Well, it’s finally time to vote!!! Thanks to my small, but stalwart, panel of judges – and with the assistance of the very talented writers of the Envy entries, the field has been narrowed to 5 finalists. These top vote-getters are very worthy, indeed.
To make it easier for readers, I am going to repeat the top 5 entries here, followed by the poll which will determine the Winner. That way you won’t have to keep jumping around to find the entries. If you haven’t done so, please visit the blogs of these talented writers.
Voting will take place until midnight Tuesday, June 12, 2012. You may vote once per day (if I have it set right this time – I’m a work in progress – the more I screw up, the more I learn!!)
Without further ado, I present to you – the finalists of the Envy round of the Seven Deadly Sins Contest.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Frank pulled into the club lot and headed for his usual parking space. Bob was always there first, but today the adjacent spot was empty.
“Damn!” Frank thought sourly. Wasn’t it just like that SOB to be late today?
Bob was his oldest friend. At least that’s how Frank would have described the relationship. It would be more accurate to say the two men were competitive, slightly antagonistic business acquaintances who cheated at golf against one another every Saturday. Frank lacked the mental subtlety to understand the distinction,
He brought the Lexus SUV to a stop and sat for a moment, enjoying the custom-fitted leather bucket seat. He mopped his beefy, sweating face and breathed in the distinctive new car smell. The temperature gauge read 71, but to Frank it felt like 90. His stomach clenched and he popped a couple of Tums – hell, he’d been eating them like candy lately.
The car purred; damn it was a fine automobile.
It aught to be. An icy finger stroked his spine at the thought of the $90,000+ price tag. The total bill, presented 3 days ago along with the keys, had caused him to swallow – hard. His monthly payment, added to his mortgage and his wife’s unrelenting spending; well, it was enough to give any man indigestion. The burning feeling in his gut intensified.
He needed this car. He deserved this car. It was practically a business necessity. Who wanted financial advice from a guy who drove a junker? Certainly not Bob. He was Frank’s biggest client. That man was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He always had the best and had no idea what someone like Frank went through just to keep up.
A sharp stab in the solar plexus doubled him over for a moment. The pain passed, leaving him gasping for air and sweating even more profusely. It might be time to go back to that doctor, though he knew just what he’d say. He’d give Frank the same old line: too much rich food, too much liquor, and too much stress.
Frank got out of the car and wiped an imaginary smudge off the Black Onyx hood. He’d really wanted old Bob to be standing here when he drove up. That bastard would be impressed for sure.
A sharp blast on a horn a few feet away made Frank jump. He spun around as an unfamiliar vehicle nosed into the space.
“Sorry I’m late. I had to stop at the dealership on the way over to pick up my latest toy. I wanted you to be the first to see it, old friend.” Bob had to raise his voice to be heard over the thrum of the powerful engine. He hopped out of the sports car and made his way around to the front where Frank stood, frozen to the spot.
“Yup, I says to myself, Frankie boy would want to be the FIRST to see this. I ordered it months ago…” Bob’s laughing, mocking voice went on and on, but Frank couldn’t hear it over the roaring in his ears. Searing pain in his chest squeezed like an anaconda as a lifetime of “too much” caught up with him.
Frank pitched forward onto the gleaming, Serpent Green hood. His senses were shutting down. Now he could feel his bare arms sliding down the warm, smooth metal. Now his vision narrowed to a pinprick as he crumpled to the pavement. Frank’s last sight on this earth was the distinctive emblem on the front of the car’s hood – the Lamborghini bull.
From Dave at 1pointperspective:
Nick Valenti – Swim Club Gigolo
Nicky V. hustled. He went to community college and worked at the bowling alley. He’d been there long enough to be able to run the whole show. He sprayed disinfectant in the rental shoes when he had to, but where he really shined was shmoozing the moms who came in to have birthday parties for their little brats. He’d make sure the bumpers were up and that they kept off the hardwood with the pizza and soda. Nick couldn’t help but look at those moms with their shiny SUV’s and wish he had some better wheels.
In the summer months, business fell off at the alley and Nicky worked over at the Delcrest Swim Club. His cousin Jimmy “One Thumb” Valenti was officially the manager, but Nicky did the work. Jimmy just picked up a check – nine fingers or not, he had no problem with that skill. Nicky should be so lucky.
