Prompt Day #66: Two businessmen are chatting at a bar in an airport terminal. During the conversation, one notices that blood is seeping out from the cracks in his briefcase. Construct the scene, keeping their dialog in the foreground.
Gary Neisse sat down at the Flyby Bar and Grill and put his briefcase at his feet. He needed a drink. The flight from LA had been long but he wasn’t exactly relishing getting back to the office either. To top it off he had one of his killer migraines. They’d been coming more frequently lately. His wife had been nagging him to see a doctor ‘Maybe it’s a brain tumor’ she’d said. Oh if only he thought, finally relief from his boss and an easy way out of a loveless marriage. But he’d done some reading and he was pretty sure they were tension related migraines, so chances are unless the doctor had a magic Calgone pill that would “take him away” he would just have to learn to deal with them. He pulled a bottle of Excedrin Migraine out of his pocket. He’d bought it in LA and already was down to six tablets left. But the headaches in LA were the worst ever. He found himself lying in the dark of the hotel room every night until he blacked out from the pain. He chewed the bitter meds—made them work faster—and rubbed his temples. He nodded a thanks at the bartender who brought him the whiskey, neat he’d ordered when he sat down. He went for his wallet.
“I got it, Partner. You look like you could use it and if you can bring a twin to that one there,” the stranger turned to the bartender “you can keep the change” He threw a fifty down on the bar. He held out his hand. “The name’s Pete LaPointe.” Gary shook his hand.
“Gary Neisse. You on your way or coming back?” He asked. After you’ve spent half your life traveling, you recognized a fellow nomad.
“On my way” Pete said. “Vegas. Got a big jewelers convention. Need to buy some diamonds. How about you, Partner? I surer as hell hope you’re coming back.” He said looking Gary up and down.
“Yup. Coming back. Shitty deal fell through in LA, lost a big wig potential client. ‘Spose I’ll get my ass chewed off for this one. Next trip’ll probably be to Fargo or some-such frozen tundra.” He took a swig of the whiskey. It hit the remnants of the Excedrin tablets and together they foamed and scorched his throat.
“Eh, ain’t that the worst? But hey, can’t win ‘em all, can ya?” Pete asked. No, Gary thought, especially when you’ve been fucking the potential client for the last eight months of negotiations and just when you think you’re king of the hill, she tells you she’s pregnant and it’s yours and what are you gonna do about it? He didn’t feel like sharing that with Pete so he shrugged and finished off the whiskey. He held the glass up at the barman, looked at Pete’s glass and held up two fingers.
“I’m buying this round” He said to Pete. Pete chugged the rest of his whiskey like it was Kool-Aid and shoved his empty to the edge of the bar.
“So what do you do exactly?” Pete asked.
Oh me? Gary thought I just travel around the country, wining and dining clients, sleeping with most of the female ones and then coming back to my dismal, boring life before flying out and doing it all again.
“I’m an Ad-Executive. You seen that cat food commercial with the talking cat and baby? That’s us. My job is to pick up high-end clients, present them with some ad ideas we came up with and then get ‘em to sign on the dotted line. I thought I had this one in the bag.” He said and looked down at his shoes. He saw it then, first out of the corner of his eye, then shifting his gaze he saw it without a doubt: blood. Blood seeping out of his briefcase. What the hell?
“…..on ya?” Pete was saying something, Gary hadn’t heard. He was fixed on the blood which was now starting to pool on the floor beneath the case. He tore his eyes away, looked around to see if anyone else had noticed. No one was paying any attention to them. He looked at Pete who was looking at him questioningly.
“Uh yeah, exactly” Gary said, hoping that answer made sense. Pete nodded.
“Happens in the jewelry world too. You think you got the scoop on some really gorgeous diamonds and someone comes out of nowhere and low-balls you right out of the game.” He was shaking his head. The bartender sat the whiskeys in front of them. “Let’s start a tab; we’ll split even stevens when we’re done.” Pete said. Gary, whose thoughts were back on the bloody briefcase between his feet nodded absently.
“Sure” he said. She told me she was pregnant and that it was mine. I asked her how much she needed for the abortion and she slapped me and called me a bastard. She wanted the damn thing. She was living in some fantasy world where I was going to say what? Oh how wonderful? This is everything I ever wanted? To ruin my life with a divorce, quit my job and move to LA so I can be your live in baby-sitter? She was crazy. The hormones had clearly affected her reasoning. I told her that and walked out.
