I disembarked on my station, tired like a dog. Outside was raining. Not a heavy rain, just a windy drizzle calculated by Saint Peter or whoever mans the weather station in heavens to wet you to the bones. I set my brisk pace to a trot. Four short blocks and two long blocks. I know, I know. Walking is good for my health.
Our house was in sight. Only one block for a dry place and a dinner made by my wife. She was a good cook and I was starving. Spending a whole day in meetings wear me to the bones and dosen't allow for a real lunch.
I let me in with my key. Before closing the door I stopped and looked outside. Something was amiss, but I couldn't point it out. Oh, well, I was too hungry anyway.
Inside the familiar sound of the soap on TV. I shouted in the direction of the living room: "I'm home, sweetheart!" I took my wet jacket and threw it over the back of the single arm-chair at the living entrance. Later Cida would take it to dry and iron. This could wait because tomorrow I had a very important meeting and my other best suit should be already back from the cleaners. I glanced through the correspondence on the little table. Bills, bills and more bills.
Our old beagle arrived in a dignified walk compatible with his seniority and positioned his head for a welcome scratch behind his ears. After I attended to it he made a turn and offered the base of his proud tail for a scratch in a particular place along his tailbone. After the daily ritual was completed he navigated to the kitchen to help us eating whatever was on the table. He wasn't choosy.
Suddenly I perceived what was amiss. Where were the children? "Honey," I tried to be heard above the final part of today's soap. "Where are the children?"
"At my moms, today is Tuesday," she replied without missing a word of the soap, a feat that I stopped trying to understand long ago. I gave her a peck on the cheek and sat at the other sofa. She hogged the more comfortable one and was reclined on it in her old housedress, not exactly the most attractive of garments. The tune announced the end of today's chapter probably at the exact point where the heroine will learn that her mother is really her sister.
"Dear," I told my wife, "I'm famished, what did you do..." I sniffed the air and found another thing amiss. There was no delightful smell in the air.
"I was trying to tell you," my dear wife informed me although I didn't remember her trying to tell me anything. "I'm sorry, but I burned the dinner. I was preparing the stew when I noticed that we were out of red pepper and I picked the car to go to the market leaving the stew on slow burning. And it took me more than I thought and it burned..."
I looked at her without understanding. "The market is around the corner, dear," I said, "how did you manage to take so long to burn the meal?"
"It is because I had a small accident on the way..."
Now I perceived what was bothering me from the moment I entered. There was no car on the driveway. I looked at my petite 30 year old red-headed wife. She didn't have a scratch and looked whole. "Are you OK?" I asked. When she nodded, I complemented: "and the car?"
"I had it towed to the garage. The insurance man will look at it tomorrow, but you know, the garage owner told me it probably will be totaled..."
"Totaled!?" I almost gagged on my own spittle.
"And this is why the meal burned but I have fresh bread and some cold cuts, and I have wine..."
"Whoa, whoa Cida. Slow down please. You know that I have an important meeting tomorrow, I won't drink because it always makes me oversleep."
Cida covered her mouth with her hand, "uh-oh, I know that I forgot something. I didn't pick up your suit from the cleaners."
Blood start pouring to my head. "But I told you it was important! My jacket is sopping wet, I won't have anything to wear tomorrow!" I was almost shouting.
"Don't choke on your temper," said my sweet wife, "I'll scare something for you to wear tomorrow. Let's eat something." She jumped from the sofa intent to go to the kitchen.
I held her by her shoulders and turned her to me. "Wait a moment, Cida. Explain the accident to me. How did you manage to total our car on a trip to the market which happens to be almost around the corner? And what happened to the other car?"
She had this look of a cornered rat and couldn't meet my eyes. "There wasn't other car, if you must know. I hit the market sign in front of the market."
"CIDA, HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO HIT THE SIGN THE SIZE OF A BUILDING?"
"Well, I was talking with Lily on my cellphone..."
"YOU WERE TALKING ON THE CELLPHONE WHILE DRIVING AND TAKING A TURN?"
"Well, y-yes, b-but it wasn't because of the cellphone, you see, I dropped the cigarette on my lap and I had to find it before it burned my... you know... I only looked down for a second... I swear!"
"YOU WERE SMOKING! YOU WERE SMOKING IN THE CAR! OH, YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT TROUBLE YOU'RE IN! GO FETCH YOUR STRAP!!!"
"B-but i-it w-wasn't really m-my f-fault..."
I was probably fuming through my ears. Grinding my teeth until my jaw ached, I turned her in the direction of our bedroom and gave her a powerful swat on the bottom propelling her in the right direction. I hissed through my locked jaw: "G-O F-E-T-C-H Y-O-U-R S-T-R-A-P, L-I-K-E N-O-W!!"
She ran to our room and I started to tell me: "I won't spank her while mad... I won't touch her before I cool off... I won't spank her while mad..."
She returned carrying her strap, in reality a Lochgelly two-tailed tawse that we purchased in Scotland on our honeymoon as a prank. She regretted several times the purchase. She would certainly regret it today.
.... There is more of this story ...