Brian felt defeated as he approached the door to their rather run-down, one bedroom flat in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. The echoing sound of the key turning in the latch and of the tumblers slowly disengaging the lock filled the hollow hallway. Brian twisted the knob and the door slowly swung inward, revealing a long, narrow foyer.
The hot, stale air coming from inside the apartment offered no relief from the 95 degree heat wave hovering over the city. With a long, low sigh of resignation, Brian entered the hot apartment and started to walk toward the living room. He stopped in front of the small, half-table where he threw his keys.
A slight man, barely 5’ 6” and small-boned, Brian weighed in at only 120 pounds. On this day, he seemed to have an especially lean and hungry look about him. He looked frail and pale, with sunken cheeks and empty, gray eyes. His already short stature somehow appeared even shorter. His shoulders were rounded and he was slightly stooped over, giving him the look of deflated man.
Emily, Brian’s wife, spent most of her days reclining on the couch in front of the TV watching soap operas and game shows, drinking glass after glass of Pepsi and snacking on chips, nuts, and pretzels. Emily was just a bit taller than Brian, and, as a woman with a fairly large frame, even when they were first married around six years earlier, she outweighed him by maybe ten or 15 pounds. But over the years, her sedentary life style and poor eating habits had taken their toll; she ballooned up to around 180 pounds.
Emily neither loved nor respected Brian, but she enjoyed being married to him. She made all the decisions. She managed their finances, even though she contributed nothing to the pot. She was a formidable woman and Brian, having been dominated by his mother and sister when he was growing up, was used to having a dominant female in his life. He needed to have someone take care of him and Emily wanted someone to take care of. So, from that perspective, their marriage to that point had been a success.
Like any other married couple, early on they had their fair share of arguments, but Brian quickly learned that arguing with Emily was a fool’s errand. She had to win all arguments, and that was that. Probably for that reason alone, they rarely argued anymore, and when they did have an occasional parting of the ways, it was all one-sided.
Much to his chagrin, Brian proved to be impotent, and Emily never let him forget it. Why was she putting on weight? Because of her anxiety due to her husband’s inability to get it up. Why couldn’t Brian hold down a decent job? Because he was only half a man. Brian’s impotency was Emily’s scapegoat.
Emily looked up at Brian as he walked into the living room. She looked at her watch and then back at Brian, who met her gaze but quickly looked toward the floor.
“It’s only three in the afternoon. Don’t tell me,” Emily taunted. “Did the little mouse get canned today. Did they finally figure out that you’re the little man who isn’t really much of a man? Did they ask you to do some man’s work and you couldn’t hack it? Is that what….”
“For crissake, Emily, stop it!” Brian shot back. “Just knock it off.”
“Well, am I right? Did you get the ax?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Brian said. “I got the ax.”
“Why?” she demanded.
“The company is downsizing and laid off about 20 of us,” Brian said, his voice taking on the tone of a little boy confessing to his mother than he’d done something bad.
“Jesus, Brian,” Emily said. “That’s what, the third job you’ve lost in the past two years?”
“The fourth,” Brian admitted.
“When did this happen?” Emily asked.
“They told me first thing this morning.”
“Looking at her watch again, Emily asked, “So where the hell have you been all day? It’s after three. What have you been doing since you got dumped?”
“I had some thinking to do,” Brian responded, so softly that Emily could barely hear what he said.
With cruel and biting sarcasm, Emily said, “Thinking? What could such an impotent little mouse possibly spend almost the whole day thinking about?”
Brian’s spontaneous answer was almost as much of a shock to him as it was to his wife. “I was thinking about how I’m going to fucking kill you someday.”