Has CC Mentioned She Writes Fiction?

Sunday, October 01, 2006
Assigned Topic: Zombies
(Someone I know emailed me and made a good case for changing the main character's name. I have done so. -CC)


"I just don’t get it," Clark Whittingham's wife Bitsey said, shaking her blonde curls. Clark reached up and pulled Bitsey onto his lap, his eyes never completely leaving the television screen. Bitsey giggled and snuggled up to him. On the screen, the zombies were beating at the walls of the farmhouse as the scared-looking people inside did their best to blockade the door. The zombies looked like their skin was slightly blue and for the life of him Clark couldn't remember if the zombies always looked like that. Maybe the TV was going. It was getting to be time to get a new TV anyway. Bitsey had been bugging him to get one of the ones that could hang on the wall.
Clark leaned up and smelled the perfume in Bitsey's hair.
She smelled good.
"Tell me," Bitsey whimpered, wriggling on his lap. "Why do you like those stupid horror movies so much? So much that you're ignoring your beautiful sexy wife who just wants some attention…" Bitsey said, her voice the melodramatic one she used when she was pretending she was kidding.
"I don't know, baby," he said, smiling. On the screen, a bluish zombie put his hand through a window, catching Clark's attention again. Bitsey bounced a little bit on his lap as if to distract him. Clark pretended it didn't work.
She picked up the remote and paused the DVR, freezing the image on the screen. A statue of a bluish zombie stood frozen at the farmhouse door. Clark grunted a bit, but didn't object. He had watched this movie an awful lot recently, and Bitsey was fully as distracting as she was trying to be.
"You were good in the tournament today," Bitsey said in what sounded like an attempt to begin wifely conversation. She reached up and stroked his hair.
"Thanks," he said. Clark put his hands on her hips and lifted her off his lap and to her feet. "Tough break about you getting assessed."
"Yeah," Bitsey said, giving a nervous laugh. She turned around to face him. Her eyes looked larger in the dim light. "It always happens at the wrong time."
Clark leaned up and brushed a curl away from her face. It had been a tough break. Bitsey had leveraged everything to build on the red properties, usually one of the most reliable sets in the game. But one unlucky draw of a "Chance" card and Bitsey's chances of placing in the local tournament were shot. Without a local tournament, there was no playing in a state tournament. And Bitsey always played in a state tournament. Clark had come in first and had his invitation to the state tournament. Of course.
Bitsey's victory was no less assured. She was a very good monopoly player. One more chance and she'd be going to the state tournament. It was just that simple.
"We'll get you into the state tournament, baby. There's another local tournament in Groveton next weekend. I'll sign you up on Monday."
Bitsey leaned over and kissed him. "Sounds good. I should sign myself up, but I might forget and miss the deadline, I'd be really embarrassed if I didn't make it to the state tournament this year."
Clark laughed, "Don't you worry. We're both there every year."
They always did go to states, and sometimes even to nationals. It mattered more to Bitsey than it did to him, but then she was the real estate agent, so it was a point of pride with her. Clark's eyes flashed back to the screen. Bitsey leaned over, giving him a nice view of her breasts. She brought her mouth to his ear as if she were about to kiss it.
"Let's go to bed," she whispered. He reached up and brushed a blonde curl off her cheek.
"Okay," he said.
She sprung up from his lap and hurried down the hallway, turning to look when she got to the bedroom to make sure he was following. Clark left the remote on the side table and the television paused as he shuffled down the hallway after his wife.
Bitsey was obediently lying in the center of the bed, her faded blue teddy slightly askew, but her big blonde curls still looking perfect. Clark stood there watching her for a moment as he unbuttoned his shirt.
Smiling, Bitsey reached over and grabbed the remote, clicking on the late news. Either she was challenging him to get her attention or she wanted to see what was on. There was a new anchorwoman. It said across the bottom of the screen that her name was Kitty Williams. Clark watched her as he took down his pants. Kitty Williams was cute. He gave a few experimental pulls at his prick, looking back and forth between Kitty Williams and his wife.
