“Mikey, the last thing I want to hear is that your wife is sorry. Steve’s lunch holds more value than any news concerning her,” June said.
“Your wickedness knows no bounds. Your parrot’s life perils in comparison to Clair. It’s no wonder Dad left you,” Michael said.
“Ha,” she said. “Jerry’s spineless ass didn’t stand a chance to Steve either. At least the bird doesn’t grovel in his own shit. Now why am I here?” she asked.
The two exchanged cold glimpses across the table. They’d prepared to battle one another tooth and nail over anything – the weather, sports, murder, even Clair’s latest tryst.
“The thought of being seen talking to you in public is unbearable. Besides, I’m reserving this space for business for a few days,” said Michael.
If laughter could elicit a thunderstorm, the patio would be soaked. “Did you break Princess Clair’s nail this time to bring on this month’s punishment? Or did you enter the mansion too loudly and cause a ruckus in the enchanted dog pin?” June asked.
“Our differences are no matter to you. I need to cash in on the gamble. I’ve been crunching the numbers and I need an exact amount of $5,372 to finish this job.”
“Why in hell would I give you a dime, Mikey? If it weren’t for your highness I’d be dusting sand from between my toes every day, enjoying the life I schemed for so long to attain. Fuck your grievances. Steve will spend that money before you.”
Slow deep belly breaths maintained his demeanor. Mikey exhaled into the lifeless sky. She was right, however. Without Clair’s meddling, June would be eons away from both of them, at least happy enough to not be as cruel as she normally is. Yearly visits wouldn’t sour the stomachs or weaken the hearts as they’ve done in the years since Jerry rolled out.
“I’ve apologized countless times. I don’t know what else you want me to do about it. Clair has to feel some sort of remorse for it, too, otherwise she wouldn’t have summoned me to this room. She knows I usually end up exchanging glares with you, if only for five minutes of the three days.”
“Get to it,” June said. “You’re cutting into my personal time. Go ahead, make it easier for me to say Hell No.”
Flashing a smile that one could only learn from Satan, she took a swig of whiskey from her wrist flask. The verbal sparring was getting stale and she awaited the moment she could pull out the big guns. Years of public shame and harassment turned her from contemplating madness to full on rage. The moments of trying to clear her name escaped her and she now reveled in being Bad Ass June. But no matter how often she’d talk grand about her new sense of self and not giving a damn, Mikey knew what she wanted most – Clair’s breath and blood.
Her marrying Mikey added fuel to the fire. He knew without a doubt that if it meant taking his life in order to claim Clair’s, she’d consider it with ease.
“I want to kill her,” said Michael.
The piece of steel sounded off. Whiskey stained the porch floor of the extended stay. You could hear every morsel of a pen dropping.
“Wh- what did you say?”
“Admitting you were right could kill me, but it’s true. But my reasons for wanting to do this are different. Her lies widened the wedge between you and my Dad. Tricking me into marrying her and taking her side drove a wedge between you and me. Paying my doctor to make me believe we couldn’t conceive is where she went wrong with me.”
Flies began to swarm around June’s mouth. Her face flushed with immediate rage.
“So, this bitch pulls me through the ringer, news reporters all over my yard, thousands of dollars spent in legal fees to clear my name, the townspeople reprehensible, lies routed in the unthinkable, your mother, and you want to kill her because she didn’t want to have your baby? This is what makes you angry? No wonder she casts you out of the house so often. You’re pathetic. I hate the bitch but she’s a woman and we despise men without a backbone.”
“Give me the money and I’ll remove her forever,” Michael said.
The flannel bedspreads shook as June rushed past them to get to her car. Under any other circumstances, the print would have recharged fond memories of her life with Jerry. Crying, she fled to Clair’s house to do the deed herself. Steve would get the money and Mikey, exactly what he deserved.
The two might have gotten away with Jerry’s perceived disappearance, but June always knew the truth – that her son was worse than she’d ever known. Finally, her smile would return.
© Ariel C. Williams
April 28, 2018