Gil heard the annoying bells toll. The ring tone on his phone was telling him he had a message. He was in the middle of a conversation with Meg, a very important conversation about whether she would stay with him or not, when Claudia messaged him.
“For God's sake....” Gil's face became flushed.
CLAUDIA: GIL, DARLING. I NEED TO SEE YOU. WE HAVE TO RESOLVE THIS. PLEASE LET ME SEE YOU.
“Is that from her?” Meg said coolly.
He had just told Meg he wouldn't lie to her again. Now was the time to prove it. “Yes,” Gil rolled his eyes. “She will not leave me alone.”
“What does it to say? Your message?”
“No,” Meg said. She stood from the couch and pranced over to to the bar where Gil was standing, her flowing skirts behind her. She reached for the phone, he withdrew, put it in his trouser pocket. “Let me see.”
“What about what you said,” Gil raised an eyebrow.
'What—no, Give me--”
“You said if I told you the truth, you would start trusting me.” Gil finished fixing his vodka and soda, swirled it with a finger, drank it fast as if someone was going to take it from him.
Meg crossed her arms and stewed for a minute. “Alright,” She said. “Don't tell me what she said.”
“No,” Gil was enjoying having one up on Meg. To see her give up the fight so quickly. “I'll tell you. I just didn't want to let you see the message. She wants to meet and break it off.”
Wrinkles crossed Meg's face in a question mark. Her lips pursed. “Why would you need to meet to break it off? It's over between you two.” Then she shot him a dirty look. “It is over, isn't it?”
“Of course it is. Both of you are too much trouble. A man could die of nagging and sexual frustration from two women.”
“Ha ha. That is not true with me—then what was so great about her if the sex wasn't good?” Meg put her hands on hips.
“She's a great conversationalist.” Gil said.
Gil shrugged. “Oh well. That's me. A bit weird.”
“Tell me about it.” Meg said exasperated.
“So. Can I go and get rid of her?”
“If you promise.....you better get rid of her.” Meg waved a finger in Gil's face.
“Don't worry. I will.”
GIL: COME TO THE OLD MINE SHAFT OFF 17. WE CAN TALK THERE.
CLAUDIA:WHY THERE? WHY NOT COFFEE AT THE NUTMEG?
GIL: CLAUDIA. DO AS I SAY. PLEASE.
CLAUDIA: YOUR WIFE ALREADY KNOWS ABOUT US, SO WHY WORRY WHERE WE MEET.
GIL: I WAS HOPING TO CONTINUE OUR DANCES. I'M NOT FOND OF VOYEURISM.
CLAUDIA: YOU WERE HOPING I WOULD USE MY MOUTH, WEREN'T YOU?
GIL: NOT ONLY WAS I HOPING, I WAS PRAYING YOU WOULD.
CLAUDIA: I'LL SEE YOU THERE IN THIRTY MINUTES.
Gil smiled. Why not? He thought. One last tango. A bit of a turn on to do it in the old mine shaft. Just like they did it in the classrooms at the college.
“Ah, Coeds. I surely do love them.” Gil was of course referring to the many female students he'd helped study late at night. More than Meg thought. The only one she really knew of was Claudia.
Claudia was the typical Lit student. Ideology over content, theory over work. Gil didn't care if she thought Dick and Jane books were the work Vladimir Nabokov. She was twenty, tall, legs to her neck with chestnut brown hair. She was sexy as hell with those green eyes. Of course, Meg with her short blond hair and slightly overweight thirty year old body was still very attractive. She too, was a student of Gil's. And at forty three she'd trapped him in marriage ten years before.
Claudia though was somewhat annoying and clingy. Annoying because she was the only Coed bimbo Gil ever met that was smart enough to teach his lit class.
It was the second time they'd made love in the mine shaft before Gil felt weak. He'd finished on her stomach and Claudia rubbed it into her smooth white stomach. She smiled, licked her lips as Gil watched.
“You dirty girl,” Gil said, stumbled weakly past her to sit on a bench missing a board in the middle.
“Just not dirty enough,” Claudia rose from the dusty mine shaft floor and rolled her bra back over her small breasts.
“Please, Claudia.” Gil wiped beads of sweat from his forehead with his handkerchief. Monogrammed handkerchief that Claudia bought him for Christmas. And Claudia was playing on the new Dimension smart phone Gil bought her for Christmas. The same one Meg had wanted, but he could only afford one.
“Oh...that Vera. She always posts the funniest pictures on facebook,” Claudia said. “You have come here for one last sexual encounter with me?”
“Must you speak so academic?” Gil said sadly.
“The only way I know to speak...” She turned her back to him. Still playing on her phone. “It's funny I couldn't cry as I have figured out you don't want me anymore.”
