I entered a writing contest and lost. The first time I ever did that, so I don't feel too bad considering i'm an amateur. The funny thing is that I titled my short story, THE BRIDE WORE RED. When I when I went to look for an accompanying picture for my story, I discovered that it was the title of a Joan Crawford movie. I never heard of it. So, I will be downloading that classic this week. At any rate, here's the story. Let me know what you think....
THE BRIDE WORE RED
Sandy Beechts routine was always the same on the days she didn’t feel like working. Instead of driving around to restaurants trying to sell insurance, she made her way to the neighborhood 7-11. Lukewarm breakfast blend coffee in her right hand and a bag of Doritos in the left she swiped her credit card in the machine to pay. Walking to the car she was filled with feelings of anxiety, angst and weariness, she drove the half mile or so to the beach. Parking in handicap because it had the best view of the water, Sandy pulled the blue parking tag out from under the visor. As she reclined her chair, Sandy thought about how long she would stay that day.
There were only two other cars parked in the lot when she drove up. It wasn’t exactly a beach day but Sandy didn’t care. Every week throughout the year she spent 2-3 days there. Never leaving her car, sipping on coffee and eating junk food somehow brought Sandy pleasure. That day although overcast was no different. It was a bit humid but Sandy decided not to roll down her windows because the slight breeze that made its way into the car seemed to chill her. Sitting there sipping her coffee and chomping on Doritos at 9am in the morning suited Sandy well. It was her slice of heaven and her way to escape her life.
That morning was typical, with the boats bobbing slowly up and down in the marina. People were driving in and out of the lot for brief moments to simply to stare at the beauty and the wonder of the water. Like Sandy there were those that spent the whole time in the car simply sitting still and taking in the atmosphere. Sandy would listen to talk radio and sometimes even the sports stations. For her it felt like the only form of interesting, communication she would have even if it was one sided. Completely cut off from physical interaction, in her own self created bubble Sandy would sit in the parking lot for hours. Watching people come and go, during their breakfast, lunch and even dinner breaks Sandy would sit. Her thoughts often fell on the loves past and present
As the day dragged on Sandy thought about cutting the day short and driving over to McDonalds to grab a burger for lunch but immediately canceled her thoughts when two limousines and a Rolls Royce pulled up. Wedding party photo time she thought. As a group of about 20 piled out of the three vehicles, Sandy straightened up her seat in full upright position to get a better view. Thankfully, her handicap spot was a prime location for her to see the photo session. Pictures were first taken of the women, then of the men. When the bride was hoisted onto one of the picnic tables for her solo shoot, Sandy couldn’t help but admire her dress. V-neck and strapless, the dress was sleek and fit the bride like a glove. The bride posed like she knew it too. Stretched across a red tablecloth that adorned the picnic table, the bride started to resemble Madonna flailing around the stage at the MTV music awards. It was awkward to watch but impossible to take your eyes off of. It was a beauty to behold for sure.
Arms crossed and staring in disgust at the show before him stood what appeared to be the groom. Sandy couldn’t hear what was being said but by the gestures and demeanor, she could ascertain that he was letting her know that she should show some sort of decorum. Whispering and giggling were the bridal party. The scene that was unfolding didn’t resemble any sort of happy beginning in Sandy’s opinion. On the contrary, it looked like a couple who were embarking on a journey that had two different paths. To make matters worse the bridal party seemed to be relishing in the thought of an impending disaster. Sandy thought to herself that what was unfolding was better than this week’s General Hospital episodes.
Once the brides’ solo session had died down, seemingly so did the grooms desire to take photos with her. Grabbing his face and then hands in a begging motion, the bride wore down his defenses and he was soon holding her, smiling and taking pictures with his bride. The bridal party began to disperse throughout the beach to catch glimpses of the boats, water and houses that lined the edges of the waterway. When the shot rang out, everyone including Sandy looked around. It sort of sounded like someone’s car backfiring. That thought must have crossed many minds because nobody ran to the sound of the shot. But once focus was restored all eyes fell on the location of the photo shoot. There laying limp in the arms of the groom was the bride.
As the bridal party began to quickly make there was back to the bride and groom, foot tracks formed from all angles of the beach. The mugginess of the day had allowed foot prints to stand in time. Men and women running with shoes in hand and trepidation written across their faces weren’t thinking about the possibility of more shootings. The goal was to see what was going on. Sandy, stayed in her car and watched in horror as the groom placed his bride across the red tablecloth. Fumbling with her phone, Sandy dialed 911 but her phone kept relaying that the call failed. She felt bad but figured someone else would surely get a hold of the first responders. As groups of people began to form around the scene, Sandy could no longer see the bride and groom and all that was happening so she decided to join the chaos. Slowly walking over while taking in her surroundings, Sandy could see the grooms tear streaked face and horse voice, begging for his bride to hold on. As the bridal party comforted one another, the photographer felt it was the perfect time to sneak in a few shots of the scene unbeknownst to the crowd.
