Why he continued to play every week with the same people and never won one game? He didn’t know the answer, but he knew he couldn’t help himself. He loved to play cards. Even if he lost… And he was losing a lot. However, he always had an incredible hand. How could he lose? His wife was discouraged to see him returning home late in the evening, crestfallen and completely empty pockets. She had never encouraged him to play. She hated gambling. Secretly, she was pitiful to get involved by his friend friends while he never won. Why didn’t they get him out of this hell? If they really were his friends, they should help him. Not encouraging him!
It may be my turn tonight. He always said the same thing every week. Except that it never happened. He lost all the time. It was more than simple bad luck.
Not leaving taking his eyes from his cards, he tried to hide his disappointment. He didn’t have what he wanted. No wonder he lost tonight too. He emptied his glass, scrutinizing the faces of his friends, trying to detect the slightest emotion. They were perfectly calm. How do they do that? Brad asked two cards while Charlie and Wesley asked for three. How many was he going to ask? His game was completely crap, but he could not ask for four. The others will discover he had nothing. Finally, he asked two. He was surprised that he now had three times the same card. In his case, it was almost impossible! Charlie threw money on the table. Wesley revived, but Brad threw his cards on the table. They all turned to him.
“So?” Wesley asked him. “What are you doing, Paul? You’re playing or you’re out?”
Paul hesitated to give an answer. He might have three times the same card, but he didn’t know what his friends had. They could very well be a suited or even two pairs. Lucky as he was, the situation could very well turn against him. He already lost five hundred dollars… He was very nervous. For once, he had a game quite interesting, but he could lose everything. And it wasn’t what he wanted. He took some money left in his pocket and threw it on the table, a serious expression on his face.
“It’s not true…” Brad sighed.
“What happened to you?” Charlie asked. “Are you trying to lose again? If you lose once again, your wife will dump you!”
“She would have done it a long time ago,” Paul muttered.
Getting back to his cards, he waited for Charlie to do something. Everyone around the table seemed absorbed by their thoughts. Paul was eager to get over with it. He could lose, he knew it. But he also could win. And this time, he was confident of winning the bet. By cons, if he lost again, he was totally broke. It made him even more nervous. He should concentrate on his game and not thinking about anything else. Everything depended on those cards. He tried to control his shaking fingers. He couldn’t afford to lose again. He didn’t want to. He dreaded the time to show his cards to everyone. Wesley laid his cards on the table, a small smile one his lips. He had a single pair. I’ve got better! Despite the immense joy he felt, he remained as calm as possible. He must remain very calm. Charlie waved.
“Your turn, Paul.”
The moment of truth has arrived… He laid his cards in front of him on the table, holding his breath. Brad was a gasp while Wesley cursed. Feeling a huge wave of pride and relief, Paul stretched out his hand to recover the money in the middle of the table when Charlie asked him not to steal his money. A spark was shining in his eyes. No! He has no right to do this to me! With a dramatic motion, Charlie proudly laid his cards on the table. Paul couldn’t believe his eyes. Why it always happened to him? He had done nothing to deserve such bad luck. Charlie had four similar cards. How was this possible? His friend laughed, clapping in their hands.
Paul went back home. He quietly closed the door, taking care of locking it once inside. He didn’t want to wake up his wife. She should already be in bed since a long time. He didn’t want to discuss with her what he had lost once again. He thought she was more irritable now. Unfortunately for him, his wife was sitting of the bed, her arms crossed over her chest. She watched him with her icy stare. He took a deep breath, looking down.
“Do you know what time it is?” she spat out scornfully.
“Where have you been? I guess you were playing cards again.”
He heaved a deep sigh.
“I’ve had enough! You still lost money playing cards with you friends! How can you continue to do this?”
“You can’t understand.”
“On the contrary! Poor pathetic fool! You spend your time playing cards and lose the little money you bring in this house. As if we needed extra expenses!”
He preferred to remain silent. He was aware that it wasn’t worth the trouble to talk with Marilyn when she was angry like that. In these moments, she refused to listen and made it her own way. As expected, she began to give him a long speech about the benefits of savings. She told him it was important to put money aside for harder days. Over time, he learned not to listen when she treated him like a little boy. He slid his suspenders while going to the bathroom to brush his teeth. She continued her spiel, still sitting on the bed.
