Flash Fiction Friday Cue: Write a story set during Mardi Gras (location: open)(Author's note: Yeah, it's way over the word limit.)
Deadline: Wed 2/22/12 9PM EST
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
F3 Cycle 68 "The Death of a Salesman in New Orleans"
“Yeah honey,” Peter March said to his wife over the cell phone looking out his New Orleans hotel room window. “Negotiations here in Shreveport have run into a few snags. I’m certain to be here for at least two more days, the client came up with new demands and is being a royal dick about several points that were settled long ago.”
“Sure thing baby,” his wife Sally responded back at their home Greenville, South Carolina. “Just remember your son’s birthday is this Saturday and if you have to be away you damn well better remember and call him.” She finished clearly communicating her frustration at the possibility of her husband missing yet another important family event.
“Listen Sally,” Peter said standing up from his bed, “I understand how you feel about me being away but it’s funny how you seem to really enjoy the fat bonus checks I bring back home after these trips. If you do have a problem with this arrangement you can always be replaced, I’ve done it before.”
Caught in a conundrum of her own making Sally March was unable to say anything for several seconds. “Peter, just call your son on Saturday.” She finally said before hanging up the phone.
Again feeling the euphoria at successfully being able to manage people Peter switched his expensive cell phone over to voice mail and inserted it into the pocket inside his sports coat. Taking stock of his appearance, he walked over to the full-length mirror and looked at himself.
Peter realized he had long since passed the point of simple vanity and was touching on narcissism as he looked at himself. He was a fifty-five year old man whose body looked better than most guys did in their thirties. He had not only kept his full head of hair from his youth but it was only now showing strands of grey significant enough to be seen.
The black sports coat, white button-up shirt, khaki slacks, and leather loafers he wore were all tailored and very expensive giving the impression of him being some sort of major player in the world trying to lay low and relax. It was a thought that Peter was beginning to believe more and more about himself as his sales numbers rocketed into orbit.
With a huge house on a lake, expensive German cars sitting in his garage, and a drop-dead gorgeous trophy wife watching over it he did feel he had entered the big leagues of life. Peter felt so certain of his privileged position he had long since begun to allow himself certain benefits that came with playing among the big boys.
Leaving his hotel room Peter leisurely strolled down the hallway towards the elevators with the confidence of a man who believe everything in his life was under his full control. Peter did find some irritation with having to wait a minute of two for the elevator. The waiting was enough of an issue that he made a mental note to find a more exclusive hotel the next time the opportunity to visit New Orleans popped up.
Down in the lobby he did not have to wait for the concierge once the small, bald man saw Peter step out of the elevator. “What are your desires tonight Mr. March?” He asked while mentally deciding what might make this all too particular but high tipping customer happy this evening.
“Raymond I want to visit a dignified but popular bar tonight, someplace where I do not have to mingle with the trash walking the streets.” Peter said knowing he was in town during Mardi Gras.
“But sir, you cannot appreciate the flavor of New Orleans if you do not experience the emotion and vitality this time of year offers.”
“Listen,” Peter said, “save the propaganda for the idiot tourists. Do you know of a place like I want or do you want me to speak with your manager?”
“No sir, I do not want any issues, try L’heure du crime four blocks south from here,” the concierge said passing him a card which would allow him admittance. “Shall I call you a cab for you sir?” He finished wishing the man would just go away.
“No Raymond,” Peter smiled back now that he had gotten his way, “I’ll walk it, the night air will do me good and maybe I do need to be around some people tonight.”
Peter then abruptly walked off but not before tossing a fifty-dollar bill on the concierge’s small desk. Raymond watched the man walk out the revolving doors then under his breath whispered, “What a huge asshole.”
After fighting the crowd along Bourbon Street, Peter walked into L’heure du crime and took a seat at the bar. Right from the start the ambiance of the place immediately satisfied his tastes. The actual bar was circular and occupied the center of the room, beyond that were small tables surrounded it looking almost as if they were in orbit. Further out along the circular wall were booths with privacy screens that offered total seclusion for those who needed them. Looking around, Peter was quite satisfied with the place; it had elegance and style with a cliental he felt equaled his own position in society.
An hour passed with Peter sipping drinks and going over the options in his mind for his next great adventure when the door facing Bourbon Street opened and a beautiful black woman entered. Peter was stunned at the beauty of the unknown woman who while wearing just a business suit carried herself like a queen entering a room full of commoners.
As their eyes caught each other a momentary look of recognition passed between them as she passed the doorman the same type of small card Peter did earlier allowing entrance. He remembered seeing the woman in the lobby at his hotel and he figured she must of seen him as well. A minute later, he left the bar and strolled over to sit with this beautiful, unknown woman.
