Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Cape Cod Morning

“Listen. You need to get out of here now.”

Cassandra leaned against the kitchen counter, arms crossed. She lit a cigarette and blew the smoke in his direction.

“What did I do?” he asked.

“Nothing. You just need to get out.”

“Come on, baby. At least give me a smoke.”

She tossed the pack his way and he caught it. He lit one and gave her a smirk. “I could use a drink, too.”

She hesitated and finally said, “I suppose I could use one, too.”

She pulled down two glasses from the cupboard and poured a couple of fingers of Scotch into each of them. She handed one to him. He tried to click his glass against hers and she glared at him, taking a swig of her drink.

“So c’mon, what did I do to make you mad? Why you acting so mad at me?”

She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. I just want you to leave.”

He set his glass down on the table and walked over to her and put his hands around her waist. “Why you gotta treat me so bad, baby?”

She pushed his hands away. “Stop it, Vince. I told you I want you to leave. That means you need to leave.”

“I think I’ll leave when I want to leave.”

She slammed her glass down on the counter and some of the Scotch sloshed out. Something in her eyes made him step back. She took advantage of this and stepped towards him. “You need to leave. How many times do I have to say it, Vince? As of now, we are done. I can’t do this anymore.”

He smirked. “That’s not what you were saying an hour ago. You seemed pretty okay with doing it.”

“No more. Get out of my house. OUR house.”

“Oh, all of a sudden it’s ‘our’ house. Like your husband knows what’s going on. Or like you even matter to him. Or he matters to you.”

She took another step towards him and he backed away again. “This was a mistake from the beginning. I don’t know what I was thinking, but this is over. Get out.”

He started towards her but stopped in his tracks when a loud siren sounded somewhere outside. “What the hell is that?”

“It’s the storm siren.” She ran to the front window and flipped on the radio on her way. As she looked out the window at the glowering sky, the announcer said that a major storm was moving in and everyone within the sound of his voice needed to take shelter. The sun was still shining on the trees in their yard but the clouds in the distance were dark and ugly. She whirled towards him and said, “Damn it! Vince, you need to leave, right now! I don’t want you here, and Jack will be home soon.”

“Hell, no. I’m not going anywhere in that shit.”

She turned back to the window and leaned over the sill. The trees and grass had begun to whip in the increasing wind. She peered into the distance and saw a plume of dust. As she watched, she saw the shape of a car emerging. Jack’s car.

“There’s no time. Jack’s on his way. He’ll see your car. Get into the kitchen.”

“Don’t tell me what to do! I—”

Cassandra slapped him across the face. “Get in the goddamn kitchen, Vince!”

He rubbed his face and gave her a sullen look.

“Oh, stop being such a baby. You’re going to sit in the kitchen and we’re going to have a drink. As far as Jack is concerned, we’re two old friends from when I worked as a cigarette girl at the Hula Room.”

Vince shuffled into the kitchen, muttering all the way.

Cassandra pulled out a chair and shoved him into it. “Stop sniveling, you idiot. Just sit down and shut up. Have another cigarette.”

He lit one and sat quietly for the moment. The front door opened and closed and Jack called her name.

“In here, dear!”

He entered the kitchen and hesitated when he saw Vince sitting at the table. He walked to Cassandra and kissed her cheek. “Who’s our guest, sweetheart?”

“Where did you meet me, darling?”

He stood there a moment looking puzzled and then said, “At the Hula Room. I bought a pack of smokes from you.”

Cassandra smiled brightly. “That’s right! Vince here was a regular customer and he stopped by to say hello and get me caught up on all my former pals. Do you remember Ginny? She got married!”

Jack nodded and said, “Yes, I vaguely remember her. Good for her.”

“Anyway, Vince was just getting ready to leave when the siren sounded and the report of the storm came on the radio.”

“Yes, that’s why I’m home a little early. I heard that the storm was moving in and wanted to get home and make sure that you were okay.”

Just then, there was a bright flash of lightning outside, followed by an immediate crack of thunder.

Jack said, “Well, I don’t think anyone is going anywhere soon, so I think I’ll have a drink, too.” He poured himself a neat Scotch and sat at the table.

“So, Vince is it?”

Vince nodded.

“What is it you do?”

