One Trick Pony

For the last fifteen or so years I've been living with a bunch of dead guys at a motel in West Texas. Like the characters in my stories, I'd really like to move on, see the world, go places. But I'm just like them. Anchored by love, worn down by circumstances and fascinated by how much there really is underneath it all. So I keep writing their stories and tell myself that someday, when I've got this all out of my system, I'll write deep, meaningful literature about... something else. In the meantime, this is a place for the short attention spanned. I'm making a commitment to keep it small here. Flash fiction and scenes from the life inspired by, The Bella Vista Motel.

Thanks for reading.

Pamila

Friday, August 20, 2010

All He Knows Is That She Left Him

Gabrielle parked the big blue Oldsmobile in the train station parking lot and cut the engine. She'd allowed the tears to run freely down her cheeks while she drove, but now she pulled a handkerchief out of her purse and began hastily wiping and dabbing, trying to salvage her makeup. Robert would be waiting for her inside, watching for her anxiously, watching for her husband even more anxiously. She glanced at her watch and sucked air through her teeth, she would have to hurry now.

She gathered up her purse and sweater and got out, walking around the car to the trunk.  She hadn't packed much, just one small suitcase with the essentials.  Her mind went blank as she opened the trunk and looked down at the suitcase.  It didn't look like anything important to her.  The thought of carrying it just made her feel tired and she had the urge to just walk away from it.  Leave it, run away from it, get on the train now, before you lose your nerve...

But she didn't have any nerve left to lose.  She realized that she felt nothing all of a sudden, that her whole body was numb and empty.  She had already done the worst possible thing.  The only one that mattered to her, the only good thing she had ever done was gone.

She could still picture him sitting beside her in the car, so proud of the suit she'd bought for him just that morning.  Navy blue short pants, a crisp white shirt under a matching jacket with a fine white linen handkerchief in the breast pocket, folded just so.  She'd clapped her hands and laughed and said how smart he looked when he came out of the dressing room, beaming. The salesman had agreed and said it was just the thing for a boy of five to wear to an important party.

She’d made him practice his manners and he kept repeating, “Good afternoon.  My name is Salvatorre Allamonte, I am pleased to meet you,” in a plummy little imitation of radio englishmen as they drove.

The vision of him standing at that huge wrought iron gate, her tiny little man, her funny little boy, all ears and nose and bright hazel eyes, staring at her with that pale, stricken expression as she waited in the car across the street for someone to answer the bell, made her heart turn over in her chest and her stomach heave.  He'd known.  He was so smart.  He'd known she wasn't coming back.

“You should have taken a taxi,” Vincent said flatly from behind her.  "The flashy ride was pretty easy to keep track of.”

She closed her eyes and almost smiled. This was right, she thought, this was how she knew it would go.  At least my boy won’t have to watch me die slowly.

“You did manage to give me the slip for a little while.  What’d you do with the kid?  Leave him in a basket at the orphanage?”

She dropped her purse in the trunk and let the sweater slither off her arm like a small, quick animal.  Her hands fell to her sides.  “I took him to the Boss’ house for Oma’s birthday party,” she said softly.  She heard Vincent’s sharp intake of breath behind her and she did smile then.  Surprise, you didn’t know everything after all, she thought.

“He’ll be fine, he’ll make new friends and have a good time.  I watched him go in, they wouldn’t turn him away, it wouldn’t be polite.”

“Yeah?  And then what?  He gonna mix with a better class of kid and step up in the world?”

“Be good to him, Vince, if you’ve got any kindness in you at all, use it on him.  He’s better than either one of us deserves.  Please don’t take out your anger at me on him.”

He was standing very close behind her, she could feel his whole body shaking against her back.

“I told you I’d have to kill you if you ever cheated on me, I told you... why’d you have to do it?”  His voice was a strangled whisper next to her ear.

"Turn the radio on for him at bedtime, he can’t get to sleep without soft music on.  The apartment is so loud.  And make sure he practices his penmanship, it’s difficult for him, he needs to practice.”

She turned around and looked up into his hard, angry face, “Oh, Vince, please don’t hurt him...”

He gritted his teeth, pressed the gun up under her breast and shot twice.  

20 comments:

  1. A slash to to the jugular. Straight up noir. You are the master.

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  2. Oh. I felt those shots, both of them - one for her, and one for the boy. This was sharp. So well done.

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  3. Quite sharp and clean and beautiful story telling here. You are such a wonderful writer.

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  4. Another gorgeous piece of prose, Pamila. A taut and nerve-stretching work. The tension was so palpable I got butterflies and almost jumped at the bluntness of the end. Fantastic as always.

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  5. I don't know of any scribe that writes in pure black-and-white like you do. Every story you weave feels like an old flicker on TCM. I wanna live in these tales. And that ending... Dayum...

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  6. This was so well done, I read half of it without taking a breath. Truly a great piece!

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  7. Really clean and perfect story. Harsh and gut wrenching stuff. Your writing is so smooth and intense, and that ending.

    It really was like an old movie on TCM. Just excellent.

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  8. So glad you guys dig the TCM vibe, that's my world.

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  9. Well, to be fair though, AMC had me for a long time before TCM, and the hacked up reruns on regular TV before that. I was born with an imagination that played in black and white.

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  10. Wow. I whimpered a little at the shots. This was an effective piece that drew me in completely. This one was incredible.

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  11. I loved this one, Pamila. One of your best. Your mixture of details, her thoughts and the sense of what's coming drag us in. As Ant said, "...pure black-and-white..."

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  12. A practical woman, no unafraid, but able to deal with consequences.

    "...she didn't have any nerve left to lose..." I loved this line. I underscores how everything has been pared away for Gabrielle.

    This didn't let go and the ending fit perfectly.

    Well done.

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  13. It's funny you said that Pamila, but this played in my head in black and white as I read it. It had that old feeling to it. Excellent job. I love your stories.

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  14. Tight and taut, girl -- just excellent writing. You have this noir stuff down cold. Peace...

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  15. Gosh this is a powerful piece. The way she thought of her son first made it so deeply sad when the ending arrived.

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  16. Sharp and crisp - to the point. Great work. I was with her all the way on this, you have great style. Well done

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  17. Excellent story. Gritty. You showed the mother's love quite well before it was all ended.

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  18. Wow. Your firm control over your material is admirable. Tough and tender at the same time.

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  19. God, your writing never fails to amaze me. Such raw emotion but such tight prose. Excellent stuff.

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  20. You know, you guys really encourage me with your comments. I've been doing this stuff by myself for a long time. Your interest means a lot to me.

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