You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #26 of R.B. Wood’s “The Word Count” podcast.
The theme for this podcast is “Those last few steps seemed the most difficult I had ever made in my life.”
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The phone rang just as I was sitting down to eat. With my feet tender and swollen from a recent attack of gout, the only thing I wanted was to elevate my legs on the La-Z-Boy chair and watch the baseball game. On the fifth ring, I swore under my breath and put down my TV tray. Who the hell would let it ring so many times?
“Hello?” I said in a brusque manner, ready to snap if a telemarketer came on the line.
“Tony?” The woman’s voice vibrated in my ear and immediately sent a shiver up my spine.
“It’s Gina … from Vegas.”
Her name bounced around in my head, and I struggled to match a face to it. “Gina … Frank’s wife?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
I overheard a sigh. Was it relief or something else?
“I’m sorry to call you like this,” she said, “but I didn’t know who else to turn to.” A sniffle, another sigh.
“Does Frank know you’re calling me?”
“No,” she said finally, “Frank doesn’t know.”
I wasn’t surprised. I’d had a thing for Gina once—a big thing, but that was a lifetime ago. She left me and married my cousin Frank about fifteen years back, had a few kids, but the family never liked her. She was French, and her real name wasn’t even Gina. It was Ginnette. To appease Frank’s widowed mother who’d only call her “Gina,” she had her name legally changed.
After a couple of years living under her mother-in-law’s roof, she and Frank moved to Vegas and severed all ties with the family. Not long after, I’d heard rumors Frank beat her, that she deserved it. I didn’t care to know the details. It was all family gossip to me. Gina had made her bed.
Now I listened as she told me the story of the last few years of her life with Frank. She begged me to help her, said she’d always trusted me. She wanted to do the right thing by the kids. I couldn’t believe I’d be the only person she could turn to, but she swore she had no one else.
After I hung up the phone, I turned on the television and sat down with my Hungry Man dinner—roast beef, peas, mashed potatoes, and peach cobbler. I stabbed a piece of meat and broke it away from a white fatty film, which had crusted over the gravy. I immediately lost my appetite.
Why me? Couldn’t Gina have called anyone else from the family to do this?
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I felt no obligation to Gina, but after thinking about her request for a day, I decided to do it. I heard the relief in her voice when I called her back, and at that moment, I knew she really didn’t have anyone else. It upset me somewhat that she’d suffered so long in silence. Maybe a part of me still cared for her, even hoped that after all this was over, I might have a chance with her. Funny how I should be thinking with my dick at a time like this. I had no clue what she looked like anymore, but her voice still tugged at my heart, and her sexy French accent had not completely disappeared.
I arrived in Vegas Friday evening. The flight only worsened my gout. After removing my shoes on the plane, my feet had swollen and were throbbing by the time we landed. Squeezing into a pair of shoes I couldn’t even lace up, I was in agony after I checked into my hotel room off the strip.
Gina had given me directions to where Frank would be the next morning, and the exact time he’d be there. She tried to sound casual about it. “Imagine me asking this favor of you, Tony, after all these years. I never thought it’d come down to this.”
Neither did I.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “It’ll be over soon, and you and the kids can go on with your lives.”
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I arrived fifteen minutes early in a land of water fountains, palm trees, and immaculate greens. It was dark and overcast, unusual for a Vegas afternoon this time of year. I stood and watched the clouds drift through an empty sky. Quiet like death.
In the distance, I heard the drone of car engines headed my way. I stepped back from the path and leaned against a tree to alleviate the pressure on my right foot. I looked at my watch and saw Frank was right on time, just as Gina had said.
Three cars slowed down and parked by the side of the road twenty feet in front of me. A pause, and then it seemed all the car doors opened at once. I walked slowly toward the first car, one hand in my pocket, the other gripping a curved wooden handle.
To the right of me, I saw Gina exit from the second car followed by three teenagers. A crack of thunder, and the sky opened as she came toward me. I depressed the metal button of my umbrella and shielded her under its canopy.
“Thank you for coming Tony,” she said and leaned in to kiss me on each cheek, as beautiful as the last time I saw her.
“I’m sorry about Frank,” I said.
Gina gave a tiny smile. “He wouldn’t listen, still smoking even as he lay on his deathbed.”
I gave her my umbrella as a man approached and handed me a pair of white gloves. “Put these on,” he said, “and follow me.”
Along with the funeral director and four young, skinny lads who looked like they could use an extra meal, we carried the casket nearly thirty feet to Frank’s final resting place.
Those last steps just about killed me.
If you enjoyed this story and would like to read a collection of erotic flash fiction and poetry, pick up my ebook Hot Flash, which includes two non-erotic Christmas stories too.
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