It was a slow death. Steven Henley didn’t see it coming. His friends sure did.
The event took place at the Rosewood Pub in downtown Brooklyn. A small group of friends had gathered to pay their last respects to a man they used to know.
Everyone seated around the table was in agreement. Their friend, Steven Henley, had finally died.
It was a slow death. His friends doubted if he even saw it coming. If he did, they speculated he was powerless to get out of its way. There was no other explanation.
A glass was raised and a toast was made. “To Steven Henley. May his death be only temporary, his passing but a moment in time.” Here here came the reply as they all tipped back their glasses and drank down the bitter truth of the words that had just been uttered.
To many, Steven Henley was a hero of sorts. A champion most only dreamed of becoming but knew deep down inside they never would. He was the type of person most men looked up to and wanted to emulate. They lived their lives vicariously through the exploits of their long lost friend.
He was young, strikingly handsome, extremely smart and carried a sharp as a razor wit about him. A ladies man with money to burn. There was no doubt about it. If anyone really did live the Life of Riley it was Steven Henley.
“I remember the day things first turned South for ol’ Steven,” recounted one of the men at the table. “In typical fashion, Steven showed up right here at the Rosewood with a new girl wrapped around his arm. She was like many of the others. A petite and extremely beautiful looking thing. Her long black hair accented the sharpness of her dark eyes. They never seemed to stop moving. Constantly scanning the room as if she was looking for something and expected to find it at any moment.
She seemed friendly enough. Although if I do recall, she was a little acidic when it came to having a sense of humor. I recall seeing her give Steven “the look” that evening when he came back at her with a witty retort over something she had said. Steven shrugged it off but I’m sure he felt the sting.”
Steven did feel the sting that evening.
His new girl, Evelyn, had met him at a party several days earlier and latched on to him. It was a tight grip from the very first moment. She knew a good catch when she saw one and used her girlish charm to bait him.
Steven took the sweet and tasty bait. He never knew what hit him. She set the hook hard and refused to give the line an inch of slack. She played him well.
Evelyn was the one who insisted on going to the Rosewood that night. She wanted to let everyone know that Steven was no longer available. She had exclusive rights to her new piece of property and would use those rights as she saw fit.
That night she put out the “No Trespassing” sign to any and all who thought Steven might still be accessible.
Over the next six months his friends saw less and less of Steven. When they did see him he was never alone. Evelyn had become an appendage around his neck as she slowly strangled the life out of the man. Eventually they stopped seeing him altogether.
They were surprised and a bit leery when the wedding invitations starting showing up. It was a proper and expensive affair. Evelyn would have it no other way. She had reeled in her trophy catch and now she was proudly holding him up for all to see.
The marriage was a stormy affair from the very beginning. Once the honeymoon was over, Evelyn’s thin veneer of civility and charm began to crumble. Whenever Steven tried to be his own person, Evelyn shot him down. She stifled his wit and mocked his interests and his friends.
Yelling, door slamming and pouting was a nightly routine. After the first few months Steven couldn’t take it any longer. It was only when he found the strength he needed and threatened to leave her that they came to terms. They worked it out. Or should I say Evelyn worked it out.
She agreed to give Steven some peace. In exchange Steven agreed to hand Evelyn his last vestige of independence. That evening he handed over both his balls and his backbone. She had successfully neutered him.
The few friends that remained couldn’t believe the change. Steven Henley was not the same and the change was not for the better. Over time, they too were stealthily pushed away from Steven. Evelyn now had him all to herself.
Steven Henley may not have realized it, but he had died. His friends all knew it and they mourned his passing.
© Copyright 2023 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.
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