Gil. Talk about a pancake. Guy finds out his wife’s getting hammered by a coworker and what’s the first thing he does? He calls me up to ask if he should apologize for neglecting her.
“Sure,” I say. “Buy her some roses, too. Hell, why not go all out and bring home a stone.”
“I’m serious,” Gil says. “She went outside the marriage because I never made time for her.”
So naturally, I want to know -- since he’s got a handle on his wife’s affair -- why he’s wasting his dime on me.
“I want Trixie’s lover offed,” he says.
“I don’t do domestic disputes.” Sure, I’m in the business of leveling the playing field, but I don’t get involved with domestics. Too crazy. Too unpredictable. Too emotional.
“But we’re practically brothers,” Gil says.
“If I do it for you . . . word gets out and next thing you know every jellybean whose wife spins a fling starts wanting a personal favor. It’s not good business to get involved in personal shit.”
Gil, after pausing on the phone for a few moments, says, “I’d do it for you.”
I shut my eyes and shake my head. “Would you?”
“You know I would.”
God damn pancake. Forced my fucking hand. “So you’re saying you’d off yourself for me.
“When Gil doesn’t answer right away, I can almost feel his fear bolting right through the phone line. What’d he think? That I didn’t know?
Charlotte, loafing on the living-room sofa, turns down the volume on the television. Good. She needs to hear this, too.
Gil finally breaks his silence, speaks: “I’m not sure I get what you’re saying.”
I try real hard to keep anger out of my tone. “So I’m what, Gil? A sap? You don‘t think I know you’ve been banging Charlotte?”
Charlotte glances up, wide-eyed. I narrow my eyes, can almost see beads of sweat bubbling up on her forehead.
“It’s not like that. I mean --” But Gil’s brain is spinning faster than he can slap the sentences together.
Charlotte’s still staring. She’s scratching an elbow and blinking a lot.
“I have to get going,” Gil says. In the earpiece, his voice is quavering.
“No.” I reply. “Not yet. Besides, Charlotte wants to say good-bye to you.”
On the sofa, Charlotte stiffens. Her eyes grow even rounder.
“Come on, Ricardo,” Gil says. “Let’s you and I talk about this.”
“I thought that’s what we were doing. Talking.” I raise my free hand, point to Charlotte, curl my finger to call her over. “Hold on. She’s coming.”
Charlotte shakes her head.“Oh. I guess she doesn’t want to talk right now. Too bad.” Then I tell Gil, whose breathing has grown quick, that Charlotte’s not going to say goodbye after all.”
“Come on, Ricardo,” Gil says again. “Don’t do anything hasty.”
I wait a minute before answering. Then I say, “You’re right Gil. Let me try your approach.”
Gil doesn’t say anything. Charlotte doesn’t move.
Still holding the phone, I address Charlotte, saying “Babe. Sorry I neglected to find time for you.” I reach inside my coat, withdraw my revolver, thumb the hammer back.
“Not like this,” Charlotte says, real soft. “Please, Ricky, not like this.”
“What’re you doing?” Gil says, his voice in a desperate panic. “What are you doing, Ricardo?”
I squeeze the trigger. Charlotte falls back into the coffee table. Shit crashes everywhere. I breathe in the sulfuric odor and place the revolver on the kitchen counter. Then I raise the receiver to my mouth, say to Gil, “No. Your way didn’t work so well. My way didn‘t either, but what the hell.”
The phone on the other end crashes down into its cradle. I go over to the sofa and sit down, grab the remote and start searching channels. Charlotte’s on top of the collapsed coffee table, a forearm over her face. The bullet entered her throat. Blood is still containing, arterial spray littering the whole damned place.
I check my watch. Gil. What a fucking pancake. He won’t be hard to find. Some pancakes -- they just don’t have the sense to listen. After all, I did try to convince him getting involved with domestic strife was too emotional.
BIO: Robert Aquino Dollesin was still a kid when he left the Philippines. He now resides in Sacramento, where he writes now and again. Among numerous other venues, some of his work can be found on Storyglossia, Nossa Morte, Big Stupid Review, and forthcoming in Thug Lit.