Can I Tell You A Secret?

A man sits down at a local bar, still wearing his suit and tie from work. He orders two beers from the bartender. Minutes later, another gentleman enters, wearing a dirty plaid shirt, plaster on his fingernails. He takes a seat nearby the man with the suit, and orders a shot of whiskey.

“I’m Joe,” the man with the suits says, leaning over to shake his hand.”

“Thomas.”

“Do you want to trade secrets Thomas?”

“Trade what?”

“Secrets. I’ll tell you a secret. Something nobody knows but me. And then when I’m done, you tell me one.

“Uhno thanks.” Thomas looks understandably weirded out.

“Are you sure? There’s a beer in it for ya. It’s not like you’re doing anything better.”

“You’re a strange fella, Joe.”

“It’s been said that strange fellas have the best secrets.”

Thomas thinks about it for a moment.

“Fuck it. I’ll play along.”

“Great!”

“You go first.”

Joe passes Thomas his beer.

“Okay, now I don’t mind going first,” Joe says. “I’m totally fine with that. But I hope you actually have a good secret in store, because mine is pretty darn good. And I don’t want to get all the way through telling it only to have you turn around and say you stole a snickers bar in 2nd grade.”

Thomas chuckles.

“No, I thought of a good one.”

“Alright then.”

Joe takes a sip of his drink and leans forward in his chair. He begins.

“So here’s the deal. My wife, she’s sort of…cheating on me. Every day, right when I leave for work, she heads over to some guy’s place, fucks him, and then comes back home just in time to fix me dinner. It’s been going on for months.

Thomas looks surprised. “Jesus. How’d you find out? Did you follow her?”

“No. A buddy of mine saw her pulling up to his house.”

“What happened? Did you confront the guy?”

“No, I still don’t know who he is. Probably someone she met in cycling class. She’s been a little too into fitness these days. I should have known something was up.”

“Sorry about that, man. I can’t imagine what you’re going through.”

“Yeah, it’s been rough. And the worst part is, I really loved her.”

“Maybe you guys will work it out.”

Thomas leans over and gives Joe a consoling pat on the back.

The sound of glass smashing startles them both. Joe turns around to find a waitress standing in the back, looking embarrassed. Broken glass and beer cover the floor beneath her.

Thomas takes a sip of his beer and continues. “So I guess it’s time for my secr — “

Joe stops him. “Wait, wait wait! I still haven’t told you mine.”

“Oh. Well, when you said your wife was cheating on you, I assumed…”

“That’s no secret. Half the town knows about that. Why do you think the bartender has that stupid smirk on his face?”

Thomas glances at the bartender, who does indeed have a stupid smirk on his face.

“Alright then,” Thomas wonders. “If that isn’t your secret, then what is?”

“You know how I mentioned earlier that I didn’t know who the guy was?”

“Yeah.”

“I wasn’t being entirely honest.”

A nervous look takes over Thomas’s face.

Joe continues. “It’s you, Tom. You’re the one that’s been fucking my wife.”

Thomas leans back in his chair, bracing himself.

“I suppose this is where you punch me in the face.”

“I’m not going to hit you.”

“Really?”

“No. I haven’t even told you my secret yet.”

“You gotta be kidding me. You found out your wife cheated on you, that isn’t the secret. You know I’m the dude she’s been sleeping with, and that isn’t it either. This must be some secret.”

“I told you it was pretty good, didn’t I?” Joe sits up in chair, prepared to finally deliver the long awaited secret. Thomas listens intently.

“You see that beer you’ve been sipping on?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, right before you walked in here, I dropped the tiniest bit of rat poison in there. You see, I know you come in here every day and it’s always right around the same time, so all I had to do was sit here and wait. It was actually pretty easy.”

Thomas lets out a deep sigh.

“Well, Goddammit Joe, you weren’t kidding. That was some secret. And I suppose I had it coming, having sex with your wife so often. I mean, it must have been like 60 or 70 times, at least — I can see why you’d be angry. But give me a break. You, of all people, should understand my position. You know better than anyone how sweet she tastes. And that tattoo on her lower back. How was I supposed to say no?”

Joe is taken back by his moxy.

“Normally, I’d have knocked you out for speaking about my wife like that, but seeing as these are the last words of a dying man, I’m gonna let it slide.”

“I appreciate that, Joe. You’re a good man. And I guess I still owe you a secret, don’t I? Not that you particularly deserve it, after poisoning me and all.”

Joe laughs.

“Oh, yeah. I almost forgot. Let’s hear it. You’re gonna have a tough time topping mine. That’s for sure.”

“I’ll do my best.”

Joe is amused.

“You see, the moment I walked into this bar, I knew exactly who you were. Denise showed me a photo of you once. I remember because when she showed me, I mentioned that you had little, beady eyes. And she laughed and laughed. She said she’d always thought so and wondered if other people did too.”

Joe is no longer amused.

“I figured you were up to no good, based on your eagerness to strike up a conversation. So, I played along at first. I was waiting for the right moment, and luckily that clumsy waitress decided to spill some drinks, and you decided to turn around, so I went ahead and switched our glasses.

Joe swallows his smile. Terror covers his eyes.

“So I guess you sort of poisoned yourself. Denise did always say you were your own worst enemy.”

Thomas takes another sip of his beer and looks down at his watch.

“Oh, look at that. It’s already 8. I really have to be heading out. I told your wife I’d be home by now, and you know how she hates tardiness.”

I write short stories

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