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The Corpse


John Dodsworth

Smashwords Edition

Copyright © 2017 by John Wiber

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We hadn’t been talking much lately, despite my overhanded attempts at initiating conversation. She rebuffed me with one word answers and shrugs, which only worked to increase my desperation to the point where I would say horrendously pathetic things, like; baby, what’s wrong?

And the fact that she always pretended there wasn’t anything wrong, well that’s probably what hurt the most.

Truly, I did still love her.

We’d been together for twenty years now, since we were nineteen years old. She was my one and true love. The only person who’s ever understood just exactly what’s going on inside my wretched little mind. I met her in university, during the first week of my very first year. And when all my other friends were running around screwing a different person each and every night, I was at home with Mandy, listening to music and talking about her abusive mother, or my alcoholic father, and we would make love and share a cigarette in bed, and I guess, if I’m being honest, there wasn’t another place I’d rather have been.

I wish we could go back there.

We got married at twenty-five, and at twenty-seven, the doctor told us we would be unable to conceive a child. I guess that probably put a shadow over everything, but things were good for a while after that. We embraced the freedom. We traveled. We made love above a small bistro in Paris, we had sex on the bow of a gigantic cruise ship on the coast of Italy. And before we knew it, a decade had past and, well, I guess coming to that realization probably jarred something loose, you know? A burning desire that was never quite extinguished.

I guess I first noticed her detachment a year ago, although I’m humbled to admit it could have been going on for much longer. When a human is caught up in routine, sometimes it was hard to recognize the subtle changes in demeanor of a disinterested partner. Like a defense mechanism in our minds, we refuse to admit that anything is wrong.

A horrifying thought strikes me suddenly; what if I’d missed the past twenty years of my life?

But no, there once was a burning love between us. And I intended to rekindle that flame, no matter what the cost.

Our twentieth anniversary was last week, and when she finished the elaborate meal that I had painstakingly prepared, standing suddenly from our dining room table and declaring she was too tired to go skinny dipping in our backyard pool and would rather simply go to bed, and then, when she rejected my multiple attempts to fondle her, well, I guess that’s when I realized we were in real trouble.

It was clear to me that something had to be done. There needed to be a change. Spice it up, as so many of those popular magazines have told me from their covers.

Well, I think I have found just the thing. It took me all night, out in the graveyard. My back ached and I could feel the grit and dirt stuck beneath my fingernails. The moon was a crescent slice above me, all silver and weeping, the blurry glow caught in the corner of my eye like an insect. I was excited to get home. To show my wife what I had brought her.

Spice it up.

I pull onto our street, Creek Haven Drive, a suburban neighbourhood in Oshawa in the midst of a pretty intense gentrification. The houses were tall and narrow, the lawns small, but the roads were freshly paved and there were mostly white people on my street, so that was nice. We had moved here only five years ago, and already it felt like a decade. Time moves slow when life has become stagnant.

I wrestle my wife’s present from the backseat with some struggle, and manage to carry it up to the front door. I pause there on our front step, taking a couple deep breaths and forcing my lips to curl upwards into what I can only hope resembles a smile.

I enter our home and call out to my wife.

“What?” she responds from the living room. “You’re interrupting Dancing with the Stars!”

“Sorry, my love. But I brought you something.”

I hear her sigh and pull herself from our black leather couch. She comes slowly into the front foyer where I am standing with her present.

“What in the Christ is that?” she asks.

“It’s for you… for us. I thought we might call him Gary. I thought… I don’t know, that maybe it would spice things up a bit.”

She stares at me incredulous for a moment, and I watch her survey Gary with sweeping eyes, up and then down, left to right, and when I see the hints of a smile begin to creep up her cheeks, I feel a burst of excitement in my loins, and I wrap my arm around her waist and pull her in close, kissing her hard on the lips.

“Where did you get this?” she asks, breathlessly.

“The cemetery,” I say. “Where else would I find something like Gary?”

“Hm,” she shrugs.

We ascend the stairs to our bedroom and the three of us collapse into bed in a frenzy, our animal instincts taking over, and when it was all over and done with, my wife lying between the crook of my arm, both of us panting and covered in sweat, and Gary, lying there beside us, staring with his empty eyes like marbles, I can feel my heart swelling in this new-found passion which has been bestowed upon us.

Thank you Gary.

I awake the next morning to the sun beaming in through our bedroom window. I roll over to wrap my arm around Mandy, only to find an empty bed. Distraught, I scramble to my feet when the smell of bacon greets my nostrils. Mandy hadn’t made us breakfast in a long time, and I smile as I descend our stairs.

“Morning sweetie,” I say, entering the kitchen.

“Hi dear,” she says from over the stove.

I move to sit down at our kitchen table where a plate is waiting for me with eggs, bacon and buttered toast, a freshly brewed coffee steaming in front of it.

“Oh, no Markus. That’s Gary’s seat.”

I pause, studying the backside of my wife as she turns with the frying pan in her hand.

“Can you be a dear and fetch Gary from the living room?”

I find Gary lounging on our couch with his feet up, staring blankly at the wall.

“Well, Gary, you certainly have left an impression on my wife,” I tell him, hoisting him up from under his shoulders and carrying him into the kitchen. I toss him down into the kitchen chair and watch his arm smack heavily against the table.

“Markus! Be careful with him.” My wife scolds.

I bite my tongue and sit down across from him, doing my best to try and enjoy the beautiful morning.

My wife comes to the table with her own plate and sits down beside Gary, and the fact that she rubs his leg beneath the table does not go unnoticed by me.

I peer down at the still empty placemat below me.

