The Half-Wit Family Reunion

Recently, my mom was going through some of my old school papers and she came across something I had written in middle school.  She sent it to me and, after reading it, I’m pretty sure it was a project I did in one of my math classes instead of having to do any actual math problems.  (No wonder I’m terrible at fractions.)  Enjoy!

 

The Half-Wit Family Reunion

By

Christian Underwood

This is the story of Jim Half-Wit.  He and his twin brother, Tim Half-Wit were separated at birth.  Jim was raised by his mother Ima Half-Wit and Tim was raised by his father Eura Half-Wit.  The two brothers actually lived 20 1/2 miles apart from each other, but they never knew it until they were older.

In fact, they didn’t even know they had a twin until one day when Ima sat down with Jim and told him the truth.  She told him that he and his brother were born 3 1/2 minutes apart.  Jim weighed 5 1/4 lbs.  Tim weighted 6 3/4 lbs.

After finding out about his Half-Wit brother, Jim was determined to reunite with him.  He asked his mom if she knew anything about where Tim lived.  When she said that she unfortunately had no information on Tim and Eura’s whereabouts, Jim decided to start his search on the Internet.

It took him 3 3/4 months to find the information he needed.  After his search, he realized that his brother and father lived just 20 1/2 miles from him and his mom in a town called Split In Half.  Since he had no phone number for them, he decided to drive the 20 1/2 miles to find the house they lived in on 6 1/2 Street.

As he drove through the town of Split in Half, he realized that all of the houses were split levels, all of the swimming pools were half full, and all of the front doors were only one half painted.  He found this to be rather odd, and as he approached Tim and Eura’s split level house, he realized he was only half sure that he was ready to meet them.

But he had no time to change his mind as he stood at the half opened, (and half painted) front door.  Suddenly, a young man that looked a lot like him was standing on the other side of the door with his mouth half opened.  Jim felt like he was looking into a mirror.

“Are you Tim?” he stuttered.  Tim slowly nodded his head.  Afraid that his brother was about to faint right in front of him, Jim quickly told Tim the story his mother had told him just 3 3/4 months ago.  When he finished, he saw an older gentleman standing just behind Tim.  It was their father, and he was overjoyed to see Jim.  The three of them hugged each other for a long time.  They sat down together and talked for hours.

Jim finally got around to asking Eura and Tim about the odd town they lived in.  That’s when they told him about the legend of Splint In Half.  Eura said that the legend began many years ago when the Native American, Chief Quaterhorse decided to allow his daughter, Pochahalfis to marry the white man, John Split.  Thus, the village of Split In Half was born.  As the years went by, the people of Split in Half always honored the heritage of their founders, by passing down certain customs and characteristics of the town.

After hearing that amazing story, Jim realized even more the importance of family.  He asked his father and brother to come back home with him.  And after several months of visiting together, the Half-Wit family was reunited for good, and no longer “split in half.”

20180809_185118

 

Advertisements

“I have a boot!”

matteo-bernardis-428444-unsplash.jpg

 

This entire week and last weekend DC has been getting pummeled with rain.  So much so that many people who typically walk to work are now taking the bus.  This makes it much more difficult to find a seat.

The other morning I made my walk to the bus stop through a slight rain, one of those storms that’s not really that bad but it’s just misting enough to piss you off.  I arrived at the bus stop and waited in line behind a few people who were already there. Once the bus drove up we made our way, single file,  onto the bus.

I stepped up, scanned my card, and turned and saw, to my horror, that only one seat was open.  It was in the front of the bus in the handicapped section. A bit of bus etiquette, these six seats  are usually held open for the elderly or people who are handicapped. If you sit there and you are not either of those, you are expected to get up and give your seat up for that person should they get on the bus.

With my boot on my foot I felt I was qualified to take that last open seat so I made a dash for it and sat down.  While I sat down, I made sure to flash my boot at everyone around me for validation.

Things were off to an okay start.  Everyone seemed to be in a silent agreement that it was acceptable for me to be sitting there.  The tide started to turn though, as the bus began to get full. 

An old lady hobbled her way onto the bus at one stop and I could feel her stare at me through her cataract sunglasses.   I knew she wanted my sweet, comfy seat.  But I wasn’t having it.  I was injured!  And, after the bus dropped me off I still had a 20 minute walk before I got to work so I needed my rest!

