The Spare Bedroom, Part 5

Paige Bentley’s laugh was as infectious as it was unique.  It was loud, sounded something like an animal that was either in grave danger or extreme ecstasy, and could probably be admitted in a court of law as a foolproof way of identifying her.

Her husband had once joked that if Paige ever went missing in some remote area where finding her seemed impossible, all she would have to do is laugh, and rescuers would be able to pinpoint her exact location from miles away.

Paige’s laughter was fueled by two main sources: embarrassing events befalling someone other than herself, and alcohol.

At the moment, both key ingredients were hard at work, which meant that Paige’s laughter had reached a near deafening pitch.  And that poor Becky, who was the subject of her laughter, had no choice but to join in with her best friend.

short story, mystery, Modern Philosopher“Stop laughing at me!” Becky insisted halfheartedly as she refilled her guest’s wineglass.

“I can’t,” Paige insisted.  “I might never be able to stop!”

That made her laugh even louder, and poor Becky had to follow suit even though she desperately wanted to no longer be the brunt of the joke.

“I keep picturing you there, all sweaty from your run, and pissed off that this guy is sitting on your bench, and suddenly realizing that he is a hottie and you want to flirt with him,” Paige somehow managed to blurt out between bursts of laughter.

Becky waved her off and took a long sip of wine.

“I was not flirting with him,” Becky insisted in a very unconvincing manner.

“That I’m sure is true,” Paige replied.  “You wanted to flirt, but you didn’t because you are so out of practice that you had absolutely no idea what to do.  I bet you pulled up your running pants a tad just to flash him a little ankle, didn’t you?”

Paige laughed so loud at her own joke that she almost blew out Becky’s eardrum.  At least that’s how it felt to Becky, who was pretty tipsy and not really the right person to be judging how many decibels it would require to burst a sensitive part of her ear.

“You’re so mean!” Becky giggled in response.  “For the record, I have very sexy ankles, but I’m not showing them off to a total stranger in a public place.”

Paige snorted and almost spilled her wine, but she quickly righted her glass.  There was no way she was going to waste a precious drop of the magic liquid.

“I’m just happy to see you even considering getting back out there,” Paige told her.  “After what your dirt bag husband did, I was worried that you’d close yourself off to the idea of dating until you were so old that even your ankles would be sagging.”

Becky’s jaw dropped in mock horror.  “How dare you insult my well chiseled form in such a way!”

Becky flexed her arm that did not have a wineglass attached to the end, and then looked flummoxed when she realized her bicep was virtually non-existent.

“Perhaps you need to hit the gym before we put you back out on the market,” Paige snickered and then took a very long sip of wine.

“I’m not looking to be on the market,” Becky tried to find her serious voice which was buried deep beneath her tipsy one.  “He was a handsome man, we had a nice chat, and I found out he has excellent taste in regards to who makes his favorite breakfast.”

“So the next time the waitress tells you someone has ordered that crazy omelette, I expect you to make it with a little love, and then personally deliver it to his table.”

Paige laughed.  Becky rolled her eyes.

“You are ridiculous,” Becky told Paige something they both already knew.

“I’m sorry for teasing you, but not only is it fun, but it’s also good to see you acting like a normal person again,” Paige explained.  “I’m worried that aside from taking all your money and your trust, Jake also somehow managed to steal all the fun parts of you.  You’ve been so serious and focused on work and closed off to the rest of the world.  It’s just a relief, and a joy, to hear you admitting that you found a man attractive and then flirted extremely poorly with him…”

Becky sighed and leaned back onto the couch.  “I still have fun parts.  They’re just currently in storage until I shake out of this funk.”

“I think this little chat with the dark, handsome stranger might have been the first step in the shaking out process,” Paige offered.  “The next step is more wine.”

Paige reached for the bottle and poured what remained into Becky’s glass.

“Of course, I always assumed when you were ready to let a man in again that Mikey the Marine had dibs on your heart…”

Becky let that comment hang in the air for a moment while she enjoyed a little wine.

