Rural Route 12: The Beverly Meeks Clinical Research Facility

Submitted into Contest #179 in response to: Start your story with someone making a vision board.... view prompt

88 comments

Contemporary Funny

Beverly Meeks determined long ago that if she couldn’t find Mr. Wonderful, by God she was going to create him, and she even had the vision boards from over the years which proved her lifelong devotion to the cause.


Beverly had first dreamt of marrying the perfect man as a little girl pretending to wed the tux-clad family dog. The years of her youth were spent plotting out her elaborate wedding and her dream life, but as a teen and 20-something, she had hit a wall. However, despite a constant volley of first-and-only-dates and failed relationships, she still hadn’t given up the vision. He was out there.


Her dream never far from her mind, she was halfway through a degree in clinical psychology when she spontaneously decided to pack it all in and become a wedding planner. This career change, which initially seemed an optimal fit for her interests, ultimately caused her complete disillusionment: judging by her clientele, the perfect man did not exist organically, so she quit the job in disgust and threw out the lace-and-tulle-choked vision boards from that era.


Now well into adulthood, she kicked herself for leaving a degree program that held the potential to explain – dare she hope: reshape? – the unfathomable “not him”-ness of the men she had thus far encountered. 


Returning to college had never been in the cards, so she eloped to Vegas with a basic model named Daniel Meeks before settling into a life filled with love – at least, for her, because she inadvertently discovered that she loved performing behavior modification experiments on Dan. So much so, in fact, that she swapped her vision boards of old for a score-keeping kitchen chalkboard and set up her own clandestine, single-client cottage industry: the Beverly Meeks Clinical Research Facility. 


>-<


As Beverly ambled about the kitchen one morning preparing her own breakfast, Dan was already hollering from the table that he had burnt his tongue again on his too-hot scrambled eggs. 


“I’m so sorry, darling! I swear I’m not making them any differently than I have every day for years,” she truthfully responded, then made a tick-mark in one of the sections of her kitchen chalkboard, cackling to herself. It was the 5th day in a row, and he still hadn’t noticed that she was now placing his spoon in with the eggs themselves (rather than on the side) when serving them to him, thus elevating the temperature of the direct metal-to-mouth experience.


(In a separate chalkboard section, she made another tick: switching him between regular coffee and decaf every other morning definitely made him crankier and kept him amusingly off-balance. One had to explore all variables… for science!)


Beverly had performed these little experiments on Dan for years, now; often, she even bet herself a new pair of shoes as to how long it would take for him to finally modify his behavior in response. She really had thought it would be by Day 3 on this particular trial, but he was still going strong: she hadn’t factored in the earliness of the hour nor his lowered brain function from the occasional decaf swap.


It was too late to change her bet, but Beverly consoled herself with the fact that, at least by the time of the experiment’s successful conclusion, he should no longer be wolfing down his meals and would wait for her to join him in dining, for a change.


>-<


For his part, Dan had not an inkling that his wife of 17 years was constantly toying with him like a human lab rat. His biggest complaint with her was the enormous collection of shoes which she possessed.


Just prior to the inception of “Thesis:Molten Spoon,” Beverly’s “Thesis:Snack Attack” had ended on a high note. The genesis of that experiment had been Dan’s recent habit of requesting a warm chocolate croissant every night before bed… specifically after Beverly had already settled in and gotten comfortable for the night.


Generally his foibles delighted her, since it gave her objectives for yet more fine-tuning. This one, however, was a burr in her saddle, since it required so much extra effort and dirtied up a kitchen she had already cleaned each night before bed. She hotlisted it.


Dan preferred the freshly-warmed filling to be piped in just before serving, and so two weeks ago – about a week after his nightly requests had begun – she began sprinkling a spoonful of chocolate-flavored laxative shavings into the ganache. 


Whereas he had initially praised her execution of the bedtime snack (his version of suggesting that she was going to be doing it a lot more often), she noticed that he had not been so effusive about it the day after the switch. He had been up and down that night more than usual, but he never suspected foul play.


After 3 nights of the “new recipe,” Dan had finally had enough. “Damned if I’m not allergic to those things! I think they are giving me the runs every single night.” 


“Oh sweetheart, I am so sorry to hear that. Okay, no more of those, then, and I will be sure to take them off the shopping list!” 


Success! And so – the experiment now concluded – she had erased that particular section of the chalkboard entirely, turned on some lively Christmas music, opened a bottle of Jägermeister, and set about ordering some shoes.


