Week without a wife-Day 8 Is this the end or…?

Here we are at the end of this grand experiment,folks. I was hoping for more reaction from folks, or at least my ego was. Not sure what I’m going to do with this story, except finish it. Will I show it to people? Stay tuned and find out.

Now, on with the show.

Grey sat down in his seat, a three million watt smile frozen on his face. His brain seemed to have placed it there against his will. He mechanically placed some sugar in his coffee as the police exited the room.

Dave leaned back and looked around.”Nice place you got here,bro. Any houses available in this hood?”

“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t go over this table at you.” Grey said through tightly gritted teeth.

“Is that any way to greet a long lost brother?” Dave said and grinned.

Grey took a sip of coffee, then threw it in Dave’s face.Dave calmly took out a hanky and wiped his face off. He  took out the last drop on his lip with his tongue, and looked quizzical.

“Good gods man, no wonder you’re acting out. There was enough coffee in that sugar to  wake a bull moose.” He finished wiping off his chest and arms.”Now that you’ve gotten that out of your system, can we go? You do have a wife and children missing after all.”

Dave’s calm unnerved Grey. Where was his younger brother, Mr. Flighty? Who was this man before him?

“Either you tell me everything, or I am not going anywhere.”

Dave laughed. ” You were going nowhere long before this day, Grey. Today is just the day all the nowhere caught up to you.”  He stood, straightening his pant creases and tie. Dave put his hand on the locked door, and within seconds it clicked open. He waved Grey toward the hallway.

“Are we going,or is your love of stench and bad coffee gotten the best of you?”

Grey stood and walked out the door, very nervous,. He had the distinct feeling he was committing a crime, but he wasn’t quite sure why. He shot a look at Dave, suddenly fearful.

“I can’t go, I have paperwork to sign,otherwise I’m going to jail.”

Dave waved his fingers in the air.”Poof! You’ve signed whatever you want them to sign. Now let’s go get some real coffee, and I have this urge for a Hot Pocket all of a sudden. Cop shops always do that to me.”

Dave strode down the hall, Grey close behind,like some bizarre city and country mouse combo.  No one stopped them or questioned why they were there. Grey kept silent until they were in the parking garage.

“So getting me out, with the paper work  and the door, that was all magic?”

“Magic? No. Just a well placed frequency scanner and emitter hidden in my briefcase. And as far as the paperwork goes, it’ll show up in their system as filed. It’ll be  such a violation of their security, they won’t ever try to come after us.”

Dave found his car, which had seen better days. It looked like rust and bondo were all that was holding it together. Granted, it was an AMC Pacer, the pride of Kenosha, Wisconsin,and older than dirt.

“I see you’re traveling at your usual high society level, Dave.” Grey was afraid to open the door , but was afraid it might come off in his hand.

“The rust and bondo is all camoflage. brother. If you look like poor white trash, people automatically dismiss and underestimate you.  It runs and the heat works, so what else do you need in a car up here?” Dave got in, turned the key, and the engine roared That was not a Pacer motor under the hood. Nor did they ever come with full video screens in the dash.

Grey opened the door and sat down. His nostrils were suddenly on fire with the aroma of some liquid air freshener,. Pimp oil, his dad had called it.

“Jesus, Dave! Did no one tell you the 70’s were over?”

“You really want to walk back to the house?”  A rhetorical question, as he and Grey sped off  down the street, Dave driving like he was in the Indy 500.

“So.. Dave. About all this insanity. I really need to know what’s going on here. And I’d really like to find  where my wife and kids are.”

” I think all your questions will be answered soon enough, at least on the whole kidnapped family thing. The people who did it are right behind us.” Grey turned to look behind , but had his vision blocked by the sudden explosion of the rear window into the car.



Week without a Wife-Day 7

This should be the end to Week without a Wife, But since she ain’t back until Thursday night, there will be extra Week without a Wife. Maybe somewhere in here I’ll figure out the point to what I’ve been writing. Maybe there’s some master plan. Who knows? Who Cares? Who profits? Qui Bono?

