More fighting. Always fighting. It is the only appropriate verb to describe what is obscurely known as the “Relationship.”
Fighting during the day, at night, before bed, often interrupting sleep. More fighting upon waking. Sometimes one is forced to wonder what else there is and usually one is hard-pressed to come up with anything else.
This night, for example, filled with fighting, an endless stream of hurtful epithets hurled back and forth, things no rational, sane person should ever say, nor ever expect to take back once tempers have cooled.
He is not a human being, thinks everything is a joke, has no genuine emotions. She is narrow-minded, superficial, arrogant.
Yet, is it is through this surface version of “Making Up” that the true sickness lies all the buried resentments and murderous intent shuffled to the side in favor of making the day an easier one to handle. Even this latest fight: A recurring one having to do with levels of commitment and building bridges to unknowable futures neither has any business or right discussing.
Marriage was the subject. Rather, the lack thereof, which carries over into bedtime as rigid body language and exaggerated sighing permeate the bedroom with overwhelming presence. An intentional lack of closeness tonight, body parts kept separate, quickly moved apart if any contact is made. Together but each alone with his and her thoughts.
Both silently wishing the other would do what they cannot, and bring a final, not-so-crushing finale to this farce.
Instead, she concerns herself with ridiculous ponderings concerning his lack of willingness to pop the question: Doesn’t he love me enough? Is there something wrong with me? Is there someone else he’d rather marry?
His thoughts, consumed by rage and hostility, are not so dissimilar to hers. But he thinks mostly of timing, and how things once set in motion can often not be stopped. And how, sometimes, we tend to wait too long and no amount of perfect planning can ever compensate.
Enough time has passed now that one of them, probably him, must follow the cue to apologize. From that point, hugging and possible lovemaking follow.
Tonight his mind is elsewhere, far enough away that such things don’t occur to him, though he wouldn’t choose to apologize even if it weren’t.
She sighs for the tenth time, bringing him back to this time and place. He sighs in return, conscious of his childish desire to not be undone. A floorboard creaks in the hallway. He quiets his breathing and listens, wonders if she heard it too. But she rolls over and faces him.
He is reminded of the last great argument they had, when she insisted on purchasing a handgun for the house. He gave in then, he does not plan to do so now.
“This obviously isn’t working out, Alex” she says.
He chuckles contemptuously. “Ya think?”
She does the same. “See? That’s exactly what I mean. You don’t give a damn about how I feel about anything!”
“What makes you say that?” he asks in that disinterested way he’s mastered since being with her.
She stares at him, her revulsion evident even in the pitch black.
“You inhuman son of a bitch…”
Just then the bedroom door flies open to reveal a man dressed in black, a revolver in his right hand. She screams the names of God and Jesus over and over, but neither deity responds.
“Shut up, godammit,” the intruder yells. “Both of you, outta the bed NOW!”
They comply, holding each other, getting on their knees next to the bed.
“Where’s the jewelry?” the intruder says.
Alex stammers something unintelligible, causing the intruder to literally kick his ass and send him flat to the floor.
“I won’t ask you again, man!”
“It’s on the dresser,” she screeches.
The intruder goes over and throws open the jewelry box, spilling its contents onto the dresser. She positions herself onto the bed, hands on her pillow as Alex gets back to his knees. He thanks God for the darkness so she cannot see his grin.
“OK, people, it’s been real,” the intruder says. “Hate to run, but I can’t stay.”
“Please, just go,” Alex says. “We won’t tell anyone what you look like.”
She gasps. The intruder bends down, gun trained on the back of Alex’s head. “What the hell did you just say?”
Between pants, Alex repeats his previous statement, fading a bit at the end as if hearing it for the first time.
“Well, looks like somebody just ordered a bullet to the back of his head,” the intruder says. “Ain’t that a shame?”
“No!” she screams, crying hysterically.
“Shut up!” the intruder screams. “Any last words, hero?”
Alex turns to her and opens his mouth. What happens next is a testament to the theory that time is not linear, but a series of pockets of individual experience culminating in what we’ve crudely labeled a “moment.” In reality, it is a fragment of collected occurrences.
Beginning the words, “Katherine, will you marry me.”
Not seeing her pull the handgun out from under her pillow.
The “intruder,” a friend from work named Jimmy who’s always down for a good joke, leaning forward.
The loud thunderclap of the handgun as a bullet exits its chamber and finds Jimmy’s third eye, forcing his head back into the wall as the room is sprayed by a red geyser.
And the moment concludes itself as Alex screams and tries wiping the blood, Jimmy’s blood, from his face. Katherine, confused, drops the gun as if it is a foreign infection to be purged. Alex explaining, through high-pitched, panic-stricken tones, what has just happened.
And the laughter, hysterical and filled with anguish, as the news is revealed. It is difficult if not impossible to pinpoint the one who laughs or even if it is just one of them.
For the demented irony is not lost on them as sanity slips away, replaced by the unifying thought that this is the most complete moment of their lives.