“When are you going to become a responsible adult?”
“I’m tired and I want to sleep. We’ll talk about it another time, please.”
“You always put everything later.”
“Honey, I’m exhausted.”
Furious, she threw a pillow and a blanket before pointing at the bedroom door.
“You’ll spend the night on the couch. Good night and rest well.”
She stood up and pushed him out of the room before shutting the door at his face. Paul stood for a moment at the door, stunned. He didn’t expect that. Marilyn had never kicked him out of their room. He frowned and then returned to the living room. He dropped on the sofa after disposing of the pillow and the blanket. He lay on his back, fingers crossed behind his neck. He thought about what happened this evening. What would have happened if he had won? How much money was on the table at this point?
* * * * *
In the morning, he was surprised that Marilyn had left the house without leaving any note. She used to do it. He cleaned his stuff before taking a long shower and shaved. He hadn’t slept really well last night. Impressive dark circles were digging their way under his eyes. He went to pick up the newspaper and moved into the kitchen to eat two slices of toast and drink a coffee. He ate with no real appetite, looking at the newspaper. He hated to sleep knowing his wife was angry at him. In addition, she was gone without telling him where she was going. It really boded no good. He would probably have to spend another night on the couch. Finishing his meal, he rinsed the dirty dishes, wondering how he could rectify the situation with Marilyn. The door suddenly opened. He suspected she was still in a foul mood. So, he chose not to move until she asked. More cautious. A few seconds later, Marilyn walked into the kitchen, arms full with shopping bags. She glared at him.
“You could have helped me!”
He didn’t answer. She put the bags on the counter and began to empty them. Sudden movements demonstrated how she was angry. He wiped the dishes he had washed, taking care not to look. He felt ashamed. He hadn’t had chance the night before, no need for the drama. His friends were not the cause. Even if they didn’t discourage him to play with them, they were his friends. He loved gambling and Marilyn knew it when she agreed to marry him.
“I met Charlie at the supermarket,” she said, deposing the carton of milk.” He asked me how you were.”
He shrugged, contemplating his plate. He knew she wasn’t finished. She abruptly turned to him, one hand on her hip.
“How much did you lose?”
“I don’t know,” Paul replied, shrugging his shoulders again.
Knowing her very well, he knew she wouldn’t let go so easily. She was a specialist in harassment and psychological torture. To begin with, he hated the way she looked at him. Her eyes flashed with anger, profound impatience emanated from her being. He was trying to save time and she knew it. He eventually sighed and gave an evasive answer. He couldn’t remember the exact amount, but he was convinced that it was close to four digits. She exploded again.
“Have you lost your mind? We’re not rich, Paul. It’s not with your meager salary that we’ll succeed to survive. Money doesn’t grow on trees.”
“Marilyn… You should have seen my cards…!”
He had committed a big mistake. He shouldn’t have mentioned his cards. He could see the expression on Marilyn’s face turning from anger into catastrophic rage. She was literally out of herself. She took a step toward him to his him. He was amazed by this gesture. It was the first time she hit him during an argument. By cons, he managed to block the second shot.
“How can you wasting our money for a stupid card game?”
“Stop it, please!”
“You’re spending our money without consulting me. Can you imagine the shock when I receive the bills?”
“And you? Did you consult me before doing your grocery shopping? I don’t think so.”
“Food is so far from being a waste of money and you know it. But your card game doesn’t help us paying the bills already late! You’re wasting your salary on a fucking pathetic gambling game!”
“I can’t help it, Marilyn…!”
“With some will power, you can do it. And apparently, you’re far from having some.”
“It’s not that easy.”
“You’re a coward! You always swore that you could meet our needs when we got married. You should have told me: I have kept my job!”