Several newcomers who had not been a part of the initial silent agreement, and who also didn’t see my boot began to give me some looks.  I looked to my compatriots who had been with me since the beginning, hoping they’d share with the new passengers the silent agreement we had all made. But it was to no avail.  I was all alone.

I felt very similar to Billy Zane’s character in “Titanic.”  When the ship starts to sink and everyone is running for the life boats but they are only letting women and children on.  Zane grabs a random child and starts shouting “I have a child! Let me on! I have a child!” That was me. Except my plea was “I have a boot!  Let me sit! I have a boot!”

It seemed the closer we got to my stop  more old ladies got on the bus. “Is there a new rest home that just opened up on my route?”  I began to wonder.  “Is there a great sale at JCPenney this morning? Is Barry Manilow in town?”

I had no idea.  But the bus was filling up with old ladies faster than J&S on a Sunday after church.  Each time they shot me a look, I silently pled “I have a boot!” “I have a boot!”

We finally arrived at our destination.  We all slowly made our way off the bus. I looked back at the bus the way all the rich people who had made their way onto a lifeboat and were staring at the Titanic from a distance.  I made an a vow to never sit in those seats again.

 

“You can drive a stick right?”

imagejpeg_0

All of the events in this blog post are painstakingly accurate.  We are currently in the process of pitching this to Larry David as a new episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Yesterday Hayden and I set out on a journey to buy a car.  Hayden has been wanting one for a while and after looking online at several options, he found one he really liked.  There aren’t any used car dealerships in DC so we set out on a voyage to Virginia. Thankfully, Hayden was plant-sitting for his old roommate Arian who said we could use her car while she was gone.

Fun fact about Virginia.  There are a lot of tolls. And by a lot, I mean that our drive was only about 50 minutes we probably passed through at least four tolls with varying prices.   The highest price for a single toll was almost $6!

Being from North Carolina, tolls are a foreign concept to me.  It feels like I’m in the Wild West and bandits have taken over the highway and I have to hand over all of my valuables if I want to continue going down the road.

I want toll roads to employ a barter system.  Like if you didn’t have any cash you could give them a starbucks gift card with $2.37 left on it and could go 20 miles. Or your air freshener is worth 10 miles.  A couple fast food bags and old receipts would get you a solid 15 miles. 

After offering the apartment as collateral for the millionth tolls we went through, we made it to the first dealership. This was a stereotypical used car dealership.  Lots of cars packed into a small corner lot on a relatively busy street.

It was also defielty a higher-end dealership than what we were looking for.  He had a lots of BMWs and a couple Maseratis, and oddly enough, one Subaru.

We took the Subaru for a test drive and it was a solid car.  The inside was nice, pretty standard features. It was also also on the large size.  And when we began thinking about all the parallel parking we would be doing in DC we began to worry it might be too big.  So we took it back to the dealership. We told the salesman that we had another dealership we wanted to look at but we’d probably be back in around an hour.

As we left the dealership we both decided we should grab something to eat so we drove and found a really cool-looking dinner.  The inside had a great ambience. Once seated, we ordered our coffee some got some amazing biscuits and gravy and eggs.

With our bellies full, we continued onto the next dealership.  It was about 30 minutes from where we were. We passed through two more tolls, and with each toll it felt as it a bit of our soul was being ripped from us.  

We turned town the road of the dealership and found that this was apparently “Used Car Alley” because there were at least ten different places to buy cars on this one row.   It took us a bit but we finally found the right spot. We walked into a very nice lobby area and told them the car we were looking for and they brought it right to the door. It was another Subaru but this one was more compact.

As Hayden was talking to the salesman William, I looked in the car and noticed it was a stick shift.  This was a surprise to me because I thought it was an automatic. When I brought this up he said “Oh yeah, I can drive stick.  I mean it’s been a while but it’s like riding a bike right? You never really forget.”

As it turns out, it’s not.

We took our seats in the car and Hayden started the engine.  He put it into gear and we lurched forward almost hitting another car on the lot.  Hayden assured me that he was “just a little rusty.” And after some jolts in the parking lot we made our way out onto the open road and things got much smoother.

There was a small development with cookie-cutter houses close to dealership that seemed like a good place to do some light test-driving.  As we slowed down Hayden shifted between gears with less ease. Going between 1st and 2nd gear became much less seamless.

