Rob Taylor: Oops! Dialing 9-1-1 and living with the consequences
November 11, 2008
If Mary’s life were ethically cloned, sectioned, quartered and packaged for public consumption, no one would envy the individual parts. But with platinum blond hair, real fingernails, perfect eyebrows and a killer shoe collection – the whole package – she lived with a target on her back.
In fact, the only aspect of her life that wasn’t perfect was her job … or so everyone thought.
For 30 hours a week, Mary put her hair “up,” donned glasses instead of contact lenses and transformed into the robotic bank-teller at window number three. From there, she saw it all: “Blue Hairs” cramming free Dum Dums in granny purses, 6-year-olds with piggy banks, without manners, the fashion-challenged masses, and – worst of all – the “Forget-me-Nots” (the deodorant-free), who needed more personal space than could be afforded. Mary suffered them all with a smile and a secret Glade Plug-in. For her pain, she earned $12 an hour, no bennies.
“This place is killing me,” she admitted one day, cupping her hand over the telephone receiver during her break. She was tired of being nice.
“Only two more hours of high finance,” her husband said. “Gut it out. Things can only get better.”
“What is it?”
“That tone. You’re up to something.”
“No. Not really.”
But the tone did not lie. She knew that tone and loved it. Last time, it was a surprise Caribbean cruise. Suddenly, her mind was consumed with tickets to the opera, a new tennis bracelet, dinner out, something that would redeem the day.
She hung up, returned to her post and began mentally planning dinner … just in case he didn’t make reservations. Tonight, she would tackle Surimi, Spinach, and Roasted Red Pepper Quiche. That meant whisking, folding, pinching, lots of TLC. With dinner on the brain, Mary sucked it up and did her time, envisioning herself two hours from now in her kitchen – her sanctuary, her happy place, the place where the mojo happened.
A new Jason Mraz CD pumped her up even more on the drive home … until she opened the front door.
Inches from her feet, a trail of blood began in the entryway, meandered through the living room – streaking across the Berber carpet – and disappeared into the kitchen. For several long seconds, she was paralyzed.
“Hello, hello? 9-1-1 operator,” a voice said, bringing Mary back to the present. She suddenly noticed the cell phone in her hand. She had no memory of dialing.
“In the kitchen, honey,” her husband yelled before Mary could answer the operator.
Relieved to hear his voice, she flung open the kitchen door and froze once again.
“What the …” she mumbled.
“Nice, huh?” he said, looking up from a kneeling position on the floor. “Six-pointer. The rack is in the garage if you want to see it. Biggest buck I ever shot.”
Mary’s eyes tried to process the scene before her ” the skinned, headless, deer corpse, fully intact, minus a few steak flanks; the coarse hair and blood covering the Italian Grotto tile; the dizzying stench … all tainting her perfect kitchen. Then, she noticed the carving knife in her husband’s hand.
“That better not be my knife,” she barked.
“Why not? It’s sharp.”
“Why not? Because it’s cutlery, not a meat axe, you Neanderthal.”
“Let me get this straight: I score meat for the whole winter and you’re stuck on which knife I use? Maybe somebody needs to take a few deep breaths.”
That’s when Mary lost it – brandishing a meat cleaver and going on what became known as the “Wustof Trident Cutlery Rampage.”
If Mary hadn’t forgotten to hang up her 9-1-1 cell phone call, that may have been the end of it. Instead, the story was repeated in whispers for years every time the couple appeared in public.
And though she never wore an ankle bracelet, in the eyes of her friends and neighbors, Mary’s name was forever tarnished … and often mentioned in the same breath as Martha Stewart.
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