In the distance, the sound of the ambulances and patrol cars could be heard drawing near. In that moment Sandy felt relief knowing that someone had made contact. Others who had happened to stop by the beach were all huddled up and discussing different scenarios as to what may have happened. Stories about a sniper, a jealous lover, a deranged mental patient and the like were whispered throughout. Sandy seriously doubted it but never shared her thoughts. Once the police arrived, they made sure to block the car entrance as well as the pedestrian entrances. Taking down the statements of all who were present, the police then informed them that they were not permitted to leave the parking lot just yet. Most of the bridal party went back to the limo to wait it out. Sandy too went back to her vehicle choosing the solace of her passenger seat.
The area of the shooting had been cleared out except for the bride, groom, EMT workers and a couple of policemen. The wedding gown was stained red throughout and laid on the tablecloth as if it were part of a set. The brides’ naked body visible to any within close proximity was limp and lifeless. Sandy soaked in all of the happenings completely forgetting the hunger pangs that had hit her two hours prior. The EMT workers carefully placed the bride onto the gurney as the groom stood there covering his mouth with one hand and his stomach with the other. Raising the sheet over the presumably dead woman’s body, the EMT worker was the only person who seemed to be moving at all and in quite a robotic manner. The other first responders just stood there watching the scene unfold in front of them, much the way Sandy did from the solace of her car.
Within seconds of being lifted into the ambulance, the groom was surrounded by his groomsmen who held him up and provided the support he clearly needed. Throughout the parking lot law enforcement personnel spoke with the possible witnesses, releasing them one by one once the questioning was completed. Sandy continued to sit in her car. Wow, that just happened she thought. Still in a daze and guessing about what others were thinking, Sandy was startled by a knock at her window door. Asking her to vacate the premises of her vehicle, two police officers began searching Sandy’s car. Standing there watching, Sandy noticed the onlookers begin to point their eyes in her direction. Suddenly feeling nervous as if she were experiencing stage fright, she began to shiver. Her actions didn’t go unnoticed by the other officers. Questioning her again about what had happened the look they gave her was accusatory and presumptive. She felt guilty.
Finding nothing in Sandy’s car or on her person the officers had no choice but to let her go. They took down her information and let her leave the beach parking lot but instructed her to remain available during the investigation. The quick drive to her apartment seemed to take longer than ever. Why didn’t she just go to work? Why did she have to choose to blow off the job yet again? All she kept thinking was that no matter the consequences, death really should never be an option. How stupid she kept mumbling to herself. Sandy pulled up in front of her apartment and the realization that her day wasn’t over became even clearer.
Stepping out of the car with her work bag in hand Sandy noticed her ex boyfriends’ car in front of her house. Smirking she giggled to herself and in a hushed tone spoke “ex boyfriend huh...more like ex fuck buddy”. She noticed he wasn’t sitting in the car so, she assumed he used her hidden key and let himself in. Opening the door to her apartment she listened for him but heard nothing. Deciding to call out his name, he responded quickly and came from around the bend. Apparently he had made himself comfortable in the kitchen. Rushing to her side he immediately asked her where she had been. He claimed to have been calling and texting her for the past hour. She knew he was calling but like all of the other times, she ignored him and figured she’d deal with him later. She asked him why the hell he was so determined to get in touch with her. He responded that it had been a rough day.
Making her way into the kitchen, Sandy noticed a gun on the counter next to the sink. Turning around she faced her ex and just stared at him while pointing in the direction of the gun. All he did was gnaw at his nails in a nervous attempt to calm himself down. Finally finding the voice to speak, Sandy asked him why there was a gun on her counter. He didn’t say anything but just stood. Finally he said he had nowhere else to go, and explained that Sandy’s was the first place he felt he could run to. Staring at him, chewing her lip and scratching the top part of her hand Sandy needed more information.
