As part of a never-ending quest to polish my literary chops, I offer you a short story featuring dueling spousal points of view. Some of it derives from my experience, but really, the characters represent no actual persons, living or dead. On the overleaf please find questions for readers, one of which I hope you’ll bother to address as a story comment. I appreciate your patience and ongoing forbearance for my literary experiments on live human subjects. ~Geoff
“Have you seen my keys? I thought I tossed them on the bed when I came back from the dentist.” She had been pacing about, disturbing his peace for the past five minutes.
“Hell if I know where they went,” Jack told her. “Look under pillows?” He splayed his book on the carpet and lifted off his reading chair with a sigh that could have been his or the cushion’s. Mister Find-it to the rescue.
He checked the bathroom for keys and peered into the bowls and vases lined up on the sideboard. Melissa swiped her phone. “I really must go or I’ll be late for Pilates. Give me your keys. I’m sure mine will turn up.”
He dug into his pocket with a grimace that became a half-smile as he handed them over. “Take the sports car. After you’re done, drop it off at Harry’s for an oil change. If his boy can’t drive you home give a shout and I’ll come get you.”
She was already the bedroom hurriedly changing clothes, bleating out “Sorry, no time, Jack Dear. Barbara wants to take me to lunch after. I’ll take my car so you can take care of it.” It’s his bloody toy. He can take it in and read his damn book while he waits. Exiting in sapphire yoga tights that bulged a bit, but not too much, she stopped by the bath to admire her not-yet-matronly figure and clip her long sepia tresses into a bun.
Sweeping up her handbag and dropping in his key ring, she prompted him “Be a dear and vacuum the downstairs, will you? You know, Bill and Sylvia will be here at seven and I don’t have time to make the place presentable.” He’d just laze around reading if I didn’t say something.
It would have to be Dolores’ day off. He wanted to say “So why are you lunching with Barbara if there’s so much to do?” but replied instead “All right.”
“And if you don’t mind,” she tossed back, heading out the door, “set the table for five. You know the menu. It will save me time. TIA.” Let’s see if he remembers how the forks go.
He shouted back “I guess that means that Steven will grace us with his presence?” Hardly leaves his room anymore. Probably something to do with the dirty magazines he hides in his pigsty of a closet.
“Of course. That is, he’d better, so see to it. Oh, wake him up. Doesn’t he have soccer scrimmage today?”
“I don’t know. When?” There goes the morning.
“Me neither. Please look it up and get him over there. Gotta go.”
The front door clicked. He stood at the front window looking past the azaleas, watching the minivan back out and head down the street as the clock on the mantel chattered and bonged nine. Oh yeah. Saturday, time to wind her clock.
But first, the young man. Why is it left to me to police all these things? He traipsed up the stairs, stopped at the door with the Katy Perry poster plastered with a sticker that said Dead Zone and put his ear to the panel. Detecting a slight rhythmic creaking sound, he rapped sharply and advised past Katy “Stop abusing yourself. You want it to fall off? Put on your uniform and come down to breakfast. Train leaves in forty minutes.” Waffles or pop tarts, no way. I’ll set out cereal, section a grapefruit and boil an egg.
A muffled “Okay, okay. Go away” was the cheery response.
I suppose I should be thankful he’s still too young to chauffeur himself. Oh shit. Melissa’s got my keys. Where the hell did she put hers?
After briefly stroking his chin in the living room, he tossed throw pillows from the sectional onto the floor. Something glinted from between two cushions. Her badge. Mister Find-it scores again. He extracted it and its dangling keys and pocketed the ensemble. Not the bed, you ninny. You threw them on the couch.