This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
A Short Story
by Bryan Costales
Originally Published 3/14/2009 on bcx.org Genre: Literary Fiction
© 2009 Bryan Costales
Necklace by Bryan Costales
Marsha Donnelly squeaked open the front door and entered Donnelly’s Bar in a wash of daylight. She found the wait-person Elle already putting wooden chairs on the ﬂoor and wiping down brown table tops. Elle looked up at Marsha, smiled and said, “I already loaded ice in the freezer.” Marsha was twice Elle’s age, plain looking and plainly dressed in jeans and a loose grey pull-over blouse. Marsha had just arrived late to her bartender job at the Donnelly’s Bar. Even though her husband Jack owned the bar, he always caused her to arrive late. On work-nights after dinner, while she cleaned the kitchen, he would say at least once, “Don’t leave until the kitchen is spotless.” He would then update the bar’s books on the dining room table —now his permanent ofﬁce. She might carelessly leave a sponge on the counter or a towel uneven on the refrigerator handle and say, “Gotta Run!” But he would check on her. Every time, he would check on her. He would ﬁnd the sponge or a towel or something not right and say, “Don’t be so damned lazy. Jesus, sometimes I don’t know why I married you.” Why he married her indeed! Marsha didn’t like it when she arrived at work still pissed. Yet lately, she seemed to arrive pissed all the time. Marsha said, “Thanks Elle. I don’t know how I would ever open if you didn’t show up, what with Jack making me late all the time.” “You mean like that time I had the ﬂu. Ha! You did ﬁne.” Elle smiled. She refolded a towel to the clean side and kept cleaning.
Necklace © 2009 Bryan Costales Page 2
Marsha went directly into the back room to hang up her jacket. She hung it on one of the red wooden pegs right next to Elle’s thin coat. She dropped her purse on the little table by the door and noticed a necklace lying there. “What’s this?” she called to Elle. She picked up the necklace and looked at it. It looked expensive. Very expensive. Yet delicate. So delicate it ﬁt in the palm of her hand. Clearly this was a gift from a man. A special gift from a man to a woman. “Hey Elle. Do you have a new boyfriend?” “The necklace? No I found it when I was cleaning this morning.” Marsha gazed at the necklace. It was intricate with silver and gold mixed artistically. She remembered the last necklace Jack bought her. Fake pearls twice the size of real pearls. The necklace made her look stupid. Jack made her wear that necklace for a week until he ﬁnally tired of that too. “No calls on the answering machine?” “Not a peep. Should we keep it?” Marsha set the necklace gently back on the little table. “Better not,” she said. Marsha put on her apron. She wore an apron to clean the bar. She always took the apron off when the ﬁrst customers arrived. But the last two nights had been slow. The ﬁrst customers hadn’t arrived much before eight. Marsha walked back out into the bar. Elle had just setting a candle the last table and a hand-made sign that said simply, “Happy Hour,” and in smaller letters, “7 to 8.” Marsha found her black rubber gloves where she’d left them, by the bar’s sink. She pulled them on to wash the few glasses Elle had discovered between last night and this morning. “You know,” Marsha said to Elle. “If I didn’t know Jack better I might think he was having an affair. I mean, doesn’t that necklace look like a gift to you? Wouldn’t it be just like him? I mean, to give a nice necklace like this to some young thing?” “Jack? He’s mean to you all right. But an affair? When would he have the time? You guys live together and work together. Right?” “In the morning when I’m asleep.” “You’re crazy. Jack doesn’t have the taste to buy a necklace like that. You remember those big white beads he made you wear? It reminds me of what my mom says about my dad every Christmas, all his taste is in his mouth.”
Necklace © 2009 Bryan Costales Page 3
Marsha laughed. “Yeah. Still, I just wish he wasn’t so mean all the time. It makes him too hard to read. I mean I know I’m not much to look at, but jeeze you’d think he’d appreciate what I did, instead of bossing and insulting all the time.” “I still can’t believe he doesn’t hit you. I mean he’s so much the stereotypical wifebeater. Like the way he threw that drunk out last week. He’s got a real violent streak in him.” “He never hits. He never yells either. He just needles. But don’t get me started. He’s been getting worse by the day. Needling more, I mean.” “I know,” Elle stopped by a table with an unlit candle and ﬁdgeted with it. “Like needles under the ﬁnger nails.” Marsha laughed. “Or on a blackboard.” Elle snorted. When something was really funny, instead of laughing hard, Elle would snort. “So ignore the necklace.” “Maybe I should take it. You know. Maybe I should be wearing it when he comes in. Then we could watch his face. Watch his expression to see if he really gave it to somebody else.” “So wear it.” “He’ll think some man gave it to me.” “So take it home and hide it.” Marsha looked up at Elle. “You always say the silliest things.” “What do you mean?” “Jack thinks he owns every inch of that house. Even my things. I mean he actually snoops all the time. Sometimes, when I get home, I ﬁnd my clothes on the ﬂoor in a pile at the foot of the dresser. He’s compulsive. You know, like he thinks something is going on and wants to prove it. There’s no way I could ever hide a necklace like that.” Elle set the candle down with a thunk and it lit. “Damn LEDs.” She looked at Marsha. “You know the more I learn about Jack...”