All sorts of thoughts ran through Sandy’s head. She couldn’t stop thinking about how hot he looked in that moment. With his finger worn hair, sweat at his temples, button down crisp white shirt halfway tucked into the jeans that slightly fell over his boat shoes, Sandy remembered the reason for her initial attraction. Shaking her head and forcing herself to concentrate she told him she was calling the cops. Reaching into her work bag, she started to retrieve her phone when he grabbed her by the wrist and begged her not to. Choosing not to speak she simply looked at him with her knowing eyes as if to ask him why. He understood and asked if he could explain what happened first. So off to the living room sans the gun, they went.
Sandy’s ex began to tell her about the events that led to the death of the woman she knew to be the same one from the beach earlier. Explaining that he was dating a girl whom he later discovered was seeing someone else, her ex seemed emotionally distraught. He said they had been dating for about 8 months and he was falling in love with her. He described his desire to marry her one day. Sandy couldn’t help but feel pity for herself. All that he was describing was what she wanted him to feel for her. But she was just an object to him in her eyes. She was every guys object she thought. As he continued on about his relationship with the girl, he talked about discovering that the girl was already committed to someone else. He said that she begged him not to leave her, that she didn’t love her boyfriend. She said that her family insisted she stay with the man because he had a significant amount of money and influence that she’d be hard pressed to find in any other man. So Sandy’s ex agreed to remain with the woman and keep their relationship secretive. He tried to convince himself that he wasn’t falling for her, but it wasn’t working.
The day that the woman revealed to Sandy’s ex that she was engaged and planned to be married at the end of the month, he begged her to call it off. He proposed to the woman and vowed to give her all her fiancé was promising and more. His lady declined his offer though agreed to be committed to him in private. Completely going against his better judgment, Sandy’s ex went along with it. As the days went by and the wedding date drew closer he became increasingly anxious and dejected. Trying to come up with a way to stop the impending nuptials, he started devoting all of his free time to following his lady when he wasn’t with her. The time he did spend with her was less frequent and it only made him more apprehensive about what she had agreed to do with someone other than him.
On one particular occasion, he followed them to the Harbor Club located on the water right next to the town beach. Although the beach and club were separated by a short fence it was easy to step over it if you wanted to walk on the sand after a bite to eat. In front of the club was a small boardwalk with a couple of benches to sit and site see. From the benches you could see the beach, the marina and some of the neighborhood homes surrounding the area. Everything seemed in such close proximity. Sitting on one of the benches and watching what he assumed to be close family and friends arrive in their Sunday best, Sandy’s ex found himself overcome with emotion. He was started by a slight tap on his shoulder. When he looked to his right, he saw a woman he never saw before holding a tissue. Asking him if he was alright she sat next to him and looked over in the direction of the club. Shaking his head and wiping at the corners of his eyes he said no. He told her that his girlfriend was marrying someone else and that what he could only guess was the rehearsal dinner was taking place in the club right now. With a knowing look in her eye the woman nodded, curled up her lip, sucked in a deep breath and told him that the groom was her brother.
Shocked and embarrassed Sandy’s ex began to stutter his apologies but was abruptly cut off by the woman who rose, asked him for his number dialed it and asked him to call her later. Before he could say anything else she was briskly walking in the direction of the club. Sitting there dumbfounded and feeling stupid, Sandy’s ex hit himself in the thigh hard, punishing himself for his indiscretion. He got up and started walking to his car, when his cell phone buzzed. A text message from the sister of his girlfriends fiancé said that she needed to speak to him and if he could meet her back at the benches at 11pm. He replied yes.
When Sandy’s ex met the woman, she proceeded to tell him that her brother was cheating too. She said that the family looked at him as the golden child and looked at her as the black sheep and she was sick of it. Telling Sandy’s ex that she knew how she could ensure he had a future with his girlfriend and that her brother would no longer be a headache, Sandy’s ex was all ears. Hatching a plan to tell her family the truth about her brother in front of everyone prior to the wedding, she told Sandy’s ex to meet her back at the bench on Saturday at 12, so that she could fill him in on all of the details. Agreeing, he thanked her and said goodbye.
Saturday afternoon, Sandy’s boyfriend waited patiently on the bench when he spotted two limos and Rolls Royce pull into the beach parking lot next door. Out of the vehicle he saw his girlfriend in a wedding dress. He watched as she posed for pictures with her bridesmaids. He watched as she posed by herself. He watched as she posed with her husband. He watched as the woman he loved fell into that mans arms. Shocked he stood and wondered what was wrong, before he could make sense of it on his own; the brothers sister was standing by the bench inquiring about what was happening. He looked at her adorned in a bridesmaid dress different yet similar to ones worn by some of the other women who were scattered around the beach. He told her he didn’t know but that she should get over there. She pulled her dress up to her knees and stepped over the fence and began running along the side of the beach as if she wasn’t coming from the club. Sandy’s ex looked in horror as his girlfriend was now on the table and her dress slowly changing into the same color as the cloth she laid on.
