A Small Discretion Repaid-.Runner-up Weird tales Contest
| "Good morning, Maureen." Edgar greeted in a snide almost sneering fashion. "I hope you slept well" he continued. The man was almost giddy with oozing hatred for the woman to whom he spoke. Edgar a tall, thin, and balding man was entering the family room as he spoke. Maureen was reclining in a chair next to the fireplace having her morning coffee.
Her eyebrows were arched in surprise as Edgar spoke. He never spoke to her. They had pleasantly avoided all conversation and co-existed in the home. The marriage had at times been full of explosive anger and at other times avoidance. Conversation was not in their repertoire. It had been this way for at least five years since she had the affair with Milton their neighbor. It had been a one-time episode after a late night of drinking. Edgar had never forgiven her.
Milton had been Edgar's arch enemy, to begin with, because he would never trim his hedges. The overgrowth of bushes with intermingled weeds drove Edgar to the brink. He insisted that it made his yard look shabby and blocked his view of the other neighbors. Edgar was proud of his yard if nothing else.
Maureen was skeptical of the morning greeting. She answered in a quizzical manner, "Hello?"
Maureen was a redhead through the use of chemicals. Her hair was teased and stiff like a picture from another era. She had surpassed her goal weight many years prior. Maureen was puffy, soft, and ruddy giving off the vibe of a woman who drank often, which she did.
Edgar said," Well? Did you have a good night?"
"Sure, Edgar. It was a wild night of dancing and laughter. I had a ball." her comments dripping with sarcasm.
Maureen waited until the man sat in a chair opposite of hers. She was trying to judge his mood. She wondered if this was a return to the explosive anger or an extension of the apathy of the man.
"So why all of the sudden are you talking to me?" Maureen finally spoke.
"I am just in a very good mood this morning. I read a very good book last night and slept well. I slept well for the first time in five years." Edgar recited
Maureen knew what the reference to five years meant. It was another dig at her for the affair. Leave it to Edgar, he would never forget. She decided to play along as this mood was definitely better than the apathy he usually displayed.
"What book was that Edgar?"
"It was about the olden days of Rome. It was very good. It helped me sleep.'
Maureen wasn't sure where to go with this conversation. It seemed to be a very obscure revelation on Edgar's part but she didn't trust him. There had to be something else coming or he wouldn't have broken the silence of the years.
"Okay, I'm glad you enjoyed your book." Maureen risked a response.
"Yes, it was very uplifting" Edgar spoke while staring into the fireplace. .The flame with the flickering embers had captured his attention. He was mesmerized by the glow.
"Edgar?' Maureen said trying to recapture his attention. "What was the book about?"
Edgar turned his attention to the voice of his wife. "Oh, the book...very fascinating."
"Edgar, are you alright?" Maureen asked. She really didn't care anymore about his physical well being but she felt some responsibility still. If he fell over dead she would deal with the consequences. She felt fear, as well.
"Yes, my dear. I am better than I have been in a very long time, probably five years."
Maureen was sure that he was up to something but she didn't know what it could be. She hadn't heard the word "dear" escape his lips since their wedding day. She was truly scared.
"Edgar, what are you up to?"
"Nothing. I just thought we should talk. We haven't talked in a very long time. We should do that more often Maureen, dear."
"Okay," Maureen spoke but was now sitting on the edge of her seat waiting for something to happen.
"My book was very good. It was about the old days of Rome. They use to bring people into the coliseum. They used to have contests in the arena. People accused of a crime were also brought to the arena for punishment. Their sentence was to battle the lions in the circle. If they were victorious they were set free. If the lion won the match then, of course, the guilt of the accused was evident."
Maureen was now very frightened.
"Edgar, what are you up to?" she whispered.
He stood from his seated position now staring out to the backyard. "Nothing, my dear. It just struck me that justice was proper in those days. They let lions be the judge. It was a very good book."
Maureen froze in her seat waiting for Edgar to continue.
"You know our yard really needs some work. With those hedges closing in our entire yard it could almost be an arena. They are so shabby and unkempt. Neither I, nor our neighbors can see anything." Edgar didn't disappoint as he continued his story.
"Don't mind me, my dear. I'm just remembering my book." Edgar looked down at the shaggy dog at Maureen's feet. The sniveling, sniping mop rags of a beast that Maureen so loved. He had almost as much contempt for the dog as the woman.
Edgar moved toward the door. "I think Muffin here needs to go outside. You should probably take him. We will talk later I will tell you all about my book."
Maureen leashed Muffin and exited the house. She was eager to make an escape from the man and his weirdness of the morning.
The last words that she heard were,"Maybe, I will tell Milton about my book, as well".
Word count 987