The Birds

The Birds

A Story by 49k_jdys
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Love despite unfaithfulness.

"

Marion slapped a stack of half-depleted, pink Post-It notes onto the plastic patio table. On top, she set a glass of that fake lemonade crap she always bought.

                  “What,” Clyde said, leaning back in the bent patio chair and shading his eyes with his bandaged hand, “Did you burn the coasters, too?”

                  Marion gave him a look that would’ve burnt toast. “I was sick of looking at those f*****g birds and their googley eyes. What kind of gift is a box of cork bird coasters?” Truth was, she hadn’t really minded the birds all that much, but Clyde’s mother was a nut and a half, and after everything, after her supporting him when he was a miserable cow’s a*s, she couldn’t stand the sight of them. Birds. F*****g birds. Her name was Birdy. She left and slammed the screen door shut behind her.

                  Clyde tried to drink the lemonade, balancing the slippery, sweating glass between his bandaged paws. Before, Marion would’ve helped. Would have found him a straw, or held the glass to his lips and wiped the trickles that ran out the corners of his mouth. But now; he couldn’t even touch her if he wanted to. The lemonade itself was a miracle.

 

                  There were birds on the walls and birds hanging from the ceiling; stuffed birds and tableware painted with birds. And the worst of all the fowl in Clyde’s mother’s house was the giant Audubon print of a pair of reddish woodpeckers that had creepy, beady eyes which followed Marion’s every move. It more than once crossed her mind that maybe she should knock it off the wall in the wake of an unfortunate stumble, but such would ruin only the frame, leaving the omnipotent eyes of the birds saved, infuriated.

                  But she knew her irritancy with the birds bothered Clyde more than the fowl-cluttered house itself, so she kept her mouth shut about the damn birds and her hands to herself; but she let her mind indulge in destructive fantasies that changed with each glob of sticky oatmeal that leaked from the corner of Nadine’s gummy, thin-lipped mouth.

                  Clyde guilted her into coming on the visits with him. He knew Nadine hated her, but Marion put on a plastic expression of acquiescence and sat on the upholstered bird sofa while Clyde patted his mother’s hand at the table. To mask a sigh she couldn’t repress, Marion looked out the window at the eighteen birdfeeders and reminded herself that she loved Clyde, and that at least experience proved she could count on him to pat her hand and make her oatmeal when she was eighty years old.

                  In the car on the way home, Marion said, “She told me to lay off the cookies because fat girls have a hard time getting pregnant.” She glanced at Clyde while the vision of his mother’s sagging, bulbous middle and pork roast thighs permeated her thoughts.

                  “Mare, she’s eighty. When are you gonna just let it go?”

                  He flicked on the blinker, and since Clyde didn’t like the radio on while driving, it called out a chant. Let it go. Let it go. Let it go.

                  When she’s dead, Marion thought.

 

                  Now she took him to church on Sundays. Made him dress up in a ridiculous seersucker suit that she knew he hated, and that looked even more insane with his bandaged appendages and taped eye. It was like she was parading him around; might as well have been his head on a stick. Look here, who I’ve caught, the nasty, cheating husband whom I’ve decided to forgive. I’ll stand by him even though he disdained me, but by golly, he’s going to wear this f*****g suit and he’s going to suffer the humiliation I’ve suffered because of him. Nothing more than revenge, really. Payback disguised as piety.

                 

                  Marion had always had a way of twisting his insides with guilt. He washed the dishes for a week�"an unspoken punishment he accepted because he hadn’t been quick enough when she asked him how she looked.

                  Marion was insecure. Always had been. So Clyde knew it was his responsibility to gently polish her fragility. But over the years Marion had become exactly what she feared. Never the cream of the crop, but always pretty (if, in a forgettable way), his wife turned curvy, then soft, then fat. Not obese. But she tried to fix it with the gallons of makeup she slathered on her face. When she went out, the war paint was especially colorful, and she somehow managed to insert herself into clothes she’d long out-widened.

                  On an off day, when his team was losing and he burnt a frozen pizza, and there wasn’t any beer in the fridge, Marion shimmied in front of the TV wearing a clingy red dress, and Clyde felt repulsed for the first time by his wife. That night, out to dinner, Marion batted her eyelashes at Bud and he watched Birdy.

 

                  Clyde used to like to take Marion dancing. When they were younger, they took all sorts of classes�"salsa, tango, ballroom, flamenco. He liked it when Marion said, “It’s art; like my feet are paintbrushes and your two left toes are the paints.” He liked how they felt in each other’s arms; he liked how it felt like love and expression and security.

                  He bought her dancing shoes, and she bought him flashy cufflinks special for the dances. They bought flamenco costumes because they dared to enter a contest. But they didn’t go. Marion’s insecurities got the best of her, and that night Clyde found her sobbing over a toilet bowl full of her own vomit. Nothing he said after that was ever enough. As the months passed, his words of assurance became lies and he gave little more than mumbles behind the newspaper or pats on the knee while he watched the TV.