Feeling the need to go see what was going on, he stopped himself short of stepping over the fence. He decided to go back to his car and drive over to the beach. When he got in the car he put the key in the ignition, rested his right arm on the back of the passenger seat and looked behind him to back out. That’s when he noticed a gun laying on the back seat. Not knowing what to make of it, he panicked and stayed parked. Profusely running his hands through his hair, he decided he couldn’t sit there any longer and somehow found his way at the apartment of his ex who lived down the street from the beach.
Listening to what her ex was telling her left Sandy reeling. She wondered if he left out any details and inquired with him about that. She wondered why the sister killed her brothers fiancé. She wondered so many things that it all began to jumble up and she could no longer concentrate on the here and the now. Rising and going into the kitchen Sandy rested both hands on the counter leaned over and stepped back. Her ex was standing right behind her waiting to see what she was going to do or to say. Finally, she told him he had to leave. Asking her where to, she said you need to go to the police station and tell just tell them you found the gun when you were sitting on the benches. She said to say that you heard about a shooting and thought that you may have discovered the murder weapon. Shaking his head vigorously he said he couldn’t. He questioned the possibility of being framed and his lack of an alibi. Sandy didn’t care. She wanted him gone and gone now.
Before she could push him out, her door bell rang. Looking around the bend and out of the window they noticed a cop car. He uttered expletives and she shushed him. He couldn’t understand why they would be there. When she explained that she was at the beach at the time of the shooting, he looked at her with accusatory eyes and grabbed her asking her why didn’t she say anything? Caught off guard she simply said she didn’t have a chance. Once he released her, he began pacing the kitchen. She told him to put the gun in the drawer and go sit in the living room.
Sandy opened the door and let the officer from the beach in. The officer said he just had to follow up with a couple of more questions. When he noticed her ex, in the living room he quickly apologized for interrupting. Without waiting to be prodded, Sandy explained that the man was her boyfriend. The officer shook his head and said oh ok and then asked her how often she went to the beach. She replied two to three days a week. He asked her to think about the people she may notice every time she’s gone and if she remembers something strange or unfamiliar to contact him on the number listed on his card. With that he was left.
For about an hour, Sandy and her ex sat in silence in the living room. The sound barrier was broken by a chime on her ex’s phone. A text message came across the screen from a blocked number. All it read was “I hit the wrong target, sorry get rid of it”. Sandy’s ex showed her the text and they both sat back and sighed. All of the time they spent sitting in silence didn’t help them come up with a feasible plan to take the attention off of him. Finally, Sandy said you have to leave you’re on your own. Laughing, he told her that the cop saw him there and if he goes down they will come right back to her apartment and charge her as an accessory. Sandy knew he was right and just shook her head in defeat.
Sandy and her ex never told anyone what they knew. They didn’t speak at all that week until he showed up the following weekend with the local Sunday paper. The cover was a picture of his girlfriend and her husband. It said that the husband of the bride who was gunned down at the beach had himself died of an apparent drug overdose. He was discovered in his home by his sister who would be stepping in as interim president and CEO of their families insurance company. After reading the article, Sandy looked at him in mocked disbelief. He told her that that wasn’t all. He said he received an envelope filled with 50,000 accompanied by a note that said for your troubles and a paid slip indicating his car and house were paid off. He gave Sandy the money and apologized, but she wouldn’t take it. She told him to leave and to please lose her number.
The following morning, Sandy awoke a little earlier than usual and began getting ready for work. She got in her car, drove down the street and went to 7-11 to get her a cup of coffee. She made her way to the beach and pulled in to the parking lot. Staring at the water she reflected about the events leading up to and after the shooting. Her thoughts were interrupted by the opening of her passenger door. In slid a slender woman coffee in hand. She inched over and gave Sandy a peck on the lips and smiled. Sandy raised her coffee cup and greeted her lover, the sister of the man whose wife was shot, with a smile and congratulatory kiss. Giggling back the sister simply said “I can’t believe the good fortune of that muthafucka turning out to be your ex. And the asshole never turned me in. Money talks.”
My name is Tamieka Blair and I live on Long Island in New York. I write, I read, I write, I work, I write, I support..I WRITE!!!
Please note that the viewpoints expressed in this blog are solely my views and do not necessarily represent those of any employer or company associated with Tamieka Blair.