Then we made a fateful turn onto a dead end.  The Subaru slowed to a stop and the engine cut off.  That was when we found out that he couldn’t get the stick to go from neutral to reverse.  We were in tight spot. We were out of road and there was no way to turn around without reversing.  Hayden tried several times to get it into reverse but, alas, it was all in vain.

We now had two choices.  One, we call William and tell him that we are stranded in suburban Hell, have him come pick us up and then definitely not be able to buy a car from him or one of us was going to have to push the car.  The choice was simple. We simply wouldn’t jeopardize our newfound friendship with William. And since my foot is still in a boot, Hayden was going to have to be the one to push the car around 75 feet by himself while I steered.

I moved to the driver’s seat as Hayden went to the front of the car.  Not since my bout with The Blue Couch have I seen such an impressive display of sheer strength.  It was very much like the woman who lifted her car off off her kid. It was a beautiful display of the human will.

We rounded the corner and got the car facing back onto the road.  Hayden took back the driver’s seat and we set off, with several more lurches, back to the dealership.  Hayden parked the car on the other side of the building so William wouldn’t see him trying to park. So we stopped it somewhat in the middle of the road and went back inside.

Once inside, William asked “How was it?”  “Well, it was alright, but the clutch was a little sticky.” And that was that.

He then told us about some other cars he had and Hayden found a 2014 Ford Focus with 56,000 miles on it that he really liked. So we took it for a test drive and it was much smoother.  After the test drive Hayden decided to get the car.

So we began the process of buying the car.  We had to talk to Hayden’s mom, Elyse several times because she was co-signing with Hayden.  But this proved to be difficult because she was at a drum circle and it was hard to hear. But despite that, we got the information we needed and moved on to another office to do the final paperwork.

With the last piece of paper signed, Hayden was officially the owner of a car! But because of my foot, I couldn’t drive the new car back so we left it there and planned on going back the next day with another friend to pick it up.

I wish I could tell you this is where the journey ended.  But unfortunately, there were a few more woes to be had.

We woke up the next morning and had some coffee and watch a little CBS Sunday morning before heading back to the dealership.  Hayden’s friend Emily joined us for the return trip. It was smooth sailing for the whole trip there. We actually didn’t hit any tolls or any traffic.  We got to the dealership shortly after it had opened and got the car and made set out for home.

We decided before we left to meet at a nice diner in Virginia to get some breakfast.  On the way back we hit several tolls but this didn’t dampen our spirits. We had a car now!  Just think of all the groceries we could now get! Up until this point, each time I went to the store I had to decide whether I was going to get milk or beer because getting both would be too heavy to carry back to our apartment so I had to choose only one.  (9 times out of 10, the beer won out.)

When we arrived at the diner there were no parking spaces open in the parking lot so Hayden drove out and found an adjacent lot where the were several open spots.  We checked around and didn’t see any “No Parking” signs so we parked and left the car and made our way into the diner.

Once we had finished eating we headed back to the car, only the car wasn’t there.  We looked around and saw a small sign that said “No Parking. Car will be towed at ower’s expense.”  This was the only sign in the huge parking lot. It was clearly a trap.

Hayden ran back to catch Emily, who was driving his new car, before she left.  She drove back and picked me up while Hayden called the tow company. It was only about five minutes away from us.  We drove to the tow lot and Hayden went inside and paid the fee and got the car back. It was the most expensive breakfast he’d ever eaten.  

After all that, both cars are safely parked in our neighborhood and neither of us will ever have to choose between beer and milk again.

20180715_192900.jpg

 

Two Weeks of Camp

20180706_0959281

I just finished week 2 of summer camp at Sitar and I just wanted to do a little reflecting.  

My job break down is in the mornings I am the teacher assistant for the Pre-K and Kindergarten classes.  There are two lead teachers whose classrooms I switch back and forth from. Then, in the afternoon, I’m the sole lead teacher for the Kindergarten class.  In my class, we combine STEAM (science, technology, art, math) and theatre. The first two weeks we focused on the solar system.

My first day of camp was overwhelming to say the least.  The day started off ok. We all met together in the theatre and had a “welcome to camp” meeting.  Then we divided up and went to our separate classrooms. Things were a little chaotic but it was still fairly controlled.  I just figured it was because it was the first day of camp and everyone was just getting used to camp.

