A Woman and Her Friends


Annabelle and her friends, as usual, were laughing at ‘The Clown’. After all he was such a foolish little man. He held the strangest of ideas; he wore the funniest of clothes, he came running when she called and most of all he never complained.

Jack ‘The Clown’, through no fault of his own, was in love with Annabelle. Even though they had nothing in common, they were the perfect pair. He earned; she spent. She called; he came. He longed; she laughed. To him, she was the perfect wife; to her and her friends he was the perfect buffoon.

This Saturday afternoon started just as any other Saturday did. Jack was upstairs, getting ready for his night shift job. Annabelle and her entourage were sitting on the deck, sipping champagne and admiring each others bathing suits.

The Connelly’s, Janice and Thom, were sitting on the lounge chairs. Janice was a well shaped blonde who knew all of the buzz words from the super market tabloids to keep the gossip going. Thom was the tall, dark and handsome son of a managing partner. Annabelle knew they were both wonderful lovers.

Vince and Laura Davis were stretched out on the diving board. Vince was the Internet’s latest millionaire, for the fifth time, and loved to flaunt his status to who ever was closest. Laura was the ‘adult party supplier’ for the entire valley and loved showing off the pictures of her modeling, or using, the latest addition to the catalogue. Laura was a great lover to Annabelle, Vince was OK.

Cameron and Vanessa Albrendt were enjoying themselves playing the role of chef and hostess. Cameron is a jingle writer for those pesky television commercials. His latest ‘success’ was that annoying ditty with all the singing babies. It was reminiscent of Beethoven being played with a sledge hammer on a xylophone. Vanessa was a model who never quite escaped the ‘Sunday circular’s’ circuit. They were both Annabelle’s ideal lovers.

For no apparent reason, Thom jumps up and hunches over and grabs his back in an exaggerated old man walk. “Oh… Hey… guess who I am” He hobbles around. Everyone laughs, especially Annabelle. “Oh, I am ssoooo tired.” He hobbles over to Annabelle, not unlike Quasimodo, begins pawing at her legs “Anner-belle, let me muh- sage you, Anner-belle!” Everyone laughs even harder.

“Oh my goodness, that is exactly like the clown. I can’t believe it… you nailed him exactly.’ Janice squealed.

“Stop that, Thom, it’s freaky.” Annabelle blasts “It’s bad enough he is upstairs, do we have to be reminded of him down here too.”

Upstairs, in his solitude, Jack had finished putting on his work clothes and slid on his boots. ‘Today would be a good day to wear the new boots.’ He thought to himself. He had saved the little bit of money that he did not give to Annabelle from his paycheck every week, for over two months. He could hear then laughing and enjoying themselves. He was sad he could not join but was very pleased that Annabelle could. He smiled to himself, thinking, she deserves to be happy not matter what that cost to him.

He walks over to the nightstand and opens the drawer. He reaches in and pulls out a small bundle of different colored notepads. Blue was on top. Blue was his favorite color. However, for this note blue just simply would not do. He rifled through them. Blue. Red. Orange. White. Yellow. Then he found it, Pink, was perfect for what he wanted. Then he sat down on the edge of the bed. He picked up a pen and began to write:

To my darling Annabelle,

Thank you for being my wife. I could not imagine my life without you. I know I have not been the ideal husband lately, but it will soon be worth it. I have been working 7-12’s on nights for the last 6 months, so that I could buy that little cottage up in Talabert where you and I fell in love, so many years ago. Please forgive me for all of the absent nights and all the days I was too tired to spend with you. With all of my heart, I love you.

With a swollen heart,


P.S. We close on the cottage on Monday and I have requested two weeks vacation time so we can spend it there together, without any distractions.

He smiled at himself and folded it in half. He never considered himself a poet, but Annabelle just did something to him. She turned him into a hopeless romantic. She is going to love it he thought to himself. He walked down stairs and through the living room. He glanced at the ornate fireplace and the hand carved coffee table and the hand sewn couch as he walked past. He remembered every job assignment he did in order to pay for each item. But it was worth it, because she had asked for it. He walked out onto the patio still carrying the note.

