Short Stories

The Grand Exit

I have tremendous admiration for all the women I loved

Hi, I am Frank. The body lying down there on the grass is mine. I was shot by a .308 Winchester, the hunting gun I had owned from my younger days. Those were the good days. There was nothing like going hunting with my mates. We looked out for each other and we always helped our mates when they needed it. Aussie hunters are real men. We like our beer cold and our women hot. We like to bullshit heaps and love a joke or two.

The person who pulled the trigger to kill me was nineteen year old Wendy. For the past five months, she has been a familiar face at the shooting range. All expenses had been funded by me. My money had been well spent. Both her shots were right into my heart. Well done Wendy! Wait and see how your mother would feel when she finds out!

You might say I was a silly man, hushhhhh… Don’t judge me before you hear me out.

See, it is really not that hard to understand what I did. I love living. I’ve always lived truthfully to myself. My mother often told me while I was growing up that you have to love yourself before you are able to love anyone else.

I didn’t want to give up the privilege of loving and being loved. I was like everyone else, in search of happiness. Every positive action has its negative side. Towards all the women that I ever loved, I have tremendous admiration for each one of them, except Kate. You guessed it, Wendy is Kate’s daughter.

Someone once told me that I was a philanderer. That really hurt. A philanderer only cares for their own physical pleasure. I was not that kind of man at all. I loved women. I loved their smell, the way they talked, the way they walked, the way they shook their hair, their laughter, their tears, their feminine touch, the list could go on and on.

My problem was I loved women too much. I wanted to be happy, not in pain, to be in order not in chaos.

I believed that if I kept an eye on my health, I would be all right but that was not the case. I am not going to bore you with my medical condition. All I can say is my father died from it at 48. My grandfather may have had the same condition but there was no record of it, so I just leave it at that. Although I did the right thing and had operations, the disease didn’t seem to take any notice of it. When the doctor told me to prepare myself for the end, I was only a few years older than my father was when he died. I didn’t take that very well.

My father became so thin just before he died, he looked almost like a skeleton. I had been eighteen at the time but this shock aged me ten years. It scared me for life. I didn’t want to be like my father if I could help it.

I went through shock, panic, anxiety and anger. Gradually those feelings led to self-pity, depression, sadness and loneliness.

After all this suffering, I woke up one day and thought to myself that I had been a very much wanted baby when I was born into this world, I had lived my life the way I wanted so I was going to exit this world as grandly as I could.

To sit around to wait for death to come and collect me was not the way I wished to go. While I was still capable of managing my affairs, I wanted to invite all the women that I had loved in the past to come and share their tears and love for me together, to give me a grand send off to the unknown world.

Was this a brilliant idea or what! Think, that’s what our brains are for!

Look at my naked body, who would have guessed my age? Pumping iron, running on the treadmill, chin ups on the iron bars, push ups on the floor – they all worked like a miracle. Ladies eat your heart out.

*        *        *

Ha, you are early Kimberly. You look absolutely stunning as always. That outfit suits you perfectly. No one would guess you are already 38. No, no one. The first time I laid my eyes on you, I told myself “That’s an elegant lady there, don’t let her slip away. There are not many ladies who have the quality she has.”

I tried my best to attract you. You were just not interested. I guessed maybe you already had a man in your life. Who knew that was not the case. The funny thing was, at one stage I thought you were a lesbian. I couldn’t understand why such an attractive lady like you was still single.

I am so glad that you and I became friends. If you don’t mind me saying so, you are far too smart to be a lady. I like your mind, the way you think, the attitude you have towards life. You understand men far better than I understand women. Before long, you became my confidant. I told you almost everything. You really are my best friend, do you know that? My daughter said I always kept the hope that one day you’d change your mind and give me a chance to be close to you in a physical way. That smart girl knows me well.

You are a complicated human being. The more I know you the more I don’t know you. I don’t understand why you chose to be on your own after your divorce. You are still young and beautiful. You still have a lot of living to do. Doing it with a partner is much better than doing it on your own. I couldn’t persuade you. You always laughed it off.

