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Authors: Laura T. Emery

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Disposition of Remains

BOOK: Disposition of Remains
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Disposition

of

Remains

A Novel by

Laura T. Emery

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

 

Copyright 2013 by Laura T. Emery

 

Story Editing by Peter Hunziker

 

Copy Editing by Avery Auer

 

Cover Design by Kevin Glick

 

 

 

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

 

 

Prologue

 

I am dust. Particles in a shiny urn.
But I’m not alone in here. There are a few fragments left over from the previous inhabitants of the ferocious incinerator. I don’t mind; it’s nice having some company.

I picked out the urn myself while all
of my particles were still assembled as a whole. I wanted the smallest, most inconspicuous one possible—one step up from a coffee can.

I d
o not want to be a cumbersome nuisance as I plan to travel a great distance.

Do not weep for me
, as I am not sad. I am dead now, which is all right, because unlike most of the unfortunate inhabitants of this Earth, I have lived.

 

 

Part 1

Denial

CHAPTER 1

 

I just had to get out of there. It may not have been the best plan, but I really didn’t care. My appointment with Jerry changed my perspective on everything: my marriage, my career, my home, and my life. The long, boring, desert drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas afforded me plenty of time to think, which in actuality was the last thing I wanted to do. Five hours is a long time to wallow in one depressing thought after another. I accelerated to ninety miles an hour just to shave forty-five minutes off my personal pity party.

I
kept glancing over to my cell phone, resting lonesome on the empty seat next to me, dreading that it would soon ring. It would ring over and over once he realized I was gone, but I had no intention of answering. All I had left him was a brief note, because I knew that no matter what my explanation, Evan would never understand anyway. I needed time. Time was a luxury I had not been afforded throughout the seventeen years of our marriage, but I was going to take my time, regardless of the cost.

When I directed my eyes from the phone back to the road, there was a coyote standing frozen in my path. Slamming on my brakes, I just barely avoided splattering his brains across the grill of my Mercedes. He had what almost looked like a smirk on his face as he trotted
away; seemingly aware that he’d almost killed me as I was in the process of trying to avoid killing
him.

As I opened the car door a few hours later, the blazing desert air confirmed that I had arrived at my destination. Las Vegas was a completely different animal than the one I’d left behind. I had married Evan in a quickie, assembly-line-type ceremony just before he moved his practice to Los Angeles and shortly after I’d come of age, in Vegas terms. I had lived there my whole life before that, but was never able to take advantage of all the enticing lasciviousness that the city has to offer.

I passed up the entire lot of obnoxiously grandiose hotels on The Strip—the ones shaped like castles and pyramids—for the understated tackiness of the Imperial Palace. As I gazed up at its relatively humble façade, it struck me as strange that it had been my mother’s favorite spot in the world. Planting herself for hours in front of a slot machine had been her most cherished mode of escape. Only the chemo, gut-wrenching pain, and her eventual death were able to keep her away. Growing up, I’d dreamed of someday foolishly stuffing dollar after dollar into those lighted metal boxes; it was the one experience I’d longed to share with my mother. Ironically, her cancer finally claimed her on the eve of my twenty-first birthday, derailing the whole gambling/drinking experience for me. I was raised to believe that there was no unpleasantness in life that couldn’t be numbed with a little Vegas debauchery. I was about to test that theory for the first time in my thirty-eight years on this planet.

Elevators had been giving me trouble for quite some time. It wasn’t that I was claustrophobic; it’s just that any motion inflicted upon me by an external source made me feel
as though I’d just climbed from the seat of one of those amusement park rides seemingly engineered to make you vomit. Since nineteen floors were a bit too many for my weary legs to tackle at that moment, I ignored the motion sickness (that Evan had always told me was in my head anyway) and braved the creaking of the ancient, urine-scented elevator.

