Past Imperfect

Past Imperfect – #173

Virginia: “Why didn’t you take the trash out like I asked you to do?”

Robert: “Why are you asking me this right now? I’m in the middle of a dramatic profile shot that will make me look naughty but sexy.”

Virginia: “So it’s all about you, once again.”

Robert: “If it was all about me, you wouldn’t even be in the car.” 

Virginia: “Well, that’s a lovely thing to say. Why do you have to be such an ass? I swear, if it wasn’t for our kids, I’d be seriously thinking about a divorce right now.”

Robert: “Kids? We have kids? When did that happen?”

Virginia: “Of course we have kids, you turnip. One of them is in the backseat right now.”

Junior: “Hey, Daddy!”

Robert: “I don’t even remember you being pregnant, swear!”

Virginia: “Of course you don’t. You never pay any attention to me.”

Robert: “Well, I apparently paid attention to you at least one night.”

Virginia: “Three nights. And three children. You can’t remember to take out the trash but you’ve got stunningly-athletic sperm.”

Junior: “What’s sperm, Daddy?”

Robert: “Okay, maybe I drink a little-“

Junior: “You drink a lot, Daddy. I built a fort out of your beer cans!”

Robert: “-but there’s no way I’ve missed three entire pregnancies.”

Virginia: “Oh. Oh, no. Is it happening to you already?”

Robert: “Is what already happening to me? Other than three kids that I didn’t know about when I got in this car.”

Virginia: “The dementia. It runs in your family.”

Robert: “What? First I’ve heard of it.”

Virginia: “That’s because of the dementia.”

Junior: “Gramma is in a sylum, Daddy. She eats pudding there.”

Robert: “This can’t be happening to me.”

Virginia: “That’s what I said, three times. But enough about my breech births that you never noticed. We’ve got to get you some help. And I happen to have some papers in my purse that you can sign. Hang on.”

Robert: “Papers? Why do you have papers in your purse that I need to sign? Are we back to the divorce? I really don’t understand.”

Junior: “It’s the mentia, Daddy. Do you like pudding? I love pudding.”

Virginia: “No, dear. These are not divorce papers. Those are in my other purse. This is about getting you special help for your special problems.”

Robert: “What kind of help? I really don’t know what’s going on.”

Virginia: “And that’s why you need to give me power of attorney. For your own good.”

Robert: “But you’re my wife. We already share things equally.”

Virginia: “Oh, honey. Perhaps you’ve forgotten that it’s 1947. I can’t even get a credit card in my own name. We need to be proactive as you tumble down the hill of senility. Just sign these papers and… oh, shoot. I don’t have a pen. We need to find one immediately.”

Robert: “Don’t you think it can wait until we get home? Assuming I can remember where we live.”

Virginia: “No! I mean, perhaps it’s best that we take care of things as soon as we can. For your sake, of course.”

Junior: “Look, Mommy! There’s a hotel right over there. Don’t people have to sign things when they sleep at places that are not home? They should have pens.”

Virginia: “How clever of you to notice, my first little breech. Robert, pull in there.”

Robert: “This just doesn’t seem right.”

Virginia: “It pains me as well. But we have to do what we have to do.” She reached over and patted Robert’s white-knuckled white hand on the black steering wheel. “Think of your family.”

Robert drove into the small lot of the Gaslight Inn and parked in a slot near the office, killing the engine. “Now what?”

Virginia: “I think we’ve established this, darling, but perhaps you’ve forgotten already, due to your wretched medical condition. You go inside and borrow a pen.”

Robert, sighing. “Fine. Be right back.” He hopped out of the car and dashed through a sudden cold rain toward an office that might seal his fate.

Still in the car, Virginia: “You’ve done well, Javier. Here’s the twenty bucks we discussed.”

Javier/Junior/Pudding Afficionado: “I think it should be forty. I was rather convincing, if you ask me.”

Virginia: “I’m not asking. If you’ll review the dialogue, he never even acknowledged your existence. You’ll take the twenty and you’ll be happy with it.  Take your little jockey ass back to the Vertigo Racetrack and have yourself a beer or two.”

Javier: “Fine. But next time, the price doubles.”

Virginia: “If this works out, there won’t be a next time. But keep my number just in case. You never know when I might need to fake another breech birth or three.”

Javier fled into the night.

Virginia waited in the night.

For a rather long time.

Finally, the office door opened and a man who was not Robert walked out and approached the passenger side of the seditious sedan. He knocked on the window glass.

Virginia rolled said glass down: “What?”

Norman: “There’s been a change of plans.”

Virginia: “Who are you? And where is my husband?”

Norman: “He’s in the shower. And before he got naked in order to rinse away this night, a vision which I enjoyed far more than I thought I might, he told me all about a certain woman with a certain plan that he saw right through immediately.”

