‘It’s all in the presentation,’ he says, slapping the chicken breasts into a baking dish already half-filled with shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes, onion, and garlic cloves. He pours some imported olive oil over the chicken pieces. ‘No, I’m not washing my hands, bitch. Stop me now!’ He shakes on il sale and il pepe and lots of il basilico, and the rest of his Italian herbs. He adds fresh dill sprigs and sliced almonds on top, pops some almonds into his mouth.
“He whistles and dances around the kitchen, he’s so happy. Tired though. After cleaning up all that blood and brains and bits of bone in the living room.
“He finds the aluminum foil in one of the drawers–never where he wants it to be; it’s not his kitchen, even though he knows how to cook, and wants to cook. But no, stay out of my kitchen, she used to say in her bitchy, screechy voice. He yanks a sheet of foil and tears it from the box (which he tosses on the kitchen counter and doesn’t put away). He tents the foil into a lid, and scrunches it around the edge of the dish, slides the dish into the oven, and waltzes around the kitchen once more after slamming the oven door.
“He rumbas into the living room, checking to make sure all traces of wife-goo have been removed. What’s left of her is rolled and tied in a shower curtain, lying all lumpy and shadowy in the garage. ‘Shot her through the head, yes I did. Never saw it coming, didn’t know I was going to do it until I had the rifle in my hands,’ he sings.”
“But you know she left you that chicken, marinating in a pan in the refrigerator. She was going to fix it for dinner. In her gorgeous, clean kitchen, that remains clean because her slob of an idiot husband isn’t allowed to enter. She was so tired of cleaning up after him. Each night when she came home after her shift, the house was such a pig sty. He was out of work, didn’t do anything all day except play video games, eat, and stream Netflix. She was fed up. She called a divorce lawyer, but apparently her ass of a husband would collect alimony if she left him. So she made other plans. ‘It’s easy to find the drugs that I need,’ she said, ‘since I work in a hospital.’
“And it doesn’t matter if he shot her first, because she’s already injected those pieces of meat, marinated them in something tasteless, odorless, and very deadly. So not long after her husband finishes top-broiling his breasts, before rigor-mortis even begins to take hold of the sole breadwinner, the one who makes the money and has the job–bet you didn’t think of that, moron–he’s lounging on the couch eating chicken with his fingers, getting grease everywhere, when kapow, the drugs and poison hit him. He lunges up then lurches forward and everything scatters as he falls to the floor, bloody froth and vomit oozing from his mouth, his face turning purple, his eyes rolling up in his skull. ‘Too bad asshole, karma sucks!'”
Dr. Wexler seemed frozen. She stared at the couple across from her, her mouth hanging open. “Uh … that wasn’t quite what I….”
“Man that was fucking hilarious,” Mark Fumello said, rocking back on the small couch and slapping a thigh.
Wendy Fumello’s eyes were bright, her face flushed. “Wow, this role playing, acting out thing is really amazing!”
“But that’s not what we’re supposed to be….”
Mark turned to his wife and reached out a hand. “I am a pig, I know.”
“And I’m a bitch,” she answered with a laugh. She gripped his offered fingers. “Next time I want to go first,” she added, addressing the therapist who continued to gape at them.
“First?” Dr. Wexler asked.
“I get to tell the murder story first! I’ll bet he can’t find a way out of it, either!”
“I’m a gamer, girl. You can’t out-play me!”
“Mark, Wendy, we’re supposed to be role-playing, acting out–you take each other’s role in the marriage so each of you can empathize, understand, how the other perceives your behavior….”
Mark and Wendy shook their heads and smiled in unison. “This is the most together we’ve felt in years,” Mark said. “You’re a genius, Dr. Wexler. I can’t wait until next session.”
“Oh, you can,” Wendy interrupted, giggling. “I have something very special planned for you!”
Dr. Wexler checked her watch. “Time is up for the day,” she lied; there were ten minutes left. “I’ll … I’ll see you both next week….” She tried to keep her voice steady.
“Oh we’ll be here,” Wendy said as the couple came to their feet, still holding hands.