Wake Your Cheatin’ Heart

Once again, I wrote this to stand alone. It is part of the Diamond Series that started at the beginning of February. In this episode that takes place at the Muller Funeral Home; there’s a wake, a fight scene, and Ann does some baking.

Donald Conrad

Wake Your Cheatin’ Heart

Ann was naked, curled in a ball, and mumbling into her pillow when the doorbell rang the first time. The memorial service for Chet was scheduled to run from one to three, but people started showing up at nine with flowers.

By noon-thirty she was sufficiently primped and polished to play hostess. The Muller Funeral Home, her home, had so many floral displays delivered that the resulting concentration of cut flowers made it hard to breathe.

The local mortuary business had lost one of its own with Chet Muller, Ann’s husband.

By half past one, it was standing-room-only and cars were still arriving; parking in the street, blocking driveways, and double parking to drop off passengers. Ann had never had to deal with such a mob. She felt she had uttered greetings and condolences a thousand thousand times. The clamor of conversation as Ann moved through the crowd became surreal white noise. In all this distraction she was alone.

The room warped in and out of focus; even in and out of existence, then she saw her.

GymJane.

Ann’s mind slipped to the memory of Chet’s cell phone and the missed call log. She had taken care of Chet and Cynthia. And here was GymJane.

Ann watched—sometimes surreptitiously. She played with what was left of Chet: a yellow diamond fabricated at GemStars from his ashes. The diamond was uncut and loose in a golden cage hanging from a chain around her neck. That bitch Cynthia would join him soon enough.

So would this GymJane.

Jane was the head trainer at the local Gym which Chet frequented, as did a few others who were in attendance. She stopped and talked to one here, another there. Jane, it seemed, got around. Ann could understand the allure. Jane was one well toned gal. That worried Ann.

Jane would be harder to overpower than Cynthia. Ann kept a wary eye on her, watching for opportunity and not really expecting it. A silent rage built in her, watching this woman—this GymJane—roam around her house talking to well-wishers. Chet could only die once yet Ann wanted to kill him again.

As the head count dwindled, the boldness in Ann increased. She was determined to confront Jane. But how? She couldn’t make a scene. When she killed Jane—and that’s what was going to happen, she was determined on that score—when she killed Jane, she didn’t want people to think of Ann as a possible suspect. So confrontation had to be intimate.

After three, after some had gone; the less-populated house afforded an opportunity when Jane opened what she thought was the ladies room door, searching with a hand for the light switch. With no one in the hall at the moment, Ann rushed to corral Jane in the stairwell and closed the door behind them.

Jane had managed to grab the handrail to keep from falling headlong and swung to face Ann as the light was switched on.

“How many times did you sleep with my husband?”

“I don’t think this is the time or place for that.”

Ann kicked out, Jane was forced to step down. “A number, bitch.”

“I’m not discussing this with you. Not now, not ever. Chet’s gone, and nothing will change that.”

Ann felt that familiar burning at the back of her eye sockets. Before emotion could show, she kicked out again. Jane grabbed the foot and pulled. Ann landed—sitting on the top stair—and scrambled back to her feet.

“Why him? Why mess around with my husband?”

“For your information, he chased me. I thought he was…charming.”

Ann grabbed both handrails and vaulted out, kicking with both feet. Jane darted to the side while deflecting the assault. When Ann landed again, she took the few steps toward Jane and tackled her. They wrestled; ineffectual swinging, clawing, and pulling ensued. They both toppled over and tumbled down the long staircase in a flurry of limbs that sounded like a drunken drum solo.

Ann looked to the top of the stairs, but the door didn’t open. No one heard that? Jane took a feeble swing at her. Ann grabbed Jane by the hair, lifted her head, and slammed it against the concrete floor.

Jane was out.

Ann stood, brushing herself off. An elbow felt bruised, a shin badly scraped, but she would survive. She retrieved a gurney, got Jane’s deadweight onto it, and wheeled Jane to the other side of the basement workshop.

At the back of the basement, the house had been modified for the installation of a crematory incinerator. Its resulting stack was a shiny silver exclamation point behind the house.

Ann positioned the gurney at the charging door, locked the wheels and set the preheat time on the control panel. She paced, waiting for the green light, gently tapping each finger on her left hand to her thumb in turn.

Clutching the pendant with Chet—the yellow diamond—she said, “I had Chet made into a yellow stone, Cynthia’s going to be a red one when I get her. When I send a bit of your ashes to Gemstars, I’ll ask for…”

The preheat light turned green.

 So readers, what do you think of this continuing saga?  Are chain flash pieces—such as this—a good thing? Or would you more likely return for the special-of-the-day? Let me know, create a discussion. I’m all ears (well, not…all ears. You knowaddamean).

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11 thoughts on “Wake Your Cheatin’ Heart

  1. lauraeno

    Speaking for myself, I will return to a series. I’ve read comments on other blogs from people who won’t because it’s too hard to remember what happened the week before. Even though your piece is a stand alone story, it’s still written in a linear fashion, relying on a backstory to fully enjoy.

    Bottom line, write what pleases you. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Marisa Birns

    I, too, will read an enjoyable series. Your stories ARE stand alone, though as Laura pointed out, those who know the backstory will get fuller enjoyment.

    But, it’s you as a writer who can best answer your question. I echo Laura: write what pleases you in the best possible way you can, and let those readers who want to enjoy it do so.

    Noon-thirty? Love it!

    Reply
  3. David G Shrock

    You know my thoughts on flash series from my latest blog post. This story works well enough by itself, so still fun for the passing reader that may or may not be interested in reading the rest. I agree with Laura, if you enjoy writing connected series then continue. There is the option of writing a single longer story and offer the first part as flash. Perhaps those interested in more may read the rest.

    Reply
  4. Heather Lloyd

    What a twisted story; can easily imagine this as a tv comedy horror…. Enjoy your use of language, the way you refer to the victim as ‘GymJane’ is effective and I would definitely be interested in reading more

    Reply
  5. ganymeder

    I enjoy the series. But honestly,it requires more commitment. I like the flash stories to stand alone, but if they also link into a series that’s great too. I remember your other story, and I’m glad you continued this. Nicely done.

    Reply
  6. Jared

    I personally find it more enjoyable to not write a series. I feel way too constrained artistically and eventually just want the damn thing to end. If that’s not how you feel then keep it up.

    I may have missed this earlier, but is any of this actually taking place? The reason I asked is because the others should have heard her fall, but no one did. It makes me think that Ann (who was crazy enough to refer to herself in third person) might be living out this fantasy in her head.

    Reply

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