A Cat and a Dog
Sam arrived home in a fantastic mood, quite proud of having gotten the Lunch Box off the ground. He didn’t want to be cocky but he couldn’t stop thinking, about city counselor Tanner’s controversial comments about the VP apprenticeship, “I challenge you to pick any monkey from a pool of applicants who apply in the next 48 hours.”
Sam had chalked up Tanner’s actual job posting, as PR damage control and an opportunity, that would never happen for real. The deadline was extended indefinitely, due to the controversy. Sam applied for it anyway. You only live once! He could say Todd made him do it!
Arguments with Eunice seemed laced with her resentment. It didn’t make sense because his goals had always been for their future together. It’s what spurned him forward.
Was he being an asshole? Had he taken on so much, he’d become arrogant? She had wanted them to have individual goals but he’d never heard of that before. How could a couple have separate dreams?
“Eunice can’t we just agree, we are equally smart and have unique gifts? Neither of us needs to be better than the other and you will always be the prettiest girl!” he said, being lighthearted.
How hard was it to succumb to each other’s needs, while keeping an eye on personal interests? Perhaps the klan trauma had been a test, to show him something about love. Maybe Frank was testing him.
It will take endurance, to make it to the other side.
“Eunice your mom has been all over, our Lunch Box soup planning. She seems really happy to be busy. The church ladies are in an uproar, over which is the most nutritious recipe,” Sam said.
“It sounds like things are going really well Sam,” Eunice said, sounding blasé.
He found her friendly comments open to interpretation. It seemed petty but the sardonic tone gave her away.
“It’s kind of funny when our mothers, butt heads but I think they have bonded on disapproval of Marjorie!” Sam said.
“Very nice,” she said, dryly as if she wasn’t listening.
“Let me get something off my chest. When you said I was a loser, because I didn’t care about my salary or making more money. I meant I preferred working on humanitarian stuff. I’m not naïve. I’m aware it doesn’t pay well,” he said.
“Let me get something off my chest too. When you mention Terrence, you say it in a sleazy way as if I’m doing something wrong. You obviously don’t trust me. I feel like you’re using something about my past against me. It makes me regret sharing stuff with you in the first place,” Eunice said.
“Okay I get it, fast forward to now. I know you didn’t mean it and I believe you, so can we please put it behind us? That’s where my lashing out comes from. I’m not always jonesing for smoke or a drink you know,” he said.
“What makes you come to the point of writing me emails, when we can just talk. Are you sober when you send them?” she asked.
“You never want to talk in person! You avoid reality,” he said.
“That’s because I’m discouraged, I can’t say anything right so it’s best I keep quiet,” she said.
“Don’t you see how being remote will never work with us?” Sam was exasperated.
“Stop saying there’s something wrong with me,” she said.
“Avoiding topics only makes them worse,” he said.
“I need to pick myself back up but I can’t figure out if it’s supposed to be with you or not,” she said.
“Ouch! What are you talking about? It seems like we’re having a different conversation,” he said. Was she dumping him?
He was going to lose it again.
Why did he seethe?
How could she always be right?
Why did she need to fight to the death to protect herself? Emotional games played to cover something up.
It made him nuts.
Take a deep breath Sam!
Yet his love for her never wavered. He’d eagerly anticipate seeing her but come the weekend, he’d already made plans without her, Why waste weekends with a vacant person?
His difficult choice was to stand on his own feet, or be disappointed with her crumbs. The obvious choice for him was to walk away but it never felt right in his gut.
He wished it didn’t hurt like hell. God please send me a game changer!
The wacky part was in public, she supported him hitting all the technical elements to trick people and hide her fembot coldness. She was so good at the game, he wondered if she was counting beats as she made sure Sofia, Harpo, Todd and others liked her! What are you talking about, she loves you Sam.
Sam was like McGruff, the investigator dog who could never drop the case. He had to get to the why behind her behavior.
Maybe she has black outs or suffers from missing time, as described in those Whitley Strieber alien sci-fi novels, he used to read as a boy. True stories of huge-eyed aliens abducting him, in his bed. No good would come from alien paralysis, a good probing in their flying saucer and be left sore in your bed wondering what happened. It was too outlandish to be true but so was his supernatural relationship.
“Sam how did we slide so far off the rails this time?” she asked.
“I don’t understand why you need to be a lawyer,” Sam said. He had the ache in his belly, whenever things sank below civility.
“I’m not acting like a lawyer!” she said, like a cold prosecutor.
It was already too late and the days would drag out in silence. Sam’s disappointment and sadness would turn to anger and he’d have no way to stop, until Bruce Banner became the raging Hulk.
“I don’t like being controlled!” Eunice said.
“Here I was feeling guilty for hurting you. I’m not controlling you!” he said. His tone of voice reflected a monster. His reaction was different now, the Hulk was on the scene.
“Go have a smoke. You’re agitated,” she said, sounding superior.
“Goddam you! Always blaming my smokes! You think the root cause of our troubles are cigarettes? Always going down the rabbit hole of diversion, right Eunice! What the fuck!” he shouted.
“Stop using language!” she said.
“It’s the way I speak, when I’m frustrated beyond reason!” he said.
“Controlling,” she said.
“This is ridiculous. You don’t give two shits about me or us!” he knew he’d just kicked off a fresh round of silent treatment and the Hulk’s rant would extend the term. What the Hulk never realized, was the rope went out far enough to animate itself into a noose around his neck.
“And don’t talk to me after your smoke. You’re always apologetic afterwards,” she said.
“I won’t talk to you at all,” he said.
Later Eunice would come home giddy after seeing Terrence, “We had such a great night. So much fun and good food. I told them you weren’t feeling well. I hope that’s alright,” she said, as if they hadn’t argued.
Sam was sickened, after her nights with Terrence but mainly angry at himself for losing his temper. Every time he wasn’t true to himself, another layer was stripped away. He’d tear himself down with the guilt of poorly restrained stupid emotion.
If an olive branch had been forthright earlier, he could have gone to the dinner. He was a man for godsakes! Why couldn’t he toughen up?
The cycle was such that for the next few days, his need for her accumulated. Friday he’d be desperate to be back on good terms again.
His buildup of anger began on long sweaty walks home from work, sometimes killing time running errands or helping his folks, to avoid going home. He’d be hungry and in a bad mood. The hot trek was the devil riding him, so he’d begin the diatribe in his head first. About how her fierce independence was to blame.
There was no relief until he sounded off or stated his feelings out loud. The second she started speaking pleasantries the poison jumped from him and attacked her. The outburst would let her know he was pissed at being treated like a dog.
Her non-reaction would make him so angry he wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. He was already guilty of being the culprit. How could he ever stop the train?
He’d blown it with his tantrum this time. It bothered him to no end how she used the word we all the time. He’d be with her in a circle of people talking and slowly realize the we she was referring to was her and Terrence.
It silenced him and he was a bad actor. He imagined the crowd judging him and seeing his shame. What a double standard. If he’d inflicted such pain on her it would be bad, where hers was now justified.
Perhaps he was her mirror and she felt cornered by her exposed indiscretions. A darker thought was he purposely manipulated her into thinking, it was her clinical depression when in reality, his doppelganger had fed him stories.