THE RING

THE RING

A Story by Céce
"

fictional story that takes place during the 1950's...

"

 

Henry leaned against the lamp-post, his head thrown back, eyes closed, as the raindrops pelted his face and poured down his neck. The cold water stung as it traveled through the open collar of his shirt and down his chest. Get the guts, fella. He looked down at his feet and shook his head, the water droplets scattering on his already-wet shoulders.
 
"You've gotta stop being so stupid," he growled, scuffing his feet on the wet sidewalk. However, the image in his mind and the tight feeling throughout his chest and torso continued to plague him. He hadn't slept for nearly a week now.
 
"Stupid, heh?"
 
The snarling voice that spoke startled Henry. He looked up and squinted at the man through his water-ridden blond lashes. The man who spoke stood there in a long black raincoat and a fedora, an almost goblin-like grin on his tough, wrinkled face.
 
"Heh?" the man said again, tipping his head. "Stupid?"
 
Henry pushed himself back from the lamp-post and leaned his hands into his pockets. He turned sideways from the man, looking down the dim grey street. "Yeah. It's me."
 
The man gave an acidic, almost wild laugh. Henry stared at him.
 
"You know, son," the man gasped between chuckles. "You know, there's only one thing that will make a man stand out in the rain like this, calling himself an idiot. And that's a woman."
 
Henry shook his head and rolled his eyes, leaning back on the lamp-post toward the empty street. His back was to the sidewalk so that the man wouldn't be able to see the grimace on his face.
 
"Ah ha," the man said. From the distance of his voice, he still had not moved. "I see I am correct." The smugness in his voice made Henry want to turn around and sock him. "At the same time, I'll bet you're getting not even five hours of sleep a night."
 
Henry turned around so fast that the rain that had been gathering on his head dripped down the side of his face. "How did you know?" he asked, giving a loose shudder as the cold water traced down his shoulder.
 
The man shrugged, but his face said he knew more than Henry would have guessed. "We've all been there at some point, sonny," he said. "A purty broad bats her eyelashes our way a couple times, and soon enough we're sleepless, dreaming of her long legs and red lips, listening to records of Frank Sinatra, standing in the rain. It's inevitable, my good man. What you do about it is the thing that will make or break the man."
 
"What do you mean?" Henry asked.
 
The man dug for a cigarette and lit it. He took a long puff, then said, "A lot o' men, oh they just give in to their purty little notions and get married, thinking that married life is going to be perfect. That's what they think, son. And the first two weeks are purty exciting for him. Would be for anybody. But they get two months into the marriage, and their wife doesn't stop talking, never stops nagging, and the man either has to submit himself to what she wants him to be, or take the bit and get outta there, losing over half his money and dragging a little label on him."
 
Henry stood still. "I don't believe you. She loves me."
 
The man laughed again. "Sure you do. And she probably does. But love ain't the thing you think it is. Men and women, that's where they get mixed up. Love for a man is sex when he comes home at night. Now, don't look at me like that. You know it's true, deep down, you know it is. 'Neath all those purty feelings. Love for a woman is just hugs and kisses, and feeling beautiful, and new clothes and a nice kitchen where she can have her friends over for cooking parties. Marriage ain't really for each other. It's you for yourself and she for herself. That's the world. It runs on selfishness."
 
Henry shook his head. "I don't believe you." As he stood there in the rain, this man seemed like a nightmare, someone come to haunt him. His hand, buried deep in his pocket, closed over the little gold band. He rubbed it between his fingers. It was cold.
 
The man grinned at the defensive edge in his voice. "But the smart one...now, he's the one who gets what he really wants in life. Gets love when he wants it, gets money when he works for it, no little female clinging to his ear every minute of every day..."
 
Henry closed his eyes, felt his eyelashes spatter the fresh rain on his cheeks. His heart swelled until he thought it might burst. "Stop it."
 
The man continued to talk, his snarling voice tearing away at Henry's ears, making him nauseous. "...every minute is his own, when he wants it..."
 
"STOP IT!" Henry yelled.
 
The voice stopped.
 
When Henry opened his eyes, the man was not there. He stared at the spot where the man had stood, then looked up and down the sidewalk, and over his shoulder. The street and sidewalk was empty. The rain spattered on his forehead, and his shirt clung to his chest.
 
