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by Paperback 

Posted: 23 March 2004
Word Count: 1488
Summary: Here's my second posting. There's less swearing but continues in a similar style. It's the first of 26 stories, the first characters name begins with an 'A', the second a 'B' and so on. Want any more?

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I first met my girlfriend at a meeting for people who had become Victims Of Crime. We sat in a circle with many other people and spoke about how we felt. When she said that she was sad and angry with the previous offender who had done that to her feet, every man in the room listened closely. She was the prettiest thing in that room and I was surprised when, at the end of our session, she hobbled over to me and asked me out.
“Sure,” I said, trying not to look down. “Why not?”

After our first date at the picture house, she kissed me heavily on the lips and held my hand. After our second, we rolled around in the park and made love. On our third date there seemed to be nowhere left to go, so I asked her to marry me.
“Sure,” she said with a smile sitting on her pretty lips. “Why not.”

On the day of our wedding I found her crying, all alone.
“What’s the matter with you?” I said.
“Me? Oh, nothing,” she replied. “Now go. You mustn’t see me, not today. It’s bad luck.”
She made an attempt to push me out of the house but, before I left, we agreed that she would forgo her crutches as she walked down the aisle.

It took her ten minutes to get to the front of that church. She made a good stab at it but, as she rolled around on the floor after her second fall, I saw my parents roll their eyes. At the end of the service, everybody agreed that it had been a wonderful wedding and that the bride, despite the fresh cut to her cheek, had looked beautiful. My new wife thanked everyone for their kind words and cried all the way through our wedding day meal.

As a surprise I had bought us a holiday for two to a romantic European city. I announced this during my speech to our guests. The ladies made romantic cooing noises and stared at the men who applauded and shifted uncomfortably in their seats. Later, in the taxi to the airport, she asked me where I’d got the money from.
“Insurance,” I said, pointing to my stab wounds.
“Oh,” she said as she turned and looked out of the window. Her shoulders shook as she began to cry again.
“What’s the matter?” I asked.
“Oh, nothing,” she replied. She took hold of my hand and held it limply.

We were both given special seats on the plane. They were next to an emergency exit and had extra legroom. The air stewards attended to our every need and asked with concern if everything was all right when, once again, my wife began to cry.
“She’s fine,” I said, shaking my head and shooing them away with my hands. “Thank you for asking, though.”

We were given flowers when we arrived at the hotel. They said they specialized in newly-weds and showed us to our room. There was a huge heart-shaped bed in the middle of the floor and we held each other closely on our first night together as man and wife.

I was woken early the next morning by the sound of my wife sobbing once more.
“You’re crying, again?” I said. “You never used to do this. Just what is the matter with you?”
“Me?” she answered, wiping her eyes. “Oh, I’m fine. I’m just worried that I’ve made some kind of terrible mistake. I don’t mean to spoil things.” She patted my thigh and tried a smile.
I accepted the effort and put my arm around her shoulders to try and instigate some newly wed closeness. We both felt my growth when suddenly she sat up with a jerk and said,
“Let’s go out and do something. I don’t want you to have a bad time, too.”
I saw her reasoning and agreed by saying,
“Sure, why not?”

My blood soon drained away and so we decided to take a walk into the centre of the town. There were many shops, people, cafes, restaurants, cars and the like. There were many couples effortlessly holding hands. They all seemed unreasonably proud of themselves, as though, having managed to find each other, they had done something special.
“We have found love,” their faces seemed to say. “And our love is much stronger and far better than your love could ever hope to be”.
Feeling insecure around so much certainty and competition, I took hold of my wife’s hand and again, she began to cry.

