Ah… Valentines day… the smell of perfume, chocolate, roses and desperate people in the air… such a wonderful day.
This is one of those days I really, really wish that there was a universal sarcasm font.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Valentines Day. It’s a day when TOH and I remind each other that we are people apart from the children, that there were things that happened between us before those three bundles of miracle arrived.
We celebrate it quietly; with appropriate presents (usually something to do with our interests), chocolate, cards and a glass of bubbly / tub of ice cream.
It’s the commercialization of the holiday that annoys me. Companies take advantage of people at this time of year – chocolate, teddy bears, flowers, sparkling wine, cards… all of them hoiked in price and shoved in our faces.
So quite often, I rebel against the whole thing with my writing. One of my favourite short stories that I wrote for this day is essentially a horror story…
* * *
“Oh…my…GOD!” she squealed. “You hired the whole of Le Jardin just for us?”
“Anything for you.” He smiled as she spun in a circle on the dance floor, her red silk dress flaring up to show matching silk stockings encasing her legs. “Besides, I own the place and it’s nice to have it to myself for special occasions.”
“Why today though? It’s Valentines tomorrow.” Cheri asked, rushing over to him.
Her perfume intoxicated him. “The restaurant is completely booked up on Valentines Day. So I always close it the day before to make sure the place is clean.”
“That makes good business sense.” She kissed his cheek approvingly.
Maybe she will be the one. He thought. One last thing to check though.
On the dais, a string quartet played a selection of romantic songs and next to the best table in the house, stood the Maitre De, his moustache curling up into spirals beside his cheeks.
Taking Cheri’s hand, Leonard led her over to the table and pulled out her chair. “Allow me to help you to your seat, my lady in red.”
As the Quartet began to play the song, the Maitre De presented the Valentines Day menu. Cheri immediately chose the most expensive meal on the thick cream card. Leonard chose his usual.
“This is a special occasion, Lenny! Why are you having such a boring meal?” Cheri frowned.
“I don’t want to ruin my appetite for desert.” He said, leaning forward and taking her left hand in his, then pressing his lips to the palm of her hand.
Cheri blushed and looked away demurely.
Their food arrived and she quietly drank her beef Bouillon. Leonard allowed himself to hope.
The main courses arrived and cutting his steak into tiny pieces helped Leonard to control his disgust as she tore her breaded shrimp apart with her fingers and dunked them into the tartare sauce, scooping up great blobs of it.
Maybe not then. He sighed, hoping that she would take it for happiness.
“This is…really…good…food.” She said through her mouthful of shrimp. Breadcrumbs splattered across the immaculate table top. Cheri slurped up a slug of red wine to help her swallow, draining it with a noise like a blocked sink.
Leonard looked away, embarrassed and caught the Maitre De’s eyes. The man looked as if he was about to blow his top, the tips of his moustache quivered and his cheeks blazed red. “Bring out the vintage I bought especially for tonight, please.”
The Maitre De bowed and glided away, returning with a dusty bottle. “The 1976 Californian Merlot, M’sieur.”
Cheri gasped in appreciation. The Maitre De opened the bottle and poured it into her glass.
She tasted it and smiled. “It’s wonderful. Thank you”
“It’s all yours. I can’t drink wine.”
The meal went smoothly, despite Cheri’s slurping and gulping. Leonard cringed inwardly and kept her wine flowing.
As they finished their desert, Leonard passed over a small red flock covered box. “I have a present for you.”
Cheri wiped her hands on a napkin and took it reverently. Snapping it open, the expectancy on her face faded to confusion. “A Golden Key?”
“It opens the three boxes on the table over there.” Leonard pointed at a table by the dais. “Inside are the three things that you want most in all the world.”
Her eyes grew round. “Oh, Lenny… that’s amazing.”
Once the meal was over they danced together, then Leonard led her to the table with the boxes on. “Open them.”
Cheri let out another squeal and dashed back to their table for the key. She opened the first box and stared into it. Then she put out one finger and poked at what lay inside. “Are these what I think they are?”
Leonard smiled and pressed play on the digital recorder on the table.
“I hate her and those plastic boobs. I’d cut them off if I could.” Cheri’s voice rang through the empty restaurant. He stopped the playback.
“Are they really Marcie’s breasts?” Cheri murmured.
Leonard shrugged. “Would I get you anything other than the real thing?”
Cheri opened the second box hesitantly. At the same time, Leonard pressed play.
