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Funny Fiction Contemporary

I stared at the unopened gifts. Well, the two unopened gifts, one of which lay in the middle of the room, one corner of the still wrapped box crumpled. It had just missed my head and only because I threw myself to one side. My wife is amazingly accurate when pissed. The other gift, the only one she opened, lay at the exact point she dropped it.


Then she ran upstairs. Sobbing. Me, I sat in the room where I had the gifts, our living room, and struggled to understand what happened. Things certainly didn't go as I thought. 


I got up and grabbed the cake from the dining room table. Marble. Her favorite. White icing with roses and hearts. In the center, in the same red as the roses and hearts, it said 'Happy Birthday, Tanya.' I started to drop it in the trash, thought better of it, then stuck it in the fridge. I put the now softened ice-cream in the freezer.


Then I left.


**

The gurgling of the coffee maker subsided. Dad got up and poured us both a cup, setting mine before me. He then grabbed the sugar and creamer and placed those on the table before sitting down. Nervous habit, I suppose, since both of us drank coffee black.


"An iron organizer. That's what you got her." Dad said. He tapped his finger on the table. A sure sign of anxiety.


"Not just that. I got her the iron and ironing board too. She just never opened them." Dad said nothing, just stared distantly into his coffee like Nostrodamus into his brass bowl. Somehow I didn't think he saw a rosy picture for me. So I asked, "Where's mom?"


"She left. Tanya called and right after that your mom stalked out of here." He sighed. "She's pissed at you. Blames me."


My insides withered. "Tanya called here? And why would mom blame you?"


Dad spooned sugar and some creamer in his coffee, something he only does when he's very worried. Never made sense to me. "We should have had the talk, you and I." He paused for a minute. "I guess I'd hoped it wouldn't be necessary."


"What talk? The 'birds and the bees?' Dad, I'm married and probably know more about that than you!"


"Doubtful," dad said with a half smile. "No, I'm talking about 'The Talk' about handling a wife's birthday."


I got up and poured more coffee, then warmed dad's since he hadn't drank much. "Why would you be able to talk to me about that? You have never remembered mom's birthday at all for as long as I can recall. Not once. You're probably why I messed Tanya's up so bad."


I really thought he would blow up at that, but simply shrugged. "Maybe. But you are wrong. I have never forgotten a single one of your mom's birthdays."


"But -"


"Stop!" he said, holding up a hand for emphasis. "Listen."


I felt six again. "Ok. Geez. Sorry."


He then continued. "This is where I went wrong not having 'The Talk.' I really messed up her first birthday after we were married, just as you did. I thought it a good idea to buy her an apron. It said 'The Happy Homemaker' on it, and had flowers and ducks on it."


"Oh, God!"


"Don't sit there thinking yours was so much better, sonny boy!" he said, his eyes hardening. "I paid dearly that day and her revenge, let's just say, made her point very clear. She made me swear never to tell anyone what she did to me. I didn't and I won't. Too afraid to. I hope Tanya is more forgiving."


I said nothing.


He continued, "So I feign forgetting every year. Your mom feigns anger and frustration. I take her out wherever she wants to eat and we go somewhere where I buy her whatever she wants. No pressure on me. She ends up happy. A win/win all over." He drained his coffee. "I should have explained that to you."


"I suppose she tossed the apron."


Dad looked unsure for a moment. Then with a shit-eating grin on his face he said, "Nope. This I can say. She keeps it in the bedroom. When she feels like punishing me, she has me wear nothing but it."


"I… I… Dad, I don't need to know this!"


He winked at me. "No one can punish like your mother!"


I couldn't take any more. I left.


**


I thought about going to the mall to walk around and clear my head. I wasn't sure it was safe to go home yet, but knew it really wasn't going to be anytime soon.


First I pulled into my friend, Ron's, driveway. He and his wife, Jean, were outside working around the yard. They both waved as I pulled in.