Yes, I’m definitely a few shy of sane tonight. Let’s see where this goes.

Grey slumped against the chair in the interrogation room. His head rang form where the police had used it like a pInata. At least, that’s what he thought had happened. All he knew is that after his visitor had faded away like so much fairy snot, Herr Duvic had grabbed him and kept screaming at him. Grey recalled people pulling him off the officer, and him trying to punch every human he could see. This had earned him a serious ass kicking in return.

Now he was here in this lovely square, which reeked of B.O. and stale cigarettes. He’d seen places like this in movies, but nothing had prepared him for the claustrophobia, or the smell. After what appeared to be a small eternity, the door opened, and in walked Sergeant Duvic and another officer.

Duvi’cs manner and the guy’s suit made it clear this was a boss, not a colleague. He carried a small folder under his arm,and two coffees. He sat down across from Grey and slid one cup across to him.

“Good evening, Mr. Farben. I’m Precinct Captain Franklin. Please let me offer my firmest apologies for what has transpired here.”

“What’s happened is that your guys kicked my ass for defending myself. I thought this state still had self defense statutes.And I like my coffee with sugar and aspirin.” Franklin glanced at Duvic, who looked like he’d swallowed something big and awful,then left.

“Now, my understanding is that you’re claiming Duvic hit you first,correct?” Franklin took out a small recorder and a note pad.

Grey thought a minute before answering. “More like he assaulted me first. Nut job starts shoving me and pushing me, claiming I killed someone.” Grey had learned at at early age,like most younger siblings, to  not acknowledge anything he’d done wrong to elders and bosses.

“Yes, and Duvic is still claiming you’re a murderer. But since there’s no body, no blood and nothing whatsoever to prove this, I don’t think he’s going to be able to get someone to buy it.” Franklin looked into his folder a minute then leaned back and sighed.

“There is, however, the small matter of your attacking several of my officers. I know, I know.” he raised his hands,”You didn’t start it. But that’s not how the law works.”

“So here’s what we’re going to do: We’re going to let this all go as a small misunderstanding between a man whose wife is missing, and an emotional homicide cop..” Franklin smiled at him, but it didn’t register anywhere in his eyes. Grey was thinking this had more to do with fear of a civil suit  than anything else.

It was all very clear to him. If he sued, they’d press charges. So everyone was going to play nice, otherwise he’d be in jail, and they’d be liable.

“Fine. Just draw up whatever I have to sign to get me out of this place. And the missing person report I need to file, with a key to the men’s room..” Grey strained to his feet, his body still hurting everywhere. There was a knock on the door and Franklin opened it. Duvic came in and sat down the sugar and two aspirin. He turned and murmured something in Franklin’s ear,who frowned.

“Well, this complicates things. Your lawyer’s here.”

Grey looked confused.” My lawyer? I haven’t even had a chance to call.. ”

His words fell off as the door opened and Dave stepped in, briefcase in hand, suited upo to the tenth degree.

“May I have a word alone with my client, Officer?”


Week without a Wife-Day 6

Here we are again folks. Week without a Wife is actually going to be longer than a week. But hey, if I have to be without longer, so do you. I know I promised variety, but the idea of picking up each day and seeing where this goes is too enticing right now. If you’re not liking it, or think it sucks, comment and tell me why!

Grey rose slowly to his feet and looked around. It seemed as if none of the other officers were around to witness his murder of this man. Except this one, who seemed all too eager to turn him into either a prisoner or a corpse, judging from his expression.

“Hey there, Officer….”

“It’s Sergeant to you, scumbag. Sergeant Duvic.”  He motioned with the pistol towards the pile of skin that used to be Grey’s visitor. “Care to explain how you did that?”

