Over The Edge
Published by The Fiction Works
Cover Art: Eric Johnson
One woman's fight to right the wrongs done to her and bring down the man behind it.
Maggie Allen stood behind the counter eyeing the customers beginning to fill the booths. She grabbed her order pad and a pencil. A familiar couple seated themselves in her station. Inwardly, she seethed with anger as she watched them, but outwardly, she was bright and cheerful. She hated having to put on a false front, but knew it was a requisite of the job to treat all of her customers with friendliness, even those she couldn't stomach.
"Hi, Brant. Janna," she said in the cheeriest voice she could muster. She flipped the order pad to a clean page. "What can I get you two?"
"Coffee. Hon?" The man nodded toward the beautiful petite blond at his side.
"The same." She smiled at Maggie. "Did you hear about our new house?"
Maggie looked into her sparkling baby blue eyes. "Yes, I hear it's quite a showplace." She forced a tight smile. She'd give anything to be called away from their table instead of enduring their phony attempts at friendliness. They were up to something. That she was sure of.
"You and Chris should come over some night for dinner and we'll give you the grand tour," Janna gushed, dramatically throwing her arms up in a flamboyant gesture. "It's like a palace!" She gripped Brant's arm. "We never dreamed it would be so beautiful! Did we, honey?"
Brant smiled keeping his eyes glued on Maggie, but Maggie knew he was hoping for some reaction from her.
"Promise me that you'll visit very soon," Janna continued.
"Thanks, Janna," Maggie said with the same tight smile. Now she was certain that the invitation was given only for Brant's satisfaction. There had to be an ulterior motive behind it. Any gesture of kindness from those two usually came with a high price.
She looked at Brant, but his finely chiseled face gave her no clue as his steely gray eyes peered back at her with a rigid and pretentious smile on his lips. He reminded her of a Drill Sergeant.
"I'll get your coffee," she said, breaking Brant's penetrating gaze. She returned a couple of minutes later with their beverages. She set the cups on the table, and then made a hasty departure.
As she waited on customers, she occasionally stole glances at Janna and Brant. They had no intention of following up on the invitation; it was just another slap in the face to let her know that they had money, success, and power. Their new house was one more bitter reminder to her of all that she had lost. They infuriated her and their only purpose for ever stopping in the diner was to rub her nose in it. She looked disgustedly at them in their designer clothes amid the regulars who were usually clad in jeans and tee shirts.
Cedar Pines, Pennsylvania was the type of city, which distinctly separated its citizens into two groups--those who had wealth and those who did not. If you fell in the middle somewhere, as did most of the inhabitants, then you lived on the other side of town with the have-nots. But if there was a chance that you might move up the social ladder, you might be able to live on the edge of the wealthy.
Brant was a dark, handsome, well-conditioned thirty-year-old detective in the Cedar Pines Police Department. His salary could never afford him the luxuries he craved, but Janna, at the tender age of twenty-five, was another story. Her inherited wealth matched her beauty; she had too much of both and was not afraid to use either if it got her what she wanted. Brant didn't care whom he used or hurt to satisfy his own selfish desires. When Janna and Brant married, it was a union destined to destroy many lives. They were a formidable team and God help anyone who got in their way.
She stared hard at the both of them sitting on their thrones using their looks and money to draw attention to themselves. She saw the empty shallowness they both possessed on the inside, and knew that some day when their outside beauty faded, if they didn't change their ways, there would be no inner beauty to shine through. They would be two selfish, miserable human beings. Her prophecies brought her little comfort now, though, as she struggled through each day of her life.
"Remember to give us a call when you have a free evening, Maggie," Janna said brightly as Brant squeezed a few bills into her hand. "Keep the change." He tipped his hat.
Maggie struggled to maintain her composure. "I'll let Chris know." She watched their departure.
* * * *
Later Maggie sat at her kitchen table, a half-eaten salad in front of her. It was too muggy to eat anything hot. Her window fan and the fan in the corner of the kitchen didn't seem to offer much relief from the stifling heat. It seemed to hang in her small trailer making her feel as though she were trapped inside a metal trunk.
She gazed out of the kitchen window at the thickening clouds then slowly stood up, scraping the chair across the worn linoleum floor. She hoped that the impending rainstorm would give some relief to the heat. She was restless tonight and a feeling of loneliness overtook her. She hated these melancholy moods. Sometimes they'd creep up out of nowhere almost suffocating her.
She eyed her meager possessions. This was all she had to show for years of her hard work. It hadn't always been this way. Once she had everything she ever wanted or could possibly want, but that seemed like a lifetime ago now. Right when she was at the top, an error in judgment caused her to topple and land in a crumpled heap back down at the bottom. All she could do was lie there at the bottom wondering what had happened and try to claw her way back to the top. But that was never to be again. Her life would have to begin anew.
Today she lived in a tiny rented run down trailer, barely able to afford the monthly rent and utilities. She was grateful to have her job as a waitress even though it paid only minimum wage plus whatever tips her customers gave her. She had quickly learned that a customer would be more willing to part with his hard earned cash if she were friendly. In time she felt a distinctive bond growing with the regulars, as they became the family she yearned for, filling the empty void within her. Her friendliness towards them soon became less forced and instead, genuinely sincere. She'd grown accustomed to their stories and jokes and when they talked about their families and adventures, she felt like she was a part of their lives.
The brightest spot in her life was Chris Jacoby. He filled the longing in her that no man had ever been able to. He was the strength she lacked and the passion she desired.
She looked out the window again as the first drops of rain began to fall and wondered where Chris was tonight. He worked too hard on and off the job trying his best to give the material comforts she lacked, but most importantly, the love she so desperately craved. Lately he'd become distant and it worried her. Maybe she was so naive and desperate to hold onto him that she couldn't pick up the signals anymore. Her insecurities gnawed at her.
For the past couple of months Chris had barely touched her and she'd convinced herself that he was just tired from the long hours with his construction job. After all, the nice weather provided the go ahead on many projects that had been held up because of the prolonged winter weather. Doubt slowly crept in. Could the real reason for his aloofness be that he just wasn't interested in her anymore and didn't know how to tell her?
Had she missed every sign he'd been putting up? Why hadn't she been alert to his late hours and frequent nights out with the guys? It was occurring with increasing frequency. Was that the reason he wouldn't relinquish his apartment and permanently move in with her? Had he grown tired of her? Didn't she matter even a little to him? Could he just walk away and forget what they'd shared? Her head throbbed and she rubbed her aching temples wishing she could shut out her screaming fears.