Sunday, March 2, 2014

Injustices


Last summer,  Old Kitty  posted about Neil Gaiman’s writing prompt in The Guardian.  I saw the post too late, but the prompt stuck in my head:

It wasn't just the murder, he decided. Everything else seemed to have conspired to ruin his day as well. Even the cat.

My story definitely isn’t MG or YA. But it was fun to write. It's short and not very sweet. Enjoy!

Injustices
Theresa Milstein

It wasn't just the murder, he decided. Everything else seemed to have conspired to ruin his day as well. Even the cat.

While the radio murmured about war, government corruption, and other normal injustices, he sipped coffee from the mug in his right hand while the other held binoculars peeping between the blinds. If his ritual went according to plan, the caffeine and the woman dressing for work in the apartment building across the alley would wake him up.

His cursed cat interfered. 

Just as she danced into the bedroom—he always imagined some sexy song from Madonna blasting—and removed her towel, the cat jumped unwelcomed onto his lap. He startled. If the feline’s claws on his genitals hadn’t been jarring enough, the coffee searing his lap soon ruined any further opportunity for arousal.

By the time he’d ripped off the soiled pajamas, rubbed soothing lotion on his sore skin, and changed into new clothes, the woman had left for work.

He’d gone even grumpier than usual to the repetitive job he despised. The doctors sent bills. He made a charade of investigating for fraud, but everyone got paid in the end. If he ran the company, corruption would stop. But nobody listened to people who slaved in cubicles.

When he walked through his doorway after work, he kicked the whining cat out of the way. Everyone wanted something from him.

There would be one last chance to unwind from his sorry day when she undressed for bed. There’d be no towel. No dance. Her moves would be slower and the removal would take longer. But he’d have his moment to imagine she was his.

He sipped his glass of cabernet with his right hand while his left cradled the binoculars peering through the blinds. He’d locked the cat in the closet to prevent a repeat of that morning’s sin. Nothing would interfere with his nightly ritual.

She shuffled into the bedroom, clearly as tired as he felt. He imagined her enduring a job in customer service. If only they could converse about the injustices that led to their lousy day. She would listen. She would understand.

He watched her gaze at her reflection in the mirror, but she couldn’t see him gazing at her. He inhaled, drawing the imagined scent of the perfume on her bureau inside him. As she removed her bracelet, he sat up straighter. She unclasped her necklace. He set down the glass.

That’s when an intruder stepped out of her closet, gun in hand. She noticed the intruder in the mirror’s reflection at the same time he did. Her mouth formed a perfect O as she whirled around.

No! Not his woman. He jumped up, spilling the wine while the intruder closed the curtains across the alley.

He stared at his bleeding pants as the gun fired.

Night was shot too. And what would he do to occupy his time during tomorrow morning’s coffee?



64 comments:

  1. Now that's a shallow individual! Well done, Theresa.

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    1. Thanks, Alex. After I read the prompt, I couldn't see him any other way.

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  2. Wow. Great story. Wouldn't want to live across the street from him.

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  3. Wow! I was totally surprised by your non mg/ya voice. Very nice! The very end surprised me.

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  4. Loved your story. Thanks for sharing it.

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  5. Cool prompt and story : ) Your story reminds me of that Hitchcock movie (Rear window?)

    This post reminded me that I still need to read Ocean at the End of the Lane!

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    1. LR, I never saw Read Window, but I know the name. I just looked it up and saw it's about a peeping tom. I wonder if he's as creepy as my main character.

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  6. That's a great prompt, and I loved your story - like LR, it reminded me a bit of Rear Window!

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    1. Talli, thanks. Now I'll have to rent the movie!

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  7. There is a lot of humor here, too. Poor guy...I kind of relate to bad things just piling up to irate. Of course, I don't peep through blinds. LOL I really liked this story. Nice job!

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    1. SA, thank you! I don't feel too badly for the guy. Somehow I think he'll go on as usual.

