DINNER FOR THREE by Jake Nantz

I kept my eyes forward, focused on the patient records. I had no interest in talking to Marcie today. I just didn't think I could conceal it, not today.

"Jane, you okay?" she asked. Well, that's a philosophical question for all time, but I ignored it. She took my silence for something it wasn't, clucked her tongue.

"Yeah, I'm a little on edge too," she continued. "Ever since that blood went missing, everyone's been a little tense."

I didn't want to be obvious, so I nodded. Maybe she'd take the hint.

"I mean, who steals HIV-positive blood?" Nope, missed it completely. "What a weird mistake to make."

I nodded again. If she didn't get it at this point, I was just going to have to make small talk.

Her voice flat, she said, "It's just creepy. Let's talk about something else Janie. Got any plans for the weekend, you and Rick?"

I let a sigh out slowly. No getting around it, she was in chit-chat mode. I took a breath, turned to her. "Actually, I think I'm finally going to do it."

"Do what?"

"I've decided I'm going to leave Rick."

"REALLY?" A little too excited. She recovered quickly. "Er, I thought things had gotten better between you two."

That's because he doesn't want to work for a living, so he decided to fake it to keep me around. I didn't say that. Instead I replied, "We were for a while, but now it's back to the same old Rick."

Her eyes darkened. She shook her head. "Yeah, I guess it's definitely time to go then." I didn't look, but I felt sure she cast me a furtive glance. "Are you worried he'll be upset?"

I smiled. "He won't even get off the couch to get himself another beer. What's he going to do to me?"

She shrugged. "I don't know, I was just asking." I caught a whiff of sullenness, gone just as quickly. "How are you going to do it?"

"I'm already packed. I'm going to fix a celebratory dinner while he's out bowling this evening, then tell him when he's finished eating, and leave."

"You're leaving him the house?"

Was that hope I heard? Could she be any more obvious? "Yep. I'm moving back to my parents' house until I can find my own place. I just want out."

She nodded quietly. Then, "Is it really that bad?"

"He just doesn't do anything. It's like he never has any energy." I turned my face away from her to hide the grin. "I just don't know why he's so tired if he doesn't do anything all day while I'm working."

"Oh." A little worried, perhaps? "You don't think he's...?"

"Him? Nah, he wouldn't cheat on me. He's not the type."

She smiled, visibly relieved. "Okay, well my shift's almost up, I better get going. And hey," she added. "At least you're getting what you want, right?"

I nodded agreement. You have no idea, honey.

###

I heard the car pull into the driveway outside just as I finished setting the table. After spending the afternoon with Marcie, he'd check for telltale signs before coming in. No doubt she told him what to expect. Moron would think he'd hit the lottery.

I set his wine glass down, added a few drops from the last vile. Between that, the "extra" au jus on the steak, and what I poured in the bisque, he didn't stand a chance.

I wondered how soon he'd infect Marcie. Probably later that same night. The door opened and I turned, smiling. "Hi honey."

---



Jake Nantz has been published or has stories forthcoming in Pulp Pusher, Spinetingler, and Mysterical-E.

8 comments:

Christopher Pimental said...

Hi, Honey, indeed.

Enjoyed the build-up to the "inevitable", and the narration was a smooth, fun read.

Jimmy Callaway said...

Had me right until the second-to-last paragraph, and then pow! Right in the kisser.

Man, this shit is fun, huh?

Julie said...

Loved it - nice job!

jnantz said...

Hey, thanks a lot guys! I'm really glad you liked it!

R.J. Mangahas said...

Hey, Jake, good stuff.

Josh Converse said...

Well, that's a just plain rotten thing to do to a guy. Nice job, Jake.

jnantz said...

RJ - Thanks, glad you enjoyed it!

Josh - Hey man, Hell hath no fury, right?

Paul Brazill said...

Loved that. Cracking twist!