CuiousPages - fiction and nonfiction
CuriousPages - fiction and nonfiction
As she recalled Paul’s words now, she was aware of the connection between her own broken-off stiletto heel and Susan’s “sexy” stilettos; it was as though she held that woman’s “sexy” stiletto in her hand, the woman who had destroyed what meagre joy she possessed, had taken it with a few carefully timed glances at Paul and a single look at Mandy herself which seemed tinged with evil—though masked by the veil of that beautiful face; evil that Paul, being a mere man, would never be capable of seeing—she held that broken-off stiletto heel and knew that someone would pay for this crime, and pay for it today.
She became aware of her aching back and had to sit down. The hardware store was not many more steps away. For the moment she forgot about Paul’s words, about Susan’s veil of hated beauty, forgot, even, about the scarlet walrus whose presence standing there on the pavement—in the same red dress that Susan had once worn to the office—had seemed to represent Susan. She forgot about all this and focused on overcoming her aching back for just a few yards more, until, finally, she stepped into the hardware store, whose sign “Heels repaired while you wait” she previously noticed, having passed the store many times. She sat on the single chair in the store, having been told the owner was currently busy and would begin her repair in a few minutes.
She recalled red flashes which seemed to follow her as she made her way to the store. She did not even noticed them at the time but now, as she sat there, that same redness appeared before her and seemed to fill the whole store; it dominated her vision in the way an angry wall of water from a suddenly burst dam might as she looked up and saw the scarlet walrus standing directly in front of her, pointing at her and saying, “I didn’t wear this dress to attract men; I wore it because I like red. So, you’re wrong.”
Mandy’s mouth hung open.
Helen stepped even closer and went on, “And I didn’t like the way yousighed at me. You people are all the same—not me. Your mind is full of poison, and it’s yourself you’re sighing at, not me.”
Mandy said, in disbelief, “Didn’t like the way I sighed at you!” She stood up and, to make room for herself, pushed the walrus back as she got to her feet, telling her, “I’m sighing at myself?—what are you talking about, you deranged hussy?”
“It’s you who’s all the same, not me.”
“No, it’s you who’s all the same; just look at the state of you; do you honestly think men are fooled by this,” pointing at her red dress.
 “There’s nothing wrong with my tits,” said Helen, and she turned to the shop keeper who was stood holding a shoe in his hand as he followed their debate, rapt and somewhat in awe, as by an unexpected entertainment that had suddenly brightened his usually dull day more than he could have possibly hoped for.
“Do you like my tits?” asked Helen.
The shopkeeper’s head tilted to one side as he appraised her assets, then his eyebrows rose as though indicating that Helen’s tits were perfectly acceptable.
“This is ridiculous,” said Mandy and she pushed passed the scarlet walrus. She noticed one of her shoulder straps was broken and realized this must have happened in their previous scuffle. When she pushed past her, she deliberately broke the other, then quickly limped out of the shop, still carrying her broken-off heel.
Helen, holding the front of her dress in place, stepped to the door and shouted along the street, “You will apologize for sighing at me.”
 
In Niggling Grievance Street, the rush hour had passed and the street was again almost deserted.
Peter Softly pulled up and parked beside Number 52. He checked Lily Smithe’s address with her letter, then shoved the letter back into his jacket pocket and got out of the car. He took a bundle from the car’s boot, and was about to close the boot when he looked up and, in the distance, noticed a man and dog walking along the pavement towards him. He recalled the man he met earlier, saying, “I’m sure you can spare half a minute—” and then watching him accusingly. As Peter recalled this, it seemed the man was trying to manipulate him; he was trying to make him feel guilty by suggesting it was a fault in him that he could not spare half a minute, and the man was doing this to manipulate Peter into doing what he had wanted him to. But Peter saw it was the man who was at fault, for trying to impose his will on him.
He recalled the man then saying, “You’re just the sort of person who causes all the problems,” and Peter wanted to shout, “It’s you who causes the problems; you do.”
Looking at the dog‑walker along the pavement, Peter sensed one of those monsters in his head also, and the monster was walking the man towards Peter, to enable the man to verbally abuse him.
Peter quickly closed the boot, sat on the back seat of the car and unwrapped the bundle, which was a woman’s overcoat wrapped round a wickerwork shopping basket. He rolled up his trouser legs, took a woman’s blonde wig from the basket, put this on and struggled into the overcoat. He checked his hatchet was in the basket, then quickly made his way to the front door of Number 52.
He pressed the bell push with his trembling hand, then looked along the street. The dog‑walker had now reached Number 52. His dog stopped beside the garden wall and the man stood there, looking down at it and whistling, as he did in Misconception Boulevard. The dog began kindly washing Lily’s garden wall for her.
Peter again recalled that other man saying, “You’re just the sort of person who causes all the problems,” then recalled him saying, “I’m a perfectly polite person who’s just trying to help you,” and at another point, saying, “You can’t understand simple questions. Are you stupid—?” and then nodding his head to indicate Peter should answer “Yes”. Peter then called him, “Scum,” and the man said, “There’s no need to be like that.”

Fiction

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Fiction Archive

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