A Night of Resolve

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In last week's Writing Right with Dmitri column, I suggested our writers take on a historical challenge. Freewayriding rose to the occasion, as always. Enjoy this gripping tale!

A Night of Resolve

The funniest show in the world?

He shifted uncomfortably on the opulent red velvet chair, ignoring the hardness at his ribs, the better to catch a glimpse of his bride as she laughed out loud. Still so child-like, he never tired of gazing at her beautiful features. Married not a year, he was hopelessly enthralled with Flossy, would do anything to keep her, anything to chase away the demons that caused her beauty to contort with the frequent night time terrors.

On stage, Winifred Francis and Joe Willard launched into the song 'Spooning', his wife's eyes widened, taking in every aspect of the duet. She looked so young, so innocent. He felt a tear come unbidden to his eyes and reached for his handkerchief, pudgy hands brushing briefly against metal before finding silk.

“Oh darling Mr Munroe!” her gentle voice echoed the sublimely gentle gaze as she relieved him of the handkerchief, “You big old softy!” She gently dabbed at his baby like features before tucking the moist cloth back into his pocket.

Florence wrapped her hand in his and her gaze returned to the antics on stage, a smile returning to those beautiful lips.
The curtain fell on Act Two and the house lights rose. He was suddenly desperate for a drink. The laudanum he'd taken before setting out that evening was wearing off, leaving that familiar edgy, nervous feeling. It also usually signalled the doorway in his mind was opening, allowing the voices to access his waking world. Oh my Gods, how he preferred the oblivion of narcotics and alcohol to those sweetly coaxing whispers.

A chance look into the boxes opposite as the lights brightened showed the Devil himself had come to the production, finely dressed in white linen despite the bitter January cold. Hated features smiled across at him, a slender hand waving a greeting towards his sweet bride, a serpentine tongue darted out and traced the bristles on his upper lip as though he could taste her on the air. Hate and fear immediately consumed Munroe. Cold rivulets of sweat ran down his stiff collar, his shirt dampened with panic, the wet fear seeming to seek out the metal snug and waiting beneath his armpit.
The Devil in White stood and left his box, blood red curtains closing like flames around him. Munroe didn't need the whispered commands to know he had to act and act now, this very instant, to rid the world of such a foul presence and take sweet revenge for the innocence of his wife, innocence as pure as the white suit the Devil hid his countenance beneath.

The voices sensed his agitation and resolve, a flurried whirlwind of commands, insults and dares battered his ears as he staggered out into the lounge. Flashes of white sparked in his eyes as the Devil exited the theatre, there would be no Act Three tonight.

Munroe hurried through the huge central arch and out onto 42nd Street, bitter January air instantly chilling him to the bone, the voices urged him to ignore the cold, pursue the Devil. Rid the world of evil once and for all. Do it for Florence, do it now.

As he aimed the pistol at the Devil's white back, a soft gloved hand rested on the barrel, gently easing it downwards, allowing Lucifer to board his ride and escape his fate.

Munroe stared, unseeing, at his wife, missing that sad smile on her beautiful face.

“Not now, my sweet Mr Munroe, we have a European tour planned, remember? Let the Devil have the winter, surely you can wait 'til summertime?” The gun was taken from him and without remembering how, Munroe found himself back in his seat watching but not seeing the final Act unfold through flashes of brilliant white, the voices calming now, content to wait for summer.

Florence glanced at her husband, shaking her head ever so slightly. She had nearly pushed too far this evening, the abyss was looming for Harry but she couldn't risk that final push, not just yet. They'd only been married ten months and until he'd signed the Will she would bide her time. Maybe she'd try a little less medicinal addition to his nightcaps for a while.

By June the White Devil would be vanquished, her honour regained and poor Mr Munroe? Well she'd have his fortune, if not the man!

Let the devil have the winter.
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