Friday, July 23, 2021

The Other Side (short fiction) Ch. 5 by Leanne Dyck

 Ch. 4:  Mara works at a complaints department where she apologizes all day. 

And now... The story continues...

photo by ldyck

The Other Side

Chapter five

Arriving home, I was greeted by a loud noise coming from Owen's office. Something was clearly wrong. Bracing myself, I pushed open the door. "Hello?" 

Owen swung back his stick and took a hard slap shot at the cement wall. The ball he was using as a puck bounced over his stick. That's when he noticed me. 

"You seem upset."

"Yeah, upset is a good word. Angry is even better. Go look in the closet."

I looked in the closet, but, "I can't see anything."

"Look down."

I did and... 

"My babies!" I cried. My favourite, most expensive pair of high heels had been attacked. A large hole was drilled into the toe of one shoe and the bow had been torn off the other. "Who could be this cruel?" I cradled them in my arms. 

"You tell me. I went to play hockey this afternoon and came home to that."

I noticed that some of his shoes had been damaged too. "Maybe Becky knows what happened."

"Yeah, maybe Becky knows," He bit into the words. "You can ask her."

Owen waited for me to led us up the stairs. I took several deep breaths before climbing the steps. I was determined to stay calm and not to accuse without proof.

Rusty met me in the living room. Would he growl, snarl, bear his teeth?

"Come, Rusty," Becky called.

We followed Rusty's wagging tail into the kitchen. 

Becky was pouring pineapple juice into a bowl. "I'm making sweet and sour spare ribs. Do you want to join us for supper? You eat way too much pizza. It's loaded with calories and tastes like cardboard. And with your credit card debt, you really can't afford to eat out as much as you do."

It unnerved me to hear how much personal information Becky knew about us--especially about our finances. 

I expected Owen to jump at her supper invitation. He loved Becky's cooking and spare ribs were his favourite meal, but he said, "No, thanks. We have plans."--which was news to me.

Owen left the kitchen, Rusty followed him, and I heard the patio door slid open and closed.

"Oh, it's so cute how much Owen enjoys playing with our puppy," Becky said as she stirred.

"Listen, Becky, I have a mystery that I'm hoping you can help me solve."

"A mystery, eh?" She set the spoon on the counter and turned to face me. "I'll try." She walked over to the fridge and found the spare ribs.

"Owen left for hockey this afternoon--."

"Oh, so that's where he went--in the middle of a workday. I wondered." She unwrapped the ribs and tossed the plastic wrap in the garbage under the sink.

"He came home to quite a mess. A lot of our shoes had been damaged."

She arranged the ribs in a glass cooking dish. "You're so melodramatic. Damaged."

"Could you come downstairs with me? I'd like to show them to you."

"Is that really necessary? Can't you see that I'm very busy?"

"Yes, I can, but...I'd appreciate it."

"Okay, but I have to finish this first." She took her time to pour the sauce over the ribs. Ran her finger around the bowl and had a taste. "Oh, that's just yummy. Would you like some?" She offered me the bowl.

"Ah, no, thank you."

She rinsed out the bowl, preheated the oven, and put the ribs in the fridge. "Okay, let's go to the scene of the crime." She chuckled.

I led her downstairs and into Owen's office. 

"What a mess. Honestly, men are such slobs," Becky said. "You know I would have thought twice about renting to you had I known he would leave things in such a state."

All I could see was a swept floor and a well-organized desk. "I don't see any--."

"Oh, dear, that doesn't surprise me. You've never been exactly tidy. Now have you? You won't see a mess if it was starring you in the face. And this one is. It's right there. Open your eyes." She placed her hand on a stack of paper that stood like a brick on the desk. "I'll show you how it should look." She opened a drawer. "They should be in here."

"No, Becky."

"Don't 'No, Becky' me. I'm not your child, you know."

"I'm sorry. I just--."

"Don't you have any pride? Don't you want things to look nice?"

"I don't think--."

"That's the problem. You don't think. And you don't care. This isn't your house so you just don't care how it looks. Well, I do." She reached for the stack of papers.

"Those are Owen's papers. I think we should leave them alone or he might--."

"Are you afraid of him? I've been hearing some strange noises and I thought maybe--."

"He'd never--."

"Now, you're interrupting me." Her hands hovered over the stack.

"I just think that if we move things he may have trouble finding them."

"Fine." She threw her hands in the air. "Have it your way then." She headed for the door.

"Becky, please wait." I opened the closet door, picked up my shoes, and cradled them in my arms. Seeing them again made me want to cry. 

"Oh, get over it," she told me. "No one died. They're just shoes."

"Yes, but they were my favourite ones."

"I didn't realize how materialistic you are."

"There was a bow on each toe and... and..."

"Really a bow? How old are you? Whoever did this did you a favour. You can buy more, better shoes. So if that's all, I'll see you at supper."

"Becky, I was hoping that you might be able to help me solve the mys--."

"How am I suppose to know what happened?"

"You were at home when..."

"I was upstairs. I won't come down here uninvited. I don't put my nose where it doesn't belong."

That's when it occurred to me that the hole in my shoe looked like something a tooth would do--a dog tooth. "Hmm...Would...could...did Rusty ever--?"

"You should grow up and take responsibility. Things like this won't happen if you kept the door closed." Her face was so red. At any minute stem would start coming out of her ears.

I'd made her so angry. Would she kick us out? I had to calm her. "You're right. You're right. Of course, you're right."

"Good, I'm glad we both agree that it was your fault. Keep the door closed from now on." She turned to leave and tossed over her shoulder. "Supper will be ready at 6 PM. Please be on time. Tom doesn't like to eat cold food."

"Stay," I heard Owen tell Rusty. He met us at the stairs, passing Becky he reminded her, "I already told you, we have plans."

Becky reached the top of the stairs and looked down at us. "Oh, alright then. Far be it from me to try to do something nice."

Owen closed the door on her words, but Becky just kept talking, "Don't stay out too late. Remember tomorrow's a workday." She sounded like our mother, which was really strange because she was our age. It was so odd that it made me want to laugh, but I didn't. I didn't want Becky to hear me laughing at her. 

Back in the office, Owen was brief and to the point, "So?"

"I think it could have been Rusty," I whispered.

"Of course it was Rusty who damaged our shoes, but it wasn't Rusty's fault. He didn't open the closet door. He'd never have had the opportunity if it wasn't for her.  It was her fault. She destroyed our shoes. What's she going to do about it?"

"Nothing," I whispered. "She said it was our fault because we didn't always close the basement door."

"Close the door. Close the door. I'll show her how to close a door." He swung his office door and it slammed against the door frame. 

"But we have nowhere else to go." I was so worried that I was nearly in tears.

"I'll fix that." Owen stormed out of his office but quickly returned with that day's newspaper. He spread it out on his desk, flipped from page to page until he found the 'for rent' section. "Too small. Bad neighbourhood. Too expensive." He crumpled up the newspaper and threw it across the room. "Hey, I have a good idea," He said in a loud voice. "Why don't we go to the movies."

photo by ldyck

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