re our way in, Mrs. Jansen,” the other man said.  “We need to know if you’re up for it?  Do you want to clear your name of the murder charges?”

 

“Or, do you want to take your chances in court?” the other man asked.  “You’ll face life in prison or the death penalty.  On the other hand, if you clear yourself, the entire ordeal is over.  You can put it behind you.  No one will ever have to know what you did.  That part of your life won’t exist anywhere.”

 

“Which path do you want to take?” the other man asked.

 

 

Which would you decide if you were in Monica shoes?  That’s a tough one.  I hope you enjoyed Part 8.

 

Due to time restraints, I’ll post new blogs every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 

I’ll see you on Friday.

Thank you for stopping by.

Stephen Wallace 

 

 

A DANGEROUS GAME – PART 7

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Some secrets will not stay secret.  They are often connected to other people’s secrets.  Monica may have learned that lesson.  Enjoy Part 7 of A Dangerous Game.  Thanks.  

 

PART 7

 

MONICA LIFTED THE TAILGATE of her SUV and looked around the garage.  The garage door was closed.  No one was inside.  She glanced inside the back of her SUV.  On the floor were the shopping bag and a large envelope with the cell phone on top of them.  A note was on the phone.

 

A sick feeling was in her stomach.  Someone put those things inside her SUV.  But when?  Had they come through her house to do it?  Were they in the house when she showered?  How about when she went through it naked?  Were they still in her house?

 

She left the tailgate up and tiptoed to the small garage door that led into her house.  Two masked men met her at the doorway.  They were standing inside her house.

 

Monica ran to the back of her SUV.  She was already looking for an escape route.  The garage door was closed.  The keys to her SUV were inside her house.  The men were in the garage.  Her only way out was to run through her house to outside.

 

“Mrs. Jansen,” one of the men said.  Each man was on a different side of the SUV.  She was not running by them.  Monica was petrified.  She was naked.  No weapon.  She was as vulnerable as anyone could be.  “Mrs. Jansen, you need to hear us out.”  Monica looked around the SUV at one man and then moved to see the other.  “We’re not going to hurt you.”

 

“Why are you in my house then?” she asked.  “Why are you holding me hostage while I’m naked?  You’re going to hurt me.  Aren’t you?  I don’t even know who you are?  I can’t even see your faces.  You have the wrong house.  If you’re here to rob us, just take whatever you want and go.  You can tie me up and put me in my car.  I won’t make a sound.  I promise.  Please don’t kill me.  Please.  I have children.”

 

Monica pressed her back against the SUV.  Her head moved from left to right.  The onslaught was coming.  She could feel it.  When the men came for her, she would fight.  How long?  That depended on someone hearing her cries for help.  Her guess was she had a minute or two of fighting in her.  Which meant she would have a minute or two of life left.  She doubted anyone would hear her.  There was no reason for anyone to be at her house at that time of the day.  She was on her own.

 

“Mrs. Jansen, we’re not here to rob you or hurt you,” a man said.

 

“You’re lying!” she yelled.  “If not, you’d take what you want and leave.  Why else would you be here stalking me?”

 

“We’re the FBI,” a man said.  “We’re here because you murdered a person we were investigating.  We’re here because you stumbled into a federal investigation and case.  We’re here to arrest you on federal charges.  That’s why we’re here.”

 

Monica was too shocked to speak.  “You’re lying,” she said.  Her voice cracked.  “Prove it.  Where are your badges?”

 

“We’re going to come to the back of the SUV and hold them out for you,” a man said.  “You’re not going to shoot or try and hurt us in any way are you?”

 

“I don’t have anything to hurt you with,” she said.

 

“Good,” a man said.  Each man walked to the back of the SUV and held out a badge.  Monica stared at each one and examined them closely.  She asked them how would she know they were real badges.  “We can arrest you and show you.”

 

She felt sick.  They were the FBI.

 

“Do you have a blanket inside your car?” a man asked.  She told him no.  “We’re going to allow you back inside your house to cover yourself.  Not alone.  We’re going to watch you.  Once you’re covered, we’re going to lay the situation out for you.”

 

“How do I know you’re who you say you are?” she asked, scared beyond belief.  Her knees were shaking.

 

“If we wanted to kill you, or hurt you, or whatever else we wanted to do, we could’ve done it already,” a man said.  “Does that make sense?  We wouldn’t have had to ask your permission.  We’ll try to give you as much privacy as possible.  But, don’t try anything.  No one else needs to die.”

 

Monica knew he was right.  The two men were taller and bigger than she was.  Even in their dark suits, they looked strong.  She was no match for either of them.

 

“Okay,” she said and raised her hands above her head.  She walked out from behind the SUV, humiliated.  They treated her like a criminal.  Strange men were watching her every move while she was nude.

