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Earlier this week chaos_ensues asked me for a story. So here it is.

I was sitting at my desk, feet propped up, hat tiled over my face, day dreaming. Well, technically it was night dreaming if you’re going to get your panties in a knot. The flickering, buzzing neon sign for the flop house across the street illuminated my office in short bursts. The lowlifes of this town were drawn to it like a bug zapper. Drunk sailors looking for an hour of joy before their leave us up, or guilty business men with their wives at home would make use of the affordable rates and urine stained mattresses to play out their sordid fantasies with the germ infested hookers. The sailors would spread that filth to town and whores across the world, while the business men would pass it on to their wives who, in turn, would give it to their husband’s best friend. No one would be the wise until she found a pack of matches from the hotel in his pocket and he would find a pair of cufflinks that weren’t his. But by that time the disease would have set in and angry red warts would be their penance.

The sailors would continue to go to flophouse after flophouse. They had no wives and no best friends.

I picked up my feet and stood up from the desk. I staggered to the window, kicking an empty bottle of scotch out of my way. It had been a present from my wife a few years ago. A good gift, but worse for the marriage. I leaned against the dirty window of my office and looked down at the street below. It was raining. Cars swooshed and splashed through the pot holes now filled with dirty water. Couples entered the flop house under the protection of newspaper. I laid my forehead against the cool glass and sighed. I was greeted in return by the foul stench of my own breath.

I jerked my head back from the repulsive odor, my hat tumbling to the floor. I reached into my pocket, fumbling for my tic-tacs. I pulled out the container and shook it, only to hear the lonely rattle of a single breath mint.

I popped the top and tried to shake out the mint. It bounced around its padded cell, then into my hand, off my palm and down onto the floor. It rolled under my desk and I quickly followed it, not caring that the cure for, or cause of, some hideous disease was probably growing down there. On my hands and knees I searched until the phone rang, startling me and causing me to bump my head on the desk. Hard.

Shaken, I picked up the phone.

“Harold eye, private Hauser.” Wait…that was wrong. An exasperated sigh came over the line. I recognized that sigh.

“Are you drunk again, Harold?” asked my wife.

“Actually, I don’t think I’ve been sober long enough for that.” I replied. Another sigh.

“Look,” she said, “if you’re sober enough, would you please pick up Sawyer’s birthday present? I have it saved for me at the toy store down on 5th and Burnes. I would go but, you know, I’m busy trying to fill the roles of two parents.”

“That’s not fair-“ I started to say.

“No, it’s not, but neither are you. Just go to the store when you get some coffee in you.”

“Jessie?” I asked as I moved back to the window.

“What Harold?”

I looked out over the skyline and found the blinking light of the Empire State Building.

“I…” We had gone there on our first date. We were both natives but sometimes it’s fun to do the touristy crap.

“Yes, Harold?” It was a fun day. She laughed about throwing pennies off the top of the building. I knew then I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.

“Nothing…” I said. “I’ll swing by the store before they close.”

“Great. Just cover it for now and I’ll pay you back when you drop it off.”

“No, don’t worry about it.”

“Sorry Harold, but I already have.” She hung up. The click and the buzz of a dead line.

“I’m really not drunk,” I said, out loud to the tic-tac on the floor, the shadows from the neon, the lonely sailors and infected business men.

“I just miss you,” I whispered into the dial tone.

I found my car in the parking garage right where I left it. This is always a pleasant surprise – sometimes I get the feeling that someone has taken a crow bar to her and sold her parts all across the city.

I ran my hand up the hood of my slightly rusted, somewhat dented silver Volvo. I love this car. We bought it just before Sawyer was born, a good family car. I find it sad, and it’s probably one of the many reasons why Jessie separated from me, that the only way I can remember our son’s age is because he’s the same age as the car. Six.

I get in, turn her on, and pull out of the garage and into the rain. Past the sailors and the business men, past the bums and booze hounds, headed down to suburbia and a life I’m just throwing away.

I drove down the highway, listening to the Miami Dolphins play on the radio. I pull off the exit into our little suburb center with the toy store on 5th and Burnes. I park my car and dodge the falling rain to the toy store.

Sawyer’s birthday was in a week. It coincided with when I needed to get the oil changed. Jessie was getting things awfully early in advance. I stepped up to the help counter and told them that Jessie Hauser had a toy on hold.

“Hauser…Hauser…Hauser…” said the clerk, a girl of probably 18 with half her head shaved and the other half died in a rainbow of color as she looked through the computer files. “Hmm…I don’t see anybody with that name.”

“Are you sure? H-A-U-S-E-R.” I said, making sure to enunciate each letter. She rolled her eyes at me and pushed her Technicolor hair out of her face.

“I KNOW how to SPELL, sir.”

I stood at the desk, rapping my fingers against the laminated top. Suddenly, I knew. My shoulders slumped and I asked the lady to look for it under “Wade.”

“Jessie Wade…yes, we do have a gift for Jessie Wade. Let me go get it for you.” The girl departed into the back and I looked down at my dirty finger tips against the clean counter top. Jessie Wade…

The girl came out a few minutes later with a giant box. “Here you go – one FireBolt racing broom. Batteries are not included and no, it doesn’t really fly. We will not accept any returns on this product if it has been opened and we are not responsible for any accidents which can include, but are not limited to, loss of limb, hair, eyes, appendages, or life. Please consult your family doctor before allowing your child to use this toy. Thanks and that will be $79.99.”

Numbly, I reached into my wallet and pulled out a credit card. The girl snatched it with amazing speed and swiped it through the machine. I signed the receipt and left, driving down the familiar rainy streets to what used to be a happy home. My home. I pulled up into the drive way and walked up to the door. My hand went for the door knob, but stopped half way, shaking. I reached up and knocked on the door.

Jessie opened the door. She looked tired. Her soft brown hair hung in her face in little whisps. Her dark eyes were made darker by the bags that were under them. She looked at me, and looked at the large box I held in my hands.

“Thanks,” she said, and took the box quickly from my hands. She turned her back and quickly put it in the hall closet across from the door.

“He’ll find it there,” I said, breaking the quiet.

“I know, but it’s only for the meantime. How much did it cost?”

“No, please, let me cover this.”

“Why? So you can claim it as your own birthday present? I don’t think so. I waited months to get this for him and I’m not going to have you just come in and steal the gift away from me. I worked too hard for it.”

“Is that why it was listed under your maiden name?” I asked. Her back visibly stiffened.

“Yes.” At my feet, Sasha, our – her – cat rubbed against my legs and purred. I was standing in his way and he wanted out. Jessie swooped down and lifted the gicantic 20 pound cat.

“I’ll send you a check next week. Please, don’t forget Sawyer’s birthday, and get him something nice.” She closed the door in my face. I stood on our porch for about 5 minutes, listening to the rain fall on the roof. I turned around, went to my car, and went back to my office.

Note: I wrote this in about 2 days. I haven't edited from what I first wrote so really, it's just a quick write...
Now are they divroced, seperated, what?
I find it sad, and it’s probably one of the many reasons why Jessie separated from me,

I'd be willing to bet that divorce isn't too far behind, though.
Derr derr derr

Good writing tho
I enjoyed it very much. Thanks for sharing! =)
Very nice. the TA approves :P

Nice hints of familiarity ;)
Youch. Painful, but compelling.

I like private eye stories.