Candice poured another whiskey. She filled the glass half full with the liquor. It was one of those sixteen-ounce glasses she'd bought for the kids with a meal at a burger joint or a taco stand. The cartoon rabbit stood there on the side of the glass; sarcastically, he chewed his carrot, taunting her, telling her with his clever little smile that she would never be able to go through with it. Gritting her teeth and turning up a corner of her mouth, she bitterly displayed her middle finger to the insulting rabbit.
"Bet me!" she said, almost burping the words.
She reached for her liter of cola to complete her drink, but, the fat plastic bottle slipped from her weak grip. She watched the brown soda pump out onto the pale-green carpet. She listened to the air gulp into the bottle. After a few moments of staring at the mishap, she snickered once to herself then turned back to the challenging little cartoon rabbit adorning her potion of courage. For a time, she stared at the rabbit.
"Don't tell me you li'l bastar'!"
Candice raised her hand back to slap the little tormentor off her table, but she stopped herself when she realized her whiskey would go with him.
"'Tsa only thing I c'n do," she said, pleading her case to the image. "'Tsa bes' way to hurt 'im!"
Swiftly she put the glass to her lips and gulped all the whiskey, then set it back on the table with a loud, hollow, thud. The rabbit's teasing little smile was still there; his eyes seemed to roll to the ceiling in humored, contemptuous tolerance of her rantings and big talk.
With a guttural venom seeping from her throat, she shook her fist at the drawing on the glass. "It's - my - re-venge!"
The little effigy still did not take her seriously. The smug, know- it-all little face told her that they were her children, that she could not do it just to spit him. She was a mother -- their mother. She was a good mother, despite what the judge had said, despite the betraying lies he had convinced the judge of. She was kidding herself, the little cartoon face on the side of her whiskey glass told her. It was the frustrated ravings of a powerless woman in a drunken stupor.
"Oh yeah?" she said, a wry smile on her face. She pointed at the image. "He's takin' my babies away fr'm me," she waved her hands in negation, "Nnnno! No! I'm takin' my babies away fr'm him."
"'No one'll take my chil'ren fr'm me --- I'll leave Corinth a --- uh --- a mur'drer --- with my darlin' chil'ren's blood --- with my darlin' chil'ren's blood ---.' Can't r'memb'r anymore."
"I use't be good, y'know. The bessST. Was even nomi...nomi....nom - i - nated f'r a Tony."
Now, the small gray face, on the side of the glass, had a quite suddenly different smile. It was the smile of denial, the denial of the revelation of terrible truth; the smile worn by one who battles the appearance of abhorrence.
Triumphantly, Candice smiled back, then sneered.
Awkwardly, she stood and drew in a long breath. She picked up the revolver from the table.
"You got it now," she said, cooly, "I know the play. I know the plot. I played it b'fore. They all loved me!"
She turned and walked toward the door, toward the scene she would play with her children. At the door she turned back and looked at the drawing on the glass.
"You tell me how I do tonight."
THE CHORUS FOR CANDICE
a short movie by
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|For the index of K.L.'s creative writing and essays at this site, click here.|
The last draft before this was written circa 1990. The story plays off the Euripides tragedy Medea -- the text Candice quotes is a direct allusion to the play. The "chorus," in the classic sense, is the cartoon rabbit, who is standing as her conscience and the voice of reason. And, in the tradition of classic tragedies, the protagonist ignores the chorus. I had originally thought about posting this under a nom de plume. Then I decided that since I wasn't crowding any submissions out, that I wouldn't bother.
I would not, by-the-way, post my own work and crowd out submissions I think belong at the site. In fact, one can argue that this really isn't a genre piece, but, I already had five good general fiction stories for this update (Winter 2000) -- so, there you go....