>-<


At that moment, the ringing doorbell broke her reverie: the shoes in question had, in fact, just arrived. “I’ll get it!” she shouted excitedly, but there was no need. Dan, having finished burning his tongue at breakfast, was now ensconced in the garage for the day to tinker with one project or another. 


Oh. Huh. She stared blankly at her latest acquisition, which was peeking out through the center of the tissue paper wrapping: neon pink and purple leopard-print high heels. She vaguely remembered being about five “Noëls” deep into a personal drinking game of “Take a Shot” when she finally got around to placing that last order. Recalling the song she had been listening to for the key phrase of “Noël” made her stomach revolt, so she vowed to avoid Christmas music altogether until at least the following year. Also, Jägermeister. 


“Bev!” Dan shouted. She set the shoes aside and sauntered through the kitchen to the garage door. He was at his workbench, Allen wrench suspended mid-air, furiously digging through a drawer. “Where’s my 3/16ths drill bit?”


“Dear?”


“My 3/16ths drill bit. It has its own space like everything else, and it is missing.”


“I’m not sure, sweetheart. Did you leave it out the last time you used it?”


“No, the damn thing was where it’s always at, in the bit box!”


“Is there somewhere in town that I could pop over to and grab one for you?” The gauntlet had been thrown. Was he going to go for it?


Beverly kept several distinct sections on her chalkboard. This question was associated with the one – “Thesis:Exhaustion” – intended to prevent Dan from constantly asking her to run errands for him. Significant towing costs and other major vehicle inconveniences were usually drawn upon for this one. 


One eyebrow cocked, she stood there with a researcher’s rapt attention, awaiting his response.


Dan, who had been distracted since calling out to her, paused. Clearly his brain had switched over to a thread at which it had been picking for some time. “Er…”


“It’d really be no trouble, darling! I could pick up some more beer for you while I’m out, and if you have the keys on you, I could just go right now and be back before you know it.” She endeavored to project a look of innocent altruism.


“... You know, come to think of it, I don’t really feel like working on this right now. I think I will just lie down, watch some golf and have a few beers until it’s time for lunch.”


“Okay, sweetheart, if you’re sure I can’t go get it for you?”


“Positive.”


“Alright love, you go prop your feet up, and I’ll bring you some cold ones just as soon as I finish getting breakfast cleaned up.”


Back in the kitchen, just out of earshot of the garage, Beverly cackled as she gleefully erased the longest-running experiment yet off her board – a whopping 16 weeks! She’d had her eye on some red suede cowgirl boots, and her initial projection was close enough to call it a win: behavior modified, problem solved!


Stealthily, she snuck the 3/16ths bit from her apron pocket and returned it to the garage before taking Dan his beers, then went to place her order. He’d be out like a light in no time, so she had all day to pursue her own interests. 


He was becoming the perfect man for her, after all.


January 01, 2023 01:39

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

88 comments

Rama Shaar
20:31 Jan 07, 2023

What an awesome premise! Scared of you now, Wendy🤣 I thoroughly enjoyed this very original and slightly terrifying story!

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
20:37 Jan 07, 2023

lol :) I am Evil Lite... like the Diet Coke of evil, honest. :) Beverly, though... I wouldn't wanna encounter her in a dark alley with a clipboard! *grin* Thanks very much for reading and the cute comment. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Simsim Rose
02:57 Jan 10, 2023

VEry clever! I really enjoyed the comedy in this story.

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
03:08 Jan 10, 2023

Thanks so much! :) Appreciate you taking the time to read and comment!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Susan Catucci
00:57 Jan 10, 2023

Hah, no wonder I like you! I sensed you were a visionary! And toss in the closet bitch and we're a match! (Not to gloat) What a delight this was, in a guilty sort of not really kind but satisfying in a come on, time to own it kind of way. Just don't tell your husband because he may not sleep tonight.

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
01:35 Jan 10, 2023

LOL :) And don't worry, he knows... some of these experiments were accidents at one point, and the ones that weren't, he swears I probably would! :) Poor guy apparently already sleeps with one eye open... :P. Thank you for the cute review! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Douglas W. Carr
20:26 Jan 09, 2023

Yikes.

