I'm gonna cheat today, in the blogorama smackdown, and post a story. It's a flash fiction piece I have always had trouble selling because it is a little on the uncomfortable side.
So here we are, with Martin Dexter, and his Dream Girl. Enjoy!
Martin Dexter thought had a good life.
He had a fine wife, who loved him only in the way that twenty long years of fruitful marriage can foster in a couple. He had a well-behaved son, grown and gone, healthy as horse and as strong as an ox. He had a job he liked, and a few hobbies he loved. He had a home, two cars and a small trailer on the beach in Florida that, although Maggie had to talk him into buying it at first, he had to admit he was growing to like.
And he had his dream girl.
He loved his wife, Maggie, intensely, deeply, and madly. And she loved him, sometimes dutifully, sometime wildly, but always honestly. They fought every once in a while, after which he would take her to bed and apologize the only way he knew how. And they would lie in the sweat of the afterglow and promise not to fight ever again. Only love, Maggie would say, only love from here on out. But Martin knew she wouldn’t stick to it. She wasn’t capable of it, but that was okay.
That’s what a dream girl was for.
“Have you got your wallet?” Maggie would ask.
“Yes, love,” he would answer.
“Have you taken your medicine today?”
“Don’t forget to get an oil change. And new tires.”
And their life was like that and he was happy. Mostly.
But, every once in a while, his mind would drift to his dream girl. She never asked him if he would take care of the car. Or if he had taken his medicine, as if he didn’t know he needed to. She never asked him anything. She was quiet. And that was good. She was perfectly quiet, and perfect just like that.
But they, the family, always expected things from him.
“Dad,” Robert would say, “I need one hundred dollars for books.” Robert was in college. College was expensive, but Martin understood the need of it.
“Yes, son,” he would say. “The money’s on its way.”
“Thanks dad. Can you spare another hundred for some shoes?”
“Sure son. Just keep those grades up.”
But his dream girl never asked for anything. She just took whatever he offered her, no questions, no expectations, and no disappointments. She would look right at him with that faint trace of a smile and nod, maybe, if he timed his touch just right.
“Do you love me Martin?” his Maggie would ask. She asked this a lot. Over the years he grew more and more tired of her doubt.
“You know I do,” he would answer.
“I don’t think you do.”
He never knew if this was a joking time, or a serious time. Wives were funny like that. Wives were nothing like dream girls.
“I do,” he would assure her, “you know I do. I love you.”
“I love you too,” Maggie would say.
His dream girl never weighed him down with love. Or hate. Or any emotion at all. She just welcomed his touch, totally, even if it a bit coldly. But warmth, he knew, was reserved for wives. Sometimes the dream girl’s faint smile would hint at the warmth she had left behind, before she became his dream girl. It was her secret. It was part of her charm. It’s what made her his dream girl, instead of just a mistress or a lover. Or a wife.
Life would get hectic. Reports needed to be finished, so they could be filed. Phone calls had to be made. Bills had to be paid. The company picnic, bridge night, Maggie’s parents visiting. Life could be hectic.
“Did you get those orders shipped?” his boss would ask.
“Yes, sir,” he would answer; knowing his boss already knew the answer. His boss just liked to hear Martin say it aloud. It was what he called validation. Martin hated validation. Sometimes he hated his boss too. And his life.
“Well, just remember to fill out every form properly. You didn’t initial next to your signature on the last three order forms.”
“It’s okay Martin. Just don’t let it happen again.”
And it was times like this when he needed to visit his dream girl, most of all. Even more than the doubting Maggie times or the needy son times. And he would slip away from his normal life, and he would go to her, in that deep dark place where she slept. And he would hold her, sometimes. And he would take her, sometimes. But only when Maggie was away, and Robert was at school. Because occasionally the smell would drift up from the basement, no matter how much care he had taken.
“I don’t know what keeps you so busy in that basement,” Maggie would say.
“Just a hobby, my love,” he would say. And it wouldn’t be a lie.
“Well, your hobby is attracting mice. Again.”
“I think one of them has died under the floorboards or between the walls. I can smell it. Can’t you smell it?”
“Yes dear. You’re right of course. I’ll get rid of it tomorrow.”
And he would.
Then, when it was time for bridge night, he would stay home with a headache instead of joining the game. Later he would go out, to the darkest parts of the city, to the dankest streets, and there he would find her; standing on the corner, with that faint trace of a smile hinting at her past. And he would open his car door and she would get in. And she would talk about money for the first and last time. He would pull the car around the back of the house, and he would show her his basement where a drink was waiting just for her, already mixed. And after that it was only a matter of time and skill before she would truly be home again.
Then she would be his dream girl.