They had a great relationship. One I envied and hoped to aspire to. They both hugged me when I got out and Ron said, "I'm sorry to hear that Tanya's birthday didn't go well."


What the hell! Does the entire world know?


"Really, Ron?" Jean admonished, slapping his back, "That's how you greet your friend?" Then she looked over at me. "She called me, Billy. She's really upset."


"She called my mom, too. Probably hers as well. Might as well place an ad in the paper stating what I did." I leaned against my car and crossed my arms. "Man, I really messed up."


Ron looked sympathetic. "Look, it happens. I made a mockery of Jean's first birthday with me. I thought I had the perfect gift. It wasn't like brain surgery after all."


"No, nothing so mundane," Jean said. "Even quantum mechanics is simpler for men."


"But I thought -"


"And there's your problem," Jean said. "You thought. When you tried winning her over, you went into unfamiliar territory for many men. Feelings. That gave a bit of an edge, and we ladies can be forgiving if we think you tried. Now that you're married, it seems you may have lost that. Can you really say you put thought into buying an iron organizer."


"I got the iron and board, too…"


Ron chuckled.


Jean punched Ron's arm. "Really, Billy? Hey, I like that!" She brightened. "Really, Billy. Kind of sing-song-y, don'cha think?"


Before I could respond, Ron spoke up. "If it's any consolation, you can overcome it. For my perfect gift I bought her a Singer sewing machine, lifetime supply of needles, and every color spool of thread available at the time."


"And the idiot wrapped each spool separately."


"I wanted her to have a lot to open. As if to make her birthday that much more special," Ron said, putting his arm around her. "I don't think she unwrapped any."


"Not true, honey," Jean said. "That lovely piece of artwork I made with the colored thread, black felt and small, gold nails hanging in the hallway came from the ones I did open." She smiled sweetly up at him, then turned her gaze back to me. "It's a constant reminder of his penchant for stupidity."


I smiled at the two of them. I don't doubt they had their issues, but they truly loved each other. "So I guess I have hope."


"Not much," Ron said, smiling.


Jean thumped his head.


**


I needed to go home. Needed to 'face the music' so to speak, but my mind continued to spin in every direction. Fear of making things even worse kept me away. I wanted to make things right with Tanya, but it had to be right.


Arriving at the mall, I aimlessly traveled the common area, almost on autopilot so as to not crash into another person. I hated to admit to myself that Jean was right. Tanya mentioned more than once about my shirts, especially my work shirts, being disheveled. I could have ironed them since we do own an actual iron, but I used that as justification to simply go buy her something. Here ya' go! It's the thought that counts!


I sat for a bit watching the couples, especially the older ones, walking together. Sometimes they held hands. Sometimes they walked a close but comfortable distance apart. Sometimes they engaged in quiet conversation, or smiling at some shared experience. I wanted that for us. I also realized we had it as long as we kept our eye on the ball.


I took mine off. The feelings that stirred in me didn't feel good. They did, however, show that I did love her and I did want to make it right from now on. Even if that meant hearing about this day for the rest of my life.


As I got up to leave, I saw it. It glinted in the display window, beckoning, whispering to me, This is Tanya.


**


I arrived home to a dark house. Sitting out in my car, I built up the courage to face my wife. My gift, I knew, would be welcomed but also too late. I also had to get the others out of the house and in my car tonight to be returned tomorrow, and I needed to do it now.


I left my shoes in the foyer figuring my stocking feet would be quieter than my shoes and made my way to the living room. Able to make out the white plastic iron organizer package against the wood flooring where it fell, I cautiously approached it. First this, then the iron, and finally the board, which would be the hardest. Within inches of reaching the organizer, my left foot landed on top of something hard with a well defined edge along the arch of my foot.


Snap!


Pain exploded along the base of my toes. To my credit, I resisted the outcry, gritting my teeth against the agony radiating along my foot. Reaching down, I discovered what appeared to be a rat trap. Grabbing at the hammer, I intended to raise it and slowly release my foot; but light suddenly flooded the room.