When I reached my “pet-friendly” room, which turned out to be as odoriferous as the elevator, I stepped out of my Pra
da shoes and peeled off my skin-tight Gucci pantsuit. If I had even remotely cared about these items, they never would have met with the grungy floor. I only owned designer things. This is not as impressive as it may sound; actually, I loathed this fact of my life. Every grotesque article of clothing had been handpicked and scrutinized by Evan. My relationship required that I dress to impress. I was like a Ferrari or a mansion in the Hamptons—just another prop in his life, elaborately and painstakingly constructed for people to admire.

Evan’s incorrigible mother always referred to me as a trophy wife. I never really understood it. Trophy wives, to me, were those bleached-blonde, collagen-lipped bimbos that you see on some reality show, with factory-made boobs that defy gravity. With my olive skin,
dark hair, and only slightly post-pubescent body, I hardly qualified. I was a trophy wife like Charles Shaw (or Two-Buck Chuck, as my mother called it) was a classy bottle of wine. Miriam Altman never fully recovered from the fact that her son hadn’t married some nice Jewish girl—a girl who undoubtedly would have endlessly fed, catered to, and sexually satisfied her precious Evan.

I had
darted out of the law firm earlier that afternoon with the excuse that I was picking up lunch, and I never went back. I knew I might not have very much time at home before Evan realized something was amiss, so I crammed a few changes of clothes and other necessities into my Louis Vuitton backpack and dashed back to my car. I’d imagined Evan’s temperament would be even more heinous than usual that evening, given that he was being forced to go hungry for the first time in his wretched life.

After the thirty seconds it took to unpack in my room at the Imperial Palace (which was hardly palatial), I prepared myself to be
dazzled by all things Vegas. Glancing at my cell phone, I noticed that I had nine missed calls. I had turned the ringer off somewhere between Barstow and Baker. I lobbed the phone across the room like it was a live grenade, then ventured down to the casino.

Even if I’d had the inclination to gamble prior to that particular moment, my other half would never have let me do so, as he considered it “a waste of time and money.” It may very well have been both, but so were most of the alternate things I had done with my life so far.

As I made my way through the fog of cigarette smoke, I noticed that the Imperial Palace was populated with a collection of more colorful people than I had encountered in quite some time. I passed by a cluster of tables that were manned by vocal impersonators who were alternating between performing and dealing. Tina Turner belted out the lyrics to
Private Dancer
while Michael Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Timberlake, and Alice Cooper dealt cards. I hadn’t a clue how to play the tables; I could see in J-Lo’s eyes that their complexity was over my head. However, I was fairly certain that the slot machines would be self-explanatory.

I decided to start with a penny machine—a modest investment for a novice. A scantily clad cocktail waitress, wearing a black mini dress with slits up to her waist and an exposed red lacy bra underneath, came bounding over.

“Something to drink?” She asked.

Of course, there would be
.

“A
Long Island Iced Tea, please,” I replied hastily.

My mother had always affectionately called casino cocktail waitresses “boozies”—floozies who served booze. It was not meant to be derogatory, as boozies were among her favorite people. She was on a first-name basis with quite a few. I was now on a first-name basis with Misty. After a few hours, I’d become well acquainted with her and her wares.

Upon increasing my dollar count by twenty, I switched to quarters, followed by dollar machines. I was beginning to understand the appeal. Uncertain as to whether it was the gambling or the alcohol, I found myself becoming increasingly numb to my problems.

I was in the process of receiving my umpteen-millionth cocktail, when Misty screamed, “Oh my God
!
You won!
” The crowd that skittered over, eager to verify her claim, looked hard-ridden and likely had a full set of teeth between them.

It took a minute for my overly intoxicated mind to process, but indeed, I had won. My slot machine displayed wall-to-wall wild symbols
. I didn’t know what that meant or when the money counter would stop running, but it looked impressive enough that I handed Misty a hundred-dollar tip.

My new pal Misty squealed and threw me a quick, “Congratulations!” before trotting off to serve
Mojitos to a gaggle of giggling sorority rejects.

