Routine

Reads: 343  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 1

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Everybody has their own daily ritual, and Richard Aciavello is no different. But something seems off about Dick's daily grind.

Submitted: June 30, 2015

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 30, 2015

A A A

A A A


Richard Aciavello sank his fingers through his sticky black hair, his scalp was slick with sweat and the movement gave some relief. He glanced down at his father’s watch, its arms outstretched to 4.30. ‘Only 4.30’ he let his face screw into a ball and returned to his illuminated square prison. It had been a long day for Dick, not because the work was overly taxing, in fact it was the end of the working day that taunted him now. The purple crescent moons that underlined his eyes were growing deeper every day, his new routine taking its toll.

He opened his desk drawer, searching for the little jar of hair wax. Fingers finally finding the familiar shape, the label read COUNTRY CLEAN, the brand he’d used since his teenage days living with his Father in Elizabeth County. He scooped a hefty handful and moulded it through his hair until it glittered and shined like glass. With his hair immaculate, he replaced the jar and fumbled for something else; a bottle. He threw it back greedily, the single malt cascading down his throat bringing that fiery sting of relief. He always drank after 4, it was easier to go home and face Jane when you felt like you were 7 feet under water with a mouth full of silver.

‘Dick!’ a voice shot from over the top of his cubicle, followed by the square head of Chris MacKenzie, his face cratered with pimples of various sizes. He hid the bottle away just in time. ‘Are you and Jane still coming over on Thursday for Claire’s birthday? I know I asked you yesterday but Liz has just been up my arse all day’ he pumped his fist into the air to demonstrate.

‘Yeah, ah, shit. I don’t know Chris. Things are just a bit all over the place at the moment. Jane’s under a lot of stress’ Dick said as he moved papers around the desk in an effort to appear busy; though Chris took little notice.

‘Yeah I get ya’, it’s just Liz mate, and you wouldn’t believe the grief she gives me. And I mean you said you guys were coming last month, and Claire’s all excited that Sadies coming you know’ Dick didn’t answer, maybe it was the half bottle of scotch in his veins or his tired mind, but he found himself mesmerised by one of the pimples on Chris’s chin. It gave him the stink eye. ‘Hey Dick? Did you just hear what I said?’

‘You should squeeze those pimples Chris, it looks fucking disgusting you know’ He locked eyes with the square head; Chris stood open mouthed. The pimple continued to give the stink eye. There was silence for a moment before Dick finally allowed mercy, ‘Alright, alright. I’ll know tomorrow for sure’ before returning to his paperwork charade, circling random words on the report. The stunned Chris regained himself.

‘Ah yeah, thanks’ the square head dropped back behind the cubicle wall like a mole disappearing back into its hole. Dick checked his father’s watch again. 4.51.

‘Close enough’ he said aloud as he methodically packed his old leather satchel, the initials of his father H.I Aciavello still imprinted in thick black permanent ink staring up at him as he filled it. First he placed the jar of Country Clean, then the bottle of single malt, cigarettes, the ladybug plush and bouquet of white littlies; Jane’s favourite.

He slid his key into the ignition feeling it bite against the metal and his little blue machine purred to life, hissing loudly as it always did when it was too hot for the fan belt to keep up. Purchased when he was 23, the kind of car that every man buys himself when he’s just started a young family. Of course he had been optimistic back then. Jane was going to go back to work and he was in line for the floor manager position because Hildabran was dying of cancer. But unfortunately Hildabran didn’t die; so no promotion. It didn’t matter these days though, it wouldn’t fit into the routine anyway.

He lit himself a Benson and Hedges and punched the accelerator. Sucking away on his cigarette, listening to Venus in Furs by The Velvet Underground. He could never quite work out what the lyrics meant; but he knew it was dark. He liked that. He committed his 3rd cigarette to ash as he rolled the Bluebird into the driveway. The curtains were still drawn, he always left them that way now. Jane didn’t mind. He let himself in through the front door, the white paint starting to peel and yellow after years of neglect. The house was dark, the doorway so black it imprisoned light like a gaping black hole. Only the faint scent of decay evaded it; a smell Dick had grown quite used to.