“Oh sorry, dear,” Mandy says. “You can serve yourself.”

That night, Mandy asks if I wouldn’t mind sleeping in the guest room.

“But Mandy, I brought Gary home for us to enjoy together.”

“I know, my love. And I really do appreciate it. I do. But I just think I need a chance to be with Gary alone, you know? I understand what you’re trying to do, and it makes me love you more than I ever thought possible, but I just really want to spend the night with Gary. Is that okay?”

And what am I supposed to do? When all I can think is how much I love her, and how all I want in this world is for her to be happy.

“Okay, I’ll sleep in the guest room.”

“Oh, thank you, Markus!” she cries, wrapping her arms around my neck and kissing me. And before I can taste her lips upon mine, she is gone, turning from me and dashing into our bedroom where Gary is waiting on the bed, and as the door shuts, I see the bastard smiling at me, his half-rotted mouth smirking with his head upon my pillow.

The next morning, I awake with red and swollen eyes, my head pounding, because I barely got a wink of sleep last night on account of having to listen to my wife’s cries of ecstasy all night. She hadn’t moaned like that with me for years.

Remember, you did this for her.

Spice it up.

I make my way begrudgingly down the stairs to find an empty house. There’s a note taped to the refrigerator which reads;

Morning dear, Gary and I decided to have a beach day. I was going to wake you, but I thought it might be nice for you to sleep in for once. We will be home for dinner! XOXOXO Many & Gary

That evening, Mandy and Gary arrive home to find me drunk in the living room, watching the Jays game. Mandy’s face is flushed and her skin is tanned, and Gary stares at me with those dead eyes of his, mocking me with every breath I take.

“Markus, can you be a dear and set the table for dinner?”

I stumble into the kitchen past Gary and my wife, and the way she is smiling, it stirs a longing within me, because I used to be the only one who could make her smile like that.

What have I done?

I set the table and return to my spot on the couch, slugging back what remains of my whiskey and coke, and sit there mindlessly watching TV while Gary and Mandy prepare dinner. I can hear her giggling away as they work, and my face burns with a tingling redness which I cannot extinguish, like a million pins poking from beneath the flesh.

Where did I go wrong? Was it something particular? Something specific which I had done that upset her? Or was it simply the subtle decay of time which wears away at all relationships? Love comes with an expiration date, so I’ve learned, and we were well past due.

We sit down for dinner, and I take notice of the fact that Mandy elects to take a seat beside Gary, her lips twitching at the edges, as Carl sits there all slumped and stiff, and his calmness infuriates me. How can he sit there all smug in my own home, beside my fucking wife?

You’re doing this for her.

I choke down my food while Mandy blabbers ceaselessly in Gary’s ear, her goddamn hand rubbing his leg beneath the table all the while.

“Mark hasn’t been interested in me for a while now. He doesn’t want to do the things we used to do together. He takes me for granted. I know he still loves me, but I can’t deny the faded feelings I have, like an old shirt that’s been through one too many cycles in the washing machine, you know? But the fact that he brought you home, it shows me that he does truly love me, and for the first time in a long time, I think things might be okay, you know? I hope you feel the same way too, Gary.”

The pompous bastard sits there in silence, and Merinda wraps her arm around him, squeezing his limp torso against her own, and I can see him smirking at me from beneath the yellow skin.

Fuck you Gary.

“Let’s take this party upstairs,” my wife says, winking at Gary. “You can come too, Mark,” she adds.

I carry Gary up the stairs, following my wife all the way, and the way her butt twitches in anticipation does not go unnoticed to me.

We undress and climb into bed.

I watch my wife mount the stiff corpse, her eyes all a flutter, gyrating against him harder than she has on me in a decade. You bitch. I bend over and presume my business, although, at this point my manhood has shrunken in size and I can’t seem to regain the excitement which was with us that first night, and so I sit there watching the two of them a while longer before retreating from the bedroom to cower in the guest room, alone, with the lights off, rocking back and forth upon the bed with my knees clutched up against my chest, wondering why it was so impossible to make love last.

I awake in the night coated in sweat, the stale taste of a nightmare upon my tongue. I was searching for Mandy, running after her, but no matter how fast I tried to pump my legs, I seemed to be moving in molasses, and her calls grew fainter and fainter as I stumbled over my own two feet, a rage swelling up within me like a tidal wave.

I am nothing.

I have lost. And like an inanimate object, I rise from the guest bed and stumble down to the kitchen, pulling open the cutlery drawer with reckless disregard. Tears well in my eyes, causing everything to blur in the dimly lit house.

I climb the stairs one at a time, doing my best to make as little noise as possible. I did not want to wake Mandy or Gary.

I open our bedroom door, although I suppose it was her bedroom now. Hers and Gary’s, and I creep through the darkness to the side of the bed where my wife is lightly snoring, and Gary is spooning her from behind, his marble eyes staring up at me through the darkness. The cocky fucker.

“I hope you enjoyed my wife,” I whisper to him through clenched teeth.

I stand over her in the darkness, the knife clutched tightly between my seething fingers, and the world has taken on an intense red tinge through my demented eyes, and I can see the past twenty years swirling in front of me, all the laughing and crying and unadulterated moments of silence that come with marriage, and I feel distraught over the fact that I failed her. I was unable to satisfy you, my love, despite how much I loved you. And it’s this fleeting thought that fills my mind before bringing the blade down, slicing the flesh upon my own wrist and watching the blood pour from it in thick rushing geysers, and I feel the life draining from me as I take one last look at my wife lying there in bed beside Gary, and in my final thoughts, I wonder, will she love me as much as him once I’m dead?

The End.

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