Welcome to the first Write It Wednesday! My submission is below, and the link-up follows. I can't wait to read your writings!
“Hello?” a voice called from the other room.
Brian walked toward the voice, navigating the unfamiliar pathway. His fists were clenched so tight white knuckles appeared beneath his tan skin. The clamor of his heavy footsteps echoed through the kitchen as he turned toward what he believed to be the living room. I will punch him in the face, Brian thought.
He rounded the corner and a woman screamed.
“Who are you?! Get out! Get out, get out, get out!” Her shrill voice bounced from the walls.
The slender woman jumped behind an easy chair. Her hair was shoulder length and brown, her face was surprisingly attractive. A TV blared in the background. Brian was about to turn it off when a man stepped in front of him.
“You can have whatever you want. Just leave. We don’t want any trouble.” The man held up a golf club to show he was serious.
Let him hit me, Brian thought. I would welcome his pithy advances before I end his life.
Brian took in the man before him. He was thin, built like a runner, with dark wavy hair. A chiseled face with deep-set blue eyes. He wore flannel pants and a cream wool sweater to fight off the chilly night. Some might call him handsome, but Brian found his quivering lip loathsome. This? Brian screamed in his head. THIS is what she wants?
“I should kill you right now.” Brian’s voice was low and menacing.
The woman behind the chair let out a stifled shriek.
“Anything you want. Just take it. Please,” The man's voice wobbled off-key.
“Don’t you know who I am?” Brian snarled.
The man shook his head and backed toward the chair.
“I’m Julie’s husband.”
Brian’s statement was met with a blank stare.
“Julie’s husband.” Brian said again, disdain dripping from his words.
The woman peered out from behind the chair and exchanged a confused glance with her husband. The husband shrugged, the alarm not leaving his face.
Brian was getting impatient. “Julie. You know. The woman you’ve been screwing.”
The woman gasped. “Keith, what is he talking about?”
The man looked bewildered and shook his head. “I have no idea, Katie.”
He turned to face Brian and asked, “Who is Julie?”
Brian sent his fist into a nearby wall. When he removed his hand, a perfect fist-shaped indentation was left and drywall crumbled to the floor.
“Julie. My WIFE. You’ve been SLEEPING WITH HER, you schmuck.”
Keith put a hand on his wife’s shoulder, as she had begun to cry. “Katie, I don’t know this man. I don’t know his wife. He is clearly crazy. And dangerous.”
Rage boiled in Brian’s body. I’m crazy? He stewed. I’m not the one going around schlepping the wives of other men. Without breaking eye contact with the couple huddled on the floor, Brian reached into his coat pocket. His hand clutched a crumpled piece of paper and he brought it out.
“Then how do you explain this, Ben? You liar!” Brian spit the last word with contempt.
The man, with his head cocked warily, inched closer to peer at the paper in Brian’s hand.
Brian’s mind went back to the day before, when he had come across the scripted letter as he was cleaning off the desk in the kitchen. The desk was always a cluttered mess, and Julie bemoaned it daily. They both worked hard hours in the city, but that day Brian had arrived home earlier than usual. When he walked in the door, he was greeted by the papers piled high on the desk, and he thought he’d surprise Julie by having it cleaned off when she came home.
Bill after bill, he separated the papers into piles. Invitations, greeting cards, flyers of discounts for the local dollar store. Much of it had to be thrown away, and the important papers were filed in appropriate folders. Soon, Brian could see the desk, and he felt quite proud of the progress. Julie will be so grateful, he mused happily.
Just as he finished the last few piles, he noticed the corner of piece of paper peeking out from where the wall and the desk met. He tugged at it, finding it to be a letter addressed to his wife. The handwriting was an unfamiliar scrawl. Brian peeked into the envelope, and was about to put it in the “personal items” pile when he saw the greeting. I can’t stop thinking about you, Jules...
Brian tore through the letter, reading painful proclamations of love and uncomfortable details of intimacy from a faceless man named Ben. He read the letter five times, tears streaming down his face and his heart racing. The man named Ben called her Jules. No one called her Jules. The hate had risen out of Brian’s chest and into an animalistic howl. He stormed out of the house and spent the night driving, yelling and crying. Until he arrived in the driveway on the envelope’s return address.
He wasn’t going down without a fight.
Now, Brian waved that same envelope in the face of the cowardly cheater before him.
“Who writes this? You’re married, you sick bastard!” Brian motioned to the sobbing woman on the floor.
The man looked at him with wild confusion before asking, “Who’s Ben?”
Brian was caught off guard by the question. The man looked more intently at the envelope.
Timidly, he said, “I think you have the wrong person.”
Brian laughed. “Yeah, right. Just be a man and own up to it. Look your wife in the eye and tell her the truth. How long has it been going on, Ben? How long have you been sleeping with my wife?”
The man responded with more urgency. “No, you really have the wrong guy. Look at the address. It says ‘501 South Birch Street.’”
Brian’s head was spinning. “So?”
The woman, her head clearing, quietly piped up, “Keith. My husband’s name is Keith.”
Brian turned to look at her. Black smudged her cheeks where tears had flowed through her mascara. Her hands were visibly shaking as she hesitantly tried standing.
“Our address is 501 North Birch Street. You have the wrong house.” She said, her voice stronger.
The wrong house. Brian’s mind wrapped around the turn of events. The wrong house. In his emotional state and quest for vegence, Brian had barely taken note of street signs. He remembered look up, seeing Birch Street and careening the car down the cul-de-sac. He had thrown the car in park and madly dashed to the front door, where he barged into the wrong house and threatened a completely innocent family. No one moved for several moments as the realization settled in.
Brian finally stepped back toward the kitchen, gingerly righting an end table he had knocked over in his tirade.
“I...I apologize for the confusion. It' just...my wife...I...Have a good night,” he said quietly as he made his way to the front door. Keith and his wife didn’t move a muscle as they disappeared out of his sight. Brian picked up the picture frame that had fallen to the floor when he first opened the door, placing it gently on the entry table.
“I just....sorry again,” Brian offered one last time as he walked out to into the night.
And with that he closed the door, sending the crunchy autumn leaves on the front step swirling in the air.