“Mikey had his chance, but he decided to run off and play soldier instead,” Becky said glumly.

“The silver lining here is that he is now too old to enlist in any branch of the armed forces, so you might have a shot at keeping him around this time,” Paige stated with a sly smile.

Before Becky could reply, the doorbell rang.

serial, mystery, Modern Philosopher“If that’s Michael, then this is truly a sign,” Paige told her.

Becky rolled her eyes again.  “I don’t believe in signs.  Maybe this is someone replying to my ad to rent out the spare bedroom…”

Becky stood up with mischief in her eyes.

“You told me you changed your mind about that!”

Becky flashed an evil grin.  “No, I didn’t.  You told me to change my mind, but I didn’t.  Let’s see if there’s a potential serial killer at the door…”

Becky headed for the front door.  Paige struggled to get up off the couch, having had way more to drink than her host, and followed with her wineglass in tow.

Becky pulled open the door, perhaps with a little too much enthusiasm, and was quickly disappointed when she realized who was on her front porch.

“Good evening, Rebecca,” said the visitor in a British accent that was ridiculously out of place in Lightning Bug Junction.

Alex Foley was the Head of Security at Ephrem/Regis, the company that had employed Becky’s husband until he had embezzled over a million dollars and then run off to parts unknown with his assistant.  He was tall, far too thin, and wore an expensive suit that was bizarrely too large for his frame.  His slicked back hair was the color of straw, and his eyes, which never seemed to blink, were black like large buttons.  He looked like a scarecrow that was trying to trick or treat as a human.

“I’ve told you I prefer Becky, Mr. Foley,” she corrected him.

“And I wish you’d call me Alex, Becky,” he responded and flashed an awkward scarecrow smile.

“What do you want, Mr. Foley?” Becky asked in her coldest voice as she made absolutely no move to invite him into her home.

“You lost?” Paige called out from behind her.  “There’s no cornfield anywhere near here, scarecrow.”

Becky fought to hold back a smile because she did not want Foley to confuse it to mean that she was softening her stance on hating him and wanting him the hell off her property.

“I was passing through town, and thought I’d stop by to see if you’d heard from your husband,” he replied as his lifeless eyes tried to look past Becky for the source of the insult.

“No one who wears suits that expensive ever just passes through Lightning Bug Junction,” Becky corrected him.  “And you know I haven’t heard from my soon to be ex-husband because he’s taken all my money and run off with another woman.  When you do that sort of thing, you don’t check in with the woman you left behind because you’re afraid she’ll figure out a way to come through the phone and castrate you, and then choke you to death by force feeding you all the money you stole.”

Foley actually smiled, like he found that gruesome image appealing.

“You can continue to claim you have no knowledge of your husband’s whereabouts, and that you had no part in his misdeeds, but it’s my job to catch you in your lies, Becky.  And I am very good at my job.”

He stared at her with his giant, dead black eyes.  Becky just stared back.

“If you’re so damn good at your job, then how come the crows have eaten half of Farmer Jessup’s corn crop this year?” Paige taunted from the shadows.

Then Paige began to laugh.

That made Becky laugh.

So Becky just slammed the door in Foley’s face.

Becky turned to face Paige.  “I’m definitely not renting out the spare bedroom to that loser.”

They laughed even louder, and slowly made their way back to the living room and the wine.


About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
This entry was posted in Humor and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to The Spare Bedroom, Part 5

  1. kristianw84 says:

    Hahahahahaha!!! I really like Paige! It’s a comfort to know I’m not the only one with a boisterous laugh who can’t stop once she starts! 😂

    Excellently written as always!!

  2. beth says:

    great chapter and great laugh! now, back to the wine…

  3. markbialczak says:

    Thank for the addition of this marvelous villain, Austin!

    • Austin says:

      I’m glad you liked him, Mark. He was created more for the joke on his name, but as I was introducing him in this chapter, he took on a sudden ominous demeanor, which was fun to write.

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