We, me and some other guys, often talked about you. We wanted to find out what kind of man could sweep you off your feet. We all wanted to be that man. Do you know, you were my first love, at least in my imagination? Well you are the only lady that I invited that did not have a physical relationship with me. Truly, the one and only.

Oh yes, Wendy too, but that’s because I couldn’t, not because I didn’t want to.

*        *        *

Pamela, nice to see you. How’s Jason? It’s been ten years, a very long time. You still look good. Cut your long hair? Ohhhhhhhh, I loved your long hair, it looked so nice on you.

You don’t look very happy, isn’t Jason nice to you? See, I told you so. I called you on your wedding day, I asked you not to go through with it because I knew without me you wouldn’t be happy. Do you remember that? Did you regret it later?

You were so vibrant when we first met. That’s right, you were walking your dog, DD. How’s DD? Is she still with you? That dog, she urinated on my shoe at the traffic lights. Without DD we might never have had the chance to meet. How nice of you to take me to your apartment and clean my shoes for me.

I never told you that I had been on my way to see Ruby. I didn’t want anybody to spot my car parked near her place, so I parked my car three streets away. That day I was walking to her place when I met you. It was worth losing her to gain you. Eight years with you was a wonderful experience.

Believe it or not I cried on your wedding day. I stood in front of the mirror like we often did together and I cried like a baby. I didn’t believe that you would leave me for Jason. I didn’t even know you were dating another guy. I thought we would always be together, till we were old.

You are here, that means a lot to me. I know deep in your heart I would always be your man as you told me a hundred times before.

*        *        *

Wow, little Sarah, how nice to have you here. I never thought you would come. You’ve changed your hair colour. It’s nice, red does suit you.

I would like to apologise to you. I wanted to return your calls but I was very busy at that period of time. You know, work, gym, spending time with my children, you know what I mean. I kept procrastinating and then it was too late to call. Please forgive me. Time to time, I did think of you.

You may find it hard to believe that you were my teddy bear. I could relax in your embrace. No unwanted loneliness could disturb me, surrounded by your warm and soft body, feeling cosy and snug.

Do you remember one night you came to my office with only a long black lapin coat and a pair of stilettos as high as the champagne bottle in your hand? You are the wildest lady I have known in my entire life. Oh boy, you are really something.

How are your children? I hear that Dean is president of the “Break free” gay club. You must be very proud of his achievement.

*        *        *

Anita is that you? My dear Anita, you are as beautiful as you were the first time I lay my eyes on you. No, not the same, you are much more sophisticated and mature than when I first met you. How could that happen?

Last time I saw you was 22 years ago. You haven’t changed a bit, still as stunning as ever. San Francisco must agree with you.

Lucy told me you are a widow now. I am glad that you came back to Melbourne. Without you here, my exit would never be grand. Darling, you still hold a big part of my heart. My love for you will never change. Not one day passes that I don’t think of you. Part of your looks and expressions are in Lucy and Matthew so in a spiritual way you were with me all this time, even when you were physically in America.

Our boy Matthew is 6 foot 2, half a head taller than I am. What a man. I wouldn’t swap him with all the tea in China. I love my first born. He’s my hope, my pride. I have always been so proud to be his father, ever since he was born.

He always takes charge, no matter what. That’s the way I wanted him to be. He never disappoints me. What I received from him is much more than any father could ever ask his son for.

I remember very well the day when he was born. It was shortly after 5 in the morning. You woke me up and told me to take you to the hospital. I was so excited, drove the car away without you in it. After a few metres, I realised what I’d done. I laughed so hard that I had to stop the car. Do you still remember all those happy events?

I like your hair. You were always able to style your hair very well. I used to love to touch your silky hair. I can still smell your hair. You smell good Anita.

We were so young when we got married. We could not bear to be apart because we were so much in love. Can you still feel that intensity? I can feel it, like it happened yesterday.

I never got over you leaving me. I never loved anyone else the way I loved you. Were you sorry you left me? You must have been. That’s why you are here now, isn’t it?

My darling, if I could turn back time, I would. If I could hold you in my arms again, I would.

