Thursday, October 8, 2009

Three points for the Devil -- #fridayflash

Wednesday Elaine met Don at the bar after work. She ordered club soda. Don raised his eyebrow. Don ordered Scotch on the rocks.

“No wine, tonight?” he asked.

“Not tonight.” Should she tell him now or wait until he finished his drink? She was watching him closely, sipping his Scotch, wondering how he would react.

“I’m pregnant,” she said, drawing him back into the moment. He stared at her.

“You’re kidding, right?”

“No. I wanted to be sure. I’m definitely pregnant.”

“Have you told anyone?”

“No.”

“I don’t know what to say. You knew from the beginning that I am committed to my marriage.”

“I’m still digesting it myself,” she said.

That night, Don couldn’t sleep. He was the Director of Human Resources. My God, he thought. What was I thinking? The scenarios kept playing out in his head. Would she expose the affair? Call his wife? Sue him for sexual harassment? Extort him for a payoff or child support? How well did he really know her? She was the same age as his wife, but she wore makeup and long hair, worked out and strutted around in high heels. How did she walk in those things?

There were no illusions about love between them. Elaine had been dating George, the Manager of the Sales Department, too. George was single.

Don went downstairs to his office. He sat at his desk and looked at the clock. It was just before two. He called George.

“George? This is Don,” he said. “Sorry to wake you but we need to talk.”

George sat up in bed. This must be serious, he thought.

“I know you and Elaine have been dating,” Don said. “I don’t know how to tell you this but I’ve been seeing her on the side. You get the picture. I mean, you’re dating other women, too, right?”

“But Don, you and Cathy, I thought you were happy,” George said. He was trying to picture Elaine in bed with Don. The image didn’t please him.

“There’s a situation,” Don said, cryptically. “Maybe we can help each other out.”

“What are you talking about?” George walked to the kitchen.

“Elaine’s pregnant. She told me tonight. I’m in a really bad position here. I could lose everything,” Don said. He sounded hoarse. “If my wife finds out I don’t know what she’ll do. Besides, I could lose my job. I mean, I’m the Director of HR!”

“Why are you telling me this, Don?”

“Well, I’ve been lying in bed trying to figure out what to do. I had an idea. There’s that Director of Marketing position open. I know you were hoping to be on the short list.”

George listened in disbelief. Other managers were in line who had been with the company longer. He was the youngest of the bunch and didn’t expect to be considered.

“I can make it happen, George. I make the ultimate decision in these things. How bad do you want the job? I could bump the salary up quite a bit.”

“It’s the middle of the night for God’s sake. What are you saying?”

“I want you to propose to Elaine,” Don said hesitantly.

“You what?” George gasped. “But I don’t love her and I’m not ready to get married.”

“I need you to do this,” Don said with hysteria in his voice. “If you propose and tell her you’re in line for a promotion, she’ll marry you. She’s been stalking all the executives, looking for a potential husband that could give her the life she wants. Obviously, I can’t do that.”

“You want me to marry her?” George said, stunned. “How pregnant is she?”

“A couple of months. If you propose to her right away I know she’d elope because of the pregnancy. I’d have you promoted within three months and you could buy that house you’ve been looking at.”

“Don, are you thinking clearly? Do you understand what you’re saying here?”

“This could work out best for everybody. You’d get your promotion plus a great piece of tail and I’d be able to keep my job, my family, my house. Help me out here, George. Please. I’m begging you.”

“Let me think this through tonight. Let’s have lunch tomorrow,” George said.

Six months later Randy was born. George thought he had Don’s eyes but nobody noticed. Elaine loved the house and status of being married to a Director. George loved his new home and his job which required a lot of travel.

The Devil had acquired three new souls in the transaction. George, Elaine and Don never considered that. They went to church on Sundays and life was good.

27 comments:

Tom Bailey said...

The ending was unexpected.

J. M. Strother said...

Oh what tangled webs we weave... I can't help but think there is a gnawing blackness that will eat away at these three, every time they see the little boy. I feel sorry for Randy, who asked for none of it.
~jon

Susan Cross said...

I hope you meant that in a good way. Had to add a little Halloween reference. Thanks for stopping by.

Susan Cross said...

Oh, Jon, if you only knew. Randy could have said no. They were equally greedy and selfish. Don't ask me how I know.

C. A. Beninati said...

Well done. I was glad to read through the clarity that many writers seem to miss.

Susan Cross said...

Thanks! When I wrote it last night (in the middle of the night) it was a longer piece. I had to really edit it to make it flash. I think stories under 1000 words get the point across better so I'm glad you liked it.

Susan Cross said...

Jon, I commented too fast on your post. Randy was in the innocent one but he would never know unless he grew horns at puberty!

Jodi MacArthur said...

Happy smiles on the surface. Deceit in the heart. Elaine would eventually blackmail for more. Those kinda ladies always do. Poor Randy.

Chris Chartrand said...

I like this piece Susan. Especially:
"George thought he had Don's eyes but nobody noticed."
We see what we want to see. Nicely done.
~chris

Susan Cross said...

People can be so deviant. It's so much easier not to be.

anasazistories said...

What a story. It's frightening because you think this could be your neighbor, your boss, your brother ... you (hey, not me; I admit nothing -- I swear, I've never even seen Elaine naked!).

Very lucid storytelling, meaning I didn't get lost. That's a good thing. Because I get lost a lot.

Jeff Posey

Linda said...

Super story about one of my fave topics - integrity. I feel for the kid, but with all that bad blood, maybe he'll trump them all... Peace, Linda

Cascade Lily said...

What a wicked web you have woven for us Susan. Poor Randy.

Susan Cross said...

You never know. Nice to be called lucid for a change.

Susan Cross said...

I hope he doesn't turn out like "Rosemary's Baby." (Unintentional reference to Roman Polanski there.)

Karen from Mentor said...

I thought it was interesting that the deal settles the lives of four people..and in the middle of the night..[when wicked things are traditionally done]....but only two of the parties discuss the terms. Greed and reputation, securtiy and power are heady things... it's hard to tell who was the most greedy and who was the most powerful in the adult threesome. I felt bad for the baby. And I agree with Jon... the deal with the devil will blacken the souls of all involved.
Good flash.

Karen :0)

Karen from Mentor said...

I forgot to say...I expected the last line to say "And life seemed good"

Since the story described that arc...glossing sins and temptations and bad choices over with that thin veneer of seeming.

:0)

Susan Cross said...

Upon rereading, seems like Elaine held all the cards. Thanks for stopping by.

Clive Martyn said...

Lovely piece with a great ending. It did cross my mind halfway through that perhaps Don was being conned by Elaine and George but I prefer your ending :-)

David said...

I loved the ending - especially the idea that people can go through life not knowing they've sold their souls to the devil.

Tomara Armstrong said...

This is a great story, so it's weird that I have a strong dislike for all of your characters (with the exception of Don's wife). It totally works though.

The question is: Who do I like the least? The answer: I am not really sure :-)
I enjoyed it!
~2

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

Good ending - I like how the devil can have your soul, yet you can carry on leading a normal and happy life; no fire and brimstone - at least not just yet. Evil is a very human thing! Nice story!

The Writer said...

Hmm. Why would George only suspect Randy? Don revealed what bad things he did.

I liked the dialogue.

Susan Cross said...

Ego is the driving force.

~Tim said...

Do we ever consider the devil in our deals? Nicely done!

Susan Cross said...

As they say, the devil is in the details. Thanks for reading.

trev said...

I see how this could easily be a longer piece. Great job in editing it down, and still having it feel complete.