Ron is a long-time writer of non-fiction articles who also enjoys writing short fiction.
Martin Mayhew was angry.
It was almost dinnertime, and he was very hungry. But his wife Gloria had just phoned to say that her friend Sally was under the weather, and for the next several nights she’d be stopping by Sally’s house after work. Martin would be on his own for supper for a few days.
“How dare she!” Martin fumed. The way he looked at things, it was Gloria’s wifely duty to make sure her husband was adequately fed. And up till now she had never failed in that solemn responsibility. But Martin was beginning to see a new pattern starting to develop. In many ways Gloria seemed to be getting a little less attentive and pliable these days. Just because he had been temporarily unemployed for the last two years, and Gloria had found a good job with a state government agency, she seemed to think she could treat him any old way. “Well, I’ll show her!” Martin seethed to himself.
Martin Develops a Plan
Thinking about how to get back at his wife for her neglect, Martin realized that it would be counter-productive for him to rant and rave at her when she got home. That would just get her back up, and he’d be eating at McDonald’s for the rest of his life. No, instead of starting an argument, he needed something more subtle, something that wouldn’t get her mad at him but that would make her realize how upsetting it was to be so grievously neglected by the spouse who claimed to love you.
The more he thought about it, the more he became convinced that some kind of tit-for-tat response was in order. “What can I stop doing for her to show her how it feels when your mate begins to slack off in taking care of you the way they should?” he asked himself.
Well, there was that business of putting out the trash every Thursday night. But if he didn’t do it, he knew from experience that Gloria wouldn’t, and the overflowing garbage would start to smell up the house. Martin was much too fastidious to stand for that.
One thing Gloria appreciated was when she was out at night and he turned the garage light on for her so that she wouldn’t be in the dark when she got home. But, it was summertime, and she rarely came home after dark anyway. What else?
Martin scratched his head and thought and thought, but every idea seemed to have some fatal flaw. Then, finally, he had it! Gloria was always so happy to see him when she got home from work. She loved it when he allowed her to come and sit down in his man cave and tell him all about her day on the job. Well, he would punish her by putting a stop to that!
Of course, he couldn’t just lock her out of the room. But he could make sure he wasn’t in the house when she got home. He realized that he’d have to have a good reason, or Gloria would accuse him of just being spiteful. And it couldn’t be for only a day or two. For her to really feel it, his revenge should last for at least a few weeks.
Martin Makes a Sacrifice For His Marriage
After some more hard thinking, Martin perfected his plan. It wasn’t the ideal solution – in fact, it would require a significant sacrifice on his part. But he felt it would be worth it to get his marriage back on track.
He said nothing to Gloria that night, but the next evening when she got home Martin wasn’t there. Instead there was a note on the counter in the kitchen:
“Honey, you remember that job offer I turned down because it pays so much less than I’m used to making? Well, I saw that it was still open and decided to give it a try. They took me on, but it means I’ll be late getting home from work for a while. I hope the house won’t be too lonely for you until I get there.”
It was really humbling to Martin’s pride to be working at a job that was so far beneath his professional qualifications. “But it’s worth it to put Gloria in her place and save our marriage,” he told himself virtuously.
It wasn’t long, though, before Martin began to doubt that his sacrifice was having the desired effect. After a couple of months of him going off to work every day instead of lying on the sofa watching sports on television and waiting for his wife to come home and feed him, Gloria seemed happier than ever.
© 2018 Ronald E Franklin