Floral print on the beds of a hotel always triggered Barbara’s obsessive-compulsive disorder that she swore she didn’t have. She ripped the covers back and sprayed the last bit of the disinfectant Marty forgot to bring in the first time.
“You know that doesn’t kill a thing,” Marty said.
“Well, that’s really unfortunate,” said Barbara.
Marty plopped down on his bed and bits of dust flew up, which sent Barbara into a panic.
“I told you about booking these hotels with floral print on the beds!”
“Did you tell me about it? I can’t seem to remember. Which nag was it?” asked Marty.
The old air conditioner interrupted Barbara just before she ripped Marty a new one. Marty got a kick out of his wife’s attitude as he got up to hug her. She shakes the disinfectant and sprayed what was left of it towards him.
“You’re sure it doesn’t kill a thing?” she asked.
“I swear, I try to do something nice for you and you complain the whole time. You’re never satisfied,” said Marty.
“I would be satisfied if I wasn’t an after-thought.”
Marty turned away as he fanned the remaining disinfectant spray that lingered right in front of his bright red face.
“Alls I’m saying is… you treat your fishing rod better than you treat me,” Barbara said.
Marty had not responded, and Barbara was distracted by the dust on lamp to notice that his breath had been taken away by the disinfectant spray. He gasped for air and she thought he had ignored her, but after she turned around, she knew better.
“Marty stop playing.”
Marty fell back on the bed. Dust flew up again, but Barbara didn’t mind it, because Marty was more important. She patted him on the back and suddenly he starts to cough and in between coughs, “You weren’t an after-thought!”
“You almost died before your time and the first thing you say is an argument. You are unbelievable,” said Barbara.
“I will go to my grave defending myself. Especially against an old nag like you.”
“An old nag? Old! I beg your pardon. Oh, you’re going to go to your grave alright—" said Barbara.
Marty barely caught his breath seconds before he patted his pocket to find his cigarette box.
“And I know you don’t think you’re smoking in here! It already smells like wet socks and sandcastles.”
“I’m out. Lend me a smoke, will ya?” asked Marty.
“You almost messed up my plans with all of your choking.” Barbara snagged her basket woven purse on the seashell desk as she opened it to find a special box of cigarettes.
“I’m sure it’s not quite how you’d like me to go. You probably want to smother me in my peaceful sleep.”
“For 36 years I’ve had the opportunity to smother you in your sleep. Why would I wait to do it in a cheap motel with floral prints? I have more character than that. I’d at least go out with a bang,” she said.
Marty snatched the cigarette from her hand and lit it. It burned quicker than usual, and it started to ash on the ground. The sand filled carpet smoked a little as Marty stepped on the ash.
“You would do something cleverer. You might be a stupid bitch at times, but you are a smart one most of the time.”
“And you are disrespectful. Always have been and I’m sure you always would’ve been had you lived past today.”
A bright-eyed Marty dropped the cigarette he planned on finishing and then his knees followed suit. They hit the floor and smushed the rest of the cigarette into the carpet. Marty grabbed onto his throat as his airways closed.
“Sulfur dioxide. I soaked those in sulfur dioxide for a week. Honestly, I forgot about them. Nevertheless, you have worked my last nerve and I decided that I’m tired of it.”
Marty begged Barbara with a weak tug on her leg as she stood over him.
“Don’t worry. I’m grateful for this little trip to celebrate you selling the business. I figured the least you could do in your death is take care of me. After all, you caused this heart attack, with your poor eating habits over the last few years. You would be happy to know I won’t expose your three mistresses and I’ll even let them come to your funeral. Excuse me, your mistresses and the, now, bastard children, that is. I loved you with my entire being, so much so that I had to create a new me. So, I say ‘Hello’ and ‘Goodbye’ Marty.”
Marty’s grip on Barbara’s leg released and she gave him one last once over before--
“Help me! Help! I think my husband is having a heart attack!” She yelled into the telephone and moments later the entire motel staff poured into the unlocked door.
“Call 911,” said the concierge as she checked the nonexistent pulse on Marty’s wrist.
“I don’t believe he is breathing,” the bell boy said.
“Oh Marty!” she said, “What will I ever do without you?”
Barbara fell to her knees, reminiscent of Marty’s final movements. She buried her face into his lifeless chest, hiding a smile.
She was finally free.