Eye Spy

3124740517_17ef3ccdf8_b“Something green.”

“What’s that, sweetheart?” I’m back to the present. Soccer practice. We’re off to soccer practice.

Susie cocks her head sideways. I wonder if she should be in the backseat. The seatbelt is too big for her tiny frame. “It’s your turn,” she says and sticks her bottom lip out. “We always play Eye Spy on the way.”

I loosen my death-grip on the steering wheel. Zoned out. How long was I on auto pilot? Thirty seconds? A minute? Green. She said ‘green’.

“Dumpster,” I say and wink at her. My hands hurt.

Susie’s smile almost makes me forget. Almost.

I look out the window and see the perfect item. “Eye spy, with my little eye, something… red!”

She twists and turns in the seat, trying to look out every window at once. We’re stuck in traffic. Susie stops and fixates ahead. She got it.

“Mailbox,” she offers with a hint of her mother’s smugness tickling her voice. God, where did the time go? She turns ten next week.

“Lucky guess,” I say.

“Whatever, Dad.” There’s construction ahead. Underground electrical. She ploughs forward, undeterred. “Eye spy, with my little eye… something blue.”

My phone buzzes again. Thirteen times, James. Stop. I pick it up and thumb the power button until it shuts off. Enough.

“What if Mom calls?” Susie isn’t scared. She just doesn’t want us to fight again. It’s not important. Nothing is anymore. Nothing except getting my little girl to practice.

“I’ll turn it back on when we get there.” A flash of heated frustration boils. I lay on the horn uselessly.

Susie rescues me from my rage and touches my arm. “Something blue, Dad.”

I nod. “Rope.” I see it clearly. Swinging as if weighted, like a pendulum. Nylon. Like they use for camping.

“No. Guess again.”

I frown and look a second time. Steel grey cable is being pulled off a spindle. Not blue. Not rope. My hand absently reaches for my coffee cup, only my second of the day. I take a mouthful and savour the cold thickness of it. Did I take this with me when I left? Must have. I swallow and scan the scene.

There it is. “The minivan three lanes over.”

I had to leave work early today. Nancy couldn’t run Susie to soccer, so that left me to pick up the slack. As usual.

Work was nuts. I needed one more caffeine boost to get things wrapped up. I remember a flash of a blue dress to my left caught my attention. Jenny tapped on the glass wall as I walked past the server room. She waved me in.

The room was cold, dry and dark. Server fans roared in the background. Jenny was crying. My stomach sank.

“I’m pregnant,” she said.

I was numb. I was angry. “I won’t break up my family.”

“I’m going to keep it.”

“I won’t break up my family.” Cold bastard. That’s me.

I walked away, filled my mug in the break room and took a swig. The coffee was burnt. It tasted much better now. Funny.

Tap-tap.

Susie taps me on the arm. “You okay, Dad?” she asks and takes my coffee cup away from my frozen lips. How long this time?

I refocus on the road. Traffic is moving again. Horns blare behind us. I stick my hand out the window in apology and tromp on the gas to catch up.

Sirens ring out from somewhere ahead and I pull over. Sweat trickles down the back of my neck. An ambulance races through the throng. Traffic clears up and I see the sports field ahead.

“Thanks, Dad,” says Susie as she gets out. “You going to watch?”

“Yeah,” I say and fake a smile. “Gotta call your mom first.”

I watch her sprint to join her teammates before turning the phone back on. It rings immediately and I drop it. James is yelling something about the police as I bend to pick it up and hit ‘end call’.

We snared rabbits growing up. My brother and I would walk the line every morning in the winter. Usually one or two most days. I’d hang them in the basement by their feet over a five gallon bucket and make the first cut. It took both hands to pull the fur down. I’d hold my breath the whole time and not let it go until the eyes were hidden by the loosened skin. Her eyes were the worst– swollen and shot with red. Her feet must have kicked out and knocked over the bucket of blue network cables. My hands hurt.

The phone weighs a hundred pounds as I dial home. She answers right away. My mouth is dry and I swallow thickly when she says hello.

Red and blue lights flicker in my rearview mirror. I close my eyes. “Hey, Nance. We need to talk.”

Photo by aguscr


Author Notes

19 Comments for “Eye Spy”

Raymond Tobaygo

says:

Good morning, Doug

Definitely a troubled soul.. The buildup towards the end was good as was the dialogue and interactions. As I’ve come to expect a gotca ending.

I did find the flow not as smooth as is the case with your other posts…but maybe it’s me.

Take care and stay safe,

Ray

Tim Hillebrant

says:

Hey Doug,

I loved this story. Reads like some of King’s work- when he’s writing from the POV of someone losing their marbles. Very smooth entry into the story, great job developing the characters. Poor Katie, that’s going to be rough seeing her daddy busted at soccer practice. Though the guy does kinda deserve it.

Nicely done, sir!

says:

You really capture what this guy is going through, Doug. All the things on his mind, the pressures at work, at home, the love for his child and her innocence, dealing with traffic, the absent-minded freezing as all these thoughts rush in to overwhelm him and how he handles it. You weave in the conversations with his daughter quite well as they drive to the athletic field. This feels like just a piece of a larger story. The only thing I didn’t quite understand was why the police were after him. He just took his daughter to her scheduled practice, it’s not like he kidnapped her, right? Great job! Didn’t catch any nits.

Write On!
Becky

says:

Well… he _did_ just kill his pregnant girlfriend.

Glad you liked this one, Becky. 🙂

says:

Um, oh. I missed that. My bad. It was there plain as day and I missed it. Thought it was his wife who was pregnant with the James character. Wow. Read the rabbit part several times and wondered if he had killed someone, as that was why it would make sense to have this description of skinning the rabbit there. I am all mixed up today. Blame it on two days of planting my Dad’s garden, heat stroke, and muscles that are so sore I can barely move. I think it’s a good time for a nap.

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