“Sugar,” the woman said with a Texas drawl looking at smiling Peter sitting across from her, “you must think an awful lot of yourself to barge in on a woman just looking to get a drink?”
“Why yes, I do in fact think a lot of myself.” Peter said with self-assurance.
The woman looked away fighting off a smile. “Good, I like direct men, my name is Abelle, and who might you be?”
Without hesitation, Peter not only told her his name and immediately began explaining his line of work, and how successful he was at it. Peter reveled in Abelle’s beauty and how impressed she seemed at his accomplishments. Abelle began flirting with him and making a point of stroking his hand and rubbing one his legs with her foot underneath the table.
“Now enough about me,” Peter finally said after exhausting all his exploits and victories, “tell me what brings you to New Orleans?”
“Me,” Abelle said coyly,”I’m here on business but I have a good bit of family that still lives here.”
Feeling slightly curious for both personal and business reasons Peter asked, “What do you do for a living?”
“I’m a trouble shooter, I fix relationships between people that have complex and deep issues that for some explanation or another refuse any mediation or compromise.” Abelle said looking straight at Peter, the intensity on her face unsettled him for some reason that he could not quite put his finger on. As an afterthought, a second or two later Abelle added, “But my actual training is in complex organic chemistry.” Something Peter completely ignored.
As Peter expected, Abelle and him ended up back in his hotel room a few hours later. The sex was rough but Peter had long since come to believe in his virility and stamina and did his best to keep up with the mysterious but amazing women. Eventually both collapsed in exhaustion on the sweat stained sheets with Peter drifting off to sleep quite happy with himself.
He awoke what must have been hours later with Abelle sitting on the bed next him, the bathrobe she was wearing was loose exposing much of her body and Peter, figuring she wanted a repeat tried to sit up and pull her to him. Completely by surprise, an explosion of pain wracked every part of his body but it particularly seemed to affect his heart.
“Listen sugar,” Abelle said, “its best you don’t try too much right now, see last night I injected you several times with a concoction that my granny was particularly famous for. It’s a nerve paralytic, which causes massive coronary spasms that eventually kills those injected with the poison.
Peter, unable to speak, just laid on the bed more dumbfounded than scared.
“Didn’t I tell you my life story?” Abelle asked rhetorically. “No, you were ever so eager to get me in bed. Oh well, see if you had thought to ask I would have explained that my loving granny was a voodoo high priestess and that while I was born and raised in Houston, Texas and do have a PhD in organic chemistry I sort of took up granny’s work after she passed on.”
Somehow a more sensible and rational part of Peter’s brain began to get worried. “Money, you want money?” Peter whispered fighting back the pain that rippled through his body.
Abelle laughed slightly, “No, sugar, you have no money now. No matter what, you are going to die today. The only choice you have is to lay still and go out relatively pain free or fight it and die in utter agony. I’d rather you lie still for now, someone will be here in a few hours to say goodbye.”
Stunned and hoping for a miracle Peter did his best to stay still even though Abelle made a point of checking on him every few minutes. The pain returned when he saw Abelle opened the door for the room service she ordered, rage coursed through Peter’s body as he heard her joke to the maid about him being exhausted and fast asleep. The pain forced Peter to calm down and clear his mind.
The biggest surprise came for Peter when after what felt like an eternity someone knocked on the door of his hotel room. When Abelle opened it none other than his first wife Jennifer stepped inside the room and walked over to the bed while speaking on a cell phone.
“Yeah Sally, I finally made it.” Jennifer said to person on the other end of the call who Peter assumed was his current wife. “The hidden tracking software on his cell phone worked fine. Abelle was able to easily follow him, and like we thought he fell all over himself to get her in bed.” Peter could hear something of what Sally said and it involved money. “Yes, after we pay Abelle I agree we will split the rest fifty-fifty but you can have the house. Truthfully, I just wanted enough to pay for my children’s college.
Peter looked over at Abelle and desperately wanted to say something but could not due to the effects of the drug. Still wearing the robe, she just smiled back down at him touching Jennifer’s shoulder and whispering something in her ear. Jennifer quickly finished the phone call and bent down towards Peter getting just inches away from his face.
“You thought yourself invincible,” Jennifer said with unconcealed hate, “you said I would never touch a hair on your head.” With that, she reached up and yanked a patch of hair off Peter’s head causing pain to cascade all through his body. Peter could feel his heart exploding but it was not something quick and short but almost as if time had slowed to a crawl extending his torture. When the blackness started to envelop him it was a welcome release, but Abelle found a way to twist the knife one last time.
“Sugar,” the voodoo priestess said after quickly leaning over close to Peter’s face, “just to let you know, you were terrible in bed. Peter’s consciousness evaporated to the sound of his ex-wife’s riotous laughter at his expense.