“Shelley and Harvey” by Caroline Bock
Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.
This week, Caroline Bock gets revenge on Long Island.
Shelley was the one who married Harvey right out of college, whose parents went into debt for the wedding, saying it was worth it—that he was worth it, they should have said. She had two children, and they bought a house on the south shore of Long Island near their parents.
The secretary—so classic—became the second wife. He was starting to attend galas and fundraisers, and this second wife was soon out of place—all fake tits, big hair, and double negatives in every other sentence, pointed out Shelley. She had left teaching when she had their son, but after the divorce, returned to the same principal and same school, the toughest public high school in Queens. She loved the students, who hailed from more than a dozen countries.
So the second wife didn’t work out, though she turned out smarter than Shelley. She took him for more money than Shelley ever imagined he had. It was the third wife that was the real trophy wife. Joyce Kim. Tall. Reed thin. Twenty years younger. She had a MBA from a big-name school—not the state school where Shelley had met Harvey and made turbulent, awkward sex on dorm beds. Joyce urged Harvey to move to the sprawling condominium with views of the Hudson snaking off into the distance. Joyce looked appropriate at the galas next to the other firmly middle-aged hedge fund managers and their inconsolably slim, possessive wives.
Joyce never called Shelley like the other one did, wanting to gossip, to mine her insights. What was his favorite dessert? What drove him crazy in bed? Do it on a twin with a thin mattress and scratchy sheets, Shelley would’ve said. Do it to the Ramones. Don’t bother with books—he only reads the business section, like his father used to read only the Daily Racing Form. And buy only aisle seats if you go to a show. He’s claustrophobic.
“We will all miss Harvey,” Joyce said coolly in the call she finally did place to Shelley, a polite call, perfectly acceptable given the terrible circumstances of Harvey’s death and the status of the will.
The police immediately went to the second wife, who had apparently been on her boat—the SUH, or Screw U Harvey—with a deck of drunken friends off Freeport. “Ain’t nobody touching this girl,” second wife said with a toss of her head.
The interview between Shelley and the police was perfunctory. No one thought it could be her—the very middle-aged high school English teacher. Not the one with wide hips and haphazardly colored reddish-brown frizz. She had that loud voice and louder laugh. Somehow the divorce hadn’t diminished her. Her kids adored her. She had loads of friends. No one thought that Harvey had ever found his way back to her, craved her more as time went on, wanted only to bury his face in her breasts—does it have to be said that they were always generous, and now, with two kids, with time and gravity, even more so?
There was nothing to do except make love at that motel on Hempstead Turnpike by the hospital every Friday in the late afternoon. That last time, they blasted their music out of an ancient boom box, the grinding of trucks and buses and bursts of Spanish from the bus stop a second track. Ambulances sped by.
They did it once, then poured more of their favorite cheap wine into plastic cups and did it again, the rock hard pint of Chubby Hubby, his favorite dessert, by the bedside melting, and Harvey panting, sweating, his arms and knees giving out. The smells in the room blended together: disinfectant, roach spray, the sweat of skin on skin. Shelley wanted to make love on top. And after a minute or two, he tried to shove her off—with blood surging to his face and a frantic rebalancing of arms and legs. “You’re too much,” he said, groaning, laughing, crying, a poetic confluence of emotions. “You were always too fuckin’ much for me. That was always the problem.”
Shelley thought that he was alive when she left him sprawled on the narrow bed, a shackling of white sheets tangled around his neck and across his face; she really did, didn’t she?
CAROLINE BOCK is the author of two critically acclaimed young adult novels: LIE (St. Martin’s Press, 2011) and Before My Eyes (St. Martin’s Press, 2014). LIE was honored with four starred reviews from notable trade publications and chosen by the Texas Library Association for their 2012 Young Adult Reading list. Her second novel, Before My Eyes, has been called “gripping” by Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Review and an “unflinching thriller . . . thought-provoking,” by Bookpages. Her short stories and poetry have been published or are forthcoming — including a trifecta in the Akashic Books online flash fiction series (see also: Thursdaze and Terrible Twosdays) — Fiction Southeast, Ploughshares, Prometheus, 100 Word Story, Gargoyle Magazine, Vestal Review, and the Defying Gravity anthology. She lives in Maryland with her husband of many years and their two children.
Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected] paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Jun 8, 2015
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