"Thanks a lot," I say to the mailman.
He hands me a bill. Trekked all the way to the last house on my dead-end street where I live. Trekked all that way to my house at the end of a dead-end street in a snowstorm, may I add. Just to hand me a bill. Can you imagine?
I suppose it's his job, but sometimes, they skip my number. It happens a lot, actually. I don't blame them. Today, I wouldn't have complained. It's the last house on a dead-end street. Would you go all the way to the last house on a dead-end street during a blizzard? Just to hand me a bill?
I crash the door shut so the mailman knows I'm mad. The last thing I need right now is a bill. Can you imagine? Doesn't he know I'm on my third week alone in this stupid house? I'll remember this, and I'll give him something the next time I see him. Like a "Hey, buddy... what the fuck, huh?" Anything.
It's not his fault, though. I know Frank. He couldn't run a goddamn bath, that guy. No, it's not his fault. It's the universe. The universe will go far and wide to get you a bill on the worst day of your life during your third week alone in this stupid house. What the fuck, huh? Anything.
Of course, if it were a letter from an old girlfriend or something more pleasing, I'm certain it wouldn't have gotten to me. Some cruel ghost would have dropped out of the sky and driven it from my hands at the very last instant. The world comes down on me like that, and I don't appreciate it. Not by any stretch.
I assume the bill is for a debt I owe, and I throw it on the floor. My restaurant went under last year. Thanks a lot, universe. I don't appreciate it. Not one bit.
I was worth my salt once as a cook, but it's all shit now. No restaurant, no food, starving. I haven't been able to make anything remotely edible in months. Everything comes out bland, mild, weak. My wife called me a misery guts about everything. She said I fiddled while Rome burned. She said a lot more, too. Think of any rude thing you could hear, and she said it to me. And at the worst possible time, when I was already saying the same rude things to myself. Don't you hate people who want you to hurt? To hurt like they hurt? I think that's what she was doing.
"Thanks a lot," I said to her. She made an ugly laugh.
"That's all you have to say? You just lost your company, and that's what you say?"
I shrugged. Bland, mild, weak.
"What can I say, you bet on the wrong horse!"
She really didn't like it when I used phrases like that, but then she'd use phrases like "misery guts" and "fiddled when Rome burned." Hypocrites. Don't you hate people who blame you for their own mistakes? I think you call them hypocrites.
Okay, maybe "misery guts" is my phrase. I think perhaps the Rome one is, too. I can't recall. Do you know what I think happened? When everything blew up between us (it was more like a dull Bang Pop crack, really), the memories got mangled. Memories get mangled if you're not careful. What really happened, then? Don't ask me. What the fuck, huh?
The marriage counselor said we did a lot of blame-shifting. If you ask me, I didn't do a fucking thing. But we both got pegged for it, of course. What else should a marriage counselor do? Say, "I'm sorry, sir, your wife is crazy. She causes all the fights, runs up your credit cards, gives you endless honey-do lists, refuses to sleep with you. It's all her fucking fault"? No, no marriage counselor would say that. She stopped her ears to me instead. Whenever it was my turn, I could see a mist come over her. Blankless. Total blankness.
It would make sense if she hated men. I wouldn't blame her for hating marriage. Maybe she hated both.
"She's a lesbian," my wife said. She looked at me in disgust. I was supposed to know?
I am a misery guts. Aren't I? You can tell by now, I'm sure. It doesn't take long to know someone.
She wanted a divorce already, but that argument about the wrong horse and whatnot finalized it, more so than the papers. The papers were just a formality, like every other damn awful thing we did. I knew when I met her that she wasn't the sort to see things out. No, the day would come. I knew the day would come.
If you ask me, the marriage went into crisis mode as soon as the new neighbor moved in. How absolutely stereotypical, I know. Don't get me started on stereotypes. The man is a fucking loser. Rich in his own pile.
Do you know he invited her over there once? And didn't bother to invite me? He said, "he wasn't sure I'd be interested." A nice Judas kiss on the ass, that was.