Bitsey didn't seem to notice. On the screen, Kitty was taking about a movie star who was cheating on his wife. Bitsey sat up, looking fascinated. Clark felt his prick start to get a little harder, particularly because Bitsey was leaning over in a way that showed off her breasts.
Clark climbed into bed behind Bitsey. Kitty was still talking about the movie star, promising more details when the news returned from commercial.
"Shh… Take me from behind…" Bitsey said.
Clark pushed her panties aside and stuck his prick inside her. Bitsey leaned her ass back up against him, pushing him deeper inside her. He reached up with one hand and tweaked her nipple, making her shudder.
"That feels good, Baby," she murmured in a voice that made her sound like an actress in a dirty movie. Actually, if you looked more at her breasts than the lines on her face, Bitsy sort of looked like a dirty movie actress, too. Clark was a lucky man and he knew it.
Still thrusting, moved his hand between her legs until she made a little involuntary gasp. Bitsey looked back up at the screen anyway. The car insurance commercial was ending and the news was coming back on.,
Clark felt Bitsey give his prick a long squeeze. He smiled, pumping her harder and trying to imagine what Kitty Williams would look like reading the news without her blouse on.
Damn good.
Bitsey let out a little squeal and pushed her hips upward, meeting his thrust partway. Kitty Williams was still talking.
"And we have a sad story tonight in local news," the anchorwoman said, pursing her lips. "Local Emergency Medical Technician Alison Hughes was killed tonight in what sources describe as a 'prank."
Clark looked up at the television, which flashed a picture of a handsome young man in a baseball cap. "Ricky Zook, shown here, had only been an EMT for four days when he decided to play a prank on Hughes by shocking her with the ambulance's defillibrator paddles. Sources in the department claim he had been warned repeatedly not to touch them and that they weren't a toy, but King County Fire and Rescue Spokesman Ken Fitzgerald has emphasized that the young man did not realize that the shock would be fatal to Hughes.”
"What?" Bitsey asked, working her hips against him insistently.
Clark realized that he had stopped thrusting.
"Alison Hughes was 23 years old and had worked her way through college. She leaves behind two children."
Clark lost his erection completely.
"Come on," Bitsey whinnied.
"Baby, did you hear that?"
"Some guy was playing around with the defillabrator paddles in an ambulance and he killed this poor woman."
"That's too bad…" Bitsey said in a voice that suggested she was waiting for the punchline. Bitsey moved her hips again, trying to get him hard. Clark reached a hand down and played with the base of his prick for a moment, but he remained limp.
"I don’t think it's going to happen, baby" Clark said regretfully.
"It's OK!" Bitsey said with a little too much enthusiasm. "Hey, it happens to every guy once in awhile." She wriggled forward and his prick came out of her with a soft pop. It hung there in space like laundry on the line. "You're just tired," Bitsey said. "Goodness knows I am."
Bitsey leaned over and kissed him, then slipped under the covers as if to illustrate her exhaustion.
Clark climbed out of bed and put on his briefs and a t-shirt, still trying not to think of the poor EMT woman dying in such a pointless way. The news was over. Clark turned the bedroom tv off, leaving Bitsey in darkness. Clark's wife was curled up, looking like she was doing her best to get to sleep.
"Baby?" she said softly.
"Yes, Bits?"
"You OK?"
"Yeah, I'll be OK."
Clark went back downstairs and got himself a Heineken out of the refrigerator. In the den, the TV was still as he had left it, paused on the image of the bluish zombies beating on the farmhouse door.
One of the downsides to being married to one of the town's most prolific real estate agents was waking up alone. Bitsey had been successful for most of their marriage, but when Clark read the local paper, it still surprised him every time to see her picture grinning out from one of her ads. Waking up alone felt like that, too.
Bitsey often emphasized that a secret of her success was her willingness to meet clients early and sweet talk homeowners into showing their houses before work. She was a real estate agent who specialized in busy people, and as Bitsey often reminded him, busy people are the ones with money. Waking up early was how Bitsey was able to demand a three and a half percent commission. Far above the usual three.
So Clark ate breakfast alone. His inclinations were the opposite of Bitsey's anyway. He was in sales, too, of course, selling high-end kitchen supplies to restaurants. His sort of sales was an afternoon business. Restaurant Managers, and especially chefs, tended to be night owls. Calling them before eleven would be downright stupid.
