“This is Not a Drill” By Robin Chappell

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Why couldn’t things ever remain the same? I’d take that, ya know? Everything being more predictable than the spurious situation we harbored each day…each day since, oh nevermind.

I exhaled a long and final puff of my cigarette, proceeding to walk through the doors of the sullen place we called “home”, but inside it felt the same as my heart…an empty below freezing vacuity which served no monumental purpose.

Those same cold brown eyes drilled a hollow hole into my hazel ones as I crossed the spacious living room in silence, barely looking your way and breaking contact. I pray you don’t utter a word…but I know better.

“You know what I had to do today??”

You break the quiet tension with an open ended question I did not expect, sarcasm dripping on your tone.

“No. But I’m sure you’re going to tell me anyway.” I mutter the statement before I could take it back.

I was shot down by a decrepit stare and it hurt worse than any excruciating damage a bullet would have done if it shattered through my left knee cap.

“I had that lunch today, remember? The one with Yvette that I told you about?”

I strolled to the bar next to the kitchen, slowly poured a small shot of brandy, then looked into the air as if searching for the conversation I guess we supposedly had about it.

“Yvette…yeah…yeah. How was it? How is she?

Why the fuck did I just ask that as if I truly cared? I hate Yvette.

“Oh, it was great, as always. Limited hints of girlishly unnecessary attitude with short discussions of never mentioning what actually matters in our lives. Small talk about the dubious effects of politics and how the country’s gone to shit.”

I released a small grunt of interest. Mainly for the reason of not seeming like I wasn’t listening.

She continues through the entire conversation, waving her slender freshly manicured hand in the air and recalling all of the details.

“The place she chose was charming. A quaint little French place surrounded by varieties of lilies, chrysanthemums, and a view that could cheer up the worst of us. She bragged about a husband she just couldn’t stop gushing about, flashing an ice capped mountain on her hand, a lavish vacation to Bora Bora they just traveled, and their perfect child that plays cello for the top musical institution in the city.”

“Hmm…”

“Then of course she looks at me, green eyes of amusing candor. That quizzical and judgmental look I cannot stand and with a flip of her hair she asks ‘So when are you going to get married Trinity? Are you still with that Trent guy?’

She giggles with a shameful shake of her head, curls fall into her eyes, which she swipes away with an annoyed gesture. She’d complain about how they needed to be clipped again later, but she continues to speak.

“And I, of course, after guzzling five swallows of the overpriced Moscato she just had to order; I respond with the tedious lie of ‘well, I’m still really focused on my career’ with a plastered smile of a circus clown…lying…for you as I do each and every time.”

I anxiously tapped my fingers against the tailored suit of my pants leg, rolling my eyes in frustration.

Here it comes.

I was not at all in the mood to hear about how she resented me for not proposing to her for six years or for absent mindedly copping out of our situation altogether. It ate her alive to the point she didn’t leave when she should have. She just…waited for me. She watched as everything great about us disintegrated without a fight…allowing the light to fade from our eyes when we stared at each other day after day. She wanted me to make moves I never had the energy for and just deemed her presence in my life tolerable enough to deal with.

“So, then she starts talking about this promotion at her journalism job and of course I’m looking at how amazing she still looks. I mean luminously glowing and basking in happiness, salon styled hair cascading around her face in tendrils of healthiness and no split ends to be seen.”

Tears began to stream from her face as she reflected on the unreachable perfection she felt Yvette possessed and this is why I hated Yvette. I knew…I knew everything and how her lavish lifestyle was only covering up the fact that her husband was actually living out of deep, dark closets, filled with the stench of men from the abundantly free lives of nightclubs…sneaking around at his job after hours. Bill covered himself in what he thought was a safety net of manliness, showering his wife with affectionate gifts, and forcing his seventeen year old daughter to be the absolute best at each endeavor she dared to explore.

I’d been friends with him for fifteen years and it was the one thing I dared not mention to anyone. It was his bed that he made to lay in…to hide in every other week.

I could not tell any of this. I did not tell Trinity any of this because she’d swear that I was the one deflecting our situation onto theirs…attempting to find something more worse than the shit I had done with women in the past.

I released a grunt once again and continued sipping from my glass, desperate to feel the relaxing waves of not giving a fuck.

It’s as if she came to an epiphany and figured that part out, because she quickly wiped her face and dried her tears as if she found a new strength inside or she ran out of fuel, but she never seemed to run out of words.

“As we sat there, in this fancy ass place…comparing lives and sharing stories…I look up and I see this handsome man, dressed for work as he is each morning…but he is not there today. He’s just happily…strolling by the restaurant without a care in the world. Hands in his brown coat pockets, paying no attention to what’s around him…or whom. Just walking down 5th Street with the confidence of a lion and the peace of someone who needs nothing and has…everything. I watched as his phone rang and…the smile that lit up his face was one that I wished I could have placed there many many days without success.”

I grew uncomfortable and shifted in my seat with the empty glass in my hand and casting spectrums of light across my face as she continued her story.