“I have no idea, Officer. I swear, I didn’t mean to kill him,” The officer looked at Grey’s gore encrusted fist, still dripping with bits and pieces of human.

“We get that a lot, but you’ll forgive me if I don’t exactly believe you.” He waved the gun at Grey.

“You seem smart, you’ve seen cop shows. You know the drill.” Grey did, and dropped to his knees, and laced his hands behind his head. He wondered how he was going to explain this to Frida. Maybe she was right to leave, if he was headed for prison. Jesus, how was he going to explain this to his son? Yelling at him about making his bed was going to have a lot less effect now.

The sun was breaking through the clouds now, hitting Grey right in the eyes. He was about to ask the cop if he could move a little. As he squinted, he swore he saw steam coming off the snow in front of him. Sun must be really heating shit up.


The words snapped him to attention. He looked down at his hands, which were now steaming, if you could call it that. The blood and gore were somehow melting. The stuff was running in rivulets down his upraised hands, turning white as it went. It began dripping in front of him. Grey tried picking up a piece. It felt like some cold version of phlegm, like an ice cold loogie. As he held it up in front of him it began to fade in the sunlight. As he stood, the blood, viscera and skin of his visitor began to melt and then fade away.

Son of a bitch, indeed.



Week without a wife-Day 5

So here we are on day 5. So far, no delving into rants, self-pity, or bile spewing. That might happen yet, but so far it’s all behind the wall for now. On with the show….


The ringing kept persisting,as if someone was pressing the button. Since the button didn’t exist, he wondered who/what/how was that noise coming from the door. He could see someone standing there, He opened the hall closet, fishing around for something to use as a weapon. Only thing he could find was his old hockey stick from pee wee days. Grey thought if he hit the guy with it, he might get a zit popped or something from the force. Steeling himself, he opened the door.

Grey would later be hard pressed to describe the being standing at his door.It was as if he disappeared from your visual memory due to the incredible ordinariness of him. His suit was neither too fancy or too plain. No brands were apparent on him ,and he seemed as if he was mathematically compiled out of a statistical average.  His suit was dark, but not black, his eyes were brownish,but not not piercing. His very presence left Grey in a stupor for a second.

“Hello, Mr. Farben. I believe we have some issues to discuss.” He trailed off a name and what sounded like a  government agency, but Grey couldn’t be sure. His head was full of bees, the buzzing was so loud. The being kept talking, almost whispering.

“Where’s Dave, Grey? You can tell me,it’s OK. Just tell me, it’ll be all right. She’ll be back, the kids will be back, and this will never trouble you again.” The mention of his kids and Frida was like a slap. Grey grabbed the man’s lapels, and tried to shake him, but he just fell at his feet, the buzzing getting louder and louder.

“That’s it, Grey just give in. We’ve got your wife and kids. We got your folks, and we’ll get you as well. You’ll never even feel a thing.”

Grey fell forward on his knees, his forehead on the floor.It would be so much easier. The last day had been so hard. Why not just give in?

You don’t have to give in, Grey. The voice was female, full and throaty But if you do, we will avenge you.

Avenge me? I’m not dying today?  What the hell!

If you don’t get up off your knees,The female voice said,you’ll die on them. 


Grey stood up, rage in his eyes.”I ain’t telling you shit, and you can go to hell!” He reared back and punched the guy right in the face, putting all his weight behind it.

The face cracked and shattered like an egg, Grey’s face going right through it. As he pulled his fist back, there was a whooshing noise, and suddenly  blood sprayed everywhere. Then flowers:. chrysanthemums, orchids and daffodils, so many he couldn’t count them all. It was spraying wet, red and petals everywhere . Grey swore he could hear music for a brief second, and then the gentleman collapsed like an empty sack. His skin and clothes slid down the steps, landing in a pool at the bottom. Grey stood there, clothes steaming from the warm viscera that had bathed him.