Actually, calling them at eleven would be downright stupid. God bless the lunch rush.
Clark tied his tie and headed out the door at 10:15. He knew Misty Marie would keep his breakfast warm.
The Bob Evans on the edge of town had a pleasing sameness. Bitsey would never go there. She was too concerned about her figure. But Clark liked the biscuits and the warm enthusiasm of his favorite breakfast waitress.
"Hey Mr. Whittingham!" Misty Marie greeted him, the same as always. "Do you want coffee?" She was a short, chubby brunette. As she lead him to his usual table this morning, Clark couldn't look at her without thinking that she was about the dead EMT's age. Misty Marie also had children and was also working her way through school. Clark shook his head as if to clear his head like an Etch*a*Sketch. "Do you want coffee?" Misty Marie repeated, her intonation not a note different from the first time she'd asked.
Misty Marie was a pro.
"No, thanks, Misty Marie" Clark said, flashing his best salesman's smile. "I'm crazy enough already these days."
Misty Marie giggled, making her nametag shake up and down. "How about some Orange juice?"
"Please," Clark said.
"Do you want your usual breakfast?"
"Yes, I do." Clark said.
"And a newspaper?"
"Thank you, ma'am."
That seemed to please Misty Marie, who bustled off. Clark surveyed the crowd, seeing many of the usual faces. There was a group of old men in the corner, eating senior breakfasts and debating boisterously about some issue of county politics. Clark wondered if he would ever become an old man solving the problems of the world in Bob Evans on a Wednesday morning.
Better than the alternative, as they say.
Misty Marie brought Clark his orange juice and his newspaper.
"Your paper, sir." Misty Marie said with cheerful formality. Clark wished that the Bob Evans weren't quite so crowded. He would have liked to talk to Misty Marie. On a slow day, she liked to linger at his table. He always tipped her well on the days she did that. He liked the company but felt he should pay extra for it.
Today Bob Evans was a little too popular. Too many old men saving the world. Clark surrendered his favorite waitress to the previous generations and reluctantly opened his newspaper. He thumbed through, only half conscious that he was looking for more details in the death of the EMT. He was disappointed to find that the article only told him a little bit more. Alison Hughes had gone into cardiac arrest seconds after Ricky Zook shocked her, but had taken three days to die. Clark didn't know if that meant she'd suffered or not. She'd lived long enough to yell "Ouch! Dave, he shocked me!" to the other EMT in the ambulance.
What a set of last words. Everyone wants loving or meaningful last words, but many people ended up having screwed up last words. "Oh shit," "I'm tired and going to bed, good night," "My God, I've been shot!"
Clark realized he wanted his last words to mean something, a realization he'd never had before.
Misty Marie interrupted his reverie with a plate of eggs and bacon, his usual breakfast these many years. His doctor tolerated the habit as long as Clark went to the gym three times a week and took his pills. Still, when Misty Marie set the eggs in front of him, the words, "I'm having chest pains!" sprang to his mind unbidden. He doubted he would eat well.
Clark's fraternity brother Harry had started Alpha Kitchen Corporation straight out of school. When they were still in school, Clark recalled Harry talking about how most restaurants went out of business in their first year. Harry had said that he expected there were opportunities for a company that sold refurbished equipment bought cheap from bankrupt restaurants and sold at a hefty mark up to new restaurants. Harry was always the visionary. Clark made things happen. That's why Harry was a CEO and Clark led up the sales team, then the sales department, then the sales division.
They'd started out in a converted warehouse, but now they were in a glass-encased building in the center of town. Now they made their own kitchen equipment. And Clark sold it to major chains and managed guys who sold to minor chains. Business was good.
He loved the glass building he and his frat brother had built, though admittedly it was Harry's idea and Harry's money that were the mortar and bricks.
His cell phone rang in the elevator. He picked it up,
"Hi Baby," Bitsey was sounding frisky.
"Well, hey, Bitsey" Clark said. He was glad Bitsey sounded back on her game. He'd worried that last night's awkwardness would carry through this morning, but Bitsey sounded very natural and happy. He wondered if she'd sold a house.
