Sunday, June 18, 2006

Red Ink

A cry went up. And I swear to god I don’t know where it came from. I mean one minute I was listening to that bastard berate me. And the next minute there was this dreadful scream like I’ve never heard before. Then his eyes went all wide and his mouth fell open as if he'd forgotten what he was going to say next.

For a second I thought that the scream had come from somewhere else. Outside maybe. Or it could have been a radio commercial on the little bookshelf stereo in his office.

Then I had to blink a few times because he started to shrink. Well that’s what it looked like. But he was sinking down to his knees. His eyes lifted to my face as he melted to the floor. There was something in them… confusion… tension…. Fear.

“Well it had to be done.”

I turned and just there to my right was Belinda. Passionless, matter of fact and oddly bemused as she watched Alain gasp for breath. The letter opener in her hand was dipped in red ink. Like the ink he’d used to mark up the copy I had written for latest catalog. Only darker.

He reached out toward me. Mercy? A mea culpa? A final blessing? But hadn’t he just been telling me how worthless I am? I forget now. I think it was “hack”…. I think it was something like that….

“Your turn, Honore” she thrust the letter opener forward with the point toward me.

She hated him for calling her a slut behind her back when she wore her skirt hems too high and her blouses cut too low. But is that enough? Enough of a reason to put a letter opener in his chest?

“Sure it is,” I said out loud.

But I didn’t take the silver ink-stained blade. I mean can you really kill somebody with a letter opener?

“You can’t do it.” It was a simple statement of fact.

And with that she flipped it in her palm and thrust it into Alain’s throat in a single, swift, and alarmingly graceful motion.

No cry went up this time. Just a gentle gurgling that reminded me of the brook behind our house when I was a girl. I looked down at Alain who now collapsed onto his side. Eyes still looking up at me as red ink bubbled in a lively stream from his neck.

“We’d better go now.”

I followed her out of his office and down to the lobby. I was thinking about my resume. I guess, I’d better update that puppy now, huh? I hoped I could still get a letter of recommendation from Human Resources. I mean I’m never late. I hardly ever call out sick. I’m a people person.

I figured I’d better turn in my badge now. I could always do the exit interview by phone. Patrick, the desk guard picked up the badge I tossed at him. He seamed pale.

“Jesus! Honore what happened?” He looked at the badge and then back at me, scanning my clothes.

I looked down. Décolletage exposed beneath my blouse, glistening like wine, the white silk speckled with burgundy. Even my miniskirt blossomed with rosey flecks. I was covered in red ink. Indelible red ink. Shit, I didn’t even think my drycleaner could get all that out.

Instinctively my right hand came up to the stains. Something glinted in it.

“What have you done, Honore?”

His question was a disappointed groan of chastising authority. Like my mother calling out my Christian name in frustration when I came home from playing in the stream behind our house. My white Sunday dress covered in mud.

“Honore Belinda Jones! What have you done!”


I would like to thank JJ of Flash Fiction Friday fame for giving me the opportunity to safely murder in effigy one of the current sources of stress in my life. The real Alain is not my boss but rather a colleague. If he knew how close he came to meeting his maker I'm sure he would say "thank you" as well.


The Notorious S.O.B. said...

And thank you for the great prose. Nicely done. And here I thought I was the only one who kil...ahem, wrote stories of wonderful workplace good-riddances.

angel said...

i just love a twist to the tale!

Melissa said...

Very nicely done!

Writeprocrastinator said...

Sweet and not too soiled.

And you complain of a lack of brevity? That was succinct and to the point.

sweet trini said...

a pleasure.
walk good.

porchwise said...

Good writing.

Buffy said...

"Murder in effigy."

Now that's a phrase and a half.