by Myunique Green
Warmth courses through my body as I sit here; my face resting inside both palms.
“Another one,” I order one of the men behind the counter.
He glares at me with obvious concern. “I think you’ve had enough, John.”
Leaping up from the stool, a violent wave crashes over me and I lose my balance but somehow managing to support myself on the bar top. “You don’t tell me…” my voice trails off with heavy slurs.
What sort of man have I allowed myself to become? This isn’t me.
The bartender hurries around the counter to catch me as I threaten to fall to the hard tile floors.
“You do this every time. I’m not gonna serve you if you keep this up,” he reprimands.
“Don’t you judge me,” I murmur, holding on to his sports jacket.
With his hand around my shoulder he tries to steady me, and for a moment I almost drag us both down until he lets me go. My body thumps loudly on the unforgiving floors.
“Get up, you fool,” he demands, pulling on one of my arms.
I sit in a daze for a while, not wanting to move as the room spins around me. I faintly here the music in the background as my wife’s favorite song plays. The tune still makes me smile.
Light smacks on my cheek pull me back into reality and the bartender helps me to my feet once again. “Who would have known!” I yell, laughing hysterically to myself.
He looks at me with an eyebrow raised. “What are you talking about? Known what?”
Shoving him away from me, I wobble towards the doors as if the ground were shaking beneath me. “I’ll see you tomorrow!” I call behind me.
The cab is waiting as I approach the parking lot and the bartender walks quietly behind me, making sure I don’t try to make an attempt at my own vehicle. He opens the cab doors for me and shoves me in.
“Behave yourself,” he says, before handing my address to the driver.
The phone buzzes in my pocket as I slide into the backseat and I roll my eyes before answering it. “Yes, sweetheart?”
Lisa cries on the other end. “John, where are you?”
I pull the phone away and stare at the overly bright screen. “I’m sorry, baby, I’m on my way home now.”
“I’ve been calling you all night! You were supposed to meet me here by seven o’clock. You promised me…”
Dropping the phone, I let her bicker with the leather seat.
I run my fingers through my hair and pick up the phone again. “Yes, Lisa?”
“Are you even listening to me?”
As if she could see me, I nod. “Yes, Lisa. We’ll talk about it when I get home. I’m sorry, I really am this time.”
She sighs, and the line goes dead.
“She can be such a little bitch sometimes,” I say to the driver. “That’s why I prefer Mary. She knows how to make everything better. Eases the pain of being married to that woman, I tell ya.”
The driver looks up through the rearview. “I know what you mean. Wives, huh?”
“I leave every day at six in the morning. I buy Lisa anything she wants and she still finds things to complain about. She’s ungrateful, is what she is,” I chuckle.
Stretching across the backseat, I close my eyes and listen to the sound of the road as my head continuously swims. Mary is so good to me.
She makes me believe in me in me again. Takes away the empty feeling I harbor in my heart and the resentment I have for my wife.
I jolt up from the seat and peer between the clear partition. “Change of route,” I say, reaching into my pocket and pulling out a business card. “I need Mary.”
He reluctantly takes the card from my fingers and glances down at the address. “I don’t think your wife would be too happy about this,” he responds, sitting the card down.
Spit sprays the glass. “I don’t care about that beast, she’s holding me back. But Mary, Mary sets me free!”
“How long have you been married, man?”
I sit back in the seat. “It’ll be 10 years next month.”
He whistles as he exhales. “That’s a long time to be married to someone you don’t care about.”
“It wasn’t always bad between us,” I whisper, struggling to remember the good times.
With his distractions, he pulls up into my driveway and blows the horn. When I look up at the two-story home I’m stricken with the urge to vomit.
She did this to me.
Lisa comes prancing out of the house, her hair in rollers and her nightgown blowing freely in the wind. I open the door before she approaches the car and throw up in her prized bushes.
“Oh John! Look at you, just look at you!”
I’m unsure whether it’s judgment or concern in her voice and I slap her hand away as she tries to help me get out of the car. “Get away from me,” I chide.
Tumbling out of the car, I lay on the ground for a moment, thwarting Lisa’s attempts to lift me up. I hear the gravel crackle underneath the tires as the cab backs out of the driveway and for a moment, I wish it were me. For so long I’ve lived in misery.
I give in to her shrill cries and slowly get up from the concrete. “Pipe down, woman. I’m coming inside.”
“I can’t believe you, John. This is the fifth night this week! I thought you wanted to be sober? You were doing so well,” she says, pushing me down on the couch and heading off into the kitchen.
As I peel my shoes off, I glare at some of her small trinkets sitting on the coffee table as they dance around in mockery of my vision. Lisa comes back into the room with an ice pack and places it on my forehead.
“I can’t keep doing this, John,” she whispers softly.
Holding the compress to my head, I lean back on the couch. “Let’s just talk about this in the morning,” I reply.
“No, you have to make a choice John. It’s me or Mary.”
Lifting myself from the chair, I catch her eyes. “Mary has nothing to do with any of this– it’s you. You’re the problem!”
When she picks up one of the cups left out on the table, I briefly believe she’s going to throw it at my head. “You talk about it like it’s a woman for Christ’s sake!” she yells, shattering the glass against the wood floors.
I look at her with disbelief. “You want me to choose? Fine! I choose Mary! I’ll always choose Mary, you ungrateful whore! In fact, I’m gonna go see her right now.”
Tears fill her eyes as she stares at me with disbelief. “You’re a monster! A horrible, horrible monster!”
A sly smile smears across my face. “At least I don’t look like one.”
When she ran away, I got up from the couch and scoured the house in search of her car keys. Catching sight of them on the kitchen counter, I pick them up and drag towards the door. “Good luck on your own,” I yell up the stairs before closing the front door behind me.
I speed down the dark road as if I’m racing towards my future. Tears burn down my cheeks as I grip the steering wheel so tight my knuckles whiten.
My sobs get lighter as I approach the bridge. “I only want to be with you. I’ve only ever wanted to be with you.”
There’s no explanation of why I treat her that way. She’s a good, strong, and decent woman who’s always seen the best in me. Although it shouldn’t, the thought makes me frown. “She’ll see. I’ll make her see that I’m a better person with Mary. I can do anything,” I grumble. My eyes can barely focus on the white lines as they sway along the road. Soon, though, my head begins to ache and the anger wears off. “What am I doing? I love my wife.”
There’s something about the sweet and smooth taste of tomato sauces mixed with the soothing vodka that make me stick so strongly to it. It reminds me of better days- days I don’t want to end. But it also makes me angry- angry at Lisa for things beyond her control.
Afterall, it’s not her fault she can’t have any children. Chemo has taken everything from her since the day they first started injecting the poison into her veins. All we ever talked about were having at least two or three kids to fill our home with love. Maybe that’s what started the division.
Pressing my foot further down on the accelerator, I jerk the wheel to turn around. Rain on the road makes it hard for the tires to catch traction and I lose control of the wheel.
“I choose you,” I whisper as the car crashes against the steel rails and lunges over the edge, colliding with the cold water.