Sunday, December 14, 2008

Portrait of Words #4

Hey, it's that time again. Time to share some stories with one another through our monthly writing challenge.

For anyone new, here is a quick run down on how it works. Each month I supply a variety of photographs along with corresponding categories for them. (Main Character, Backdrop, Purpose, Item and Wild Card) From these five prompts, we weave stories as our imagination dictates. If you'd like the full blown details please click here. For all of this month's current photos, please click here.

If you're considering joining us...please do! Everyone is welcome to participate.

If you have a story to post this month be sure to sign in on the link box at the bottom of this post. If you're just along for the reading, great! Hope you enjoy my offering, and please do go by and check out what the others have put together.


"A Rose By Any Other Name"

"No more Bets!" called out the dealer waving her had across the table.

Albert watched as the small white marble started the first of its numerous revolutions around the roulette wheel. A few moments later the shinny orb began its descent toward the center engaging in a feverish dance with the red and black numbers while barely noticing the two opposing green ones. Eventually it would come to rest on the number 21. Not only was it odd, but it was also red, which meant Albert's two bets of one and two hundred dollars respectively would give him an additional three hundred in winnings.

Another glance at the watch strapped around his left wrist showed it was five minutes ahead of 6:00pm.

"Any minute now." he thought to himself.

He reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a small cloth handkerchief to blot the sweat from his forehead. Although the air conditioning kept the casino at a constant sixty-eight degrees regardless of how much heat or humidity was outside, Albert found himself needing to pat his head down every couple of minutes anyway. You'd have thought he was sitting in the middle of a sauna rather than the on the gaming floor of a luxury Atlantic City hotel.

"Congratulations Sir. " the dealer announced as she slid another small pile of chips in front of him. Albert however, didn't seem to notice. "Sir . . . are you alright?" The young woman behind the table inquired.

The old man seemed, at the vary least, flustered. When he looked up he realized the pit boss was heading his way and the play at the table had momentarily stopped. Gathering his composure, he assured the dealer that he was fine. Probably just needed to take a break for a while and perhaps get a bite to eat, he'd tell her. The pit boss seemed to be satisfied that everything was under control and continued his rounds about the floor. Albert slid a his colored chips into the center and asked to be cashed out. The dealer counted out just short of a couple thousand dollars in house chips and told him he could take them to any of the cashiers if he liked or preferably he could hold onto them and come back after dinner to try his luck again. He thanked her, left a couple of twenty-five dollar chips behind as a tip and was on his way.

Rather than heading for one of the many restaurants in the casino, Albert made his way toward the elevators and up to his room. After a brief struggle between the electronic lock and key, he managed to open the door and slip into the room. His eyes immediately shot in the direction of the nightstand where a blinking light indicated there was a message waiting for him. A rush of both exhilaration and apprehension washed over his body as he sat at the edge of the bed and pressed the play button. Nervously he waited for the words. When they came, only two were spoken.

He heard a low raspy voice say, "It's done." (CLICK)

In that instant he knew his most recent wife would be a burden to him no more. Never again would he have to listen to her incessant complaining about every little thing he either did or did not do. Best of all, he and Leena, the woman he'd begun seeing on the side, would be free to live out their affair without fear of discovery.

Albert lay back on the predictably firm hotel mattress, tucked one of the under stuffed pillows behind his head and retraced the plans he and his mistress had concocted. It really was quite brilliant he felt. While he was several hundred miles away, his wife Rose would be at home as she was every Saturday evening. Ironically, she would be waiting for Leena to come by. You see, for the past several months, Leena had taken up the self appointed responsibility of bringing her upstairs neighbors a care package each week. Among other things, it would always include the evening edition of the Palm Beach Tribune and a small bag of dark chocolate peanut clusters, Albert's favorite. Rose always thought it curious that an attractive, unattached woman like Leena, who could easily fill her weekend evenings with much more lively entertainment, would choose to spend one of those nights with the two of them. What Rose didn't know was that some of Leena's lively entertainment did actually take place at the apartment building, but it was typically on Sunday afternoons while Rose was at her weekly bridge game and Albert was doing his own "neighborly business" downstairs.

