The Beach by Kevin Z. Garvey

Midnight. My feet sink into the sand as I stand on the edge of the water, watching the waves break in the dim light of the moon. One after another they crash against the shoreline, depositing seaweed, shells, driftwood, and other things, both living and non-living, onto the beach.

For the past week I’ve been here every night, standing between two man-made jetties, watching the waves. From time to time I look out into the inky black void of the ocean. Though I can’t see it there’s a spot out there, straight ahead, where I’d piloted my yacht exactly one week ago tonight. I’d always wanted to own a pleasure craft, but never had the time or money. Then I sold my company and finally had the means to live my dream. To sail the sea, if only for a few hours at a time.

My wife often joined me on these excursions. It didn’t take long for us to discover that she had sturdier sea legs than me. She would laugh when I’d turn the boat around and head back to the bay, and I’d find myself getting angry at the sound. But there was a time when I loved her laugh. Over the years, however, things began to change. The things I once loved about her, I no longer loved. Her laughter had come to grate on me.

It seemed that as my business grew, along with my bank account, my love for my wife waned, almost in direct proportion. Younger, more beautiful women became available to me. I knew their attention was directly tied to my finances, but I didn’t care. I felt like a big shot. I was living large.

My wife saw the signs, of course. I made little effort to hide my dalliances. But she stuck with me, despite my indiscretions. At the time, I felt as though I was in the enviable position of having my cake and eating it too. But now, looking back, I wish she hadn’t been so accommodating. I wish she would have divorced me. She didn’t, though, for reasons of her own, perhaps thinking it was a phase I would outgrow. And I didn’t divorce her, though I’d toyed with the idea. But I was too greedy. I didn’t want to share my wealth, not if I didn’t have to.

Inhaling deeply, I smell the crisp ocean air as I watch the waves break. My mind drifts back to that night a week ago when my wife had suggested a midnight cruise. We’d drifted to a spot directly in front of where I’m standing now, but many miles out, in what seemed like the middle of the ocean. It was enjoyable at first, but then an argument broke out between us. I don’t even remember what is was about. But soon it turned ugly. We tussled, and I pushed her overboard.

Our eyes met as she floundered in the water. Surprisingly, I saw no shock in her expression, no fear. What I saw was profound anger, a seething hatred. It was chilling. She began swimming to the boat, but I motored away. A short while later, I had second thoughts. Going back, I tried to locate her but couldn’t see her through the chop. She was gone.

I reported her missing at sea. The authorities questioned me, but there was no suspicion of foul play. A search was organized. It went on for days.

Her body has yet to be found.

That’s the part I’m having trouble with. The part I can’t accept. It’s the reason I come down to the beach every night. Unlike the authorities, and even her own family, I don’t believe my wife is dead. I believe she’s still out there, trying to get back. She’s a strong woman, strong of mind, body and spirit. When she puts her mind to something, it gets done.

I know she wants justice, to see me in prison. I saw it in her eyes the moment she’d hit the water. And so I stand here every night, with my pistol in my hand, watching the waves, expecting to see her again.

Expecting her to make it home.

Make it Hum by Kevin Garvey

Bruce was humming as he typed on his computer keyboard and it was driving his roommate crazy.

“Can you shut the fuck up?” Harris barked at him. “Please?”

“I’m making it hum,” Bruce said. “That’s what the editors want. It says so in the writer’s guidelines. Make it tight. Make it hum. So I’m making it hum.”

Harris sighed. “They want the story to hum, you idiot, not the writer.”

“Yeah, no shit,” Bruce said. “But this is how I get into it. Mind your own business.”

He went back to work, typing and humming.

Bruce was humming as he typed on his computer keyboard and it was driving his roommate crazy.

“Can you shut the fuck up?” Harris barked at him. “Please?”

“I’m making it hum,” Bruce said. “That’s what the editors want. It says so in the writer’s guidelines. Make it tight. Make it hum. So I’m making it hum.”