Then, it was my turn.  The students came back in to the classroom and I introduced myself again and went over some classroom expectations.  We then sat in a circle and I tried to do a name game with them but several students kept shouting out and talking while I was talking.  I kept my cool and we pushed through and finished the game.

After that, it was time to go outside.  So we went to recess and nothing crazy happened.  I hoped that when we got back inside we would have all our “wiggles” out and be ready to continue with the lesson.  Suffice it to say, I was incorrect.

It was like a switch had flipped.  Now everyone was talking. They would talk over each other and myself.  No one was in their spots. It was chaos. As I write this I honestly can’t remember what we did for the rest of the afternoon because I blocked it out of my memory.  I do remember standing there, looking at the chaos and thinking “I can’t do this. I’m going to have to quit.” And I was very close to doing so.

Thankfully, my wonderful supervisor talked to me after class and I settled down.  I left feeling much better. Each day since then has gotten better. We’ve changed our routine several times in order to find the best fit and I think we’ve finally found it.  In class, we’ve done different art projects and went on a field trip to The Air and Space Museum.

Last week was a little rough because I was out for two days because of my foot.  So when I went back on Thursday, we had to do a little review on classroom expectations, but all in all, it was still much better then that first day.  ( I even put together a telescope on Friday!)

Just like with any jobs, there are good days and bad days but I am feeling more comfortable with the flow of camp.  I am very optimistic about it and I think when it’s all said and done, it will be a great experience. For the next two weeks we will be discussing Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax” and the environment.   We will also incorporate other Seuss stories. The older students in the camp are putting on “Seussical” the musical at the end of the camp so I want to try and tie in some of our curriculum.

I’ll keep you posted on how the next few weeks go!

Fractured Plans

20180703_180449

Exercise they said.  It’s good for you they said.  Well, thanks to exercising I now have a fracture in my foot!

I wish I could tell you I fractured it by fighting bad guys or practicing my hardcore parkour skills but no, alas I was walking, just straight up walking.  In my defence, it’s easy to hurt yourself doing something difficult, however, it takes skill to hurt yourself doing something easy.

There are some really nice walking trails in the park very close to my apartment.  It’s a nice way to escape the city and just be in nature. Or so I thought.

My ill-fated walk on Sunday started out quite nice.  I had my Ipod cranked up, the weather was hot but not humid, and there was a cool breeze.  The first 10 minutes were great!

Then things took a turn.  Or a twist in my case.  As I was walking down a slight hill, my foot slipped out from under me and went sideways.  All of my weight then went down onto it.  I heard a pop and then shouted out several choice words.  Thankfully no people were around but some very offended birds flew away in disgust.

At first, I didn’t think it was that bad.  I thought if I kept walking I would feel better.  In retrospect, I now question my logic of “My foot hurts.  I think I’ll walk some more on it to make it feel better!”  To quote Iron Man “Not a great plan.”

I continued my walk of pain.  With each step I took the music on my Ipod was less enjoyable.  The weather turned from nice to Death Valley hot. The breeze ceased and a giant wave of humidity blew in from Florida.  I felt like I had been dropped into a new Bear Grylls reality show. It was now me against the elements.

I began to contemplate turning around but I had now made it to the point where I was pretty much half way through the trail so I decided to press on.  The heat was now in full swing.  I starting seeing mirages.  I saw a beautiful oasis with clean, cool water.  I saw an all you can eat steak buffet.  I saw Meryl Streep sitting on a bench with an outstretched hand holding a screenplay she wanted me to co-star in with her.  

The pain in my foot brought me back to reality.   By the grace of the Lord I had reached the bottom of the entrance to the trail!  I slowly worked my way up to the top, out of the deadly nature.  As I got closer, I could hear the sweet sounds of cars driving by. Civilization at last! I found a bench at the opening of the trail and took a well-deserved rest.

After a few minutes of sitting I summoned up my strength and walked the rest of the way home.  It took me a while but I made it.  I ascended the stairs, opened the door, and fell onto my beloved blue couch.  

I still didn’t fully realize what was wrong with my foot.  I thought I just needed to rest and ice it and I’d be good to go for work the next day.  I thought wrong. When I woke up the next morning I took a cautious first step and was immediately meet with agonizing pain.  I knew then that something was really wrong with my foot. I called out of work and began to scramble to find a doctor. The first urgent care I found was pretty close to me but when I tried to make an appointment, I found out their X-Ray machine was down.  So I looked again and found an urgent care in Chevy Chase, MD and booked an appointment online.  I Ubered up to the office and the rest is history.

