Sudden Fiction – by Christopher T. Trubac

 Without thinking, Oswald creates an entirely fictitious world within his own mind.  It happens every day.  Inside this world, the cruel and bitter ghosts of his past manifest by possessing what he perceives as the monsters of his present.  He flicks on his turn signal as he lets his foot weigh slightly on the brake.  He makes a complete stop at the corner, obeying the arbitrary red symbol of his imprisonment that reads so clearly, “STOP.”  But there was no real stopping, was there?  There was no way to put a halt to the boulder that had already been set rolling in such a fluid, yet all the same, erratic motion.

He knew beyond the shadow of a doubt what Petunia was doing at that very moment.  Not knowing that he had left work four hours earlier than he’d told her he was going to, she would certainly be up to no good.  This was his chance, a chance to finally break free from the chains of moral confliction and forced cautiousness.  She was going to be there, and he was going to catch her.  Then he was finally going to know.  He was going to know in a way that was clear and tangible, logical and objective, beyond any hope of argument or denial.  He was finally going to know that his wife did not love him.

This was not the time for slip-ups; he would keep his wits sharp.  Every move would be carefully calculated, perfectly flawless and thought through, like a master conjurer at work on stage.  It had been nine years since the marriage, and eleven years since he had begun suspecting Petunia of cheating on him.  He had waited and waited for this moment to come for what seemed like his entire life, rationally thought through all the ins and outs of the situation.  He had considered the possibilities and ran through the scenario hundreds of times, and by-God-he-would-not-fuck-this-up.

He heard the gravel underneath his tires as he turned his blue sedan into the driveway of their two story suburban home.  He looked at himself in the rearview mirror and saw his dark black hair still perfectly slicked back, his slightly unshaven face that he hadn’t noticed that morning, and his off-white teeth that he had been slowly grinding into oblivion for God only knew how long.  Suddenly it hit him like a ton of bricks and his thoughts raced as he felt the exterior of his suit coat for the gun that was concealed inside the interior pocket.  It was still there.  He parked the car in the driveway.  He didn’t want to make a lot of noise, and opening the garage door would give him away.

He got out of the car and walked up to the front door of the house, meanwhile observing his own freshly cut and manicured lawn that was so beautifully framed by a white-picket fence.  He stood in front of the door and listened for any sounds; he heard nothing.  He gripped his house key and slid it into the deadbolt, slowly and quietly to avoid detection.  He turned it, slowly, slowly.  Click.

In one quick and fluid motion he threw the door open and burst inside.  He ran to every door, checked every room, quickly, quickly, before they hear you!  He looked in the closets, under the beds.  Nothing.  He checked the basement, looked inside his office.  He didn’t hear any moaning, any clothes being put on in a hurry.  No hushing, no shuffling or whispering or anything at all.  Finally, as he came back up the basement stairs, he decided to check the garage to see if there were even any cars there.  Nothing.

Oswald looked down at the floor.  A salty wet tear materialized from nowhere in his right eye and ran down his cheek, leaving a watery trail that was as much a symbol of his imprisonment in such a back-ass-wards society as any stop sign, or office, or shopping mall or fax machine or cop car.  He collapsed on the floor and put his head between his knees, rounding his shoulders and letting his blue tie rest over his crotch.  Fingers tense and pulling his once perfectly gelled and styled hair, he sobbed miserably.  He wondered when there would ever be a time for him to make his big break, or when he could ever escape from the chains that he found binding him to a life in which he had no self-actualization or contentment.  But not once did he ever wonder whose prison it really was that he was trapped in.

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