Page 173, Line 4

Here’s another one of The Haunted Wordsmith’s page and line number prompts. The way it works is that we’re supposed to grab a book…any kind of book…and flip to the designated page and then to the specified line — in this case, page 173, line 4 — and take the quoted line and use it in a story.

5f088a83-b07a-4852-9769-5b6bb963b95aThe book I chose for this exercise is “O Little Town” by Don Reid. Line 4 on page 173 reads, “They sneaked around a lot down here behind her husband’s back.” So given that line, here’s my story.

“When was the last time you saw the two of them together?” Detective Morrisey asked the woman with teased up, bleach-blonde hair and way too much makeup who was positioned behind the hotel’s reception counter.

“Oh they were such a lovely couple,” Jean said. “Of course, she was married, so they sneaked around a lot down here behind her husband’s back. They usually arrived on Friday nights and left after brunch on Sunday mornings. It’s such a tragedy that she’s gone missing. I bet it was the husband. It’s always the husband, isn’t it?”

Morrisey was a Joe Friday kind of detective. All he was interested in were the facts. “When was the last time they were here?” he asked, trying to hide his impatience.

“Well,” Jean said looking up toward the ceiling of the small lobby as she was searching her memory. “They had their romantic rendezvous once a month and, if memory serves, it was always on the second weekend of each month. So that would have been two weeks ago, I suppose.”

“Do you have a guest register book where they signed in or something on your computer database to document that?” Morrisey asked.

“Oh honey, we’re just a cozy country inn,” Jean said. “We don’t have a fancy-schmancy computer system. And,” Jean added with a wink and a yellow-toothed smile, “we usually don’t require our regular guests to sign the register, you know what I mean?”

“Do you remember if they left together on their last visit?” Morrisey asked.

“Sorry, detective, but Sunday is my day of rest,” Jean said. “Alan would have worked the desk that day and he’ll be here tomorrow.”

Jean looked at Detective Morrisey and decided she liked what she saw. “If you want to stay the night and talk to him in the morning, hon, I can set you up in a real nice suite and give you some very personal service, if you get my drift.” She winked at the detective again and added, “I won’t even ask you to sign the register book.”

Morrisey reach into his shirt pocket and pulled out a business card. “You’ve been very helpful, Jean, but I need to head back to the city.” He handed the card to Jean. “Leave this card for Alan with a note for him to call me tomorrow, will you, hon?”

As he was exiting the lobby, Morrisey heard Jean calling out, “I bet it’s the husband.”

A Good Idea at the Time

face punch

The car pulled up next to mine at the rural intersection and honked its horn. Both Pat and I looked over and saw a guy in the front passenger seat move his hand and arm, signaling me to roll down my car’s window, which I did.

“Are you the dickheads who were out with Claire and Mary tonight?” The guy asked.

“Oh shit,” Pat exclaimed. “Hit the gas.” I punched it, but the car’s engine trembled and I felt the car lurch forward before the engine sputtered out and the car came to a halt.

Pat and I had just dropped off our dates and we were heading back to the apartment we shared. Pat’s girlfriend, Mary, thought it would be fun to fix me up with her friend Claire. I was never a fan of fix-ups, but Pat persuaded me to go along. “It will make Mary happy,” he said. “And Claire is hot!”

My stalled car was now surrounded by four rather large, thuggish looking guys. One of them on Pat’s side of the car, asked “Which one of you assholes was with Claire tonight?” Without hesitation, Pat pointed towards me.

“You, huh?” said a voice coming from my side of the car. I turned my head around to look at the guy who was talking just in time to feel a fist punch me hard in the mouth. “Stay the fuck away from her or next time you’ll wake up dead.” With that, he and his buddies jumped back into their car and sped away.

I was literally seeing stars. The pain was intense and I felt blood running down my chin from my mouth. I looked in the car’s rear view mirror and saw that I was missing one of my front teeth and the other was loose and almost hanging by a thread.

“What the fuck?” I said, looking at Pat.

“Yeah, sorry dude,” he said. “I probably should have told you that Claire’s married. The guy who hit you is her husband.”

“You probably should have told me? Are you fucking kidding me? Why would you and Mary want to fix me up with a married woman?”

“I dunno,” Pat said, shrugging his shoulders. “Mary said Claire wasn’t happy. It seemed like, you know, a good idea at the time.”

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “lurch.”

Solitary Man


I’ve written several posts lately that are based upon songs I’d grown up with. When I saw today’s one-word prompt, “solitary,” I was reminded of yet another such song, Neil Diamond’s “Solitary Man.” The refrain of that song goes:

Don’t know that I will but until I can find me
A girl who’ll stay and won’t play games behind me
I’ll be what I am
A solitary man
Solitary man

I didn’t get married until I was 32, which, back in the day, was considered to be old.

But then I met a girl who I knew would stay and not play games behind me. We married. I am no longer a solitary man.