Saturday, September 19, 2015

Adventures On the Husband Bench by Stuart R. West

The "husband bench" is a particularly uncomfortable piece of pseudo-furniture situated near the exit of department stores. The intention of the bench is to get the non-shopper out of the way so the shopper of the couple can go about their business, unimpeded by the whining other half. Married or dating, male or female, straight or gay, it doesn't matter; in the grand equation of life every couple is comprised of a shopper and a complainer.

The heinous bench is generally very cold and sterile, a terrible place to reside. And it's usually located  out of sight of the check-out aisle, presumably so the waiting person won't try to hasten the shopping partner's progress with impatient can-we-leave-now? hand gestures.

My last visit to the husband bench was an eye-opening, yet soul-deadening experience. I took my seat, my back freezing against the wall. Next to me, a tired looking man in a ball-cap eyeballed me, nodded, a weak brotherhood of sorts solidified in mutual suffering. Then we both went back to studying our feet. Soon, Ball-Cap's eyes lit up. His time in purgatory had ended as his significant other approached, bags in hands. The changing of the guard. The torch had been passed to me to take on elder statesmanship of the husband bench. I gave him a farewell smile. But not too big, because I knew my tenure in tedium had just begun.

A young guy strutted up, full of energy and cockiness. Didn't take long for his youthful vigor to slip into despair, like watching air leak out of a balloon. I gave him a knowing shake of the head, signifying that yes, this is awful, but soon it'll all be over, hang in there. Unless, of course, a blue-light special in aisle four is announced. You never know.

After an eternity of waiting, celestial trumpets sounded! A glorious spotlight framed my wife coming around the corner! I turned to the young guy and said, "now, you're in charge." He understood. Grimly.

But while I was waiting, studying my fellow sufferers, I began to wonder about them. Maybe they weren't there waiting for significant others. What if these men had a hidden agenda? Meeting on the husband bench for a nefarious purpose, a place where no one would ever suspect skulduggery.

From this simple premise, my new suspense thriller, Secret Society, was born. The book begins with two very different men meeting in a mall on a "husband bench." And from there, the action, mystery, dark humor, thrills, chills, intrigue and a clown car's worth of serial killers never lets up. It's a clowder of cats and mice thriller about a very insidious corporation that sponsors serial killers. For a price. A very big price. Pity poor Leon Garber who's crossed them.

People always wonder where my ideas come from. I point to the "husband bench,"  and say, "Here. What happens on the husband bench, stays on the husband bench."

Secret Society just released this very day from Books We Love publishing.
Out now: Ghosts of Gannaway, a historical ghost tale based on true events (sorta).
Stuart R. West's Books We Love author's page.