How Was It During the Inquisition?
He is chewing. He is chewing his food and the words that are emerging are insulated by a padding of mash potatoes, and he is saying something about the Asshole In Accounts, the same Asshole In Accounts he is always talking about, and his mouth is full and he is speaking and she wants to stab him in the eye with her salad fork. His face is working with the precision of a man absorbed in his own monologue and the words are falling in ribbons from his mouth, they are fat and blood-red and soak up the air around the two of them. He is chewing and she is watching his mouth work and she eases back in her chair, as if accepting something, as if some force was about to enfold her. Some force was about to route her toward what she so much wants to do. She wants to take the fork and stab him in the right eye repeatedly because that is supposedly his good eye, and all that she wants left is his bad left eye. Lefty, she would call him. Hey, Lefty! And she wants to shovel the rest of his food that is left on the pomegranate-red plates that they purchased three years ago, two years after they decided marriage was an institution they could live in, she wants to shovel what is left down his throat and suffocate him with mashed potatoes and gravy from a packet and biscuits that emerge from a cylinder. He is talking about the Asshole in Accounts and hasn't even really looked at her straight in the eye yet, he is staring beyond her, into the space that opened up two years ago. He is blunt-faced, with a smile that is pasted-on. She attempts a reversal of conversation. There is the ever-accumulating dry cleaning. Coupons for services such as carpet cleaning, for the cleaning of gutters, pool cleaning. The man with the throaty voice like over-used porn who answers the phone at the video store. But nothing dissuades him. The words keep coming.
Never in the same order twice.
She will gouge out his right eye with her salad fork and then she will go out for strawberry shakes at that place where the employees wear orange and brown uniforms and put real chunks of strawberries in the ice cream, ice cream that is so thick you get a headache just trying to inhale it through the straw. She always emerges from that particular restaurant heady from the smell of greasy fries and disinfectant.
This is the scenario she has considered before. Always considered. What would happen afterward. It would have to be strawberry shakes, at that place that has them. Without question.
Still, where do these thoughts come from? She is a nice girl, raised by nice parents in one of those suburbs that are the conjunction of two other names, where the eateries all have to do with making the days of the week sound appetizing. She has these thoughts. They appear, manifesting their grievances in small ways: the back of his head, the slant of his walk, his well-used index finger, and the constantly chewed nail thereof. All of these details infuriate her. They are the minutiae of a matured state of connubialism.
She used to be a woman thick with flowering desires. Now her ardor extends only to that of her collection of Italian shoes.
However, for the record, it goes without saying, no question, that she's not like those women in the movies, the ones that arrive plump with psychotic behaviors. Why is it that the women are always psychotic when the men in their lives chew with their mouths open and talk about the Asshole in Accounts without end? These women carry with them expressions which that they do not own outright, someone else has elaborated them, has concocted them, has elicited these mangled expressions from where false expressions always emerge. She will not be drawn by movie executives packed in silk suits.
She has thought about knives to the gut.
1. About poisoning.
2. Running him over in the driveway.
3. Putting him in one of those Iron Maidens, if she could find one.
4. Pushing him off a cliff.
5. His brains to blow out with a pistol.
6. About poisoning over several months. Over many months, slow and deliberate, not enough to notice over the course of days, but over weeks and then months.
7. Drawing and quartering, if she could find four healthy, willing horses.
8. A swarm of yellow-jackets poised to sting.
9. Drowning in a river, a chunk of concrete tied to his ankle.
10. His head to meet with the blade of an axe.
11. Mauled by bears. By tigers. By wolves.
12. Swallowed by a large Burmese python.
13. Attack of the heart brought on by someone jumping from a darkened space and screaming a scream that horror movies usually boast.
There are more. Multitudes! The sheer number ponderous. She has thought of them all. The list complies and collapses in her mind. She fingers her fork. She twirls it in her hand several times watching the filigree of the design. He would be called Lefty at work. Especially, probably by that Asshole in Accounts and he would tell her about the slight over dinner and she would pick up her fork and remove the eye he had left.
How was it during the Inquisition? The welling of agonies, the dank oppression of a single vision that corrupted everything, that soured the most innocent in the land. Or was it really that bad? What happened when a spouse reached the point of exhaustion with their mate? This would be the era to severe those bonds, wouldn't it? To dispose of them in some severe horrific fashion. There must have been many stories concocted to simply dispatch those who had reached the zenith of their annoyance to those around them.