Nick was a bit of a player with the lovely young ladies at the pool. This summer was different. Nicky was tired of the teenagers, he had his eye on bigger game.
Nicky figured the woman was in her 30′s, and she had him in some kind of trance. She was built like a centerfold. Strippers should have studied the way she moved. Her name was Crystal Light, just like the diet drink mix. Funny, because her old man looked like he’d never been within a mile of lo-cal anything. Nicky looked at that fat slob and dreamed of having his life. As if having a knockout like Crystal wasn’t enough, the round man owned a classic Caddy. It drove Nicky crazy that this guy had it all, and more chins than a Chinese phonebook.
When Crystal started chatting with Nicky down by the diving well, he thought maybe she was going to hit him up to work on the Caddy. The trunk lock had been popped and it was held closed with clothesline. He couldn’t believe that tub of Beefaroni would drive a number like Crystal around a classic car rigged like that. Where was the justice?
He was trying so hard to look cool that he wasn’t sure he heard her right. She smiled, then turned and walked away to find her husband at the snack bar. Nicky tried to recall her exact words, but the sight of her walking away wasn’t helping his thought process. He was convinced that she wanted Mr. Light turned off for good.
Nick was no murderer, but he kept imagining driving the Caddy with Crystal snuggled up against him. He pictured himself pulling into the driveway of the Light’s split level over on Belmont Terrace. He deserved that life. He’d do it.
That’s how he found himself crouching in a cluster of rhododendrons at the edge of Light’s property, his fingers sweating as his grip tightened on the handle of the gun he’d lifted from One Thumb’s desk at the swim club. That 500-pounder-with-cheese was bound to come out of his house eventually, and Nicky would be waiting, swatting mosquitoes.
Nick felt the presence but didn’t even have a chance to turn around before the bowling pin cracked across the back of his skull and knocked him into dreamland.
The man stood over Nick, wearing torn jeans and a badly scuffed leather jacket, scrapes on his hands and face.
He said, “Sorry kid, but there’s already a line formed for guys who want to kill that fat bastard.”
Willie Prader pulled out a Lucky and leaned back down into the shadows of the bushes to light it without being seen.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Adrenaline junkie, that’s what they called her. They didn’t understand it wasn’t the thrills that kept her coming back. It had morphed into so much more. And now this poser stepped in. A glory hound and experience fiend wrapped in one – just like her. And he had stolen her spotlight.
Her green eyes flashed at the thought. If he was good, she would just do better. Jealously coursed through her veins as she watched him basking in the adoration of the capricious mob. Not for long… Not long. Frustration brimmed to the surface while she watched them fawn over him. The sheep, stupid sheep in adulation, always looking for the next best thing. He was nothing! A copy-cat. A cad. The sinewy vines of envy wrapped around her heart, choking like ivy until her chest ached. But she would do what it took to surpass him, she would become unforgettable.
It was her turn. The crowd, that fickle and spineless following – she needed and loathed them at once –thronged behind. She stepped onto the platform and the world went silent. Suddenly one of the more astute piped up, “Where’s her bungee cord?” She smiled. Unforgettable. Let him try and beat this. She jumped, screams of the horde following her over the edge and then the falling, surrendering to the blackness in an elegant swan dive. Her last thought was smug satisfaction. Unforgettable. And him? He would fade into oblivion now.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
From Darla at She’s a Maineiac:
When it comes right down to it, I guess I just didn’t want to come out. Who would? My mother never fails to tell my sisters how I howled as the doctor clamped down and yanked me from her uterus, a lifeless ragdoll. “You came out and lawd have mercy, you were bluer ‘n your Daddy’s eyes! We thought you were dead!” But I wasn’t. Not yet. Course, I always knew the real reason I didn’t want to enter this world–my older sisters.
But time marched on and I had to come out eventually. And for us Darling girls, timing was everything–it defined us for all eternity. First out of my mom’s womb at 12:32 am was Stacy, flushed a rosy pink from her hearty cries. Then along came Tracy at 12:38, Stacy’s identical in every way with her perfectly round head, long feathery lashes and dewy soft skin. Me? I was the odd one from the start. And they always made sure I knew it.
My sisters were shining stars in our little town. Boys always coming around, pacing on the front porch with flowers for one or the other. I sat in my room, watching from the window. “Tootle-loo, Lexy!” they’d sing. I can still hear their fake laughs and the door slamming as they ran off to another party without me.
