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Between the Lines
Another hour and I would be free squirmed Cheryl to herself, while sipping the
last splash of her lukewarm tea. She glanced affectionately across at Marvin,
slumped like a wrinkled pajama clad plush toy, barely propped up in his chair
behind the curtain of Saturday's paper.
"You have nothing clean for church or work. So I'm washing a load of your
tailored white silk shirts. Did you dump your hideous red golf socks into the
laundry basket as I asked you?" piped Cheryl. Knowing full well that the
conversation was a failed cause in competition with the news broadcast. Those
flaming socks made him into a ridiculous clown. Thank goodness he only wore them
out on the course. As she sighed at the embarrassing thought.
"Wha. . . ?Yeah. Oh yeah. . . " dribbled Marvin. Although deeply absorbed in the
current written affairs his ears did function, contrary to feminine here say.
Yes, he had attended to his dashing red socks. As a matter of fact the whole
pile was thrown into the chugging washer.
"Hey, Hon, I need some coarse chunks for drainage in my geranium pots.
There are half a dozen cracked cups, saucers and mugs sitting in the cupboard
that we never use. "cooed Cheryl slyly. It was a cover up really. As she had
reached for her own cup this morning, his favorite one had toppled onto the
counter splitting in two with innumerable splinters. Rather than be caught with
the evidence and face a day of boiling anger she concocted this lame plan.
"Sure, dear. Sure. " sputtered Marvin as he was fully immersed into the article
on divorce. He couldn't believe that half of all marriages failed before their
tenth anniversary. How could society let families collapse like that? The
ramifications weighed heavy upon his mind.
Smacking his parched lips "Sweetie, could I please have my tea? When you have a
moment. Thanks. "It really wasn't the tea but his cherished blue flowered china
cup that he wanted to hold. On picnics when they were courting a dog's age ago,
Cheryl and himself had always shared tea from that same cup. A matter of
sentimental reassurance that at least their world was together.
Cheryl pretended to be lost in the view from the kitchen window. Not to disturb
Marvin, she had already taken the tea cup pieces out to the garage. While
strolling to the garage, she blushed at the sight of the cold frame doors wide
open. She had forgotten to close them, just that once, before last night's
severe biting frost. Marvin's dear herbs were now withered to a mess of pitiful
bleached scribbles on sugar powdered licorice earth. When committing the crime
of hammering the cup evidence into smaller indiscretions at the garage entrance,
Cheryl spied a crafty feline's tail. Hovering inside the cold frame. Likely
digging war trenches into Marvin's wartorn plant battlefield. She had enough of
that nuisance. Dropping the hammer, Cheryl grabbed his nine iron from the sack
of clubs and went swinging wild as a whirling dervish. Intending to scare the
living crap out of that annoyance. Unfortunately the club slipped from her
grasp. It went careening, scraping across his MGB sports car hood then
smashing a lovely lace crack pattern over the entire windshield. Thankfully she
knew that her husband didn't have any plans for today. She would tuck the car
into the garage and call the auto club later to repair the damage. Doubling
insult, of forgetting about the cup shrapnel and forthwith stabbing a flat tire
while parking the car.
Marvin was halfway to the point of no return. Engrossed by the reportage at
hand. With the article citing lack of communication for the primary reason of
divorce. Although he wasn't a chatterbox, when the cards were played, Cheryl and
he could always count upon real face value. At that moment without beverage, his
acute senses caught a pungent whiff "What's that strange smell, Dear?"
"I suppose that's the garbage piling to overflowing under the sink again,
Sweets. If you have a chance. . . "twirped Cheryl. She couldn't bring herself to
announce the passing away of Binky the budgey late last night. There was no way
her hands were touching a dead beast. The repulsion almost made her choke on her
last mouthful of tea. "I'm heading out of town, Dear" she blipped.
Cheryl had a full agenda. Her girlfriend Sue had agreed in a pinch to accompany
Mrs. Shopper to the big city before Marvin mole emerged from his hole. They
would pick up a tire, fresh nursery herbs, order a new china cup, phone the auto
club and grab a bird on the way home. It would drain their bank account for the
weekend. But her paycheck would top it up again on Monday. She was also supposed
to sign the legalities for ownership of their new summer cottage this morning
with the lawyer. But obviously plans have changed. She left a message on the
solicitor's answering machine to that effect. While she was out flailing murder
at the cat and Marvin was snoring oblivious, the lawyer had returned her
call. And left a message on their phone machine.
Marvin had barely noticed Cheryl's "Goodbye Honey. " from the closing back door.
Promptly her car engine purred out of sight from the driveway. He shook himself
away from the morning news with a stretching yawn. The divorce article had
buried him into a dazed depression. Even the sunshine belting into the kitchen
beared false security. Directly Marvin shaved and washed his slovenliness,
transforming him into some form of sentient state. Tromping downstairs and
groping into the laundry arena. "Red socks. Red socks. Hmmm. "surmised Marvin.
Nothing in the dryer. Lifting up the washer lid scrawled disaster across his
face. Bloody pink silk shirts wound into a ring with red cotton socks inside.
"How the heck?! "as he stomped upstairs again. While steeping himself a cup of
ordinary tea in an ordinary cup Marvin glaced over at the birdcage. Shocked to
see a pair of claws curled heavenward. "Oh gross! What a stench! " as Marvin
reached inside and disposed of the feathered deceased. He had to get out of this
Slamming the door in frustration, he stretched a sigh of relief outside.
Walking over to his hobby herb plot Marvin nearly died. Weeks of nourishing
seeds indoors. Then tenderly transplanting the shoots into the cold frame. "All
for this. . . " as he swore in utter disgust. "I've had enough. . . " wailed
Marvin. Maybe a round of golf would take the edge off the calamity. Raising the
garage door drove his temper stratospheric. Smashed glass, his cup crushed and
bent nine iron could only be remedied by a lethal stiff case of brew from the
With empty wallet, Marvin dragged limping pessimism step by step down to the
village bank. Punching in his code at the automatic teller. That was nearly
followed by his fist through the screen as the machine tersely spewed back the
reply of zero funds. "Ahhh! " screamed the fugutive of catastrophe. There was no
alternative but to return as prisoner to the jailhouse. And serve sentence for
what?! He mulled over the details. Trying to make sense of the calamity.
Were the events simply coincidence? Or were they intentional? The morning words
of divorce began percolating through jumbled jello thoughts. Of what Cheryl
said. Or didn't say. "Surely not that. . . " sobbed Martin.
As he pressed the button on the answering machine "Marvin! This is your
lawyer Mark! Cheryl and I are out of town. I'm sending you the papers
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