Not Everyone’s Swig of Tequila
Just a little something I cooked up over dinner one night. But be warned – if you don’t like blood and guts at the dinner table, you should, perhaps, skip this one.
It’s funny isn’t it, how many thoughts we have but never act on? The urge to drive into a tree on the way to work. To drop your phone in the bath. To see if you can fly. To consider shoving the knife you’re slicing carrots with into your other half’s gut –just to see.
And it’s not like he’s doing anything wrong. He’s asked about your day, told you about his, made you a fresh cup of coffee, and cleaned up after the cat. He even offered to go see to that doorbell at your mothers that never works right. He’s just so sweet and nice. Helpful. Loyal. Irritating.
Once upon a time, when I was a naive unmarried girl, I would have told you that no man could be too nice. I’d have said that, for all the bad boys I fancied, what I wanted was a man who knew how to care for me. Someone really, really nice.
Hell his mother is even nice, and his dad practically a saint.
I listen as he continues to tell me all the little things that happened today, all the nice people he helped. How nice his dinner was. The nice conversation he had with his boss over coffee about holiday destinations. Apparently Spain is nice this time of year.
I wonder, as he talks, whether the cat finds his niceness irritating too. I suspect she has thoughts about the benefit of his niceness –but then she’s not married to him.
My mother will be pleased to see him, in his nicely ironed shirt and button down cardigan. Probably one she knitted him. She’ll get him a nice cup of tea and a plate of lovely sandwiches.
I run out of carrots and pause, knife raised, then select a stalk of celery.
Smiling to myself, I hum a little tune. He tells me it’s nice, I smile. I’m thinking about the cartoon with the rabbit in the cooking pot chopping his own carrots. I haven’t decided what meat should go in yet.
He starts pottering around the kitchen, staying out of my way, tidying the things I’ve used. Trying to be helpful and yet…
The celery and carrots go in the pot with a couple of onions I chopped earlier. With a glance at his rounding belly, probably too much fat for a good meal, I brown a tray of hearts in the frying pan. A touch of butter with the oil.
Apparently it smells really, really, nice.
He takes the dishes from the cupboard and begins to set the table. Finally out of the way.
I stare into the pan, remembering the dicing earlier, the way the blood clings to the fingers. There’s just something about its colour when it’s fresh. Something that makes you want to just drink it. But it goes into the stock instead.
I add the heart to the pot and leave the whole thing to cook whilst I go get changed. I leave him reading the paper in the living room. He hasn’t got changed out of his work clothes yet and company is coming. Don’t you just hate the way they leave everything to the last minute? You know it takes them longer than ten minutes to get ready but they never seem to.
By the time I’d returned in my nicest dress, he’d selected two nice bottles of wine from the rack. Handing me a glass he confirms that this is a nice dress then goes to get changed himself, finally.
I’m surprised when he comes back down in jeans and an older shirt. They’re nice but they’re not new nice. I frown briefly but then realize I don’t’ care that much.
I don’t have time to say anything in any case, the doorbell rings and he goes to greet the guests. The appropriate amount of fooling around occurs before he shows them in and gets them a drink. Marsha from across the road and her husband Giles. We have dinner with them almost every week, either them at ours or us at theirs. It’s a nice ritual I’d quite like to get out of.
They’re a weird couple. Practically perfect in every way. No children, yet, they’ve been trying but it hasn’t happened for them. Two cars. Four bedrooms. A pool. Study. Massive flat screen. Perfect lawns. Careers that –whilst not being astonishing- provide them with everything they need.
Even their clothing has that practically perfect air to it. As if every last item lived in freshly vacuum sealed packs until needed. And you know the perfection goes all the way to the undies.
There’s no trace of an accent of any kind, unless you count University as an accent. They take two perfect holidays a year. Regularly take short breaks at weekends. And their perfect Christmas lights make it look like Disney took tips from them.
I’ve always suspected they have a sound proof room for their blazing rows –I mean it must happen mustn’t it?