“Is that so? I cry every time I think of it.”
“I don't think I can because you aren't going to leave me,” Claudia giggled. “Not after what I have to say.”
“There's no other way, Claudia. I still feel for you, but--”
“Listen to me,” She turned swiftly to him, a fixed, devious smile on her face. “We are never going to be apart. We will be together forever.”
“You are getting too emotionally---”
“Gil...if you leave me...I'll tell the college...”
Gil burst into a harsh laughter. “My dear Lord!” He clapped his hands. “These days, dear, the college could care less about my love life. Times have changed---”
“I'm only seventeen,” Claudia said.
Gil stopped laughing. His eyebrows arched down. “No,” He shook his head. “This is the second year for you.”
“I graduated when I was fourteen. I skipped ahead several grades because of my astounding I.Q.”
“You're making this up.” He felt defeated. Confused. Very low on himself....trapped.
Claudia retrieved her purse from staircase that led out of the mine shaft. She showed her drivers license to him. He read the date of birth, put his head in his hands. Then he handed it back to her.
“There's more,” She continued, turned her back to him to put the license back in her purse.”I'm carrying your child.”
He'd seen the missing plank for the bench he was sitting on. Something came over Gil.....he wasn't sure what it was.....a devil...a demon....but, no, he rejected all those reasons. He didn't believe in any of those superstitions.
Gil picked up the wooden plank. He swung hard and caught the back of Claudia's head. She fell with a whimper. She was lying face down, not moving at all. Was she did? Gil thought. He didn't want to take a chance for her to get up and get out of this mine shaft. So Gil hit her again. He heard the board crush her skull. It was a crunch, then a wet sound.
Blood seemed to run from her head like a newly made spring in a garden.
Gil looked down. That phone. That so called Smart phone. Oh how she annoyed him with that machine. Text messaging him at least fifty times a day. Gil picked the square piece of hard shelled plastic and threw it down. It slammed against the hard ground. It nearly broke in half. Gil stomped on it to make sure the job was done.
His mother always said he was thorough.
Gil started to panic. He ran up the staircase and nearly missed a step. He caught himself and managed to climb out of the shaft. He rushed to his car, stopped there. He saw her Volkswagen. Looked around and remembered the swamp.
Gil smiled to himself. “Oh yes.” He said. “Be thorough.”
“Well?” Meg met him at the door.
Gil ran past her and settled for the bar, where he promptly poured himself a whiskey.
Meg sighed. “Damn. You only drink whiskey when things don't go well. She'll still be clinging to you.”
Gil drank it down fast. He caught his breath, shook his head. “No.” He said. “I don't think she will.”
“So you got rid of her?” Meg thought a minute. She watched Gil nod his head slowly. A huge smile came across her face. “Good. The bitch.”
Gil's ring tone sounded. The bells tolled loud and clear.
CLAUDIA: I STILL LOVE YOU MORE THAN ANYTHING GIL, BABY.
Gil felt his knees become weak. His face went white.
“Gil, darling. I think we should take a holiday....what. What's wrong?”
Gil had to get his head right. That text was sent earlier, I know it. He thought. Before....
“Nothing honey!” He screamed and smiled. “Where do you want to go?”
“You look a little crazed, Gil,” Meg backed away from him.
“I'm just excited by the trip, is all,” Gil said, wringing his hands.
His ring tone went off again.
CLAUDIA: WE'LL BE TOGETHER ALWAYS.
Another bell sounded.
CLAUDIA: JUST YOU AND ME.
CLAUDIA: AND OUR CHILD.
“Oh God!” Gil wheezed and ran for the front door.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Meg yelled to him.
Gil opened the front door, gave her a disturbing smile. “I just have to go and check on something is all.”
Gil was at the mine shaft. He climbed down cautiously. Driving erratically there, all thoughts turned to many things. Someone had it in for him. He was being set up. But how would anyone else have her number. How would anyone know about the baby---a friend, maybe? She wasn't dead and was toying with him?
That was it. She was still alive and toying with him. That bitch.
But she was dead.
Gil saw it with his own two eyes. She was lying there face up----wait. He had left her face down. And....and....her phone was in pieces.....
Now it was in her dead cold hand. The whole thing.....like it had never been smashed.
“No!” Gil cried out. He stumbled backwards, his face frozen in shock. He turned and ran up the staircase. He lost his footing and fell backwards. Gil landed hard on the ground of the mine shaft. There was a crunch, followed by a wet sound. Blood ran from the back of his sunken head.
His eyes were fixed on the dimming sunlight.
His phone had fallen out of his pocket. The ring tone sounded. Bells were clanging away loudly.
CLAUDIA: SEE. I TOLD YOU WE WOULD BE TOGETHER FOEVER!