He put the phone down. Where was she? She was supposed to get home hours ago. He called again – no answer.
Mr. Turnip rolled out of bed. He rubbed the wrinkles out from his eyes, huffed and moved to the closet. He was in his pajamas and slippers. From the closet he grabbed a coat, top hat, and his rifle. The rifle was just precautionary, of course – he had no intention to use it.
Mr. Turnip exited through the front door, got in his Lexus, and pressed the start button. Rather than driving to her sister’s, or her friends, Mr. Turnip traveled to the one place he hoped not to find her – the one place he might need his rifle.
She was a young fox. Jessica was her name, but she preferred Jessie. Too young. Too beautiful. Too arrogant.
Mr. Turnip knew she was with him for his money. Most girls got flowers for their first date. Mr. Turnip bought Jessie got a new rack.
The problem with Jessie wasn’t that she was a gold digger. It wasn’t that she was a cheater, either – Mr. Turnip didn’t give a damn about fidelity. He didn’t believe in love, he believed in money.
What was that thing people said? It’s what’s on the inside that counts? Laughable. Mr. Turnip was a man of power, and the only way he could maintain his pristine image was by force and manipulation. And if Jessie was on the beach with them, she’d be putting everything he ever worked for at risk. Mr. Turnip would be the laughingstock around town in no time. He looked at his rifle and gulped.
As he returned his eyes to the road ahead, an unexpected memory resurfaced.
His ex-wife. He thought about the time Scruffy ran away, and they spent the entire night driving through neighborhoods looking for him. Helena was so concerned. Her hand never moved from her mouth, and she must have asked him over a hundred times is he thought they’d really find him.
Mr. Turnip laughed in his Lexus, and a rare smirk formed on his weary face.
He’d been so grumpy that night. He’d been so nasty to her every night. But she always loved him, and she always needed him to comfort her.
Funny, he used to hate that so much. He used to hate how much she needed him. And now he was married to Jessie, who was half Helena’s age, a quarter her IQ, and an eight as dependent. She never needed Mr. Turnip for anything – but when it came to his money, that was a different story.
Mr. Turnip parked right by the train tracks, overlooking the shore. He could see the fire pit a short ways down, and the young people partying around it. Body make-up, palm trees, grass skirts and dancing. That came hand-in-hand with the ectasy, sex, and whatever other kind of trouble they could get in.
Mr. Turnip shut the car off and groaned. He shook his head, picked up his rifle, then exited his Lexus. He had no intention of shooting anyone, of course, but he couldn’t risk allowing the press to catch wind of his wife’s night time activities. And if he didn’t get her home now, she’d be lying on the beach half-naked and drunk when the sun came up.
He carried his rifle with him as he crossed the train tracks and started on the sand. He took his slippers off and walked towards the fire.
The thought of his ex-wife came to him again. She’d died a while back, not too long after their divorce. Many of her friends and family said it was the divorce that made her sick, and his new marriage that caused her death. Mr. Turnip had been able to shake that off with a grunt and some brandy for many, many years.
He saw his trophy wife up ahead. She was dancing with some young shirtless dude with dark hair and a dragon tattoo on his back. Not two seconds later her hands wrapped around his head and Jessie had his tongue in her throat.
Mr. Turnip scoffed and shook his head.
All these years the thought of Helena had been painful – he never liked to admit when he was wrong. But for some reason, on this night, Mr. Turnip felt at peace with his ex-wife. It was like they were together again – like those days when Mr. Turnip was just another working suit, fighting to pay the mortgage and keep up with the Jones’. Like he felt before he made his big payday and changed his life for the better. New car, new friends, new wife.
Mr. Turnip stopped and turned, looking back toward his Lexus.
“I hate that fucking car.”
He laughed after saying it, and when he did he swore he heard Helena laugh with him. Mr. Turnip smiled. If she were with him, if they were together, she would have laughed as well. And he would have bet every new dollar he had on that.
Mr. Turnip returned his attention to the party and moved onward. He gulped. He was nervous, yes, but he needed to get tough and fast. It was the only way Jessie would leave those idiots and come home for some rest.
“Hey,” said Mr. Turnip. “Party’s over, time to come home.”
He kept the rifle aimed at the sand, just so everyone knew he had no intention to use it.
Jessie turned to look at him, smiled big, then came prancing over with one hand behind her back.
She reached him, kissed him, then whispered in his ear.
“You’re right. The party is over.”
Jessie moved away, then swung her arm out from behind her back and into Mr. Turnip’s gut. Before he realized what happened, Mr. Turnip found himself falling over with a knife lodged in his stomach.
His eyes rolled up to see Jessie and the rest of her friends standing over him. The man with the dark hair picked up the rifle, loaded, aimed it –
Then he saw Helena again.
– Thomas M. Watt