There was a lake right in the centre of the city. It had a large fountain and a small stall renting out rowing boats. It seemed very romantic and I thought it might stop my wife’s tears.
“Why don’t we go for a row,” I said as we approached the water’s edge. “That might cheer you up.”
She began to cry even louder. People were starting to stare and I was becoming ashamed and embarrassed. She was a difficult woman and a lot harder to placate than I ever thought she would have been.
“You go!” my wife screamed. “You go! Please, I don’t want to be a nuisance. You must enjoy yourself. I’ll wait. I’ll watch you from here.”
I thought some space apart might do me some good, so I headed to the boat stall. It was run by a man with a crazy shirt and an extravagant accent. The sign hanging above his stall said that his name was Abelardo.
“You ‘ave one ‘our,” said Abelardo.
I handed him some of my foreign coins and climbed into one of his little wooden boats. As I cast off, I could hear my wife’s cries and wails. I decided I would row as far out as I could.

I ended up going much further out than I’d anticipated. My new wife’s screams and sobs had travelled true and far over the calm water and had forced me ever further away from the coast.
Finally, when I could hear her no more, I stopped rowing and allowed the boat to float along. I enjoyed the quiet and space to think. As I sat there in my rented wooden boat, I worried that this was to be my lot in life. Stuck with a depressed wife. It certainly wasn’t what I’d pictured as a child but soon an unaccountable sense of anxiety flooded over me and panicking, I found myself setting off back to shore.

My journey back from the centre of the lake was much quicker than I’d expected. I was facing away from the shore and was surprised when I ploughed into land. I had expected my wife’s sobs to act as some kind of vocal lighthouse and gently guide me back to shore. Her silence had proved unsettling.
I climbed out of my beached boat and looked around for my wife. I worried that she’d been taken away but instead I found her giggling and kissing with Abelardo.
I stormed towards them, certain that I was broken.
“What’s going on?” I demanded, as I tried to pry apart their passionately entwined fingers.
Instantly, the sadness returned to my wife’s eyes and she began to cry once more.
Looking at me, Abelardo said,
“Your wife. She iz not ‘appy. I woz just makin’ ‘er smile. That iz all. I meant no offence.”
I stared at Abelardo until he backed off and then grabbed my wife by her hand and started to pull her away. She began to cry louder and louder but due to her ill-mended feet, she offered no obvious physical resistance. As I dragged my wife back to the hotel, I told her how my heart was broken.

When we arrived back home I made a sign to go around my wife’s neck. It told everybody just what she was and just what she had done to me. I made her wear it when she went outside and just to make sure, I took out an advert in the local newspaper announcing that she should not be trusted.
My wife knows that, due to her awful foot injury, she cannot outrun me and that she cannot leave. She no longer cries and instead she just sits in her chair, looking down at her sign, reading it quietly to herself, over and over again.
Sometimes, when my wife’s silences really upset me, I think about taking off her sign and letting her go.
“Be free!” I’d say.
But then, when I think back to how it felt to have my heart torn in two, I realise just how much I’ve got to get my message through to her. I really want her to know how much I love her and how much she hurt me when, after all that i’ve been through, she decided to go and kiss that other man.

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Comments by other Members

scottwil at 17:39 on 23 March 2004  Report this post
It's a strong enough subject, but for me, doesn't fizz like 'Dog's Dead' did. Plus more typos and the language is slacker; too many adjectives. But you're using a different voice now.
You're lucky, you have more than one.
I look forward to reading the falsetto.

Account Closed at 20:08 on 23 March 2004  Report this post
Interesting, wierd but curious. Certainly makes you think. You have a capacity for creating odd characters.

Just one thing - if he's boating on a lake he'd arrive at the shore not the coast.

I'd definately like to read on to B. - Great idea btw.


Becca at 20:09 on 23 March 2004  Report this post
Oh dear, I've only got to 'she took hold of my hand and held it limply.' And I'm laughing, I like laughing. Tell you more in a minute.

What I think is that this is a fine and funny story, with a strange innocent edge, until you get to the end bit: 'When we arrived back home..' At that point you lose your reader's empathy as if you'd picked it up and thrown it in the Thames. There's a kind of magic in the beginning of it which, if I was more steeped in literature, I could allude to, then I feel you trash it. Because, and I am serious about this, your MC changes character. Well, so what? Well, he was so arch, so dry, so reportage-like, accepting, then you suddenly change him into a monster. Why do you do this? It is beautiful and controlled to this point, I need to like him, can't he just go off around Europe with a rather useful walking stick, a map, packet of biscuits and a knapsack, and forget his weeping bride?

