Tuesday, January 26, 2010

CARLOTTA ~ by Salvatore Buttaci of Harbinger*33

By ~ Salvatore Buttaci

It would have been so convenient if the realtor could have explained it all away by confessing their dream home had been callously built on the sacred burial ground of some Indian tribe and the two of them had been victims of Century 21’s deceit.  Or maybe Satan had visited these posh-valley estates and decided, “Hey, what the hell!  Here’s a mcmansion where I can do some major damage.”

Floyd Yates could offer neither desecrated ground nor Satanic visits for what transpired at 14 ½ Townsend Terrace. He had to laugh.  14 ½.  It should have been an omen.  Who in his right mind shortchanges an address by adding insult to 14 and 15?  And the word “insult” caught in his throat like a bitter horse pill.  He coughed a few times so he could swallow past it, but he could tell from his pebbly voice it was still there, would remain there till the last stars came out that night, would stick––visibly, he imagined––as though to mock him right up to his own grave.

“She betrayed me.”  Was that his voice?  His thoughts, like his rage, could no longer be contained.  He hated the loneliness so he let those words bobbing in his head find a door out his mouth and he spoke aloud again, “Carlotta broke my heart.”  The ring of that!  “Broke my heart.”  Listen to me!  I’m telling it like it is.  This woman who was everything to me.  This woman who could have had any man in the whole freaking world picked me for her lover, the one and only man she said she could trust with her precious love.  We traded hearts.  We said the magic word “forever.”  We promised not even death would dare separate us.  Four years is a mighty short forever.

Too much sunshine out there to tie him down to an accountant’s boring desk, Floyd had opted for an early dismissal, took the 2:22 out of Hoboken instead of the usual 5:09, and felt so free and happy, he realized he was walking towards 14 ½ with a kind of man-in-control swagger that pleased him.

He heard the sounds coming from the master bedroom.  They were half familiar to him.  The moans that cooed from Carlotta’s carmine lips he knew so well,  but the voice like a film director’s instructing his wife, his Carlotta, the voice every few words grunting at her like a beast.  Another man.  In slow-motion mode, he glided towards the half-closed door and punished himself by peering inside.  He took a deep breath, then released it mutely from his nostrils, praying dizziness would not topple him.  Sweat popped cold on his forehead so he brushed it away.  Meanwhile, Carlotta and her new Sealy partner were still engaged in sweaty dialogue, and he knew if he waited any longer, he’d be forced to witness their explosive joy, a joy once his, now wrenched from his life.  Forever.

Floyd turned away.  Headed towards the den.  Quietly drew open the desk drawer.  Touched the cold revolver.  Placed it in his shaky hand and returned to the scene of the crime.  The two of them lay there panting, arms and legs in a comic tangle that did not make him laugh.  He raised the steel thing and fired it twice into the stranger’s hairy chest.  Floyd watched the man leap off the bed, lifted by the force of those two shots. 

Carlotta, too shocked to scream, walked naked towards Floyd who still held the revolver in a hand still trembling.  What he saw in her blue eyes, the eyes he once swore he could swim forever… Who was this woman?   Though the blood of the dead man had spattered across her breasts and her cheek, she did not palm it away.  Instead, she put her arms around Floyd, and for awhile the two of them were frozen in some kind of time warp, neither one saying or doing anything.  Carlotta began to cry, slowly at first as if she were trying to build herself into the role of the repentant or the soon-to-be victim, and then the crying came like a dam kicked down, heavy sobbing and, yes, begging now.  Begging him “Please don’t kill me.  I love you!  I don’t know why all this,” she said, waving her arm back at the dead heap on the thick plush carpet.  “It doesn’t mean anything.  I love you,” she said again, but he let the revolver do the talking.  He didn’t trust himself to speak.  And it was apparent she would not understand what he’d have to say.  

With the first shot she let her eyes grow big and her mouth sag into the pout of a child who doesn’t get her way.  With the second shot her arms reached up––a prayer too late?––and Carlotta was another crumpled body in the room.