"I was just calling to remind you to sign me up for that tournament. I have a closing and two more houses to show today and I think today might be the deadline."
"I'm not sure, Bits, but I will sure give them a call. If you don't go there, we can get you into the tournament in Lofton. It's just two Saturdays away."
"I know. Anyway, thank you."
"Bitsey?" Clark asked.
"Yes, Clark?" Clark was silent for a moment, not sure how exactly to phrase what he was going to ask. "What?" Bitsey said, her voice anticipating that the question would irritate her a bit."
"Do you ever think about dying?"
"I have to go," Bitsey said, "I don't have time to thin about dying. I'm too busy making a living." Bitsey recited this in the tone of someone totally unaware she'd made little pun.
"Have a good day, Bits."
"You, too, Baby. And just wait, you might get a surprise tonight" Bitsey's goodbye was in that dirty movie actress voice she did so well. Clark looked at the phone for a long moment before ringing off.
The familiarity of Clark's office, with its windows giving a view of the highway, was comforting. It made him feel like lord of all he saw, though in truth Harry saw more from his view directly upstairs. Still, running the sales division did have its benefits. He liked looking out the window , watching the cars go by.
As he walked through the reception area, he noticed how oddly the light of the computer screen lit his secretary Heather's face. The effect was subtle, but on a cloudy day, her cheekbones were highlighted by the slightly odd-colored light the monitor was producing. As he walked by, he turned to see that she was reading the news. His first thought was that he supposed he should object but that he didn't actually give a damn as long as she got her work done. His second thought was to wonder if she'd read about the dead EMT.
He had calls to return from major clients, emails from some of his sales guys. But first he looked at his calendar. September 29-Heather's Birthday. He sighed. He felt like being alone today, but it wasn't to be. "So Heather," he typed. "I’d love to take you to lunch today for your birthday. Make reservations anyplace you’d like to go." He sent it off.
A few minutes later, the response came. "We've got reservations for the Olive Garden at noon."
He called up and registered Bitsey for the monopoly tournament in Groveton next weekend. His baby was going to states again this year for sure. He indulged himself in a moment of daydreaming, picturing Bitsey bouncing up and down after some poor jerk landed on Boardwalk and had to finance one of her hotels.
At that, Clark dove into his work and did his best not to lift his head and look around until it was time for lunch.
Even with their reservations, Olive Garden kept them waiting. Clark let Heather have the only available seat and paced around the waiting area. He had to fight back the temptation to play with the plastic grapes on the hostess counter. He was having a fidgety sort of day.
"I love this place," Heather said.
Clark walked back over to talk to her. "Yeah," Clark said. "It's cute."
He looked over his secretary. She was wearing black slacks and a low-cut blue blouse with a necklace hanging in her cleavage. The effect was appealing.
Clark looked around. The walls were hung with faux-Italian paper and the floors were faux-Italian tile. Clark made an effort to look out the window into the parking lot, just so he could see the real cars and the real Jiffy Lube behind them. He shook his head as if that would help clear his thoughts.
"What are you going to get?"
“I don’t know,” Clark said. “Do they have ravioli?”
Heather smiled. “Probably three or four different kinds.”
The hostess motioned and Clark and Heather followed her to their seats. Heather ordered a salad, Clark got ravioli. Heather ordered a bottle of wine for the table, which hadn’t been Clark’s plan, but what the hell? It was on his expense account.
The restaurant was quite full and Clark found himself checking the walls for fire exits. There were two of them, one not very far from him. He wondered what would happen if the bluish zombies descended upon Olive Garden. As he was running away, would he stop to leave a tip? Clark shook his head again. These zombie fantasies were getting ridiculous.
“What’s up with you?” Heather asked. Clark looked up from his reverie to see that he was shredding his breadstick on his plate. Yeah, he probably looked like a nervous man.
“Nothing,” Clark said, forcibly replacing his pensive expression with a salesman’s charm.
“You don’t have to tell me,” Heather said.
Clark sighed, “Do you think much about dying, Heather?”
