I'd like to share with you the first part of my short story "Red Alert" from my first book "STRINGS".
Strings is a collection of horror short stories,and was only published there last month.
Gerald sat at the bar while his wife was off socialising with other men. That was all that seemed to happen nowadays. They would go out to dinner, then on to a bar where she’d grab the drink he’d paid for and saunter off to mingle. He hated that, he felt like he was being used. He knew he was being used.
Fifteen years of marriage and it was as if he was no more than another acquaintance for her to bump into when they are out. She spent more time talking to other men, flirting with other men, than looking him in the eye. These days she barely looked at him at all.
The downward slope of their marriage had started three weeks ago, right after he’d been fired. It had been a high-end job, with a salary of over a hundred grand a year. The company had blamed it on the recession, but Gerald knew they had wanted him out for ages.
Since then his wife had acted like he was nothing to her. Though she spent all his money on clothes, makeovers, lunch dates, anything that didn’t require her to work, she still looked down her nose at him because he no longer had a job. Putting a limit on her credit card a week ago was unacceptable in her eyes.
Gerald knew what she was doing with those other men right now. She was fishing to see who had the biggest wallet. She had been the last three or four nights they were out. After fifteen years with the gold-digging whore he could read every shallow thought in her head. But then again, he’d known from that first night with her. She was no deeper than one of her overly-expensive drinks.
He knew she hated stubble, but he didn’t care. After so many years of shaving every day, he was happy to let a little shadow shine through. That was unacceptable; her man had to be clean shaven and dressed to perfection at all times.
Gerald had had enough of it. Tonight he sat with his five o’clock shadow, a pair of loose jeans, and a faded shirt with the top buttons open. He actually felt good for a change, relaxed. Maybe this was what he’d been missing, locked up in that office, slaving for a wife who was more like a stranger than a companion. He felt like he was being reborn, one day at a time.
Laughter flooded the room. Gerald looked over his shoulder recognising that laugh. His wife stood surrounded by three admirers. Her hand was resting on the shoulder of one man with a casual but intentful gesture. His hand was on her lower back, caressing the new satin dress she’d insisted on buying today before they could go out. The hand was slowly sliding south. Gerald knew she would do nothing to stop it. After all, that would defeat the purpose of that stupid laugh.
He signalled to the bartender. A new glass was placed in front of him, as was the way in this place. He couldn’t remember a time when the same glass was used twice without being washed. It was typical of the places she dragged him to. Thinking about it now, in all their married days, she’d always chosen where they went. But yet, there was one good thing about this place; outside.
Outside the bar there were seats and tables where you could just lay back and watch the night fall on the ocean.
Gerald got up, sank his remaining whiskey and lifted the fresh glass. He walked toward the exit. Through the tinted-glass wall he could already see where he would sit, a little armchair accompanied by a table where he could rest his glass while he watched the tide coming in as dusk descended.
He didn’t look around to see if she was watching him leave, he knew she wasn’t, and he didn’t care. The relief of not caring was one of the new additions to his life over the last week or so.
Gerald opened the door and the salt air smashed into his face. He took a deep breath and made his way to the seat he’d spied through the window. The sun would be setting in less than half an hour and already the sky was beginning to burn. This is more like it. Smiling, he looked out over the horizon and sank into the seat.
He was noticing things he never had before. Tiny droplets of water touched his skin. He was sure they were from the waves, though the beach was at least five hundred yards away. Then there were the cries of seagulls; something he hadn’t heard in a long time. Those things, made this moment that little bit more special.
Someone sat down on the seat next to him, but he kept his gaze on the ocean.
A soft female voice spoke. “Beautiful sunset isn’t it?”
Gerald turned to face the woman beside him. She smiled and he found himself smiling back. “It is.,” he said.
He could feel the power behind her eyes trapping his gaze, and he welcomed it. He could not look away.
“Tell me,” her eyes seemed to zone in on his as she leaned slightly toward him. “Why are you out here on your own, when your wife is in there clearly getting ready to fuck one of those men?” Her eyes burned intensely.
“Because I don’t care, at this stage of my life, my wife is nothing more than a word, a title.”
“Ah,” she said, shifting her gaze to the ocean, her smile never faltering. “So, at this stage of your life what is it you want?”
Gerald watched her as he reached for the glass. The brown liquid eased down his throat and he thought for a moment. “Simplicity.”
“A wise choice,” she replied, “but that’s easier said than done.”
“Maybe this time last month I would have believed you, but not now. Now, everything is simple.” Gerald looked back to the ocean and the setting sun that had burned up the sky above it.
“I admire your spirit. I haven’t seen one like it in an eternity.”
Gerald said nothing, but he was happy. For the first time in years, he could truly say that. And the conversation with this woman made him feel even better. He raised the glass to his lips again.
The woman leaned over and grabbed his free hand.
“Here’s a little gift for you.” She put something on his palm, folded his fingers over it and held his fist closed. Her touch was gentle and felt good. “If you want to get rid of your wife, to make things simple, take this when you are alone together.”
“What is it?”
“It’s called Red Alert. It can be used only once. Use it wisely.”
Gerald looked down and was about to open his hand when he realised he was alone. He looked around to see where she had gone, but there was no sign of her. Confused, he unfolded his fingers to see what she had given him. It was a small vial containing some sort of red liquid. He had no idea what it was, other than the name she’d told him, Red Alert.
Deciding that he’d get no answers right now, he put the vial in his pocket and rolled the remaining whiskey in his mouth as the burning sky began to turn black.
I hope you enjoyed it, and if you'd like to read the rest, Strings is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK
Thanks again for taking the time to read my work, and I hope you enjoyed it.