“For once…I just couldn’t ignore what was so obvious. I told Yvette I had an emergency…and that I needed to be excused and would plan and pay for the next lunch…which of course she tried to argue and say that she didn’t mind, but there was no time for that. With my hands shaking and my nerves breaking sweats across my brow even in the cool winter air…I followed that man…so slowly, but not necessarily indiscreet. He just still never looked around…nor tried to notice if anyone could be following him, or be curious of the whereabouts his happiness was leading him to.”

I chuckled and tried to steer the conversation…lighten her mood.

“Trinity…I really have some work to do and would love to stick around and listen to the details of your entire day of stalking or observing or whatever it is that you do…but-“

I began to rise from my reclining chair.

“I’m almost done. I’m sure you can find at least two more minutes to listen to me.”

She slowly pulled out the pearl handled pistol that I’d gotten her two birthdays ago and I instantly froze in place. Sweat forming across my forehead and trickling through the deodorant beneath my arms, then the long sleeves of my shirt…soaking my armpits in nervous perspiration.

“Um…Trinity look-“

“Sit the fuck down.” She stated through gritted teeth and an expression that made me feel like I was already dead.

I slowly eased back into the chair as she waved the pistol around and looked into the air dramatically.

“Where was I before being rudely interrupted?…Oh yeah…so I followed him down 5th Street just as he began to whistle a familiar song of comfort and prosperity. Then I continued to follow as he strolled into the lobby of a nearby hotel…a pretty nice one too…familiar with the staff as if he frequented there quite often. Pulling cash from his wallet, because of course he wouldn’t be stupid enough to have it on his credit card statements. He seemed like a smart man…too smart for his own good…but not smart enough…not this day.”

My breathing grew harsh and I exhaled. I continue to listen and try not to move an inch.

“I watch him through the window as he grabs his room key from the front desk with a smile and a nod….adjourning to the room they assigned. Never displaying a feeling of guilt or contemplation…just anxiousness…happiness…and excitement. So I start to ease behind him as he gets on the elevator, staying a few people behind, and I take a look at which floor he chooses without stepping on the elevator just yet. I just stare around at the beautiful arrangements of flowers…beautiful architecture of the high ceilings and wonder how someone could commit to something so ugly in a gorgeous place like this. And when I make it to the sixteenth floor on the next elevator…I contemplate whether the woman’s beauty was is as significant as this hotel….does her confidence match his…is she as cultured as the art surrounding me…more interesting maybe.”

My fingers tap against the glass in my hand, sweating profusely and moist with irritation.

“I wait…just to see what she’s like…and as I stood around a corner to get the perfect view of who would walk into Room 1609. I anxiously wait to hear the click of expensive stilettos lead to the door…maybe in a trench coat…a sexy dress…something I’d never wear just for the infinite…pleasure of this man because I just don’t know…what it could be…or what it couldn’t. But…”

She began to sob as she continued, but spoke between heavy breaths while clutching the pistol…slowly breaking down as the story came to an end.

“But imagine my surprise when…it’s not the click of heels that I had the pleasure of hearing. It’s not the hem of a dress swaying across long and beautifully waxed legs, nor was it long hair swaying around beautiful and pouty lips. Nope…instead it’s broad shoulders draped in a nice coat…a tailored suit with Stacy Adams to match…softy moving across the floor. Large sized hands…manicured and soft like a woman’s, but a neatly trimmed goatee. THAT is what confidently steps into Room 1609. THAT is what I had to watch stroll up to the door in indescribable horror as the same card you received is slowly inserted into the door and closed behind…him.

Her shoulders are shaking with pain and regret as I bring my large fist to my lips and stare out of the windows of our home, silently unable to breathe.

“Today…I had to recognize the familiar face of your best friend, Bill. I had to watch him bring that smile…that goofy ass grin that you once shared with me to my man’s face…the one that I’ve been trying to achieve again for years now…years. And then…I had to be angry enough to walk to the door just so I could confront him…only to be turned away with a stomach full of knots and expensive ass Moscato with garden salad bubbling to the surface of my throat once I heard the sounds. You didn’t even begin a conversation and went straight into it…in less than two minutes… it was like an itching and an ailing to have finally seen each other…to touch each other…So, it’s not the first time…nor the second…but it’s certainly the last.”

Her voice trailed off as she stared across the room, her eyes bloodshot red and fixated on a wall but not really focused on anything in particular.

“Trinity…I can-“

In one instant…the sound of a long BANG filled my ears and sharp pain shot through my chest where I sat. She stood over me with a face full of stone and the pistol pointed directly at me, smoke slowly curtailing in small puffs from the barrel. I could slowly feel my life fading, blood gurgling from my lips through the struggle of hanging on to a life I was ashamed of. She waltzed right over in silence and watched me desperately gasp for air, no care or show of emotion…except fury. I could see the devil in her eyes staring at me right through her…before he came for my soul and took me with him.

Trinity slowly walked away and grabbed her cell phone with the calm of someone that had been finally set free.

“Hey Yvette, yeah it’s finally done. Yours too? Ok…I’ll be over there to help you in a minute…then we’ll just circle back here to clean up this mess later… yep…and oh yeah…lunch is on me tomorrow.

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