“A little of this, a little of that.” He threw a glance at Cassandra, who glared back at him. “Freelance stuff, mostly.”

“Well, depending on what your ‘freelance stuff’ is, I might be able to help you with some connections. I know a lot of people in the city.”

Vince shrugged. “I do okay.”

Jack shrugged, too. “All well and good. Just offering to help.”

Another crack of thunder echoed and a deluge opened up on the house. Cassandra ran for the front window and closed it before the rain could do any damage to the furniture or lamps nearby. Vince got up to follow her and Jack stood up. “She’s fine, pal.”

Vince slowly sat back down.

Cassandra returned to the kitchen and poured them all another drink. “My goodness. It is really coming down out there! You definitely can’t leave now, Vince.” She opened the pack of cigarettes and put one in her mouth. Jack leaned over to light it. She placed her hand on his and murmured, “Thank you, darling.”

As she leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs, Vince gave her a look and then gave Jack a look. He laughed. “Well, aren’t you two just something else?”

Cassandra and Jack looked at him. Cassandra adjusted her bra strap and brushed a strand of hair behind her ear and said, “Whatever do you mean, Vince?”

Vince looked between both of them and laughed again. “Really, Cass? Are you going to pretend like this was just a visit between old friends?”

She stared at him.

Vince looked at Jack and said, “And are you really such a dope that you don’t get what’s going on?”

Jack stared at him. “What exactly is going on, Vince?”

Vince looked at Cassandra and then at Jack. “Do I have to spell it out for you?”

Jack shook a cigarette out of the pack and lit it. “Hmm. No, I suppose not.” He blew smoke rings in the air. “Do you need another drink, dear?”

Cassandra said, “That would be lovely, thank you.”

“And you, Vince?”

Vince looked at them both in amazement and then sat back in his chair. “Sure, I’ll have another drink. Why not?”

Jack fetched the bottle from the counter and poured them all more drinks. He stood and said, “Cheers to us all, and here’s to riding out the storm!” He downed his drink, winked at Cassandra, who downed hers and winked back at him. After watching them, Vince downed his.

“You two are crazy, you know that?”

Cassandra laughed. “Oh, we’ve been told that, yes.”

Jack said, “We have indeed.” He returned the bottle of Scotch to the counter and on the way back to his chair, picked up the stainless steel toaster that was sitting near the stove.

Vince said, “I think we need to talk a little bit more about what’s going on here.”

Jack said, “I agree,” and brought the heavy toaster down on Vince’s head. Vince dropped his drink and Cassandra said, “Oh dear! The Scotch!” and Jack hit Vince with the toaster again.

Vince slumped over the table and Jack sat the toaster carefully on the counter. He looked at Cassandra, who was still in her chair, smoking her cigarette. “We have some cleanup, darling.”

“Mm, yes.” She stubbed her cigarette out in the ashtray. “Let’s get to it.”

After cleaning up the kitchen floor and table, and burying Vince and the toaster in the backyard, Jack and Cassandra stood in the rain, their arms around each other. Jack said, “I love you, dear.”

Cassandra looked up at him and said, “I love you, too, my darling.” She looked down at her red dress. “My dress seems to be ruined, though.”

“I’ll buy you a new dress, sweetheart.” He kissed her on the forehead as the thunder rumbled overhead. “But honestly, how many times must we do this?”

“As many times as it takes, my love. As many times as it takes.”
**This story came about because of the book In Sunlight or In Shadow, a collection of stories inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper. The editor, the writer Lawrence Block, challenged readers to write a story about this particular painting. This is my take on the painting.


  1. Excellent! This would make a great short movie. Helluva take in that painting.

  2. as soon as the toaster came out i was like awww shit it's on! i really enjoyed this!


  3. ...this was a very good episode... I would love to hear more of this story..!

  4. Vince looked at them both in amazement and then sat back in his chair. “Sure, I’ll have another drink. Why not?”

    Right there I decided Jack & Cassandra were serial killers(at least in my mind), which I wasn't going to share down here, but....

    Great story. I was very fond of a short story you work years back, so I was extra glad to see this. I've been having reference problems, but thankfully not with this. Did you know basically where you were going with this when you started?

    1. Thank you, Mary! No, I wasn't quite sure where this was going. It started out just being about an affair, but ended up a little more murderous than I'd anticipated. ;)


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?