“So, you married, got any kids?” Pete asked. He was at least ten if not fifteen years older than Gary. He was already reaching for his wallet. And now I get to look at his lovely wife and perfect kids. Fuckin’ A
“Yeah, married, we got a kid, Matty. He’s ten, but well, he had a tough time at birth, his heart beat went way down and I guess they didn’t get him out in time, he ended up with some brain damage. He needs a lot of help, I guess. But he’s a fighter, he’s done better than any doctor thought he would.” Now he was just talking mindlessly. He’d said this so many damn times it was an auto-pilot speech. He kept glancing at the brief case. It was like finding a hole in your tooth, your tongue can’t help but find its way back there over and over. The briefcase was bulging now. He thought he could see tissue peeking through the straining sides. But what happened after I walked out? I got one of my killer migraines. I went back to my hotel and raided the mini-bar. But then what? Then there was a knock at the door to my room and it was her. She was crying. I had to let her in, didn’t want a scene.
don’t even feel like a handicapped child. These here are my three. This here’s Amy. She’s starting her first year of college next week. Just dropped her off at school before I left. She’s majoring in political science. Yepper, my little girl’s gonna be president someday. This here’s Lil’ Pete. He’s turning sixteen here in a couple months. Hoping to make a big deal here at this convention. If I do, there’s a bonus coming my way and Petey’s gonna get a car for his birthday. This one here, this is Silas. My little guy. He’s thirteen. Can’t keep this kid inside. He’s always out doing somethin’ sports, hunting, fishin’, you name it.” Gary nodded politely, feigned interest, and finished off his third whiskey. He was feeling it now. Sweating. But maybe that was because of the gore filled attaché on the floor. She was blubbering. This is our baby, how could you want me to kill it? I thought if I got them to sign the contract with you that you’d be coming out here for the campaign and we’d, be together. That’s how insane she was. She really thought she was going to keep this baby and we were going to live happily ever after. I’d never leave Matty first and foremost, and secondly I would never take a chance with another child, especially not when that child’s existence would also ruin my career and probably my entire fucking life. He looked back down at the case. He thought he could see a finger sticking out of the gaping hole in the side formed by the bulging lid. The fingernail was painted a dark pink. He looked up and Pete had stopped talking. He frantically tried to remember what Pete had been saying.
“They’re some good looking kids. You must be proud. Sorry I spaced out on you there. Think I might’ve took that last glass of whiskey a little too fast.” He chuckled self-consciously. Pete started laughing, more like guffawing, and gave Gary a playful shove.
“You need to get out more, Partner. Build your tolerance. How ‘bout a beer? You know what they say liquor before beer, never fear.” He was already signaling the bartender back over.
“Sounds like a plan” Gary answered. But his mind was back on the finger. The same finger he’d seen pointing at him yesterday, threatening to tell his wife, to ruin his life. But the headache, I couldn’t think, I told her I needed some time. I told her I had a migraine and I needed to lie down. Then I blacked out. I thought she left. She let herself out after I passed out. I overslept, almost missed my flight. I probably left half my clothes in the room, just grabbed my wallet, keys, and briefcase and took off. But what if she didn’t leave? What if she never had the opportunity to leave? What if I did something awful and she was in that briefcase as we speak? But would all of her fit in there? Don’t be stupid, of course not. But then, where was the rest of her and the bloody clothes I must have changed out of? Did I leave them all in the hotel? Oh my God, no. If I did something that stupid, the cops already knew and they’re probably waiting for me at home. In which case Maggie already knew too. Life was truly over.
Gary stood up. Pete looked up in surprise. He had two beers in his hands.
“Where you going, Partner?” Pete asked confused.
“Sorry, I just…I have to go” Gary said. I killed a pregnant woman and chopped her up in a hotel room reserved in my name with my business credit card. I somehow have parts of her stuffed in my briefcase which is leaking all over the floor and the cops are probably waiting to take my ass to prison back home. I’m gonna go get the first international flight I can find, and get the hell out of here.
He grabbed his wallet and pulled out three twenty dollar bills. He threw them on the bar and took off. He weaved in and out of the crowd. He could hear Pete behind him yelling something. He ignored him and kept going. A hand shot out of the crowd and grabbed his shoulder.
“Hey, Buddy. That guy back there’s got your briefcase, I think.” A man in an airport worker uniform had him stopped, blocking his way forward. He had no choice but to turn around and face the music. There was Pete, standing just outside the bar holding the heavy, blood-filled case up above the crowd. The finger waggled out the side of it as if picking him out of a line up. “There he is!” It called out in its dead silence. “He’s the one that killed us. Me and his unborn baby. Arrest that man!”
“NO!” Gary yelled. “It’s not mine. I didn’t mean to kill her. She just wouldn’t stop. She just needed to understand. I told her I didn’t want the baby.” Now there was a silence in the airport. Everyone was staring at him. The man whose hand had just been resting gently on his shoulder was now clutching it tightly. Pete stood there, mouth agape, looking at the very normal appearing, light-weight, dry, brown leather attaché that Gary had left sitting on the floor at the bar.
When Maggie Neisse got the call from the local police, she sighed. Gary’s mental breakdowns were happening more frequently now. The doctor said they would as the tumor invaded deeper into his brain. It was time to take the keys away. It was sad really, he was like a special needs child anymore. She couldn’t keep asking Matt to keep an eye on him. He needed to be a kid, not a parent to his own father.
“Matty, I gotta go pick up your dad. They found him wondering around the airport this time. I guess he made quite a scene.” She said.
“Yep” Matt said, barely looking up from his game. “Time to call the looney bin”
“That’s real nice, Matt. He can’t help it. You know that.” She said and slammed the door.