Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode two hundred and fourteen.
Tonight we present, Slowpokes, Part 1 of 1.
This week’s episodes are brought to you by Asunder.
Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.
Tonight, we present a brief tale of patience and impatience; of beginnings and conclusions; of marriage and death.
214 – Slowpokes, Part 1 of 1
“Slowpokes,” said Jeanine, her words answered only by the steady ticking of the glass domed mantel clock.
Otherwise, the Henderson house was silent.
She tipped back the curtain again, and scanned the street. Reginald had left a half-hour earlier, and it was a five minute walk to Hannah’s house – it was just like that man to get distracted in the middle of a job.
The Hendersons had been together for 34 years. It was the second marriage for both, but a largely happy one, and they’d brought up three children together.
As she considered the fact, Jeanine tutted to herself. In truth, she knew it was more that she’d raised the kids, who were now college aged, while Reginald had funded the operation. Even if he was distant, however, his gifts were frequent, and she was sure he often spent his time, while playing cards at Jim’s, bragging about their success.
With a head shake, she let the train of thought drop, and crooked the window shade.
There was still no Reginald.
She began to tread circles around the mahogany coffee table. As she shuffled her garden shoes over the beige carpet, Jeanine mentally walked the route to her daughter’s house, attempting to pace the distance using only her imagination.
The kids had left years ago, but she was happy to have them close at hand – although apparently five minutes away wasn’t a short enough time for some.
Her eyes wandered over the mantelpiece’s family photo, taken four years previously at the funeral of Reginald’s older brother. Instead of lingering there, however, her eyes drifted up to the sword – a major source of pride, and bickering, within the greater Henderson family.
When Nicholas had died, he’d left the civil war relic unmentioned in his will, and a brawl had emerged. It had once belonged to a Southern cavalryman, that some forgotten relative had killed, and the five remaining siblings had fought bitterly to claim it.
In the end, as Nick had been without children, and Reginald had been the second eldest, the inheritance had come to rest above their fireplace – where it was immediately forgotten by Reggie. It was much the case, Jeanine reflected, when they’d first had children: He was excited to get them home, but after that care was generally left up to her.
She recalled how pale Hannah’s face had looked when she’d carried her limp body, alone, into the emergency room, twenty years previous. Her bicycle had run out from under her, and her belly and legs were speckled with road pebbles.
Jeanine also remembered 10 years later on, when her eldest son, Patrick, was attacked by a neighbourhood dog, and had the majority of his pinky torn away in the beast’s jaws. The memory of the rushed bandaging job she’d had to do, before again driving to the hospital, was all too clear, but the doctor had credited her work when Pat was able to keep the finger.
The weapon, however, she was happy enough to tend alone. Her first stop after its arrival had been to the middle town library, where she’d located a book that provided all the necessary details behind oiling the steel and maintaining its edge. She considered it a damn sight more interesting than polishing Reginald’s mother’s miniature spoon collection, at least.
On occasion, she’d forgotten herself with the blade in her hand – had, in fact, taken it from it’s sheath when the living room was just this quiet, and swung it about like a mad brigand. If she was honest, she’d done it so often that she was quite comfortable with the weight in her hand.
With a sigh, her eyes moved from the sword to the eternally chattering timepiece.
“It’s a five minute walk,” she said.
Frowning, Jeanine scooted over the ottoman which sat in front of Reginald’s easy chair, and used the added height to retrieve the scabbard. The hilt felt good under her palm.
“Slowpokes,” she said.
It had been too long. She’d had enough of waiting.
As she strode through the door, the first of the stumbling dead to catch sight of her began to raise a moan – but her sabre was quick.
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