Living inside his own novel: A Short Story

You never know what goes on behind the locked doors of someone’s house. Photo from the film, Blood Orange.

He remained in the cold, dark prison of his own mind. It was disturbing. It was lonely. He felt comfortable there.

They lived worlds apart, he and his wife. She tended the garden, played tennis on Thursday mornings, handled the shopping, paid the bills, and complained when his books weren’t selling and his magazine writing assignments had run out.

She spent most of her life surrounded by sunshine and faceless, nameless people who led dull, boring lives.

He remained in the cold, dark prison of his own mind. It was disturbing. It was lonely. He felt comfortable there.

His people lived in sin.

They stole.

They fornicated.

They carried guns.

They left a trail of death and sometimes destruction when they walked out of a chapter.

The good guys had flaws.

The bad guys had puppies.

He could not tell them apart.

And he cried when he buried one.

His wife did not understand.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

“Jerry’s dead,” he said.

“Which chapter?”

“Chapter twenty-two.”

“What happened?”

“His wife killed him,” he said.

“Did she have a reason?

“He had a girlfriend,” the writer said.

“She should have killed the girlfriend.”

“She will,” he said.

“I don’t see how you stand it,” she said.

“What?”

“You don’t hang around with very nice people in your novels,” she said.

“They’re all right.”

“They kill people.”

“They’re no different from our neighbors,” he said.

“Your characters aren’t real,” she said.

“They talk to me.”

“I worry about you,” she said.

“Why?”

“I think you’re crazy, she said.

“Jerry did, too,” he said.

“He tell you that?”

“He did.”

“That’s laughable,” she said. “He’s just an imaginary character in a novel. You’re not able to talk to Jerry.”

“Not anymore.” The writer grinned. “He’s dead,” he said.

“Well, you can forget Jerry,” she said.

“I didn’t want to kill him,” he said.

“Then why did you?”

“I had no choice,” he said.

The wife shrugged and walked across the kitchen. She opened the refrigerator and pulled a beef roast from the freezer. “Don’t forget,” she said.

“What?”

“David and Sarah are coming over for dinner tonight.”

“David can’t make it.”

The wife turned around with a frown creasing her face. “What you mean?”

“David won’t be here.”

“Why not?”

“David’s dead.”

The wife’s eyes widened, and she slumped back against the counter. She tried hard to speak for a moment and finally blurted out, “Nobody’s told me?”

He thought he saw a tear in her eye.

“They will,” he said. “They will when they find him.”

He stood up and walked across the room, pulling a metal object from his shirt pocket.

“David had this in his pocket when he died,” the writer said. “I think it belongs to you.”

He dropped the back door key on the dining room table, then, for the first time in a long time, walked out into the night.

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