The two of them, walking in the town square, him blathering on about the Asshole in the Field. About how he can't plow his field without this other moron getting in his way. Would she cry heretic, at the top of her voice, throw her voice out into the crowd, just so that he would finally shut up?
Sitting at a table eating gruel from wooden, waxed bowls, him blathering on about the Asshole in the Field, would she sneak away to the local priest and pronounce that he was the devil, that he was in fact el Diablo, and that he was living with her, under the same roof, that she was frightened, that she as a good Christian would be defiled, in fact endangered by his very presence?
What percentage of people on the rack was the result of spouses fed up with bad table manners?
Had to be at least 70 percent.
Had to be.
He is talking about the Asshole in Marketing, he is sitting directly in front of her, across the table, bathed in the soft light of the dinning room lamp dappled in cobwebs and dust because that is a place that no one ever thinks to clean, and the bulk of his speech is laced with references to the Asshole in Marketing, and he is directly in front of her and she can see past him, she can see the picture hanging on the far wall, which, at her vantage point, which is sitting directly across from her husband, is just the top half of the print, a poster from the 20's, an advertisement for some sort of wine---the wine is incidental, it's really the illustration that matters---a type of print that has been in vogue for the last decade or so, the type of print that everyone seem to have hanging in their dinning room or kitchen because they have seen it displayed that way in a catalogue and she can see the indigos and crimsons of the poster swirling together, and she has fixed her eyes upon this point, the top portion of the poster, the point just above his head and she can hear him talking, he is saying things, words are escaping, they are filling up the room like they always do, almost strangling out the air and she is trying to concentrate on that point, the point just above his head, trying to remove herself from conversation, trying to place herself that is beyond all of the useless words, carrying her aloft across that point in space upon which her eyes are affixed, marshalling the strength to remove herself wholly from the present situation, which requires a tremendous amount of strength she has found, the strength to remove herself from her feelings utterly, sending herself into that distance, into the vanishing point as which time she will fling open her arms wide, she thinks this will be the point of total abandonment and yet she still wants to stab him in the right eye with her fork.
He says, "I'm trying to get things done...it's always a case of trying to get things done, myself and my team, I tell them 'we get things done, that is the motivational factor here, we as a team within this company know what to do, and how to do it', but he doesn't understand that...thinks he's kingshit because he's from Marketing...thinks that's what drives everything...the be all end all...fuck does he know?...but it's not...it's not...I'm trying to get things done and my team is trying to be a good team, make an effort, and he's just sitting over there in the Marketing department, kingshit, shitting on everything, and I want to punch him in the throat, I want tear him to pieces, because who is he?..."
She says, "You know, funny story, actually, something that happened to me today..."
He says, "Just like the Asshole in Accounts...always getting in the way...that little fucker...kingshits...the both of them...fuck do they know?"
He used to be a man in capable clothes. Now he is just a guy with a haircut that he can never get quite right.
She imagines the day when she will be ready.
That day will end like this: consuming endless amounts of strawberry shakes from that restaurant where the tables always smell of the grey dishwater rag that they use to wipe down every surface. She imagines being rolled out of the restaurant, having to be rolled out into the parking lot by the employees in the orange and brown uniforms because she had too many strawberry shakes, because she has expanded beyond what is normal. Beyond what is considered normal. She is fleshy. She is vast. Her head and limbs poking out of the spongy sphere that is her body, she looks like a cartoon character, and the employees are silent, they are stiffed-lipped, they are aggrieved, and they are pimple-faced and long-haired and youthful in a way that is maddening. Disappointment is already marqueed across their faces and they haven't figured out that the worst is yet to come.
They gather at the entrance to the restaurant, a regiment preparing for battle.
They are silent.
They push and she rolls, moans dribbling from her along with secretions of strawberry shakes.
She hoped that she would keep expanding--- like the universe after the big bang---spreading out across everything, blanking out all matter until she was filling every last inch.
They would roll this ball of a woman into the parking lot and out to her car without complaint because the customer is always right.
And she would smile and tell them thank you for the push.
About the author:
Scott Brothers' short stories and humor pieces have been published in Monkeybicycle, Word Riot, The Big Jewel, and the Mississippireview.com. For more info visit: http://scottbrothers.wordpress.com.