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
04:55 Jan 10, 2023

You make an excellent point! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Graham Kinross
22:52 Jan 08, 2023

“she still hadn’t given up the vision,” for this I blame Disney, promoting the idea that there’s a rich, handsome, kind, intelligent prince for every woman and that there’s such a thing as a happily ever after, and not a life of hard work, compromise and sacrifice. “the perfect man did not exist organically,” not with that attitude! “His biggest complaint with her was the enormous collection of shoes which she possessed,” psychological experimentation on her husband and she lives by the Imelda Marcos means of shoe collection? She must be s...

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
22:58 Jan 08, 2023

LOL Not SO terrible, but I'm not sure that it would pass the censors... :) I wanted to come up with the most bizarre relationship, a super passive-aggressive one to mock the 50s housewife who still does everything but resents it on the sly. Like you said, "hilarious and yet she could have just told him to DIY!" and "modifying his behaviour for 17 years but she still cleans up breakfast?" hehe :) Like I said, super passive-aggressive because they are just locked into this dynamic and now it's inertial. At least she gets some shoes out of it,...

Reply

Graham Kinross
22:59 Jan 08, 2023

He probably thinks he’s a lucky guy when he listens to friend’s complaints that their wives tell them off all the time and he thinks “not mine.”

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
23:03 Jan 08, 2023

Cackle. :)

Reply

Graham Kinross
23:34 Jan 08, 2023

Have you ever engaged in behaviour modification experiments with partners? It’s tempting.

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
02:44 Jan 09, 2023

I'm going all 5th Amendment on you... no self-incrimination! :)

Reply

Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Raey Kubiak
13:36 Jan 08, 2023

This is evil! 😁😁😁 Parts of it reminded me of Frankenstein while others of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. On a second read and aside the cheeky and funny side, there is an underlying darker layer to the story as Beverly embodies our intentions on forcing things to suit our ego and expectations rather than allow them to complement our existence. Masterfully structured, well done! PS where could possibly Beverly had her board hidden so effectively, I wonder😁

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
17:55 Jan 08, 2023

I wonder...! :) Thank you so much, Raey, for the flattering review, and for taking the time to read and comment. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Marty B
08:15 Jan 08, 2023

To me Dan is the winner here, gets all his meals taken care of, plenty of time to hang out in his well organized garage (I wouldn't notice 3/16ths for a while!) and he has a happy wife with a serious scientific project and her required shoe allotment. Perfect wife for him!

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
17:56 Jan 08, 2023

Hey, I like the way you think, Marty! :) Thanks for the fun and different spin on this!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Stevie Burges
03:05 Jan 08, 2023

I loved it. I can think of many women who would benefit from the Beverly Meeks clinic. Set this up and you could be a very rich woman!! Great story.

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
03:19 Jan 08, 2023

hah :) Thanks, Stevie!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Zack Powell
18:49 Jan 07, 2023

As a rule to help me get better in these contests, whenever I buy a book these days, it's a short story collection. But if this were turned into a novel, I'd drop that rule instantly and devour this. Very funny premise for a story (short or otherwise). A wife using her husband as her own private lab rat? There's no shortage of hijinks you could get these characters into. This concept has a lot of potential, truly. So many ways you could take this. Thanks for sharing this one. Short but sweet. Love this idea here! P.S. My favorite line was:...

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
18:57 Jan 07, 2023

Thanks so much, Zack - I am tickled that you enjoyed it: you really made my day with your flattering and encouraging review! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Lily Finch
23:08 Jan 06, 2023

This is such a story. That is eerily true for some partners feeling that one is asked too much by the other. What is a riot is that she bets against herself - ultimately, Dan gets the brunt - and fills her closet with shoes. Poor Dan. Unsuspecting Dan. Humour, Science, Shoes. Psychology. All the ingredients for a great story. Well done. LF6

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
23:11 Jan 06, 2023

Thanks, Lily! :)

Reply

Lily Finch
23:34 Jan 06, 2023

You did such a good job! LF6

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Helen A Smith
15:49 Jan 05, 2023

The title itself is funny. Poor Dan! Has he the faintest inkling? He wasn’t going to stand a chance with those chalkboards!! Unusual interpretation of a prompt. Funny and witty and ever so slightly wicked. Just couldn’t help wondering what Bev might do if she get bored with her project. Or is it a lifelong one?

