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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Don't Cut off Your Nose to Spite Your Face" (without using the actual phrase or litera (02/14/08)

TITLE: Live dog, Dead lion
By Gregory Kane


I just canít take any more. God help me, I have tried my best for eleven long years. Iíve turned the other cheek so many times, I feel like Tysonís been using me for warm-up practice. Not that sheís actually hit me of course. But her arsenal leaves bruises just as painful to the touch and scars that fester and never properly heal. The sneaky little innuendos, the constant comparisons with other peopleís marriages, the thinly veiled disappointments about holidays we canít afford.

Solomon expressed it just right: ďBetter to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.Ē Of course, were I to take that literally, Iíd probably be sent flying by the next strong gale. But I follow what Solomon was saying: when the wife gets too much, get moving.

So Iím out of here. Ainít nothing gonna stop me. Mind you, I would love to be a fly on the wall when they repossess her fancy car. I told her we couldnít afford the payments. I begged her but she wouldnít listen. She never has. Maybe when the bills start piling up and my Ďpaltryí salary is no longer keeping her in the manner to which sheís been accustomed - maybe then sheíll wish she had met me half-way.

Coughing slightly, the man reached for the decanter and poured himself another shot of whiskey. His fingers trembled as he read through the goodbye note. Then in a pique of rage, he scrunched it up and hurled it into the still glowing embers of the fire.

Hereís something else that Solomon wrote: ďA quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.Ē Boy did he understand women. Beats me why he never learned his lesson though. He moved from one dame to the next like he was sampling chocolates in a gift box.

I blame her mother. I should have seen the signs when she first took me home to meet my future in-laws: the backbiting, the petty grievances, the tittle-tattling. They say that a girl ends up like her mother, but I was too starry-eyed and love sick to see the obvious. Marry in haste, they say, repent at leisure. Tell me about it!

At first I kidded myself into thinking that it was all Godís way of teaching me some vital lesson. Maybe I would end up a better person or something. But Iíve come to realise that Godís just like a stand-up comedian whose audience has to bear the brunt of his bad jokes. Thatís why Iím taking myself off, going where she can never hurt me again. And if God doesnít approve, then thatís his problem.

The man picked up the familiar photograph. He stared longingly at the two angelic faces. Then, with a barely suppressed moan, he replaced the photograph, face down.

Iíll miss the boys of course. Theyíre my heart and soul. But that hasnít stopped her from trying to poison them, endlessly speaking ill of me, lacing every comment with bile, urging them to view their father in the worst possible light. I dunno, maybe Iíll see them again one day. Only God knows what lies round the next corner and he ainít saying.

Iíll miss the old house too. Itís been in my family for four generations and the dust is thick with nostalgia. But it too has been tainted, defiled by loathsome memories of impotence and affront. At one point I even toyed with the idea of burning the house down. But why should anyone else have to pay for my failure to be a man?

I hope she suffers. I hope it hurts being abandoned. I hope she ends her days lonely, bitter and shrivelled. That would be sweet justice.

The man slowly opened the drawer and removed the revolver. Cocking the hammer with his thumb, he held the barrel to his temple. Unbidden, another word of Solomonís sprang to mind: ďAnyone who is among the living has hope - even a live dog is better off than a dead lion.Ē The verse made him hesitate: was his life really not worth living?

IÖ I donít know. She deserves to suffer just like she made me suffer.
But I loved her once. A part of me still does. Dear God, what should I do?

Proverbs 25:24; 27:15-16 Ecclesiastes 9:4 NIV

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Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/21/08
What a dilemma your mc has. Still, I'd like to hear his wife's side of the story. Your piece hit the topic well.
Patty Wysong02/22/08
The POV and voice are engaging, even though the topic is serious. You brought out some VERY good points here and I like how you wove Scripture in.
Betty Castleberry02/23/08
Ooookay...what *did* he do? I gotta know. Creative take on the topic, and well-written.
Glynis Becker02/24/08
I think this really begs to have the rest of his story written. I like how the thoughts and actions are woven together. Beautiful.
LauraLee Shaw02/24/08
I think I like this ending better with the not knowing. The way your mc was going, drowning himself in the bottle, the sequel would be short. Packed with emotion and probably a pretty authentic thought process, you did a good job writing this on topic.
Sally Hanan02/24/08
You have many good thoughts in your MC's processing role and succeeded in highlighting his own faults at the same time. Unfortunately, he has loser written all over him, which makes me not want to see him get back with his ex. I think one is supposed to help the reader root for the MC.
Pam Carlson-Hetland02/25/08
Eye-catching title and I liked how you brought that out in the ending scripture. This is a piece I've pondered over how to comment on. It is extremely well written. The reader is drawn into the thought process. However, as noted by other comments, the women out there are saying "there are 2 sides to every story" as men would be saying if it had been a female MC. Since this is short fiction, I rather like how you worked out a questionable yet hopeful ending that lets the reader try to figure it out. As far as being on topic, I had to think about that. Contemplating suicide is certainly the ultimate and irrevocable "cutting off one's nose...." All in all, a very enjoyable and intriguing piece.