Adam Howard leaned back in his easy chair. With his cigar, he blew smoke rings in the air. It was his one
enjoyment when he was alone and relaxing. He loved Cuban cigars which he had never been able to
afford until his marriage.

He was waiting for Lola, his wife, to complete her nightly rituals of brushing her hair one hundred times
for shine, of massaging her chin for one hundred times to reduce aging, for putting green cream on her
face to prevent wrinkles, for putting green cucumbers on her eyes for clarity and for putting plugs in her
ears for relaxation. Then she always went to bed which was crucial for his plans.

Feeling nervous and calm, Adam had to have a clear head tonight. He had made the right decision or face
prison. Putting his cigar down, he took out his new knife. He ran his fingers up and down the blade
almost cutting himself. It hypnotized him and he kept doing it. Then he decided it was not the right
weapon so he put it away. He had fixed the furnace to explode in one hour. Malfunction is what the police
experts would say and give him more time to get away. He loved the feel of that sharp blade.

"Sugar Plum, you know how smoke smell makes me ill." Lol frowned at him as she entered the room
wearing her green, granny nightgown.

Damn this is out of norm for her. Why isn't she in bed?

"Sweetie Cakes, I've had a rough day at work. You can't possibly smell the smoke upstairs." He tried to
act loving but it was hard, very hard. She insisted, no demanded, he called her that ridiculous name.

"I can smell that smoke anywhere." She waddled up to him, took the cigar from the ashtray and crushed
it out.

"Why aren't you in bed?" He tried to lace his words with love.

"My asthma, from your smoking, started acting up." With her fingers, she wiped her runny nose.

Wincing, Adam handed her a tissue. "I wont' smoke anymore so go on to bed."

Lola took the tissue and put the cigar in it. "Ugh, what a horrible thing. Not good for your health. Come
to bed." She batted her red weepy eyes at him.

He knew what that meant. At least, he didn't have to sacrifice himself with her anymore. "I have lots of
work to finish." His sigh wasn't from his nonexistent work.

"You work too hard like Daddy did. Give someone else the extra work. You're the boss. Don't be long."
Kissing him, she tried to plunge her tongue in his mouth.

Like raging water,  he wanted to throw her in it. But he gently pushed her way. "Sweetie Cakes, I won't
be long. I promise." Her blond dry hair, her weepy blue eyes and her blotchy skin left much to be desired
for attraction to men.

"All right. Its your loss if I fall asleep. Nightly night." She blew him a kiss and waited.

He blew kisses back and knew she wouldn't budge until he did. She had to get to sleep soon for his plan
to work. Adam watched Lola leave the room. He once asked her why she was given the name of Lola.

"Silly boy, you should know why. When I was born, my mommy took one look at my curly blond hair,
bright blue eyes and lovely skin and said I was a Lola siren." Her laughter was like nails scratching on
chalkboard.

"She was right," he had said and almost gagged.

Adam looked at his Rolex watch and knew he had time. "I need a drink." He went over to the liquor
cabinet and poured himself one. It gave him courage. Exotic places, white sand, sexy women, cool drinks
were things he could taste on his lips. Trying to gather his thoughts, he thought another drink would
top his evening off. He poured himself another one. His arrogant walk back to his chair was evident.

Was it worth it marrying Lola?

Working for her daddy had been an enormous compensation for him. He occupied a large office with a
view of the skyline of the city, his daily transportation was a limo, his blond-haired sexy secretary made
the days fly by with her experience and the generous salary he received for pushing a few pencils around
to look busy. Plus membership at any club he wanted to join.

Yeah, the three year marriage had been worth it, he thought.

Working at the marriage had required patience and guts. He had to gift her with romance and attention.
She gifted him with a Rolex watch. a red sports car every year, custom-made clothes and money, lots of
it. Now he was tired of it. He felt like he was walking on a minefield of emotions. One wrong step and he
was gone.

Meeting Lola had changed his life for the better. Adam had been working on the construction site of her
daddy's new house. He had been hired for the plumbing and
electrical work. One afternoon, Lola was there with  her daddy. She bumped into him. It was deliberate he
knew. Batting her eyes at him, she engaged in conversation with him for a long time. After work, they
went out for supper and ended up in bed. Two weeks later they eloped to Vegas without her daddy's
permission. Her mommy had died when Lola was sixteen. Seeing Lola happy, her daddy felt free of her
responsibility and foolishness. Her daddy began to date, go to parties and travel. At first he was out for  
week to a month. Soon he was never in the office. Put Adam in charge of the consulting firm with a
mentor to learn the business. What did a plumber and electrician know about consulting a business?

After a year, he fired the mentor and took the company over. He learned the important things like20how
to embezzle money and put it in off shore accounts which he did, lots of it. However, his books were to
be checked in four days. It was now or prison. Adam wanted total freedom and he would have it in an
hour.  A little of this, a little of that, a little of boom made freedom the end result. His hands trembled in
anticipation and  he mentally began to fidget.

Yes, it certainly was worth it, he thought.

Looking his Rolex, he decided to check on Lola. He crept up the steps, opened the door and heard her
loud snores that almost shook the walls. Yes, she was asleep. Grinning, he bounced down the stairs.
Reaching the bottom one, he turned and look in the hall mirror. His dark brown hair neatly combed, his
glittering blue eyes like rare jewels made him pleased at his image. Life was good to him.

Poor Lola was certainly no siren, no matter how she tried. Her weight, her dull hair, her weepy eyes, her
blotchy skin were her down fall. Wearing frilly tight clothes and wearing too much makeup made her look
like a frump. Her joviality was overbearing. Her daddy said she got all her qualities from her mommy,
spitting image of the woman.

What kind of children would they have had? He shuddered at the thought.

The hired help were off tonight at his request. Adam had insisted he wanted a romantic evening alone
with his Sweetie Cakes. He planned on having a lobster dinner, soft lights and romantic music. She
wanted pizza and coke. Wanted to watch the ballgame too.  She screamed and stomped her feet until he
relented. She consumed the pizza like a hungry bear. Later she whined about how her stomach hurt. "No
wonder it does with you eating two large pizzas, two large cokes and a jar of pickles," he told  her. He
had tried to give her a last romantic evening. With her refusal, he felt like a mountain had been taken off
his shoulders. Duty is not always a beautiful thing.

He went out to his new red sports car and put his bags in the trunk. Plans to sell the car for parts had
already been made. In exchange and no questions, he would get another car. He gently touch his
beloved sports car. But he had to do it. His appearance would change along with his occupation to world
traveler around the world. He had hell now but bliss later.

He wanted one last drink. Adam poured himself a generous amount and it went down his throat with a
warm rush. The air around him grew hot and humid like a summer storm. The time was now.

Any doubts had swiftly passed him by. He checked his wallet for his new identify. He would be Graham
Young with a beard. His traveler checks were made out in his new name. His face lit up like lightning
during a storm.

He opened the cellar door with steady hands. He could almost touch his freedom and success. First, he
had to recheck the furnace for any problems before he left and it blew up with=2 0his Sweetie Cakes.
What a good feeling. It had to blow within an hour of his departure. Turning on the cellar light he felt his
new life was just outside this house. He slowly descended the steps ticking off in his mind the last few
things he had to do.

He stumbled on the second step and could not get his balance. Tumbling down the stairs, his knife fell
out his pocket and opened. At the bottom of the stairs, he fell on the shinny blade. Blood squirted from
his chest, nose and mouth.

Weakly he called for help. No answer.

He called again for help. No answer.

Adam died with Sweetie Cakes fast asleep upstairs.
LOVE DON'T LIVE HERE
by: Grace Painter