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
15:56 Jan 05, 2023

Well, have you ever heard of a she-shed? It's like a man cave but for women? Bev has a shoe-shed. It's only half-full. I think there's more to come. :) Thank you so much for reading and for taking the time to review, Helen! :)

Reply

Helen A Smith
16:12 Jan 05, 2023

A she-shed sounds like a plan!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Amanda Lieser
15:03 Jan 05, 2023

Hi Wendy! Oh my gosh! This was such an interesting take on the prompt. I loved the way that you wrote these characters-particularly the introduction of the shoes! I thought you did a superb job with the humor of this piece. It simply sang-behind every great man is a better woman. Nice job on this one!

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
15:04 Jan 05, 2023

lol! :) Love your quote - thank you, Amanda, for reading and for the encouraging review! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Laurel Hanson
14:41 Jan 05, 2023

Great satire. Great title. Perfect name for this lady.

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
14:50 Jan 05, 2023

Thank you, Laurel! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Rebecca Miles
06:44 Jan 05, 2023

I second Michal! Having a Wendy morning, just came from your holidays one, and this is one part funny, one part terrifying. I could picture this kitchen and her control pad chalkboard so well. Jeeps the more I think of Beverly with her laxative laced donuts I almost get the shivers but the laughs will stay with me!

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
12:33 Jan 05, 2023

haha Thank you for the delightful review! She scares me a little, too! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Michał Przywara
21:46 Jan 04, 2023

Hahaha! Hilarious and terrifying :) I think I could spend all day reading her experiments. I love the idea of her "clandestine, single-client cottage industry". For science - for shoes. Her reaction to the new heels was priceless too. It's definitely a little dangerous ordering stuff when you're a little too jolly :) Storywise it's also excellent, because it adds some stress for Bev, and shows she's not as in control as she might want to be. This gives her room to fail, for conflict. All in all, it's like… functional dysfunction. The m...

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
21:53 Jan 04, 2023

Haha so glad you enjoyed it - thank you! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Russell Mickler
02:55 Jan 04, 2023

Karma's a bitch, Beverly. Wait until she realizes her universe is a simulation in Wendy's mind. Thesis: WTF?! Hypothesis: There is no God! Proof: Beverly Meeks Research Facility Part II: Dan Was a Clone. :) R

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
03:03 Jan 04, 2023

LOL! Oh man, Russell, you nailed the absurd like you were born to it. Cat and I giving a genuine round of applause/appreciation (his just looks like laying there, but it's definitely p'awe!).

Reply

Russell Mickler
04:14 Jan 04, 2023

Grin - I really want to know how quickly you're able to pump your work out. I mean, I feel I'm pretty fast but I swear, you've posted your work in less than 24 hours ... cheers to the kitty cat! Oh, do you have a link to your own author's page/website/landing page kind of thing? R

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
04:21 Jan 04, 2023

Sure! All my work is at Reedsy.com - lol seriously. Well, my profile has a link to a 3rd place on another contest, but that is all there is. About 12 years ago, I used to have a blog, but it wasn’t short stories like here. It was just stuff like recipes and what have you… and that’s long gone.

Reply

Russell Mickler
04:32 Jan 04, 2023

Rock on ... well, own your brand! I even see WendyKaminski.com is available :) Do good work, link back to it on Reedsy to pull people here, and push people out to other projects and platforms. That's what publishers wanna see, if that's your end goal. But even still, it's _Wendy's_ work. Reedsy's just renting it, using it for their own traffic :) R

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
04:43 Jan 04, 2023

Well, that is cool! Thank you very much for all the tips!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Wendy Kaminski
23:02 Jan 05, 2023

I got ToastedWry.com :)

Reply

Show 1 reply
Show 2 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Delbert Griffith
22:23 Jan 03, 2023

Every marriage has behavior modification techniques that each partner employs. My wife, after about 5 years of marriage, would make coffee in our drip coffeemaker. She would put 25% caffeinated coffee and the rest decaffeinated. I knew this but she didn't know that I knew. Because she was such a lovely woman, I never let on. Also: happy wife, happy life. All of that is a preface to me saying this: this was fucking incredible satire, Wendy. Everything about this story was either hilarious or biting - or both. Laxatives and wrecked cars guara...

