Monday, February 8, 2010

Karma Kills (Part 1) by Karen Cantwell

Tuesday West was a marry-er by trade.

By the very nature of how Tuesday made her living, she had racked up a list of enemies, but that had never bothered her. Then she found the first note. Nothing much to worry about, she convinced herself. A child’s prank.

Then she found a second and a third, exactly the same as the first. Suddenly, the men she had done wrong loomed large in her mind’s eye and for the first time in her life, she was actually scared.

There had been five of them. Husbands. Skinny John was the first. Then Chubby John. He wasn’t really chubby, just not as skinny as Skinny John, and she needed a way to distinguish them.

Don came nicely on the heels of Chubby John and provided her with a second house, mortgage-free. Of the five, he was her favorite. Modestly handsome and fit. Good sense of humor. If love had been on her agenda, she might have considered it with Don.

Lonny was a loser, plain and simple (hence the nickname Loser Lonny) and a complete waste of her time. She had misjudged his financial state of affairs and only broke even on that transaction. Admittedly the worst year and a half of her life.

Finally, there was George. Technically speaking, George was not an ex. Not yet. This caused Tuesday to wonder.

“Could you move this along a little faster please, miss?” A woman’s voice broke her trance. “I have more important things to do than stand here waiting for you while you contemplate your navel.”

Brushing stray blonde strands from her face, Tuesday looked across the perfume counter of Bergen’s department store. The sixty-something, thin-lipped customer stared her down with beady eyes.

“Yes, ma’am.” Like it or not, Tuesday had to wait on the woman and keep some pretense of trying to give good service. Kneeling behind the counter she fumbled in search of the small white box of Elizabeth Taylor’s latest scent. Her shaking hands knocked boxes over, strewing them across the floor.

While she made her living by marrying, then divorcing men, Tuesday had learned early on that keeping ordinary, every day jobs was essential to a smooth, successful process of extracting the biggest settlement possible. First, and most importantly, while in the middle of a divorce, it was imperative to hold a part-time, low paying job. Divorce after divorce, this was the advice of her many and varied lawyers. They all looked different – the lawyers that was – with different names and different habits, but their message was always the same: play weak, act the victim, look like you’re suffering, and the pay-off will be sweet.

Sweat formed on her forehead and her hair stuck to her face while boxes lay scattered all around her feet, but finally, Tuesday had the right box in her hand.

“Yes!” she breathed quietly to herself, standing up and coming face to face with the irritated customer, who didn’t break a smile.

“Will that be all?” Tuesday asked the plump, grumpy lady. She looked at the woman’s ring finger. A monstrous diamond on a thick platinum band cut deep into doughy flesh. Likely, Tuesday thought, there was a husband who could easily be stolen. But Tuesday didn’t steal men who were already married. That was too much work, and she would be splitting the profits. Not her style.

“Please, just ring it up and get me out of this hell hole,” the woman answered.

“Yes, ma’am.”

Tip-toeing her way around perfume boxes and rounding the corner of a tall display, Tuesday carried the small package to the register to ring up the sale and get the grumpy, dried up old hag out of her hair.

Note number four lay in wait for her on the register. It was identical to the previous three. Scrawled in red-as-blood ink on torn parchment, the words silently screamed at her: KARMA KILLS.

(Stay tuned for more of Karma Kills)

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