by Ben Small
Feel like somebody’s watching you? Like maybe Judgment Day is sneaking up and about to pounce. I’m sensing this, and I don’t think I’m just paranoid. Besides, I’m current on my meds.
No, I’m acutely aware of a pending threat, and I think I know from where it’s coming.
(Drum roll, please)
It’s my wife. (A final boom, if you will)
She’s been looking at me funny. You know, with one eye cocked, a small curl of her upper lip. Then she’ll go outside and pick up the machete, run its blade ― I cleaned it after the pool guy episode ― across an Arkansas stone, seemingly a perfect fifteen degrees of angle. Smooth strokes, smooth and sure, despite her eyes never leaving me. She’s been watching The Tudors lately, the last few episodes of the Anne Boleyn saga. Over and over. So I snuck a peak at her computer, saw webpages of decorative lawn ornaments. They looked suspiciously like pikes.
Why would my wife be plotting against me? I treat her like a queen. Gifts, compliments and guidance. Hallmarks of my love.
You want examples? Pleased to accommodate. Just last Christmas, I gave her a new vacuum cleaner. Bagless. Flat. It will sweep under the couches. She seemed so happy. I caught her crying in the bathroom. And for her birthday, I gave her a rolling tool box. No more having to lug that heavy old one to where she needs it.
“Jewelry?” you ask. So cliché. Frivolous, too. And jewelry doesn’t hold up. See, I bought my wife a Rolex once, but she disregarded my instructions and got it wet. Stopped working almost immediately. There went fifty bucks down the drain. Maybe a lesson learned though. Regardless, there’s no more room in my gun safe.
No, my gifts tend to be more practical. Like me. Tools, maybe a new pair of flip flops, gardening implements. Heck, last spring I sprung her a special surprise: a new pool robot. She was so happy ― the whole bathroom weep-thing again. Touching. I gave her a hug and a nice squeeze on the fanny flab.
But I buy my wife sexy clothing. Some Victoria Secret slinkies. And I tell her that when she loses twenty pounds, that stuff will fit. No more sweats then, by golly. My baby will be a nylon-and-lace princess.
See, practical gifts and those which provide incentives are the way to go. What good are plastic baubles when we don’t go out much? My wife would look sorta silly waltzing around the grocery store in long chains, bubble ear bobs and jeweled flip flops, now wouldn’t she? And restaurants? We don’t go. Salmonella, you know. I’m careful about my wife’s health. I don’t even let her drive. Too many nuts on the road. Besides, the bus stop is only two blocks away, and it runs right by the grocery store. Al Gore would be proud of me.
But I do take my wife’s health seriously. I suggested breast enhancement, a tummy-tuck and some lipo, and even went so far as to make an appointment for her. And what gratitude did she show? A snort, some muttering, and then shouting, something about me being a pig. “Male Chopin pig,” I think she called me. Whatever that is. My name’s not even Fred.
But it got worse. My wife canceled the appointment. Talk about embarrassing. What if the doctor cancels my next chin reduction?
Ah, she’s put down the machete and is slipping into her gardening gloves. Thick ones, green, plastic, the kind that cover half one's forearm. “What now, dear?” I ask, flashing her a warm smile.
“Herb garden. Need some roots and leaves for tonight's salad,” she says. She breezes by me to the back yard, and I watch her digging under the red flowering bush, gathering some roots, snipping some leaves, some of the flowers, too.
How nice. A salad from the herb garden. Maybe a nice Balsamic to go with it. And color from the pretty red flowers. Maybe I’ll give her a reward, put on some Frank, open a bottle of Riunite, maybe even slip into a thong. A little after-dinner-delight, huh?
Oh, she’s heading inside, her fixings in a pail. A thin-lipped smile is set on her face. I hold the door open and toss her a passing kiss. Her smile grows but she dodges my eyes. “Nice salad,” I say.
A big grin. “Only the best for you, honey.” She walks to the sink, turns on the water. Her gloved hands rub the roots, massage the leaves, and smooth the flowers.
“What will you call this masterpiece?” I ask. “Something so beautiful should have a special name.”
She looks out the window, and her hands go still. The slippery-wet green of her gloves blend with the waxy-slick leaves in the sink, creating the impression that my wife's got more than ten fingers. Nice leaves, long and slender. I'll bet they're tasty.
She stands like that for a moment, just staring. Then she turns her head. There's a devilish sparkle in her eye. “How about Oleander Express?” A pucker, a blown kiss.
I feel so relieved, almost giddy. How could I have been so suspicious of her? My trusted wife. So silly. Just paranoia, I guess. I’ll take another pill, maybe two. That'll make me right.
It'll all be over soon.