Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Bitter and Sweet (05/28/09)
TITLE: Anger a la Commode
By Bryan Ridenour
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“Where are you headed?” demanded his wife.
“I’m goin’ to the garden,” he snapped, stomping out the door.
“This chili’s cooked and ready to eat! The cake…”
“It’s too hot for chili!” he called over his shoulder. “I shouldn’t have to eat somethin’ fiery hot on a day the sun’s lookin’ for shade.”
“You ought t’ be grateful,” she called after him.
He thought his wife was the meanest-looking woman he ever laid eyes on, the way she put her hands on her hips, scowling at him like he was a child with his hand stuck in the cookie jar. She used to be sweet and carefree…a joy to be around and as beautiful as any county fair pageant winner. She had all her teeth, for goodness sake! But since the accident, he’d rather gulp week old coffee than converse with his wife.
He let the screen door slam behind him and scurried to the garden not wanting to hear his wife’s complaining. For all he cared, she could yell at him until she was blue in the face; he was going out to his little plot, pull weeds and watch his tomatoes ripen. The accident really wasn’t my fault, he thought, yanking Stinging Nettle and Giant Foxtail from the furrows.
“You do care though, right?” a voice questioned.
Clarence jumped, startled by a voice…coming from…a dog?
“The heat’s fryin’ my sensibilities,” said Clarence, mopping perspiration from his brow.
“It’s not that hot,” the dog growled.
“Are you talking?” Clarence asked the dog, wide-eyed. He staggered into a patch of shade and collapsed at the surprising development. The dog plopped down beside him, revealing a toothy grin.
“Yes,” the dog responded, tail wagging furiously.
“You ever heard of Balaam’s donkey in the Bible?”
“That’s how,” the dog informed. “I’ve been sent.”
“By the Johnson’s?” Clarence asked shocked, recognizing the neighborhood dog.
“No…sent,” the dog answered, glancing heavenward. “God sent me under your fence with a message.”
Clarence ripped the hat from his head and stared in awe. “God sent you…here?”
“Yes, I’ve been sent to give a message. The message is ‘apologize’.”
“Apologize? Apologize for what?”
“If you want your sweet Beulah back, apologize.”
“But I didn’t do it on purpose. Good grief, that was three months ago. I…”
“Apologize…that’s the message,” the dog ordered, scratching.
“Look, I hadn’t left that toilet seat up in years. It looks like she could cut me some slack instead of being so darn bitter about it.”
“You’ll have to admit the whole thing was quite humiliating.”
“Well…I guess but…”
“But, nothing. Clarence, how would you feel if you got stuck inside the toilet rim and emergency responders had to pull you out?”
“And then, how would you like it if someone put a crack about it in your article for the whole town to read?”
Clarence guffawed and slapped his knee. “Crack…now that’s a good one!”
“I wasn’t trying to be funny.”
“Oh,” Clarence responded somberly.
“Now, get in there and apologize. Your wife is sweet under that bitterness. She’s like a flower and you’re the bee. You’ve got to draw out the nectar. She really loves you…apologize.” The Johnson dog trotted off yapping and chasing squirrels.
Clarence pushed to his feet and brushed himself off. “Well, I guess an apology won’t hurt anything,” he huffed, dust flying from his jeans.
Clarence slipped into the kitchen and slid next to Beulah, putting an arm around her waist. “Honey, I’m sorry about the…uh…well, you know. And I’ll do my best to not let it happen again.”
“Oh, Clarence,” she cried, hugging his neck. “That’s all I wanted…an apology. I’m sorry too, I’ve been…”
“Sh,” Clarence motioned with a finger to his lips. “Let’s eat. That cake sure smells good.”
She smiled. “Even though I was mad, I couldn’t forget your birthday.”
“Birthday?” he chuckled, looking at the calendar. “Come here sweetheart…sit,” he invited, patting his lap.
“So, Clarence what were you doing out in the garden?”
“Oh, not much dear. Just enjoyin’ the dog days of summer.”
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