ccasionally, I feel panic while pondering my life—an unsettling anxiousness comparable to the split second after shutting a car door and seeing the keys inside. Dangling. There’s no going back…the deal is done.
My life is filled with useless details and memories pushing the edge of the absurd, so I woke one morning and started a maintenance plan to put my mind in order. I recorded my recollections—memories accumulated like rusty leaves. My life and its silly twists with the many men I loved—the ones I married, the one I burried and the lingering lessons sorted and classified as wisdom.
Some people are born with inherited astuteness about the world. Others labor for it. I am among those who work hard and suffer—carrying heartbreak and the weight of years as scars on my spirit.
When I was young, happiness meant having the energy for combat. Energy to discover life, love, pain—to fight for social justice. I fell in love, married, became a parent, got divorced—all filtered through a prism of discontent and dissatisfaction. Being an artist in a world that highly-values analytical thinking is no walk in the park; it requires navigational mastery of socio-economic order, as well as an arsenal of weapons against the mediocre and the monotonous.
Obsessively, my mind returns to this image:
The master comes home angry for whatever reason and his dog waits for him. As the scene develops, the dog jumps around—happy and wagging his tail—clearly delighted to see his master. However, the master, in a bad mood, casually kicks the dog out of his way. The poor creature whines and hides in the dark. He will never understand, and neither will his master.
The dog is lucky; he is a dog and will soon forget what happened. However, you are human and guilt leaves a stain which lingers.
So, you to stare through a dirty window while the dog chases the leaves of your imaginary autumn.
He is thirty-four years old and does not show signs of being a creepy character. He is overweight, but often thinks of himself, when walking down the street, as disgustingly fat. Fat and bald, though the lack of hair around his temples highlights his big forehead. He looks like an accountant should. Name? Caesar. Like Gaius Julius Caesar—the Roman general and emperor.
Half a year prior he had the misfortune of discovering his wife was cheating on him. She does not know he knows because he decided not to immediately collect on his revenge. He did not insult her with names like ‘bitch’, ‘slut’, or ‘whore’…he continued accounting, adding penny after penny. He honored obligations to the treasury, and thus to the country while she, his wife, came home late every evening giggling and full of post-coital glee.
Three months after witnessing his cheating wife with her lover, he emerged from shock and decided to pursue his revenge…to lure her and her lover in the basement, lock the door behind them and then conveniently lose the key. Nobody would know they were there—buried alive in the back yard of the villa only five hundred yards from the house but far away from the neighbors. He thought about this plan and every time, a freakish smile blossomed on his overstuffed, sweaty face.
He needed a reason to get her in the basement so he built a bar. The cellar was unused before; he went to work installing a counter under thick, glass shelves and mirror surrounded by a string of Christmas lights discovered in the attic. In front of the counter he arranged two spindled stools. So the cellar bar would look real, he lined up bottles—elegant, expensive, and irresistible. Caesar knew she would come down with her lover.
Caesar sits—his massive body perched on one of the stools. He holds his tiny glass between chubby fingers and thinks of many more things to put in place for the plan. He swirls cognac around his mouth and shivers with pleasure while idly counting the Christmas lights. Bored, he moves on to counting the bottles.
Eight bottles on three shelves.
Plus eight in the mirror, sixteen. Bottles of different configurations, sizes, and colors. Suddenly he frowns.
With the one on the counter—nine.
Where is the tenth? Did he drink it?
No…he allows himself only one bottle for a glass every Saturday when he stops by. Counting every indulgent sip is part of an accountant’s way of life. The last constellation he arranged up was one bottle on the bar, three bottles on the top shelf, three on the middle shelf, and three on the bottom shelf, all spaced evenly.
Now the bottom shelf holds only two bottles—missing the one in the middle. He thinks of all sorts of nonsensical explanations: thieving ghosts, leprechauns, and a thirsty octopus.
He feels very alone in the cellar. It’s too quiet…too much cold comes from hidden gaps in the foundation. The silence emanating from beneath the counter is too deep. The gap between the two bottles on the shelf at the bottom seems huge. After several minutes of discomfort, he decides to leave.
His body feels massive and solid while climbing the stairs. Pushing the heavy metal door, he breathes more heavily from panic than exertion. The door remains immobile…beads of cold sweat beads sprout on his brow. He pushes harder, but the door is sealed shut—like the entrance to a crypt.
Peeking through the bars covering the tiny window next to the door, he sees his wife and lover walking away…toward the cottage. She wears jeans and a knee-length coat with a black hat on her head and a yellow handkerchief wrapped around her neck. Her lover seems agitated…vibrating in his thin jacket. He carried the missing bottle. They approach the back door—where her lover politely holds the door open for her. They disappear inside without looking back.
Caesar descends to the bottom of the stairs and looks around the cellar. Now, he would need a new plan for revenge.
A true exploration of a woman's emotional and erotic life.
— Warren Adler, New York Times bestselling author of The War of the Roses, Random Hearts, and other novels.
Adina Pelle rocks!
— Tom Robbins, New York Times bestselling author of Another Roadside Attraction, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and other novels.
Midwest Book Review(Oregon, WI USA)
Some things once said cannot be taken back. "Ghost Words: And Other Echoes" is a collection of short stories from Adina Pelle. Almost flash fiction, she presents her stories, which sometimes carry narrative over multiple tales, in very short bite-sized morsels that easy to digest and enjoy. Fine, fun, and thought provoking reading, "Ghost Words" is a treasure trove of unique tales and will do well to please any short story reader who wants something different.