Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Tell Me About Ms. Cheryl | A Kaplowitz Media. Original Work of Fiction [Part II]

Tell Me About Ms. Cheryl | A Kaplowitz Media. Original Work of Fiction [Part II]

Read Part I HERE


On the kindness of Sam. Once, as a child, he rescued a starving kitten from a cardboard box left at a summertime curb. Its litter mates were in there too, already dead and half-cooked. Only the one remained. A week later, after bottle-feeding the tabby kitten they both laid down for a nap. When Sam awoke, it was dead.

Another time, maybe prior to that, Sam stood by the refrigerator with its door open and gazed into it. He did this often and his father would ask if he was getting a tan. Sometimes he’d more pointedly ask if he was going to help with the damned bills. Those were darker times. This one time, a housefly flew in and Sam spent about 40 minutes baiting and waiting for it to fly out on its own instead of closing it in there where he assumed it’d die.

This is not a full report of all Sam’s kindnesses, for he has a good too many to list. A last one: he once spent a cold and sleeting early December afternoon gaining the trust of a dog that someone had seemingly just abused and abandoned. This would become the dog his mother never played with much. More soon on that particular death.

Sam and Cheryl decided on a claw hammer as a weapon.

Mrs. (American English) or Mrs (British English) is an honorific title for a married woman. Less commonly or at least less typically, it can be used for or by separated-not-divorced or widowed women. It is a contraction of the word mistress although rarely if ever pronounced in that fashion. The word mistress is instead normally reserved for the long-term lover of an otherwise married man.

Sam had seen death only once before. His mother’s dog (yes that same dog) was about ten years old. When the house fell asleep she was fine, but upon the house waking it was immediately seen by all that something was very wrong. By lunch, Sam lay on the floor of a back room in a veterinarian’s office stroking its muzzle and crying as the drugs coursed its veins. By dinner, he had buried the shaggy salt and pepper thing in the backyard.

Miss is another honorific title reserved for girls and young women under the age of thirty. However, it can also signify a woman of any age who is not married; an antonym of the aforementioned Mrs. Occasionally it can be used by a married woman choosing to retain her maiden name. This is another shortened form of mistress.

Sam murdered Cheryl’s husband as she looked on.

Ms. (American English) or Ms (British English) is the third of the three main options for female honorific titles and is, yet again, another shortening of mistress. Although it dates back to the seventeenth century, as do the others, its popularity waited until the 1970s to fully bloom. When in doubt, insofar as etiquette, always use Ms. Of note, all of these options can be used safely enough with most combinations of first and/or last names as seen fit and as is appropriate.

And then Cheryl helped him with the disposal of her husband’s body.

Sam wondered, for a fleeting moment, about the old man on the bus. The angel who brought him to his angel. He had referred to Cheryl as a Ms. He found that odd and it stuck in his craw and then it did not, as Cheryl kissed him. Held him in her hot wetness. They had no plan other than to be each other’s forever starting now. The bloodied claw hammer had felt so quiet in his hand. It felt like the sound of walking out into an evening street during a heavy snowfall.

They woke in the morning and the panic Sam expected never came. He got dressed and headed to the kitchen to make breakfast. He returned with two strips of bacon, two sunny-side-up eggs, and two pancakes drenched in sweet syrup. She smiled as she ate ravenously and he watched and as he did, he wondered at the sharp corners of her mouth and if they always looked so much like that, so very almost mephistophelian. Her eye teeth flashed and when she was done they kissed and it tasted like unsweetened syrup.

They lazed in bed together until around lunch, when Sam decided to take a walk into town. A neighbor walked past and nodded cautiously though politely. Sam smiled at his dog at the end of a brown nylon leash stitched with safety orange thread. Most of the houses he passed were empty, as were their driveways. He supposed that everyone was at work. An old lady in a powder blue house dress with royal blue piping struggled to get her garbage bin to the curb. Sam helped her and she thanked him, he thought she gave him a bit of an odd look.

The store had wood floors that creaked occasionally as he navigated its aisles of cans and boxes. In the back was a butcher, pre-packaged meats. Off to one side was a dairy section, and off to the other was produce. He didn’t want to carry too much home, so after walking up and down the aisles (the fluorescent lights flickered in the baking aisle, particularly in front of the all-purpose flour) he strode up to the cashier and paid for a Payday candy bar. He looked toward the bakery in the other corner and wondered about blueberry muffins. Thought better of it, of them.

The cashier was a young woman who had purple hair and a silver-hooped pierced bottom lip. She handed him change with a pink nail-polished hand tattooed with a moth and knuckles that read ‘L O V E.’ The moth was intricately done and the colors were subdued but bore many shades of soft flame. The letters looked like a somewhat crude Times New Roman font, bluish-black and shaded with a deep bright red. She smiled nervously at the newcomer. The bagboy was a high school kid who looked like he played basketball. He had straight black hair and bangs over one eye. The uncovered eye was blue. He loosely wore a pair of rubberbands as a bracelet. Sam thanked him as he took the bag and the boy remained silent.

When he returned the claw hammer was gone and Cheryl was hanging his clothes. She startled a little at his appearing there, but continued at her work and began to hum a breathy and lovely tune from a dusty hymnal. He watched the hem of her floral skirt rise as she reached up to place his empty backpack on an overhead shelf. “I’m glad you like it,” she said through bright white eye teeth, “I’ll wear it all the time if you like.” He nodded his approval and handed her the candy bar. She looked a bit surprised, and said “Thank you.” She stripped the wrapper and ate it in a few bites as she watched him. Sam sat at the foot of the bed and took it all in.

“I’m a lucky man,” he said.

Cheryl began to sob. Shaking, she tried to talk and could not. He held her by her stiffened shoulders and kissed her forehead softly. Sirens rose in the background. “How did you find me?” She finally got out from through those god-damned fangs which Sam never before had fully seen. He wondered how they didn’t slice her tongue. The sirens grew louder then louder still. They wailed. She wailed. Sam felt less lucky when the deputy jammed him in the back of a squad car after roughing him up just a bit. Sam shouldn’t have fought but it just sort of happened and all the time Cheryl and the squad car wailed wailed wailed wailed her dead husband’s name.

The British don’t use Mrs. or Ms. but instead Mrs and Ms because the word mistress ends in an S and according to their rules, that’s not befitting a period or full stop as I believe they call it. As they rode off with handcuffs digging into his wrists, Sam half expected the angel from the bus to break him free. He swore he could almost see his face a block or two off down the road. It was standing in a living room between a beige plaid sofa and a TV console encased in faux cherry wood. There was a ballgame on. One team wore navy blue and the other a dull grey. He realized it wasn’t him at all. He realized he was alone again.

::: very :::

You can hear me read [Part II] HERE
Read [Part III] HERE