That all changed with my mom’s new cupcake business. If there was one thing she could do in life, it was bake a good cupcake. She started whipping up exotic flavors one afternoon, key lime pie with buttercream, red velvet with a dab of cream cheese in the middle and topped with dark chocolate fondant.
Soon my two sisters were standing by her side in the kitchen, the three of them wearing matching aprons dusted with flour, giggling and singing and making them damn cupcakes. They sold out the first few batches at the local flea market and not long after that Darling’s Cupcakes was born.
I let them have their cupcakes. I never liked to bake anyway. But the day I walked by the Royal River and caught a glimpse of Stacy on her tiptoes reaching up to kiss Jacob’s cheek my feelings about cupcakes changed.
Over dinner one night she told Mama that my sweet Jacob was going to marry her. She needed 200 vanilla buttercream cupcakes for the wedding guests. I offered to help. Mama was shocked and more than a little pleased with me. I spent hours melting that butter in the pot, stirring and stirring to get it just right for the frosting. Mama loved my idea of creating two extra special cupcakes for the bride and groom. I fixed them up real nice, added food coloring to make them pink and topped them with tiny hearts cut from raspberry fondant.
It was supposed to just scare her. Make her a little sick is all. I wanted to see her face as she threw up pink cupcake all over Jacob as they kissed. I measured just the right amount into her cupcake, or so I thought at the time. I served the happy couple my creations with the biggest grin I could manage. How was I to know how strong that rat poison would be?
By the time I noticed them feedin’ each other and the wrong cupcake crossing Jacob’s lips it was too late. I did my best to try and stop him. By the time I knocked the cupcake out of his hands he was choking and turning purple.
They say I’ll get a chance for parole in 12 years.
I’ll never have Jacob.
But neither will Stacy.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
From Lorna at Lorna’s Voice
“Behind the Mask”
She could see it in their eyes. That’s why she never looked at them directly; well, at least not at the women. Men’s eyes revealed the kind of poison she knew how to swallow, but not the women’s eyes. She had no antidote for what they injected straight into her heart.
She’d seen that look many times before.
“Don’t stare at me. I told you it ain’t polite to stare at people,” her mother said to her reflection as she watched in little-girl wonder at how powder, mascara, and lipstick created a mask, transforming her mother’s sallow, withered face into something close to radiant.
“You’re so pretty now, Ma. Can you teach me how to put that stuff on?” she said.
“Not on your life, Missy. God knows where you got your looks and you sure as hell ain’t gonna whore yourself up under my roof. Now get yourself outta here. I got a friend comin’ over and I don’t want you gettin’ in the way.”
She was nine. Or was she eight when this happened? Maybe it didn’t happen. She often lived in a fantasy world. That’s what her mother said with a disdain that suggested she needed a cure for this unfortunate condition. She liked to think she had a vivid imagination, but what she thought didn’t matter.
She knew about her mother’s “friends” and how they looked at her. She also remembered her mother’s narrow-eyed glare at her when she caught them looking. It was a hard look that said, “Why do you have to be so damn young and pretty?”
If only she could make a mask like her mother made, maybe she could become someone radiant like the sun—someone her mother could love; but that didn’t happen.
She learned how to make her own mask, though; and she became someone else she never could be without the mask. Behind the mask, she didn’t care that women envied her for her beauty and sensuality or that men only loved her for what—not who—they saw. The mask and her imagination took her places she never expected. Then again, she never expected much.
She made a career out of being the woman behind the mask. Most men fell to their knees in her presence. She learned how to make them hers when the mask was in place. Most women were drawn to her and some emulated her as best they could. There was magic in the mask and these women wanted it badly. Imitation wasn’t, she found, only a form a flattery; it was a form of premeditated murder. Women wanted her gone. And so the acerbic stares continued, as if their stinging rays could pierce and dismantle the mask and the woman behind it.
When she was alone in her bathroom and all that remained of the mask was smeared colors on so many tissues scattered around her, she was naked and bewildered. Without the mask to define her, who was she? Adored goddess? Bitch?
She glared at the remnants of mask as if she was one of those plain women, her eyes muddled with the same odd concoction of adoration and hatred she had seen all of her life, and said, “I want to be just like you. You have it all.”
The mask stared back from the bits and pieces around her. It whispered, “And I wish I could be just like you. You are the one who has it all.”
She grabbed a marble soap dish and threw it at the mirror.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *