Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Long Spiral

Category: Issue 18

The Long Spiral

Losing his business was the catalyst for Danny’s downward spiral. Every thing he’d worked for gone in a descending retail market. At fifty, not only had he been too old for most jobs, but over qualified as well. What little work there was went to the younger men.

With the news until there was no further hope of salvaging the company. His wife
Linda gazed at him with ice blue eyes and smiled ‘Not to worry, darling. no one can’t get their hands the house it’s in my name.’

‘I’m not so sure.’

Her full lips disappeared into a grim line for a moment and then she smiled again. ‘We still have stocks and shares.’

‘No, I reinvested.’

She ran manicured nails through her ash blonde hair. ‘Surely you saw this coming?’

‘Yes, but I couldn’t stop it.’

‘I see,’ she said.

He wondered how she was able to put such contempt into two words. As his world turned upside down, it was clear to Danny that Linda had no intention of sinking with him. Linda was busier than ever, her manner secretive and quiet. Not only had he lost his business, he feared Linda was having an affair. He checked through her pockets and emails for clues. Several times he followed her, but she only met friends. She’s on to me and that’s why she’s being careful.

Sure the house was being watched; he constantly scanned the street from behind the curtains. Never more than a social drinker, he passed the long hours of the day with a drink, and then another until he disappeared into a euphoric cloud. Large chunks of time flew by and he couldn’t remember what he’d been doing. – was she giving him drugs or slowly poisoning him, he wondered.


Danny woke in an unfamiliar room, an unknown woman in uniform beside his bed. His head was muzzy and he tried to grasp at the situation.

‘Where am I?’ he said.

‘You had an … accident. You’re in hospital.’

‘Accident? What sort of accident?’

The nurse gave him an odd look. ‘The doctor will be here soon, he’ll explain.’

A doctor arrived at his bedside a few moments later and looked down at his notes. His eyebrows drew together in a frown. ‘I see you attempted suicide.’

‘Suicide? No I wouldn’t…’ Danny’s voice was tight with disbelief.’

‘Your notes say you’d had too much to drink.’

‘I-I don’t remember.’ Danny’s mind was a blank. ‘How long have I been here?’

The doctor consulted his notes again. ‘Last night. You had a slight concussion. Do you remember anything?’

Danny shook his head. ‘Just that I had an argument with my wife. I don’t remember anything after that. I must have fallen. When can I go home?’

‘Today. Are you on any medication?’

Danny thought about his tablets lying in the drawer. ‘No – no medication.’


The weight of house keys bumped against his hip as Danny walked towards home. Linda hadn’t visited him in hospital and he wondered why.

A musty smell greeted him as he entered the hall, a mixture of booze and nicotine.
‘Linda, where are you? I’m sorry.’

The house felt empty. In the bedroom Danny opened the closet door. It still held Linda’s clothes and his heart lifted. She hadn’t cleared it out, and that meant she intended to return to at least talk things over. Danny set about airing the house, and getting fresh food.

A few days later, slicing lamb due to become a casserole, he heard a whisper.

‘Look how cleanly that knife cuts through the fat. It’s so sharp, you wouldn’t feel a thing.’

He spun around to face an empty kitchen. ‘Who’s there?’ A noise drew his attention to the hall and he ran to the bottom of the stairs. ‘Is that you, Linda?’

A faint chuckle drifted down the stairwell. ‘You’d be better off dead, no one’ll miss you.’

Danny’s heart pounded.’ Who are you?’

‘You know me, Danny. Climb the stairs – I want to hold you.’

Ice touched his spine and he retreated backwards into the sitting room. Whatever was upstairs he didn’t intend confronting it.

The sitting room appeared different. It rippled and tipped inward, door frames buckled. Pictures, once in measured spaces around the yellow painted walls, slid together in a jumble of colour. In the far corner a settee danced cheek to cheek with an easy chair. Their leather arms touching and creased seats meeting like outthrust hips. The ceiling split and grotesque lips seeped through the rent, spilling out like billows of candyfloss pink, foam. Something bad had happened here.

Danny clung to an upright chair and closed his eyes. Sweat covered his stocky body. It soaked through his blue, denim shirt, leaving dark patches at the chest and armpits. He dragged at his collar, and his shoulders rose with the effort to pull air into his lungs.

Sound grated from his open mouth. ‘Oh my god, Linda, that’s why you haven’t phoned, I’ve killed you?’ 

He sank to his knees and fell forward. He lay motionless until his breathing returned to normal, then cautiously raised his eyes - the mouth was gone. Defeated, he climbed onto the settee It was clear he was insane.

Footsteps echoed in the hall and he shrank further into the settee. He hugged his knees and buried his face against the rough cloth of his jeans. Small sounds, drifted from beyond the closed door, a click, a creak. He lifted his head and watched as the door moved inward.

Please – No,’ he whined. Linda stood in the doorway, a small travel bag clutched in her gloved hand. Danny stared at her and swallowed. ‘I thought you were dead – I thought I’d killed you,’ he whispered.

She gave a puzzled look. ‘What are you talking about? Why would you think that?’

‘I guessed about your lover.’

‘What Lover? I haven’t got a lover.’

‘I know you’re seeing someone.’ 

Yes - a Japanese businessman thinking of setting up a company in this country. He wants someone to run it. I was going to introduce you.’ She hesitated briefly. ‘But you’ve been drinking.’

‘Is that what the argument was about before you left?

‘You wanted to come with me, but you weren’t - well.’

‘You mean I was drunk, don’t you?’

I didn’t want to blow it. I explained all this on the phone yesterday.’

‘You phoned me?’

Linda sat beside him and took his hand. ‘Yes, darling, every day I was away.’

Tears formed in the corners of his eyes. ‘I don’t remember. Why weren’t you here when I got home?’

‘I was in Japan seeing how he ran his company.’

The room tilted and Danny gave a low moan. She gazed at him her eyes full of concern. ‘You’re as white as a sheet. You are taking your medication, aren’t you?’

Danny shook his head. ‘I forgot.’

‘You’re Bipolar, Danny. It’s important you stay on medication.’ Linda crossed to a table and snatched up the full packet of tablets. ‘You fool, take them now. You’ve a very important interview next week.’



Posted by witchbitch on 06/03 at 05:11 AM | Permalink
(1) Discuss • (0) Comments

« The Little Boy and his Goat      The Lovely Bones »