Heather raised an eyebrow, “No. I mean, I guess I know it’s going to happen, but I figure it will happen soon enough and I just shouldn’t think about it.” Heather paused for a moment, then she looked straight in his eyes. “My God, you’re not sick, are you?”
Clark broke the tension with a smile, “No, no, Heather. I’m just fine,” Heather still looked concerned. “Bitsey, too. Everyone’s fine. I’ve just, well, did you ever hear about something and it just sort of makes you think?” Heather wrinkled her brow. “Like something comes up from behind and shocks you when you’re not expecting it, and it makes you look at the world a new way?”
Heather looked puzzled, “Did you find Jesus?”
“No, I guess… Well, never mind.” Clark took a breadstick and gave it a long dip in the marinara sauce. “Seen anything good on TV recently?” Clark asked, washing the breadstick down with a large gulp of wine.
Chatter about reality shows and the latest detective dramas made for a pretty amusing hour. He drank two glasses of wine and mostly left the talking to Heather. By the time he was eating his tiramisu, he was starting to feel a little bit better about the world.
Then Heather looked up at him, both eyes wide and with a serious expression on her face.
“I’m glad you didn’t find Jesus, Clark.”
“I didn’t know he was lost,” Clark said, laughing at his own joke. Heather ignored that.
“Do you know why I picked the Olive Garden, Clark?” Her voice suddenly had a low, sensual quality.
“No,” Clark said. For a moment, he’d intended to joke about the breadsticks, but Heather looked serious.
“Because the Holiday Inn is right across the street.” Heather let that comment hang in the air for a beat. “I know you’ve noticed a certain tension between us,” Heather reached over and put her fingers on the back of his hand, rubbing the back of his hand in a slow circle. “I was just wondering if you’d like to give me something else for my birthday.”
Clark sat in silence for a moment. Heather was a good looking woman. Her tall coolness was a marked contrast to Bitsey’s cheerleader verve. That hand on his did feel good, making him feel the sort of tension that only comes from something new. Making Heather break down that reserve would be a lot of fun.
But he wasn’t into it. Even after two glasses of wine.
He was sad to realize that he wasn’t even saying no for morality’s sake or for Bitsey’s. He just didn’t care. The sex would be fun, but what then? A torrid affair? Keeping a secret forever? Guiltily confessing. Clark was pretty sure Bitsey wouldn’t leave. But still, the prospect was exhausting to even think about.
“Heather, I think you had a little too much wine on your birthday,” Clark said, making the “I feel your pain” expression that every salesman knows. “I’m going to pay the check and call a cab to take you home. You just take the rest of the afternoon off and have a nice birthday and I’ll see you at work tomorrow.”
“And none of this happened?” Heather asked.
“None of what?” Clark said, plunking down his credit card decisively.
The pasta Clark had eaten for lunch formed an uncomfortable lump in his stomach as he drove home. He knew Olive Garden was pretty much all right, so he wrote his intestinal discomfort off to his recent stresses. The breadsticks had left a fatty film across the top of his mouth and he smacked his lips to try to get rid of it.
Heather seemed disappointed, but that was sort of inherent in the situation. Clark wondered if he could get her promoted to a secretarial trainer of some sort. Things might be less awkward if she changed jobs. It would be best for all concerned.
He’d been blessedly free of distraction that afternoon and his day at work had been more productive than he could possibly expect under the circumstances. Several more restaurants were getting new or upgraded equipment, all thanks to Clark and his sales guys. It was enough to make a man proud.
But the pride at his good day was fading as Clark sat in traffic, flipping the radio from channel to channel. Strife in the Mideast, unemployment, injured athletes. Pain on every channel. Somehow it all made him think of the dead EMT.
He turned the radio off and focused on the traffic that inched forward. Thousands of people going home. From where? Insurance companies, auto dealerships, offices, restaurants where they sold the equipment that chefs made their masterpieces out of, masterpieces that rich bastards had wolfed down in between management meetings and the squash courts, then shit out an hour later. Maybe some of these people would get so bored at work that they would murder their coworkers.
Clark could look out across the traffic and see in-car DVD players and video Ipods flickering in the fading light. The entire traffic jam seemed to be making the best of the situation with passive amusement.