Jubbly at 20:55 on 23 March 2004  Report this post
Mmm, Paperback, you have a very unique voice. I thought parts of this were hilarious but the darker side took over toward the end. Personally I didn't mind his terrible treatment of his wife, all that bloody sobbing would do your head in. I can understand Becca's point though, perhaps if had him showing remorse at his actions, a sort of 'cruel to be kind' approach or 'tough love.' It's very original and a great read. I'd change the two rollings in the wedding scene, they come too close together, but that's just me and my dread of repitition.

all the best


Dee at 21:15 on 23 March 2004  Report this post
Real off-the-wall humour here. Love it… until I get to the end. That sudden change to Mr Nasty just didn’t gel for me. I really empathised with this guy up until then… but it’s a great story… and welcome to WW.


Jumbo at 00:24 on 24 March 2004  Report this post

Enjoyed this right up until the last few lines - and then it just sort of, well, stopped!

The piece has great potential but the ending lets it down. You obviously have a great inventive talent - your characters and the situations you place them in are funny, poignant and (at times) quite touching. But I think the ending needs some work, it seemed almost lifeless after the depth of the build up.

[On a small point, a woman unable to walk properly would not be seated by the emergency exits on an aircraft.]

Good luck with this



.... and, by the way, welcome to WW!

amnesia at 13:45 on 24 March 2004  Report this post
I like this story and I loved Dead Dog - brilliant.
I'd like to understand what kind of twisted logic leads him to do what he does to his wife at the end.
I found him a very sympathetic character up to that point and I don't have a problem with him what he did, but I want to understand why.
I look forward to reading more.

SamMorris at 19:04 on 24 March 2004  Report this post
I enjoyed this too, as well as Dead Dogs. This story exists in one of those strange places that that is a lot like the real world, but has an alluring and slightly surreal atmosphere all of its own that pulls you under its spell.

The only problem I had was that my suspension of disbelief was pushed just a little too far by the end of the story. Having said that it was a very enjoyable journey. After this and Dead Dog I would really like to hear more. Keep 'em coming!

All the Best


word`s worth at 21:41 on 26 March 2004  Report this post

Your writing is very quirky indeed...that appeals to me. All the time I was reading this I was thinking...what on earth is this leading to and I wanted to find out! Yes, it's unrealistic to stick a sign around somebody's neck and just have them go out with it...but somehow that didn't matter in this story. However, I was rather disappointed with the ending...I just felt that it weakened - tapered out when it needs to be something as quirky and surreal as everything else in the story.

I'm looking forward to reading B, C, D etc...keep 'em coming.


ShayBoston at 16:04 on 17 April 2004  Report this post
A strange tale. Has the tone of a fable for the most part. I wondered why you had called this Abelardo when the title character has such a small role. I mean it's not Abelardo's story.
I know you've posted up to G with your series so I'll get to them in order eventually.

Regards, Shay

glenn at 22:03 on 09 May 2004  Report this post
Hi Paperback,

I enjoyed this story and I thought it showed real flashes of brilliance. I like the surreal nature of the story. They both met at a Victims Of Crime group!

I've read the other comments and I have to agree that the ending lets it down - because the guy has a huge change of personality. For me, he reminded me of the main character in the book 'The Outsider' by Albert Camus. In that book the protagonist is someone who feels like he's observing life from the outside, unable to come to terms with existence - and as such he becomes a victim - much like your main character is a victim at the start. Perhaps it's the change from victim to aggressor which is so jarring with the rest of the story.

Truly though, I think if you alter the ending slightly it'll give it a better feel. Other than that, I like this. Some great lines, great ideas!

Bye for now!


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