Thursday, October 29, 2015

Christa: Before the Storm

Susan walked into the house and smelled salmon baking and there was, she had to pause at this sight, wine glasses on the table, real wine glasses, and there was a table cloth, too. Larry was busy at the counter looking at, and this was a sight she never thought she would see, Larry was bent over a cookbook while holding a cucumber in one hand and a knife in the other. The man looked like a culinary wizard trying to summon some Demon of the Dark Arts of Cooking. He heard her giggle and turned around.
“There are no recipes for salads in this cookbook” he said gravely and Susan had to laugh.

“It’s a Syrah,” Larry said, “which means it pairs well with salmon that has been broiled with a hint of I- left- it-in- about- a- minute- too- long.”  He poured the wine into one of the glasses and Susan held her breath. He did it. He didn’t pour it all the way to the top.
“Larry,” Susan paused just for a second to catch her breath again, “what are you doing up at this hour?”
“I’ve been transferred to first shift starting the day after tomorrow” Larry raised his glass. “And I’m also ten percent richer for it.”
“Wow!” Susan raised her glass to meet his. “What brought this on?”
“They found Carpenter.” Larry said and stopped smiling. “Right where she said he would be.”
“Yeah, but we still have reason to celebrate.” Larry then hurried to the kitchen and brought back matches and lit the candles. “I think after the last couple of weeks we ought to have a drink.”
“I’m with you there” Susan said. “To ten percent!” She toasted and Larry smiled again.

Susan went into the bedroom to change clothes and take a shower and there was a new bed. It was a king sized bed with the wrought iron headboard and footer like she had said she had wanted when they went shopping for furniture right after they had gotten married. The man had actually made the bed, and as she dug down past the new pillows she smelled the sheets and was amazed he had already washed them. The mattress was one of the firmer ones and she hated a bed that was too soft. But Susan knew why he had bought a new bed but the fact he had bought one she liked said a lot.

Susan sat on the sofa in stunned silence. Larry had just ordered “Under a Tuscan Sun” off of Netflix and opened a second bottle of wine. He’s dating me, Susan thought to herself, he’s putting real effort into making me happy. She leaned back on the sofa and, she felt herself beginning to blush just a little and her body began to interact with the wine and emotions. What if he tries to get me into that bed, she thought. She tried to remember the last time they had kissed and couldn’t. It had been, three weeks, maybe? Should she give him some help and take her bra off or just let him drive? Susan tried not to grin. Her body was fueled by wine and by the fact her husband seemed to have suddenly noticed the things that made her very happy. He was an easy man to love, Susan realized and she caught her breath when she realized she wanted to tell him that, now, suddenly. She remembered the first time Larry had carried her into this house and laid her down in this very sofa. The bra was itchy. Susan reached back and unsnapped it while Larry poured more wine.  It was the least a woman could do.

Susan got up in the middle of the night and nearly fell. The new bed was much higher than the old one and she was disorientated. Years ago, when she had been a child growing up the bathroom had been down the hallway, on the left, but now there was a bathroom to the right of the bedroom. Susan had to pee,badly, but she kept going left, down the hallway to the kitchen. The room was dark except for the lights from the clock on the microwave and the oven. There was even an LED clock on the refrigerator. Susan really had to pee. There was another light, a brief but intense burst of blue. Her cell phone was buzzing at her. Susan picked it up and saw that it was “Work2” which was the code name for Marcel. The text message read, “I need to see you.” Susan caught her breath. Urine began to run down her legs as she felt her body surrender to terror. But she had known this might happen. They had talked about this possibility and everything that might happen once the car and Marcel’s phone was found. This was the police, Susan knew it, and they were trying to see if she would respond.
“Fuck you,” Susan typed. “You run off with some whore for two weeks and now you want me back? Hell no.”
She waited. She wondered if she ought to wake Larry but no, this was her mess, and she would clean it up. She felt the sliminess of her urine on her legs and hated herself for it, but she would clean that up too.
“I can explain” a text came in.
“I can too” Susan typed in. “You’re a slut. You dumped me for somebody else and now she’s gone and you want some” She sent that one in and typed again, “They changed Larry’s shift. He’s home now. I can’t do this anymore anyway. Fuck off.” And with that Susan closed out the messenger and blocked “Work2” from contacting her again. Susan didn’t turn on the kitchen light but opened the refrigerator instead and cleaned up her mess by the cold light. She put her nightgown in the washer and bathed with a wet washcloth before getting in bed with her husband and staring at the ceiling in the darkness until the alarm clock went off.

“This came in last night.” Susan told Larry as he woke up. He read the texts silently and cursed their timing.
“We knew this was coming,” Larry said “and here it is.”
They both felt as if something good had been sullied by the past but deep inside, they both saw relief in the beginning of what they had both dreaded. As long as there was no body there was no crime. As long as neither turned on the other there was nothing anyone could so. Larry had taken the courses to be a detective and knew their methods. He and Susan went through the dialog over and over, both playing the part of inquisitor and both playing the part of the innocent accused.

“Let’s go to work” Larry said and they kissed before they left. 


  1. I can see Larry wanting to strengthen the bond, reinforce the honor among thieves, but Under A Tuscan Sun? Such a complete transformation to wussydom is really pushing it.

    1. Every man has to watch that movie at least once with a woman.