Clark imagined zombies rising from their graves and rejoining the world. No doubt they would limp down highways like this one. All those recently-dead, stumbling along, running blue hands along the sides of mnivans and SUVs as they walked by. The highway would pulse like a vein.
Would the people run? Or would they sit there, medicated into complacency by satellite radio and the flickering lights of in-car television until humanity's destruction was assured?
Would the last battle for humanity's survival be our collective attention span versus a rerun of the OC?
There was a beautiful car in his driveway. Clark could see from the end of the block. For a moment, it made him nervous. Could Bitsey have been offered the same opportunity he’d been offered this afternoon? Could she have said yes? The idea wasn’t impossible. God knows his wife was a sexy woman and she met new men all day.
But it just didn’t feel like the right answer.
Clark parked in front of his house and walked up to the car. It was charcoal gray, a Mercedes of some type. Something about the curves reminded Clark of a delicious woman, of Bitsey. He wondered idly if it had given the engineers a stiffy to design the thing. He walked past the car and up his front steps, arranging his tie in anticipation of meeting some company.
But as he put his key in the lock, the front door swung open. Bitsey was standing there in a blue bikini.
“Hey Baby,” she said, leaning her back against the doorframe, hands behind her head. Bitsey had mastered many provocative poses, but this was one of her favorites. And his.
“Hey Bitsey.” Clark said, looking her up and down for a slightly exaggerated moment. Always good to remind Bitsey how much he appreciated her. “Whose car is that?”
“Yours.” She said blandly.
“Remember the old Miller house on the edge of town?” Bitsey didn’t really pause long enough for him to nod. “I sold it yesterday for two million dollars. I was both the listing agent and the selling agent.”
“At seven percent commission, that’s…” Clark said, trying to do the mental math. Mental math was never one of his strengths.
“$140,000.” Bitsey finished. Clark’s mouth gaped just a bit. That was a lot even for Bitsey. His wife leaned up against him, rubbing her bikini top into his chest. When she spoke again, her voice was breathy and low, “Now I know I’m supposed to be a good girl and save lots of money for retirement, but I know my husband and I’m getting the sense that he’s having just a little mid-life crisis. And I thought to myself “self, what does a man going through that need?”
“And the answer you came up with was ‘a Mercedes?”
“A Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG,” she batted her eyelashes.
“Good answer.”
Bitsey offered to put some clothes on before they took the car for a test drive, but Clark requested that she not bother. He threw down his jacket and took off his tie, then led is lovely bikini-wearing wife to the car.
They drove out toward the mountains where traffic thinned out and they could really see what a high performance car could do. As they whipped around the turns, he recalled the story about how Elvis used to meet people, take a liking to them and give away the keys to his latest Cadillac. Elvis had never given anyone the keys to his Mercedes Benz SL roadster. Clark had no question why not.
He put down the hardtop, knowing it would cut down on the performance a little bit, but also knowing that Bitsey would love the sun on her face. She looked good that way. Since there were no other cars on the highway, he wondered if he could talk her in to taking off her top.
They flew past an old farmhouse like the one in the zombie movie, and for a moment, Clark found himself thinking of the zombies again, but he dismissed that thought as quickly as it had come. Out here on the highway, in his Mercedes Benz, he could drive faster than the zombies. With Bitsey at his side, he could leave all of them behind. He was really tiring of looking at things and only seeing their pointlessness and their phoniness. This Holden Caulfield shit was getting old. Maybe lots of things were phony, but it was his life and he was going to be phony if he damn well pleased.
He put his foot on the gas pedal, making Bitsey squeal with joy as they took off down the highway a little faster. Away from worry, away from everything.
That night, they missed the late news and fucked in front of David Letterman instead. When Bitsey fell asleep, Clark fell asleep with her cuddled up, thinking only of where he’d drive next. At one point, he stirred enough to look around for a moment. The television was the only light in the room. Bitsey’s skin looked a little bit blue that way, lit only by the tv. He looked down at his own hand. It was bluish, too.
Fuck it. He turned over and went to sleep.


posted by Chalicechick @ 11:34 AM  
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