He sighed again. He almost expected to see her jump on him to rip off his eyes. She reminded him that it’s been month he promised to talk to his boss about a raise well deserved. Or perhaps a promotion within the company for which he worked for more than fifteen years. Except that his wife didn’t know the whole story. He already had talked to Jim about a possible raise. The latter laughed at him telling him that a position would soon be released into his department. A job about being in charge of a part of his department and the pay was much higher than his. He already saw himself accepting the opportunity, but Jim was eager to break his dream, laughing like a weasel. The position was already filled by a young man straight out of one of the best universities in the country. Paul had felt an invisible stab sank into his chest. A young man freshly out of the university? The Jim added the lack of experience and qualifications were sufficient to take out his chance. I may lack experience, but the youngster still using diapers! About the raise, it was out of the question. Workload hadn’t changed to justify it. Paul didn’t say anything to Marilyn. Anyway, she would have said that it was his fault.
“You’re pathetic,” Marilyn grumbled.
“Perhaps, but at least I have a job.”
He bit his lower lip. He wanted so much to take it back. The slap wasn’t long to wait, instantly numbing his cheek already numbed by the previous one. The slam still echoed like a buzzing in his ears. It quickly became bright pink. He knew he shouldn’t have said that, but he hadn’t taken the time to think. At the beginning of their marriage, she had believed to be pregnant. Since she worked in a man’s world, a maternity leaf wasn’t the best option. Despite work standards. Everything was a good reason to fire an employee. She just quitted her job. Fortunately for her, the company had to put the key under the door two months later. The pregnancy was a false alarm. Subsequently, he asked her to stay home. They wanted to start a family, but it didn’t work.
“You reproach me a decision you made!”
“Honey, that’s not what I meant…”
“But I know that you believe it! I can’t believe it. I stayed to take care of our family!”
“I… I don’t blame you for not working, but another salary might help us.”
“After everything I’ve done for you…!”
With a flick of her hand, she asked him to shut up. It wasn’t worth adding anything. The discussion came to an end with what he had the audacity to tell her. Normally, Marilyn won the word battle with a scathing insult or a replica. The turnaround didn’t please him. Since their first date, it was the first time he told her frankly what he thought silently. And she didn’t take it very well. He left the kitchen, taking his keys on his way. He needed to breathe fresh air. He was tired of arguing because of money. He was aware of his gambling problem and he needed help, but he was afraid that it didn’t work. He often saw his friends. And if he fell after a successful therapy? Will Marilyn dump him? Will they lose their house because the mortgage wasn’t paid on time? The idea frightened him a lot. Perhaps the incessant quarrels with his wife bored him very much, but he still loved her. He refused to lose because of his gambling problem. He had to leave before it was too late.
Hands deep in his pockets, he reflected about a solution. He would be much better for him to be a father than gambling. As he was playing with his friends, he would stop seeing them again. To avoid losing control. Could they understand what he was trying to do? He hoped so. After all, they were his friends. They were supposed to help and encourage him. Caught in his thoughts, he didn’t know where he went. His footsteps took him to a seedy little bar where there were slot machines. As if his brain was disconnected from reality, he moved to a machine and inserted a piece to play. He spent nearly ten dollars before winning. A huge smile suddenly lit up his face. He finally won! Luck came to visit him for once! Quickly picking up his money, he went to ask the bartender to change the money into paper. It wasn’t an important amount, but it was better than nothing. He had hundred and forty dollars in his pocket, making a small profit for once. He pocketed his bet and a little extra. Before returning home, he made a short stop at the supermarket to buy a bottle of wine and two lobsters quite obese. Marilyn loved lobsters. Maybe he could be forgiven. On the way back, he also stopped to pick up flowers. He purchased his wife’s favorite: white roses. He hoped to make her happy.
When he returned, he noticed she was still angry against him. She began to yell when he set foot in the house. He had forgotten to tell her when he was going. He looked at her without saying anything. He let her scream her rage before giving her the flowers. Seeing them, she finally buckled and her eyes filled with tears. Then he showed her the bottle and lobsters. This time, she began to cry before jumping into his arms.
