V is for Vacillation

Image source: owlcation.com

An attempt to produce a poem or story from now until the end of April (except Sundays).
The theme for the 2022 A to Z Challenge is the human condition.


“Shades of Robert Johnson,” muttered Jake, stuffing his hands deeper into his pockets. A bitter wind blew across the service station forecourt. He had a choice of taking the northbound or the southbound road. But either way, someone was going to get hurt. Including him.

“When you sup with the devil,” he sighed and leaned against his car. And it would take the devil to sort this mess out. He thought of Maria and how her face would break out in red splotches and her eyes bulge, as if she had a thyroid problem. Maria didn’t cry pretty, her free-flowing snot and wailing revolted him.

Whereas Paula’s tears always moved him. He would take her in his arms and comfort her, the way you would soothe a baby. But that was Paula for you. She brought out the gallantry in him. He wanted to protect her from life. Maria didn’t need protection. Words like hard and resilient were perfect descriptors for her. Maria would take his decision in her stride. Her strength was part of the attraction.

He loved them both, but now he had to make a decision worthy of King Solomon. And if his chosen one said no, would the other always be second best? The one saving grace was neither knew anything about the other. He bet they had their suspicions, but nothing concrete. Because they never met, not with fifty miles of motorway keeping his life neatly compartmentalised. But the new job at head office meant no more tooling up and down the country. Leaving him stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Paula would say yes, she would have no trouble finding a new job in a new city. She was the confident one, the adventurous one. Maria was quieter, or was subtle the right word? Either way, she was more supportive. It was Maria who convinced him to apply for promotion. The promotion that could spell the end for her. Shame there was no way of taking the job and keeping his women.

Greedy, lying, two-timing arsehole! He heard their voices and saw the gentle tears of one and the angry tears of the other. But he still couldn’t decide who he wanted. Love was such a bastard. Like you, echoed Maria and Paula.

And as if on cue, thunder rumbled overhead, and a light pattering of rain began. He drew a fifty-pence piece out of his pocket and flipped it up in the air.

“Heads I go north for Paula and tails south for Maria.” The coin spun and fell to the tarmac with a dull clunk.

Jake looked down.

“Maybe, best of three…”