Like music to the ears

Like music to the ears

A Story by zanymaybee

Arthur Gobbergazzle observed his breath as he leisurely strolled down the sidewalk, burying his face deeper into his scarf when a ruthless wave of crispy, cool air hit his face. It was freezing cold outside, but that wouldn’t stop him from leaving the house, no sir. He took his time reaching the nearby park and slowly sat down on a bench with a grunt, followed by what sounded like a huff and a sigh combined, both tired and vexed but relieved at finally being able to enjoy some quality time alone with his thoughts and his loyal buddy, Xavier, the family dog. He was hideous, the little rascal. Looked more like a rat than a member of the genus Canis. Barked (or squeaked, rather) like a rat, too. It sure was a pesky tiny ball of fur, but Arthur couldn’t deny he enjoyed the company. Especially considering he could always take him out for a walk and escape his wife’s ramblings with that shrill voice of hers that made Xavier’s squeaks seem like music to his ears.

His spouse, his oh-so-lovely spouse, dear Cassandra, consistently came up with new ways of getting under his skin. It was almost praiseworthy, really, her ability to repeatedly try his patience, without fail. She was the only one capable of such a feat. The loud, high-pitched words uttered by way of her incredibly powerful vocal cords invaded him even in his sleep, haunting him in his dreams. Most of the time it was because she was, indeed, actually yelling at him, telling him to get out of bed. At an ungodly hour, to boot.

He trembled and felt a shiver travel down his spine, not due to the bone-chilling wind, but from remembering all those times he had to put up with the woman’s incessant angry caws and spouting of gibberish, her arms flailing and her countenance scarlet-coloured, veins popping and all, practically steaming and ready to burst. He seldom knew what was the cause of her fits, and he never got to figure it out, either, just doing his best to tune her out until she was done sputtering and decided to leave the room, seemingly satisfied with having gotten her point across.

And that wasn’t the worst of it, no. She was also quite a handful when she was in a good mood, he thought ruefully. Her cackles resounded through the different rooms of their otherwise quiet home, and she chose to guffaw at just about every single thing she watched on TV, demanding he sit and watch as well, because he just had to take a look at that man’s ridiculous hat, or the hilarious way that woman drank beer. And of course, he had to try and find it funny, himself. And he really did try, but it was a rather arduous task.

She also got more gossipy on her good days. He had a really hard time keeping up with all the trivial anecdotes. More often than not, he wasn’t even sure who it was that she was supposed to be talking about, which made it all the more difficult for him to follow her stories. So he only nodded and hummed and ooh’d as she went on and on about some Lisa who had broken up with Jensen because he had cheated on her with Sarah. Or was it Sarah that had cheated on Jensen with Lisa?

A squeal and a small whine pulled him out of his thoughts. Xavier climbed onto his lap and gave him a playful nudge with his snout. A gentle reminder that he was done with his business, and it was already time to head back. Arthur ruffled Xavier’s fur and checked his wristwatch. 07: 39 pm. He sat up and started the slow walk back home, dog in tow. In about twenty minutes he’d be forced to watch that god-awful drama about an alien who falls in love with a robot who can travel through time and really, it’s all much too complicated for his taste. Why couldn’t they watch interesting documentaries about dolphins, instead? Oh but, you see, in about twenty minutes, he’d excuse himself saying he needs to use the loo, taking his phone with him to play some Tetris, and successfully missing at least thirty to forty minutes of the show. That had become his daily routine for the past 2 weeks or so.

“Arthur darling, you seem to be needing the toilet terribly often lately, and you spend like an hour in there. I can’t tell if you’ve got the runs or if you’re constipated. Or a mixture of both.” She had told him a few days prior. The fact that it didn’t occur to her that he might be doing something else instead of the usual body cleansing was endearing, to say the least.

“We’re home!” Arthur said as he stepped through the threshold and into the foyer, shrugging off his parka and hanging it on the clothes hanger by the door. His scarf followed suit, and he then proceeded to free Xavier from his leash, allowing the dog to roam around and pester his wife.

“Oh! Just in time for Digital extraterrestrial romance!” She exclaimed happily, already sitting on the living room couch, bowl of popcorn ready and everything. She shooed the dog away when he tried to engulf the entire bowl, wagging his tail like a maniac. Xavier let out a little whimper but soon went back to being all jolly and merry as he lay on the couch next to Cassandra, directing his gaze at Arthur expectantly. The furball looked just as ready as Mrs. Gobbergazzle was to watch Digital extra whatever.

He wished he could be half as excited as either of them. “Sorry, you start without me, I'm going to the bathroom for a bit.”

“Goodness, I think you really need to get your stomach checked. I'll make an appointment with Dr. Lawrel. Oh! Did you know? Rumor has it Dr. Lawrel had a fling with one of the nurses.”

“Did he, now?” Was his reply as he made a beeline for the bathroom. She continued to babble on joyfully to anyone who would listen, the occasional roar of laughter audible even as he closed the bathroom door.

