Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Angry (08/02/07)
TITLE: Serving Time
By Linda Germain
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Nina Rose stopped drying the plate in her hand and walked closer to the room where the television blared like an insufferable politician with nothing to say. Her husband seemed to snore all the way down to his toes. Newspapers, crumpled and askew, bordered the dictator’s royal recliner. His muddy boots were kicked under the coffee table. Half-finished beer had turned over and dripped its stickiness on the hardwood floor.
“No,” she spoke softly to no one, “I guess you didn’t.”
After she put the kitchen in order, the newscast had rolled on to some kind of gossip program. She picked up the remote and punched the off button. Norton’s eyes flew open.
“Hey,” he hollered like a man attacked by wolves, “What’s the idea? I was watching that!”
“What were you watching, Norton?” She tried to speak with gentleness, but it was not an easy task.
“Bah,” he sneered as he stomped up to bed in his dirty sock feet.
Nina Rose was from the old school of women who loved an ironed pillowcase. There was just something about them, stacked so quietly in the linen closet, still fresh smelling and cool from the light lemon-scented spray starch, waiting to be slipped under a tired head. Norton didn’t care if his pillow had a cover or not. In fact, he wasn’t overly concerned with a sheet either.
By the time she had scrubbed the disgusting odor off the den floor, gathered the papers for recycling, brushed the dried mud from Norton’s work boots, folded a load of towels, and taken a quick shower, the news was on again.
She curled up on the end of the sofa to confirm what she thought had been said earlier. A serious looking man with wavy hair began a rerun of the six o’clock broadcast.
“ The no-anger law goes into effect tomorrow morning. “
Nina Rose had heard right. The mannequin looking fellow continued with the appropriate gravity in his voice and demeanor.
“The abuse from fighting, bullying, road rage, and even murder has finally found its long term solution. The Anger Police will incarcerate any citizen who displays animosity, peevishness, pouting, or tantrum throwing. The new Anger Tank is adjacent to the jail.”
This was the strangest town she had been forced to move to as Norton dragged her around the country chasing elusive money schemes. It was a ridiculous though well-intentioned attempt by the eccentric city council to put a band-aid on a thing that needed major surgery. A silly law designed to force people to act right could not control human behavior.
The eager young man who had begged her to marry him had aged into a nasty slob who treated his loyal wife like his personal slave. In the name of peace, she had swallowed enough anger over the years to choke a 400-pound gorilla.
Nina Rose was tired. She just might be sick too. The poor thing didn’t mean to fall asleep, but she was exhausted. A loud booming voice cut like sharp rusty metal through her foggy brain.
“What’s wrong with you, woman? Why’d you crash here? You crazy? Where’s my breakfast? How come my lunch ain’t packed? Git up!”
She opened her eyes and stared at the pitiful excuse for a man she had been foolish enough to marry. Before she could obey his commands, she felt a red hot bolt of pain as his dirty hand slapped her tender face. She ran to the kitchen for an ice pack. He was already upstairs in the bathroom exerting a limited effort at hygiene.
The battered woman leaned against the sink and watched the sun come up over the well-tended backyard she had mowed. She tried to sip water from a small glass but she couldn’t make it go down.
As she headed for the back door, she stopped in the laundry room to slip into fresh jeans and a shirt and retrieve her old purse. She did not look left or right. One step led to the next.
She arrived at the new facility and asked for the person in charge. The Anger Tank Captain would not need handcuffs but she surrendered both wrists to him anyway.
Nina Rose took a deep cleansing breath and slowly exhaled a silent confession. She hoped they ironed their pillowcases, but it didn’t really matter now.
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