"Did you hear what I said?" He asked her quietly.
And she had heard him. Heard his words, rather. The meaning of his message was lost on her. Her attention was elsewhere, focused on the object he held, steady, in his hand.
It was a gun. Black. Shiny. The business end stared at her chest, waiting to fire its contents into her heart.
She shook her head and tried to meet his gaze. "I'm sorry. I don't understand any of this."
He chuckled and leaned back in the chair. The gun remained trained on her. "You never listen."
They were sitting in the living room. Husband and wife. She rested in her recliner and him in his. They had settled in, TV dinners laid on the trays beside each, and had turned to the nightly news. After twenty-five years of marriage, they had little to talk about. Their routine consisted of returning home from work, grabbing a frozen dinner, and watching TV til eleven o'clock. They recycled each day. Saturday mornings saw her to the grocery store to retrieve more microwavable dinners while he stayed behind to tinker in the basement. Sunday was church followed by thirty minutes of sex that had became as unremarkable as their everyday lives.
She had entertained the idea of an affair once or twice. The mailman that made the deliveries to the small accounting office, where she worked as a receptionist, had flirted with her from time to time. She'd never taken it further than an occasional smile and giggle. Fear of a broken marriage didn't prevent her from full filling her fantasy. It was more a lack of energy. Energy to shave her legs. To do her hair. Wear makeup. She lacked the energy to put forth an effort at being a woman. So, instead of taking things a step further with the man that seemed to look at her with an interested curiosity, she meandered on home to her husband who barely knew she existed.
A few streets over from where his wife lusted after the man that brought her the mail everyday at work, he would sit at his office and contemplate his existence. He had no clue when his life had taken a dull turn for the worse. Well, not really worse. Life wasn't bad. He made pretty decent money clerking for a judge. Granted, it was a judge that presided over traffic court. Kind of the lowest judge on the judicial totem poll, but the bills got paid and at the end of each month, he could afford to set aside his lousy 10 percent into an IRA. He had enough to tithe each Sunday at church. Every once in awhile, he could even claim to enjoy the boring sex he made to his wife. So, life wasn't really what you would call bad.
But, the life he had. The life both him and his wife had, was not exactly what you would call living either.
So, one day after a tedious day at work, while waiting for his wife to heat up another slimy TV dinner, he began to formulate a plan. A plan that would....could....make his life more interesting and bring the spark back into his marriage.
Unless it got him killed.
The plan was simple. He purchased a .32 caliber pistol. A gun so small, that the only thing it would do was piss someone off and not actually kill them. He purchased the small firearm in a local pawn shop. The guy that had sold it was greasy, but pleasant and had gone out of his way to explain how you would have to shoot someone at point blank range to actually kill them.
So, he waited til the next Monday. Mondays were always tedious. Just like everyday, but more so because it served as a reminder as to what their life had really become. And he had wanted to get Sunday out of the way. At least he could get one last nut in in the off chance that his wife took the gun and killed him. So, he waited for the following Monday, the Monday that always followed the Sunday that was the day designated for sex, that would promise to be more tedious and tiring than any other day.
As she sat down in her chair that was adjacent to his, she didn't even bother with the small talk. She had served him his dinner and the one beer he allowed himself every night. The news was beginning. The program popped on the TV, showing its two co anchors, covered in makeup, looking every bit like mannequins as the statues in department stores. He waited for his wife to take the first few bites of her meal. He listened to her chewing. He watched as her face registered no emotion. Her movements were mechanical. Thoughtless.
Sighing, he pulled out the gun and spoke. "Let's make things interesting."
He watched her stare blankly at the gun. He saw her register what he held in his hand. He took in the sight of her facial expressions changing from placid to recognition to horror. He saw all this and thought how he was actually achieving his goal. Maybe this would work after all.
"Did you hear what I said?" He asked her.
"I'm sorry," she said shaking her head. "I don't understand any of this."
"You never listen." He scolded her. "Even when we were dating, you wouldn't listen to me. I said I wanted to make things interesting."
"By killing me?" She exclaimed.
He thrilled at the emotion in her voice.