He cursed inwardly once he realized he had forgotten to bring his phone with him. Thus began a rather meticulous internal debate regarding the pros and cons of trading the quiet safety of the toilet for a dangerous venture to find the smartphone and risk having to sit and watch robots and aliens from start to finish, or staying within the confines of the washroom, no Tetris and nothing to do but sit around for thirty to forty minutes, with that off-putting painting on the wall staring back at him.

Hell, it was worth the risk, he eventually concluded. He gingerly turned the door handle and oh God, it came off. He was now holding it in his clammy hand, aghast. He tried putting it back on time and time again, but alas, to no avail. Now, as if that wasn’t grim enough, he suddenly felt the actual need to empty his bowels. Stress tended to have that effect on him. And there was no toilet paper left. Well… crap.

Okay, alright, there was no need to panic. Nope, no use in losing his cool. Who was freaking out? He definitely wasn’t. The room was just a bit warmer than usual, hence all the sweating. The solution was quite clear, of course. He would simply make use of the ceramic throne, have a shower, and then… and then? Oh, what the hell.

“Cassandra?!” He shouted. No response. He tried again, a bit louder. He couldn’t hear a thing, not even the woman’s outbursts of mirth. It was unduly and eerily quiet, and Arthur was surprised to find that he was now looking forward, almost desperately, to hearing his wife’s cacophonous laughter and constant blabber again. It was amidst this dire, life-or-death(?) situation that Arthur’s existence flashed before his eyes, and he was brought back to his days of youth, when he would spend most of his time helping at Lenny’s car repair shop, usually left to his own devices as the garage’s owner busied himself with flirting with this girl and that. Arthur would later go back to a silent apartment, eat some premade meals while enjoying a few ocean life documentaries, and sleep. Rinse and repeat. And he would be persistently left with the nagging feeling that there was something missing.

But then he had met that hurricane of a woman, who had frolicked her way into the workshop and into his life, driving a very pink sad excuse for a car, which would hiss and clunk and break down day in and day out, as noisy as the girl who owned it. His days had never been dull ever since.

He stared at the creepy painting of a weird frog on the wall, and couldn’t help the smile that dared to form on his lips. It was comforting (albeit unsightly), in a way. Cassandra had bought it as a birthday present for him and thought it a good idea to hang it in the bathroom, of all places.

There was a sudden knock on the door. “Arthur? You in there? I remembered we were out of toilet paper so I went ahead and asked Martha to lend us some. You know Martha, the neighbor, right? Curly hair, a bit skinny, vegetarian, drinks that odd tea that kinda tastes like dirt. She invited us over for dinner next weekend. Oh and she said she’s a fruitarian now, so that could be fun! Robert and Susan’ll be there, as well.” Thank the Heavens, Cassandra had come to his rescue. The gesture almost made him shed manly tears of joy. He was willing to eat only fruits, dirt, whatever, with those people he still wasn’t sure he knew at all, if it meant getting out of this predicament alive. Okay, maybe he was overreacting a little. Eating only fruit was a bit much.

“Egads, Cassandra, good thing you’re here. This accursed door handle had the nerve to come loose, can you believe it? I can’t, for the life of me, put the loathsome thing back on, so I’m trapped.”

“Golly! You poor thing, are you alright? Not to worry, I’ll get you outta there in a heartbeat.” She opened the door and patted his head in that annoying way she always did, but he didn’t mind in the slightest. He was free, at last. She handed him the toilet paper and continued with what she considered a very effective method for soothing him by saying “And you can relax, you didn’t miss even a single second of Digital extraterrestrial romance.  I learned from Robert that there’s this site called Batflick where you can watch tons of shows and movies, so I made an account! Surprise! Now we can rewatch the whole season, isn’t that great?! Really, thanks to your stomach issues you didn’t get to see the best parts, like, when the meteorite falls on the day Robo9000 and Grohl are on Mars getting married, that is an absolute must-watch. Also, I asked Robert and he said there’s a bunch of ocean documentaries and the like. I caught you watching that the other day, you should’ve told me you enjoyed those!” She said as she playfully slapped him on the arm. Oh, right. He never did mention he liked them. Another smile made its way across his features. Watching Digital whatever didn’t sound so bad all of a sudden. Shortly thereafter the smile faltered, for he felt a seriously intense bowel movement. He had forgotten that he really needed to use the restroom.

“Sure, that’s just lovely, you wonderful little creature, but I’m gonna have to ask you to go and wait for me in the living room before I soil my favourite pants.”

“Sigh, you and your bottom. Okay, want me to give you your phone, a book or something while you do your thing?”

“No, no. That’s fine, and I won’t take long. I was constipated, but no more!”

She tilted her head, confused. Shrugged and bellowed “Well, good for you!” as she headed for the couch. Then she chortled loudly. And boy, what a great sound that was.

© 2018 zanymaybee

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Really enjoyable story. It's amazing how, when you're stranded on the loo without toilet paper, the most important things in life manifest themselves.
I don't think I have anything to add except that I still kind of feel bad for poor Arthur. I guess I might find Cassandra more redeemable if her irritating qualities were toned back just a bit. Still, nicely done!

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Added on January 12, 2018
Last Updated on January 12, 2018
Tags: humor, romance



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