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Massimo Marino, 04 Oct '12

                                                                        Tender Moments

        He liked those moments of infinite sweetness, when time seemed suspended. They meant life to him. Cleaning was the hard part, though. Amy loved a pristine house.

                                                                                        *

        "MISSING FOR NINE DAYS”

        The words took the full width of the newspaper. He nodded to the boy.

        "Oh, that's for Johnny, sir. He went missing. No one has seen anything...this is a peaceful county."

        "Must be peaceful for Johnny now, too."

        The boy looked puzzled; he didn't get the pun.

        "Listen. Any motels around?"

        "No, sir. We don't want trouble with people coming and goin'. This is a..."

        "Peaceful county. Got it."

        "That's $32, sir."

                                                                                        *

        He hated driving in dreadful weather and that night the weather was crazy. He didn't know the roads either which added to his frustration.

        "Fuck!" Water wet his shoulder, a corrosion crack on the roof had just lost its battle against the elements. He needed to change car, not just his life.

        He saw the rusty mailbox in a lucky blink. He hadn't seen any sign of life for miles and he was tired, too. He stopped when he reached the house. The flat wooden cottage had a side barn and it was engulfed in darkness. The door opened and a tall silhouette filled the entire space of its frame.

        "Howdy; I think I'm lost. And the weather isn't helping..."

        The tall man didn't react. A long awkward moment, time dangling like that in a bad voting system. He stepped forward.

        "I could spend the night...maybe in the barn?” He pointed to the car. “Roof's leaking...”

        He couldn't see the man's face. The silhouette advanced and he saw the man was smiling. Good, smiling is always good.

        "Sure...that's nothing," the man said, waving to the pitch-dark and rainy sky. "But it will get worse. Get the car in the barn."

                                                                                        *

        The living room was neat, with lots of little details only a lovely wife could care for. “So...here for business?” The man asked while they shared a beer.

        “Yeah. You married, sir?”

        The man looked around and smiled. “Indeed. You can tell, huh? She’s visiting her sister, in San Francisco.” Both men smiled.

        “What kind of business?” the man asked.

        “I...represent people. I took a detour. I want to reach Boise tomorrow. There might be some business there.”

        “Have a meeting?”

        “No. Just exploring.”

        “I see...” The man paused. “Well, you need to get up early then. You can’t drive fast on these roads.”

        “Sure, though the scenery is fantastic.”

        “Mountains always are. By Halloween, they are a joy of colors. Amy loves this season.”

        “Your wife...” It wasn’t a question, and the man just nodded.

        “Let me have you try a specialty of the house,” the man stood up and went to the kitchen. He came back with two glasses.

        “Here, taste this. A pure mountain specialty.” It was very strong, but delicious.

                                                                                        *

        The pain in his mouth was excruciating. And what was that smell? Someone was cooking. He couldn’t move. Tied up and hung like a pig, his entire body was spinning. Semi-conscious, he still felt the blade violating his neck. Right below his ear, then pulled out with force, cutting into one of his carotid arteries.

                                                                                        *

        The county sheriff knocked on the door. It was pouring rain again.

        “Hi, Doug.”

        “Sheriff.”

        “I know I’m wasting my time but have you seen a tourist driving around here these days?”

        “A tourist? You gotta be kidding.”

        “Yeah...”

        “Hey, before you go, I have tongue and kidney pudding. Killed a pig this week.”

        “Nahh, thanks but I’ll pass. Gotta go. And...so sorry for the loss of your wife, Doug. Amy was a fine lady.”

        “Sure. Anytime, Sheriff.”

                                                                                        *

        He loved those moments of infinite sweetness when hearts slowly stop and lives fade, trembling under his hand like a candle’s flame in an evening breeze. Cleaning was the hard part, though. Amy loved a pristine house.


                                                                                 -END-

Comments · 5

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  • Massimo Marino said...

    Sanity can be only skin deep. Love, instead, reaches much deeper...

    I wrote "Tender Moments" while having breakfast. If it doesn't sound odd now, wait till you read the story.

    • Posted 8 years ago
  • Anthony Blackshaw said...

    Welcome to Burrst Massimo. A chilling debut, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    • Posted 8 years ago
  • Massimo Marino said...

    Thank you Anthony.

    • Posted 8 years ago
  • Jean Woest said...

    Great story. Makes total sense that it came to you over breakfast. What I really love about it thought was that at first I was a bit lost and unsure of who and where the narrator was. Then things started falling into place so quickly and seamlessly and the chilling ending that bookended the beginning made me go back and reread it again and gather so much more out of it. Excellent voice and pacing. Can't wait to see more.

    • Posted 8 years ago
  • Massimo Marino said...

    Thanks, Jean. Indeed it was the effect I wanted to give...floating around a bit of uncertainty to then deliver the chilling scene I imagined in the basement, where the killer worked on his victims (the victim of the story and at least the missing-since-9-days boy, too).

    I am writing other short stories and putting them on Amazon (4 up, included "Tender Moments") with the same theme: a 'good feeling and emotions' debut, all is twisted in the middle but it is unclear who, where, and how. Then the horrific ending, and the 'good feeling and emotions' take up a totally different meaning. As you say, chilling ends that bookend the beginnings...

    I'm glad the story was of your liking.

    PS
    I was eating scrambled eggs when I wrote the line about the 'tongue and kidney pudding'... :)

    • Posted 8 years ago