‘Jane! Sadiebug! Daddy’s home!’ he called, but no one answered. They never did. Just waited. He smiled to himself and walked through to the lounge room, throwing his father’s bag down against their homemade coffee table, still smeared with finger paintings of toast and strawberry jam from Sadie’s breakfast. He checked his father’s watch. 5.58.

Chicken crackled and popped like a madman in the electric chair, the smell of freshly cooked meat persisted through the house. Dick stood silently before the stove, prodding it occasionally with the steel spatula when it seemed necessary. He sat alone at the table, consuming small pieces of chicken that he cut with unnecessary precision, undeterred by the maggots and flies that had infested and colonised the rotten chicken breasts that sat on the other two porcelain plates.

For dessert he finished the single malt, taking long stiff drags from his cigarette in between mouthfuls of liquid silver. He relished the feeling of the smoke tunnelling its way through his lungs, (Jane had never stood for smoking inside). He sat upright on the breakfast coated coffee table and stared at the television which buzzed loudly as it projected the dead channel, the sound of static filling the house. He checked his wrist. 2.28. The routine was almost over.

He climbed the stairs with drunken steps, the ladybug hanging in his left hand, bouquet in the right,] silver pulsing fast and hot through his veins; always better that way. He came to Sadie’s room, with the door wide open he peered in and laid his eyes on his little girl, his princess, his Sadiebug. He crouched low next to her, stroking her arm softly, feeling her cold skin on his fingertips.

‘I’ve brought you something baby girl’ he whispered, placing the ladybug amongst the others. Dozens of them swarmed about Sadie now, creating a vibrant throne of red and black plush. Dick stood up stretching his arm out slowly, his hand resting against her chest, letting his fingertips find their way to the tiny hole that should not be there. That part was always the hardest for Dick, but he had to; his routine dictated it now. He came lastly to his own room. Jane was in bed as she always was, laying silently on her side in amongst the white sheets, the red streaks mixed in like a bowl of strawberries and cream. Only one step remained. He removed the old bouquet and replaced it, tossing it into the closet which had now become a great thicket of white lilies that varied in decay.

Taking his spot beside the bed, retrieving the brown box that hid beneath it and opening the lid. The Smith and Wesson steel greeted him as he lifted it from its tomb and laid it across his temple. Dick breathed deeply.

‘1’ he counted.

‘2’ the revolver did not waiver.

‘3’, silence.

Dick let the air rush out of his lungs again, realising the tiny steel hammer had hit harmlessly against the empty chamber. He placed the steel back into its cardboard tomb and slid the box into its place. He stood up and stared at his wives breathless body.

’1 in 6 chance; 15 routines’ he said, ‘Guys at the track would be drooling over those odds’. He stood up and undressed, laying the clothes neatly against the nightstand. Standing naked in the dark room he climbed in next to Jane. He unclasped his father’s watch, laying it too on the nightstand. He turned on his side and threw his arm around Jane, the familiar sensation of her cold skin and dried blood pressing against his chest.

‘Goodnight baby’ he kissed the back of her neck softly.

Dick woke up at 7am like clockwork; no alarm needed. Sitting upright, he reached for his father’s watch, the arms stuck on 3am as it did every night since he had started the routine. He wound it precisely and dressed himself. Finding himself back in the Bluebird soon enough, another bottle of malt already cradled in his fingers; ready for the daily saturation. He drove through the roads in silence, kept company by the hissing of the fan belt; made fainter by the cold morning. He made his 16th detour to the plaza before work. A florist.

He waited at the counter patiently, occasionally checking his father’s watch. 8.37. 8.39. 841. At last the young girl emerged, Dick had always fancied her in the past. She was bubbly, face all circles and smiles and her hair dyed a spectral shade of blonde. He flirted with her when he’d bought Jane the first bouquet for their 12th anniversary, before the fight and before the burden of his mind had gripped him and snapped it so violently. Just as it had gripped his father so many years ago.

‘Anything else?’ the girl asked plainly, her puzzled look having faded after the 5th time she’d questioned Dick about the recurring purchase, always receiving the same simple and rehearsed explanation.

It’s just my routine.

 

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2018 Keith Loveday. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments

avatar

Author
Reply

More Flash Fiction Short Stories