Face, Meet Sidewalk

Bob’s Demise

Posted on: May 11, 2011

This was a little piece I wrote for an assignment in a Creative Writing course I took. At the end of the course, we had a little reading at a local cafe. I read this one, and people actually laughed a little. I was encouraged.

Betty looked up from her drink when a movement from the street caught her attention. She peeked through the window and rolled her eyes. Bob. Her dedicated husband was coming up the walk, a paper-wrapped bouquet of flowers in his hand. Not again, she thought. When would he notice she never even touched the breakfast trays he had brought her every Saturday morning for the last 32 years? She had to admit, the flowers made it beautiful, but all she ever took was the mimosa, and only because the alcohol dulled all the edges just enough to keep her from stabbing him with her fork.

Sure, he cooked her dinner every day, and it had been years since she’d filled her own gas tank, but sheesh. There was only so much syrupy sweetness that one could take before it started to cause cavities. The last straw was a while ago, when he’d interrupted a meeting she was in to bring her coffee at work. Didn’t he realize how embarrassing and disruptive that was? And to think, she used to keep all the little love notes he would pack in her lunch bag each day. These days, they went straight into the recycling bin before she even read them. If he would only take a hint, she thought. Even when she knew he’d made one of his “special dinners”, and she worked late so she wouldn’t have to face him over the table, he just flashed that irritating, benign little smile and left her a plate in the fridge. It (along with everything else about him) made her want to kill him.

They now rarely went to bed at the same time; but at least Betty no longer had to spend such a disproportionate amount of time figuring out how to turn down his awkward advances. They hadn’t slept together since she had “accidentally” run over his foot with the car (she wouldn’t have been sorry to cause more massive injuries, but under-swerved due to the regrettably reflex-dampening effects of the vodka). At least now, he hardly ever bothered her for sex anymore, and when he did make a half-hearted try, she would pull one of the ready-made excuses from her rotating list, and turn in early.

Betty was so done with Bob and her marriage that she made only a token effort to hide her relationship with Jeb. Granted, she hadn’t exactly come out and announced that she was having an affair with the disgraced Catholic priest she’d met at an AA meeting, but there were only so many times a wife could fall off the wagon with the “girls from work” before any normal man would start asking pointed questions about the efficacy of AA. Not Bob, though. No, sir, he just smiled in that infuriating way and asked her if she’d had fun.

In contrast to Bob, Jeb, was a one-man religious experience. Finally, she understood what she had been missing all these years. He was her very own saviour. Betty knew some might find Jeb’s personal style off-putting, but she was sure that her girlfriend, who had referred to him as sanctimonious and arrogant, would never have said a word if she just knew him better. Those comments were borne of jealousy, pure and simple. But there would be plenty of time for getting to know Jeb, once Bob was out of the picture.

As Bob plodded predictably up the sidewalk from his car, Betty practiced her Tragic Widow face. Since the massive stroke she was hoping for when she replaced Bob’s heart pills with sodium tablets didn’t seem to be forthcoming, rumours of his bizarre behaviour and increasing forgetfulness would overshadow her own. That way, when they pulled his body from the mangled wreckage at the bottom of the ravine, no one would think to inspect his brake line for cuts. And when the well-wishers paraded past his casket, she could truthfully slur, “Yes, he went downhill so fast. Have you met Jeb, my spiritual advisor?”

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