Well, the plan went something like this: Albert had met up and contracted with a friend of a friend he'd met during his union days with the steel workers local 542. This particular "friend" was known by a select few to provide favors for a certain level of compensation. The favor Albert was seeking would come to the tune of twenty-five grand. As per their agreement, the first fifteen (in cash of course) had already been paid. The remaining ten would be neatly tucked away in an envelope, top drawer of the bedside table at the couples downtown apartment. The friend known only as Tony would go to the apartment at 6:00pm on the appointed night. Once he had completed the job, he would go to the bedroom and acquire the second envelope. At this point, he and Albert's obligations to one another would be complete. A few minutes later, at around 6:15 pm, Leena would drop-in for her weekly visit only to find Rose crumpled on the floor with a blow to the back of her head. Leena would then call the police with a tale of tragedy she'd happened to discover. The police would arrive on the scene, start to investigate the murder and eventually inquire as to the whereabouts of the late Rose's husband Albert. Leena, in the most distraught voice she could muster, would tell the cops that he was up in Jersey on a weekend getaway. They would track down the casino's name and phone number he'd left behind with Rose in case she needed to get a hold of him. They would call with the terrible news. He would be devastated and say he would hop on the next plane back home. An in depth investigation would ensue, but no one would ever be caught or even charged in what the police would dismiss as a random burglary gone terribly wrong.

A smile worked its way across Albert's face as he thought about how perfect his plan was, and now that everything seemed to be falling into place, he decided to stretch out and take a short nap. About an hour later he awoke from some of the most peaceful sleep he'd had in the past four years. He figured he'd hit the shower, maybe grab a quick bite to eat, then hit the tables again before his big acting debut began.

The steaming hot shower was every bit as refreshing as he'd hoped for. Trading in his shorts and flower print shirt for a bit more sophisticated evening attire, Albert was just about ready to greet the town with a new spring in his step. He was nearly out the door when he realized he'd forgotten his wallet. He walked over to the bed stand to grab it when he noticed the light on the phone was blinking again. Apparently another message had come in while he was in the shower.

"That's odd," he said out loud, "I assumed it would take them a while longer to call with the news."

For a moment he thought about ignoring it and listening to it later, but then he figured "what would it matter?" He could listen to it now and then go out claiming he hadn't heard it until later in the evening when he returned.

He hit play and waited for the Palm Beach Police to tell him there had been an accident and to return their call immediately. What he heard however, caused him to instantly buckle at the knees. Instead of the police leaving him a message, it was Rose's voice, and she was panicked!

Through uncontrollable sobs she cried out on the recording, "Oh my god Al, please be there. Pick-up honey . . . It's Leena . . . she's . . . she's dead!"

She went on to tell him that her sister had unexpectedly come to town and taken her out to dinner. She continued telling him, "I knew Leena would be coming over around six, so we tried to get back home, but we were just a little bit late. When we got here, we found her on the floor of our apartment. Oh my god . . . Albert, please pick-up!"

Rose sobbed through a couple more comments that were barely recognizable, but what she said next pierced Albert's ears like a dagger through his heart. "The police found a note in her pocket that had the phone number of the hotel you're staying at . . . Why would she have that number? . . . Oh Albert, please call me!"

By now Albert was shaking as he sat on the edge of the bed taking it all in. His house of cards was crumbling right before his very eyes (or was that ears?). Of all the days for Rose's sister to come for a visit, why did it have to be this one? It wasn't supposed to happen like this. Then he realized if the cops had found a note with his phone number on it, in a dead woman's pocket, they were sure to be coming with questions he wouldn't want to answer.

His mind was reeling, and he was already formulating an escape plan when he heard, "KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK, Mr Montgomery, Atlantic City P D, may we have a word?"


Please consider joining us next month. I'll have the pictures for the next one up on Friday 12/19. Hope to see you there!

(Thank you in advance to Dr John for January's photographs)


a pot, a thought & a smidgen of dirt said...

Great story, really enjoyed reading this. love how fate got in the way of their evil plans. fiona

Maggie May said...

Great story.
Was on pins all the way through.
Glad he didn't get away with it though!

BJ Roan said...

Hey, that's what the old guy gets for pussy footin' around with the chick downstairs! He probably got away with it though. After all, wouldn't he have left a contact number in case Rose had a problem? Great story. It kept me on the edge of my seat from word one.

bettygram said...

Good story. I am glad the plan did not work.

Jeff B said...

Fiona- There's always a loop hole to an evil plan it seems.

Maggie May- I think his troubles are just beginning.

