Genre: OPEN, though hard-boiled, noir, crime action would be nice.
Word Count: UNDER 700 WORDS
My opening sentence is from Hugh MacLennan's Two Solitudes.
There would be plenty he could say before such a thing was allowed to happen. He could tell them about the times that she had tried to turn them all against him with her lies. Lies about drinking, lies about how tight he was with money, lies about him hitting her. He had never once, never in his life, laid a hand upon her, although god knows she deserved it.
He worked hard to provide for them. They were the only reason he stayed in this soul-destroying backwater town. They were the rope that kept him tethered, grounded, even while it tightened imperceptibly around his neck.
Years ago, before the kids, before the failure of the business, they both had dreams of something better. We'll go to Toronto they told each other, with our talent, our vision, we'll create amazing things. We'll have to fight off the press, and the offers, and the accolades. Maybe someday we'll go to New York, San Francisco. Nothing was out of reach.
Nothing was out of reach, but nothing was ever within grasp either. After the first one was born, he could feel the dreams loosening their hold. Suddenly there were overflowing diaper bins, never-ending wails that shattered his concentration, another mouth to feed. His work suffered. Where he was once so sure of each step, he now questioned every movement. Nothing looked right anymore.
By the time the boy was born, he agreed to take that job in her brother's garage.
He did it for them, and now he was losing them. For the longest time now he had seen the disdain in her face when he came home exhausted and spent the evenings on the front porch with bottle and a glass filled with ice. He hadn't stepped inside his studio in years.
Shortly after she started her evening course at the community college, the lies started. At first they were lies to him. She always had a ready answer, of course, when she arrived home late at night looking flushed. There were so many assignments, their study group had met after class. That young fellow driving her home? He was in their study group, of course, the only one heading home in the same direction as her.
Later, the lies became about him. He could see the veiled glances aimed at him as he parked the car at the Liquor Mart, could hear the conversations abruptly stop as he rounded the aisle at the drugstore. Until finally, that young fellow from her evening course stopped him in the street and admittedly, in a halting voice what he had suspected all along, that she was leaving him.
And now she was filing for divorce. Well, there would be plenty he could say before such a thing was allowed to happen. Plenty he could say, but only one thing he could do.
He glanced over at the boy and the girl, bound and gagged in the corner of the living room, but he avoided their eyes. Their terrified whimpers had not ceased since he had surprised them after school, since they had burst into the house where he was waiting for them with the ropes and the bandanas. His children, but more importantly, her children.
As he heard her turn the key in the front door, he reached down and picked up the rifle that lay at his feet.