Don Conklin sprawled out on the couch with a blanket over him watch the morning news before his wife entered with his cup of coffee. He thanked her for bringing it to him as she sat across from him in the recliner, donning her fuzzy pink housecoat. The report on the television detailed the search for a serial killer who still reigned over surrounding states. He shook his head and turned to his wife after sipping from his steaming hot cup.
His features told the story of his painful existence. Wrinkles filled his face from his eyes to his chin; he had been through hell and back two times over. His blue eyes were studying the newscaster; it was obvious to him that Mr. Zimmerman was reading from a teleprompter. As he spilled the details about the latest gruesome murder to occur in Yonkers, Don picked up on his condescending attitude about the situation. After entering a period of deep thought, he finally spoke.
“What is wrong with the world today? Things didn’t use to be this way.”
Reaching for her pack of cigarettes that rested on the table to the left of her, she disagreed with his sentiment. “Don’t be so nostalgic. You make it seem like we weren’t afraid for our lives when we were growing up. How quickly we forget the past, huh? Do you not remember changing plans on our first date because the Night Stalker was still on the loose?”
“He doesn’t deserve to be remembered and neither does this guy.”
With her typical snarky attitude, she quipped back, “now who ever said this killer is a man?” She flipped the pack open and fingered a cigarette from the pack, placing it to her lips before sparking it.
“You know, I’m growing tired of that shit.”
“What shit? We’ve been married for twenty three years next week and you still complain over my attitude. Get over it, Don.”
Tossing the blanket off of him, he sat up on the couch with his hands covering his kneecaps below the blue sweatpants he awoke in; he shot over a look of disgust before continuing the verbal battle. “You know what I mean, it’s the smoking. Don’t you have any respect for me?”
She was appalled at his sentiment and ended the stick in a glass ashtray before taking a seat next to him. Before asking how he could ever feel that way, she remembered the promises that she’d made in the past while he laid in a hospital bed, fighting for his life.
He chastised her again, “not only are you killing yourself, but you’re killing me, too. Not to mention the money you waste on the fucking things. Ten dollars a pack, are you insane?” After taking a deep breath, he rested his head on her shoulder and apologized, attributing this episode to stress and his fear of death.
She shifted her eye sight towards him but was cut off before she could mouth the words that she intended to. “Now I know what you’re gonna say, Andrea. You’re gonna go on and tell me that it’s no big deal, and that you’re obligated as my wife. . . but the fact of the matter is, no you’re not obligated to this. I know plenty of women that would have up and left in this very same situation, so spare me the bullshit.”
Andrea kissed his check and laid back on the couch with him following suit. Once wrapping an arm around the back of his neck, she told him that she loved him.
“You changed my life, Donald Conklin. I tell you this as much as I can, but I don’t think you’d ever really understand what you mean to me.” Don smiled and looked her in the eyes, reaffirming his feelings for her.
“I knew I made the right choice when I took your hand. I couldn’t do better if I had the world by the balls.”
They shared a laugh together, she patted him on the chest as she stood up and began her morning routine of cleaning up from the night before. As the newscast took a commercial break, she heard him chuckle at the ad for a local law firm.
If you’ve been injured seriously
Don’t bother searching curiously
We fight for your rights, furiously
Just take a look in the mirror and see
Call the firm that has your back
Gwendolyn, Hofstra and Mac
She knew her husband was on borrowed time. She peered from the kitchen and noticed the smile on his face. This could go on no longer. Andrea unfolded yesterdays paper and circled and article before grabbing a skillet from the pantry.
"Do you want some breakfast?"