BJ- Actually he did leave a contact number, and that's how they discovered his whereabouts. And yes, he definitely got what he deserved, and Leena too.

Bettygram- I just couldn't let him get away with it.

Akelamalu said...

I have scheduled mine to post on the 17th so I'm not going to read any until then.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Loved that Jeff - it kept me guessing all the way.


Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Jeff - me again - when I went to add my name to the list I hit the enter button too soon so you have 2 Anne's listed - sorry!!


Jeff B said...

Akelamalu- I completely understand. I don't like to peek until I've completed the writing and posting too. Looking forward to it.

Anne- I went in and took care of it. That'd be a lot of Strawberry Jam! hehehe

Dr.John said...

Very well writen. I certainly enjoyed the story and could not have guessed where you were going.

Starrlight said...

Albert is screwed!! Nice one =)

david mcmahon said...

I couldn't wait to see what you did with this one, Jeff.

You are a VERY creative soul.

Kimmie said...

Hi Jeff!

Long time no blog to! I am sorry my friend. Life has been on hold for quite awhile for me, but I am back and looking forward to getting back in the swing of things.

I have missed you! I will be back to read this post, I just wanted to let you know I didn't fall off the face of the earth. Almost, but not quite! LOL!

Kimmie :-)

Jeff B said...

Dr John- Glad you liked it and that I didn't reveal it too soon.

Starrlight- You betcha baby. He's going to have a new girlfriend alright, but he'll be named Bubba.

David- I don't know if this type of writing is your bag or not, but would love to see what you'd come with too.

Kimmie- Well, hidee ho stranger. I was hoping you'd surface again. I'll follow your avatar to see if you have a blog going again. Thanks for checking in.

Sandi McBride said...

Murder most foul. And an excellent job in the telling...I'd like to get you in the box, excellently done!

Travis said...

Well done Sir! There is no such thing as the perfect crime.

Ron said...

Bravo Jeff!!

applause, appplause, applause!

You ALWAYS blow me away with the ending "twists" in these mystery stories!!!

As I'm reading, I always find myself thinking, "Where is this going?...Where is this going?"

Brilliant, buddy!

And thanks for sharing!

Later, gator!

Raven said...

Great job.... really well done. You had me guessing and engaged from the very start. I posted something. Not too thrilled with it, but such is life.

Cherie said...

Great story. The bouncing around of the roulette ball captured my attention right away. Great imagery and foreshadowing for the story. You never know when your number will come up when you're gambling. lol

I'm afraid that I won't be able to participate this month. Too many deadlines. I had a cute idea of a spoof of the Ocean's 11 franchise. That guy reminded me so much Carl Reiner/Sol. Oh well, next month.

Jeff B said...

Sandi- Why thank you.

Travis- You are so right. There's always something to foil the plan.

Ron- Mission accomplished!

Raven- I just read your entry. Don't sell yourself short, I think it was a great story, and loved how you ended it.

Cherie- Your entry will be missed, but I completely understand. I wasn't sure how many would be participating this month with all the other activities going on.

Finding Pam said...

OK, Jeff, this is my first try. I had more trouble with the graphics and how to upload the story. I am still learning. :)

Lu' said...

That was good Jeff. I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for the game too.

Finding Pam said...

What a twist on his evil plot to murder his wife. Very interesting story line and I enjoyed it very much.

Jeff B said...

Pam- It took me a while to learn how to get the graphics sorted out when I started too. I use Firefox when I'm composing my posts. It seems to be much better than Explorer for arranging pics.

Anyhoo, thank you for taking up the challenge.

Lu- Your very welcome. I see you went the murder route too. Nice.

Mel said...

What a naughty fella.....and what a well written story!

You just never cease to amaze me.

Well done!

Akelamalu said...

Haha all the best laid plans! Serves Albert right I say, the dirty rotten cheat! Oh sorry I got carried away, it was so good I thought it was real! It wasn't was it??? ;)

Nessa said...

Ah, the perfect plan. Very fun story. This sounds like a fun project. I will try to join in next month.

Jeff B said...

Mel- Thank you darlin'.

Akelamalu- Not real, I have a living breathing wife to prove it too.

Nessa- Thanks for dropping in. Would love to have you join us next month. I'll have the pics posted this Friday.

Lee said...

Wow! Reading that, I got scared. Great suspense effect, Jeff! Congatulations on making David's Post of the Day mention.