I was stupid to have an affair with Kate. It was all the testosterone’s fault. I paid a big price for it. Losing you was the worst thing in my life. Well, dying at fifty is equally bad. If you were still with me, I might still be alive now. You are smart, you knew how to look after me, not like May-Jane. I hate that woman!

Anita, my darling Anita, I am so glad you are here. Thank you for coming!

*        *        *

Good gracious me! What has happened? Dianna? It’s been fifteen years since I last saw you. Now you are only skin and bones! Don’t tell me you too…Wow! Looks like you will join me soon.

How were the past fifteen years for you? I heard you and your partner adopted an orphan. What a noble deed. I admire your generosity.

We had lots of good times together, didn’t we? You were an amazing lady, a master seducer. You were far more mentally active than you were physically, so I thought you may have added a couple of spare tyres after all these years. I would never have guessed you would look as thin as you do now. Take care of yourself.

I hope today’s experience would give you some light. I have to admit that I treasure dignity more than a low quality of life. Good luck Dianna!

*        *        *

There comes Lucy, my dear daughter. I have already moved my assets into your name. Matthew has a gambling habit. I couldn’t let him have anything. In the end it’d all be in the bookie’s hands. May-Jane didn’t know what I have and she is too stupid to fight for it, so you will be ok.

I hate May-Jane anyway. I don’t care what happens to her. As far as I am concerned, she can go back to the farm where she came from and plant wheat for the rest of her life. She forced me into a shot gun marriage. She treated you and Matthew badly after we married. If she had been a good mother, Jenny wouldn’t have died of a drug overdose. Poor Jenny had just turned thirteen.

My big mistake was marrying her. Forgive me my darling daughter. I hope money will ease the pain of your childhood misery a bit for you.

I know you and Matthew couldn’t understand why I was with May-Jane. You see, when I met her she was 19. She never asked for anything, she only wanted to please me. That’s why I let her into our home.

I was lost when Kate turned away from me. When May-Jane forced me to marry her, I thought it could be a good idea.

Your mother and Kate were both beautiful and smart. I could never find another woman better than any of them. But they were both past their prime. They could have had anything but they’d never regain their youth the way they wished. To hurt them, I married a young girl.

I am not sure I did hurt them but I am very sure that I hurt myself.

Many times I wanted to leave her. Believe me, I tried but I always came back. Why not? She knew I was having affairs. She accepted them. On the other hand, your mother left me. I told her I had business trips. She accepted me being away for weeks. I know she’s not a smart person but she fit into my routines. She kept a home for me. When I was tired of the outside world and wanted to return, I had a place to return to.

I couldn’t help the way I was. I paid the price for my own behaviour. I want you and Matthew to know that I did love you both very much. I am sorry that because of me you two suffered a great deal from May-Jane. Please forgive me.

*        *        *

Hi Joanna, I can see you must be living well. Your happiness is wrapped around you. How could anyone not notice it?

It’s too late for tears. You hurt my manhood, destroyed my dignity. There’s only so much a man can take. My limit was reached a long time ago.

I heard you and Peter split up. Maybe I should have felt some compassion for you but I didn’t. Deep inside my heart, I was glad. I was glad that you two couldn’t make it. I was so pleased he walked out from you, couldn’t do it to a better person.

You look like hell, ha! Stay there, that’s where you really belong. How wonderful that I’ve got the chance to see all that has happened to you.

Regret? Too late baby, how dare you date both of us at the same time? How dare you dump me for him? Bitch!

*        *        *

Hello, Nicole, still unhappy? I know life was not easy for you but who has had an easy life anyway? Suffering is part of the human condition and it comes to us all.

To be happy you must be your own sunshine first. I learnt that long ago. No one is able to make us happy but ourselves. Parents, children or partners don’t have the power to give us happiness. Being emotionally independent is the first step.

You asked me once why wouldn’t I stay with you? I couldn’t tell you to your face, it was your personality. You were so moody, everything was wrong, nothing was right. Although I loved your looks and your body, I could never be happy with you.

Isn’t it a saying that if you cry, you cry alone; if you laugh, the whole world laughs with you?

Take care Nicole, try to be more cheerful. If you do, you might have a better life.

