Friday
Jan202017

Bites

Glen Pourciau


 

FRED

Whitney's efforts to undermine me have escalated. She has published a review savaging my new novel in an online magazine called KeyWords. I know she wrote it because she's threatened to do as much in the past and the reviewer's name sounds absurd and shares Whitney's initials. Though she wants me to know it's her, she won't admit to me that she is responsible. I've asked KeyWords to take the review off the site on the grounds that my wife wrote it with a revenge motive, but they have refused, saying I have no evidence to support my claim. They went so far as to speculate that I've done something to deserve retaliation and have made Whitney the imagined voice of my guilty conscience. I wonder if the editor has some personal connection with her and if Whitney takes secret pleasure in concealing it from me.

 

FRED

I did not write the paragraph above in my name. Whitney barged into my computer and wrote it to anger me, probably after sharpening up her words on paper for days. Suffice it to say we have not gotten along for years. We have separate bedrooms and daily routines and eat separate meals. Whitney suffers from a never-ending desire to make herself a gnawing pain in the ass. This eruption is just the latest evidence of that.

 

WHITNEY

Fred wrote both of the previous sections. I have no bad intentions toward Fred, yet I have to defend myself against his paranoia. Otherwise I'll be ground to bits under the wheels of whatever machinery his mind conjures up. Should I sit quietly while he viciously destroys my reputation? I've read the negative review Fred speaks of and I'm sympathetic that he has written such a bad novel. Even he knows how bad it is, but he confided to me he couldn't bear to throw out years of work; so he went ahead with publication, hoping his evaluation of the work was too harsh. Now Fred has to live with the shame of having his name on the book, which he'd like to be forgotten as soon as possible. The sad truth is that Fred himself wrote the lacerating review in KeyWords. Anyone would have to know his self-destructive nature to believe this, and no one knows that side of him better than I do, after almost twenty years of marriage. I recognize favorite words and phrases of his others might not notice. Fred has come to regret writing the review and wants to twist the situation against me, perhaps with the rationale that I've distracted him for years and am therefore the reason the book is so bad. It's easier to attribute any ill intentions behind the review to me than to confess his need for self-sabotage.

 

FRED

I haven't written any of the three sections above, and if anyone can believe the convoluted reasoning in the section under Whitney's name then I would be incapable of untangling the knots in that person's mind. But I doubt anyone so credulous could exist, except in Whitney's tormented imagination.

 

WHITNEY

I deny writing any of the previous sections. Fred is using the narrative to widen the chasm between us so much that it can never be bridged. I'd like things to work out and Fred wouldn't; it's just that simple. He recently told me we should take off our wedding rings. I told him I had no intention of taking off my ring and if he takes his off first that means he's the leaver. He said he began living in our house long before we were married and he's not going anywhere.

 

WHITNEY

Fred is getting on my nerves and I don't know what to do about it. I could smash his computer, but I've promised myself I won't be destructive. I prefer to be a force for positive change in our relationship. Fred has put me in the embarrassing position of denying the denial in the previous section. I also deny writing a single word of this thing, whatever it is. Welcome to the imaginary world of Fred.

 

FRED

Why would Whitney deny her denial and follow that with another denial? Because she refuses to come clean about what she's doing and wants to make it seem as if I could be behind her words. By the way, it was her idea for us to have separate meals and bedrooms and to stop exchanging gifts for birthdays, Christmas, and anniversaries, yet she paints me as the leaver. Where did she get the idea to separate our lives within the same house? She came to me with these changes after seeing a lawyer. She has a purpose behind everything she does.

 

WHITNEY

Thank goodness I printed copies and sent myself email attachments of everything we've written, because Fred has put a lock on the door of his study. He aims to keep me away from his computer when he goes out to the gym or the grocery store or wherever. He tried changing his password, but I countered by entering a wrong password multiple times, which shut off his access, thus causing him trouble. I think he'll learn the locked door won't be effective either.

 

FRED

This morning I went to my study first thing, as I always do, and saw that the door had been removed from its hinges. Whitney was still asleep, probably tired after taking the door off during the night. I assume she lifted the key from the pants hanging from a hook in my closet. She then unlocked the door and pried the hinge pins up and carried it away. Eventually I thought to look outside and found it tilted against the back fence near the garbage containers. I brought it back inside and later turned up the hinge pins in the kitchen garbage. Whitney must have had a hard time maneuvering the door all the way out there, but she's driven in her pursuits by relentless malice.

 

FRED

The story of Whitney removing the door from its hinges is sheer fantasy. In the first place, she wouldn't have the strength to lift the door and move it any distance. She keeps sending me additional sections as email attachments. If I say more she'll only try to turn my words against me.

 

WHITNEY

Fred will do anything to destroy my credibility. It is in his financial interests to do so. My anger toward him is completely justified. I did not take off the door, but if I had I'm strong enough to carry it outside.

 

WHITNEY

I did not write the four sentences above and I did not do anything with his door. Fred made that up, not me. I slipped into his study about an hour ago and read the latest entries and sent myself a copy in case I need it in the future. If I don't protect myself, Fred will be able to assert anything he desires. He may have already done enough to cast doubt on any future denials I might make.

 

FRED

Another denial of a denial, this one followed by her typical identification of me as the culprit. I throw my hands up in frustration, knowing that Whitney cannot change her essential nature. I rest my case.

 

WHITNEY

Fred has made no case. His only "case" is what goes on inside his head.

 

FRED

I did not write any of this.

 

WHITNEY

I didn't write it either.

 

FRED

I guess no one wrote it.

 

WHITNEY

An obvious lie. Fred wrote it.

 

FRED

Whitney wrote it. She's taken over "Fred."

 

WHITNEY

Fred is "Whitney."