Here for your enjoyment is a tale that i originally wrote as an experiment, because it came out at less than 99 words, just as i had intended it to! I felt, however that it needed and deserved better treatment, and so i have expanded it and am quite pleased with the results!
By David Eccles
Graham Phelan could by no means be thought of as being a ladies’ man. He recognised this in his own pale reflection as he performed his thrice-daily oral cleansing ritual. Meticulous in his dental hygiene, he brushed, flossed, scraped his tongue, rinsed and gargled until he was satisfied. Baring a set of white, even teeth, he turned his head this way and that, admiring the results of his efforts. Good job, he thought, mentally giving himself a pat on the back as he continued his observations in the bathroom mirror. Rubbing his chin, he gave thanks that he only needed to shave twice a week, and, feeling hardly any stubble at all he decided that today was not a day to be subjecting his sensitive, pale skin to the edge of a razor; he would leave that chore until morning. Green eyes that someone had once remarked reminded them of an “algae-covered pond; empty, stagnant and uninviting” stared back at him from the bathroom mirror; all that Graham recognised in himself was a man who had been a loner for most of his thirty six years on this earth, someone who had looked and searched for love in all the usual places but had been unlucky in that search. He had thought himself doomed to be alone forever, having never had a full, long-term relationship with a woman, and had resigned himself to the fact that this was to be his fate. Meeting Karen had changed all that, and since the day they had met, he had been filled with a new hope that he could be happy and loved, and that he could show a special someone that he was capable of reciprocating that love, give his very soul to her.
Public lending libraries are not the kind of place that one would consider to be a popular choice when one is looking for love, and yet, unbelievably so, such a place was the venue for their inaugural meeting. Had it been almost a month since he had first noticed Karen replacing books on the shelves in the History section? As Graham applied an astringent to his freshly washed and degreased face he paused, recalling how he and Karen had immediately struck up a hushed conversation in the aisles after realising that they both shared an interest in Aztec culture: his interest lay in the practice of ritual sacrifice and cannibalism, whereas Karen’s interest lay in the arts and crafts of middle America, with special focus on the Aztec empire. Pleasantries were exchanged, she had laughed at his jokes, which pleased Graham immensely, and finally he had summoned up enough courage to ask her if she would like to meet him for a coffee so that they might chat further after she had finished work. Karen’s acceptance of his invitation was the best thing to have happened to Graham in a very long time, and that particular afternoon he spent waiting expectantly in a nearby coffee house reading his library books, surrounded by numerous cups and saucers and enough caramel pecan biscotti crumbs to keep a coop of chickens pecking for a month! Karen had shown up on time, taking a seat opposite Graham, and it was then that he noticed her eyes: hazel in colour, with gold flecks that scintillated and seemed to float like the flakes of gold leaf in a glass of the finest spirytus rektyfikowany, or pure Polish spirit. How had he not noticed those beautiful orbs at the library? It must have been the subdued lighting conditions that made them less noticeable, he reasoned.
It seemed impossible for him to break eye contact with her: mesmerized by their fluvial motion, time ceased to exist for him and a feeling of warmth spread throughout his body, leaving every nerve ending tingling as if he had been subjected to a massive dose of radiation. Karen was beautiful, with flowing chestnut hair; her upper lip was a perfectly rounded Cupid’s bow, her lower lip soft and full. A classic hourglass shape, she had full hips, waspish waist and large, firm breasts that even the finest cosmetic surgeon would find impossible to recreate. Just what Karen saw in him, Graham had no idea, and although it was a question that he would have liked to ask, he thought better of it and did not broach the subject.
A whole month! Had it really been that long? For Graham, the time had flown by; in fact, it had been the happiest time of his whole life. He hummed quietly to himself as he put on his maroon satin pyjama top, carefully fastening the ivory coloured buttons from top to bottom and adjusting his collar. He wanted everything to be just right for Karen; no, he needed everything to be just right.
Last night’s argument was over and done with. He could not even remember why the two of them had argued in the first place! He remembered getting mad, however, his vision blurring and everything seeming to distort and bend, transforming into horrible, unnatural shapes, the colours of everything that he could see slowly being saturated by a single hue: crimson red. Both his voice and that of Karen’s were lost to him, drowned out by the incessant pounding of blood in his ears. When his vision had cleared and the drumming in his head had all but faded, Karen’s eyes had been the first thing that he had seen, and he knew in that moment that she would never leave him, and that he would never have need to lose his temper with her again.
Turning off the bathroom light, he made his way to the bed, folded back the bedcovers and slipped silently beneath the sheets, sighing as his head sunk into the memory foam pillow. Graham felt Karen’s eyes on him now, watching every move that he made, and it comforted him greatly to know that she was by his side. Tomorrow would be a busy day. He had a lot of cleaning up to do; floors to scrub, furniture to wipe down and to put right. He was so glad that there would be no more disagreements between them. Arguing was such a messy business! Turning over onto his left side, he reached out to stroke the specimen jar filled with a clear solution on the night table next to the bed, the two white gelatinous orbs with hazel irises and gold flecks bobbing about, disturbed by his touch. “Goodnight, Karen,” he whispered before turning off the night light next to his grisly harvest. Graham sighed deeply and drifted away from consciousness as he considered every possible means of disposing of Karen’s body. Karen, or more correctly, what little of her remained in the glass jar by the bed, looked on.