I kicked grass onto his law for a few weeks after that. The next time he invited her over, he knew better to invite me, too. Honestly, I wish he hadn't. The whole thing was sickening. I could smell my marriage rotting beneath his perfect fucking floorboards. When did he kill it? When did this happen? They had all of these stupid private jokes. She faced him when he spoke. (The counselor told me that means something.) All bad signs. All signposts. No point investigating. Stupid fucking David. That was his name. David.
"Do you want to see my gun collection?" he asked. My wife had already seen it.
"I'm all set. I don't like guns," I said.
My wife rolled her eyes. Why couldn't I be more like David? Bland. Mild. Weak.
"Do you cook?" I asked him.
He laughed. "Cook? No, my wife cooks. Good for you that you can do that." Left-handed compliment. What the fuck, huh?
"I wish you cooked, honey," I said to my wife. I tried to chuckle. Neither of them moved. Neither breathed. They wanted me to suffocate in that silence. Not funny. I could see it on my wife's face. Not funny. How could I ever compare to their stupid inside jokes? Stupid fucking David.
"What does your wife cook?" I asked him. I said it pretty quietly. He didn't answer. I know he heard me. I should have said, "Thanks a lot. Thanks a lot for answering." But I didn't. To be honest, it was a rather awkward moment. I don't like guns, but I would have liked one right then. Maybe he didn't hear me.
Later that night, we got drinks with him and his wife, Janice. The poor lady, she had no idea what the hell she was dealing with. She sipped on the same mojito for 50 minutes while my wife dumped her tits out in David's face. Handwriting everywhere. No point investigating. I told him to fuck off with my eyes. I told him he ruined everything. I told him, "Thanks a lot." Maybe he didn't hear me.
I tried to catch Janice's attention once in a while with a how did we get stuck with these monsters? look, but she never made eye contact with me. What the fuck, huh? Maybe it's me. Or maybe David hired someone to play wife and get mine jealous. Yeah, that's something he would do. He doesn't have enough furniture to have a real wife. That's just my opinion. He would hire an actress for all of this, just to get my wife. That's what you do to get another man's wife, right? Wife? Wife. Ha. What's in a name?
I'll never forget how he asked for the bill that night. Silently, proudly, using only gesticulations. What the fuck, huh?
"No, David, allow me," I said.
My wife rolled her eyes again. She knew I had no money.
I didn't keep track of her comings and goings after that night. I'd totally given up on the marriage. On everything, really. I bruise up easy, I guess. I guess my wife was right. For good or ill, my wife was right.
I thought about trying to fuck Janice once or twice. Maybe I still could. She probably feels bad for me. I wonder if she figured out what happened yet.
I walk over to the window and see through the blinds. David's in his kitchen with Janice. They're cooking a meal together. It's Valentine's Day, after all. I guess even cheating husbands have wives on Valentine's Day. What do cucks have?
You know what? This all has me thinking. Why not make a bad day worse? At this point, maybe more misfortune will actually turn things around. You know, the universe.
I pick up the bill I got from Frank. The one that was apparently destined to get to me. All the way down the dead-end street.
Turns out it isn't a bill. It's... it's a request? A petition? It looks like a petition from the city. What the fuck, huh? They want to help me reopen my restaurant. I think that's what it says. I can barely read it. I can't think about this now. Is this really something I have to think about now? Now I have to think about reopening my restaurant? About not doing it because everything comes out bland. Mild. Weak. How do I break it to myself? It's never going to happen. That restaurant? The one I opened for her? In her name? With her? We mopped the floors. We had sex in the kitchen. A time ago. All a time ago. Gone.
I can't think about this now. I need to think about David. About stupid fucking David. About my wife. About everything going wrong. About the sex in the kitchen no longer. The dead-end street. My third week alone in this stupid house. Cuck the Valentine. Nobody hears me. Why couldn't I be more like David? It's all shit now. Thanks a lot for reminding me it's all shit now.
Thanks, a lot.