John woke up the next morning still fuming about Ange’s exploits on Trade Me.
“How dare she,” he thought. “We’re supposed to be in this thing together, standing shoulder to shoulder and all that and she’s off selling my things… MY things on some shoddy internet site.”
The fact that he had been about to do the same thing was immaterial. Ange had gone too far this time and he was enraged, not just by the fact that she’d gone behind his back to sell some of his most valuable possessions but also by her general callousness over the last few weeks.
It was time for a showdown.
He could hear clattering and banging from the kitchen and Ange and Clemencey talking. He’d have to wait till Clemmie had left for school. He didn’t want her to hear any of this. This was grown-ups business.
He dressed slowly and carefully. He liked to look good when he walked into a confrontation. When he was a kid growing up he’d idolised the gunfighters he saw on old movies on TV. He’d realised very early on that the guy in the sharp suit never got gunned down. It was always the messy, unshaven guy with the bad teeth who bit the dust. Look sharp, act sharp. That’s what his childhood heroes had taught him.
That and have a Colt 45 on your person at all times. Tempting but probably not permitted under New Zealand gun laws.
He walked down the stairs to the kitchen, the “The Magnificent Seven” theme music running through his head.
Clemmie was racing around filling her school bag while Ange was sitting at the table, idly eating a pottle of yoghurt.
“Have you got some money Dad?” Clemmie asked breathlessly.” I need $10.”
“What for?” he asked. He wasn’t sure if he had any cash on him.
Clemmie launched into a long involved story about some movie and Olivia’s Mum booking tickets. By the time, she’d finished John had managed to fossick up enough cash to satisfy her needs.
She squeaked with excitement. “Thanks! You’re the best Dad in the whole world!”
A car horn tooted outside.
“That’s your ride, honey,” said Ange. “Make sure you say thank you to Mrs Denyer for the lift.”
“Sure! Bye Mum, Bye Dad.”
She raced out of the kitchen and John went to observe from the window. Clemmie had banned both him and Ange from accompanying her to the front gate at the start of the year, saying she was a big girl now. It still didn’t stop him wanting to watch over her.
He felt more relaxed now. His care and concern for his daughter had given him calm, taking the edge of his anger . He turned back and sat down opposite Ange. She gave no indication she even noticed his presence, just kept spooning yoghurt into her mouth.
“Now for the hard part,” he thought. ” How do you have a conversation with someone who refuses to talk to you?”
He consulted his inner gunfighter and came up with nothing useful. Shoot first ask questions later didn’t seem the right approach in this situation.
“Right Ange, it’s time for you and I to have a chat and what we need to discuss can’t be done via text message. I know you’re not happy about our financial situation but if we’re going to find a way out of it, you’re actually going to have to start talking to me.” He kept his tone gentle.
Ange licked her teaspoon , then let it clatter back into the pottle. She looked at the ceiling for a bit then looked down and examined her nails.
“You know John, I don’t really think we’ve got anything left to say,” she said finally, her scarlet lips twisting into a hard line.
OK, it wasn’t the ideal start but she was at least talking.
“What do you think you’re doing, selling my pen on Trade Me?”
“I needed money, “ she replied coolly. “The amount you give me for groceries isn’t enough to cover food and my weekly blowdry.”
John tried to keep his calm. “Did you not understand me when I said we were going to have to tighten our belts?”
Ange looked him straight in the eye. “I understood you, yes but I never said I’d actually do it. I didn’t sign up for this marriage to be one of the poor people, John. Now if you don’t mind, I’ve got a session with my personal trainer in 15 minutes.”
She stood up and stalked out of the room with a flick of her hips that said eff you rather than eff me.
John followed her into the hall.
“You can bloody cancel those sessions with that personal trainer you selfish cow. You’re stealing the food from our daughter’s mouth.” He was getting louder, his control was starting to crumble.
Ange’s voice floated back down to him, “Make me!”
“I damn well will.”
“And how exactly do you intend doing that, Mr Successful Businessman.” Ange’s voice oozed sarcasm and it stung.
John was raging now. “I can and I will,” he yelled.
“ You’re an irresponsible parent. We’re facing the loss of this house and you’re selling my things on Trade Me to pay for treadmill sessions and hair care. What the hell do you think you’re playing at!”
Ange reappeared, dressed in her gym gear. She stopped in front of him and tickled him under the chin.
“Aw, bubbins, “ she said in a baby voice. “Is liddle wifey refusing to play the game? What was it Clemmie used to say when she didn’t want to do something? That’s right. You’re not the boss of me.”
She repeated it, savouring every syllable “You’re. Not. The. Boss. Of. Me. Get the picture.”
She gave him a big, mocking wink and walked off leaving him spluttering.
“Yeah…well…you needn’t think that you’re in charge either!” he yelled after her, somewhat impotently. His inner gunfighter was struggling to reload.
He heard Ange slam the door to the garage in a way that said the argument was at a close.
Dejectedly John trudged back into the kitchen and slumped back into a chair.
His cellphone beeped.
It was Ange.
I might not be in charge but I do control access to the vagina. That gives me all the power I need.
John’s inner gunfighter packed away his Colt 45, beaten by Ange and her metaphorical bazooka.