Everyone was sitting around the patio table, eating hot dogs and hamburgers and laughing. They became deafeningly silent as he walked up to Annabelle. All eyes were on him. He slips the note into her hand and bends over to kiss her bye. She quickly turns her head and his lips land on her cheek.

“Jack, Come on, you will mess up my makeup” She snapped.

“You are right, honey, I am sorry.” He said sheepishly. “Well, guys, it was nice to see you all again, but I must be off to work. I have to leave kind of early, the truck needs gas.” He picks up a hot dog off of her plate and crams it into his mouth, smearing ketchup on his cheek. He waves and walks away. As soon as he turns around the corner of the house he hears a tremendous burst of laughter.

“Oh, my god” Vanessa shrieked, “He didn’t even wipe the ketchup off… I wonder if he even noticed it”

“What is that?” asked Laura.

“A note. Do you guys want to hear it?” Annabelle asked. They rang in, like a chorus, with a resounding yes.

She handed the note to Cameron.” Here. Read this.” Cameron took on the pathetic voice that they associated with Jack and he overacted every syllable, to everyone’s enjoyment. Everyone laughed at the little fool who was in love with a woman who so enjoyed being promiscuous. It was obvious no matter how mean she was to him, he would always love her. A single tear comes to Annabelle’s eye. She coolly takes the note and walks inside.

At the Gas Strip station

Fifteen miles away, Jack pulled his truck into the Gas Strip station and began fueling it. Arnold, his best friend, pulled up at the pump behind him. Arnold was the epitome of everything Jack thought a man should be. He was a tall, strong, bearded, loud, gun-toting, chain smoking, tattooed, college educated kind of guy. He started a home remodeling company when he was twenty three and sold it as a construction company at thirty five for $4.5 Million.

“Jack, how are you doing?” Arnold calls as he begins fueling his long stretched car.

“I am doing good, Arnie, just heading to work…How about you?”

“I’m good.” replied Arnold. Jack looked at the fancy car Arnold was driving.

“That is a might fine car you have there. Someday, I am going to buy Annabelle a car like that. Yes Sir-ree”

“Don’t be a fool.” Arnold stated. “… not worth it”

“Well, what do you mean, Arnold? It’s not a good car?”

“No, Jack, what I mean is she is not a good wife”

“Now, Arnold, you take that back. Right now!” Jack said taking a step forward. He looks over his shoulder into the bed of the truck, there was what he was looking for. That axe handle would help adjust Arnold’s attitude about Annabelle. Some guys just understand the rough and tough kind of talking to. If that was what it took to make Arnold understand that he was talking about someone’s wife, then so be it. He reached in the bed of the truck and grabbed the axe handle.

“Now, Jack, put it down” Arnold stated flatly. “Now, I will not warn you again” he said as he reached under his coat and behind his back.

At the House

“Hey, Dorothy…”Annabelle spoke into the phone. “This is Annabelle… yes, Jack’s wife…Has he made it to work yet?” The faintest tears began to emerge from her eyes. “No? That’s strange… he left here over forty five minutes ago. I will try his cell phone again… thank you.” She still held onto his note. She reread it every time she waited for her calls to be answered. How could she have been so heartless as to have another man read her darling, sweet husband’s heartfelt words to her. That was a moment of privacy between a man and the woman he loves. More tears fell.

She called Jack’s cell. There was no answer. She called his job. He wasn’t there yet. She called his mother, Bernice, she had not heard from him, but would call Annabelle as soon as she does. She called his cell again. Nothing. The tears were welling up now and cascaded down her cheeks. She hurried out of the house, grabbing her keys on the way out of the door. She climbed into the car and backed out of the driveway. She pointed the long, shiny convertible in the direction of his job.

