“We’ve never had sex on the beach,” Rhonda says in a nasal voice, trying to lift her head up off the sofa. When she breathes through her nostrils it sounds as if she’s sucking air through a straw. Damn, why did Christina have to come to work sick and give everybody the flu? And why in the name of God when she felt so lousy did Rick have to watch that stupid football game?
“What?” Rick cocks his head to one side to look at his wife. Her long dark brown hair had been pulled up in into a scrunchy but now is just hanging from a matted ball. Her dark green eyes are puffy, her nose is beet red, and she has on his raggedy old green and gold football jersey. He sighs heavily and takes a swig of his Budweiser, turning his attention back to the game.
Rhonda blows hard into a tissue and laboriously drags herself up to a partially reclining position. Rick lets out a sigh accompanied by an exaggerated burp in response to the irritating honking noise. “God, you sound like a Duck…that’s been shot or something. I’m trying to watch this, can’t you blow a little quieter or something?”
“I can’t believe you! I am sick and all you care about is that stupid game.” She plops herself upright on the couch, her head reeling. “All you think about is yourself!”
Rick scowls at her, grasps the remote and turns up the volume. He downs the rest of his beer, crushes the can, turns and shoots toward the trash can, burying it. Rhonda gets up, saunters over to the television and shuts it off. She turns, hands on her hips and stares him dead in the eye.
“Woman, what are you doing? There’s only two minutes left in the game!”
“Oh well…” She sighs hoarsely.
“Honey, please get out of the way and let me finish watching this game.”
“You want to watch the game? Watch the game!” She says, stepping aside as he switches the remote back on. “I want a divorce!” He looks at the screen, steadily watching her out of the corner of his eye. The room is quiet, except for the sounds of the game. She strolls back over and plops back down on the sofa, coughing loudly.
“Damn!” He yells at the screen, springing to his feet, “you idiot, he was wide open!” He hurls a barrage of obscenities into the air, clicks off the remote and throws it against the wall, then turns to her shaking his head, “What the hell is your problem anyway?”
“I’m not the one with the problem.”
“What are you talking about?” he yawns, scrunching his shoulders, rounding his back and stretching out his long arms and legs.
“If you don’t know, I guess it’s not important.” She quips, grabbing a magazine from the coffee table, and flipping the pages.
“What did I do now?” He drawls, falling back into the overstuffed recliner.
“You really don’t remember, do you?” She takes a long sip of water then taps her nails on the side of the glass.
“You don’t remember what today is?”
“Sunday?” He glances at her again, “I give up. You tell me.”
“Figures, it’s been so long since we did it, you don’t even remember the first time.”
He stares at her. The house is noticeably quiet; His eyes dart to the remote control lying on the other side of the room.
“So who is she?” she sniffs.
“What do you mean… who’s who?”
“Whoever you’ve been getting it from, cause it sure ain’t been me.” She tosses the magazine onto the coffee table, knocking over her Vicks Vaporub.
“Woman, you’re crazy.”
“Well, what’s wrong then? You must not be attracted to me anymore.”
“I’ve just been tired baby.” He absently hooks his thumbs into the sides of his sweat pants, studying his shirtless sculpted torso.
“For two months?” She abruptly starts crying, forcefully blowing her nose. “You don’t love me anymore.”
“What?” He sighs, dragging himself out of the recliner and pulling himself up to his full six foot two inches. “Baby, don’t cry.”
He sits down next to her on the sofa, shaking his head, “Baby, please don’t cry, you know I love you.”
She continues to sob pathetically, intermittently blowing her nose, which reminds him of that foghorn from the summer his parents pawned him off on his grandmother while they were going through the divorce. “Baby, pleeease don’t cry like that.”
“I can’t help it,” She sniffs, “You don’t want me anymore.”
“Listen.” He clumsily tries to smooth her disheveled hair, “You just don’t feel well, that’s all. Do you want some juice? How about tea with lemon? You like that, don’t you, baby?”
“No Rick, I want to know why we don’t have sex anymore.” She sniffs. “And don’t say it’s because you’re tired, I don’t want to hear that.”
“Baby, I don’t know why.” He says bluntly.
“What do you mean?” She says, turning to face him.
“I said I don’t know why.”
“There has to be a reason. I know I’m sick and I’m feeling really bad right now, but I need you to make love to me. I feel like you just don’t want me anymore.”
She turns to face him. Her large eyes are feverishly bright, her cheeks are flushed, and her tan thighs peer out at him from under the jersey. “I do want you” He murmurs.
“Well then why?”
He takes a jagged breath, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
“What do you mean?”
“I want you but I can’t do it, alright?” He blurts out, standing abruptly, “Are you happy now? Is that what you wanted to hear?”
“What do you mean, you can’t… do it?” She wrinkles her forehead, staring up at him.
“I don’t know!” He says, “Alright? It’s just not getting hard, ok?”
“I don’t know, maybe. Sometimes, Jeez…”
“It’s not me?”
“No” he sighs, looking down at the floor. “It’s not you. I don’t know what it is. I said I been tired you know.”
“Rick, maybe….you should go to the doctor.”
“I don’t need a damn doctor.”
“Then maybe we should go to a marriage counselor.”
“No, I’m not going to any marriage counselor. Are you crazy? What the hell can they do?”
“Ok then what do you suggest?”
“I don’t know”
“Well, then I guess you don’t care about me or this marriage. Because if you did, you’d want to fix it. And if it’s not me, and you don’t want to go to a marriage counselor…”
“No, I don’t” He said roundly.
“Well, Jennifer down at The Mane Event said her husband had a problem doing it and he went to the doctor. He found out his testosterone level was low or something and now he’s taking Viagra. Jennifer said that little pill… well it literally saved their marriage.”
He raised his eyebrows, “Well, I don’t have that kind of problem.” He scoffed.
“Well then what kind of problem is it? And don’t say you don’t know. You have to do something because if you don’t, then I don’t know what’s going to happen…”
He throws his hands up in the air. “I…” He stares at her, his voice trailing off. He runs his fingers through his wavy blonde hair. His lungs deflate like a tire with a slow leak. He turns and storms out the door, letting it slam shut behind him. Rhonda reaches for a pillow, buries her face in it and screams.
Sharon Lynn Van Meter