We sit around the table and I start with the entrées. More wine is poured, conversation ensues. As per usual it’s about a program I don’t watch and so I simply smile and pop another stuffed mushroom in my mouth. I hate mushrooms.
There’s laughter and joking, secret telling, a little nudge, nudge, wink, wink, guess what we saw the neighbours at number 28 doing. All the usual stuff that happens at a weekly dinner party. I often wonder how there is anything left to talk about. And suspect that’s why after dinner a nice card game played perfectly occurs.
On to the stew. Served in my nicest, single person, casserole dishes.
As I place the empty bottle on the draining board I wonder. If I smash it against the edge and jab it into Marsha’s face will Giles do anything to stop me.
Smiling brightly I take the desert through to the dining room. Re-joining the conversation I don’t want to be having. There are oohs and ah’s over the chocolate mousse I didn’t make. They think it’s so nice!
I want to jab my spoon into Giles eyeball and prize it out. That one on the left that always seems to be looking the wrong way. I wonder if he finds it an irritating imperfection. I wonder if he stares at it in the mirror wondering what he can do about it. I laugh and apologize. I wasn’t staring at him, only wondering how he managed to get his teeth so perfectly white.
I begin clearing up as my nice husband opens another nice bottle of nice wine. For a moment there I thought his smile looked less than nice, perhaps the cork was giving him difficulty. I smile at the thought of it coming out with a suddenness that causes him to punch himself in the nose. Then sidle into the kitchen for a quick shot of tequila.
Everybody is ready for a nice game of cards played perfectly. So perfectly in fact that you could hardly even call it gambling. And with the regularity of perfect neighbours they win each hand. We laugh a little. And then out of the blue we win a hand. I’m almost as surprised as they are and it definitely breaks up the evening a little. But it doesn’t last.
I catch my nice hubby taking a long suck from the tequila bottle when he said he was going to get more wine. I gesture for it and take a pull. He gives me an apologetic smile as I put the bottle back in the cupboard.
The game changes when we go back in and it’s a new one. Giles patiently explains the rules –twice. Marsha deals and we look at our cards.
This could be the worst hand all night, only I have no idea how to play. I was too busy wondering how deep a cut a card could make.
We lose the first hand, but Marsha and Giles are perfectly gracious about it. And say it was a practice run. They don’t take the pot this time.
We lose the next three hands before my nice hubby insists the wine is going straight through him. And nips to the downstairs loo. I make my own excuses and go for another slug of tequila then bring out a bowl of nibbles.
I’m laughing at something Giles said but don’t get the joke. When my nice hubby returns wielding a large, nice, kitchen knife. My best one actually. Freshly sharpened earlier today. I raise my eyebrows in the time it takes him to step behind Marsha and slide the blade perfectly across her throat.
Blood spurts forth from the gash into my now gaping mouth.
“Henry!” I admonish through the blood. It’s going all over my best tablecloth, and carpet, and filling the bowl of nibbles. It’s not going to be easy to clean.
“What on earth…” Giles splutters, blood clouding his eyes. As Henry, my nice husband, perfectly performs his second incision of the evening.
A spray of blood fountains out to join the perfect mess his wife has made.
My nicest dress is ruined. But Henry’s outfit was not the nicest one he owned. I can’t help feeling miffed that he didn’t warn me.
I realize I haven’t moved a muscle. My hands still grasp the edge of the table as Giles’ head lolls dangerously close to my left hand. Marsha slides from her chair and bleeds perfectly on the carpet. Although it’s fair to say the flow has decreased in intensity a little. The cat chooses that moment to slide in through the cat flap. Hop up onto the table and begin licking the side of Giles’ face.
“Sorry darling, Marsha was cheating. I can’t stand cheaters.” Henry says wiping the knife on his sweater.
“Well this is just perfect isn’t it!?!” I say taking in the mess. “You’re bathing the cat!”
P.S. Let me know what you thought or share your own scary stories (links) in the comments
P.P.S Have you seen these Domestic Bliss pictures from Susan Copich?