The original version of this piece of flash fiction was the first story of mine to be published, thanks to the now sadly defunct MicroHorror. I've revised it slightly and I'm still quite fond of it.
SUNDAY NIGHT: When you find yourself dreading Monday morning on Sunday night, maybe it's time to consider a new job - unless?
By Lynne M MacLean
“I’m quitting in the morning. No matter what Gardyner says, I don’t need this shit.”
de Coronado’s wife refilled his glass. She said nothing, wiped her hands and rolled her one good eye at the ceiling. She wore no patch at home in the evenings. The hollow socket where the other eye once nestled was neat and cleanly healed.
de Coronado swigged the cheap wine. Its heat and harshness filled his mouth. Later, savage waves of heartburn and regret would rack him. Enough. He waved her away with his huge, Sunday-clean hands.
The gloom began its descent on Sunday mornings, creeping into his stomach even as he sat worshipping. The averted eyes and careful distances of the other parishioners no longer bothered him. He was state-sanctioned, clergy-sanctified. That, and the heft of his wallet at the end of the week, had sustained him until lately. By the time the country’s crisis ended–and surely that would be no more than a year or two, please God and the officials–he should be able to afford retirement.
“Better go clean the tools.” He lurched down the stairs to his work room. The acid reflux burned.
He took the jagged, encrusted instruments out of the sack and dumped them into a tub of water. Dull red clouds blossomed.
“I gotta get out of there. First there’s Gardyner, always coming down, full of suggestions, grilling me on rules. Goddamned cleric never trusts me.” He scrubbed harder with the steel wool. “I’m good at the damn job. That’s why I’m still there. But a man’s got limits.”
He peered at the tools. No signs of rust today. He gave an extra scrub just to be sure.
“And his little speeches, little inspirational pronouncements… pah!”
He dried his instruments and checked the points, drawing scarlet beads from his thumb. Sharp. Still, he would sharpen them more.
“And Kennedy, that stupid idiot. Watching me sideways all the time. Counting my tools, taking pulses, waiting for me to screw up, his face all fevered. Wants my job, does he? Well, he can have it.”
de Coronado spat, aiming for the blades. Honing the edges, he shook his head, thinking about Kennedy’s mad, barely suppressed desires.
“A man like that never does the job properly. Gets carried away. People got relatives in this town. Doesn’t do to step out of bounds. Then, something official turns into something wrong.”
Oiling his tools, a solution occurred.
“That’d be one less problem. I could hang on then.”
He gave the tools a final wipe with the cloth.
“Don’t need an assistant anyway. And a blind man can’t be an assistant.”
He put the tools in the bag, ready for the morrow.
“Kennedy’ll enjoy the blood part.”
Sunday Night Copyright: © Lynne M MacLean
Original version published in MicroHorror, September 8, 2010
Photograph courtesy of Wix.com