Virginia: “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Norman: “Well, you would know, if you had thought about things. After all, Robert’s mother passed away many years ago, just like my own. And neither of us appreciates conniving women who try to abscond with money that doesn’t belong to them.”

Virginia: “Wait, that sounds like a movie that I once… I’m not sure what’s happening right now.”

Norman: “What’s happening is that you aren’t getting any pudding. At least not the good kind. Why don’t you join me in the office while we wait for the police to arrive.”

Far off in the distance, the siren on a squad car activated.

Not so far off, Javier bought drinks for everyone at the Vertigo Racetrack Lounge. In 1947, one could buy a lot of rounds for twenty bucks, no questions asked.

Closer still, in the shower, Robert continued scrubbing himself with a pleasing bath wash. It smelled like almonds. And revenge.

Previously published in “Crusty Pie”, edited and massively extended. (The original was just the first five lines, the last of which was excised in this current version of the tale, thus allowing me to twist this pretzel even further…

25 replies »

  1. Have I told you my mother used to frequent a high brow club back in the 50’s in NYC where Mitchum had a standing reservation? His table was in a dark corner where he drank alone, and everyone knew to leave him alone.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. When the police eventually arrived, all three of the characters were drunk in the office of the motel. The police offices did the investigation and found that Robert has no money to begin with. Virginia was so furious. How could she be so blind? She really believed Robert when he told her about his family fortune. Further investigation found that the car Robert drove was reported stolen by Robert’s aunt. Eventually the aging aunt had to come to the local jail to bail out both Robert and Virginia. The aunt said to Robert and Virginia, “Look, you are both penniless and both crooks. What’s the point that you con each other?”

    Liked by 2 people

    • At which point Norman walked up (knocking aside the aging aunt and causing her fancy hat with the pretty feathers to fly across the room):
      Thank you for asking. How about we all go to my basement and experiment with taxidermy. We’ll have a swell time.”

      Robert, Virginia and Auntie immediately fled out the back door of the station. Tires squealed.

      The receptionist, a smartly-dressed woman who preferred to be called Tippi even though her actual name was Emma, smiled sweetly. “Why, Norman, that sounds lovely. I’ve always considered birds to be fascinating creatures. Should I make some sandwiches to take with us?”

      Norman smiled, not so sweetly. And another game was begun…

      Liked by 2 people

  3. So much material here. Yummmmy. Sadly today heralds the day I get my 2nd vaccination and who knows what might happen ‘next’ (sorta like that sordid tale you just shared, with just the right touches of Gaslighting and psycho behavior…) 😉 You have further supported my phobia of seedy late night motels where the neon sign flickers because nobody has done maintenance on it since 1947, and where pale young men practice taxidermy on more than dead animals… Mommy? Is that YOU? Also it was satisfactorily proven that apparently NOBODY is afraid of Virginia (Woolf, yes I know that’s not her real name), so there’s that too.

    Liked by 4 people

    • This one was a hoot to scribble, with all the layering and backwards references. I almost posted the original five lines as is, then I thought “well, maybe I should add a bit of color”. Then “bit” changed into “bucket”. And there you have it.

      No one is ever safe if the neon is flickering.

      Speaking of safe, I hope things went well with your second shot. My second was not bad at all, nowhere near the level of discomfort I was anticipating. But it’s different for everyone…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The Gaslight Motel? Love it! And the rest of this lovely tale of perfidy. 🙂 Reminds me of the narcissist I was very briefly married to – he tried to convince me that the copper pans I owned weren’t copper. He almost wound up with almonds in his Moscow Mule cup. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    • For a spontaneous, middle-of-the-night writing whim, this one turned out decently. I now see a few cracks that need plastering, but I can smooth those out with the eventual repost… 😉

      People who gaslight are just wretched. And isn’t it sad that half this country was willfully gas-lit for the last four years? Sheesh.

      Now I want a Moscow Mule. Hold the almonds. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  5. My father had a striking resemblance to Robert Mitchum. So much so, that he was often asked for his autograph. I once interviewed Robert Mitchum’s brother—another actor, but mostly in bit parts. He was a great guy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That must have been fun, having a “celebrity” in the family. My father looks like… well, me. Just older. Nobody ever asked for his autograph… 😉

      I didn’t realize Robert had a brother who acted as well. I’ll have to check into that, because I revere trivia and must pursue it always…

      Liked by 2 people

  6. It’s not that your posts ever lack obscure movie references and trivia, but this one reached a stunningly level other blogs can only hope to achieve. Bravo!
    Now, would you please pass the tapioca?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, kindly. There are times when I wonder how often the more obscure trivia even registers, but really, I greatly relish hiding those Easter eggs, so I will probably keeping doing so for the rest of my life. There are worse things I could be guilty of…

      But I can’t pass the tapioca. Because it’s one of my favorites. How about some butterscotch? Wait, no, I like that one, too. Same with the pistachio. Um, I might have to review the inventory and let you know… 😉

      Liked by 2 people

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