A Blistered Badge – Short Story 

It was 7:30 a.m. and the morning sun was radiantly shining. Charles awoke with a head pain beyond a tolerable sensation. He lifted the apex that contained the former night’s memories with a wonder of contingent variables that left him perplexed.

“Charlie?” Amie woke up startled by her husband’s sudden ascension from sleep, “What’s wrong? You look as if you’ve seen a ghost.”

“I . . . I’m fine.”

Charles left the bed hastily flinging the night-terror-soaked sheets away. In doing so he knocked over his phone from his nightstand and onto the floor. He started to pace striking his hand through his sweat-drenched hair while contemplating his nightmare. His wife looked down for a moment, and then with a concern that flourished her face to a pigment of satin-pink-plush, she said, “Was it another one of those nightmares? I told you, again and again . . . you, you need to see the doctor more often about this . . . it’s getting to the point where I can see the pain it’s causing you. You’re losing sleep.”

Charles seemed tense, suspended in thought that delivered a resentful gaze that pierced through the window as the sun licked his face. “I’m handling it in the best interest of us.” He stuttered in his speech for the briefest moment after noticing the lock of the bedroom window unlatched. His mind raced to an array of inferences that would explain this peculiarity. It stimulated a keen interest. He glanced down and grabbed his phone off the floor, checked it and placed it on the dresser next to his gun and badge.

“I’m telling you, you don’t look well!” Amie said.

Charles turned toward her and approached in a manner that soothed her concern. “It’s OK, there is little to be worried about dear, I’m just going through some stress with work.” He swayed toward her in a beguiling fashion with both shoulders. “I’m working on a case right now that requires my full attention, and to see the doctor only takes me away from it.”

Amie smiled but with contempt, “I only wish what’s good for you, I don’t want to see you losing sleep.” Charles pecked his wife’s cheek bone with the assurance that all would be well. After, he retracted from her to proceed with his morning routine.

“I want you to be happy too.” Amie said as she softly touched his kiss’s point of contact; ever so softly.

“Yes my lady, I am, thank you.” Charles said while taking a bow to show a gesture of genuine gentlemanly conduct and sincerity. “I’ll pay a visit to the doctor if that warrants your contentment.”

“You know that’s all that I want.” said Amie with her hand still reaping the residual love left by her husband’s lips.

Charles didn’t seem to notice her reaction, but of the faint cuts on the bottom of her night gown, his attention was captured. “My dear,” he said, “I will see you this evening.”

She nodded and told Charles to continue his routine. Until his progress of this routine took him to the point of a potential brash behavior. A foreboding tendency in the form of fabricated thoughts bewitched his brain; “was his martial bond equivocal?” he thought. The fulguration vociferously brought him to dwell on images of flipping furnishings to asunder and ingloriously insulting his wife. It seemed, to his imagination, that she didn’t take it that well; but, for a moment she reposed to a position of stimulating proportions where her face tucked under her collar bone and her lips pursed to an angle above her cheekbone. Charles abruptly stopped his introspection of the furniture’s violent dismantle. He found himself staring blankly into her eyes, and only for a moment he felt intensified, a sentiment soon flourished his stipulated character.

“Honey, darling . . . why, or more so, how do you put up with me in such a manner where I find myself in a disposition; the current of which I ride only corrodes my benevolence toward you?”

“What on earth do you mean?!” shot back Amie.

“I can’t help but wonder about what you do during the time I am at my job, stranding myself from my love only to cater her every desired wish in order to have a happy, stable, and fulfilling life!” Charles recanted a few more times until his breath gave way to a retracting motion. He threw a fist through the gracious air that rested between his argument and his wife, in disrupting that air, all peaceful accords were vanquished. His mind danced among the various thoughts that stimulated his false perception of the current reality; of course, in this moment he could not tell for sure, but (as time progresses as it sure does), he felt the need to further his inquiry of trust with his woman until the fabrications were just that. . . not real.

“I have nothing but the vastest care for you, I adore you Charlie!” Amie projected as she blasted her body into the rustled sheets.

