What The Reader Read

By Andy Betz

“Francis, when are you going to get a raise?”  “Francis, when are you going to stand up to that boss of yours?”  “Francis, get over here and LISTEN to me when I’m talking to you!”

If I heard her harping once, I heard her harping a thousand times before.  My Margaret had a voice that rivaled nails across a chalkboard.  She belittled me at home and out in public.  She was worse than my boss who required extra hours of free work from me each week.  Whether at work or at home, my life was not my own.  I could not please anyone, even myself.  I should stand up to my boss, but I’ve never been good at confrontation.  Margaret knows this and takes advantage of this weakness.  I wish I could just do better, at anything, to make either one of them happy with me.

“Francis, since you are not man enough to confront your boss, I am going to call him and let him have a piece of mine.  Somebody has to be the man in this family!  It might as well be me!”

With that announcement, Margaret picked up the phone and called my boss.  The instant he answered the phone, she let him have it.  She yelled about this and she screamed about that.  She hit him with both barrels.  Another man would have hung up.  Another man would have yelled back.  But, from what I heard, my boss did something different.  He said something that quieted Margaret down and eventually turned her hostility to an apology to a variety of schoolgirl giggles to an acceptance.

“Francis, you can fix your own dinner.  I have accepted dinner with your boss and I have to get ready.”  I know that Margaret went upstairs to get ready, but when she descended the stairs, she looked like a recently divorced cougar on the prowl.  Gone was her scowl and housecoat.  Suddenly, she wore a smart black dress with heels and more makeup than I ever see her in.  She had a grin on her face and no wedding ring on her finger when she told me not to wait up for her.  She would fix everything.

I should have stopped her dead in her tracks.  I should have been adamant in my opposition to what she obviously had in mind.  I understand I am not the man of the year, but no man deserves this.  I should have done something, but I didn’t.  I let her go, unable to exert any masculinity at all.

Margaret spritzed her favorite perfume in a cloud to walk through while giving me that “look” all potential cuckolds deserve.

By 7am, two things occurred.  The Sun finally rose and Margaret finally returned.

What the Reader Thought Happened

Margaret looked like she had been to bed, not to sleep, but to bed, none-the-less.

“Francis, get ready for work.  You have a big day ahead of you.”  She said this as she removed her heels and wiggled out of her dress with the broken zipper.  I saw her with half her lingerie missing and the other half visibly stained or torn.  Margaret smiled when she returned to her newly found conversational mood.  “I spoke with your boss, at great length, about your inadequacy as a man and as an employee.  It took a while, but the two of us came to an “agreement” about what to do with you.  As of now, starting tomorrow, I will begin working at your old position.  SOMEBODY has to show they have what it takes to do that job correctly.  Your boss will take a very “hands-on” approach to my initial training.  Since last night, I assured him of several (previously dormant) abilities I am very good at performing.  He will want me to accompany him, next week, on a 5-day trip to the coast to demonstrate more of my abilities to him.  You, on the other hand, have been reassigned to a position more attuned to your meekness.”  With that, she reached into her purse and pulled out a package of pantyhose.  With her new found dominance, she laughed and laughed and laughed as she threw the package to me and told me to get dressed for work.

What the Reader Thought Should Have Happened

Margaret looked like she had been to bed, not to sleep, but to bed, none-the-less.

Margaret was dirty and sweaty.  She had calluses on both her hands and could barely stand up straight.  The coffee maker was preset for 6:50 and she made a beeline for a cup while she enjoyed it at the kitchen table.  After two large gulps (very uncharacteristic of Margaret), she began her story.

“Francis, you are such a weakling.  But, you are my weakling.  Last night, I went to dinner with your boss to give him a piece of my mind.  During the ride there, he became all hands and wanted me to give him something else.  I resisted, and then caved when I saw a construction site entrance off the road.  I informed your boss that we could use the privacy to conduct a special type of negotiation there.  He understood and entered the site.  One thing led to another and I had to kill him.  Nothing personal, but your boss needed someone to tell him no means no.  When he had his hands on me, I had my hands in my purse then on my nail file.  It makes such a convenient dagger!  It only took one plunge into his neck and he died quickly.  It was 9:00pm.  It took the rest of the night to drag him out of the car and to a ditch and bury him using only a shovel and the headlights of his car.  I took his wallet and keys, went to his house and removed a variety of cash and valuables.  I removed his personal ledgers and copied his computer hard-drive of all pertinent information.  Upon leaving, I torched the house and car and walked home.  I left no fingerprints or DNA.”  She took another sip of coffee and emptied her purse of all her ill-gotten gains.  “Now Francis, with these, you will have no trouble taking his position as boss.  Do not ask questions.”  And with that she shot me a look I never saw my Margaret give to me before.  “And do not fail me.  I’ve seen his old home and I know what we can now afford with your new promotion.”

What the Reader Never Thought Would Really Happen

At the trial, I testified it was not unusual for my boss to make me work all night at the office. 

Likewise, my phone records for the last two years did not show a single instance of my wife, Margaret, calling me from home.  I testified that I did have a strictly platonic marriage, as insisted by her.  Various neighbors testified of the verbal abuse they witnessed in public from Margaret to me for the sole purpose of displaying her dominance.  I told the jury I should have been more of a man, but I could not be the man Margaret wanted.  I went to work, earned the money, paid the bills, and tried to keep my wife happy.  I was at work that night when she went on a date (she called my boss to set it up – phone records again) and was still at work when the police arrested her returning to our house in the morning wearing a disheveled sexy black dress and missing her wedding ring (found on her dresser at home) and various pieces of lingerie no woman would be without. 

The police arrested Margaret for murder of my boss and arson to his house.  Her purse contained nearly half a million dollars in private and business property belonging to him.  Apparently, all it took was an anonymous phone call from one of those old, but still functioning pay phones.

The jury convicted Margaret of all charges.

The owners of the company decided to promote me to my boss’s old position with a 6-month probationary period before making the position retroactive. 

All of those extra hours of unpaid work proved my dedication to the company.  Not to my wife.  Not to my boss.  Just to the company. 

It always makes me smile when I think about things that way.

Bio: The works of Andy Betz are found everywhere a search engine operates.  Andy has written many great things that have been posted to The Yard: Crime Blog, including, “Water” with Jaysa Brown, “The Less You Have, the More It Hurts To Lose It”, “I Knew Her as Tigist“, “How My New Life Began“, “Et Tu“, “Senny” with Dounia Saunders, “Oleander“, “The Best Advice I Ever Got“, “If I Ask Your Opinion“, “As the Sun Sets“, “Walter,” “The Saddest Lies“, “By Morning”, “Nicole and Julia: Death at Poolside”, “Julia and Katherine”, “The Caretaker”, “The Carlton Theater” with Samantha Fowler, “minus“,  “Starting Over Again“, “What I’ve Learned Watching Murder“, “Today’s Lecture“, and “I Knew Her as Gracie”.  He has also been interviewed


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Publishing Editor for The Yard: Crime Blog.

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