Story Book Corner is a monthly fiction writing challenge of between 300-500 words inspired by a single picture prompt.
The Sewer Rat~
When Joe was 25 he got a job with the local power company. His first position was in underground. It was there that he learned how to fix and repair the street lights that kept the city above humming. He also learned that rats were enormous under the streets of the city and that the people above were oblivious to this fact and happy to stay that way.
The power company had strict rules about talking about life below the street lights that Joe and his co-workers adhered to. He didn’t tell his wife, his mother or his best friend. Joe was a company man with his sights on the future.
Joe’s wife had just delivered their second child and he grew anxious about making the bills on time. The most important thing was not to allow his wife to work so that she could raise their children in their home.
It was 1963 and standards were set. Joe worked hard to have a home to show off to his friends. He planned cocktail parties where his wife would hostess after she put their angelic children to bed. They were the envy of their neighbors, their siblings, and their cousins.
His wife was a beautiful woman and although she had gained some weight after having two children so quickly into their marriage her breasts were all that any man noticed. Joe watched his friends when they met her and he was proud of the looks she got.
Sometimes after his friends left and Joe had had too much to drink he grew angry with his wife for being so beautiful. He accused her of liking all the attention she got a little too much.
Most of the time this made her cry and Joe felt bad. He would hold her and apologize for being so mean. He tried to explain what it was like to work in the sewer but he could never find the words without feeling inadequate.
Last week after a party he felt so frustrated he slapped her hard across the face. She fell to the ground and for a moment Joe simply stood over her. When she looked up she had a look of surprise and fear in her eyes. Her lip was bloodied and Joe was shocked at what he had done.
He dropped to his knees, covered his face with his hands, and sobbed for forgiveness.
He promised he would never do it again. And he didn’t; until the next time.