There in our living room, red-rimmed eyes and tousled black hair, wearing baggy sweats with two Super-Soaker water guns supported in her arms aimed right at me like a crazed South American drug dealer guarding his marijuana field, face contorted in fury, stood Tanya. She looked so fierce! It was so hot!


Time slowed. From my position I saw the water enter both gun barrels, nanoseconds from soaking me, and a malicious smile form on her face. Then, suddenly, that image vanished.


Instead, I now saw Tanya before me in camouflage panties and black lace stockings, topless, with bandoliers criss-crossing her chest and holding two AK-47's. Wind blew her thick, dark hair from the side, causing it to wave sexily across her face. No mercy showed in her eyes as those twin dealers of death took aim at my head. 


The blood swirled from my head faster than water from a flushed toilet, pooling in that place it pools when lusting after my wife. My bloodless brain in a vain attempt to acquire necessary oxygen tapped into something outside of space and time. Something powerful and all knowing. From somewhere Bruce Lee appeared in my mind, slapping my forehead and proclaiming "Don't think! Feeeeel."


Call it the Force. Call it Chi. Call it what you will, but without thinking I reached into my pocket, removed the necklace and held it before me, a talisman tailored to ward off evil, a cross to deter a vampire.


And, suddenly, the vision fled. Tanya again stood there as before. The deadly deluge from the Super-Soakers passed harmlessly to either side of my face, the spray from both barrels only slightly kissing my cheeks, the end of the streams alighting softly on my shoulders, dampening my shirt. For the moment, I live. Her face now more inquisitive than angry.


"What's that?" Tanya asked.


"Emerald necklace," I said. "When I saw it, it made me think of your eyes and how your eyes would enhance the beauty of the stone as it hung on your neck."


The Super-Soaker barrels dipped a little toward the floor. "When did you buy it?"


Days ago. Oh, this, this was the first thing I got you, the other stuff was just playing around; but didn't work as I thought. All these safety nets rushed through my head. "A little while ago, to be honest. I walked through the mall to clear my head. Tanya, I feel awful. I love you so much, yet I never gave a thought to your birthday. Not as I should've. I needed to come home and make things right. When I got up to leave, I spotted it in the window of Jay's Jewellers. It felt right. It felt like you."


The throbbing in my foot, forgotten during the confrontation, again made itself known to my addled brain. For the second time, I reached down to release the hammer. Around me lay others yet to be sprung. "Really, Tanya, rat traps?"


"Your mom's idea," Tanya said, sheepishly. "Apparently something she did to your dad. Something about an apron. She held on to them all those years just in case. She brought them over and helped me set up. She even brought the Super-Soakers. Nice touch, huh?"


"Yeah, mom's really clever." Her birthday was in a few months. Payback, they say, is a bitch. I stood up, keeping my hands up, palms out, as a sign of surrender, the necklace still dangling in my hand and asked, "Can we start this day over?" 


"You hurt me, Billy."


"I know Tanya, and I'd love to say it won't happen again. I can't. I am, sadly, inherently stupid." I walked over and carefully removed the water cannons from her arms and laid them on the coffee table. "But I will try to do better. I promise."


"You better," she said. Smiling. Then she kissed me.


Feeling better, I held the necklace up and she took it from my hand. 'I love it' she said. Then I pointed to the other gifts. "I'll return those tomorrow."


"Oh no you are not, Billy! We are keeping those." She stepped out of my arms and walked around looking at the walls. "As a matter of fact, I'm going to make a collage out of the packaging and hang it, I think," she said pointing," right there in the hallway."


"Tanya -"


"I love your mom. So much more devious than mine. Let's eat cake."


If I have a son, we will have The Talk.