 

“Mrs. Monica Jansen,” one man said.  Both men took her by the arms.  “You are under arrest for murder.”  They pushed her against the SUV and handcuffed her and read her her Miranda Rights.

 

“No,” she cried.  “I didn’t do it.  No.”

 

 

Just when Monica was in the midst of covering her tracks a couple of pesky unannounced houseguests showed up.  Monica had better be able to explain what happened.  If not, this could be the end of her.

I hope you enjoyed Part 7.  I hope your week is off to a great start.

I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

Thank you for coming by.

Stephen Wallace   

 

A DANGEROUS GAME – PART 6

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A few minutes to think things through could make all the difference.  Or, it could scare you to death.  Enjoy Part 6 of A Dangerous Game.  Thanks. 

 

PART 6

 

MONICA JERKED HER HEAD up off the steering wheel.  She was hyperventilating.  She could not catch her breath.  She slowly looked over toward her driver’s window.  Her hands were up in the air.

 

She expected to see a police officer with his gun pointed at her head.  She was a stone-cold killer.  That was what the man on the phone who witnessed her killing her so-called lover said.

 

No police officer was standing there.  She laughed and cried.

 

It was a dream, a nightmare.  She must have dozed off.  It was that damn drug.  It would not get out of her system.  What had she been drugged with?

 

She did not have time to think about that.  She had been parked on Pinker Street for at least six or seven minutes.  She had to get her shit together.  This was no time to fall apart.

 

She did a three-point turn and came out of the side street and headed for home.  No one should be home, she thought.  She pushed a button on her steering wheel.  It dialed her office.  A young man’s voice answered.

 

“Jake, this is Monica,” she said, sounding as strong as she could.  “I’m going to be out a little longer than I expected.  An emergency popped up.  I’ll be back in the office in about thirty or forty minutes.  Hold the fort down for me.”

 

“Yes, ma’am,” Jake said. He was one of her bright young attorneys on her team.

 

Monica told herself to stick to the sped limit.  Except for a few moments, she stayed at thirty-five miles per hour.  “That’s it,” she whispered.  “Stay calm.”

 

Monica turned onto Brasen Street.  Her house was just ahead.  Her heart raced.  She expected to see police cars waiting for her.  They would be out in front of her house, waiting to put the cuffs on her.

 

She breathed a sigh of relief.  No cars were in front of her house.

 

She pulled into her driveway and pressed the garage door button on her steering wheel.  The door began going up.  She hurried inside the garage and missed the bottom of the door by inches.  She had begun closing the door before she stopped.

 

Inside her garage, she inspected the inside of the SUV.  She mainly looked at where she sat and what she touched.  A little blood was on the steering wheel.  Not much of anything else.

 

She ran to the small door in the garage that led inside her house.  She stopped on the steps and removed her clothes until she was naked.  That dead man’s DNA was not going to be found inside her house.

 

She opened the door and ran inside her four thousand square foot house.  Her bare feet pounded across the hardwood floor.

 

She ran down a long hallway to the laundry room.  The cleaning supplies were in there.  She grabbed a container of Clorox wipes and ran naked back to her car.

 

She wiped her hands off and then wiped down everything that she remembered touching.  She examined the inside of the SUV.  It looked clean to her.

 

She picked up her clothes off the steps and ran back inside to the laundry room.  She took her clothes, including her suede pumps, without a thought she threw them inside the washing machine.  Then she stepped back.

 

How do you work this damn thing? She wondered.  She studied the panel.  Her housekeeper who cleaned her house three times per week did the laundry too.  How would she know how her washing machine worked?

 

She threw three laundry detergent pods inside the machine.  She slammed the door shut and pushed the max-load digital button.  The machine made a slight noise and started.

 

Monica ran to the shower.  She was out of the shower in five minutes.  It was the fastest shower she had ever taken.  She grabbed her pants to get dressed and stopped.

 

This was crazy.  She was going to call in sick.  Yes.  Call in sick.  Get herself together.  Where was her phone?  Damn it, she thought.  It was inside her SUV in the passenger’s seat.

 

She ran naked back through the house into the garage to her car.

 

She grabbed the passenger’s door handle and snatched the door open. Her phone was there.  It was in the cupholder.  She grabbed it and went to close the door and paused.

 

Something was off.  She looked around the garage.  Her phone should have been in the passenger’s seat.  Not the cupholder.  She was sure of it.  But, maybe the stress was playing with her mind.

 

She closed the door and felt the need to walk around the vehicle.  When she got to the back she stopped and looked inside the back window.

 

Monica gasped and backed up.

 

Inside the SUV on the floor was a shopping bag.  A large envelope was on top of it with a cell phone.  A note was on the phone.

 

It was not hers.  None of those things were hers.  They were not in her SUV that morning.

 

Monica looked around the closed garage and panicked.

 

 

Stress can play tricks on a mind that is ready to break.  Or, it may not be stress at all.

I’ll see you tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by.

Stephen Wallace