* * * * *
Fingers crossed behind his head, he waited to fall asleep. His wife was sleeping beside him. He had prepared a nice dinner and they were totally drunk, emptied the bottle of wine while chatting. His wife apologized and encouraged him to make efforts to resolve his gambling problem. She would be so proud of him if he could! Then they went into the bedroom where they made love. It’s been a while. They discussed their plans to have children. He knew Marilyn’s desire to have a family. So why not? But the more he thought about it, the more he was afraid. Marilyn could sometimes be annoying when she seriously put herself into. And having children with her… Their quarrels could eventually escalate and involve children and it surely won’t arrange things between them. In addition, she already had spoken about divorce… He sighed deeply, hoping to be sterile. He had managed to seduce her. This time, he didn’t do too badly. Would he still have change? He began to think about the next card game. Would he be so lucky? He shook his head. I made a decision and I have to respect it. Observing the ceiling, he waited until he was overwhelmed by sleep.
* * * * *
The next day, they got up very late. While lying in bed, they made love again. Then he rushed into the bathroom to take a long shower. He decided he didn’t want children, but he refused to discuss with Marilyn. If the idea of having a family made her happy, he would win because she would get off his back a little. And there was no evidence that they could have kids. They hadn’t passed any tests. He dressed and went to the kitchen where Marilyn was. She was preparing for them a little something to eat, a huge smile on her lips. She seemed in a good mood. He even had the right to a very hearty meal: fried eggs, crispy bacon accompanied by fried potatoes. She served a great cup of coffee before joining him.
“You’re still decided?” she asked him as she took a sip of coffee. “You haven’t changed your mind?”
“I have no choice. It must stop.”
“And your friends? You’ll have to see them a little less often. You think you can do it?”
“Why not? If they’re my friends, they will understand.”
“You’re probably right. It’ll be a good thing that you see them less. They’re not a great help to me. There are more important things in life than cards.”
Since having children, I guess… This time, he kept his comments to himself. They finished their meal wrapped in a heavy silence, each absorbed in their own thoughts. He thought about the reaction of his friends when they’ll know about his decision. They didn’t love his wife very much; surely they accused her of being responsible. They didn’t hate her: they despised her since the first day. Especially Charlie. He even tried to convince him not to marry her. Perhaps he had been right at the time, but not anymore. He was always in love with her and he wanted to save his marriage. Why Charlie had tried to dissuade him while he was his best man? Even today, it remained a mystery. While he rinsed the dishes, the phone rang. Marilyn was in the shower. He left the kitchen to answer. Wesley’s voice greeted him at the other end of the line.
“Hi Paul. How are you?”
“Not too bad. What can I do for you?”
“Did you recover from your bad luck last Friday?”
“Let’s just say I’m okay. Why are you asking me that?”
“We’re all in Brad’s for a little game. Will you join us?”
His heart began to pound harder in his chest. A card game on a Sunday? This was a first! Was there a special occasion? He was about to accept the invitation when he realized what he was about to do. And his promise? He really wanted to get over it. He took all his courage to refuse. His friend was very surprised.
“You understood me well. I don’t want to.”
“Since when do you refuse to play poker with us?”
“Since I decided not to play. Does it suit you?”
“Are you serious? No more cards with us?”
“Why are you doing this to us? Is it because… Ah! Would you shut up?”
Paul frowned. Who was the second voice he had heard behind Wesley? The answer came quickly. Charlie took the handset, offended that his friend will not play with them anymore.
“You can’t do that!” he shouted at the other end of the line. “Not now!”
“How can it affect you? I never win!”
“So what? You spend a good time with us. That’s all that matters, right?”
“You ruin me every time! And anyway, I don’t have any money on me. Remember: you guys emptied my wallet last Friday.”
“I can give you credit. Don’t give up, Paul…”
Credit? It was the first time one of his friends offered to lend him money to play. Why were they insisting that much? Paul drew a little too much in his reserves of courage to resist. He didn’t have enough will to resist for very long. And the fact that Charlie wanted to give him credit… You must resist! Come on! You can do it! Behind the imploring voice of Charlie, he could hear Wesley encouraged him to join them for a game. Then Charlie said something he was unable to resist:
“A final round with us before you quit. Okay?”
Charlie and Wesley made him promise never to torment him. Would they keep their word? Maybe yes, maybe no… One thing was certain: Marilyn will tear his head if she knew it. He wanted to play one last time. Then he realized that his wife was no longer in the shower. He had to hurry. Without thinking, he said to his friend:
“I’ll be there in an hour. Okay?”