I’m planning on going back into work Thursday.  My doctor told me I should be able to move easier by then.  Next Monday I’ll go back in for another X-Ray and we’ll take it from there.  Unfortunately, either way, I’ll be wearing my boot for the next couple of weeks.  But like my grandmother said when I was on the phone with her “At least you didn’t fall and hit your head on a rock and bleed out!”

The Tale of The Blue Couch

20180630_195714

Well, to say it has been a while would be an understatement.   I started this site back in December and posted a bunch in the beginning, but the last few months I’ve done a terrible job of updating my blog.  But never fear! I’m back and I fully intend to do a much better job!

I’ve been in Washington DC for almost a month now so over the next few days I’ll be posting a few tales from my first couple of adventures.  

Today’s story is “The Tale of The Blue Couch.”  A story about a mythic piece of furniture. Wars have been fought over this couch, kingdoms have crumbled just to sit on this marvelous sofa. It is a tale of new beginnings, of loss, and ultimately, a unique commentary on the human condition.  

My journey to DC was actually quite simple, aside from taking a wrong turn and ending up at the Pentagon.  The Uhaul I rented surprisingly drove quite well. The trip took just over six hours.

Moving in all my stuff was another story.  The Uhaul had been packed to maximum capacity.  And deep underneath all of my boxes was the dreaded blue couch.  The couch itself is an amazing couch. It was just made with, what feels like some combination of solid steel and adamantium.  Just getting it from my grandmother’s house and into the Uhaul almost killed me and my mom. So, as we began unpacking, I knew that the couch laid at the bottom, just waiting for someone to try and lift it.  

Finally, almost all of the boxes and furniture were unloaded.  And there sat the blue couch. We moved it onto the street so we could get the last few boxes and to delay our battle a bit longer. Each time we walked past the couch, I could feel it’s contempt for us.  I could almost hear it saying, “Foolish mortals. Many have fallen trying to move me, you will fair no better.”

Maybe he was right, but there was only one way to find out.  

Also, this is a good time to mention that our apartment is on the 2nd floor and to get up to it you have to take the world’s narrowest staircase with the world’s lowest ceiling. My bed frame barely made it up.  

With the final boxes moved in the time had come. Hayden and I looked at each other the same way Frodo and Sam looked at each other as they started their journey to Mount Doom.  No words were said. We just picked it up and began our quest. Getting through the front door was our first test. The couch was too big to bring right through the door frame so we had to begin a full scale game of Tetris.

We twisted left and right, up and down, backwards and forwards, but we couldn’t get it through.  I feared that the couch may be a lost cause, doomed to sit on the side of the road.  But, by some miracle, the final configuration we moved the couch in worked! With the first level of our quest complete we moved onto the stairs.

This was a much trickery scenario than the door frame.  The doorframe tested our mental prowess only. The stairs however, combined mental and physical stamina. We couldn’t lift the couch too high, otherwise it would hit the ceiling, too low and we wouldn’t be able to get a solid grip to lift it.  We were able to get it halfway up but then paused and lost most of our momentum. We began to lose hope too.

That’s when something snapped in me.  This couch was going to be in our apartment.  I dug deep and summed strength I didn’t know I possessed.  It was raw power. Hayden later told me that I had a look on my face similar to a wild animal.  I was in the primal state of my ancestors. All the Underwoods before me were looking down on me at that moment.  This was my test. I couldn’t disappoint them. I looked down at Hayden, the Frodo to my Sam. “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!”  And in one final bout of strength, I pulled it to the landing.

I’m pretty sure I blacked out for the rest of the quest.  Witnesses say that once we got it to the landing it was an easy spin around and we carried the couch upside down over the second flight of stairs and into our apartment.

I regained consciousness a short time later and there, in front of me, sat the blue couch in all its glory.  

I aquate the feeling of getting the couch into the apartment much to that of how Arthur felt when he pulled the sword from the stone.  And just like Arthur, we were now the kings of our apartment.

 

The Necklace

Madeline, didn’t care for silence.  In fact, she despised it.   She always liked some form of noise around her.  It reminded her of all the excitement in the world.  Even when she slept she would turn on her Sleep Machine that would play various soothing sounds while she drifted off to sleep. Noise showed her that she was alive.