© 2009 Bryan Costales
but I found a box in the back. She looked at Marsha again.” Marsha removed her rubber gloves and set them back on the edge of the sink.” The old woman chuckled then accepted the necklace with a polite smile. “It’s in back.” she told Marsha. “Can I help you?” “I was here last night. “The reason I’m here is because I think I may have lost my necklace here. “I didn’t think we had umbrellas anymore.” The woman walked up to the bar. He never hit me or anything like that. “You look like I once looked when I looked in my mirror. “You all ordered drinks with umbrellas. “Does it really show?” “I left my husband. It was that necklace you see.” The old woman took a couple steps forward. Is he really that bad to you?” “You mean my husband?” Marsha touched her own face. “Years and years ago of course. Well not late.The front door squeaked like it did when it was about to open. She held out the necklace. “You see I was never pretty. Found it in a glass on the ﬂoor. “There you are. A glass with an umbrella. I was sort of plain like you.” Elle returned. Elle asked. Marsha held up her hand. for happy hour with some friends. The door closed and an elderly woman stood there.” Elle said. She was well dressed and leaned on an aluminum cane.” Elle smiled. Lies mostly.” “That’s right. after a while he said one too many lies and I realized I needed to leave. Your eyes.” “We found it. That was a nice surprise.” Necklace © 2009 Bryan Costales Page 5 . She looked at Marsha. I’ll get it for you. They didn’t like to be talking when Jack walked in. The front door opened illuminating the dim interior with a hard wedge of daylight. I guess he ﬁgured. I was never there to defend myself. he just said bad things about me to all my friends and family. who else would want me? I mean after a certain age who would want a woman? And well. So my husband thought he could be mean to me.
It was like that necklace was a magnet for his eyes. “Oh dear me. A sharp knife wound of light.” she said softly so Jack wouldn’t hear. Necklace © 2009 Bryan Costales Page 6 . You see I had an affair so that my husband would divorce me. It sparkled against the dark wood. He just looked at that necklace and watched me walk out of his life. “Thanks. It was Jack. One time only. Who knows what happens to lovers? I never saw him again.” The old woman tapped the necklace. You know.Elle leaned on the bar. “I know its not magic of course. “Like Marsha’s husband. It was all he could see. “My lover gave me that necklace. “Maybe you can think of this as magic. Deﬁnitely not the kind a woman would buy for herself. Me wearing a necklace from another man.” The old woman laid the necklace on the bar. Magic that can give you the courage to leave your husband. Needling all the time I mean.” The old woman held up the necklace. “Just once when I told my husband I was leaving. “Evening ladies. He’d never buy me anything nice like that.” Marsha hesitated then took the necklace. That ain’t good. He just buys things that make me look stupid. “Not Jack. She took it and hid it in her ﬁst. But the necklace. “Would you like it? Would you like the magic?” Marsha stared at the necklace. He didn’t think to hit me or grab me to keep me from going.” “What happened to your lover?” Marsha asked. “Magic sure. what if Jack had given it to somebody else?” The front door squeaked again and opened.” he bellowed. It’s the kind of necklace a man would give a woman. At least I wouldn’t.” Elle snorted. “Only one customer. Still. There’s really no such thing as magic. because the affair was secret and he never found out. Maybe you youngsters might.” The old woman held the necklace out to Marsha.” Marsha looked at the necklace. It didn’t work of course. The door slammed shut behind him. I don’t think he’s ever bought me anything that would make me more pretty.” “I wore it once. I mean in public.
In order to hone his craft.bcx. “You devil. Elle whispered at Marsha. “Hey. Those short stories are available here. also called the “bat book” because of the picture of a bat on the cover.org/ blogs/saturday/ Also see http://www. He has written short ﬁction for over thirty years and has been published in Cantaraville Six. and on his own web site at http://www. as a kindle download.bcx. past.” Jack said.com/novels/ for his current.The old woman smiled and winked at Marsha. he has been writing a bi-weekly short story for almost two years. in the Banyan Review. Is something going on?” About the Author Bryan Costales is author of several technical books. and future novels. Micro Horror. chief of which is the O’Reilly “sendmail” book. Necklace © 2009 Bryan Costales Page 7 . and Peridot Books.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.