As Charles grabbed his phone, gun and badge from the dresser, he looked at her with eyes piercing, and said, “Coyness is adorable only when the sentimental statement conveys truthful proceeding actions,” he raised his unoccupied hand to his head, “and those actions have yet to take place; for this I am at a stalemate with my illusive assumptions.” His disgruntled conveyance ceased to exist as he exited the bedroom. “I love you!” He shouted as he left.

Charles stepped outside of the house with a stupor of renounced cognition, stimulating his mind to another perception outside of himself. His thoughts, for just a moment, felt residual, a false sense of reality seemed to interrupt his receptor arrays to a docile state of contemplation. This contemplation fused his previous mental standpoint, now fallible, toward the core nature of his being. He began to think to himself.

“I feel it, it’s like a metamorphosis into a more crystallized structure; and I can see it clearly. . . It’s just the pain that’s involved with such a transition. Oh the maelstrom in my head; vortexes of consistent misconstrued inquiry. How it shimmies deceit in the forming crevasses in my foundation of conceptual intake! The insanity of it all gives me the intuition to convene the stagnant stipulation of perplex curiosity; it is an intrusion of never knowing where it may lead. It also befits an appeasing appeal for previous deceit; my heart feels boundless against the channel of its passive acceptance.”

During this inner monologue, he anticipated the call from the doctor. The unlatched window had him thinking. His thoughts were inclined to seek for an approval of what coerced his brain to conjure such damnation of his effort in love.
Charles heels clicked from the impact of the pavement, shortening the distance from his position to the car, while flurrying the Chevy’s keys around his left index finger. The circulating motion created the noise of which attributed the rhythmic change of his stammering step to a swaying style. . .

“Nice swag Charlie,” shouted his neighbor Martha. . . Martha was cloaked in a robe, a bath robe that covered her legs down to the region of the knees, and as she lightly waved her hand while grabbing for the newspaper, the ‘quilt of the thing’ moved along with her giddy hand; and the accompanied smile, her smile reposed with a pompous kinda weight. Every time, Charles would resent such a clamoring curve of her teeth and lips.

“Thanks Martha; hey uh, are we still down for poker night next Tuesday?” He said with a slightly raised eyebrow.

“You know it,” Martha’s laughter followed briefly until she decided to speak again, “And I’ll tell Richie to hold the cream next time; you know, how you like it?!”

“Nah,” Charles looked down at the cobble as he made it to the car door in the standoff with the decision to how he should deliver his answer, if he should yield or confront. . . “I don’t mind cream in my coffee, I just prefer it black.” He responded, at the point of reaching for his keys to penetrate the hole on the Chevy’s door for entry. “Plus,” he said while looking back at her swinging the door open and placing his right foot on the floor next to the accelerator. He had his body poised to fully harness the throttle and wheel; a pending engagement. “I would like to see any recent additions to your china.” He finished as he studied the area where his lawn met hers. In the moment of silence between his remark and her response, he perceived a parting of the rose bush that sat right on the dividing line of both their properties.

“Well, I have been thinking about purchasing a platter with a complimentary fondue. . .” Her voice was muffled as Charles concluded the motion of entering the vehicle and closing the door, immediately after, he rolled down the window to not have been appeared as cutting the woman off from her unrequited effort to express the undying fascination of her hobby. “With small plates and everything . . . did you hear me?” Martha said.

“Oh yeah, Martha, I would love to have some fondue sometime,” Charles lit a cigarette, and puffed it with a countenance of disdain from the taste. “Hey, have you seen Richie this morning?” Martha’s smile dissipated into the mist spraying off from the water as it hit the rustled roses.

“No, he left for the office before I got a chance to wake up and say bye.”

Charles looked down at his phone then up at Martha. “Time to run,” he said, “have a good morning Martha.” With the exhibition of the sound from the key’s turn in the ignition, and the weight on the pedal from his foot, he throttled the reverse with a certain charisma that emulated from his face to the mean brashness of the eight cylinders under the hood. Dust proliferated behind his departure’s exuberance, flooding the image of Martha’s plastic existence out of his rear view mirror.