Madeline was on her usual stroll through downtown to her favorite lunch spot,  Sal’s Deli.  It was a hole in the wall but it had the best sandwiches in Brooklyn.  Madeline ate there almost every single day.  It was right in the middle of where she worked and where she lived so it was the perfect spot.  She almost always ordered the Tuna Melt, hold the onions. She usually got her order to go and ate it outside on one of the benches.

Madeline loved watching people as they passed by.  It was fun for her to try to figure out where they were coming from and where they were going to.  She absolutely loved people.  She loved going to parties, coffee shops, anywhere that lots of different people would populate. Each person she talked to had an interesting life that she enjoyed learning about.

For about five months now, Madeline had been seeing a handsome man named Alan.  Alan worked for a prestigious law firm.  They had met at a bar called “The Deep End.”  Madeline had been singing Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” at the top of her lungs when Alan noticed her.  Once her song was over, he bought her a drink and began chatting her up. He was the ultimate gentleman.  Madeline feel for him almost immediately.  They began dating right away.

Madeline was probably the happiest she had ever been in her entire life.  She had a fantastic boyfriend, she loved her job, and it was almost Christmas, her favorite holiday.  In her book, it couldn’t get much better than that.

That evening, she and Alan had a date.  They were going to a small dance club Alan had found.  It wasn’t your typical club.  Instead of Hip Hop or Pop music, this club focused on Ballroom Dancing. Everyone dressed formally and they had all kinds of fancy food and champagne.  Alan had described it to her earlier and it sounded absolutely magical. She was counting down the minutes until it was time for him to pick her up.

As she was sitting on the bench enjoying her lunch, she began to put together her outfit for the evening in her head.  She had a beautiful red dress she wore to one of her friend’s weddings that would be perfect.  Shoes were a bit harder to choose from.  She wanted something that looked nice but she could also move in.  She decided on a simple but elegant pair of black high heels.  She began to daydream about the rest of her outfit and the fantastic evening to come.

Madeline finished her sandwich and made her way back to work.  She worked at the perfume counter at a local department store.  It wasn’t very big but it still managed to have a respectable amount of customers.  Madeline was a terrific salesperson. She easily charmed men into buying expensive perfumes for their wives and girlfriends or cologne for themselves. With women, she was able to find a way to boost their confidence and help make them feel better about themselves.  That was one of her gifts.  She could always see the best in people.  

The rest of the day moved at a glacial pace.  Thankfully today the store was very busy so that helped to pass the time.  Towards the end of her shift a delivery man came into the store with a small package.  He walked up to Madeline’s manager Stacey, and they spoke for a moment and then she pointed to Madeline.  He walked over Madeline and told her the package was for her and had her sign for it.  How exciting!  She thought.  She had never got a package at work before.   She quickly tore it open.  Inside was a long slender black box with hinges.  She opened it up slowly and almost dropped it out of shock.  It was a beautiful pearl necklace!  As she stared at the necklace she noticed a small note attached to the top of the box.  She took it out and read it.  “For my one and only love, Madeline. Love, Alan.”  

Madeline burst into tears.  It was the most wonderful gift she had ever received.  Stacy noticed Madeline crying and she rushed over to see what was wrong.  “Honey, are you alright?” Stacy asked.  “Oh yes,” she laughed, “I’m just overcome with joy!  Look at what Alan gave me!”  She passed the box over to Stacy.  “Holy shit!  Are those real?”  “I think so.” said Madeline.  “Is he in the dog house or something?” Stacy asked.  “No.  He’s just wonderful.”  Madeline replied.  “Huh, he must be.  The only time a man ever sent me an expense gift was when he had screwed up. Well, let’s see what it looks like on you!”  Madeline went to pick up the necklace but before she could touch it two customers walked in so she put the lid back on the box and carefully set it in her purse.

Five o’clock finally arrived and Madeline quickly grabbed her purse, said goodbye to Stacy as she was locking up, and skipped out the door.  It was only about a fifteen minute walk to her apartment.  It was a beautiful, cool day.  She smiled at every person she passed by.  Most returned her smile, several looked away, and a few people just stared back at her.  When she arrived at her apartment, she took out her keys, unlocked the door, and immediately turned on the radio.  This helped to cancel the silence in the room.

Madeline made her way to her bathroom and turned on the faucet.  She watched as the tub filled with warm water.  The steam rising up was soothing.  She added some of her favorite Eucalyptus bath oil and took off her clothes and got into the tub.

While she was soaking she listened to what was on the radio.  They were no longer playing music.  It had switched over to a program in which people who were worried that their significant other was cheating on them would call into the radio station and express their concerns and then the host would then call their significant other and tell them that they had won a beautiful, fancy dinner for two.  They would then ask them who they wanted to join them on their date.  If they said their significant other’s name they were in the clear.  If not, it got quite interesting.  Unfortunately for Jim, the man they were calling, he said the wrong name.  This lead to a myriad of colorful insults hurled at his way by girlfriend Alexa.  It wasn’t exactly Shakespeare, but it was interesting nevertheless.  

Madeline got out of the tub, wrapped herself in a towel and went into her bedroom.  She went to her closet and pulled out the red dress and her black high heels.  She proceeded to get dressed.  Madeline glanced at the clock.  7:00.  “Perfect” she thought.  Alan was picking her up at 8.  Once she was dressed, she went back into the bathroom and began to put on her makeup.

The radio station had switched back to its regular programing.  “Top Forty Hits.”  Madeline danced along to the music as she put on her makeup.  Before she knew it, there was a knock on her apartment door.  Butterflies immediately flooded her stomach.  She could hardly contain her excitement.  She quickly walked to the door and opened it.  Alan was on the other side, dressed in a well cut white suit with a black dress shirt and bow tie.  “You look amazing.” said Alan. “You don’t look half bad yourself.” she said as she winked at Alan.  “Come in.  I’m almost ready.  Just make yourself at home.”  Alan walked over to the Madeleine’s couch and had a seat.  She had a copy of “Good Housekeeping” on her coffee table that he thumbed through while he waited on her.

Once Madeline was finished, she walked out into the living room.  “Ready?”  Alan asked.  “Absolutely.” she replied.  Madeline and Alan walked arm in arm downstairs and then out into the cold night.  Alan led Madeline to his car, a lavish BMW.  He opened her door for her and then got into the car himself.  He started the car and pulled out into the street.  “Beautiful night isn’t it?” Alan asked.  “Yes wonderful!  I love this time of year.”

They arrived at the club a few moments later.  Alan got out of the car and held the door open for Madeline. He then took her by the arm and lead her to the club’s ornate entrance.  Such a gentleman. Madeline thought.  He opened the door and Madeline immediately felt as though she was transported back in time.  The lights were very low.  In fact, most of the lighting came from candles on each table staggered around the room.  The tables were covered with immaculate white tablecloths.  Each spot on the table had a place setting and a bucket with champagne.  On stage, there were five musicians dressed to the nines and playing an uptempo Jazz piece.   In the middle of the tables was a large dance floor.  Very few couples were seated at the tables. Most were out dancing.

“I can’t believe it! I feel like I’m in a dream.”  Madeline said as she gazed around the room.  “I know.” replied Alan. “Let’s grab a table.”  Alan led Madeline to an open table and they sat down.  A waiter quickly arrived and gave them menus and took their drink order.   “I can literally feel the happiness radiating in this room.” said Madeline.  And it was true.  Everyone had a smile on their face.  No one had a care in the world.  The waiter came back a few moments later and brought them their drinks.  He then took their order.  “I’ll have the filet minion.” declared Alan.  “And for you madame?” asked the waiter.  “Hmm.  That sounds delicious.  I’ll have that as well.”  she replied.  Excellent choice.” said the waiter and he took their menus and hurried to the kitchen.  Alan turned to Madeline.  “Care to dance?” Alan asked.  “Absolutely.” said Madeline.

Alan took Madeleine by the arm and walked her out to the dance floor.  The band was just starting a new song.  It had a fun, swing beat.  Alan was incredibly light on his feet.  He led Madeline with grace and elegance around the room.  She was in Heaven.

They danced to several songs more, some slow, some fast, until Alan saw the waiter bring their food out.  They finished their dance and walked, hand in hand, over to the table.  

The food was absolutely amazing!  Their steaks were cooked perfectly.  The ate until they were stuffed and had wonderful conversation all the while.  When they finished their meal, Alan picked up the champagne bottle on the table and with one gracefully movement, he popped the cork and poured them each a glass.  He held up his glass and said “A toast to a perfect evening!”  The clinked glasses.  “Absolutely perfect.” Madeline agreed.

