This photo focused on the wrong thing. I started on this ebook at the hair salon. I was concentrating on taking a photo of the salon's nice tangy mix of ice-cold honey-lemon drink. After that, couldn't be bothered to take another shot of the ebook cover.
What a delightful chilling read. It's a dark little tale of a divorcing couple's squabbles, sinister secrets, the family cat, and perhaps a murder or two. All dramatized within Chuck Palahniuk's Kindle single eShort 'Phoenix'. Brilliantly written.
Rachel and procrastinator-passive Ted went about their lives uneventfully with his fat old cat named Belinda Carlisle. Rachel got pregnant and gave Ted an ultimatum to send the cat away and sell the house. Then the cat died in a house fire, and their daughter April, was born blind. It was only three years later on a business trip in an Orlando motel room that Rachel began to contemplate the damage and realized three-year old April never spoke a word during her nightly calls home. She began suspecting her husband of nefarious deeds. What kind of relationship did they have that a wife had to ask the husband if their daughter was still alive after six days.
"Don't stew about it," he says. "She's just giving you the silent treatment." His voice muffled, his mouth pointed somewhere else, he says, "You're just upset that Mommy's gone, aren't you?" A measure of dead air follows. Rachel can hear the carnival music and silly voices of a cartoon playing in the living room. It's not lost on her that she mostly listens to television with no sound while her daughter watches without visuals.
Still directed elsewhere, Ted's voice asks, "You still love Mommy, don't you?"
Another beat of silence follows. Rachel hears nothing until Ted begins to placate: "No, Mommy doesn't love her job more than she loves you." He doesn't sound very convincing. After a pause, he scolds, "Don't say that, missy! Never say that!" From the tone of his voice, Rachel braces herself for the sound of a slap. She wants to hear a slap. It doesn't come. Clear, speaking directly into the receiver, Ted says, "What can I say? Our kid can really hold a grudge."
Rachel's thrilled. The last thing she wants her daughter to be is a sop like Ted, but she keeps those words in her mouth. That's Monday's phone call, done.
In Rachel's analysis of the events and re-telling of the story, we realized she engineered the death of the cat, and had to also contend with a burnt house. However, she did up the home insurance two weeks prior. Ted might not be as simple-minded as he appeared to be. He could be quietly exacting 'revenge' for the cat on their blind and now-silent-over-the-phone daughter April. How could even an angry kid stay so silent on the phone for seven nights? Eioowwww. All these games, physical torture and emotional pain. Of two people who didn't seem to love each other, got together for convenience. Poor cat. Poor April. What a deliciously spine-tingling tale.
How could Rachel not be affected, living pregnant for six months with smoldering cat turds? As the obstetrician put it, the toxo parasite attacks the optic nerve, but Rachel knew there was more to it than that. It was retribution. Of course, Rachel swore she hadn't seen Belinda Carlisle before she'd flipped the switch. And Ted had accepted Rachel's statement at face value.
There were lies that married two people more effectively than any wedding vows.