"No," he informed her. "I have no intention of killing you. At least I hope that doesn't happen. I just want you....me....us...to feel something. Anything."
"I really don't understand."
"I'm going to shoot you," he told her. "I'm going to shoot you and hand you the gun. Then you will shoot me."
"I don't want to die," she said as tears began to spill.
"Oh! I'm not going to kill you. I told you that. See, my plan is already working. You've only just seen the gun, and already your feeling something. Wait until I shoot you! You will feel so much more."
She began to sob. Loud sobs that rose from her chest cavity. He had not seen her cry since she'd lost the baby fifteen years ago. Fifteen years of silence that had followed. No more children, she had declared. Her heart couldn't stand the pain. So, they had spent the remaining years of their marriage, childless and silent. Living each day. Waiting for night fall. A recycled life that could fit anyone.
He smiled silently to himself as he witnessed her breakdown. The emotions that poured out of her blessed his heart. He knew, with no need for further proof, that he had made the right decision when he purchased his weapon. His plan was moving along better than he had anticipated.
He spoke to her quietly. The love that he'd forgotten he felt for her broke through and carried on his voice to her ear. "I'm not shooting you in the heart or the head. I'm going to shoot you somewhere non-lethal. The pain that you feel will bring on emotions that you haven't felt in years. Then I am going to hand the gun to you, so you can do the same to me. I trust that you will shoot me as I shot you. Together, we will climb out of this hole that we've lived in for over half our marriage."
She thought about running. She feared the man that she had shared a bed with for over half her life. She looked at him and saw the crazy that existed just below the surface. But, what if? What if his crazy plan worked and she was able to jump start her life?
Standing up in the middle of the living room, her girth blocked the TV. "Do what you want to," she solemnly told him.
He eyed her. Standing there in her flannel pajamas that were faded from years of machine wash, he found a new sense of longing for her. I don't need to do this, he thought. I'll just lay the gun down and carry her to the bedroom.
Excitedly, he envisioned sex with his wife. He imagined it to be wet and erotic. Something it had not been in years. But, he also knew, that once Tuesday came, they would return to the same old boring routine. Without the scars, without the pain of their shared injuries, they would have nothing to bind them to one another. No proof to show that their lives had gotten this........mundane.
The first shot was louder than either one of them expected. It rang throughout the house and threatened to bring with it neighbors and anyone else within a mile radius. Once the bullet reached her lower thigh, she immediately doubled over in pain.
The pain was exquisite. She dropped to the floor. The air, once holding all she needed to sustain life, was void of oxygen. There was no sound in her voice. Minutes passed before she sat up and looked at him.
"Give me the gun," she croaked.
Hesitantly, he handed over the weapon. Standing, he prayed that she would do to him as he had done to her.
His knee didn't buckle right away. It, along with with the rest of him, was in shock. It took a full minute before his body realized that the appendage it had relied on for support was no longer there. With the crack of the break, down he went. And just as his wife had experience, the oxygen he trustingly breathed in, retreated to a more safe climate. All that was left in the air that he grasped were particles of nothingness.
She handed him the gun. The gun, once cold and foreign, was now hot and animalistic. She anticipated his move as he sat up. She longed to reach for him....to kiss him....to touch him in the places that she had neglected for years. Pain circulated her body. Heat radiated down her legs, throbbing throughout her core. Her face, red from the fire of the gun shots, fixated on her husband. The more she anticipated where he would shoot her next, the more she became excited. She would not stop herself. She could not stop herself.
The final shot was aimed for her left shoulder. And, as the police surmised later, it would have landed on just that spot had his wife not decided to lean in for a passionate kiss right at the moment he pulled the trigger. And, as the police would also gather from the evidence they discovered, her husband would not have been so overcome with grief had he not begun the deadly game to begin with. But, once the shots rang out, and once they began to feel the pain, emotions ignited and burned throughout both of them.
So, as he held his once stoic wife in his arms, the emotional swing that he so desperately wanted to feel began. He felt her gasp the tiniest breaths she could....her last breaths. And when the heat from her slumped body gave way to to the stale coldness of a corpse, he did what any loving husband would do in that situation.
He turned the gun on himself.