They sipped their champagne and watched the other couples dancing.  “Madeline, I know we have only been dating for a few months, but I have to say, I’m madly in love with you.  You are everything to me.”  Madeline was somewhat taken aback.  She felt this way about Alan but she thought that there was no way he could possibly reciprocate those feelings.  “Oh Alan,” she began,  “You don’t know how happy that makes me.  I love you so very much.”  “Madeline.” he paused. “Let’s run away together.  Let’s leave all this behind.  We can move out of this city.  Find a nice, small, quiet town.  It will be wonderful.”  “Alan, I’ll go anywhere as long as you are there too.”  Alan pulled her into the most passionate kiss she had ever experienced.  When he finally let go she began to cry.  Not tears of sadness, but tears of pure joy.

Madeline went to get a tissue out of her purse.  When she opened it up she saw the box that the necklace was in that Alan had sent her.  Oh no!  I completely forgot to put this on!  He probably thinks I didn’t like it!  She thought for a moment and then said “Alan, I’m going to run to the restroom.  I’ll be right back.”  “Ok.” replied Alan.  She hurried to the bathroom and quickly pulled out the necklace and put it on.  Madeline gazed into the mirror.  It was truly beautiful.  Easily one of the nicest pieces of jewelry she had ever worn.  She took a deep breath and gained her composure.  It was an honest mistake.  Alan will understand.  She smiled in the mirror and made her way back out to Alan.

Madeline returned to the table and sat down.  She looked at Alan and very seductively gestured to her necklace.  “Quite lovely isn’t it?”  she said playfully.  “Very much so!  Is it new?” Alan asked.  “Just got it today.” she replied, playing along.  “From someone very special.” Alan paused.  “Someone special?” he asked genuinely concerned.  “Who?”  Madeline dropped the act.  It was clear that Alan didn’t know what she was talking about.  “From you silly! I’m sorry I didn’t wear it sooner.  I was so excited for tonight that I forgot to put it on this evening.”  Alan waited. Then slowly he said “Madeline, I didn’t send that to you.”  “Are you joking? The note that came with it said it was from you.”  “Maybe someone sent it to you as a joke?”  replied Alan.  “Who sends a necklace as a joke?”  Just then, Madeline felt a horrible burning sensation around her neck.  The necklace felt like it was on fire.  She let out a scream.  “What’s wrong?” cried Alan.  “The necklace!”  Madeline screamed.  Alan leapt up from his seat.  Madeline tore at the necklace and ripped it from her throat.  Pearls scattered around the room.  Madeline fell to the ground.  She lay there, gasping for breath, in complete confusion.  Alan took her into his arms.  Madeline looked up at him “I…I…I love…” She drew in her last breath.

Everyone looked at Madeline’s lifeless corpse, completely stunned.  The DJ quickly shut the music off.  It was eerily quiet. No one moved.  No one talked.  Silence.

 

 

Epilogue

 

What Madeline didn’t know was that Alan was married.  Not only was he married, but he also had three children.  Alan’s wife, Veronica, had long suspected Alan was cheating on her.  She had hired a private detective to follow him and get to the bottom of it.  Sure enough, after a  little searching, she found out about Madeline.  Consumed with rage, she began to think about how she would handle the situation.  The more she thought about the other woman, the more she hated her.  As her hatred grew for Madeline, so did it for Alan.  That son of bitch!  How dare he ruin our family?   

Veronica decided that the only solution to her problem was to kill Madeline.  She knew she couldn’t commit the murder herself so she began to devise a plan.  She needed a way to not only kill Madeline but to frame Alan as well in the process.  Poison was the weapon of choice when it came to revenge in all of her favorite TV shows and books.  But how can I poison her?  A light bulb went off in her mind.  She ran upstairs and looked in her jewelry box.  Alan loved buying her jewelry as an attempt to put a value on his love for her.  She found an old pearl necklace Alan had given her several years ago.  Veronica could easily ship it right to Madeline without raising any suspicion.  As for the poison, several internet searches told her all she needed to know to make a deadly, fast acting poison from a few household chemicals.  After a quick trip to the grocery store, she made her concoction and carefully put the necklace in and let it sit overnight.   She then took the necklace out of the mixture and let it dry.  Once dried, she put it in a box, along with a note and sent it to its unlucky victim.