Next Week: Tennis Lessons

They say when a man wants an adventure, he travels. When a woman wants an adventure, she has an affair.

In the Gutter, those two are one in the same.

Next Week: Tennis Lessons by Nick Kolakowski

Olivia Fairchild was tired of the high life. Those shiny cars that zoomed her along the Causeway at eye-watering speeds had lost their zip. Even the largest jewels glowed a little dimmer once you’d worn them to the hundredth black-tie soirĂ©e. A mere two years after marrying Clyde Fairchild III, CEO of FairCorp and inheritor of billions, Olivia wanted something that money couldn’t always guarantee: a good time. 

That was the problem with Clyde—he lacked fun. His idea of a rockin’ night was putting some Pavarotti on the kitchen speakers and singing until the dogs howled back. For a couple years, that had been okay. It sure beat her old life, which had centered on washing dishes at the diner, scooping up fifty-cent tips left by toothless truckers, and keeping the bottle of whiskey in the trailer away from Mom. But it only went so far, and she told Clyde so.

“I don’t pretend to know why you’re bored,” Clyde would say between bites of egg-white omelet, his eyes locked on the morning’s Wall Street Journal. “Is there anything you don’t own?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” she said, pouring a shot of vodka into her orange juice. “I just feel like something’s missing.”

“Well, volunteer for a good cause.” Clyde never looked up. “Or take tennis lessons.”

Instead she went with Option C: have an affair.

Within two hours of Clyde flying to Anguilla on the G5 for a business conference, she’d thrown on an old Guns ‘N Roses T-shirt and headed to a flop bar in Miami Beach, where she let a blond surfer named Steve chat her up. Steve yammered about the quality of his home stereo set, his oh-so-subtle way of inviting her over. Olivia waggled her eyebrows at the bartender for another screwdriver and said, “Okay, whatever.”

It turned out that when Steve said, “my house,” he meant, “my broken-down trailer in the middle of nowhere.” They took their own cars.

Early the next morning, she awoke in the disconcertingly fragrant confines of Steve’s single bed, most memories of the previous night blissfully obliterated by a sledgehammer of a hangover. Well, that was stupid, she thought. Never, ever do that again, sweetie. Now, where are those car keys?

Two minutes and several stealthy commando-moves over Steve’s snoring form later, she was outside and racing across the fifty feet of beach that separated the trailer from where Steve’s street-racer Honda and her bathtub Porsche sat parked side-by-side. The sun had just begun to peek over the horizon but already the sand was roughly a million degrees on her bare feet.

Her purse was still underneath the passenger seat of the Porsche, with the fresh pair of panties balled in the large pocket. Praise the Lord. There was even a mostly- ull bottle of water in the dashboard cup holder, which she drained greedily while taking stock of the environs. A low-rent trailer park, nestled in the dunes facing a nondescript swath of shoreline. Good thing you didn’t step on any broken glass, she thought. After a late night with Steve and the boys, I wouldn’t be surprised if every square inch of ground was covered with beer bottles ready to puncture your . . .

Oh crap, where are my shoes?

Those high-heeled Jimmy Choos, painful on the ankles yet so good-looking in the mirror—how could she have left them behind? (Thanks, hangover.) And Steve was probably upright by this point, scratching his softening abs as he took stock of last night’s destruction: no way his loud snores had been anywhere close to genuine.

Slinging her purse over her shoulder, she tromped double-time across the sand for the trailer, ready to swoop in and out of there with a smile and a prissy little wave. No, sorry, can’t stay for toast and warm beer, but thanks for the offer, you really are too kind . . .

She heard the roar of engines coming up the road. On instinct, she veered toward the beach, taking cover behind a dune as a pair of tricked-out black BMWs squealed to a stop only a few yards from Steve’s abode.

The car doors opened, unleashing six men in black suits. With the synchronization of a Broadway chorus line, they whipped back their coats and drew compact submachine guns. Six fingers pressed down on six triggers. The guns chattered and spat flame. The aluminum sides of the trailer held up under the bullets about as well as a piece of paper trapped in a table fan. Glass shattered. From inside came the snap-crackle-pop of Steve’s precious guitar collection reduced to kindling.

Even if Steve had been sort of a limp noodle in the sack, Olivia didn’t think that was punishable by firing squad.

Scooting backwards on her belly, she put together a reasonable plan: wait until these bad boys left, head home, take a shower, fry up a mess of bacon, and do her best to give an uninterested “Huh” if somebody mentioned a gangland slaying at Happy Trails Trailer Park.

The largest and scariest-looking of the men murmured to the rest, who turned as one and climbed back into the BMWs.

Then she heard the hiss of propane.

Oh dear.

She barely managed to throw her arms over her head before the doublewide did its best impersonation of a rocket ship, sending pieces of Steve’s life everywhere. A crescent-shaped fragment of kitchen counter plunked into the sand near her head. Flaming pieces of paper burned her arms. She snatched a scrap in mid-air and saw an imperial nose, fatherly eyes staring back at her: A piece of a hundred dollar bill. It was raining money.

The BMWs boomed away in reverse, their engines tearing a hole in the morning. Olivia lay there with the half-burned bill in her hands and told herself: Next week, go with tennis lessons.

Nick Kolakowski is a writer based in NYC. His crime fiction has appeared in Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Carrier Pigeon, and Crime Syndicate.