She noticed up ahead, as she turned onto Mc Namara Ave., all of the red and blue lights. She was scared there was a car wreck. As she got closer she saw all of the police cars at the Gas Strip. She was relieved. It must have been a robbery. Why else would there be police cars at a gas station. As her car progressed forward, she saw his truck sitting at the gas pumps that were encircled by the police tape. ‘Was he unlucky enough to have been a witness to a robbery?’ She thought to herself. She snatched the wheel in order to get into the parking lot of the gas station. She wanted to be there for him if he needed any comforting.

The police, leading a man away, had caught her attention. She seemed to recognize the man in handcuffs, but couldn’t remember where she had seen him. She found a parking space close to the gas island that jack’s truck was parked at. She rolled down her windows and dialed the phone. If Jack is close, she could hear his phone ring and know where he was at. As she planned she could hear the ring. It was close. She looked around, trying to find her husband. It rang again. Yes, it was definitely close. Then, she realized the ringing was coming from the truck. He must have gotten scared and dove into the floor board to stay safe. She got out of the car and walked over to the driver’s side of Jack’s truck, which was away from the gas pump. She could hear the ringing. She leaned in the window and picked his cell phone up off of the seat. She looked around and still did not see Jack. The name calling was ‘Greatest Wife’ this brought a tear to her eye again. She hung up her phone and the ringing on his phone stopped. The screen on his phone switched from reading INCOMING CALL- GREATEST WIFE to 7 MISSED CALLS. She walks inside the gas station.

“Excuse me, does anyone know where the man is who was driving that black truck?” she called out. Everyone seemed to cry a little louder.

“Ma’am… did you know him?” the woman behind the counter asked.

“Well, yeah, I do know him. I am his wife” Annabelle said. The cries and sobs became even louder.

“She was the one they were talking about.” She heard one old man tell another.

“Well Ma’am” said the woman behind the counter. “His friend shot him” those words burned deep in Annabelle’s brain. That was the man she recognized. It was Arnold Anderson, Jack’s best friend. She began crying.

“Do you know why” she asked.

“He attacked the man with a piece of wood, because he was talking bad about his wife. So the other man shot him.”

“Did he say anything before the ambulance got here?”

“Yes, as they were loading him into the ambulance, he said ‘Tell my Annabelle, I love her and I am sorry for missing work tonight.” Annabelle’s tears flowed like the Niagara.

“Annabelle drove as fast as she could to the hospital. She jumped out and ran into the hospital and quickly found the reception area.

“Please, Please, tell me what floor Jack Delano is on” she blurted to the nurse. The old woman slowly typed in the name.

“He is on the first floor” Annabelle takes a deep breathe and memorizes the directions the receptionist gives her. She runs as fast as she can, taking all of the correct turns as described by the woman. Go Down three hallways, turn right, go up two hallways, turn left, go down six hallways, turn left, go down the eleven steps and then through two doors and turn right. As she made the last right turn, she stops in her tracks and just stands in the hallway.

Fourteen years of marriage flood over her and she experiences every moment in a second. Even though her eyes are pouring tears down her cheeks and onto her blouse, they begin to focus. Then she busts through the door and sees Jack lying on a bed. She runs up to his side and throws her arms over him and cries. She was happy that they were even helpful enough to have washed the smeared ketchup remnant from his cheek.

“Jack, I have been so horrible to you, please forgive me. I will never cheat again, I will never laugh at you again. You are truly the best man I have ever met and I am proud to be your wife. You have made so many sacrifices for me and I took you for granted. I love you. I love you with all of my heart.” She says between tears.

“Hello” came the voice behind her. Annabelle spins around.

“Can I help you?” She says facing the man who had spoken.

“You can’t be in here” the man stated.

“What? Doesn’t a woman have a right to be with her loving, sweet husband as he lay in ICU without being bothered?”

“Well… yes ma’am, a woman does have the right to be with her husband in ICU, but you aren’t in ICU. Ma’am… this is the morgue.”

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