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
23:34 Jan 03, 2023

Almost certainly more to come - she's part of a larger world and lives next door to Tarot lady. :) Thank you so much, as always, for your kind and encouraging (and thrilling! I love when you fucking love something! That is top marks, to me! ;) words! You know, I had no idea this was what satire was. I may have found that niche. (Or I just enjoy torturing characters...? Really hard to tell, but I had fun!) PS - That story about your wife and the coffee, and you letting it slide, was about the best romance I have read in a while. :)

Reply

Delbert Griffith
23:47 Jan 03, 2023

LOL Thanks for attributing some romance to my soul. I appreciate it, Wendy. I rarely 'fucking' love a story, but this one, and the Tarot card reader, deserve it. Two of the best characters ever! I really need more from both of them. You have some genius writing there, Wendy.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
BRUCE MARTIN
01:32 Jan 03, 2023

Another great story! I laughed out loud!

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
01:39 Jan 03, 2023

Thank you so much, Bruce! I am so tickled that you enjoyed it! :) You never know when putting things up, if people might think it's good, or if they might think that you really should be committed. Glad it was the former. ;)

Reply

BRUCE MARTIN
04:48 Jan 03, 2023

You can't go wrong using laxatives in a story. It's more or less guaranteed to get a chuckle.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Mary Lehnert
20:08 Jan 02, 2023

Oh you naughty girl, Wendy. So sneaky and so, so witty. Another winner, for sure.

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
20:13 Jan 02, 2023

I gave away our shoes secret. May the sisterhood forgive me!!! :) Thank you, Mary, and I just got goosebumps when I saw there's another Schweissfuss!!

Reply

Mary Lehnert
20:15 Jan 02, 2023

Always think my stories are OK until I read yours. Love that sisterhood though.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Martin Ross
08:09 Jan 02, 2023

I’d love to see an anthology of your dark comedies — “Beverly Meeks” and “The Chimperer” alone make a spritefully macabre duology on gender relations and male lunkheadedness. Great use of the theme, and I could almost feel the rusty wheels trying to turn in Dan’s head, Thesis:Molten Spoon was my favorite — Sue keeps reheating my coffee if I leave it around anywhere, and it sometimes takes me by surprise. Now I wonder if she wants me off caffeine. By the way, we won’t be coming by for coffee and pastries next weekend.

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
16:29 Jan 02, 2023

... does she happen to have a lot of shoes? *grin* Thank you so much for the encouragement as always, Martin! I'm finally getting this corner of an insane world built: Dan is the same Dan from Madvent, and these two are the closest next-door neighbors of "Atwitter" bird lady, whom I also envision as Tarot lady. :) (There's another neighbor in Atwitter, Frank, who's a further-away one.) So yes, there'll be more from this group lol.

Reply

Martin Ross
18:12 Jan 02, 2023

OMG! That’s brilliant! I love the concept of a multi-tonal, multi-faceted universe, from Kilgore Trout popping in and out of Vonnegut’s novels to Bret Easton Ellis’ Patrick Bateman friends and family plan and, more in my favorite genre, Robert B. Parker’s Spenser/Jesse Stone/Sunny Randall Bostonverse. I’m going to pour through each of the (?) Dan/Atwitterverse stories. Again, a brilliant theme/structure for a future collection! Wow!

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
18:17 Jan 02, 2023

Lol Thank you! :) You have to read Madvent as Dan taking out Beverly’s hijinx on the rest of the world :).

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Martin Ross
18:15 Jan 02, 2023

Have you diagrammed the neighborhood? The visualization alone might suggest other potential stories. You could go to Hobby Lobby and make a vision board!! ;)

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
18:20 Jan 02, 2023

I have! Frank . . Tarot.. Bev/Dan..Chuck/Sandy —————> town that way and It has grocery (w/ Redbox) and hdwe/feed store So far LOL on vision board!

Reply

Martin Ross
18:38 Jan 02, 2023

I’ve got a whole $&@%load of tulle in my garage for an edgier Rose Parade float the RP stiffs rejected.

Reply

Wendy Kaminski
18:47 Jan 02, 2023

lol :) I was going to do a story with someone literally nailing things to a vision board, like asparagus. But I really want to use this one which I already had and just had to make a few adjustments to make it work. :-) Too bad we can only do one per prompt!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 2 replies
Wendy Kaminski
16:46 Jan 02, 2023

PS You sure, on the pastries and coffee? Sue sounds like she makes a mean cuppa joe! :)

Reply

Martin Ross
18:17 Jan 02, 2023

She slaps in a pod, sets it, then lets ‘er rip. And so it doesn’t sound sexist, I make lunch almost every day.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 2 replies