Now he sat in the living room, far from the dying room where only a day ago the two of them loved the night away.  In one hand he held a warm full glass of scotch which he drank like an alcoholic who means it when he swears, “This is my last.”  On the end table lay the revolver, waiting for the tremble of his hand.  He stared at the steel thing, envying its power to close down the night, shut out the pain, the face of Carlotta. 

Floyd had given that woman his heart.  She had given him hers. He wondered now how he had managed to keep alive these years without the heart he had given away.  How had he been able to survive with Carlotta’s heart?  It was an unfair exchange.  He knew that much so clearly now.  She was gone and so was his heart.  Dead with her.  But the heart she had given him from what she called “the depths of me” could never keep love alive.

He downed the last of the scotch that seemed to melt away the bitter pill of learning love had fooled him big time.  He lifted the revolver, shoved the barrel deep into his mouth, and squeezed the trigger, still holding in his other hand, wet and red and soft as he always imagined it to be, Carlotta’s heart.
(c) 2010, Author Salvatore Buttaci

Sal? Aboard Harbinger*33, he's GodFather to me and the merrymaking multitudes. In writers' circles of any consequence, Salvatore Amico M. Buttaci is the hearty fellow leaning over your shoulder and chuckling at just the right write line he saw you scrawl; the same guy who sits back and leans into a confab about how writers are the most fab folks of all. Yes, that's our Sal, man of heart, mind, and spilling over spirit ~ a real nice splash when it comes your way. Sal is poetry the way a pen needs motion, right here, SAMBPOET, editor in chiefdom of The Poem Factory. Stick around Buster, and I betcha he'll sell you a few of his published books @ the Salvatore Buttaci Storefront. If you wink at him a certain way though, he pours a glass of vino from Grandma Buttaci's Sicilian cellar. (It's got clarity).

Sal, I'm as glad as that line outside AT THE BIJOU door ~ that you're around, that you inspire WebTown, that you're a poet and you know it and you don't let your flashy ancestry of a piratical past get in the way of your straight and true. Si, caro Sal ~ we all read/feel only the highest from you.

Grazie molto bene, Salvatore. T'amo.
 ~ Absolutely*Kate and the fine staff of renown


Michael Solender said...

sal - you nailed this one, perfect all the way right down to the tragic finale. pow! at least he was a softie..

Linda said...

Well ugh. This one has heart all right. Beautiful prose wrapped around violence like ribbons on a regift. Good stuff, Sal... and here I'm thinking you're a gentle soul ;^)

Peace, Linda

Laurita said...

Sal, this was perfect. So many subtle details that made me smile. Very well done.

Harry said...

Wow Sal! I don't think I could say it any better than Linda already has. Excellent!

Salvatore Buttaci said...

Thank you all so much for your kind praise. I had a dog once named Queenie. The more dog biscuits we threw her way, the more she would sit up and beg, roll over, count to four by slamming her paws down on the linoleum. It got so we had to stop feeding her the biscuits so she'd stop with the tricks! I guess I am a lot like Queenie, except I don't pant.

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

Another biscuit here Queenie -- er, SAL. I thought this was a hard-hitting piece for you, then I realized ... you have raaaaaange.

So? You had fun writing up Carlotta, huh?
(and you said you weren't panting)
~ Absolutely*Kate, knowin' it's so great to see you here again, AT THE BIJOU

Anonymous said...

This is one I didn't expect to see from you.
You did a great job. I think I might have given you the inspiration.

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...


Madam Z said...

Say it isn't so! Sweet, soft-spoken Sal, penning a sad story about sordid sex, shooting strangers, swigging shots, severing hearts and a shocking suicide? Are there no limits to this man's style and skill?

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

Madam Z ~ tis rumoured he helped write central to the plot pages of Gravity's Rainbow ...

Paul D Brazill said...

Lovely. A thick,dark torch song!

Eric Beetner said...

Very nice! Well done.

Kevin Michaels said...

My kind of story Sal - sex and violence all mixed together with a little blood! Great job. Loved the feel as well as your descriptions ("let the revolver do the talking"). A change of pace/departure from your other work, but just as well crafted and beautifully done.