Back in 2007(ish) I used to enjoy short story writing on my blog. I would think of an idea during the day at work, and then go home at night and write a little and upload. Leaving a cliffhanger, I would spend the next day thinking about how to take the story further, then write another segment that evening. This would continue for a few consecutive days until the story was complete. Often times, I would not know exactly where the story was headed even after starting it. In that fashion, I’d like to again serialize some new short fiction in this way.
This story is a re-telling, re-write of a story I wrote back in 2007. I don’t have the original, but I remember the story and always enjoyed it. It’s called Poor Girl and here’s part one:
By: Brian M. Van Hise
My name is Lester Nixon and my wife had been having an affair for nearly two months before I found out and confronted her and her lover over it. In hindsight, it’s hard to know why I hadn’t suspected anything. But, as is the case, it eventually became known and then led to a very fateful night between us.
Lester Nixon. Like the president. The Nixon part, not Lester.
She used to say it was bridge night with the girls and that she was usually at Marcella’s house or The Hockstetters place. I never called to check. Had no reason to doubt her. It wasn’t until one evening when she was taking an early shower and had left her phone on the kitchen counter. I was in the living room, watching the last of the WWE World Championship Live from Vegas and fingering the remnants of Cheetos residue from the ceramic bowl, part of a set that Linda’s mother had given us for our wedding.
It’s not often her phone rings without her around. She must have just forgotten it this time. So, there it was buzzing and ringing, scuttling across the kitchen counter to nowhere in particular. That’s when I realized that I could return the empty Cheetos bowl to the kitchen and check to see who was calling all at once. One bird. Two stones. Something like that.
I picked up the phone with my left hand, something I’d been trying to do more often lately–using my unfavored hand for more tasks. I read an article in Psychology Today that said if you trained yourself to be ambidextrous it could lead to more balance in life. Maybe more balance is what we all need.
Holding the phone in my hand I was at first a bit surprised to see his name surface: Jack Drainer. He was our realtor when we closed on the house last March. Nice guy but had a phony smile and a strange handshake. I remember his two smaller fingers gripping tightly while his index and middle finger had just sat there limply, doing nothing at all. Maybe next time I would offer my left hand and see what he thought.
Why would Jack Drainer be calling my wife at eight o’clock on a Wednesday night?
The buzzing stopped and I pushed the phone aside and ran the empty Cheetos bowl to the sink. Even though I had eaten everything, Linda didn’t like it if I didn’t at least rinse out the bowls and cups I used. Sometimes Cheetos can stain, so I knew she’d kill me if I didn’t do it.
A moment later her phone buzzed once.
An incoming message.
Drying my hands, I walked over again to her phone and picked it up (left-hand, getting good!). A message from Drainer: “U coming over soon?”
I listened for the shower in our upstairs bedroom. I don’t know if it’s possible to listen with one ear over the other or if that creates balance in life like Psychology Today says, but I kept my focus on that upstairs bathroom nonetheless and realized that the shower had stopped.
I lowered the phone to the kitchen counter. The message vanished off the screen and transformed into a small blinking green light. My left hand. It was shaking a bit now. Just a slight tremble as my body slowly came to realize what Wednesday night bridge nights really meant. I swallowed, feeling just a slight aftertaste of Cheeto bits dislodging in-between my teeth. The WWE credits had finished rolling and had been replaced with a commercial for life insurance.
Just then a voice called out from our bedroom.
“Hon, can you get me an extra towel from the dryer? I did the wash earlier.”
At first I couldn’t move. She’s having an affair. She’s going to meet him tonight.
I drummed my left hand over the counter, eager to do something to keep it from trembling.
“Hon?” Linda’s voice called out again.
I needed more time to think things through.
“Um…yes. Yes. I’ll get one.” I called out.
“I want to get to bridge club early tonight,” she responded.
She wants to get there early. The early bird. And a worm. Something like that.
To be continued…