Virginia: “Why didn’t you take the trash out like I asked you to do?”
Robert: “Why are you asking me this right now? I’m in the middle of a dramatic profile shot that will make me look naughty but sexy.”
Virginia: “So it’s all about you, once again.”
Robert: “If it was all about me, you wouldn’t even be in the car.”
Virginia: “Well, that’s a lovely thing to say. Why do you have to be such an ass? I swear, if it wasn’t for our kids, I’d be seriously thinking about a divorce right now.”
Robert: “Kids? We have kids? When did that happen?”
Virginia: “Of course we have kids, you turnip. One of them is in the backseat right now.”
Junior: “Hey, Daddy!”
Robert: “I don’t even remember you being pregnant, swear!”
Virginia: “Of course you don’t. You never pay any attention to me.”
Robert: “Well, I apparently paid attention to you at least one night.”
Virginia: “Three nights. And three children. You can’t remember to take out the trash but you’ve got stunningly-athletic sperm.”
Junior: “What’s sperm, Daddy?”
Robert: “Okay, maybe I drink a little-“
Junior: “You drink a lot, Daddy. I built a fort out of your beer cans!”
Robert: “-but there’s no way I’ve missed three entire pregnancies.”
Virginia: “Oh. Oh, no. Is it happening to you already?”
Robert: “Is what already happening to me? Other than three kids that I didn’t know about when I got in this car.”
Virginia: “The dementia. It runs in your family.”
Robert: “What? First I’ve heard of it.”
Virginia: “That’s because of the dementia.”
Junior: “Gramma is in a sylum, Daddy. She eats pudding there.”
Robert: “This can’t be happening to me.”
Virginia: “That’s what I said, three times. But enough about my breech births that you never noticed. We’ve got to get you some help. And I happen to have some papers in my purse that you can sign. Hang on.”
Robert: “Papers? Why do you have papers in your purse that I need to sign? Are we back to the divorce? I really don’t understand.”
Junior: “It’s the mentia, Daddy. Do you like pudding? I love pudding.”
Virginia: “No, dear. These are not divorce papers. Those are in my other purse. This is about getting you special help for your special problems.”
Robert: “What kind of help? I really don’t know what’s going on.”
Virginia: “And that’s why you need to give me power of attorney. For your own good.”
Robert: “But you’re my wife. We already share things equally.”
Virginia: “Oh, honey. Perhaps you’ve forgotten that it’s 1947. I can’t even get a credit card in my own name. We need to be proactive as you tumble down the hill of senility. Just sign these papers and… oh, shoot. I don’t have a pen. We need to find one immediately.”
Robert: “Don’t you think it can wait until we get home? Assuming I can remember where we live.”
Virginia: “No! I mean, perhaps it’s best that we take care of things as soon as we can. For your sake, of course.”
Junior: “Look, Mommy! There’s a hotel right over there. Don’t people have to sign things when they sleep at places that are not home? They should have pens.”
Virginia: “How clever of you to notice, my first little breech. Robert, pull in there.”
Robert: “This just doesn’t seem right.”
Virginia: “It pains me as well. But we have to do what we have to do.” She reached over and patted Robert’s white-knuckled white hand on the black steering wheel. “Think of your family.”
Robert drove into the small lot of the Gaslight Inn and parked in a slot near the office, killing the engine. “Now what?”
Virginia: “I think we’ve established this, darling, but perhaps you’ve forgotten already, due to your wretched medical condition. You go inside and borrow a pen.”
Robert, sighing. “Fine. Be right back.” He hopped out of the car and dashed through a sudden cold rain toward an office that might seal his fate.
Still in the car, Virginia: “You’ve done well, Javier. Here’s the twenty bucks we discussed.”
Javier/Junior/Pudding Afficionado: “I think it should be forty. I was rather convincing, if you ask me.”
Virginia: “I’m not asking. If you’ll review the dialogue, he never even acknowledged your existence. You’ll take the twenty and you’ll be happy with it. Take your little jockey ass back to the Vertigo Racetrack and have yourself a beer or two.”
Javier: “Fine. But next time, the price doubles.”
Virginia: “If this works out, there won’t be a next time. But keep my number just in case. You never know when I might need to fake another breech birth or three.”
Javier fled into the night.
Virginia waited in the night.
For a rather long time.
Finally, the office door opened and a man who was not Robert walked out and approached the passenger side of the seditious sedan. He knocked on the window glass.
Virginia rolled said glass down: “What?”
Norman: “There’s been a change of plans.”
Virginia: “Who are you? And where is my husband?”
Norman: “He’s in the shower. And before he got naked in order to rinse away this night, a vision which I enjoyed far more than I thought I might, he told me all about a certain woman with a certain plan that he saw right through immediately.”
Virginia: “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Norman: “Well, you would know, if you had thought about things. After all, Robert’s mother passed away many years ago, just like my own. And neither of us appreciates conniving women who try to abscond with money that doesn’t belong to them.”
Virginia: “Wait, that sounds like a movie that I once… I’m not sure what’s happening right now.”
Norman: “What’s happening is that you aren’t getting any pudding. At least not the good kind. Why don’t you join me in the office while we wait for the police to arrive.”
Far off in the distance, the siren on a squad car activated.
Not so far off, Javier bought drinks for everyone at the Vertigo Racetrack Lounge. In 1947, one could buy a lot of rounds for twenty bucks, no questions asked.
Closer still, in the shower, Robert continued scrubbing himself with a pleasing bath wash. It smelled like almonds. And revenge.
Previously published in “Crusty Pie”, edited and massively extended. (The original was just the first five lines, the last of which was excised in this current version of the tale, thus allowing me to twist this pretzel even further…
Categories: Past Imperfect