Saturday, July 4, 2009

THE FINAL CUT - Short Fiction

This short story is in response to
Click on the above link to join in or read other entries.

How it works: Raven supplies two sets of words (or phrases) to use in a piece of writing. One can choose the ten- or five-word challenge ---or combine both into a fifteen word mega-challenge.

Mega Challenge: Florida, spit, child bride, operatic, busy, holding pattern, sunflowers, ginger jars, office, superintendent, music to my ears, plot, powerful, braggart, super model
(Words from the challenge are in bold face in the story.)

Florida wasn’t Cassy’s first choice, but it had two advantages. First, her sister Kate had offered Cassy a job in her brother-in-law’s company. Second, it was about as far from Seattle and her husband as she could get. She wanted to spit each time she heard his name. In her head, she called him Brutus.
Cassy had been swept off her feet at age 17 and had become the child bride of a a man who was pushing forty. A few weeks of marriage had revealed that Brutus was a braggart with nothing to brag about except the powerful hold he had on her. Before they were married, he bragged about being a superintendent in a large business. He was actually a mechanic in a garage that employed six people, superintendent only in the sense that he was in charge when the owner stepped out.
He severed Cassy’s contacts with friends and family, insisted she keep busy managing their spotless home, and counted every penny she spent. There was not a spec of dust on their ginger jar lamps, not a crumb on the carpet, not a dish left in the sink, not a dried leaf on the sunflowers in their yard. For if anything had been out of place, there would have been hell to pay.
One minute he told her she was supermodel beautiful and the next said she was lucky she had him because no one else would marry someone so ugly. He refused to take her anywhere because of the bruises.
One day, Cassy’s new neighbor Diana stopped by to introduce herself. When Cassy anxiously told her she had to finish cleaning and have dinner on the table at exactly six, Diana, who had been a volunteer counselor in a women’s shelter, recognized the problem. She drew the story from Cassy. It was a soap-operatic tale of isolation and battery. Soon the two of them devised a plot to remove Cassy from her situation.
Cassy called her sister, collect, from a pay phone with money Diana gave her. Kate sent a check to Diana for Cassy’s airfare and other expenses. With the help of another battered woman who worked for the Social Security administration, Diana acquired a new social security number in a new name for Cassy. She arranged for a new ID, including a photo with darker hair.
As soon as Brutus had left for work one morning, Diana showed up. “Today’s the day to start your new life,” she announced.
“Oh, that is music to my ears,” said Cassy. “I feel like I’ve been in a holding pattern waiting for this day to come."
Cassy and Diana tore through the house doing the things Cassy would normally do. They cleaned, scrubbed, did laundry, ironed and cooked dinner leaving it to simmer in a crock pot. They even ate what Cassy would eat for lunch so the trash can would contain an apple core, napkin and small piece of bread crust.
Cassy removed a wet bandage from her hand and applied a new one.
"That's a nasty wound. What did you do?" Diana asked.
"I cut myself making dinner yesterday." Cassy slipped the wet bandage from her hand into her pocket so it wouldn’t be found in the trash.
By ten, they were ready to leave. It would appear that Cassy had been there until shortly before her husband arrived home. They hoped that would delay his missing person's report and confuse him and the police when checking airlines.
That night, Brutus would be late. He had been searching for a used motorcycle. Cassy just ‘happened’ to find an ad for one on a supermarket bulletin board. Her husband had called the number and talked to the wife of the owner. She made an appontment for him to look at the bike. It was sixty miles from home, but a deal too good for him to pass up. In reality, Brutus had called Diana on her new throw-away cell phone. The address where he was to meet the bike’s owner didn’t exist.
In Diana’s house, Cassy donned a dark wig over her light hair, applied makeup over her bruised cheek. She changed into the too-large clothes Diana had found at the Goodwill. They wrapped cloth around her middle to make her look heavier. Diana gave her an old suitcase with two extra sets of clothes, a few packs of underwear, and toiletries to get her through a few days.

In Miami, the newly-born Isabel Fortuna stepped into Kate’s waiting arms at the airport baggage claim.
A month later, Diana sent an email from her brother’s office computer to Kate in a prearranged code. The police were suspicious because Cassy had taken nothing with her except the clothes she wore and Brutus had no alibi for his whereabouts except for a non-existant motorcycle owner. He could provide the police with no names of Cassy’s friends, because she hadn’t been allowed to have any. When the police contacted her family, everyone said they hadn’t heard from her for years. Diana was concerned because Brutus' being suspected of murder had not been in the plan.
Isabel Fortuna was pleased to hear that Brutus was under constant serveillance. In other words, Brutus was in his own kind of prison, not unlike the one Cassy had been locked in for six years.
Isabel Fortuna knew the blood from Cassy's cut, left in the trunk of Brutus’s car before he had gone to work that morning had been a brilliant touch.
(©2009, C.J. Peiffer)


Reston Friends! said...

A woman escapes a hell -- good for her and you. And her new name, Isabel Fortuna? Great choice! I hope she lives happily ever after and that Brutus lives a REALLY, REALLY long time under surveillance and suspicion!

Raven said...

Sheer genius! I love this. I have a friend in a relationship like this. He hasn't become physically violent yet and she has been trying to find a way to escape but ... well, it's a long, sad story. I so wish I could help her get free, but I don't have the capacity to do so. I think I may send this to her.

Dr.John said...

That was one great story. I just loved the ending where she got even.

Heather said...

that's fantastic Short fiction, your good. Fiction that makes you think of situations that are non-fiction.
Cassy is a Character of courage.

Stephen said...

It's good that Cassy was able to escape. I liked the twist at the end, where she planted evidence to incriminate her husband. Even though Diana was concerned that Brutus is being suspected of murder, it looks like Cassy planned it that way.

Stephen from Scottsdale, Arizona, USA

Akelamalu said...

Oh what a tangled web! I hope Brutus gets his comeuppance and Isabel Fortuna finds someone who loves her the way she deserves.

Great writing, I really enjoyed this, you kept my attention right through to the end. :)