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archive:stories:retrib
                               RETRIBUTION
                                               by Andrew Varga
                                               Copyright, 1991.
            What do you mean, "Tell you why I'm here"?  You've got
        my file right there in front of you, Doofus.
            Man I'm tired of this crap.  Why are you here, Turkey!
        Why always the same thing?   Why do you start with this
        garbage every single time?
            Okay, I messed up.  Messed up bigtime.  That what
        you want to hear?   I messed up when I mistook you for
        somebody with a shred of compassion!
            Of course I'm getting excited!  Start every damned
        time with the same damned questions-what do you expect!
            What?
            No, I don't want to.
            Okay.  Fine.  We'll do it again.  Dammit.
            I'll be calm.  Reasonable, yes.  Even reserved.
            I said okay, okay?  Get off my case!
            Where you want me to start?   Want me to explain again
        how you got the wrong one?
            Which beginning?
            Maybe I should go.
            Okay, okay.  So, what's your pleasure?
            Okay, but don't interrupt, got it?  Just you keep
        still 'til I'm done.
            Unplug the phone.
            So's we don't get interrupted!
            I told you I'm in control, now unplug the phone.
            Fine, have it your way.  First ring and I'm outa here.
            Okay, so I come home.
            Yeah, from work!  You want to do this or what?
            Then don't interrupt.
            I come home from work, and Julie meets me at the door.
        Right away I can tell that something's outa sinc.  She's
        actin' funny.  I gotta admit, she's a good kid.  When can
        I see her?
            Don't pull that on me!  If it was up to me, a whole
        lotta things'd be different.
            Then cut the mind games, man.  Okay?
            Okay, so I give her a big kiss like always and when
        I step inside, the whole trailer smells.  Kitchen fumes.
        She's gone and put on a genuine feed.  Right away I'm
        extra nervous.  It's Friday night and she never cooks on
        Friday night.  Told her before it's my night out, I know
        she's doin' this just to stall me.
            Cling-ons, man.  Women are just a bunch of damned
        cling-ons.
            Now that I think of it, she even looked different.
        Puffy, or fuzzy.  Yeah, kinda fuzzy around the edges.  Oh,
        she was glad to see me.  Hell, she's always glad to see
        me.
            I swear, if I brought home a bag of dog crap and told
        her it was a present she'd be tickled.  I can just see it.
        Here she is meeting me at the door and I'm at the top of
        the steps and I hand her this paper sack saying here
        honey, I got this just for you and by now it's gone all
        soggy-bottom and when she takes it the bottom falls out
        and this fresh glob splatters on her feet.  She looks down
        for a second and her smile doesn't even flicker and she's
        going oh sweetheart I love it you shouldn't have I know
        just to do with it you're so nice to me here let me take
        your lunch pail.  And before I get to the table, she'd
        have a big pot of flowers planted in the stuff.  That's
        kinda how she thinks.
            Huh?
            Okay.  So we're having dinner and she knows I'm going
        out.  Been telling her for weeks.  I'm thinking, so what's
        the big stinking deal?  It was a flawless plan.  I even
        got into a pattern.  One night a month, out with the guys.
        No way could she suspect anything 'cause it was a pattern.
        I mean hey, it'd be a whole different animal if we were
        married, right?
            So she just sits down from serving.  Big platter
        loaded with turkey.  That's another thing, man do I hate
        turkey.  It's the best we can do on what I'm making now.
        Like a fancy French restaurant steak to somebody like you,
        understand?  I still hate the stuff.
            So I'm choking down this slimy old bird 'cause time's
        just screaming by and I look up and she's starin' at me.
        And her lost-puppy eyes look like the little mutt's been
        gone for months.  I know she wants to talk, but I'm
        shoveling away 'cause I've got the plan, you know?
            So I finish and stand up to go and she hits me in the
        guts harder than I've been hit in a long time.  Three
        stupid words.
            "Honey I'm pregnant."
            So what could I do?  She's expecting me to cheer or
        grab her up and hug her or whatever.
            Remember that oh God not again my guts are being
        ripped outa my mouth feeling I told you about?  All I
        could do was go throw up.  Told her it must be sympathy
        pains.  She took it, loves me that much I guess.
