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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Midlife crises a short story by Lacy Muircastle



It had simply been mind blowing sex.  Wild, tempestuous, no strings attached.  Or that’s what I’d thought.  But you know what thought did, don’t you?
She stood in the middle of my office looking like a petulant child, Aphrodite.  My paramour, my Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and now it would seem as with the goddess she was named after, of procreation too. I should have known better than to get involved with someone so young. Or anyone.  I don’t know what I was thinking.
“What do you mean you’re pregnant?”  My head was pounding at my temples.  I slumped back in my chair.
“Are you completely stupid? This is as much your fault as it is mine.” She actually had the audacity to stomp her Jimmy Choo clad foot.  I only knew they were Jimmy Choo’s because I’d bought them.
“Damnit Aphro, you knew going into this that I was married and that I have no plans of getting a divorce. Anyway what about your studies?  Having a baby mid-way through your degree is going to set you back somewhat.”
“Are you telling me to get an abortion?”  She had a typically Greek temperament. I watched as she clenched her fingers, her knuckles turned white. She was itching to slap me, of that I had no doubt.
“No need to shout madam, and what happened to being on the pill?  You assured me that you were.  If I’d known that you weren’t I’d have taken alternative precautions.”
“Oh for god’s sake Stephen, the bottom line is I’m having this baby and you’ll just have to deal with it.” She screamed at me.
My heart skipped a beat as the door swung open.  I closed my eyes and held my breath.  It was like I’d just been caught smoking behind the garden shed by my mother. 
“Everything alright in here?”  Thank god for small mercies it was Andy.  He looked at me and then at Aphrodite with raised eyebrows.  “You two could be heard from the floor below you know.”
Aphrodite had the good grace to look sheepish.  “Sorry Andy.  Please don’t tell my parents about this.”
I scowled at my best friend.  “Is Cheryl here?”
“No, she had errands to run.  You lucked out on that front bud.  Aphrodite I think you should leave.”
“And since when were you my father?  Look Steve, come over tonight and we’ll finish this once and for all.”
“Can’t.  I’ve got Sam’s recital to go to.  I promised him I’d be there.”
She rolled her eyes at me and stomped out of the room.  She was a real diva, but her enthusiasm for life and her not insignificant intelligence had made her irresistible.  It was Andy that had introduced her to me.
We’d been going through a tough business acquisition and it had finally all come together.  We’d gone to celebrate at Signature, just the two of us.  We’d always been a formidable team, even back in the day at high school.  We’d been kings of the rugby field and that had translated into scholarships to university.  The only tarnish to our magical sheen was that I was the more driven, more ambitious one of our duo.  Andy had always been running just that bit behind me.  Which meant he worked for me.  If he resented my success he’d never let me know about it.
We’d just finished our first bottle of Veuve Clicquot, Rose Champagne when she’d walked in.  She was breathtakingly beautiful.  She was tall and slender with a mass of black curls cascading down her back.  She was also rather young.
Andy had beckoned her over.  It turned out that she was a friend of the family that he hadn’t seen in a while.
The evening concluded with Aphrodite and me wildly consummating our new found friendship.  And I was smitten.
*
I was on my way home when my cell phone notified me of an incoming text message:
Hey bro, sorry to bother you.  Do you think you could swing by and give me hand to move some boxes around my new place?
I tapped out a response:
Sure no hassles.  See you in twenty.
*
“Nice place.”
“Yeah, not quite as nice as yours, but hey beggars can’t be choosers and it’s mine.”
I nodded. “So what can I help with?”
He pointed to a stack of boxes in the corner, a knife was sitting on the top one.  I picked up the knife and went to work slicing the tape open and unpacked the books that were contained in the boxes.
“Where do you want these?”
He pointed at the bookshelf he’d just put in place. “Wanna beer?”
“Is the Pope Catholic?”
Andy laughed at the worn out quip and handed me a Castle Lite.  “What’s this? You wimping out on me?”
He patted his stomach and laughed.  “No, but I don’t want to get out of shape.”
“Oh, why?  You got a girl I don’t know about?” I gave him a friendly punch on the arm.
“You could say that.”
“Is that all you’re going to say?”
He smiled and winked at me. “Ja for now.”
“Have you cleared things up with Aphrodite yet?”
“No she is refusing to budge.  I’m really between a rock and a hard place with this.”
“Steve just explain to me why when you have everything, a smoking hot wife, a fantastic little boy and more money than is fair, you’re prepared to jeopardise everything for some broke albeit beautiful under grad?”
I shrugged.  I didn’t have a good answer.
I packed the last of the books onto the shelves and noticed the time.  “Shit, I better get going before the ball and chain starts on at me.  You know how she gets.”
Andy seemed to go rigid.  “Cheryl is no ball and chain.”
“Right and when did you become her Sir Galahad?”
“Sorry bud.  I’m just a bit creased right now and I’d give anything to have what you have.”
When did he become so concerned about not having what I have?  I thought I'd done right by him.

*

There was a loud thumping on the front door.  The bedside clock indicated that it was one thirty am.  What the…
More loud banging.  “Mr. Lawrence, open up.”  I swung open the oak double door and was greeted by blue flashing lights and a couple of uniformed police officers.
“Mr. Lawrence?” A portly officer asked.
“Yes?” I frowned at him. 
“Please come with us sir.”  He pointed in the general direction of the police vehicle.
“Hold on just a bloody minute.  Why do I need to go anywhere with you?”
He looked at his note pad.  “You know an Aphrodite Katsaros?”
“Yes?”
Cheryl walked up behind me. “What the hell is going on Steve?”
“I don’t know darling.” 
The rotund police officer answered.  “Ms. Katsaros has been murdered and we’d like you to come in for questioning.”
As the words crashed out of the toad’s mouth I felt my knees buckle. 

*

I’d never felt as tired as I did that day.  They’d grilled me for hours.  Where was I at the time of the murder?  With my wife… You would say that and she’d alibi you, she’s your wife after all.  What was the nature of my relationship with Ms. Katsaros?  On and on with the questions.  I was informed that my fingerprints had been found on the murder weapon which as far as the police were concerned, was irrefutable evidence that I had perpetrated this heinous crime.
The cat was out of the bag now and Cheryl knew about my illicit liaison.  She took it remarkably well.  None of the histrionics I’d expected.  Quite the opposite, she’d become the ice queen, frostily stoic but she refused to visit me. 
No matter how much I proclaimed my innocence, I was going down for murder.  I was going to have to pay the highest price there was for what had been an indiscretion.

*

The day of my trial arrived.  The morose grey sky emulated how I felt.  My lawyer had told me to expect the worst case scenario, life imprisonment.  The evidence was stacked against me and the chief witness, my dear pal Andy had sent me down the river.

I sat in the witness box and looked out into the courtroom.  Cheryl and Andy sat next to one another.  Hand in hand.  Andy lifted Cheryl’s hand to his lips and kissed her finger tips.  He looked up at me and smiled.  The penny dropped.  Oh my god talk about being blindsided.
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