“Are you listening to me?”
“I said, when are you going to ask Jensen for a raise? I was talking with Claire the other day, and you know how she is, she just ‘let slip’ how much Tom is making these days. Do you have any idea how much? How much, Harold?”
Harold sighed, spooned another bite of eggs from his plate.
“Let’s just say it’s a hell of a lot more than you. And you’ve been there longer. So much for company loyalty and all that, those sons of bitches. Although, you can hardly blame them, you are such a mouse, Harold, you never speak up for yourself. You do the same job as Tom, you should be getting the same pay, but would you ever ask for it? No, of course not, you just go to work with your tail between your legs, do the work with nary a bark. Don’t you, Harold.”
Harold soaked the last of the over easy egg yolk with his toast, stuffed it into his mouth.
“Are you listening to me?”
“Good. Today, Harold. You have to ask for that raise today.”
Harold put his plate in the sink and left.
Alice was waiting for him to get home, hands on her ample hips, tapping her foot. She accosted him the minute he came in the door.
“Did you do it? Did you, Harold?”
He stepped around her, moved towards the den. She followed him.
“Of course you didn’t, you’re such a mouse, you didn’t mention it at all, did you? Really, I should have listened to my mother, she told me not to marry you, he’s a mouse, she said, but I’m in love, I said. Now look at me. Stuck, I am, stuck with you, a freaking mouse.”
Harold set his briefcase on top of the desk, then eased himself into the seat behind it. He leaned forward, put his elbows on the desktop and rubbed his temples, wishing she would shut the fuck up.
“Harold? Are you listening to me?”
He looked up at her, and something in his demeanor pissed her off.
“That’s it, Harold. So what if I told you I was having an affair with Tom? That he buys me all those pretty things that you can’t afford to. Where do you think this diamond necklace came from? You sure as hell wouldn’t buy me something like this. You know we can’t afford it. Thought it was cubic zirconium or something, I bet. So there. Now you know. Are you going to do something about it now? Go over there, punch him in the nose or something?”
He continued to stare at her, her words slowly sinking in.
“I should have listened to my mother. You are such a mouse.”
She turned to stalk out of the room, but he stood up fast, surprisingly fast for his size, his hand snaked out to grab her wrist, and he whirled her around to face him. Anger flashed through her eyes as she tried to pull her arm out of his grip, but he cranked it behind her back and pushed her against the wall. She cried out, and her eyes opened wide with panic.
His free hand wrapped around her neck, squeezing, and she sputtered for breath. He could smell the fear on her now, headier than orange blossoms in spring time, more exhilarating than her musky scent when they made love.
She struggled against him, slapped at his arm with her free hand, but he’d always been a big man, and strong. He stared into her bulging eyes as her face turned purple, and then a sickly blue. When her body went limp, he held her there against the wall for another full ten minutes. He let go, and she slumped to the floor.
“Not stuck with a freaking mouse now, are you, Alice?”
He stepped over her body and went to the kitchen look for something to eat. Meatloaf. She had made meatloaf for dinner. Gad, how he hated her meatloaf.
by Shelli Proffitt Howells
* * *
Today’s prompt is continuing from the Senseless Challenge, “Smell.”
If you enjoyed today’s story, please share it with the social media buttons below.