The MIB lived on Carol’s white microfiber couch from 6 p.m. until midnight every evening. The couch was slipcovered in a mocha-shaded fabric to absorb his brown life and protect the furniture from his stench. She did not like this man, but she married him. This couch is where he drank beer, bottles of wine and spit tobacco into a blue ceramic coffee mug with a paper towel inside. Carol saw him as a bottom-dweller, feeding on trash. He’d rent three to five violent movies a night; horror, war, disaster, dismemberment; anything with screaming rapid fire or explosions and watch each one between farting and an occasional exit to the bathroom to take a whiz.
The MIB didn’t speak. She did not talk to him while he sat immersed in death marches, hangings, and bombings. To ask his attention was to ask for a glare of disdain. To ask him to help Joy with her homework, was to ask for a minute too much and resulted in an argument and tears. The tears were Joy’s.
The MIB worked during the day in front of a computer. He was a handsome man before he lived in her basement; blue eyes, sculpted face, curly hair, ruddy complexion. Is a strong jaw line really substitution for love? He had potential. “Never marry potential,” her therapist said. He hated his job, he hated his life, and he hated Carol.
The house wasn’t clean enough. She didn’t make enough money. She didn’t have the right food in the refrigerator. She didn’t want to canoe. She didn’t like what he liked. Clean underwear wasn’t in his drawer. She forgot the coffee on a camping trip. She made the wrong turn. She didn’t stir the food the right way. She didn’t remember how to put her files in folders on the computer. Her glasses were ugly. She was too skinny. His drinking was her problem. She put something away of his in the wrong place. She spent too much time in her activism. She talked to him when he didn’t want to talk. She spoke too much to her friends. She was too protective of her children. She wasn’t physically strong enough. She didn’t hike. She didn’t have an orgasm.