Four in the morning is the time of day when one is free to think unthinkable thoughts. It is a time of day at which sadness and loathing intersect with fear and rage. Depression and a multitude of other forms of mental anguish spring from the unsavory freedoms of four in the morning. Hatred. Crippling self-doubts. Fear of rejection. So it is not surprising that the seeds of Devian Qualls’ reprehensible plan sprouted just after four in the morning that November day in Devian’s musty house. Devian Qualls—a man cursed with a round, rubbery, paste-white face, thick neck to match thick glasses, and two hundred pounds more than his skeleton was meant to carry—intersected with four in the morning in a most unpleasant way.

Fog turned to icy drizzle and then to sleet shortly after Devian awoke. He traipsed back and forth in front of the French doors from the living room to the kitchen, stopping occasionally to stare out into the blackness of the morning. His thick nostrils flared as the pace of his pounding march from one side of the room to the other quickened with each circuit.

“Damn sleet! I’ve either got to go soon or I’ll be iced in here for god knows how long!”

He was the only one who heard his voice. His wife of nineteen years, Charmaine Qualls, had moved out three weeks earlier and, by the time Devian was cursing the ice gods, she probably was busily planning to change her last name to that of her wealthy suitor.

Devian slowed his pacing, then shuffled to his desk and sat, drinking strong coffee and staring at the empty computer screen. The chair moaned at every movement of his three hundred and thirty pound frame. He placed his sausage fingers on the keyboard and typed a few words:

‘I have done some things that were wrong, but not because I am a bad man’

He deleted the incomplete thought and began anew:

‘My multiple attempts to engage in extramarital affairs must have been prompted by’

He flipped that paragraph away, too, switching the object of his typery to his wife:

‘After trying so many times to have relationships with other women, Charmaine’s infidelity really caught me off guard’

Again, the words disappeared with a click of the mouse button. After several attempts to begin the story of his failed infidelity, and his surprise at learning of his wife’s success at the adulterous endeavor,  he withdrew his plump hands from the keyboard.

What if, he wondered to himself, the objects of his inappropriate carnal desires, each of whom had rejected his overtures, had instead been receptive? What if he had successfully engaged a dozen women in extramarital affairs? And what if he could rub his soon-to-be-ex-wife’s nose in those trysts? The seeds of his appalling plan began to take root.

“All right, then, I can pursue a lot of justice with this,” he said aloud, smiling at the empty empty grey computer screen bathing him in ghostly light.

“I’ll get those bitches. I know they had affairs. I just know they did. I wasn’t born yesterday. Sure they had them. They just didn’t have ’em with me. But I’ll make it look to their husbands like they did. And I’ll make it look to Charmaine like she bailed on somebody every other woman who set eyes on him wanted. That’ll kill her!”

Discomfort and solitude , coupled with simmering rage and a sociopathic lack of morals and empathy morphed into ugly desiderata that day.

[Yeah, yeah, yeah. My foreshadowing here told the entire story. The unfortunate thing is this: it’s implausible, uninteresting, and predictable. Or maybe not. But to my ADHD mind, it’s old news and unworthy of more fingerwork. But I’m posting it anyway, just because I might one day want to come back and borrow from it. I really need to get to know all these people I write about, though. Once we become close, I’m sure their stories will ooze out of me like blood leaking from a loosely wrapped bandage.] 😉

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Devian

  1. Thanks for the compliment. Perhaps a re-write to allow it to unfold as you suggest is in order!

  2. valerielcsw says:

    Well written! You captured me with great description. It would be an interesting concept for the man to get these women caught, their lives changed, and yet they had done nothing. How quickly the women would NOT be believed. It would be neat to see it unfold and not know that’s what had happened till the end. Very unique concept.

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