The Red - Short Story With Audio Dramatization! | Horror | Revenge | Psychological
It wasn't his fault... was it?
Ahh, another day, another new story for you to enjoy!
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Here’s the story!
I buried my wife yesterday.
No, no. There is no sympathy required. I don’t need the unfeeling platitudes that always come with news like that. No need to waste your precious energy on such supplications.
You see, I hated my wife. Her being gone is a blessing, not a curse, and I am only too glad to have had it come. Finally, after twenty years of nagging, whining, and endless arguing, it happened. Just when I didn’t think I had the intestinal wherewithal to stand another moment, blessed relief came.
I was, as so often was the case, sitting in my easy chair in the living room, relaxing after yet another long day at work. Aren’t they all long days, though? Especially when you have to work with nothing but morons and liars, the dregs of humanity all congealed into one singular office, with you as the only shining beacon of reason and intelligence among the lot.
That’s the perfect explanation for Thomas Preston Office Supplies and Manufacturing I can give. The place is a dump, and I swear the only people that have been hired in after me must have been picked up from a dime store mannequin sale.
It had been a particularly horrible day, with my having to make up for the mistakes of not just Sally, the office tramp and consummate moron, but the main man, himself, Thomas. Of course he screwed up the biggest sale of the year. How could he not? Most of the time anymore, Thomas Preston spends his days drinking, ever since his wife left him. Was it depression over the loss that set the bottles in his hands?
Hell, I would have given anything to have my wife leave me like that woman did, and I would have been drinking in celebration, not depression. That’s for sure.
Anyhow, I had to make amends with the client, bending over backwards with my dearest, “May I help you sir?” voice I could muster. Choked back bile the entire time.
Two hours. Two freaking hours on the phone with the man, wheeling and dealing, until he finally gave in and allowed us to sign him back on. I mean, granted, he didn’t have much of a choice but to use us if he didn’t want to have to go nationwide to search out his products. He wouldn’t want to do that, though. After all, part of his business was based around the whole “support local” and if it were discovered he was doing otherwise, it’d likely ruin his reputation.
I don’t know if he realized that was something I was aware of but it did give me great satisfaction to know I was the one in control of that conversation, regardless of how angry he felt.
That little fact was the only thing that kept me going.
I threw the order sheet at Thomas before leaving, telling him that was the last time I was going to pick up after his messes. Oh he was mad, but there is no way he’d get rid of me. Not after I just pulled his ass out of the fire.
Home, eat, maybe drink a beer and relax. That’s really all I wanted to do after the mess of a day I had been through. I guess fate had a different idea in mind, for me, though.
Doesn’t she always?
Beer in hand, easy chair underneath me, Susan came strolling into the room from the kitchen, her hair up in curlers and the scent of the crap she puts in it when she is trying to “do herself up” stinking even from the ten feet distance between us.
“Did you ask him about the raise?” Her slight frame casting an over-long shadow along the floor.
“I didn’t have time.” Another sip of my beer, the bitterness of it washing over my tongue not even close to the loathing I felt at the sound of her voice.
You might be asking yourself why I didn’t just divorce Susan if she grated me this much.
Easy answer. I couldn’t afford to. See, Susan and I had been together long enough that everything we had was tied with each other, to the point the cost of divorce would have left me ruined. It’s one of those unfortunate setups that happens sometimes. Too filled with animosity to stay together, too wrapped up in each other to separate.
But I had my golf games once a week, she had her circle of friends she would go out with every few days. I had work and she got to sit her lazy ass around the house all day. At least I got away for those few hours. It was something.
I tried to go back to ignoring her as best I could, taking another, deeper, pull from the bottle. It was nasty stuff, the kind of cheap beer that could barely be called palatable, but still strong enough to get a buzz on if you drank enough of it. Good enough for simple peons like myself, I guess.
I hoped Susan would leave the conversation at that and go back into the kitchen, but she came forward, instead, her eyes burning into mine.