            Okay, I lied about the bowling.  Happy now?  Gonna let
        me go on?
            Yes I was mad!  Tell me this when she knew I had to
        go.  I mean I told her enough times.  "Every month.
        Friday night.  Bowling."
            I remember getting the you're-going-to-see-another-
        woman-aren't-you look when I left.  So what should I tell
        her?  "Yes, Darling.  I'd never do anything to hurt you
        but I'm going to pay a visit to my ex.  But don't worry,
        she won't even know I'm there."
            Hey, I was in such a hurry I almost forgot the bowling
        ball.  Now that woulda been a major screw up.  I remember
        thinking, backing down the drive, maybe I should've had it
        drilled, in case she ever checked.
            While I'm driving I get this major rush.  My plan is
        unfolding and I'm watching -no- I'm living it after all
        this time.
            I'm going kinda fast but I don't care.  I'm going
        home.
            Okay, her house.  I misspoke, big deal.  It used to be
        mine, just like everything else.
            And the truck starts sputtering 'cause of this foggy
        misty crap coming down and I start to get like electricity
        shooting into my stomach 'cause I get the idea I'm not
        going to make it.  But then I figured it'd somehow make it
        easier, I'll be harder to see and I can walk if I have to,
        so the pain quits.
            I even planned out exactly how to park the truck in
        the trees out back so's nobody'll see it.  And I'm so
        quiet I can't even hear myself, pulling the rifle out from
        behind the seat, running army-style across the field,
        crawling under the fence, ducking behind the garage.
            A coupla years ago, back when I had the good job, I
        brought home some barrels.  You know, for trash and stuff.
        Boy did I catch hell for that!  Anyway, I had to put 'em
        back there.  I used them to get to the roof.  Knew they'd
        still be there, she never took care of anything.
            I was so stealthy Rambo woulda been proud.
            So I crawl up on the garage roof, which was a major
        achievement 'cause it's wet and slick as ice.  I  scramble
        up to the peak and look over it where I can see the
        driveway and the back of the house.
            Man, was I pumped.  Like when you're about thirteen
        and you've got your favorite magazine in the bathroom with
        you and your dad suddenly starts pounding on the door.
            Excuse me, you probably never did that.
            I didn't see my car -I mean her car- in the drive so I
        knew everything was perfect.  I hung on to the peak and
        waited.  I remember checking my scope a couple of times
        and wiping the rain off.
            I must've closed my eyes for a minute 'cause the
        pictures started again.
            Can we skip this part?
            Little Joey, yeah.  Laughing and running and we're
        kicking this soft little soccer ball around the back yard.
            I really don't want to get into this.
            What?
            So tell me this, Mr. Wiseguy.  Why is it that
        catharsis and catheter sound so much alike?
            All right.  I'm watching these pictures, stop action.
        Joey stops in mid-kick and his little face turns all sober
        with tears running down his cheeks like the day I left.
        Cattle-prod in the gut stuff.
            And then I'm in the morgue.
            Whoa pal, I'm not going into this again.  Told you a
        million times.  I told you how she swore she'd get me.
            That accident story is pure bullcrap, U.S.D.A.
        inspected prime.
            Hey, she even used to get me when I was graying.
            Graying, you know.  sliding from awake to sleep.  When
        you're laying perfectly still, 'cause you're too far gone
        to move yet your mind is still going.   You're in the gray
        zone, you can't move but you're just awake enough to know
        it and you can't make it stop.
            She'd lay there right next to me and whisper over and
        over.  I had to be cheating on her.  I had to be cheating.
        Who was it with.  Who was I cheating with.  Tell me I had
        to be and why was I lying about it.  Telling me how she
        knew I had to be doing it and how, the minute she had
        proof, she was gonna take a knife to a certain private
        part- MY part.
            Yeah?  Never heard that part before?  You think I'm
        gonna tell you everything that slaps around up here?  You
        think I'm crazy?  How many more times do I have to tell
        you, she's the one who should be in here, not me!
            Look, I'll make you a deal.  I'll stay if you put her
        in here, too.  But she's gotta be in another building.
            And nobody, but nobody tells her where I am.
            Not the topic, not the topic.  Man you're persistent!
            Okay.