Grey staggered down the steps, unsure,unsteady. As he bent to pick up what was left of his visitor, he heard a polite cough. And looked up into the face of the officer who’d stopped him minutes ago. He too, was covered in red goo,petals and stems.All except the 9mm he had pointed at Grey’s head.


Week without a wife-Day 4

It’s getting so hot here under the dome. People’s nerves are on edge, the whole town is ready to.pop. Wait, wrong series. Just kidding, folks. Was out all day, and just can’t seem to get the muscle to cut open the vein and let stuff out. Oh wait, here it comes.


Grey drove through a stop sign and a traffic light, sliding to a stop in front  of his parent’s house. There were no police cars, no ambulances in front of the house. There were several pulled up in front of the neighbors across the way. An officer directing traffic walked up to his car. Grey rolled down the window.

“License and registration, please.” Grey handed both over without thinking.

“What’s going on, officer? Is anyone hurt?” Grey could now see smoke billowing out of a side window.

“You’re a long way from the D, Mr. Farben. What brings you to our fair city? Not enough grime and cold at home?”

“My folk’s place is across the street.They passed a while back, and I’m trying to sell it.” Grey struggled with remembering the people across the street. This place had not been a community for Grey. His community was in hobby stores and game conventions. Dave and his dad  both would have known them, but Grey’s world was always inner, not outer.

“Well, you might want to just go inside. Some guy in there just put his head in an oven and set it to broil. Definitely not an open casket funeral.” Chicago PD were not known for their sensitivity. He handed Grey back his cards with a grunt and walked off.

Grey walked into the house,legs weak. In the last 24 hours,,it seemed as if his world had gone completely insane. He shouted hoarsely for his wife.”Frida! Where are you?” He looked around for the kids as well. Dead silence met his call,so he slipped off his overshoes and went upstairs.

They were gone. Frida and the kids both. Their coats were still drying on the radiators. Boots were still piled on the floor grates. Dread filled his mind, until he saw the legal pad propped up in front of the flatscreen in the living room. It had been the last thing he’d given his dad. If they were going to just sit around and watch TV when he visited, may as well do it in style, he’d thought. Six months later ,his father never watched anything again.

The legal pad had just one terse blurb on it. “You’re crazy, This whole city is insane. Taking the kids to sanity.”

Taking them to sanity? What the hell did that mean? And how did they leave? Grey thought about walking outside and talking to the police, but the weirdness of the day and the officer he’d talked to left him uneasy. He tried calling every number in his cell that Frida might have gone to, but none of them answered. Not surprising, if Frida had actually left him. Her family had been politely cold to him at most, with her brother being openly disdainful of Grey’s prospect as a husband.

Grey sat down on the couch, wondering at how his life had unravelled so fast.  The TV switched on, Dave’s face filling the screen.

“Hey bro!” Grey jumped about a foot in the air.

“What the fuck, Dave!” Grey picked up the remote and threw it at the screen, missing the TV but not the wall behind it, shattering the remote.

“I see Chicago traffic has had its usual calming effect on you.”

“Fuck you, asshole! Enough of your practical jokes. Where’s Frida? This shit is not funny anymore.” Grey sat back down, his eyes boring holes into Dave.

“You think this is a joke, Grey?” Dave was grim, his jaw set. Grey had seen that look before, usually when they’d fight as kids.”You think I subverted the nation’s civil defense grid as a gag? And what happened to Frida?”

Grey told him the story. As he did, Dave’s face tightened even further.He sighed at the end.

“Shit, that’s it. They’ve fucking taken her.”

“Who’s taken her, Dave? When are you going to start telling me what’s this all about? And how can you know what ‘they’ did?”

“because if I was them, it’s exactly what I would have done. Don’t worry, she and the kids should be fine, mostly. I’ll explain more later, but you’ve got company.”

That’s when the doorbell rang.Which scared Grey even more, because his folks never had a doorbell.