                  Marion caught on, and soon he was handing over the credit card. She bought a drawer full of lipsticks and boxes of French perfume came in the mail. Their closet soon became her closet and the cupboards became stores of Swiss chocolate, dessert wines, and microwave dinners.

                  He had to put an end to it the night he found her binging on the couch�"per usual�"with a curly white puppy in her lap.

                  If he’d thought about it a little more, maybe Clyde would have realized that none of that would have happened if Marion hadn’t been at the edge of the room with Bud, watching as he and Birdy danced so closely. Maybe he would have realized that the contest was off because Marion saw how good Birdy looked in her blue dress that night, and maybe he would have been more subtle about the way he watched her move in it.

 

                  The day it happened, Marion was pulling weeds in the garden. She wasn’t any good at gardening, but sometimes flowers accidentally bloomed, and when they did, she tried her very hardest to make it look to the neighbors as if it was something she planned. The steel gate creaked open behind her and when she turned, Bud was standing inside the fence and leaning against the chain link.

                  Marion stood up, dusted off her knees. She was wearing ghastly yellow leggings and felt ashamed. “Hey, Bud,” she called. “Lemonade?”

                  “That’s alright, Marion,” he said. His baseball cap lent a shadow over his face that hid the brightness that was always in his eyes. He walked closer and she could see he was about to be sick. And he puked in the flower bed.

                  “Geez, Bud. What is going on? Do you need to go to the hospital? Here, let me drive you, I’ll go and�"”

                  “Marion, they’re sleeping together. Clyde and Birdy.” When the words came out, so did the rage. He kicked at a loose brick that framed the flowers. “I’m sorry. Good grief. Birdy and I were never happy. I wouldn’t be this upset if it were anyone else. But Clyde�"”

                  That’s when she hurled the spade through the window. And when Birdy called Clyde at work to tell him they’d been found out, he forgot to put the car in drive and smashed into the cement wall of the parking garage.

                 

                  Marion had come to get him. She was crying. She didn’t look at him. She cursed at the car, “This f*****g piece of s**t car. So unreliable. I knew I should’ve gone with the other one.” And Clyde knew it wasn’t about the car at all. But he also knew suddenly, that Marion loved him. Or at least had.

                  When they got home, she came at him with a butter knife. She hadn’t meant to, but it pierced him straight through the eye. He screamed, and pawed at it with his gauzed hands as she fell to the floor. The tile was cold on his knees. It seemed to hurt more than his eye. And Marion’s incessant sobbing fell on his ears like pots falling down the stairs. He rocked back and forward as she lay fetal on the floor beside him.

                  In the emergency room. Marion looked at him�"really looked�"for the first time. “I hope you like the couch.” Then she crossed her arms, picked up a copy of Good Housekeeping, and those were the last words she spoke to him for a week.

 

                  But Clyde learned to love the couch. He forgot the long-gone bird coasters, and the subtle attack their burning had been at his mother. He didn’t mind his missing left eye, or the broken limbs.

                  He turned and looked through the screen door after Marion. He’d spilled lemonade all over himself, and she was already fetching a rag.

 

                  


© 2018 49k_jdys



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Featured Review

I am in awe of writers who can tell a story that's dripping with outrageous observations about dysfunctional lives, bordering on funny & pathetic. Your details really sing with imagination, yet also true-to-life for so many sad situations. I am a little mixed up about who is who & I had the impression that Birdie was Clyde's mother, at the beginning, but then I had to re-read the whole story to see if he was banging his mother or if I got that wrong. I'm still unclear. But it doesn't detract too much from the overall brilliant storytelling of outlandishness. I think most people are actually this dysfunctional, so it's much more refreshing than the stories about pretty well-stated lives (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 4 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

49k_jdys

3 Months Ago

Thank you so much for the review! To clarify, Nadine is the mother and Birdie is Bud's wife. Thanks .. read more



Reviews

I am in awe of writers who can tell a story that's dripping with outrageous observations about dysfunctional lives, bordering on funny & pathetic. Your details really sing with imagination, yet also true-to-life for so many sad situations. I am a little mixed up about who is who & I had the impression that Birdie was Clyde's mother, at the beginning, but then I had to re-read the whole story to see if he was banging his mother or if I got that wrong. I'm still unclear. But it doesn't detract too much from the overall brilliant storytelling of outlandishness. I think most people are actually this dysfunctional, so it's much more refreshing than the stories about pretty well-stated lives (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 4 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

49k_jdys

3 Months Ago

Thank you so much for the review! To clarify, Nadine is the mother and Birdie is Bud's wife. Thanks .. read more

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Added on January 8, 2018
Last Updated on January 8, 2018
Tags: love, marriage, cheating, adultery, unfaithful, people, person, family, birds, prose, fiction

Author

49k_jdys
49k_jdys

Grand Rapids, MI



Writing
Want to Be Want to Be

A Story by 49k_jdys