*        *        *

Liz, you are late again. You often complained that I didn’t take you seriously but how could I? You’re never on time, no matter what the circumstances. You just can’t organise yourself to be on time. What is so hard about preparing everything a bit earlier?

You are not a stupid person, why act like one? Look around you. Everyone who should be here is already here, even those I was not expecting to see today are here. You, you are one of the last to arrive when I expected to see you first. Elizabeth, I hope you know why I didn’t want to tie the knot with you. You would have driven me nuts.

You were my partner for various activities only because I needed one. You might think I am cruel to say that but marrying you would definitely have been cruel to myself.

You are a kind-hearted lady. One day you’ll find a nice man who needs you. You two would live happily ever after. I would be gone from your memory like the wind. I am not worthy of your love. Move on and leave me behind.

*        *        *

What are you doing Michelle? I told you many times that I don’t want you to claim I am David’s father, full stop!

You can claim David is my boy as much as you like. I know he’s not mine. There’s no way I would believe you.

Lucy doesn’t want another brother and so don’t you dare tell her your lies.

Lucy, please don’t talk to Michelle. This woman is a crock, she’s into no good.

Come on, Lucy walk away from her.

What? You have a DNA report to prove it? What nonsense.

Lucy, listen to me carefully. I did have a fling with Michelle but it was over very soon. She can claim whatever she likes, don’t you believe a word she says.

What are you doing? Lucy? Please don’t give William’s phone number to her. I don’t want her to see my lawyer.

*        *        *

What’s going on there?

Mama mia, what a whopper. What is that? A barrel of lard?

“I am Kate Kelly.”

No, she can’t be. It’s got to be a joke. I was dumped by this rectangular piece of butter?

“The Kate Kelly?” Anita asks.

“Frank’s Kate Kelly?” May-Jane asked simultaneously.

“That’s me, the one and only Kate Kelly. Where is Frank?”

Wendy rushed to Kate and hysterically cried out, “Frank is in the garden. He’s dead, I shot him.”

Suddenly the whole room was quiet. May-Jane had come home from shopping shortly before Kimberly arrived. She hadn’t realised that Wendy and I had been playing the hunter and kangaroo game while she was gone. After Wendy saw me lying in a pool of blood, she had hidden in the garden bush, waiting for the right time to escape.

May-Jane had no idea whatsoever. She had watched the ladies come into the house, guessing it must have been me who invited them but she hadn’t known I was planning the grand exit. I never told her anything. If I did ever tell her something, they would mostly be lies.

Wendy had seen her mother come into the house, like a little child seeing the light in the total darkness. She hadn’t realised it could be a trap.

*        *        *

After the initial shock, suddenly everyone started talking. No one listened to anyone else. I was really enjoying this chaos.

“Where is Frank’s body?” Anita held onto Wendy’s hand and asked.

That’s my Anita. When everyone is in a panic, she’s calm and sensible. She knows what to do or say, she has that leadership quality.

Wendy led them to the garden. They all had their share of screaming and shock, surrounding me.

That’s what I wanted them to do. I wanted them to cry together and tell each other how much they loved me.

“May-Jane?” Anita called out. “Would you please get a sheet to cover the body?”

I forgot they hadn’t been introduced yet. May-Jane moved in as a housekeeper a few months after Anita left me. Look at them two. May-Jane is only thirty-six years old but her tummy sticks out like she’s pregnant, her hair is dry and brittle and that prematurely aged skin makes her look older then Anita.

*        *        *

“I called the police. They’ll be here any minute,” Anita announced.

“Why did you kill him? Did he try to rape you?”

Shut up Dianna, nothing pleasant ever came out from your mouth. Your time should be up sooner rather than later.

“It was supposed to be an unloaded gun. Frank told me it was unloaded.”

How do you feel Kate? Watching your daughter cry and knowing she is soon to be punished by the law for killing me?

Hellooooo, Kate, how can you eat in a situation like this? Your daughter just killed your ex-lover. Look at you, both hands holding biscuits, unbelievable!

“Lucy, before the police arrive, you better know that Wendy is your half-sister.” Kate spoke with food in her mouth.

What? Wendy is my daughter? Kate you are such a horrible woman, are you telling the truth?