The commute to work was quaint, something Charles always looked forward to. It was the only time he could commit his thoughts with the indignation of malcontent and have nothing more to do about it than to drive with the windows down and the music up. He would embrace the morning sun on his face as if he was enduring nuclear fallout, and the development around him was nothing but ash. This conjured a pantomime in his head in tandem with the radio that became a resolute gesture of composure for him. The aviators he wore reflected all that was good from the sun, only filtering in the grudge of retaliation. The music penetrated his ear drums, drowning out any sense of reality. What silenced his galloping neurosis was the phone. It rang.

“Yeah,” Charles immediately answered, with certainty, as if he was expecting the call. “Have you now?” The muffled response from the phone emitted a convincing tone, as if Charles was adherent to a prime directive, “I’ll be right there.” He said.
His countenance expressed content, a gradual degradation of repose flourished until the itch, the urge to pursue the newly received news burgeoned to its entirety. Over-zealously strung up, he hung up, and deviated from the course to work.

He arrived at the entrance of where his contact told him to be, the gapping mouth to the hiking trail of the woods off route 70. He parked his car right on the shoulder – mile marker 3 – and began to walk nonchalantly. Through the brush and past the welcoming trees, he swayed off the beaten path right before breaking a sweat from venturing. A stagnant lake rested right before him after following directions he had committed to memory.

Charles traversed the terrain a bit farther until he stumbled upon a pile of bones near the edge of the lake. He stopped over them and stared into a skull of what seemed to be of a deer. He smiled and felt highly attuned with himself. His mind didn’t wander, nor did it coerce him to engage in any irrational behavior. Caught in this moment of bliss, he was soon taken away from it by sudden snapping noises that he heard in the distance. Out of the woods came rushing Richie with his garments ripped to shreds and his blood that added to its decorum. Charles was flabbergasted, but not in the way of seeing something so horrifying. He was excited.
“Hey-hey-hey” He said trying to calm Richie down. He was hysterical until the point of contact with Charles’s arms. When he crashed, his body went that of rigor mortis; petrified and paralyzed.

In this moment, Richie looked up. “Charlie?” His voice was of a gurgling mess, where blood got in the way of his words due to a stabbing wound in his chest. “I-I-I don’t know . . . wh-wh-what happened, I was on my way . . . to work. . .”

“Rest your eyes now Richie.” said Charles as he lifted his fingers to close them. He leaned deep into his ear where the heat of his breath stimulated Richie’s fear, “You think I haven’t noticed the little things.” Richie’s eyes grew tense. They dilated and began to shake as if the truth of the matter shot anxiety throughout his entire nervous system.

“I saw a rose outside my window this morning.” Charles began to project spit from his whisper that expressed a tense angry tone in his voice. “It assured my certainty.” Richie tried to gasp for his final breath of life when Charles shoved his fist in his mouth to deny him the pleasure.

The sudden hoot of the owl perched upon the moss covered drift wood beyond the lake’s ridges reverberated past the hollowed out trees that bordered the glassed vastness of open water. The echo startled Charles after staring down at the lifeless body. Warm blood dripped off Richie’s collar and onto his bare hands when the phone rang. He looked beyond into the lake where his own reflection was.

It dissipated as leaves fell onto the silhouette, contorting his reflection. The ambiance perpetuated how he felt; the fast clash of his pride with his dismay, along with a stunted growth of his charisma. He was torpid and transfixed. Where those daunting premonitions fluttered his cranium – the portion where his delusions intertwined with reality – the space was now empty. He was too reposed to find a sensible perspective in the matter. The only thought that he had was if Amie would be the same. He spoke into the receiver of the phone.

“I guess that ends this premonition of deceit . . . everything made sense, which perhaps warranted this.” He spoke from his gut as his grip loosened from the phone, “thanks doc.” He said, while staring blankly into space.

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