“Perfect!” Charlie cried out, triumphantly. “In an hour at Brad’s!”
“And don’t forget what you said and promised me.”
“I know, I’ll give you credit and it’s the last time you’re playing with us. I promise!”
He hurriedly hung up, his heart still pounding in his chest. Marilyn came down to join him in the living room while he was trying to stay calm.
“Who were you talking to?”
“The guys are going to Brad’s to watch the football game.”
“Really? And they invited you?”
“To have a beer of two. I’ll take the opportunity to tell them that I’m withdrawing from poker.”
She approached him to kiss him on his cheek.
“I’m very proud of you, darling.”
She went back upstairs to get dressed. He finished thoughtfully tidy the kitchen. Unlike other times he lied to his wife, it came naturally out of his mouth. He hadn’t taken the time to think about what he could tell her. Fortunately for him there really was a football game on television. It happened sometimes to watch the game when Marilyn went out for a coffee with her friends. She didn’t know the truth about his poker game.
Very punctual naturally, he appeared at Brad’s exactly an hour later. Nevertheless, he was the last to arrive. They were already all around the table and slowly drank a beer while waiting. When he opened the door, they applauded.
“You could get away!” Charlie laughed, handing him a beer.
“This is really not what you think.”
“Ah!” Wesley threw laughing. “Of course! Did you tell her you were coming here?”
“Absolutely!” Paul replied cheerfully. “We’re watching a football game!”
Paul opened his beer and drank merrily before they got serious. Charlie handed the money he promised to his friend, an amount totaling five hundred dollars. Paul distributed the cards first. And they put the money in the middle of the table. To the astonishment of everyone, Paul won the first round. A huge smile on his lips, he picked up the money. The wind finally turned to me! Except he had to retire for the second. His cards worth nothing and he didn’t want to bluff. Brad won. He was still lucky for the third and the fourth round, but he stole a significant amount from Wesley at the fifth round. In the sixth, Paul hadn’t yet lost a lot of money. He played much more cautions than usual, unhurried. He took time to think before bidding. Finally, he won what he initially wagered. Charlie seemed annoyed to always lose. He hadn’t won anything since the beginning of the game. He avidly chewed a toothpick that stood between his lips. Relief could be read on his face when he won the seventh round. The amount wagered increased significantly. They were very determined to win a lot of money and they decided to fight. They openly declared war.
Paul threw a glance at his watch and froze. They were playing since five hours now! Marilyn would surely strangle him. Taking a deep breath, he rose from the table and announced that he was withdrawing permanently from poker. He pocketed the small profit he had finally managed to win. His friends strongly protested.
“Just one more game!” Brad insisted. “After that, you can do whatever you want. I promise!”
“Stay!” Wesley added.
Paul looked at them one after the other, undecided. Charlie made him another offer he couldn’t refuse: if he won the next game, he could go free with a clear conscience, taking with him the credit amount and his winnings. Nobody will say a word to Marilyn. He was able to withdraw from poker as promised and owed nothing to anyone. The offer was very interesting. According to his memories, he still had a thousand dollars to Charlie, excluding credit today. They insisted a little before Paul falters again. Decidedly, he really had no control. He settled back around the table and the cards were distributed again. Paul was the absolute leader in this game and he was having a sense of déjà vu when there were only him and Charlie. According to his calculations, there was about two thousand dollars on the table. He had a very good hand and something told him that Charlie was bluffing from the start. He based himself on that to keep on playing. They were finally able to show their game Paul had the same hand as last Friday… and Charlie…
Wesley was speechless and Brad sank into his chair. Paul began to tremble with rage. I lost again… How could I be so stupid to lose this game again? He jumped up, knocking him over his chair. Charlie amused himself after what he had just won. He proudly announced that he won the tidy sum of three thousand and five hundred dollars and they didn’t have to keep their promise. Smiling even more, he added that Paul now owed him nearly five thousand dollars. A heavy silence hung over them.
“And I want it until Friday. No delay tolerated, Paul. I want my money.”
