I am pleased to present a guest post, a short story from David Miller. Author, lyricist, and blogger, David resides in Las Vegas, USA.
Life with Beatrice was a bitch.
“Another twenty seconds should do it,” mumbled Clarence, standing in front of the microwave oven.
Clarence had been married to Beatrice for a miserable twelve years,thirteen months, and fourteen days. Unlike a medieval prisoner who kept track of his days in the dungeon by scratching tally marks into the dank crumbly wall, Clarence made use of his mental faculties. Every morning, starting on that fateful day that he referred to as the worst marital auto-da-fé in recorded history, a day on which happily married men cheerfully announced and subsequently celebrated their first wedding anniversary, Clarence would use imaginary chalk to cross out the previous day’s running total on the vast blackboard in his mind, and then, right next to it, he would add another day. His first number had been 365. Now, rather than watch the microwave count down the seconds, he gazed at the number 4790 on his mental blackboard.
The first day of their marriage had been unbelievably romantic. They had tied the knot in a white Las Vegas wedding chapel on Valentine’s Day. Not in his darkest dreams would Clarence have ever imagined that a year later he would be forced to endure the hellfire that had been kindled over the months in his wife’s black heart.
The ding of the microwave prompted Clarence to take out the dish. After removing the damp paper towel, he used a fork to scrape and chop away at the last chunk of brown sugar on the plate. He then poured the fine moistened particles back into the sealable bag on the kitchen counter. Clarence smiled. On his calendar in the family den (his modern day dungeon), this day was March 28─a normal day for most people, but a special day for Clarence. It was his birthday. A while back, it had occurred to him that his 39th birthday would be very special. Not only did the sequence of numbers 12, 13, and 14 add up to 39, but, with a bit of calendrical manipulation, his birthday would mark 12 years, 13 months, and 14 days of marriage. It was the perfect day for what he had in mind.
Rather than put away her verbal daggers on his birthday, Clarence could count on his wife to sharpen them. In fact, they got sharper with every year that went by.
But this morning, as he set about to make his own birthday cake, Clarence paid no mind to his wife’s cruel tongue. He had a plan. Unless food spoilage was an issue, Clarence was not one to leave cooking ingredients to the last minute. So Beatrice had not been surprised back in September to discover a large bag of brown sugar stashed away in a corner of the kitchen counter, right next to the flour, which had been purchased a month earlier. Not once had Beatrice ever put on an apron, or even stepped inside a grocery store. So it had always been up to Clarence to purchase the food and prepare the meals. And he hated it. Except on his birthday…
That morning, after arranging unopened bags of brown sugar and flour, a canister full of white granulated sugar, a carton of whole milk, four eggs, a stick of butter, a can of baking powder, a container full of salt, a large bottle of corn syrup, and a small bottle of vanilla extract on the counter, Clarence interrupted his wife’s rantings and ravings, which he had taken in stride, to declare that he was now ready to bake his birthday cake. But, since he was suffering from a backache, would his beautiful wife mind getting out the cake pan? It was in the bottom cabinet behind the skillets and pressure cooker.
As expected, Beatrice (who may have been beautiful on the outside, but was beyond ugly on the inside) cursed Clarence up and down, and became bloody red in the face after he began to beg. “Please, Sweetie? Come on, sugar, help me out here!” Beatrice loathed words of affection because she knew that Clarence was bitter about their marriage, and that he only uttered them when he dared to be sarcastic.
But she finally relented.
As his wife stooped down to open the cabinet door, Clarence picked up the bag of brown sugar, which had hardened over the months, and, his adrenaline pumping, his pent-up anger at its peak, he cried, “Sugar! Sugar! Sugar!” before killing Beatrice with a mighty blow to the head.
Satisfied with his deed, Clarence pushed his wife’s body out of the way, retrieved the cake pan, softened his weapon of choice in the microwave, and chuckled as he set about making the best birthday cake of his life.