I found the red light that pulsed and whirled atop my slot machine very disturbing in my inebriated state.
A voice from somewhere in the crowd advised me that I was to wait for a cashier to deliver my winnings in person, as the sum was large enough that Uncle Sam wanted a healthy chunk of it.

Instead of relishing my win, I thought of Misty. Unlike my sorry self, she seemed so happy—almost giddy—
and without a care in the world. Either she truly enjoyed her job or she was brilliant at pretending she did. With her face painted in sparkly makeup and her platinum-blonde hair sprayed to perfection, she bounced across the casino floor, beaming with pride as if she were the hostess of a party at the Playboy Mansion.

I was startled when the cashier, with his Trump-like comb-over, gruffly demanded from over my left shoulder, “ID, please.”

I wound up dumping the entire contents of my purse onto the casino floor while attempting to extract my driver’s license. He shook his head in disgust as he handed me $7,600 and a tax form.

“Sign here please,” he
grumbled, as if he were cutting me a check from his personal account that he had reserved for a hair transplant.

Comb-over man did not enjoy his job. Understan
dably, handing out money could not possibly be as pleasurable as receiving it. I considered my own job, which I had enjoyed once upon a time. When I was twenty-two I’d worked as a registered nurse in a newborn nursery. Next to Disneyland, it was the happiest place on Earth. I was paid well to play with healthy babies, and for a long time it was great. It took its toll, however, when my own infertility problems arose. After ten years of failing to get pregnant, I longed to stop wishing that motherhood would become a chapter of my life. I began to envy all the mothers able to hold their babies. Actually, I was just plain bitter.

Sick of hearing me whine about my irreparable condition, Evan convinced me to quit my job. We didn’t need the money, he’d insisted, adding that he could use the help at his law firm anyway. I knew nothing about the law except what
not
to do as a nurse if I wanted to avoid getting sued.

I was never given an official title at his firm, as I was basically a glorified errand girl. It wasn
’t until later that I realized it had all been a ploy for Evan to keep a closer eye on me.

“Stacia! Time to wake up,”
chirped the cheerful voice that belonged to the hand shaking my shoulder. As I lifted my head from the “repeat bet” button on top of the slot machine, my face ended up directly in front of Misty’s ample breasts.

“Jesus Christ!” I exclaimed at the shocking magnitude of her breasts up close. “How do you know my name?”

“You told me about six drinks ago. Listen, you can’t be here like this. Security’ll throw you out. Besides, you don’t want to be passed out on a slot machine with $7,600 hanging out of your purse,” Misty said. “Are you staying at this hotel?”             

I somehow managed a meager nod.

“Let’s walk. We can find your key on the way.”                                                                                    

I recall staggering out of the casino area to the elevators with Misty. The contents of my purse reintroduced themselves to the floor during the search for my room key. My newly acquired winnings fluttered to the ground, just begging for a free-for-all to break out. Thankfully, Misty quickly helped me scoop it all back into my purse before any
of the toothless wonders descended. I suppose a rational person would have been concerned that their newfound wealth might be in jeopardy. Frankly, I really didn’t care.

“I’ve never seen anyone so uninterested in a windfall
,” Misty noted as we were riding up the urine-laced elevator. She maintained a death grip on my arm while I swayed back and forth.

“I’m a mess,” I replied.

I had to laugh out loud as I said this, because I had never before been allowed to be a mess. It felt liberating...and a bit nauseating. The motion, coupled with the alcohol and the putrid smell of the elevator caused me to vomit, as luck would have it, directly into Misty’s cleavage.

Surprisingly, Misty still helped me into my room, and twittered with a smile, “Not much that $7,600 won’t cure!”

She grabbed a towel from the bathroom to wipe off her now defiled bosom.

“I just found out that I’m going to die,” I managed.

Misty turned a horrible shade of crimson as she said, “Except maybe that.”

BOOK: Disposition of Remains
13.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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