Why being suddenly so ruthless? Paul felt a knot form in his stomach. How would he give him such amount before Friday? He mechanically walked towards the door and left the house. He got into his car and drove off. He seemed disconnected from reality, running on autopilot. He parked the car in front of the garage door and cut off contact. I need to find five thousand dollars before Friday. How do I do this? The question tormented him since he left Brad’s place. He couldn’t borrow money in their savings since there wasn’t that amount. Just one hundred dollars, according to his memories. Once in the house, he hastened to go to the bathroom to vomit. The knot in his stomach refused to leave. Marilyn joined him, very worried. She asked him if he wanted to go to the hospital, but he assured her that he felt better. He smiled faintly accusing the mixture of beer and pretzels. His stomach was completely empty, but he still wanted to vomit. Livid face, he went into their room to spread out and relax.
His trust and confidence built during the afternoon were collapsing in an instant.
* * * * *
In the morning, his condition hadn’t improved. Deep bluish circles dogged their way under his eyes. He didn’t look good. Marilyn was frightened at his sight. She took the phone to notify his employer of his absence, but he refused. He replied that he felt fine. She made no comment, even though she wasn’t really convinced. She wished him a good day though, knowing that something was wrong. He went to work. He dropped into his chair, no longer moving. He was still reeling from his recent defeat. He had to find a way to pay Charlie as soon as possible. Much easier to say than to do. If he already had that kind of money, he wouldn’t have to borrow it in first place. He had no means to give him back the money. His brain went into automatic mode and mechanically he began to pound on the keyboard. His mind wandered elsewhere. He hadn’t the slightest reaction when Jim told him he wanted to talk in his office. Slowly, Paul went to the office of his superior. Jim crossed his fingers on the desk on the top of his desk. He stared at Paul before going straight to the point.
Paul looked up at Jim, his shoulders drooping.
“I’m really sorry, believe me. It’s been a while since I’ve been watching you and I can tell you that your interest in your work is non-existent. I don’t know what happens in your life, but it doesn’t affect your workplace. Personal problems should stay with you, Paul. Don’t carry them around with you.”
“I’ve been here a long time and I…”
“Exactly! You haven’t changed since your arrival here and this is very unfortunate.”
“I could have the job in my department…”
“You wouldn’t have a chance. You’re far from being a natural leader. We needed someone with a lot more charisma than you. Don’t get me wrong. Your workload is the same you were hired. You’ve never met the company’s expectations. I’m sorry, but that’s life. Do you understand what I’m saying? You stayed the same point without changing to another level.
Paul jumped up from his chair, furious.
“I’m not doing a good job for fifteen years and you’re telling me now?”
“Not at all…”
“No one thought to notify me before today? I was part of a long list of things to do and the big heads have forgotten me? It’s about time!”
“It’s not worth of being sarcastic.”
“Fucking assholes! That’s who I’m working for fifteen years! I lost all those years when I might have been doing something else. Fucking assholes!”
Jim seemed offended by his accusations. He ordered him to calm down so as not to say things he might regret later. But Paul didn’t subside. It was very difficult to believe that it was happening to him again. As if all was well in his life! He could stand it no more. His entire universe collapsed and he couldn’t stand it anymore. He walked around the desk to grab Jim by his tie and savagely beat him. He felt his knuckles crack every time, but he didn’t stop.
“And I have to accept everything without saying anything, isn’t it?”
He struck him again and again. His fist was covered with blood. Jim moaned, his face practically reduced to mush. Paul dropped him on his elegant leather chair and left the office, tousled hair and messy shirt with blood stains. His eyes were bloodshot. Employees he met stared at him. He was scary. He got into his car without taking the time to clear his desk. He returned home, but remained a long time in his vehicle. He looked down at his trembling hands. He felt a lot of anger, but he realized one thing: he had just beaten up Jim. Why did he do that? He always had been a very passive nature. All his life he never got involved in a fight. His heart was pounding and his face was covered in sweat. Something was wrong with him. He wasn’t in his normal state. He had been fired from his job after fifteen years of faithful and loyal service and he had to repay the five thousand dollars he owed to Charlie. Should he mention his new situation? He would perhaps understand. He didn’t want a special treatment, just a little more time. He opened the door, but decided to call his friend to explain what was happening. He didn’t even notice the car parked outside the house. He went inside and went to the phone. He reached out to the handset, but stopped his gesture to listen. He could hear two people chatting in a room down the hallway: the bedroom.
