Monday, September 27, 2021

“Rescuing Rusty” by Connie Taylor


I hated her. I hated her until I wanted to kill her. Listen, I’m a nice guy, but my wife is Wicked Witch Wanda. She had the money, I had the charm.

Now, she’d stopped my allowance.

“What are you doing today, Jackson?” she asked, peeking over her newspaper.

We didn’t talk much these days. In fact, I was rather pissed at her. She hated it when I didn’t talk to her. She was thirty years older than me, richer than God. Did she think I was here for wrinkles and red hats? Jesus.

“I’m not doing much today,” I responded, refusing to make eye contact with her over the sports section. She hated that too. Good! She could rot in hell. Cutting off my allowance. Reneging on the promises she’d made me. Come on. What the hell did she think this was? True love?

I cut up a piece of breakfast sausage, held it under the table for Rusty. My dog was the only thing I liked in this bloody house.

I waited. No Rusty. In fact, I hadn’t seen him this morning.

“Oh,” Wanda said. “Rusty isn’t here.”

“I can see that.” She knew I loved my dog. Rusty and I had been through thick and thin. When my first wife died of cancer and I’d lost everything I owned, Rusty had been there. When I had to live in my car for a year, Rusty had been there. For everything that mattered, Rusty had been there.

“Rusty’s not coming back,” Wanda said. She actually sounded happy about it.

“What?” I glared at her across the table.

“Well, look who’s giving me his full attention. It’s about time,” she whined. The type of whine only a born-rich debutante who’s never endured any significant suffering in life can whine. “I deserve respect.”

“Yeah. We all deserve a lot of things, Princess and I deserve my dog. Why are you being such a bi…”

“Stop it, Jackson! Your precious Rusty can come back. As soon as you come back to my bedroom and do what you’re paid to do.”

“I haven’t been getting paid lately,” I said. “So I’m not particularly motivated.”

“Well, Dearest, I thought that might be a problem.” She pulled a wad of bills from her pocket and threw them at me. I caught them with one hand, started counting the bills. Generous. This was about a month’s worth of generous. “Tonight. My bedroom,” she demanded. “Eight p.m. and you’ll have your dog back tomorrow. Otherwise, I don’t think poor Rusty will survive.”

I felt my face heat up. What a bitch. Damn it. I had done this to myself. To Rusty. Things needed to change. Today.

I stalked out of the house without saying another word. I knew where Rusty was. Wanda thought I was stupid. I wasn’t. Gloria, her housekeeper, had Rusty stashed at her apartment in Glenview. As I drove away from the house, I figured Wanda would be having her one allotted cigarette in about ten minutes. I hated smoking, but today, it was going to change my life. I felt a great sense of satisfaction. Thank god for gas leaks. Especially the ones that looked accidental.

I’d just reached the road when the house exploded in a huge ball of fire. Wanda had her cigarette early I guess. I smiled. My wife was literally toast. I slammed the brakes, skidded to a stop as neighbours came running. Time to act sad. Time to go through the grieving husband routine. After that, me, Rusty and Gloria were going to live happily ever after -- Anywhere else but here.


Connie Taylor is an Operations Manager by day, a writer and reader by night. Her writing aspirations began in grade school with her heroine, Pantoulia, who leapt over football fields of fire. She’s contributed to the Journal of Integrated Studies and the Fifty Word Stories website. She enjoys writing both fiction and nonfiction stories.

“Rescuing Rusty” was originally written as an assignment for one of Brian Henry’s writing classes and was previously published on Close to the Bone. For information on submitting to Close to the Bone {and a few other places} see here.

See Brian Henry’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.


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