"I don't believe you," Henry said, his mouth numb.
 
-----
 
He stopped by her house at noon. Betty was beautiful as she came down the stairs, nearly flying into Henry's arms in her pretty white dress that showed off her long legs. Her mouth almost seemed to drip with dark red lipstick, and her vixen eyes were shadowed with makeup.
 
"Henry's here!" she called to the household. "Goodbye everyone! Goodbye!"
 
They drove up into the mountains to a little picnic spot that overlooked the city. As Henry laid out the checkered blanket and carried over the picnic basket, he found himself unable to look at Betty. She talked a lot, he noticed, and when he had told her that she was beautiful, she had said, "I love you." The words made his gut tighten, but not in a good way.
 
"Henry? Is something wrong?" Betty asked, pulling out the sandwiches.
 
He shook his head.
 
Betty set the forks down. "Something's wrong, Henry." She scooted over and straightened his collar, then set her hand on his. "You're not listening to me."
 
You're not listening to me. The words swirled in his head. You're not listening to me. "I am listening to you," his mouth said.
 
"Come on, darling, what's wrong?"
 
Henry shook his head. "Nothing." He stood up and walked to the edge of the outcropping that overlooked the town. "I'm okay, Betty." He put his hand in his pocket, and pulled it out.
 
"Henry?"
 
Henry felt the coldness of the metal between his fingers; he looked at the forty-foot drop in front of him.
 
"Henry?" Betty's voice stretched with concern.
 
He reached his hand out.
 
"Henry?" She was coming up behind him.
 
Slowly, he opened his fingers.
 
He turned around. "Yes, Betty?"

© 2010 Céce



Author's Note

Céce
Okay, what did you think of this, other than the fact that it's depressing?

Oh, and I don't agree with this at all. You may take it as you wish. For myself, I wrote it more to show how the world (the old man) can influence people for bad.

My Review

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Featured Review

I am in awe. You have addressed a very important issue here; human selfishness. People can be together for years and be absolutely fine, but when it comes to marriage, things get difficult. I think the ideal relationship is a friendship. Anything beyond that requires that we stop putting ourselves first, which few people are actually capable of. Yes, we like to tell ourselves otherwise, but in reality we are all selfish. We dont want to love, we want to be loved. Thats why we seek out relationships in the first place.

Posted 8 Years Ago


3 of 3 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

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Posted 7 Years Ago


Cece, you write so well. Is all your writing this sad?

Posted 7 Years Ago


I loved this! It was a little sad but not bad. Great story thanks for sharing.

Kelley

Posted 7 Years Ago


0 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Maybe it's just my mood, but I see this taking a very ugly turn. I'd love to see how this story ends. Keep writing

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Very fantastic write. Depressing this world can be but if no one writes the reality of our world how will we ever know it truly. This is a great story.

--The Angel of the Earth--

Posted 7 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

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Kim
I loved it! Depressing yes, reality, sometimes..so overall great piece! I enjoy your writing voice in this piece.

Posted 7 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

A fantastic write. It was interesting all the way through. Very very well done, I think.

Posted 7 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

I'm glad someone recommended this to me - it really is a nice piece of writing. A good story, masterful use of langiuage, good imagery and character development (brirf, but good). It's not at all depressing and whether one agrees with the premise or not is a moot point... it's the writing that counts. This is more than a notch or two above most similar stories I've seen. Great work!

Posted 7 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

I think it's great!!! Well written and very powerful!!!!!!

Posted 7 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

This is good. It was actually recommended to me by someone, and it didn't let me down. The setting, a bleary day on the streets, the character, a wise-fool fictional or not, and the dialogue, short and coloquial, really set the tone, which is somewhere between surreal and realism. I also like that the ending is ambiguous, and the symbolism of the drop coupled with "Goodbye all!" - very subtle.

What I don't like: Purty is ok, but u use it a bit too much, me thinks. "make or break" is cliche, and I know the counter-argument "that's how people speak", but I still would try to come up with another original phrase, etc. "My good man" also halted my reading. BUT, those are just small details that may just be my idiosynchratic taste lol

VERY good work. A rare 97 in my books.

Posted 7 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.


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Added on April 3, 2009
Last Updated on March 19, 2010

Author

Céce
Céce

Pretty Spokane, WA



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