Week without a wife-Day 3

So, here we are at Day 3. It’s almost tomorrow, so technically it’s day 4, but in keeping with house rules, it isn’t tomorrow until i go to bed. And considering there’s an IV filled with Diet Mountain Dew stuck in my arm, who knows when tomorrow will get here? And by the way, if anyone’s actually reading this and has ideas on how to spruce up the joint, feel free to chime in. Where’s Bob Vila and This Old Blog when I need them?

So here  goes nothing….

By the time Grey slid into the driveway, the sirens had been silenced. News sites were calling it some electrical effect, or a computer glitch, depending on which flavor you were turned into. His eyes peered through the white haze at his former home.

It was a stranger to him, more so since his folks had passed.Grey opened the car door and walked across the lawn, picking up the fallen real estate sign. He wondered why it hadn’t sold, especially in a neighborhood doing the weird suburban version of gentrification. As he unlocked the door. he saw an envelope sitting in the hallway, addressed to him. Grey stared at it, wondering what bend was coming next to his reality.

Frida shoved past him,arms full of children and assorted gear. “Don’t help or anything, Grey.” He picked up the envelope and shoved it into his pocket. The next hour was spent unfreezing kids, getting the heat turned up to normal levels, and checking that the pilot hadn’t gone out on the water heater. No sane person let the heat go completely out while a house was on the market,unless they enjoyed emergency plumbing bills. Frida glowered at him while he unloaded the car, but seemed mollified by his offer to drive out to get Chinese. Maybe it was the memory of long nights spent devouring similar meals while in a stoned haze in his basement bedroom. Or maybe it was just the relief at not seeing him for a moment while she sorted out what was going on.

It was a torturous drive to Bernie Changs,even at two blocks. The order wasn’t ready, so Grey sat down on a rattan divan, listening to it creak under his weight. Judging from the groan and his belt, he should do this less often. Grey remembered the envelope then,and pulled it out. It was unsealed, a single sheet of copy paper inside.

It read:

I’m so sorry about this, Grey.


Grey looekd around, confused, suddenly filled with panic. It was then that he heard sirens again, this time, police ones.. He ran to his car, all thoughts of Chinese food gone from his brain.


Week without a wife-Day 2

So here we are at day 2. So far, the battle between neurosis and muse is at a standstill, but here comes the Muse out swinging

Continued from yesterday……

The silence outside was almost as thick as the silence inside as I drove. It was a five hour drive from Ann Arbor to the suburbs of Chicago, and I figured it’d take about two of them before Frida exploded on me. It only took  one.

“God damn it, Grey, what are we doing? Since when do we listen to, let alone, take orders from your crackpot little brother?”

You can’t really tell your Catholic wife that your brother is somehow psychic and a hacker on steroids, so I said the only thing that came to mind.

“My gut tells me to listen, honey”

This led to a two hour explosion of Spanglish , recanting my horrible record when it came to trusting my gut. From my job choices to my piss poor investment strategies Nothing like having your manhood eviscerated in front of your children to make Chicago traffic even better.

Snow began tumbling out of the sky. Weird, this early in the season. By the time we hit the north side of the city, traffic is reduced to a crawl, the defrost is on high, and every nerve in the car is on edge.

Then the sirens went off. I glanced up, the same reflex anyone who lived through the  Cold War has when they hear them out of season. I  looked over at Frida, her eyes wide with fear. My son Marty started crying, a natural reaction for a stressed six year old boy. Oddly, his sister Sasha, should be crying as well, but she stares back at me from the rear view, unblinking. I turn on the radio, searching for a news station.

“This is WBBM, News Radio 78. Our top story:the activation of air raid sirens all across the Chicagoland area. Reports from outside the area indicate this is a national occurence, and we are now trying to get someone from the military to explain what’s going on.  We’ll let you know more as we know more.”

Unsure, we drove forward. We’d gone too far to turn back. Was this why Dave had told us to come here? I flipped open my cell, hoping to get Dave. After thirty minutes ,all I got was an no longer in service message and a lump in my chest. Was it the end of the world? A nuclear war?

