BOB AND EVETTE • by Carla Lancken

It was her birthday and Bob went all out. He spent a fortune on Evette’s dress and half a year’s salary on the dinner party. He mentioned the dress several times during the meal which embarrassed Eve to no end. It was dark blue and sheer as twilight. He liked that he could see the shape of her legs through it. When she put it on for the first time he said she looked like a goddess. But then he always said she looked like a goddess especially in her bathrobe and slippers. He hadn’t touched her in six weeks but she was still a goddess. Some goddess.

At home after the party Bob passed out on the bed still dressed in his suit and tie. Evette wandered around their house with no place to land. It was a nice house, she thought. Nothing fancy but enough rooms for the two of them, nice curtains on the windows, decent furniture. She would miss it. She climbed up the stairs, slipped off the dress, and fell into bed.

In the morning her husband was gone. There was an indentation on the pillow and underwear on the floor, followed by a shirt and socks leading to the adjoining bathroom. She knew he had an appointment somewhere with someone and it was important. Lately there was a lot of that. Even on a Sunday like today.

Evette sat at the kitchen island drinking her morning coffee combined with three Advils, mulling over her plans. She had been mailing her things little by little to her good friend, Amy, several states away. Bob had no clue. Today she’d pack a suitcase, leave the note and take a cab to the airport. Yeah, it was quite a tribute to her, the birthday bash and the dress, she gave him that. But money can’t buy everything. And who had that kind of money? Marble floors, gold faucets in the ladies room and two waiters apiece replacing a linen napkin on your lap after every dab to the mouth. Wine and water remained at the same level throughout the evening like a loaves and fishes miracle. What a guilt trip birthday party that was.

The one thing that was eating at her was that damn briefcase. He’d been keeping it locked the last few weeks like he had diamonds stored in there. What could be so important about electrical outlet contracts. She could break it open before she left and he wouldn’t be able to yell at her because she’d be in Albuquerque by that time.

Or she could just leave and forget about him and his stupid briefcase. She went back up to their mirrored bedroom and began packing. All she needed was one bag.

The briefcase. What the hell. She found it in the closet where it usually stood, innocent and square, waiting to be transported Monday through Friday to a drab office and then back to the closet.

She tried the lock on the off chance. Locked.

She resumed her packing not really thinking anymore, more robotic than anything. She began putting things in her bag like a house dress she never wore, or ripped underwear she meant to throw away. A robot with no brain. Evette went into the bathroom to retrieve her toiletries and ended up getting the razor on the back of her shelf. She held it against her wrist for a second then banged her head against the wall.

She sat on the bed and wept like a kitchen faucet for half an hour. Evette unpacked her overnight bag. She hung the beautiful blue dress back in her closet, made the bed and headed down stairs. She picked up the note that she spent days composing and crumpled it into a tiny ball.

Maybe she was being hasty. The party was great. The dress was gorgeous. And just because he’d been so tired and busy all the time didn’t mean he was out of love. Or he had someone else. Maybe he was sick. Maybe she’d just been too self involved.

When Bob returned home that evening he flopped down on the living room couch and called out for his wife. In one week he would be off to Trinidad with his secretary. Eve had no clue. Tomorrow he would cash in his money. Bob called out his wife’s name. His ‘Evie’ echoed back to him with a flat sardonic sound. He went to the kitchen and noticed his broken briefcase on the kitchen island. He swished through the papers like a madman, all of them landing on the linoleum floor, tornado style. But not the little square one that was so important.

Then he saw it, the note on the refrigerator door. Dear Bob, I found the lottery ticket, you bastard.

Carla Lancken writes odd stories in the Hudson Valley, New York.

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