Christmas/New Year Grit - Quitting Cold by Chad Haskins.

May I take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a fantastic New Year.  I sincerely hope that 2012 is good to all the writers who have appeared on these pages and the readers/supporters of this fine establishment.  Long may it continue into the year ahead.

Without further ado, feast your eyes upon the last of the mag's Christmas Grit stories.  You won't be disappointed.

Quitting Cold.

My New Year’s resolution is to make an honest living, which means I have thirty minutes to complete this job.
I hold Vanessa in my arms and look into her glittering eyes. It has taken me a year to get to this point…the point of our relationship where we are talking about marriage…the point where her parents like me…and the point where I know where they keep the combination to the safe containing the diamond necklace that I will retire on.
Vanessa’s parents have some friends and family members visiting their large home to ring in the New Year. They are all wealthy stiffs that talk about empty things that make a fart sound appealing.
“I have a bit of a headache,” I lie. “I’m going to rest in the study for a few minutes so I can be ready to give you a big wet kiss when the clock is on twelve.”
“The study?” She pauses for a moment then says, “Yes, that would be a good place. Do you need anything else, John?”
“No my sweet, just your love.”
“Well, you know you’ve got that. I’ve never been with anyone else longer.” She smiles and gives me an appetizingly long kiss on the lips that makes me wonder if I shouldn’t have got my headache after we did one last quickie in the laundry room.
Before I can enter the study, I run into Vanessa’s father, Bill. He is a retired doctor, and I have him in the palm of my hand.
“Happy New Year, John…well almost.”
“You too Bill,” I say, hoping he doesn’t try to come into the study with me.
“John I want you to know how lucky my Vanessa is to have met you. I can’t think of a better man I would trust with my daughter. She has had some rocky relationships that ended abruptly in the past, but seeing her with you now makes all that seem like a bad dream.
“I want nothing more than to make Vanessa happy,” except, well, stealing from you pricks.
“I know John. I know.”
“Oh Honey,” calls Vanessa’s mom, “would you come here and help me open this bottle of champaign?”
“Yes Dear! Let’s talk some more later John.”
“Sure,” I reply as he goes to help his wife.
I look left and right and then ease into the study. I turn on a lamp. Only ten minutes ‘till midnight. I’ve got to hurry so I can grab the necklace and leave before the celebration starts, and before my New Year’s resolution kicks in.
On the side of the oak desk there is a hidden sliding door, revealing a small safe that has been installed there. I found out through an acquaintance that they had the expensive necklace, and I kept planting subtle thoughts about necklaces and safes into my conversations with Vanessa; one day we were in here, and she just flat out told me about the necklace. And then not long afterward I discovered the combination carved underneath the desk.
I pull back the sliding door and twirl the tumblers to the numbers I memorized.
I open the door and pull out a black box. I take a peak, and the rocks are bigger than I even imagined. Wow!
I take the necklace out, put the case back in the safe and close it. I stand up and look at the clock—11:55. Shit. I’ve got to move.
“John, are you OK?”
I jump on the couch just as Vanessa walks in.
“Are you feeling better?”
“No, not really. I think I just need a few more minutes.”
She walks over and sits beside me.
“Let me give you a neck rub,” she insists, before I can argue.
She moves behind me and rubs my neck. I have my hand on my pocket, and I squeeze the necklace just to make sure it is still there.
“I overheard my father say something to you about my past boyfriends. I confess that I was always the one to break things off, but I’ve decided that my New Year’s resolution is to stop ending my relationships so sharply…”
“That’s good to know,” I say.
“…starting tomorrow.”
I look down and see the tip of a knife protruding through the front of my now blood soaked shirt.
“Daddy is going to help me.”
I feel dizzy, and suddenly I am in a hammock, on an island in the Pacific, sipping a blue drink—living the good life.

Chad Haskins lives in Newnan, Georgia with his wife and two sons. Chad's writing appears in Rose and Thorn Journal, Blue Collar Review, Untitled Country Review, The 5-2: Crime Poetry WeeklyPure SlushYellow Mama, and is forthcoming in Powder Burn Flash, Golden Sparrow Literary Review, Dark River Magazine, and Flashes in the Dark.


B said...

David, you saved a dandy for last! Excellent work Chad.

Bill Baber said...

David, you saved a dandy for last... Excellent work chad.

DeniseCovey_L'Aussie said...

Great story David. First story I read in 2012. Well the knife sticking out of the shirt sure surprised me.


Anonymous said...

Point taken, mate. Perfect hinted-at but-not revealed twist. The drifitng tides of morality do have a few sharp reefs, don't they. Cool.

Bruce Harris said...

Good ending! Good story!!

Chad said...

Thank you everyone. I am glad you enjoyed it.

David Barber said...

Great piece, Chad. Thanks for sending it my way. Well done!

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