the onion

There was a bowl of onions on the table and a gun.

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Copyright © 2007, Michael M Wayman

It was late in the office, that means early in the evening. There was no one left in the building but me. I often work late, most days. I was sitting there thinking about the day. It had been a good day, a very good day indeed.

Just about everything went right, so much better than expected, the future looks bright. One of my projects was ready a week early and the customer loved it. Wait till my boss hears about that. Another project is on time, it's reached all its targets so far. I stitched up my rival Patrick, yeah, I accidentally fed him the wrong information and he made a fool of himself at the status meeting, oh, how we laughed.

And my other project that we all hate, we call it YUK, got cancelled. Hooray! At the progress meeting I lost my temper and told the customer the truth about the project; that killed it. It was a loss making project and that was the best that could have happened to it. Good riddance, I say.

Just about everything went right, so much better than expected, the future looks bright. Maybe I'll get a raise in salary. I'm doing fine, better than the others. If I get more money I could marry Joan, my fiancée, and we could have a kid or two. Why don't I call on Marjorie tonight; she is so good in bed. I was lost in my pleasant thoughts.

The phone rang, who was it, not a voice I thought I knew, “Tim. Come round to my place right now! No questions! Just come here! Now!” and that was it. No name, no address, but the telephone number was on the display. I used a cross directory to find the address and then I remembered the voice.

It belonged to Cary, the girl who worked in the next room. No, I had never worked with her, I had never spoken to her, no more than a hello in the corridor, she worked in another department. But yes, she did look good, yes, this could be interesting, but who was Tim.

Cary opened the door. She seemed surprised to see me, “Oh, come in and have a drink!” she said.

There was a bowl of onions on the table and a gun. I took an onion and started to peel it. I peeled off one layer and there was a smaller onion. “The layers of an onion,” I said, “peel one off and there is always a smaller onion inside.”

“No!” she said, “you've got it wrong.” “But everyone knows the allegory of the onion.” “Well, everybody has got it wrong. Just peel off the next layer, and the next, and... and you see at the end there is nothing left. That's the second part of the story.” I offered her an onion. “Do you want to eat one?” “No, not really, I don't like onions.”

I picked up the gun, it was heavier than I though. “Is it loaded?” I asked. “Yes! Put it down at once!” I put it down; I'm not really interested in guns. “Would you like to see my bedroom?” she asked, “It's very pretty.”

She was different. We rolled around for what seemed hours, having fun, well, I was having fun, but not like I usually do with a girl. She was playing with me. She rolled me on top of her and held me very tight, “OK, little boy!” and I came. I didn't roll off her, like I usually do, no, she rolled me around some more. She held me still and she came. Very strange, but main thing, I had my fun.

“I'm just going to the bathroom.” she said. There was a single shot. I ran to the bathroom. I opened the door. She was all over the place. I threw up on the floor. I closed the door.

What was I to do? Run? No chance! There was no way I could leave the building without being seen. My finger prints were on the gun and my DNA inside her. No, call the police; no doctor could help her now.

I waited and my brain started to work again. I wasn't Tim. I still don't know who Tim is. Cary must have called the wrong number. She was expecting somebody else, someone perhaps a lot better than me.

She certainly treated me as if I was a little boy; she called me that. She wasn't impressed with my skills in bed. She just needed someone to make a happy one last time and I was just about good enough, not very good for my pride.

What will Marjorie think about this? Why ask? She is jealous at the best of times. No, she will stick her nails into me, into my face if she could reach. She will hurt me physically and anyway else she can find – first of all she will phone Joan.

Oh, no, not Joan! Oh, yes, there is no way that she won't find out. And after the last time, remember that awful scene and the promises I made to her, never, never ever to have an affair again.

Yeah! And her promise, one more affair and out I go, out onto the street. “You do that again and you can live on the streets or die there. See if I care!” Yeah, she'll throw me out; I haven't even got a car to live in. I have no money; I spend it all on women.

Oh yes, the reason that my projects are so successful has nothing to do with me, I've just taken them over. And worse, the YUK project. Remember, it is the favourite project of my boss. The last time a project closed he fired somebody, I don't know if it was the right person, but who opened his mouth this time and wasn't Patrick in the meeting. This looks bad.

I came to this town because of the job. Any town is the same to me. But I have no roots here. I'm only interested in my job and women, no time for friends. I lost touch with my relatives – they never seemed to be interested in what I did.

If I lose my job and Joan throws me out then I will have nothing. No job, no money, no home, no women, no nothing.

I sat down with my back to the door. I could hear and feel the neighbours banging on the door. The police would be here soon.



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