Frowning, he first tried to recognize the voice. The first one was his wife’s. She was talking with another person with a deeper voice. She was with a man? His eyes widened as he closed his hand on a heavy casserole. He entered the hallway, clearly distinguishing the conversation. He heard details about their previous card game. The guy confessed experiencing some difficulties because hiding cards in his sleeves, it wasn’t an easy thing to do. She laughed. The guy told her that when her husband had left the apartment, he looked depressed. Marilyn confessed that he had been sick and his condition didn’t improve in the morning. They laughed like children. He replied that Paul might be depressed and could become suicidal. Paul couldn’t bear it no more. Without further ado, he burst into the room. Marilyn hastened to cover her body with a sheet while Charlie fell out of bed.
“Surprise!” Paul threw, a sneer on his face. “Did you miss me?”
“Paul!” Marilyn exclaimed. “But what are you doing here?”
“And I thought you were my friend. How could you do such a thing to me? You’re fucking my wife!”
“He only wanted to…”
Paul threw his head back in an exaggerated gesture and laughed in a way that made the two lovers shiver. Charlie nodded to Marilyn to say nothing. Paul threw himself on him, brandishing the heavy casserole that he still held firmly. The woman uttered cries of horror. Charlie tried to flee, but he couldn’t. The blows rained on him constantly and the pain prevented him from moving. Marilyn grabbed her husband by the arm, begging him to stop. With a sudden movement of the shoulder, he sent her against the wall. The blow was very violent. The wall knocked a little and a few drops of blood and now carpeted the painting. Half conscious, she tried to compel herself, lying on her back. In the distance she could hear the muffled moans of her lover and the cries of rage from her husband. Suddenly, nothing. A shadow darkened her sight and her eyes widened when she saw Paul waving the bloody casserole.
“Consider this as a divorce!”
She screamed, a sound that alerted all their close neighbors. The pan landed heavily on her skull, smashing it at once. Breathless, Paul dropped it again on the head of Marilyn. He stepped back, trying to breathe normally. The anger that lived inside him earlier faded a bit. His hands trembled as always. He gradually regained contact with reality. The clouds that had formed in his mind gave way to thoughts much clearer. His wife had an affair with a man he believed to be his friend. They both conspired to make him lose his mind and killed himself. He had to kill her and her lover. Kill… According to what he could see before him, the word wasn’t appropriate. He had slaughtered two people after beaten another. Jim would surely have called the police to lodge a complaint against him. With good reason, of course.
He raised his eyes to look at the scene he had created in the room. Marilyn was still lying on her back. Slurry of flesh, bone shards and blood that once was Charlie’s face was still near the bed. What should he do now? He was a murderer. He let himself fall on the bed, taking the face in his hands, thinking about what he should do. He didn’t know. His clothes were covered with blood from three different people and he was still on the scene of the murder of two people. In the distance, he could hear the police sirens. Jim did what he had to do. Shrugging, he went into the living room. He waited calmly that the police arrived. They broke into the house at gunpoint. Paul beckoned them that there was no problem. A tall man wearing a raincoat to Columbo stood before him and told him that he had to follow him regarding a complaint against him earlier. Paul shrugged his shoulders again before getting up slowly.
“Inspector, I forgot to tell you that there are two bodies in the room down the hall.”
The man was speechless before this confession made casually. Did he hear well? To be sure, he had to repeat what he had to say before some witnesses.
“There are two bodies in the room,” Paul repeated.
“And who are they?”
“My wife Marilyn and Charlie, a… friend.”
“How long have they been there?”
“Oh… Not for very long, I think. Calculate the time it takes me to leave the office and get here. It’s more or less that.”
“You know who killed them?”
“Yes. It’s me.”
He pronounced those words as if it were perfectly normal to kill people. No emotion appeared on his face. Without rushing, the inspector asked two of his men to check the room. When they returned, their face livid, he proceeded to arrest him. The inspector escorted him to his car, but ventured to ask him why he did it. Paul sighed, shrugging his shoulders again.
“I had a bad day.”
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