Harris sighed. “They want the story to hum, you idiot, not the writer.”

“Yeah, no shit,” Bruce said. “But this is how I get into it. Mind your own business.”

He went back to work, typing and humming.

Harris glared at him for a moment before turning back to the TV. He tried to ignore the drone coming from Bruce’s throat, but the sound went through him like fingernails on a chalkboard. Bruce had been humming like this for days now. It was driving him up a wall. There was no way he could focus on the tube.

“What the fuck, man,” he said. “Are you writing War and Peace? I thought this was supposed to be a short story.”

“Actually, it’s flash fiction, which is shorter than a short story,” Bruce said without looking up. “Seven hundred words max.”

“How many words do you have so far?”

“Let’s see…” Bruce checked the document’s word count. “Six thousand nine hundred and fourteen.”

Harris did a double take. “What?”

“Six thou–”

“I heard you,” Harris said. “But that’s ten times the max. Do you not know the difference between seven hundred and seven thousand?”

“I know the difference,” Bruce said, typing away again. “I write big, then pare it down.”

Harris snorted. “Write big? Who are you kidding? You’re a hack. You’ve had more rejections than a devil worshiper on a Christian singles website. Pare it down, my ass.”

Bruce stopped pecking at the keyboard and turned to face Harris. “Screw you, asshole. That’s my style, okay? It’s how I create literature.”

“You call that drivel literature?”

“Damn right I do. I’m an artist. The page is my canvas and words are my paint. So fuck off.”

He went back to typing. “Make it tight,” he said. “Make it hum.” He started humming again.

“I’m warning you,” Harris said. “You’d better stop humming. You’d better fucking stop!

Bruce slammed his palms down on the desk and stood up. “No, you stop,” he said. “I’m going good here. If you don’t like it, go someplace else. Get out of the house. Go for a walk or something.”

“Screw you,” Harris said. “I pay half the rent and have every right to be here. I’m not going anywhere.”

Bruce shrugged. “Suit yourself.” He sat down at the keyboard. “Make it tight,” he said. “Make it hum.” He started typing again. And humming.

“That’s it,” Harris said, jumping up from the couch. “I’ve had it. I’ve fucking had it!” He stomped across the apartment and disappeared into his bedroom, slamming the door behind him.

A few minutes later he returned to the living room. Bruce was so busy working that he didn’t notice Harris standing behind him, holding a belt.

Harris stood there, enraged, watching Bruce work. He listened to the humming, and drew strength from that awful noise. Then, after taking a deep breath, he looped the belt around his roommate’s head, slipped the end through the buckle and cinched it closed.

Bruce gasped as the belt clenched around his neck. “The fuck you doing?” he croaked.

“I’m making it tight,” Harris said, pulling the belt with all his might.

Bruce gurgled under the pressure of the makeshift garrote. He tried to speak but was unable. He tried to scream but the sound that came out was a muffled drone.

“Now I’m making it hum,” Harris said. “That’s what you want, isn’t it? To make it hum? Well, you got your wish, pal! Now hum! Huuuumm!”

And Bruce did hum. He hummed and he bucked and he convulsed. And then, finally, he died. And silence filled the room.

Harris smiled. “That’s better,” he said, basking in the quiet. “Much better.”

He went over to the couch and sat down. And for the first time in days, he enjoyed watching television in peace.

Next Thing You Know by Kevin Garvey

Next thing you know somebody better call the cops, ’cause some bad shit is goin’ down. Problem is there’s nobody here to call the cops. The only ones here are me and the missus, and the missus can’t call ’cause she’s too busy covering me with her Glock. Besides, she wouldn’t call anyway because that’s not how she rolls. And I can’t call because I’m the one being covered, and I don’t think the missus would appreciate me making any sudden movements, such as taking out my cell phone and dialing 9-1-1. Plus, I’m pretending to be paralyzed and I don’t want to break character. So like I said, nobody’s here to call the cops.