“What do you mean you didn’t have time, David? We need that raise.” Her bare feet slapped against the hard wood floor as she approached.
“You could get a job, too, you know.” I did little more than whisper it, the argument so familiar to my lips, but she caught it anyhow.
Oh, yes. She heard it.
Her feet stopped mid-step, the ire spreading across her face in a heartbeat. “Maybe if you did a better job around there, you wouldn’t have to ask for a raise.” Her eyes gleamed, fairly spitting out the words. “They would just give it to you. Did you ever think of that?”
I stood, the bottle dropping from my hand, forgotten. The clanking of the glass against the wood echoed through the room, as the yellow fluid spread out. My own feet trounced the distance remaining between us.
“Do you really want to go there, bitch?” A few stray droplets of saliva flew to the floor. The words barked out in a staccato beat. “I work my ass off every damn day so you can sit here doing nothing, and you have the audacity to think I don’t do enough?”
She stepped backward only a pace, shock at the vehemence of my words reeling her a moment, but then, as a fighter in the ring, replanted her feet to stand stock-still.
“You think I don’t do anything? I take care of you, and everything in this house.” Her eyes glistened with a wet shine, but my own could not help focusing on the large droplet of my spit that was embracing her left cheek, remnant from my tirade. “I buy your clothes, your food, and clean up after you decide the best thing to do is get drunk to get through your day, and you think I’m lazy? Go sell that shit to someone else.”
Her last words were punctuated by pushing my shoulder with her hand. No, not her whole hand. Just the tip of one of her fingers. It wasn’t hard, but my head spun toward it like she had fired a bullet into my flesh.
In that moment, my mind blanked. A canvas, empty and awaiting the hand of a master with a brush rolled over the thinking part of me and all I could do was stare at the fingertip barely denting my shirt.
The next second, my arm moved, though I had no real control of it. No intention, no impulse as to where it would go or what it would do.
I lifted my eyes once more to the miserable face of the woman I had grown to loathe for twenty years, the anger again coming into place within me. I opened my mouth to spew more vitriol, but stopped short mid-inhale when I saw the redness on her face was no longer the blush of her own rage and animosity.
It was a bloom of crimson, which seemed to begin at the base of her nose. Her eyes, only centimeters away from that splotch of red, rolled upward, like she was hearing something and trying to place where it was coming from.
They rolled more and her mouth hung wide open, more acid on her tongue to come out at me, but she remained silent but for a strange huffing breathing coming from her throat.
Her hand dropped, smacking against the side of her hip and her legs wobbled as the red blip under her nose grew larger, becoming a slow trickle as it crossed the rim of her top lip and disappeared into her still-opened maw.
One of her curlers seemed to pull loose, falling slightly as I stepped backward, the anger from seconds before draining away into confusion over what I was seeing. The lacy white robe she wore was stark contrast to the flow of red that poured from her nostrils, but she still made no sound beyond the huffing breaths that still puffed away, though with each one they seemed to take on an almost choking overtone.
The blood leaking out started to patter against the front of her robe. One, then two, then a few drops at a time scattered and spread, the maroon mixing up with the white in a patina of spectacular irony. Susan hated red and refused to ever wear it, and yet, somehow, in these moments, it was the most beautiful color I had ever seen her use.
Then her shoulders sagged and her eyes disappeared into complete white as they completed their turn upwards into her skull. Her legs wobbled once more before letting go completely and she went down. Her head hit the floor with a wet smack, but there was no outpouring of agonized sounds from her. Just silence. Blessed silence, for the first time in so many years I could hardly believe it was happening.
Only a moment later, the pulling in and out from her lungs ceased as well, and even that part of her was gone.
It took a few minutes for me to move. I said nothing, just staring at the body of the woman I had once, long ago, loved enough to marry, the curlers in her hair gone askew in such a comical way I almost laughed.
When I did finally begin to take action, it was only to press my fingers to her neck, searching for any sign of movement beneath the skin. There was none, though she was still as warm as the last time I had deigned to touch her. God, how long ago had that been? Weeks? Months?
