Casper Crumb looked at the cards in his hand, then glanced across the table at his petite wife Brigitte and trembled.
After forty years of marriage he knew her moods, but he had never learned to read her signals.
There was no mistaking this mood. Brigitte’s eyes had looked like steel ball bearings since the last rubber when she had indicated spades and Casper bid hearts.
“All you need to do is remember a few things,” Brigitte always said. “You can still remember things, can’t you?”
Of course he remembered things. He remembered how lovely she had been when they met, how delicate she had seemed, and how he had wanted to cherish and protect her.
Now he found himself terrified. God only knew what she would do if he screwed up again.
“Your bid, partner,” Brigitte said evenly.
His gaze remained fixed on his cards...
“Three clubs,” he mumbled.
“What?” Brigitte yelped.
He looked up and saw that her steely glare had turned to fire. “Three clubs! You’re bidding three clubs,” she hollered, her voice getting louder and shriller with each word. “Are you stupid? Can’t you remember anything? Don’t you ever listen?”
She leapt from her chair and threw her cards at him. The east and west players scrambled in fright. Everyone knew she had a temper but they had never seen her this angry.
“Three clubs?” she shrieked, tossing the card table aside. “Three clubs!” she screamed as she lunged for his throat. He tried to defend himself but she flew at him and his chair tipped over backwards.
She had him pinned. Casper tried to cry out as her tiny fingers clenched his neck but she had already cut off his air.
“I’ll give you three clubs,” she raged.
His face began to turn red, then blue as she spat venom into it. “You’re useless! You can’t do anything right. You never could. You couldn’t even cheat right. Don’t think I don’t know about that floozy you met at the bar that time. I knew all about it, you bastard. I would have thrown you out years ago if it weren’t for your pension, you useless piece of crap!”
Casper heard a ringing in his ears as everything began to turn black. But as his world grew darker his fear turned to acceptance. He knew he would find peace in the blackness...peace and a sense of welcoming. She would be waiting for him in that dark other world. The woman at the bar. Corinne. In the twenty years that had passed he had never forgotten her. Corinne was no floozy. She was everything he ever wanted. A delicate creature. He had so wanted to cherish and protect her. She would be waiting. He felt it. Then he heard a voice...
“Casper!” Brigitte said sharply. “It’s your bid.”
Casper looked up from his hand and winced. “Three clubs,” he said timidly.
Brigitte nodded. The game went on.
This story is an homage to the classic "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce. To read the original online click here.