Today and tomorrow will be very busy. I’m on my way shortly to Bienville Parish Library in Arcadia. (For some reason, I can’t go there without thinking of Bonnie and Clyde!) Then on to the Barnes and Noble in Shreveport. Saturday morning, on to Baton Rouge to the Sam’s Club there. Last night’s program in St. Francisville was fun! Went well and I’ll get some good press from it. I hope to have some photos to post of it soon. Today I decided to post a short-short story, one of my flash fiction pieces. Let me know what you think of it.
Jewels of Denial
Liam paused and wiped the sweat from his brow with his shirtsleeve. After an hour’s climb, he had reached the edge of the vast tumble of granite boulders and he scanned the beach below. It was low tide, and the waves beat the sand with a steady rhythm and the ocean breeze cooled his aching muscles. He leapfrogged the last few rocks, slipped his daypack and metal detector from his back, sat on the warm sand, and drank greedily from his canteen. From his research, he was sure that this isolated beach, known as Lover’s Beach, was the location of a vanished 19th century resort along the Atlantic coastline. The terrain practically guaranteed that no other treasure hunters would go to the trouble to come here.
He set the discrimination on his Fisher Gold Bug metal detector and worked the beach methodically in a grid pattern. He swept the coil back and forth, digging every signal, but found only trash—aluminum cans, pull tabs, and rusted nails. On his fifth pass, the detector gave a strong beep. Expecting only a bigger piece of trash, he gasped when he dug up a gold wedding band. He knelt, turning the ring over in his hand. For a second, he thought the stone actually glowed. The inside bore an inscription: Prehende uxorem meam, sis.
Liam was puzzled by the strange words, but at least they had a romantic sound to them. Then it dawned on him: This ring would be a perfect gift for his wife! Veronica nagged and criticized him constantly, and he felt neglected and unappreciated. She especially hated his hobby of treasure hunting, which she called scavenging. Maybe the ring would help their relationship.
On his way home he stopped at a bookstore and purchased a Latin dictionary to decipher the inscription. He laughed out loud when he finished: “Take my wife, please!”
Liam sighed. “If only someone would take Veronica.”
When Liam returned home late that night, Veronica was watching Woman on Top.
“Hey, sweetie,” he said. “I found a really cool ring today. I think you’ll like it.”
Veronica rolled her eyes and turned up the video with the remote. “Another pull tab, dear?” she said. “More cheap costume jewelry?”
“Hold out your hand,” Liam said.
“I’m tired of the junk your treasure hunting brings home. You should be in the trash business.” Veronica lazily held out her hand, and he slipped the ring on her delicate ring finger. This time, Liam was sure that the stone glowed. This must be a magic ring! Maybe the legends about rings are true! He watched in amazement as Veronica’s face experienced a metamorphosis. It now glowed with excitement and her earlier cynicism and harshness were gone.
“Why, Liam! It’s beautiful!” she cried. She jumped from her Lazy Boy chair and gave him a bone-crushing hug. “Thank you! My darling!”
Liam wondered if he had entered the wrong house or if Veronica’s doppelganger had moved in. However, he accepted the new Veronica gratefully. At last, his wishes had come true. He thought it amazing how this lost ring had changed and energized his wife. Her libido increased so much that he called it the “Viagra ring.” After work, instead of wearing himself out doing his wife’s endless list of “honey-do” chores, he found his feet up in the chair, and Veronica waiting on him hand and foot. She chattered constantly about his greatness, showering him with kisses, thanking him for the ring time and time again. Liam thought that f the ring’s effects were residual, he could rent the ring to other husbands plagued by wives who needed transformations. Men would pay a pretty penny for such power.
“There’s a Latin inscription on the inside of the band.” He snickered. “I translated it at the library. It means ‘I Love you.’ ”
“How sweet! What would you like for supper, dear?” She rubbed his shoulders. “I’ll cook that casserole you like so much. And maybe later, I can prepare a very special desert.” She bent and kissed his ear, lightly biting his neck. “You know what I mean?” The ring glowed brightly as if energized by her romantic mood.
Liam enjoyed the new Veronica—for about three weeks. There were some drawbacks. Veronica’s intense, doting eyes resembled a creature from Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. She wouldn’t allow him out of her sight, even for a second, following his every step closely around the house. Worse, she became possessive and jealous, screening phone calls, suspicious of every female voice. Liam felt smothered.
Liam decided that her Stepford-wife condition must be related to the ring, that perhaps some malevolent spirit had possessed her. The haunted ring had to go. He wanted the previous, predictable Veronica, not the zombie-like slave she had become. As Veronica would not surrender the ring willingly, he used subterfuge, attempting unsuccessfully to grease her fingers with peanut butter and slip the ring off her finger as she slept. When that failed, he resorted to force. One day he tackled her, straddling her arm and pulling the accursed ring from her finger. He left his traumatized wife weeping on the living room floor, begging him to return the ring to her. However, an almost immediate transformation took place. Before he reached his truck, the whining had changed to cursing.
“That’s better,” he said. He returned to Lover’s Beach and threw the glowing ring as far into the ocean as he could. He hoped the ring with its mysterious, dangerous power would be forever lost to mankind. There were other, safer treasures to find. Turning on his detector, he again searched the beach and almost immediately found a silver bracelet. It too had a Latin inscription: Me oportet propter praeceptum te nocere: I’m going to have to hurt you on principle. The bracelet seemed to glow as he stuffed it into his pocket.