For the Terribleminds Flash Fiction challenge, “Twisted Love“.
His was a good life.
Charlie left his desk at his office promptly at 5 PM. His secretary was certain to take all incoming calls from this point, regardless of the status of his cases. His accountant was already up to speed on everything, his accounts in order and better than ever, and nothing else really mattered. The end of another good day.
He drove his BMW down his streets just the way he liked. He drove as fast as he wanted, and never bothered to use the turn signal. Why should he? It was his road, this was his sedan, and nothing was going to stop him. The poor jerks in their poor coupes and poor pickups were just jealous. They’d be even more jealous if they knew about his hot wife in his big house at the end of his lane.
It wasn’t perfect, though. Not yet. His big house wasn’t quite the way he wanted it. Someone would have to carry on his legacy, inherit his greatness and his history, and tonight was the night he was going to make that happen. His friends would be hitting his town without him, with all apologies to the lovely ladies they’d be seeing at his bar. But his family, as he told them, was more important.
He pulled into his driveway, parked his car, grabbed his briefcase, straightened his tie as he walked up his walk, and entered his house.
Charlie’s cheerful words died in his mouth when he saw her standing there.
She stood with a pair of suitcases from his matching luggage set. She was dressed for travel, in smart and form-fitting jeans under a white blouse with a dark jacket over it all. Her hair was back in a ponytail to show off his earrings, and she toyed with his wedding ring as he struggled to speak. The struggle was even worse when she said three words he did not understand.
“Come again?” That was what he managed to say.
“I said, I’m leaving you.”
“Ronnie, what’s wrong? What’s going on?”
“What’s wrong?” Veronica’s blue eyes seemed to flash under the light of his chandelier. “What’s wrong? I should be asking you, since you’re home so early. What’s the matter? They run out of whores for you to fuck down in the city?”
Charlie held up his hands. “I don’t know what you’ve heard…”
She shook her head. “Don’t bother. It’s not like I don’t get it. You’re rich, Charlie. And that was fun for a while. But that’s all there is to you. You think you can buy your way into whatever you want.”
He blinked. “You want to leave because I’m rich?”
“No. I am leaving you, and it’s because you’re a selfish, possessive, whore-mongering asshole. You know, I don’t think I would have minded you fucking around if you had bothered to tell me. Hell, it might even have been fun. But no, you had to run around behind my back with your little friends and do this to me.”
“Ronnie, baby, I can stop…”
“Shut up. Just shut up.” She threw an envelope at his feet. “Those are test results, Charlie. I went to the doctor because I’ve been in pain for days. Not that you’ve noticed. It’s chlamydia. Chlamydia, Charlie. Who knows how long I’ve had it? Now the doctor isn’t even sure I’ll be able to have kids; we won’t know until after this has been treated.”
“We can fix it…”
“No. There’s no ‘we’ anymore, Charlie. I’m leaving. I already talked to David Wescott, at your firm, about the divorce. It’s a strong case but we can settle amicably if you cooperate.”
Charlie loved her. Even standing there, furious at him, he loved her dearly. He couldn’t imagine his life without her. She was his wife. His wife. His wife. As long as she was in his house, she was his, there was no question about that. So, he reached behind him and locked the door.
“What are you doing, Charlie?”
“You can’t leave. You’re mine.”
Her jaw tightened. “You can’t keep me here, Charlie.”
“You can’t leave.” Maybe she hadn’t heard him. “You’re mine.”
“You don’t own me, you sick bastard.” She pulled off the full-karat diamond ring and threw it at him. “You don’t own people.”
“You ungrateful bitch!” Charlie crossed the distance between them in two of his long strides and grabbed her shoulders in his hands. “You are my wife! This is my life and you are a part of it! Always have been, always will be, and nothing you say or do can change that! It’s my life! My rules!”
“Let go of me!”
He was going to tell her that he would call his doctor, and with his insurance, they’d be clean in no time, and then his wife would give him his children and start his family and then she wouldn’t leave for anything because his wife would love his children too much to take them away from him.
He was going to say that, but Veronica’s knee came up hard into his balls, and he collapsed onto his floor.
Through the searing pain and the tears, he looked up to see her fumbling at the door locks. He managed to get his feet moving, his hands pushing his body up off of the floor, and he practically rammed her, slamming her against his front door. He was down again, but so was she, and he was able to grab hold of her ankle.
“Let go, Charlie!”
She kicked him. A sharp heel laid open his face, and he screamed. His hand went to his face and she scrambled to her feet. He reached behind him, grabbing his briefcase, and he threw it at her as she tried to flee. It caught her in the small of the back and she went down again. She managed to stand as he sat up, getting his feet under him.
“It’s my house!” He looked around for something to grab, something to defend his home, keep it as it should be. “You can’t leave!”
She didn’t respond. He reached over to his umbrella stand, picking up one of his long golf umbrellas. He gripped it in both hands as he stood. When Veronica came around the corner, he was going to tell his wife that he loved her and he couldn’t bear to see her go.
That was before he saw his gun in her hands.
“Ronnie, put the gun down.”
“No, Charlie.” She was wiping tears from her face with her free hand, a bruise blossoming on her cheek where she’d hit the floor. “Please move.”
“That’s my Colt, those are my pearl inlays you’re holding, now put it down!”
“Charlie, you have a weapon and you’ve struck me, this is self-defense, now please move.”
“God dammit, woman, this is my house and you are my wife and -”
She shot him.
The sound was deafening in his front hall. His ears rang as he collapsed, pain blossoming in his leg, blood staining his pin-striped suit slacks. He grabbed the wound and howled. He barely noticed when she stepped over him, his suitcases in her hands, the sound of a taxi outside on his driveway.
His blood didn’t stop coming out of his leg, his hands were sticky, and he looked up at his chandelier, and he prayed to his god. Please don’t let me die, I’ll give her anything she wants, just please please don’t let me die.
The ambulance arrived at his door just as it was getting dark. He found out later that Veronica had dialed 911 from the cab, after calling her lawyer of course. He was told this when he woke up in the hospital, handcuffed to the bed, with two police detectives asking about his wound and her injuries. His morphine drip made him happy to answer their questions, his heart-rending tale of betrayal and love and loss certain to move them to tears.
Neither one of them moved, or showed any emotion. Tough crowd.
Someone had been listening, though, as Charlie did not die. He was alive, and fully conscious, when Dave Wescott, whom Charlie thought was his friend, told him that Veronica’s case was rock solid and it would be easier for everybody if Charlie just settled out of court. At that point, Charlie was too exhausted from physical therapy to argue.
He came home to a house that would soon not be his. He put the keys of his car down on his table and walked into his study. He opened his desk and looked down at his gun.
It was his. It was all his. And a voice inside his head told him it should stay that way forever.