Expectations (Flash Fiction Piece)

Flash Fiction: Jim wasn’t expecting a letter, but Laura wasn’t expecting a visitor either. Neither got what they expected.
He had not been expecting the letter. Jim wasn’t surprised to receive it; after all, his wife had told him she was filing for divorce, but that was months ago, and she hadn’t made any moves. He sighed and put the unopened envelope from the attorney’s office on the table by the door, tossed his keys, and then shuffled to the kitchen in search of a stiff drink.

The whiskey poured and still burning his throat, he picked up the phone and dialed seven digits he had memorized but had never before dialed.

“Hello?” the gruff voice on the end of the line answered.

“Larry gave me your number?”

“Yeah,” he barked.

Jim finalized plans on the phone, and then took he his whiskey bottle into the bedroom. After a few keystrokes on his computer, he placed the half-empty bottle of whiskey on the nightstand. The transaction complete, he fell face-first on the bed.

~#~

Laura placed the receiver back on the phone and sighed.

“I guess he’s not home,” she told her son.

Jason nodded. “You know how he is, mom. He’s probably sleeping at the office. He doesn’t do well without you.”

“I know,” she mumbled. “I wish I could tell him I changed my mind. There’s so much to talk about.”

~#~

The phone on the nightstand next to the empty bottle of whiskey rang for the fourth time, but Jim was oblivious. His alcohol-slowed mind and the fog of sleep and hazy dreams kept him from waking.

The answering machine beeped and a man’s gruff voice said, “The money was received and job understood. Don’t contact us again.”

Jim rolled over, but the sounds of the machine didn’t touch the fringes of the fog in his brain, clouded by images of his soon-to-be-ex wife with another man. Jim knew that was the only reason she would have sent the letter from her attorney without talking to him.

There had to be another man.

~#~

Laura smiled when she hung up the phone.

“Jason!” she yelled. When Jason came into the living room, she finished with, “Your father is going to meet me after work today. I know you were supposed to go out with him for dinner, but do you mind if you let yourself into the house and wait for him?”

“No problem, mom. When will you be done?”

Laura smiled. “If things go the way I plan, your father and I will both be coming home, together, and you and I can ditch this tiny apartment for good!”

~#~

Jim wore his best suit, the one his wife had always said he looked so handsome wearing.

“If she’s going to leave me for someone else, let her see what she’s giving up,” he mumbled under his breath. Looking in the mirror, he figured he cleaned up quite nicely.

Jim opened the front door and grabbed the keys from the table by the door. He grabbed the letter from the attorney and opened the envelope. Before he could read the letter, his neighbor across the street called to him. Tossing the opened letter back on the table, Jim stepped out into the setting sun.

~#~

The doorbell rang and Laura opened it to see her husband there, wearing the suit she always thought made his blue eyes look like crystals.

“Hi,” she said. “Won’t you come in?”

Two hours later, in bed together, both satiated from lovemaking better than it had been since their marriage had taken a turn for the worse, he rolled over and said, “I thought you’d found someone else.”

“Oh,” Laura whispered. “Don’t you know there could never be anyone but you?”

She reached to kiss his lips when the door to the bedroom busted open and a man in a black mask burst through, pointing a silenced gun at Laura’s chest. Two quick pops and Laura fell lifeless to the bed, while her husband reached for the covers and shook.

The masked man leveled the gun at him and said, “Courtesy of Jim.”

“But wait,” the man screamed in a trembling voice, “I’m Ji–”

Two more quick pops and Jim fell lifeless beside his wife, a crimson pool beginning to stain the sheets between them.

~#~

Across town, Jason let himself into his old house. He’d missed living there since his mother had asked for a divorce. He looked forward to moving back. In line with his thoughts, Jason picked up the opened letter from the attorney on the table by the door and smiled.

“Good,” he mumbled. “Dad must have read it and knows mom called off the divorce. I can’t wait to move back home!”

~###~

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