Let's take a look at another short story this week. See if it strikes a chord anywhere within you. But don't let it motivate you to any rash actions. Read and enjoy.
LOVE, DESPERATE LOVE
I lay abed in our cramped guest room listening to my wife bang around in the kitchen. She was simply making coffee, so there was no accounting for the clamor she was creating other than to make sure I was awake and aware of her mood. How could I not be? Her snit had been going on for a solid month. How had it come to this?
Cupping a hand behind my head, I sighed and considered that question. Merilee and I had been high school sweethearts: me a pug-faced footballer and she a cheerleader. The pairing had seemed right and natural then. But after graduation, the roar of my adoring fans had died while she remained the prettiest girl in town.
That didn’t seem to matter to Merilee. We went on just as we had, even after I decided not to go to college in order to take a job as a lineman with the local power company. When she agreed to marry me and became a secretary in a local accounting firm, I realized what a lucky slob I was. Looks and brains and personality mating with a local jock not quite good enough to land a football scholarship.
Looking back over the last twenty-five years, I realized that had set the course of our marriage. I worked and went to sports events and came home. She worked and ran with her circle of girlfriends and came home … and more or less decided how we lived on a daily basis. I was comfortable with that. Even grateful for it until I realized she pretty much controlled our married life. Even then, I acquiesced to most of her wishes – which ultimately became demands – in order to keep a peaceful domestic domain.
Ten years ago, things changed. Merilee’s sweet life caught up with her. And I do mean sweet. While I might occasionally overdo the beer, my wife never met a sugary confection she didn’t fall in love with. Her weight gain was slow but steady. I didn’t see the warning signs, and if Merilee did she ignored them. The day her doctor diagnosed her with diabetes marked her transition from dominate partner to domineering bitch.
Life had been hell on Elm Street since then, and I’m not talking about some movie franchise. Our modest home was located on Elm. I sighed again and stretched beneath the thin sheet. From a rocky heaven to a fiery hell in one short medical diagnosis. I do believe Merilee had been faithful until that day. But condemnation to Diabetes Purgatory had driven my wife – still attractive even with thirty additional pounds – to other men as a way of proving to herself she was still desirable. Apparently, I wasn’t evidence enough.
She had been discrete, and I likely wouldn’t have known if the wife of one of my friends hadn’t complained about Merilee seducing her husband. Confronting my straying spouse was worse than learning about her affair. She threw a hissy-fit to end all tantrums. Naturally, it somehow came out as all my fault.
That wasn’t the last of her peccadillos, but I’d learned to have another beer and go to another ball game and ignore the painful knowledge. But the pounds continued to pile on until she became so gross no one wanted her any more … including me. An angelic face atop a grossly corpulent body wasn’t all that attractive.
I scooted up in bed and leaned against the headboard. No longer being attractive to men opened the next phase in our increasingly troubled marriage. She lost her job, most likely because she was as domineering at work as she was at home. She made no effort to find another, instead devoting her time and our money to seeking reassurance of her feminism with expensive spa treatments and costly cosmetics. Within five years, she had run through our modest savings and even more stingy investments. Once those assets were depleted she turned from shrew to harridan.
Almost one month ago to this day, I’d had enough and reasserted a measure of masculine control that I didn’t even know had survived my smothering marriage. I’d taken away the checkbook, cut up her credit cards, removed her name from our bank accounts, and put her on an allowance. I’d managed to stem the flow of red ink, but there was nothing left at the end of the month beyond a near goose egg in our checking account. Like many American families we were one paycheck away from disaster. Hell, we were a half a paycheck away. And the necessary relaying of the floor in our garage was inching us closer to the brink. The contractor hadn’t even poured concrete yet, and the cost estimate was inching higher.
And for saving us from bankruptcy, what had I earned? Marlie’s undying enmity. No, her hatred. She could hardly stand the sight of me. She stopped cleaning house, washing herself, laundering our clothing, fixing meals. Crap, I might as well be a divorced man living on my own.
An attractive idea, but impractical. A lawyer friend I’d consulted unofficially pointed out that a divorce would merely mean my paycheck would have to support two independent households rather than a single fractured one. If I took a second job, the thing might have been manageable, but that would mean I’d have no life beyond working my ass off. Well, I didn’t have much of a life right now, but was I willing to go to that extreme just for the privilege of turning my house over to her and existing in some closet-sized apartment somewhere?
No, but I had to do something. Fast. And permanent.
That last thought shook me. Permanent. That would be difficult. Whatever financial straightjacket I put Merilee in, she’d find a way out. Cutting her off from the accounts, had made it harder for her to spend money, but she still managed. And as time went on, she’d come up with more efficient ways of getting around me.
Permanent. A good word. A seductive word. Fascinating. That led to another thought. Merilee had no relatives. She’d driven away all her friends. If she vanished, I imagined a great sigh of relief rising from the whole town.
And there was a hole in the ground right inside my attached garage. A hole that was going to be covered with concrete tomorrow morning.
I thought hard about things for a good fifteen minutes before rising and rooting around in the bedroom closet. I selected a two iron from the bag of golf clubs I could no longer afford to use. The weight was just about right. And it was long enough so nothing was likely to get on me. Nothing. Blood, I guess. Maybe brains. But just to be safe, I stripped off my pajamas. Still I hesitated.
Then I heard Merilee waddling down the hallway and conjured her image. Her dirty blonde hair would be sticking out like Medusa’s head of snakes. Her bathrobe would gape open over her bulging belly and hike up on the sides, caught on hippo hips. I shuddered. She was doubtless coming to see what misery she could inflict. Well, today we’ll see who does what to whom.
Naked, I walked to the door and threw it open, taking her by surprise. Without speaking a word, I lifted the two iron …
Just as she raised the little .22 revolver almost swallowed by her pudgy hand.
Well, how do you think it ended? Was that small .22 caliber gun sufficient to take down a former football player before he could wield his trusty two iron? Was one faster than the other? Or did they both go down? Only you, the reader, can answer that.
Hope you enjoyed the tale. Thanks for reading. I'd like to hear your reaction to the story.