AW Flash fiction — “On The Brink” — 4/11/10

Today was the day. Marvin had everything ready, had rehearsed his speech, felt the strength of his commitment urging him forward. So many times he thought he’d achieved this foothold only to lose his nerve and bow out. Not this time. No sir. He could feel every nerve ending, every red blood cell, every muscle and tendon, all synced up for a common offensive. He would do it this time.

“Marvin! Oh thank goodness. Finally someone not teetering on the brink of insanity like everyone else I’ve dealt with today. Come in, come in,” Marilyn said as she ushered him into her living room.

He gave her a brief kiss on her lips and followed her into her kitchen where she usually had something warm and delicious waiting for him with a beverage to chase it down. But not today.

“Sorry, no snacks. I didn’t have time. No beer or wine either.” She opened her refrigerator and peered inside then turned and said, “Water or milk?”

“Uh water’s fine. Listen, Marilyn–”

“Oh, get this! Remember that neighbor I mentioned…you know the one with that funny little dog?”

He nodded. He was somewhat relieved to have a short respite from his plan of action.

“The corgi?”

“Yeah that one. I go out to get my paper this morning and there’s that little shit taking a crap on my lawn…again! I snapped. I’d had it with that dog and its owner. So I got a baggie and scooped up the poop, because of course, the owner was nowhere to be seen, and I marched over there and rang the doorbell.”

Marvin chuckled at the thought of a riled up Marilyn wearing nothing but her usual chenille robe, carrying a baggie of corgi poop.

“The door opens and this woman looks at me and says, ‘Yes?’ and I said, ‘Your dog left his calling card on my lawn and I’d like to return it please and request no further solicitations from him.’ You’d think any decent person would be embarrassed that their dog had done such a thing or at least embarrassed that they’d been caught but not this old battleaxe, no siree. She looked at the baggie and said, ‘That’s not Mr. Stumpy’s feces’, feces she called them, not shit or crap or poop but feces, ‘It’s far too large to have been made by a corgi.'”

She paused to take a long sip of her water then walked out of the kitchen. Marvin dutifully followed on her heels. She sat and motioned him to do the same.

“I said, ‘I saw him do it,’ and she said, ‘You couldn’t have’ and I said ‘So are you saying a stunt dog slipped in an took a shit on my lawn then ran off snickering like Mutley the Muttering Hound knowing that your precious Mr. Stumpy would be blamed?’ and she said, ‘I have no idea,’ then shut the door in my face. Can you believe the audacity of that woman?”

Marvin shook his head and said, “What did you do with the poop?”

Marilyn rolled her eyes and said, “Oh, I threw it in the garbage can. But you don’t know how close I came to doing something quite naughty with it.”

She paused and Marvin sensed his moment. “Marilyn, I’ve been thinking a lot about–”

“Oh! And as if that wasn’t bad enough, when I drove to work, some jerk had taken my parking spot. It’s clearly marked with my name; it wasn’t even eight o’clock yet. I left a nasty note on the windshield. You know whose car it was? Jane Garfield’s that’s who. She of all people should know better. When she got the note, she came stomping into my office and said that since someone had taken her spot, she had to move over one into my spot and why hadn’t I just taken Theo’s spot? Un-be-lievable.”

Marvin shook his head and said, “So where did you park?”

She rolled her eyes and said, “I found an unassigned one…eventually…though it was quite a hike and it made me late for my meeting with Rollins Carmichael the fifth.” She tensed her jaw as she said his name like the blueblood Mr. Howell from the Gilligan’s Island reruns she loved to watch. “He chewed me out for being two minutes late to the meeting. Two minutes!! And HE was the one who took Jane’s spot. Argh!!” She threw her hands up but after a few moments smiled and said, “I’m sorry, I’ve been blistering your ear over my problems and you’ve been so patient.”

“I’ve done a lot of thinking about us, Marilyn and I’ve made some tough decisions.”

“Oh my God! You’re breaking up with me?!” Tears welled up in her eyes and she began to breathe rapidly.

“MARILYN! For God’s sake will you shut up! Just shut up for two minutes. I’m not breaking up with you.” He took her hand in his. “I’ve been trying all this time to ask you…if…you’ll…” He choked. The words froze. All this time he’d been teetering on the brink of this colossal decision and now that he finally had his moment he was stuck.

The tears in her eyes pooled larger and a few escaped. She wiped them away with the back of her hand but remained quiet. He lifted his eyes to hers and somewhere in his head, a catch released and a door opened. That which he had so many times steeled his nerve to utter only to lose his way came into crisp focus. The words formed and he said with the utmost conviction as he took that final step and leaped off the edge, “Marilyn, will you marry me?”