Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Flash Fiction Friday, Week 10: The Look
To commemorate the start of NaNoWriMo, this week’s prompt was words. We were to write a story incorporating the following five words: Tunnel, Measure, Eyebrow, Corporation and Cuff.
I knew I would get The Look when I gave Hermione the news. Hermione is my wife, and has been for the last 18 years. The Look is her own unique expression of complete condemnation. While her icy stare is burning a flaming hole through the middle of your soul, her left eyebrow forms into a perfect upside-down ‘V’. I’ve never been able to figure out how she accomplishes that. I went so far as to use a ruler to measure her eyebrow while she slept one night, but that didn’t solve the mystery. It wasn’t nearly long enough to come to a sharp point and yet still remain parallel to her eye on both sides. I considered suggesting she contact the World Record Book people with that feat since that surely would earn a mention, but decided against it since she does also lack an overall sense of humor.
When my boss informed me this morning that I no longer had a job, I agonized about telling Hermione. Even though the elimination of my position was due to my Corporation merging with another, I feared she would believe it was my fault. On the train ride home, I realized I wasn’t giving my wife enough credit. She would realize that I had no control over this particular situation. The merger resulted in a number of people being terminated since a complete restructuring of both company’s executive levels was planned. Besides, I was given an excellent recommendation and quite a handsome severance package, so it wasn’t like we’d have any financial problems until I obtained another job. She would understand. Right?
Wrong. True to form, she pounced on me as soon as I made the announcement.
“You never should have stayed with that company for so long,” she said, glaring at me with that eyebrow at its highest peak. “That’s why they let you go. You were nothing but dead weight after all those years.”
“But, dear, I wasn’t the only…”
“I’ll bet you didn’t even stand up for yourself, did you? I’ll bet you just walked out and didn’t take the time to give them what for, did you? Of course you didn’t. Now what are we supposed to do?”
The eyebrow remained frozen in place.
“But, dear, they gave me a very gener…”
“I’m going to bed. I didn’t have a headache all day, but now I feel like I’m going to faint from the pain. I hope you realize how lucky you are to have me. I scrimp and I save and I’ll make sure every penny of that last check they gave you goes into our savings. That way, we won’t be out on the street if you can’t find another job quickly enough. There’s dinner in the oven. You have yours – I can’t possibly eat right now. Eat all your vegetables and don’t add any salt. Go to bed after you eat so you get a good night’s sleep before you go out job hunting.”
And she was gone. She turned out all the lights on her way to the bedroom, with the exception of the kitchen lights. As I stood in the dark hallway, hungry, jobless and feeling like a total failure at life itself, I knew there was only one way out of this deep hole I was in. I had to kill Hermione.
I know what you’re thinking. Why get rid of her? I’ll tell you why. No matter what adversity occurs in either of our lives, it’s always my fault. She’d blame me if the sun came up late one morning. No, I’m not exaggerating. I spend my life under a dark cloud that always carries a thunderstorm and its name is Hermione. Throughout our entire marriage, I’ve been nagged, criticized, and blamed six ways to Sunday. Losing the only job I’ve ever had that made me feel proud and fulfilled actually hurt me deeply, big fat severance check notwithstanding. If only just this one time she would have tried to be supportive and offered me a bit of sympathy. If only. But, no. Not even once. Well, this is the last straw.
It took me a couple of days to figure out how to do it. While I was out doing interviews, I did a couple of run-throughs at the fancy hotel downtown and my plan is foolproof. I’ll take her to dinner there tomorrow night to make up for whatever mistake I’ll probably make and to apologize for not having found a new job yet, since that’s most likely my fault too. I’ll park in their underground lot and we’ll walk through the tunnel up to the lobby. It’s dimly lit and very few people go that way. It isn’t dangerous, but it is cold and damp, and mostly used by staff coming to and going from their shifts; although it is open to the general public as well.
On our way back to the car, after I make sure no one else is in there, I’ll hit her from behind to knock her out. Then, I’ll put a plastic bag over her head until she’s dead. I’ve researched that and it doesn’t take as long as you might think. I’ll get in my car and go home. When the cops notify me of her demise, I’ll tell them I don’t know how she ended up back there. I’ll say we went to dinner and had a fight. She said she was going to a girlfriend’s house, so I went home alone. Foolproof.
It worked perfectly. Just as I thought, hardly any cars were parked in the underground lot and no one was near either end of the tunnel. I knocked her out cold with the wrench I had in my pocket and pulled out the large baggie I had stashed under the cuff of my shirt. As I looked down at her laying there, I envisioned what my life would be like without the stone around my neck she had been.
There would be no one to nag me first thing every morning telling me to put on clean socks and underwear in case I was in an accident.
There would be no one to order me to eat every bite of the shredded wheat cereal that I despised because it helped to keep my digestive system working properly.
There would be no one to line up my blood pressure pills, cholesterol pills, and twelve vitamin supplements next to my orange juice, and refuse to let me get dressed until each one was taken.
There would be no one to make the God-awful meatloaf, dry mashed potatoes and spinach salad with no dressing that was served to me every Wednesday for dinner to balance out my weekly protein and starch intake.
There would be no one to turn the television off at 9:59pm when the news was over, since commercials were a waste of time and cut into the necessary eight hours of sleep time.
There would be no one to…
There would be no one.
I would be alone.
“Herbert? Herbert, what’s wrong? Can’t you hear me? Did you hit your head too?”
I waited too long. She’s come to. The Look appeared.
“Help me up, Herbert. We aren’t parking down here anymore and walking through this tunnel. There’s something sticking out of the wall in here and I hit my head on it. Why didn’t you answer me? Did you hit your head too? Did you have a stroke? I told you not to salt that potato. I’ll call the doctor in the morning so he can check you out. Do you need me to help you to the car?”
Who is this caring woman, and what have you done with my wife?
“No, dear, I’m all right. What are you going on about? You’re acting like you’re worried about me.”
“I always worry about you, Herbert. Why do you think I nag you about everything? I know I pester you day and night about every little thing you do, but that’s just because I love you. I know I don’t always say it, but you know I’m not one of those gushy women. You know I love you, Herbert, don’t you? Well, don’t you?”
Did I hit her on the head too hard?
“Yes, dear, I know. I really do know. I love you too. Let me help you up. I’m okay. I just got scared when you fell down. I was worried about you too. Maybe you should see the doctor tomorrow for that bump on your head. I’ll call the manager in the morning and tell him you hit your head on something so they can fix it. Next time, we’ll park in the other lot. Come on, honey, let’s go home and watch the 9 o’clock news…together.”
You know, that thing she does with her eyebrow really is kinda cute…