            So I must have fallen asleep 'cause the next thing I
        know I'm sliding down the roof grabbing for my rifle.  Got
        right to the edge before I stopped, too.
            I sat there staring at my hands thinking, isn't this
        funny, my fingernails are gone but I don't feel a thing.
        'Bout here is where I hear the car coming so I scramble
        back up to the top.
            Looking back at it, I can't figure how she didn't see
        me.  Here's my head sitting like a pumpkin on top of the
        garage and the headlights are starin' me right in the
        face.
            The lights go out and the engine dies and now I've got
        the crosshairs on her door.  She always took so damned
        long to get out of the car.  Used to drive me nuts.
            But that's okay this time.  I USE MY time.  Slow and
        quiet, I bring the bolt back then forward and down.  And I
        wait.
            The door opens and she's getting out and my thumb
        reaches for the safety.  She's just standing there and I
        can't decide, headorheart, headorheart, headorheart.
            Cold and wet as it was, I was sweating all over. I
        finally rest the crosshairs on her chest.  Man she had a
        big chest!
            So I'm pushing off the safety, trying not to let it
        click, and the other door opens!  She's brought somebody
        home with her!  I lay there thinking the poor dummy, he
        doesn't know what she'll do to him and I should do her now
        and save him from her.
            He comes around the car and puts his arm around her
        and they start toward the house and I almost yell run!
        Run before she gets you, too!
            But I hunker down and aim again.  I can still get her
        in the back of the head before it's too late.
            Never wear street shoes if you're going up on a roof,
        especially a wet one.  Screw you over every time.
            They're too close together anyway.  Besides, I'd never
        do a stranger.  Poor dope's just going in for a quickie.
        Thing is, he never knows what it's really gonna cost.
            Isn't his fault.  I mean I fell for it, didn't I.
            At least he had the decency to pull the curtains.
            I wait, wet clear through and teeth sounding like
        maracas.  Like I figured, they came out about an hour
        later.  Took the safety off as soon as I saw the back door
        open.
            I knew what to go for this time and I waited as they
        came toward me.  Hey I was loving it.  Major turn on.  I
        mean I was Excited.
            I waited until they separated to get in the car.  The
        rifle was slick in my hands but I was too busy fighting
        the shivers to be bothered.  I settled the crosshairs on
        the bridge of her nose and waited for the right, the exact
        right split second moment.
            As it came I slowly squeezed the trigger.
            I gotta admit, that was the closest I ever came to a
        total body orgasm.
            Guys can have them, you know.  Read it somewhere.
            Lying there and thinking I've got you now you
        baby-killing whore I'll fix -no- I AM fixing your nasty
        old hide and there's no way you can BS your way outa this
        one and threaten all you want now it ain't gonna save you
        you're gut-splatters now you always were and you don't
        even know where it's coming from!
            All that stuff all at once, at that exact moment.
            I remember rolling away and my damned shoes sliding
        and the next thing I'm on the ground and she's screaming
        and the guy's coming around the garage.
            I hurt like hell but I had to get up 'cause the guy
        was coming and I wanted to look dignified when he shook my
        hand and thanked me for saving his little backside.
            'Bout then it hit me that he didn't really know what
        she could do to a man and maybe he wasn't all that
        thankful.
            I thought about using the rifle for a crutch but no,
        it would slow me down and I felt that I could fly if I
        wanted to anyway, so I left it.
            I'm half way across the field when I hear him shout.
        Little dummy ran into the electric fence.  Then is when it
        hit me.  Here's this guy who should be sending me fan mail
        for trying to save his butt and instead he's busting it
        trying to catch me.
            I musta been a real fright.  Sitting there in my
        truck, wet through, caked in mud, having to use my left
        foot on the gas pedal 'cause my right's broken, and
        laughing my fool head off.  A fat Rambo on nitrous oxide.
            I swear I don't know how he got there so fast.  He
        couldn't have.  Don't you think I'd have heard or felt
        something if I'd have really run over him?  Don't you
        think it would have left some kind of mark on the truck?
             It's her fault, the vengeful witch!
             I'm going back to my room now, okay?
             I never really meant to hurt anybody.  I mean look, I
        didn't even buy any ammo for the rifle.



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