Folks sped up in panic, turning a bad traffic day into a nightmare. The last hour turned into two, as we passed wreck after wreck . During that time, the sirens howled, cutting through the blanket of silence the snow had formed. The radio told us nothing. Frida had her smart phone out, but was getting nothing. I was trying hard not to panic as Marty sobbed in the back. He’d cried himself to sleep, but slept fitfully. Frida and I both tried to reach back and rub him, but it just made him twitch more.

I inched us forward into the darkening whiteness, wondering what the fuck had happened to my world in the last few hours…..

Week without a Wife-Day 1

I was dealing with some six-legged home invaders this afternoon, when an idea hit me: Wife’s gone for a week,let’s use it for self-promotion!So the deal is, I’m going to post new writing every day this week while the wife’s away. I’m hoping for all new(to you) writing, but I may get behind and have to rewrite something and throw it here. What will it be: Rant? Poetry? A screenplay? Probably not the last one,unless meth suddenly becomes available at Best Buy. So here goes… something.

Day 1

I was watching the Lions lose again when my brother appeared on my screen. Like someone had changed a channel, but to his laptop. He looked down at something,the right at me. The bruise and bandage over his left eye made a mockery of his happy face as he spoke.

“Hey, little brother, need to talk to ya!”

“I have a phone,and Skype if you needed to see me.”  Dave had always had the knack of popping up in weird situations, like calling me once from Greenland to tell me he’d gotten married and divorced in the same day. But this was  weird, even for him.

“Please tell me the other guy lost.” I pointed to my own left eye.

He shrugged.”I’d say ask him,but he’s got this whole dead thing going on right now.” The view on my screen swung wildly ,then down to a pale man lying on the floor. The bullet hole and badge said that my Sunday afternoon was about to go sideways fast.

“What the fuck,Dave! You killed a cop? and you hijacked a TV signal? I don’t know who’s going to hurt you more, the PD or the FCC.”

Dave just smiled that million watt smile of his. “The FCC doesn’t know I hijacked a signal, and it’s only to you. But there’s no time to explain that now. I need you to pack up Tammy and the kids. Grab some clothes,supplies, and guns, if you have them.Then get to the folk’s place.”

Our parents had died two years before. Dave had missed the funeral, and I hadn’t spoken to him but once since then, annoyed at this typical Dave act.  He’d gained some measure of forgiveness by paying off the folk’s bills and the funeral. It’d sat empty since then, victim to my memories and a soft house market.

“And why would I do that, Dave? The days of me listening to you were over twenty years ago.”

He smiled again.”I could tell you it’s the end of the world, but it isn’t. It’s the beginning.”

“You’ve got to be shitting me. Who put you up to this? Was it the guys from game? I swear I’ll kick Harold’s bald ass all over this town.” I’d played RPGs with the same bunch of guys the last few years. Some men build cars, some work on their house. I sit and pretend I’m a sorceror, or a superhero .

Dave laughed.”Nope, not a joke. If I’m wrong, well, you can always blame me. Frida never liked me” Frida didn’t dislike my brother. She despised him. Something to do with my bachelor party starting in St. Louis and ending in Toronto.  Also, the whole absent at time of death thing. Frida was old  school about family.

“You still haven’t given me one reason to believe you.”

Dave stopped smiling. “You want reasons? OK, here’s several. The Lions will win today,with a fumble by the Packers at 3:34 this afternoon. The Giants will beat the Bears 17-9, with two Bears points coming from a safety on Manning. And New England’s  Offensive Coach will have a heart attack at 6:43, causing the game to be called due to forfeit. ” Dave then leaned forward, and was gone off my screen.

By 9:00 I was on the road to Antioch, kids crying ,wife fuming, and scared out of my mind.


Whaddya think, folks? Want more? Does it suck? Let’s hear something, anything!