“I can’t move my legs, baby. Please.”
I’m on my back, not moving. As I look from the blue steel barrel of the gun to the blue steel eyes of my wife, I’m not sure which blue steel looks scarier. The look in her eyes is one of murder. She’s dead serious, I can tell. Her finger is tensed on the trigger, and I don’t have to wonder if she has the balls to pull it, I know she does. I know it because it stinks in here, like gunpowder. And there’s hazy blue smoke in the air. And my ears are ringing. And there’s blood dripping out of a hole in my chest.

Next thing you know somebody better call the cops, ’cause some bad shit is goin’ down. Problem is there’s nobody here to call the cops. The only ones here are me and the missus, and the missus can’t call ’cause she’s too busy covering me with her Glock. Besides, she wouldn’t call anyway because that’s not how she rolls. And I can’t call because I’m the one being covered, and I don’t think the missus would appreciate me making any sudden movements, such as taking out my cell phone and dialing 9-1-1. Plus, I’m pretending to be paralyzed and I don’t want to break character. So like I said, nobody’s here to call the cops.

“I can’t move my legs, baby. Please.”
I’m on my back, not moving. As I look from the blue steel barrel of the gun to the blue steel eyes of my wife, I’m not sure which blue steel looks scarier. The look in her eyes is one of murder. She’s dead serious, I can tell. Her finger is tensed on the trigger, and I don’t have to wonder if she has the balls to pull it, I know she does. I know it because it stinks in here, like gunpowder. And there’s hazy blue smoke in the air. And my ears are ringing. And there’s blood dripping out of a hole in my chest.

She has the balls, alright. And her aim is pretty good too.

Nobody called the cops. I would’ve heard sirens by now. I’m not surprised. This ain’t the kind of neighborhood where people call the cops. This is the kind of ‘hood where everybody minds their own business. Nobody sees anything, nobody says anything. An errant gunshot coming from an apartment in this building isn’t going to trigger a flurry of 9-1-1 calls. Which means I’m pretty much fucked.

“Baby, I’m dying,” I say. “I love you.”

“You lying piece of shit.”

“Baby, please.”

“Piece. Of. Shit.”

“I can explain, honey. Really.”

“I should shoot your dick off,” she says, and I wince, waiting for it.

But nothing happens. Which is good news. Because it means the missus still wants my dick attached to my body, that she still has some use for me. And I still have a chance to talk her out of killing me–if she didn’t already, that is. Because the way my chest is leaking and my breathing is getting shallow, I have no idea if the wound is fatal or not, and I don’t want to hang around waiting to find out. I want to go to a hospital. Now.

“Baby, I need an ambulance.”

“You need a toe tag,” she says, sending shivers up my spine. Or maybe it’s just shock setting in, hard to tell.

“Baby, listen. She meant nothing to me. It was a one night fling, nothing to it. It only happened because you were away and I was drunk. It was the first time in years I cheated on you, honey, please. I learned my lesson. It won’t happen again, I swear.”

I watch as the gun wavers in her hand. I can see her thinking, see the wheels spinning. We’ve been married for ten years, I know she loves me.

“Ten years, lover. Please, call an ambulance. Don’t let me die.”

She makes a face, but I can tell that she’s coming around. I’m a good hubby, and she knows it. Well, except for the serial cheating part, but I’m working on that.

“Next time, I’ll kill you deader than shit,” she says, and it’s music to my ears. She lowers her weapon.

“Call 9-1-1,” I say, reaching into my pocket for my cell phone. I hand it to her.

It rings.

She looks at the display for a second, and I’m thinking: oh shit.

She clicks on. “Hello?”

A pause.

“Yeah,” she says. “He’s right here.”

She looks at me, and her eyes have turned from blue steel to black.

She clicks off. “Another one?” she says. “You cheating prick.”

She throws the phone at me. Then she raises the gun again.

And next thing you know somebody better call the cops, ’cause some bad shit is goin’ down…