April 16, 2023 23:26

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28 comments

V. S. Rose
23:55 Apr 25, 2023

This was a lot of fun Kevin. Lots of laughs and chuckles. After just going through a wedding myself, I could use some of the tips in here. Don't buy any home-maker gifts! Really liked your use of imagery and metaphors in here, I find they're super helpful for feeling more connected to the story and getting pulled in. Might just be me though. The climax was so entertaining with his wife and the super soakers and I thought you did a good job building it up with the conversations the MC had earlier in the story.

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Kevin V
00:17 Apr 26, 2023

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Congratulations on your wedding! I wish you both much happiness. I have been with my wife 32 years.

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Russell Mickler
14:20 Apr 24, 2023

Hey there, Kevin! On the one hand, I could recommend a good personal calendar. On the other hand, camo panties and super soakers. (Weighing the options) Personally, what you've described here would be described as an "incentive" in my relationships :) In my world, that'd be an escalating challenge each year to outdo the last ... :) A fun read! R

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Kevin V
16:25 Apr 24, 2023

Thank you, Russell. I'm glad you enjoyed it. This is (very loosely) based on an actual situation where a friend (not me. I have my own special way of screwing up birthdays) who bought his then girlfriend an iron organizer for her birthday. She didn't even own an iron, but I got much joy in hearing the story.

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Helen A Smith
10:09 Apr 24, 2023

Fun characters here. All sorts of mind-boggling images for what goes on behind the scenes here. They certainly have the potential for a lively relationship. Were the rat traps a step too far?? 🐀 You exploited just how easy it is to get it wrong when it comes to our birthdays and it made for an entertaining read.

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Kevin V
16:16 Apr 24, 2023

Thank you Helen. You know, the rat trap pun 'being a step too far' comment almost went over my head! Too funny.

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Helen A Smith
16:21 Apr 24, 2023

I get these terrible puns from my partner. He’s always punning. 😂

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Chris Campbell
06:20 Apr 21, 2023

Kevin, This was a fun read that has left some interesting imagery stamped on my brain. Billy's father clad only in an apron. I'm still shivering from the thought. Tanya topless and into water sports. Hmm, still processing that one. Billy's turncoat of a mother. Yeah, I hope her birthday payback is a real bitch. Some very funny moments and a lot of chuckles and written well. Thanks for sharing.

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Kevin V
08:54 Apr 21, 2023

Thank you Chris. I'm glad you found it fun! I enjoyed writing it. Maybe someday Billy will get revenge on his mom. Just not sure what that would look like yet.

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Glenda Toews
01:26 Apr 20, 2023

I nearly died! Super soaker gun! Fantastic humor Kevin! The whole story was fun to read, from beginning to end. Well Done!

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Kevin V
09:50 Apr 20, 2023

Thank you, Glenda, for taking the time to read and comment. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I had fun writing it. I Googled Fortes. Saw the glass high rise beside it and the street in front. Pretty cool. Looks pretty impressive inside.

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Glenda Toews
12:08 Apr 20, 2023

See... now that story was successful then. It created a desire to search for more. After I wrote the piece I researched 'The Robert Kerr'. I'm thinking a story withing that story is brewing somewhere in the back of my brain. I'd like to have a natural flowing humor like you have in your stories inside mine. Please write more so I can learn. 😁

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Kevin V
13:10 Apr 20, 2023

Oh, I have humorous ones... Clack, Clack; Swish, Swish; Friendly Competition; Rise and Fall of Sir Pee-nut Seedfleenger. A Matter of Perspective isn't funny and kind of sucks anyway. Don't bother. Actually, most of mine are humorous and begin to sound about the same. Funny, I'd like to be able to write more like you and some others I follow. I intend to read more of yours tonight. And, yes, you inspired me to research.

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Glenda Toews
14:05 Apr 20, 2023

I've started already lol! If you are reading through mine I recommend starting with the first story. 😃

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Jody S
01:35 Apr 19, 2023

What a fun read!! You had me laughing and feeling sorry for Billy and Tanya. Gifts and marriage are a challenge! I like how you call it The Talk! Good use of the prompts too! Your dialogue is spot on too!