“His face is the only nice thing about him.” the recording said.
Cheri giggled as she looked into the box. “Neil looks so much better like this.”
Leonard left the playback running. This time there was no hesitation as Cheri opened the third and smallest box. She reached into it and brought out the contents.
“I don’t want anything from her. Her Heart is the only thing I ever wanted and I’ll never be good enough to get it.” The click of the button was the only noise in the room as he turned the recorder off.
“Oh, Leonard.” Cheri breathed. “It’s still warm. This is the best Valentines’ Day ever!”
He looked into Cheri’s beautiful, botoxed face, ran his eyes down her liposuctioned, hourglass figure, before looking into the cold, blue eyes under her false eyelashes. “I have killed for you.”
“And you’ve made me the happiest woman alive.” Cheri placed her mother’s heart back into the box. ”Only one thing could make me happier still.”
Leonard pressed play one more time.
“He’s such a wuss. He never listens to me.” Cheri’s voice said.
“Rich though.” Said another woman.
“It’s his best feature. Still, I think he’s going to propose to me on Valentines Day, so I can put up with him for a while longer.”
The other woman laughed. “They don’t call you the Black Widow for nothing, do they. How many of your husbands have died after the wedding?”
“Not that many!” the recorded Cheri giggled.
Leonard turned the recorder off. “I killed for love. You would have killed me for money.”
She shrugged. “It’s only a way of making a living.”
“Do you enjoy it?” Leonard moved closer to her, taking her bloody hands in his.
“Not really. I do the deed as fast and as cleanly as possible.” She looked up into his grey eyes, pressing her body against his.
“I don’t. I enjoy what I do and I only kill personally.” Leonard dropped his face to hers and kissed her lingeringly.
Cheri responded, her tongue winding around his.
He let the kiss go on for a few moments, then caught her as she stumbled backward, laying her out on the floor and kneeling down beside her.
She looked shocked as her body stopped responding to her.
“One of the perks of owning this place is that I can kill cleanly. The chef who prepared your food is a master at poisoning without detection. There was a catalyst in the wine and I activated it with a chemical on my lips.” Leonard peeled away a fine silicon coating on the lower half of his face.
Cheri coughed, blood spattering her lips and bubbling up between her teeth. “I thought you loved me.”
“I do.” Leonard took the cloth his Maitre De gave him and gently blotted the blood away. “That’s why poison and not something more violent.”
Real love bloomed in her eyes and she coughed a little more blood up. “Why?”
“Why? Because I can’t bear the noise you make when you eat. Everything else I could have lived with, we could have worked together for our crimes; you would have brought them in and I would have killed them.” His eyes filled with tears.
Resignation dawned on Cheri’s face. “See you in hell, my Love.” She gurgled.
The light of life faded in Cheri’s eyes and Leonard allowed one tear to drop onto her cheek, before wiping away the blood from her mouth.
Standing, he handed the cloth to the Maitre De. “Make sure this place is clean for tomorrow’s Lunch Service and the remains are dealt with respectfully.”
“As you wish, M’sieur.”
Leonard turned away.
He stopped moving. “Yes, Beauclerc?”
“We are sorry for your loss.”
Leonard sniffed and sighed. “So am I.” He walked out of the door without looking back.
* * *
I know how to be romantic though, and I have written romantic stories. I just can’t write a whole book like that; makes me feel… icky… and I’m not sure why.
Anyway, I thought I’d show off my latest publication –
The Great Terrene Empire consists of a thousand worlds in the known Universe. In the search for a place to call home, Humans colonised freely and many worlds even forgot they were part of the Terrene Empire.
The Ryuu Empire spans a third of Pleione, a beautiful Almost Earth world, but to a small girl on the Island Province of Tenshi, none of that means anything. Sakura is content to learn and play amongst the flowers and butterflies of her Father’s Castle, worrying only about the twins sharing her mother’s body.
However, when the awakening of the Ika-Zuchi-No-Kami threatens her safety, the God Inari sends his chief Kitsune, Maiya, to rescue the child and her pregnant Mother. As the Earth Demons ravage Atamasanshi, Sakura comes up with a plan to lull the demons back to sleep and save her father.
It’s a mini-ebook, under ten thousand words long and a very soft and gentle tale of a little girl and her magical adventure.
It’s not expensive – 99p / $1.51 from both Amazon and Smashwords, so why not pick it up for a light read?