It was only then the confusion over what had happened to my wife set in.
I know what you’re thinking. I had hit her, struck her hard enough to cause damage to her brain or something. But that was the first thing I checked for. My hands were clean, no signs of blood or even redness from a strike. You would think, if I had hit her hard enough to kill her, I’d at least see some reddening on my skin, right?
There was none, nor did any appear there for the few minutes I sat there next to Susan, a strange sense of discontentment within me.
I followed up by looking all over her, trying to find any sign of what happened to this woman I had grown to despise, but there was nothing to indicate what really occurred. I even looked for bullet holes, can you believe that? After all, things happen. A stray bullet from a drive by even a block away could have somehow passed through the walls of our shabby little house and taken her off of my hands. But no. Nothing like that. Her robe was intact and, besides, I would have heard such a shot. Right?
The house had grown quiet. Even the television set, feet away and playing the soccer game, seemed hushed, the crowd dimmed and mournful.
What could I do? What should I do? Those thoughts circled around, over and over.
I couldn’t call an ambulance. What good would that do? She was already dead and gone, the body growing colder as I sat next to it. It would only serve to be a waste of time for them to come.
I certainly couldn’t call the cops. They would, of course, assume I had done something to her. The last thing I needed was for her to have some ironic last victory over me and have me spend the rest of my life in jail just because she couldn’t be bothered to die in a hospital or something.
I wouldn’t let her do that. Not when I had freedom so close to my grasp.
Really, there was only one thing I could do, and, though I didn’t want to have to spend my whole night cleaning up her mess, it would have to be done.
We are lucky enough to have one of the bigger back yards in our neighborhood, a matter of pride in this run-down hellhole we called home. Big enough, even, to have a small shed where I kept the lawn mower and some tools.
I went to the kitchen and grabbed some trash bags, thankful that at least she had decided to start getting the big, black kind. Thick, but they always seemed to be on sale. I grabbed three of them at first, but by the time I was done wrapping her body in them, strapping them together with duct tape and a handful of zip-ties, I needed another three. I had to make sure, after all, there was nothing of her showing when I put her in the ground.
Have you ever tried to dig a hole for a body? It’s hard work, I can tell you. It took me hours in the darkness, but the one advantage of living in a bad neighborhood is people mind their own business. If anyone did happen to glance out of their windows to see me in my back yard in the darkness, they would have simply closed the curtains and returned to what they were doing. No one wants to get involved and, after all, if there wasn’t something illegal going on every night around here, it was an off-night.
They didn’t even take holidays off.
By the time I finally tamped down the last of the dirt over her body, I was overheated, sweating like a pig in summer, and bone-weary.
But, you know, that shower afterward was, perhaps, the most glorious one I had ever taken. The dust and grime fell away in swaths, and I imagined it was also my hatred for Susan and my desperate desire to be away from her that came off with it, too.
I didn’t give her any final words. I didn’t feel any were necessary. We had already spoken all we needed to say in the years we were together. No, all that remained between us was the deep craving to be done with one another, and it was simply a matter of her choosing to be the one to bow out first.
That’s okay with me. I still have a lot of life left in me to do whatever I want. It’d be nice to finally quit Thomas Preston Office Supplies and Manufacturing, to maybe throw a bag of shit on the desk and flip every single one of those sycophants off before walking out with a smile on my face.
I could get a job anywhere, do anything, really. Whatever my newfound freedom decided to carry me into was fine with me.
As long as I kept the house. That’s important.
Not just because of the body in the yard, of course. Can’t have some poor kid having fun in the backyard with a shovel and pail and run across a decaying finger or something.
No, though that is one of the best reasons for staying, I have one better.
I’m going to plant a nice, big rose bush above her body and make sure it gets the best of everything to grow. The thought of the blood red roses feeding on what remained of Susan would be the best twist of a knife I could give her.
I’ll have to go to the nursery tomorrow and talk to them about how to make them the best they can be.