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  8. What a fun post! LIke LR, I'm reminded that I still need to read Ocean at the End of the Lane:) Theresa, I nominated you over at my blog for an award. :D

    hugs,
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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    1. Thanks for the comment and the award, Nutschell. Yes, read Ocean at the End of the Lane!

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  9. What a surprise ending. So well-written...also, shame on him.

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    1. Medeia, yes, shame on him! Thanks for the feedback.

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  10. What a great psychopath! Wait that sounds weird ... you know what I mean, right??? :)

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    1. Jemi, since that's totally what I was going for, I know what you mean!

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  11. That's a good story! I perked up in particular when I read the part about the binoculars, because that told me that this character wasn't so ordinary. I have to admit that I felt sorry for the cat, though. :)

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    1. Neurotic Workaholic, I felt for the poor cat too.

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  12. Great story telling. I enjoyed reading it.

    Nas

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  13. You go girl. That is a great piece of work! But I had no idea of your other writing voice. That ending! WHOA. I love the little ways in which you show us his character. Fantastic. xoxo

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    1. Thank you, Robyn! It's fun to write something adult once in a while... as long as it's short.

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  14. What a great prompt, and your story was wonderful!

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    1. Julie, once I saw the prompt, I knew I wanted to write something! Thanks!

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  15. Brilliant ending. So many things to ruin one's day :-)

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    1. Annalisa, thank you very much. I'm having a hard time feeling sorry for this guy.

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    1. Thank you, Kimberley! I enjoyed writing this piece.

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  17. Prompts are always fun. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Cleemckenzie, yes, Gaiman's first line definitely inspired me!

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  19. Hi Theresa. Yes, it is very Rear Window, a Hitchcock movie...absolutely great, as is yours. Love how you set the scene at the beginning and end for that perfect circle. You caught me by surprise with the intruder. Well told.

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  20. LOL This is definitely not what I expected.

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  21. Good job! I love the imagery you create with your words.

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    1. Thank you so much, Stephanie. I'm looking forward to reading your book.

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  22. Wow! That was quite entertaining, and really well written!

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  23. What a great prompt and a creative and entertaining piece to follow. Nice job, Theresa.

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  24. I love Neil- and what an excellent prompt! Loved reading your story. Well written and entertaining. :) Thanks for sharing!
    ~Jess

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  25. Great prompt. Your story was spot on with what you'd been given. Excellent story. AND you got me to go to my library site and put Neil's Ocean... book on hold to read myself. I've put off reading it for far too long. The Graveyard Book is one of my faves, and I know you've also seen Mr. Gaiman in person. He was treated like a rock star when he visited Cleveland.

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    1. Kim, thanks! Yes, Gaiman was treated like a rockstar in Cambridge too. I really enjoyed Ocean. Graveyard is still my favorite. He's got a great voice on the audiobooks.

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  26. Yikes! I did not see that ending coming. You just made me that much more paranoid to ever live in a city again. ;)

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    1. Crystal, just keep your curtains closed and your blinds down and you'll be fine!

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  27. Hi Theresa .. I waited til I had time to read this and it's brilliant - now what happens ... murder, mayhem, hidden depths ... you've tapped the lot .. and that poor cat I hope it's released ...

    Just brilliant .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Oh, thank you, Hilary.
      Yes, the cat is fine. The woman, not so much.

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  28. Oh wow!! Engrossing and totally creepy in a mesmerising way! Yay! Well done you! Take care
    x

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    1. Thanks, Old Kitty! It reminded me a little of my piece in 100 Stories for Queensland.

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  29. Never trust a cat. Really engaging piece.

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    1. HA! Yes, Leslie, cats can be pretty sneaky!

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  30. Awesome, Theresa! You had me hooked from the start. Gosh, but what a callous guy he is!

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    1. Deniz, yeah, the guy is kind of creepy. Glad you were hooked!

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