Matrimonial Bliss
by Harold Kempka

Joe stood in the cellar doorway, and flipped the light switch. He suspected a blown fuse when the single light bulb hanging from the stairwell remained unlit.

Joe rummaged through the junk drawer and found his flashlight, a Police department grade Mag Light that emitted a laser-like shaft of white light.

He was alone in the house, except for his darling Chelsea, who lay dead in the cellar. He'd left her overnight, and was going down to dispose of the body.

"Well, my dumb, dead Chelsea," he said, standing at the top of the stairs, "you don't know how good it feels to no longer have to listen to you whine, 'Joe, pick up your clothes; Joe, take out the garbage; Joe, turn down the TV; Joe, I want to go to Disney world'."

He'd resented the sense of empowerment she felt after attending those stupid, Women in Retirement seminars. All she did was talk incessantly about the need for them to make changes in their relationship.

And yesterday, when she bugged him to sign a promise contract to keep her happy in their golden years, he laughed at her.

"I haven't done it during our entire marriage," He'd replied, "so why change now?"

But did she drop it? No-o-o! She kept nagging even after they'd gone to bed. After an hour of trying to sleep with her whining and complaining, Joe had enough.

"All right!" He said. "I'll sign the stupid contract just to get you to shut up and let me get some sleep!"

Even then, she nagged, "Well, that's not a very convincing attitude, Joe. I don't want you to sign it if you don't mean it."

"All right, already!" He said, sounding exasperated. "Give me the damn pen."
Chelsea handed him the Timeless Roller Ball pen he'd given her for Valentines' Day. He glanced at the contract, and then at her.

Instead of signing however, Joe stabbed her repeatedly in the chest, wiping out thirty years of matrimonial hell with one stroke of the pen.

Was he proud of what he'd done? Not really. Was he sorry? Absolutely not. Could he explain away her absence?


The entire neighborhood knew of their rocky relationship. He'd just say she packed up and moved out while he was at work.

As Joe descended the cellar stairs, a hand reached out from underneath the stairwell. It gripped his ankle, and tripped him. The bones in his neck popped and cracked as he tumbled head over heels.

Joe lay on the cool cement floor, paralyzed and unable to cry for help. His head tilted against his shoulder, and the flashlight spun on the floor next to him. It illuminated his face with every rotation.

Chelsea stepped out from beneath the stairs. She picked up the flashlight, and shined it on his face as he lay crumpled on the floor. His eyes held a fixed stare and his breathing, shallow and labored.

"Joe, Joe, my stupid Joe," she said calmly, "First, you couldn't get our marriage right, and then you didn't even know which side of the chest my heart was on. Who's the dummy now?"

She walked to the circuit breaker against the wall, and flipped the switch, lighting up the dank basement. Her clothes and chest were matted with blood.

"So now, it comes down to this," she said. "We knew one day, one of us would succeed in getting rid of the other, didn't we?"

Joe had left her for dead, but Chelsea had bandaged herself up with gauze and tape from the basement first aid kit. She knew he'd come down the next morning, and patiently awaited his return to extract her revenge.

She sighed, and said, "Well, Mr. Smarty pants, what do I do now? Let me think; h-m-m, what would Joe do?"

She crossed the room to Joe's workbench, and found his plastic painting tarp. She spread it out on the floor next to Joe, and rolled his body onto it. Then, she grabbed the Poland chainsaw she'd given him for Christmas.

The saw's loud buzz filled the cellar, and she hummed the Seven Dwarves work tune as she cut Joe into pieces. After wrapping them in the plastic, she iced him down in his favorite hunting cooler. She thoroughly cleaned the basement, and then washed up.

She glanced at herself in the mirror, and said, "Say, Chelsea, you've just succeeded in getting rid of your no good husband. What are you going to do now?"

Then, without breaking stride she smiled and shrugged her shoulders at her reflection. "I'm going to Disney world. No, make that, Jamaica, or maybe the Bahamas."

Harold Kempka is a former Marine, and Vietnam Veteran. His poetry has appeared in Leatherneck Magazine, and his short stories have been published in the Circle Magazine, The Shine Journal', and the Fiction Flyer, among others. He is a member of the FlashXer, flash fiction workshop, and lives in Southern California with his wife, Celeste, and son Derek.  Contact Harold.
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