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News & Features » February 2017 » “The Yellow Dress” by Christopher Miguel Flakus

“The Yellow Dress” by Christopher Miguel Flakus

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, Christopher Miguel Flakus finds and loses love in a dark and unexpected way.

The Yellow Dress
by Christopher Miguel Flakus
Cuernavaca, Mexico

It had been two years since I had a drink, and life was looking up. I was in Cuernavaca, Mexico, taking care of my grandfather. He was 94 years old, and the single most amazing man I had ever known.

It was a full-time job looking after him. He often got confused. Sometimes he didn’t know where he was, or when he was. It was as if he were slipping in and out of time, traveling through his own memories, reliving moments of his life.

In a way, I envied my grandfather. The Mexico he was experiencing in his mind was a Mexico that had disappeared almost entirely from reality. In its place, a new world had risen up, one he would not have recognized as his own, even if his mind were clear. The small town of Cuernavaca had not been spared the country’s drug violence. There were murders, robberies, and rapes every day.

I went to my meetings in the centro, just a few blocks from The Palacio De Cortez. The local group of Alcoholicos Anonimos contained the only real friends I had left in Mexico. Twice a week, at 6:30 in the afternoon, I would attend my meeting and then take a stroll around the center of town. Cuernavaca is one of the most colorful cities I have ever been to. I would walk for half an hour and let the colors soak into my soul. I could not leave my grandfather unattended for long, but those afternoons to myself were a large part of what kept me going. It was on one such afternoon that I first met the woman in the yellow dress.

Her name was Laura. She had approached me after a meeting and told me that my story had moved her very much. She had beautiful caramel-colored skin, long black hair, and impossibly dark eyes that seemed to draw me into a kind of a trance as she spoke. I had not realized how intensely lonely I had been until that moment.

Soon, I lived only for our walks together. We began seeing each other daily. I felt guilty leaving my grandfather alone, but I could not help myself. Seeing Laura was the only thing that brought me any real joy. I had thought myself happy before, or at least content . . . but that had all been a lie. I had not known true happiness, until Laura.

The night came at last that I invited Laura back to my grandfather’s house. We made love sweetly, and quietly, careful not to wake him. It was as perfect a moment as any I had experienced in my life. My head filled with thoughts of our future—our marriage, what our children might look like, and growing old together right there, in my grandfather’s house.

One afternoon, Laura did not appear to meet me as she usually did. I paced nervously beneath the hulking shadow of The Palacio De Cortez. I watched the sun set red and bloody behind the mountains and I knew she would not come. I walked home feeling very much like a man who had nothing left to live for. And then, in a flash of horror, I thought of my grandfather.

I returned to find the great wooden front door forcibly opened. The television, the furniture, everything of value, was gone. A whole life’s worth of treasures had been taken. I threw the door open to my grandfather’s room. He was unconscious, on the floor just outside his bed. He had been struck over the head. He was still breathing soft, shallow breaths.

I spent that night in the hospital. And the next night. Finally, a tall, bearded doctor woke me from a nap in the waiting room to tell me that my grandfather had died. I thanked him and went back to the empty house.

I had made it two years without a drink, and things had started looking up. As evening fell over Cuernavaca, I poured a glass to the brim with Centenario Tequila. It had been my grandfather’s favorite. I drank to his memory, to the lost Mexico, to the mountains, and The Palacio De Cortez. I drank to the woman in the yellow dress, to my own foolishness, and my many failures. I drank and drank, until there was nothing left to drink. I drank until there was nothing left, nothing at all.

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CHRISTOPHER MIGUEL FLAKUS is a poet and short story writer living in Houston, Texas. He studied Literature at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas and St. Thomas University in Houston. His work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Telegraph, Indietronica, Black Heart Magazine, Glass: A Journal of The Arts, L’Allure des Mots, The Refined Savage Review, In Recovery Magazine, Live Better Live Now, and Outlaw Poetry. He grew up in Costa Rica and Mexico City.

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Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—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.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to [email protected]. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Feb 1, 2017

Category: Mondays Are Murder | Tags: , , , , , ,



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