After you and Ted came back from your European holiday, I asked you to leave Ted and move in with me. After Anita and I divorced, I was going to marry you. You told me three things. First, I was wasting my money having May-Jane as a housekeeper. Second, Ted earned more money than me. Third, I had missed the boat. After that you didn’t want to see me again.

I hated you. It was because of you that Anita left me. If you didn’t want to have a future with me, why destroy my life? You are evil. You destroyed me in cold blood. I detested you because you had destroyed my entire life.

If I hadn’t been hurt by you, I wouldn’t have married May-Jane and my children wouldn’t have suffered from her. All my suffering and my children’s suffering were caused by you. You are the devil from hell.

Wendy is your only child. I wanted to punish you for what you did to me. How dare you tell me she is my child too.

“What are you saying mum?”

“Honey, Frank was full of fun. He was witty, charming and nice to spend time with. But he was also insincere, unfaithful, wasteful and untrustworthy. I knew my life with Frank would be like Anita’s life with Frank. Ted was the total opposite so I chose to stay with Ted when I found out I was having you.”

“I just killed my own father?”

“Did you…?”

“Nooooo, he was so old. I am not desperate, mum. You might like him but no way would I have let him touch me. Look at him…”

Old? Who’s old? I am in great shape.

“He wasn’t this bad when he was younger.”

You should talk, how about yourself? Kate, you need a mirror.

“Look how time has changed all of us.”

Speak for yourself, I don’t have a spare tyre around my waist. Look at my abs, women are crazy about them.

“Wait a minute, why are we here today? Do you know May-Jane?”

“No, I thought Frank invited you all.”

Ha ha, that’s right. Frank invited all of you here to see your tears and regrets before his departure.

“Frank was dying. He planned this because he was arrogant enough to think we all still loved him.”

Anita? What do you mean I was arrogant?

“Poor little boy thought wrong!”

I don’t expect anything nice from you, Kate.

“I should use an old sheet to cover him.”

Oh shut up May-Jane, nothing coming out of your mouth is worth listening to.

“Once a philanderer, always a philanderer. What’s new?”

Pamela don’t you love me anymore?

“May Frank’s soul rest in peace.”

Thank you Dianna. I am sorry for what I said earlier about you.

“I never really knew why I didn’t like him that much but now I know why.”

Nicole, that’s not very nice!

“There’s nothing to like about Frank. He was just another ordinary man – ruled by his little boy, not able to think with his head.”

How could you say I was ordinary? Liz, you can talk.

“My son liked him because he always brought a custard tart when he visited.”

How about you Sarah? Don’t you love me? Tell them you do!

“To be honest, I didn’t like him much but competition is what men want, so be it.”

You were a two timer, Joanna.

Someone or somebody please help. This is my exit. I am supposed to leave this world in a grand style.

“Frank was a little boy who got lost. He asked me many times why I was never interested in him. Well, because I like men not boys.”

Not you too Kimberly, you are my best friend.

I can’t take it anymore. This is the end of my life. These women are supposed to love me. They should cry their heart out, not talk about me calmly like a dirt bag down the street. What did I do that was so wrong to deserve this scandalously cold treatment after my death?

Helloooo, is anybody able to help me?

*        *        *

“I am starving, what does everyone say if we order some pizza while we are waiting for the police to arrive?”

You disgust me, Kate. Are there ever any thoughts in that fat head of yours other than of food?

“Agreed, it’s all on me.” That’s my girl Lucy. “Wendy, I am not your half-sister, if you are Frank’s daughter. Now that I’ve said it in front of all these witnesses, I feel much better.”

Lucy, you are my daughter, that’s why I gave you all my assets.

Anita is that true?

“Frank cheated and lied all his life. He didn’t realise that life can cheat him as well.”

How did life cheat me? If Lucy was not my daughter, whose daughter was she? Did you have an affair with someone Anita? Who? Who was he?

That’s unfair. No, I can’t go just now, I need the answers to my questions. I have the right to know.

Can I reverse my plan? If I admit that I wasn’t smart, could I reverse everything? Hellooo, is anybody there able to help me?

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