Saturday, January 02, 2010

BETTY'S MAN

When Mary stole Betty’s Man, Betty was a terribly good sport about it. Every day Betty would visit Mary when Betty’s Man, now Mary’s, was at work. Mary was bored and lonely, and Betty knew it.

Where is Betty’s Man today? In Brazil. But he isn’t Betty’s Man today. He is Mary’s Man today.

So Betty rings the doorbell. “Thought you might need some cheering up,” Betty says to Mary. Mary smiles slightly. “Here,” Betty says, “have a cigarette.”

“Thanks,” Mary would say. “Don’t mind if I do.” And then they would sit and chat, gossip about their friends, laugh and eat sandwiches out on the deck.

“Here, have another cigarette,” Betty would say. “Thanks,” Mary would say, “don’t mind if I do.” And they would laugh and eat sandwiches and gossip about their friends.

“Please,” Betty would say, “have another. Have another cigarette.” Mary would smile and say nothing, taking a cigarette from the case. Her throat was feeling a little irritated, but what could she say?

“Another cigarette, please.” Mary would say.

“It’s just a matter of time,” Betty would think to herself. Although she was unsure of the exact science, she knew that, if she remained steadfast, she would eventually serve Mary one cigarette too many, and then Mary’s Man would be Betty’s Man again, in Brazil or not in Brazil. How she loved him so!

Betty imagined herself sitting on the deck, a cigarette still burning beside her, Mary slumped on the grass, pale and silent. Betty imagined eating the last sandwich from the tray. It would be delicious. The sun would begin to set. “Jonathan,” Betty would say, “please come out here and clean up this mess.” Betty could hear butlery footsteps in the kitchen.

Somewhere far away, and probably in Brazil, Mary’s Man would match Mary, cigarette for cigarette. Mary’s Man had a hunch. Call it love, if you will. “Life is not living,” Mary’s Man would say, “if it’s life without Mary.”

He would never be Betty’s Man again. She had her chance, and she blew it. Too angry, too many cigarettes.

And Jonathan would come out. And Jonathan would clean up the mess.

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