straight down the line

The Alternative

So this is the writing assignment:

Write an Alternative Ending

I decided to do this for the story A Matter of Procedure

We fall into silences sometimes, but we have the same scarred history of alcohol abuse, so we know these silences. We trade war stories. We rue the day. We wish our grape juice was wine. The table is too long, I want to put my hand on that thick thigh. We watch each other eat, gleaning personality from patterns of consumption. I wrack my brain for questions, to keep him going, to keep him talking, but it is unnecessary. He is wound up. He seems to want me to know every part of him, and that is what I want. I want to observe him. I want to know him. I want to know who he was in the trenches and who he is now in the painful aftermath of sobriety…

When I asked him what he did for hobbies he clammed up.

“I-I-I don’t really h-have any good ones to talk about.” He seemed to try and avoid the subject. “You’re a detective right? How’s that?” He took a healthy gulp of his wannabe-wine.

Something was up. I had no idea what it was but I suddenly craved a drink. this wasn’t going to end well and I knew it. Annabel’s pictures flashed in front of my face. They always did. Torturing me is what they were doing. Telling me I could never look as good as the young women had felt. Never would I have the man I so desired. Because of Annabel I was angry. Angrier than I have every been.

“How did you know I was a detective?”

“What do you mean?”

“I never told you what it is I do. It wasn’t allowed at the meetings, and we haven’t gotten around to asking each other what we do for a living. So, tell me, how did you know, Roger?”

I could see the sweat starting to form on his head. His respiration picked up and his eyes darted around presumably to look for an escape route. “No. You’re wrong. Y-You must have told me. How would I have know?” He stands up so fast his chair is knocked over. “I need to leave This was a mistake.”

I turn to grab my gun and point it at him. “What did you do, Roger?”

“Nothing. You don’t have roof of anything.”

I get angrier. “HOW DID YOU KNOW!” I cock the gun

He drops to his knees. “I saw you! When you went to look at the girl. I saw you examining her.”

“What were you doing there?”

He hesitated. He looked ready to give me a cockeyed story, then his shoulders slumped and he stared me right in the eye. “I was going back for the girl.” His whole demeanor suddenly changed. He stood up and wiped the sweat from his brow. He smirked and restarted. “I was going back for the body. She was such a pretty little thing. I couldn’t resist the pull to her. She seduced me! Looking at me with those big blue eyes and that dreamy smile. What was I supposed to do? Ignore it? I needed something to take away the need for alcohol, and she was it. But then she decided she didn’t want it anymore. So I took it from her. She started a fight, and I ended-”

Before he could finish his sentence I put a bullet between his eyes. The gun clattered to the floor along with his body. I couldn’t believe it. Roger was the murderer we’ve been looking for all along. And he was right under my nose. I got even angrier. I turned to the photos I still had of Annabel. She took him. Because of her Roger was dead.

I wanted him. I realize now, I would never have had him anyway. All because of Annabel.

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