The Man With The Two Dogs
When Lorne Bryce moved to the neighbourhood two years ago, he had been a very different man. Fat, out of shape, definitely off his fighting trim. Not that he had ever been in fighting trim. His wife Melinda had been quite alive, quite vivacious. Thin, almost his polar opposite, but why not, opposites did attract.
They did not have any kids, although he would have figured that they would have eventually got down to repping out one or two—or even three, if you wanted to get technical. She was healthy enough.
He was okay, give or take thirty pounds or so. The fat creep had begun, but he had been tall enough for it not to look too noticeable. The fat sat around his waist like it did for all men it seemed, but enough of it got distributed all over that he wasn’t too out of shape if he was dressed. You could see the little extra under his chin, like one of those roosters with that extra flesh or whatever it was hanging off the neck.
It had been a nice neighbourhood, a nice place to raise that theoretical family that they were going to have. Oh yeah, and one more thing: he was pretty happy for a married guy. His wife wasn’t too crazy. Sure, if truth were told, all women were slightly off their marbles. What did the comedian say: if you wanted a woman, just take a man, rub out the penis, and remove all the common sense, and presto, you had a woman . . .
Well ha-ha, that was good for a laugh or two or three when you had a woman to laugh it off with, one who wasn’t particularly possessive or jealous or didn’t get all bent out of shape about what she wore out of the house. And didn’t take seven years in finding what to wear out of the house.
There were a lot of jerk offs in this part of town who had houses bigger than their wallets, but he wasn’t one of them, which made him slightly angry. Actually, it made him slightly more than angry. What could he do about it? A lot of things made him angry it seemed. Next to his wife, mild anger seemed to be his best friend in life. It always seemed to follow him around like a puppy dog that would not go away, thank you very much.
Yet, a dim part of him realized that his anger had been checked at the door by the love that he had for his wife. Somehow, she always made things better. Always seemed to placate the hollow and fruitless desire in his soul to have more money, to have the somehow-needed fake but required respect of others.
Women needed love, but men needed respect he used to say to her.
She would just roll her eyes, and keep typing away on her laptop.
He came home from the insurance company, hollow and burnt out, wondering why God had never given him brains to do more, know more. Instead of working for someone else, some big company, he always wondered how he could work for himself. Scared to take that plunge, he thought to himself, but jealous of those who did and made it big. Maybe there was a recession going on, but there were still enough rich guys in the world. Maybe a little too many for his liking since he was not one of them.
“I guess everyone feels like this,” he had mumbled half-aloud to himself, not a few times. He was sure that others driving by in their cars or even when he was on the street might have seen his mouth moving but he was sure that no one had ever caught him for sure. A lot of people talk to himself he thought. Look at all the boobs speaking into their cell phones while driving or walking alone the street. He had chanced to run into a lot of people who initially he thought were crazier than a bag of marbles, but who he had discovered upon further discreet inspection to be talking to a cellular phone with a small earphone in their ear.
Some still talked to themselves. What was wrong with that, anyways? Talking to yourself was really just a natural extension of thinking; it’s just that your mouth got heavily involved in the conversation flow.
That was then, this was now.
He wasn’t sure but he figured that the cancer must have started in on her the moment that they moved to the house. Given the timeline, it had to have happened. The moment that she stepped in the door, one of her stomach cells, normal from birth until now, must have just freaked out somehow. He thought about it sometimes when he was awake. That would explain how she got so quick when she had moved into their dream house.