Monday, 15 December 2008

Portrait of Words - Mr X's Plan

This is my entry for December's Portrait of Words. Why not have a go yourself?

Mr X's Plan

Mr X was a man with a plan! It had been forming in his mind for some little while and he had even put the initial part of it into action. He was just having to take his time for the rest to come to fruition and during that time he was "fine-tuning" the final details.

He didn't think of himself as a happy man, in fact for the most part he felt as though his life was just passing him by. That was why the time had come for action. He was in his early 50's and married to Mrs X for the past 20 years. They were not a happy couple, probably never had been really happy and he had often wondered how it was that they had ever taken that final marital step. They had met, through friends, at a party and had paired up because it seemed they were the only ones there who had come alone. He had asked her out and their relationship had just gone on from there. Thinking back to those early days he recalled that there had been some happy times and supposed it was then when he had suggested they get married. She hadn't exactly been eager, had just sort of gone along with it. They didn't have much money to spare so had a civil ceremony in a local registry office. He had no family, she only a sister, who couldn't come anyway so it was just the two of them with witnesses asked in from the street. She liked yellow roses and so he had bought her a single long stem and joked that when they were rich he would buy her a whole bunch of them. But they hadn't got rich and life had become humdrum quite early on.

They lived in a third floor apartment, moving there about a year after they were married. There were no children, never ever any signs of a pregnancy and for the past 10 years they had slept in separate bedrooms. They had grown apart. It was because of this situation that the first inklings of his plan had come about. Not for the first few years of his almost solitary existance, but slowly thoughts had crept into his mind and for the past 5 years he had been working on a scheme that would set them free from the rut they had got themselves into. It was a slow process but if he was careful it could and would work.

They both worked, he as a sales rep and she as an assistant in a care home. Each morning she left the apartment before he did, returning slightly before him, but they had very little contact now. Mrs X got her meals at work so only snacked at home, and he usually ate at cafes and restaurants during the week, during the course of his work. Weekends she went out with friends, shopping or whatever, holidays she spent with her sister who was now living about 40 miles away. He went to football matches or just watched TV. To all intents and purposes they lived separate lives and he had had enough. His dream was to own a small-holding out in the country somewhere, with a few animals and enough land to grow vegetable and fruit, maybe to sell at a local market.

His plan started to form when one night he had gone out with some friends to a casino and had spectacular luck on the roulette wheel. He had come away with winnings equal to six months wages. Once back at home he decided to keep the winning news to himself and thought about where to put the money. He and Mrs X did not have a joint bank account and he did not want to put the money into his sole account in case somehow she found out about it. He decided to hide it in one of the inside pockets of his old fishing jacket which hung in the cupboard in his room, knowing that it would be undiscovered there as she never came into his room anyway, as far as he knew.

So having had one win he thought that if he was careful he might be able to add to his winnings and save a really tidy sum of money, enough to get away from here and maybe start to live the dream, before it was all too late.

And so it began. First of all he needed to keep it a secret from Mrs X. Her bedroom was at the front of the apartment, close to the door, so he decided that once she had gone to bed at night he would sneak out, down the fire escape, thus avoiding making any noise which might arouse her suspicions. He didn't go out every night, just 3 nights in a week and never touched his initial winnings, wanting to keep that intact, just adding to it whenever he came home ahead. Well that worked OK for the first few weeks but then one evening when he got home from work she asked why he hadn't answered the phone the night before, it had rung and rung, disturbing her. He had to admit that he had gone out, making the excuse that he had had a few beers with a work colleague. Because of that he decided to buy an answering machine and when she questioned why, he said that it would cut out the nuisance calls from sales people that seemed to be increasing these days.

She looked doubtful but merely raised her eyebrows and said nothing. He set the answerphone up to ring only twice before the message cut in, figuring that if she did happen to hear it ring, it wouldn't really disturb her.

He kept going with his plan. Three nights almost every week he would quietly make his way down the fire escape, drive to the casino, stay a few hours then drive home, back up the fire escape again and creep back into the apartment. He would check the answerphone before going to bed, but there were rarely any messages. Little by little his "pot" increased. He knew that if it was in a savings account he would be earning interest on it but determined to carry on the way he was for a while longer. There were some weeks when he had no luck at all but every now and again he won a substantial amount which helped to make up for the bad times. Then, one night he seemed to be on a winning streak and again won a sizeable sum of money - almost a jackpot! Lady Luck was certainly with him. Back at home he counted his stache and whistled quietly when he realised that he now had enough to put the next part of his plan into action. He had worked out that once he had enough for a deposit on a property and to keep him going for a couple of years until he was on his feet, he would do just that. He didn't want to rush into anything. On his travels he had come across a few areas that would be perfect and he kept his eye on those localities for just the right place to come up. Lately there had been a couple and now the time had come for him to take the next step.

The next day was hot and sunny and he dressed casually, in shorts and trainers. As soon as the coast was clear he made a couple of phone calls. First to work, calling in sick, then to the local esate agents to set up appointments to view the properties he has his eye on. He would see both places that he was interested in later that morning. He took enough of his money to pay a holding deposit, should he find something suitable.

By the afternoon he had made a decision on the one he wanted and paid the deposit. He would go back to the apartment, pick up the rest of his money and then leave, alone, to begin a new life.

As he arrived back at the apartment he saw his wife getting into a taxi. She saw him too but didn't acknowledge him and the cab moved away.

He stood, watching and wondering where she was going at this time of the day when she would normally be at work. He went on up to the apartment and as soon as he got inside he saw the flowers - on the table next to the answerphone was a bunch of yellow roses. The answerphone light was flashing and he checked the message. It was from his wife. "Its me, you said when we got rich you would buy me a whole bunch of yellow roses. I just got rich so I left a bunch for you. Goodbye".

Light suddenly dawned and he rushed into his bedroom. The cupboard door was open and there on the bed was his old fishing jacket .............

To look at more Portraits of Words and/or to join in click here.


Jeff B said...

Ha, the sweet taste of revenge. Looks like Mrs X got the best of the old coot.

Dr.John said...

I don't know if that was a sad or happy ending. But it was a well written story.

Maggie May said...

I was feeling sorry for him by the end! Poor thing!

Pam said...

How very sad - you imagine some couples living like that don't you?
I enjoyed your story - you should write more. I am definitely more of a reader than writer though, so won't be having a go myself.
Pam XX

bettygram said...

It seems that the bank would have been a better choice for him. Mars X was a bit more clever.

BJ Roan said...

Nice! He should have trusted the bank. I loved the ending.

Raven said...

Your story made me kind of sad, but it was cleverly done and well written. I'm such a romantic I was hoping they would find love with each other. Oh well...

Sandi McBride said...

Oh my! I didn't see that coming. I feel so sorry for Mr. X but being female see Mrs. X's point of view. Still....
Great story contribution!

Akelamalu said...

There's a lot to be said for keeping your money in the bank! ;)

cheshire wife said...

Poor Mr X !

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Thanks to all for kind comments. I think I felt sorry for him too!

A x