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Kevin V
08:51 Apr 19, 2023

Thank you for reading and commenting. I enjoyed writing this and am glad you liked it. I appreciate that you think the title fits. I struggle more titles sometimes than the stories

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Jody S
17:22 Apr 19, 2023

Headlines and titles doth vex me (to misquote Robin Williams)! The struggle is real!! You nailed this one tho!! Spot on!!

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RJ Holmquist
00:31 Apr 18, 2023

What a great balance of laughs and feels! I loved the booby trapped hallway, and got a great chuckle out of finding out the mom suggested it. I also loved being in the characters head as he tried to think of the best way to leverage the wife's reaction to the necklace, but then just decided to go with being honest. Maybe he is learning from all the rat traps! You're humor was great as always, and it made your more serious moments that much more impactful. Nice work!

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Kevin V
01:02 Apr 18, 2023

Thank you RJ! I do appreciate that you take the time to read and comment on my stories. If you ever have any thoughts that might improve my writing, I ask that you give it. I did enjoy writing this one, and am glad that you enjoyed it. Again, thank you!

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RJ Holmquist
01:27 Apr 18, 2023

If I were to offer any suggestions, I might add a line somewhere in the the first paragraph that clues a reader in to who is upset. I wasn't quite able to figure out who the gift was given to for sure until I was several paragraphs in. On second read, I realize the hearts on the cake should have clued me in, but for some reason on the first read that didn't quite sink in for me. I was trying to sort out if it was his mom, his daughter (for some reason running upstairs to sob put me in mind of an upset teen) or his wife. Maybe even "My wife...

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Kevin V
08:27 Apr 18, 2023

Thank you! I never even considered that a problem. After all, I knew exactly who I was talking about, so always just saw it that way. You're right. I will fix that. Again, thank you.

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Michelle Oliver
04:11 Apr 17, 2023

Gotta love The Talk! I love this story Kevin. I like the whole feeling of unfamiliar territory that your narrator walks, this mysterious idea of what a woman wants. I had to laugh at your description of his fantasy of his wife in camo knickers. Hahaha. She’s furious and he thinks she’s even more sexy in her fury. Love it! But this is my favourite -“with two Super-Soaker water guns supported in her arms aimed right at me like a crazed South American drug dealer guarding his marijuana field” Such a great cautionary tale, should be in the r...

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Kevin V
08:55 Apr 17, 2023

Thank you Michelle. I do appreciate that you take the time to read and comment. I enjoyed writing this one. I had a friend years ago that bought his girlfriend an iron organizer for her birthday, and she didn't even own an iron! The inspiration came from that. Glad you enjoyed it

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Graham Kinross
11:24 Jul 15, 2023

Great humour here Kevin. The super soakers bit reminded me of paintball episodes of Community. https://youtu.be/XcOG5iZpV-k One of my favourite shows ever.

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Galen Gower
22:32 Apr 26, 2023

Your story was selected as part of my critique circle email, plus I already read through it at around 4:00AM this morning because I couldn't get back to sleep. I only offer suggestions as a reader, and all opinions are subjective, so feel free to disregard anything you disagree with in part or wholly. Also, I offer the kind of insight I myself would find helpful if I could dissect my own writing, but I am as yet unaware of any community etiquette, so please forgive me if I am out of bounds anywhere. One thing that struck me as I read is t...

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Kevin V
23:05 Apr 26, 2023

Thank you Galen for reading and commenting. I do appreciate when someone offers an honest critique and I try to take that into consideration as I write.

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Mary Bendickson
00:06 Apr 18, 2023

Men! Bless their hearts. How they try. How they fail. How they think. How they make our world go round!

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Kevin V
01:03 Apr 18, 2023

Thank you, Mary!

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