The New Toy


Joe sighed as he walked in the door. His wife Martha sat lounging on a chair, one cotton clad leg draped over the other as she smoked her Virginia Slims.

“Joe!” She called again, louder this time.

“Yes Martha,” he answered tiredly.

“Joe, Susan just told me that Ted was going to get a new dishwasher.” Martha waved a hand towards the kitchen. “We need a dishwasher. Imagine not having to wash a single plate ever again.” She sighed dramatically, “That would be great.”

Joe put his briefcase on the couch and looked towards the kitchen. His coffee mug from breakfast still sat on the countertop where he had placed it before leaving for work. The dishes from the kids’ breakfast were still piled in the sink. “Martha, you didn’t clean the kitchen?” he asked, incredulously.

“Honey,” she held the cigarette out in one hand, away from Joe. “I was so busy all day, and then I got so tired.” She reached up and kissed his cheek. “Besides,” she said as she started to walk away, “we need to get a dishwasher anyway.”

Joe sat heavily on the couch and rested his head in his hands. He knew he would not hear the end of the dishwasher idea. He wished he had stayed at work a bit later, maybe she would have had a few drinks and the idea would have been lost in her altered state. As is, with Martha being quite sober, he would have to purchase a dishwasher to keep his sanity. Damn Ted and Susan, he thought bitterly. Ted was supposed to be his buddy. Why would Ted do something this elaborate for Susan without telling him first? Ted knew Susan told Martha everything. Now he would have to join the bandwagon. Hearing footsteps, Joe looked up to see Martha marching back down the hall. Here we go, he thought.

She walked into the kitchen and found a glass in the cupboard, rinsing it and pouring two shots of vodka into it. She added a splash of soda and a lime wedge and brought the glass to her lips. He watched the smooth line of her throat as she drank, her once thin face, fat and puffy. “You know,” she said after her final swallow. “You should go over there and ask Ted where he’s buying his dishwasher. Perhaps you could get a discount.”

Joe silently obliged, rising from his seat and loosening his tie as he headed out the back door towards the wooden fence and gate that separated his house from their neighbors. He could feel Martha peeking out the curtains as he walked. He spied Ted fiddling around on the back porch.

“Hey neighbor!” Ted said as he watched Joe walk over.

Joe waved back, trying to find a way to broach the subject of the dishwasher. He decided the direct approach was always best. “Heard you guys are getting a new toy.”

“What’s that, you say?” Ted asked.

Joe smiled at Ted’s attempt at being modest. “Martha said she talked to Susan about you two getting a new dishwasher.”

Ted shrugged his shoulders and smiled sheepishly. “Yeah, well, I’m always forgetting her birthday and our anniversary and then the scandal with her sister. Let’s just say, I dodged a bullet with that one. I figure I owe her.”

Joe smiled and shook his head. “Martha’s pestering me about getting one.” He saw Ted’s look and ignored it. Truth be told, Ted was a really crappy husband. And the thing with Susan’s sister? Good thing there were others, or Ted would be up the creek. “I don’t want her complaining, so I think I’ll just get one.”

Ted looked at him with pity. “Hey, I’ll see if I can get you a good deal at the place I’m going.”

Joe reached across the gate to shake Ted’s hand. “Thanks. You are a life saver.” Joe walked the short expanse back to the house.

Martha met him at the door. “Well?” She asked irritably.

Joe stopped at looked at his wife. He was always good to Martha. Had been since they got married. He cooked when she was tired, cleaned when she was tired, put the kids to bed when she was tired. He was tired of her being tired, and tired of her being lazy. In one decisive moment, Joe did what he had spent years afraid to do. He looked Martha in the eyes and said, “We need to talk.”

The next week, Joe was getting out of his car and saw Ted walking over. “Hey,” he waved.

Ted waved back before stopping next to Joe. “So did you ever get her the dishwasher?” He asked carefully.

Joe laughed. “No, I actually changed the dishwasher to a carwash.”

“How do you change a dishwasher into a carwash?” Ted asked, confused.

Joe laughed again before bounding up the steps to his house. “Oh, it’s easy. I simply gave Martha a hose.”


~ by Adrianna Morgan on April 27, 2011.

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