Sarah McLemore looked down at her coffee mug. The cream she’d put in it, made odd patterns atop the brackish liquid. It looked like an oil slick.
She stood up, walked to the sink and emptied it.
That’s when he walked in.
Dan entered the room as he did every day, huffing and puffing and literally forcing his 380 pound frame into the kitchen.
“Where’s breakfast?” he demanded.
Sarah said nothing and started serving his plate; four scrambled eggs with grated melted cheese, three pieces of buttered toast, six strips of bacon and hash browns.
She wondered why she bothered feeding him. She’d have the same effect if she ripped open his chest, then filled each artery with cement.
“Gimme some coffee and hurry up. I’m running late.”
Sarah took a deep breath and served her husband.
She looked at him as she poured the hot liquid in his cup. She didn’t recognize him…not this version of him. She loathed Dan. Sometimes, the hatred built up within her with Krakaotoan ferocity. It made her nauseous. She wanted her freedom; she wanted to walk away from Dan and never come back.
This was no life and she desperately wanted one.
The other day, she heard a woman on one of the chat shows talk about going back to college and getting her degree and being in the workplace, happy and productive. She listened to the woman as she spoke…the words affected her like scripture.
Then, reality sank back in. She was stuck in a rut and she was miserable. She thought about slamming the coffee carafe against the wall and running out, but not after taking the bacon and stuffing it down his throat. She’d watch his face turn blue and wondered if the color would clash with the purple veins that bulged out of his portly legs.
He gained 200 pounds in a year and a half. Yes he was obese, but to Sarah, that wasn’t the source for her disgust. That stemmed from the fact Dan was mean, rude and incredibly considerate. The weight didn’t bring any of these traits with it. He was an insensitive thin man, too.
“These eggs taste like shit. Don’t you know how to cook? You’re worthless, Sarah!”
And still he ate them. He followed that with a loud belch as he stood up from the table. He grabbed his keys and left.
He was gone. The silence was profound. Every about Dan was loud. He was all about noise. Discordance and noise.
She sat down at the table and started to cry. These four walls didn’t represent a happy home; this was a prison. And Dan was the warden. He’d never hit her but his cruel words had the same impact of a clenched fist. The insults and belittling were constant and had only gotten worse in recent years.
The phone rang. She composed herself.
“Hey, it’s me. I just found out I have a cocktail party to go to, so you don’t have to fix dinner for me, not that I’d eat your slop and Sarah, don’t get all down because I’m not asking you to come with me. Why should I? You’re not that pretty and frankly, you’re boring, so try to find something productive to occupy your time tonight. Cleaning that pig sty of a home would be a nice start!”
Then, the click…..and dial tone.
Sarah stood there, motionless with the phone by her ear for a minute, maybe longer.
As she put the receiver back in it’s cradle, it became apparent—she knew what she had to do.
Sarah drove to West Richmond, a suburb she rarely visited.
She found a pharmacy, parked and walked inside.
“May I help you”? She didn’t look like a pharmacist. This woman was older with salt and pepper black hair and bifocals perched on her nose.
Sarah clutched her purse and looked around to make sure no one was within earshot.
“Yes, thank you. I need…..uh…..something”
“OK Sweetie, I assumed that’s why you’re at my pharmacy. Now tell me, what do you need?”
Sarah cleared her throat and in a near whisper said, “Well actually, I need some….I need some….some cyanide”.
The pharmacist just looked at her and cocked her head as if she might have misunderstood.
“Cyanide? Honey, why in the HELL do you want to buy deadly poison?”
Sarah replied, “Because my husband is a brute and cruel and I don’t love him anymore and I want him out of the picture but I don’t want the scandal of divorce hanging over my head!”
The pharmacist shook her head and chuckled, “Are you aware that a first degree manslaughter conviction will also be a little….oh, let’s say inconvenient too?”
“I don’t care. I want him completely out of the picture with no chance of ever getting back in the picture.”
“Look lady”, said the pharmacist. “I don’t care if he’s Simon Legree, I will NOT sell you cyanide. Murder is a sin; one of the biggest and I will not be a party to that. Now, if you have problems in your marriage, fix them. If not, call a divorce lawyer, but murdering your husband with cyanide is not an option. Do I make myself clear?”
Sarah just looked at her, tears welling up in her big green eyes. She was desperate. She threw her purse on the counter, rummaged through it and removed a small white envelope. She opened it and took out a very unflattering photo of Dan. It was taken three months ago after the Super Bowl game. He had too much to drink and passed out in bed with nothing on but his underwear.
And with a firm, straight arm, Sarah shoved the photo in the pharmacist’s face and kept it there…defying her NOT to look.
The pharmacist moved her head back quickly to allow her bespectacled eyes the opportunity to focus.
She cocked an eyebrow, looked at the photo, then at Sarah…then, back at the photo again.
She turned and walked away without saying a word. A few minutes later, she came back to the counter a few seconds later with a small bottle marked “Cyanide”.
Astonished, Sarah asked, “So, you’re going to sell me the poison anyway? What changed your mind?”
The pharmacist pointed at the hideous photo of her husband and said, “You didn’t tell me you had a fucking prescription!”