Daily Prompt – Lament of the Failed Murderer

Trio No. 3 Create a post that mentions a dark night, your fridge, and tears

Nights are the worst. Darkness shrinks my world to the circle of light shining from the neighbor’s garage. Sometimes I see an animal trotting across the lawn, darkened in shadow.  In summer the most prevalent noise is the deep thrumming sound of insects; night time is theirs, not ours.

I’m not a morning person, never was, so I’m up late almost every evening. I don’t like the switch away from daylight savings time.   More time to think. I do like the early twilight that starts around 4pm, that time of purple shadows and cold breezes.

Cooking is a solace for me, a way to shape my world and create something of value. The fridge is starting to fill up with containers of soup and stews. There’s an apple pie cooling on the counter; I’ll have a piece of it later on, in the darkness, its sweetness providing a counterpoint to whatever grim crime show I’m watching on TV.

I thought that house arrest would be easy, a slap on the wrist, a way to evade real punishment. I was wrong. Sitting here, alone, day after day, I have to face what I did. The conditions are strict: I am allowed out once a week for 2 hours, with an escort.   Some weeks I just go for a walk, other weeks I run errands. Most of what I need can be ordered online and delivered, but I still prefer to pick out vegetables and fruits myself.

The fridge is the guide to my life. Before all this happened, back when things were normal, its contents showed a busy and productive life. There was always at least one container of spoiled food shoved in the back, forgotten and alone. Restaurant leftovers were everywhere. These days, my fridge is spotless, gleaming inside and out. The shelves are stocked with fresh, homemade foods.

No almonds, of course. Too close in flavor to the arsenic-laced cake that resulted in my confinement. I thought I’d get away with it and that no one would notice. Now I weep bitter tears each night, as bitter as that cake. My problem was not adjusting the recipe. Had I added more sugar… well… my life might have been different.

I realize, now, what a fool I was. Our relationship was awful, but there were better avenues I should have pursued than the one I did. I hate to lose: that was the root of the problem. Filing for divorce, moving out; all the normal signs of a failed marriage, seemed undoable to me. I was too proud to admit my friends and family were right, that I’d married too soon, for the wrong reasons, to the wrong man. I couldn’t face up to letting go of my pride, to admitting I’d been wrong.

My plan was for a quick and simple death. My tears would be interpreted as those of a grieving widow, when in fact they would have been tears of joy. It didn’t work; he noticed and I was caught. I did get out of the marriage, but not the way I’d hoped.

And that is why I sit here, in the dark of night, with tears of grief and loss running down my face, and only the fridge for company.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Nighthawks

Untitled1You’ve seen the picture; everyone has. It shows a diner almost empty but for a couple leaning on one end of the counter and a lone man with his back to the viewer. Both appear to be watching the soda jerk behind the counter, the only subject in the picture moving.

What didn’t show up in the picture was me. I’m sitting on the bar stool just to the right of where the picture starts, invisible from the angle Hopper used. I didn’t make the cut. It’s the story of my life. I’m the guy who checks out 2 people ahead of the millionth customer, the sap who watches the winning home run ball bounce over his seat; just close enough to see something great, but never able to be a part of it.

Working behind the counter is Stan.   Back then he was the night manager. That’s not as impressive as it might sound; he was also the night cook, the night dishwasher, and the night cashier.  He’d grown up in the city, the oldest son of an immigrant family. When this picture was painted Stan was at City College, working nights and going to school during the day.   In a few years he’d be back at the diner, but as its owner.

The guy sitting with his back to the window was Jim, one of the regulars. Jim was a lush, what we used to call a booze-hound and now, in far less poetic language, an alcoholic. He was sobering up before heading home and to bed. This was back when Jim was still hanging on the perception of being in control of his life, still with a wife waiting for him at home and a job he’d show up to late the next morning. It wouldn’t last; within a few years he’d lose both, and the ability to blend in with everyone else. No matter how low Jim got, and he got plenty low, the night staff had standing orders from Stan to let him have coffee and a sandwich.

The couple were relative newcomers, young marrieds that had moved to the neighborhood just a few weeks earlier. They were theater people, used to having dinner long after most folks had gone to bed, and were ordering a meal from Stan. They’d just reached the point where their names were known; soon they’d be regulars, sitting down at the counter and more comfortable eating there than in their own dining room.

Edward Hopper, the artist, was another regular. He and his wife lived in the neighborhood, and came in often. Nice folks, not pretentious or “arty” in the least.

As for me, well, I was the one who, a few nights earlier, had suggested to Ed that this place would make a swell night picture. I was right, but I still didn’t get a chance to be in it. But then, as I said earlier, that’s just the story of my life.

Kitten Chronicles Continued

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I’ve learned much since my first missive. While my mental capabilities are far superior, I’ve come to realize the few advantages she has allow her to believe she holds the upper hand in our little pas de deux. Actually, there are only two advantages she has, but they are major.

The first is size. She can easily scoop me up in one of her massive paws. This is not mere hypothesis; it happens to me multiple times on a daily basis. Just when I find a cozy nook in the closet I’ll look up to see one of them coming at me. I can’t figure her out. When I attempt to include her in my games (I adore many of her dangly earrings and other jewelry), she picks me up and moves me to the couch. Okay, I can stay away; there is a nest of wonderfully pliant wires behind the TV set, and I can have just as good as a time playing there. That should be perfect, right? Nope, as soon as I start having fun there she is, bending down, picking me up and tossing me off to somewhere else. It’s clear her size is vastly out of proportion to her intelligence.

The second area where she has been blessed with a physical advantage is located right on those aforementioned meaty paws. I’m talking, of course, of her opposable thumbs. Sure, I have marvelously dexterous claws that allow me to pick up a single grain of rice one minute and eviscerate a vole the next; but I can’t turn the door knob to go outside, or open a can of that delectable food I get only sporadically. Oh, the cruel irony of fate and evolution. Were that I were her size, and with even one opposable thumb!

Still, I’m not one to dwell on the negative. I’ve been working on a few tricks, and while her ability to learn is painfully slow, there is some progress. The game I’ve been working on the most is one I call “Hallway escape”. It’s very simple, and deliberately so; to date I’ve caught only the faintest glimmers of cognitive abilities from her. Here is how the game works: when I hear her approaching the front door, I lie in wait and then dart out into the hallway.

At first, to help her learn, I would stop right outside the door. I can’t tell you how proud I was the first time I tried this game. She went to the front door, and I ran and hid on a chair located next to it. As soon as she opened the door I darted outside and then waited. Would she notice I was out? Would she know what to do? I held my breath waiting. She got it! Right off the bat, she noticed me and let me spend a little time enjoying the carpet before she picked me up and brought me back inside. It was a big moment. She’s picked up this game far better than I thought she would. Now we play it from either side of the door. I race up and down the hallway while she follows behind me, waiting until I’m ready to go back in the house. It’s one of our most fun times of day.

So, I have hope. I think that with time she may end up being fairly useful. If you don’t believe me, just come over one evening around the time she gets home from work. Watch me race out the door and down the hallway, with her dutifully following behind, letting me enjoy the delightfully scratchy carpeting before we go back in house, where she will immediately give me more food. That didn’t just happen; it’s the result of months of work on my part. They say you can’t train humans, but I know that’s not true. It just takes patience.