Trudy & Herb
A short story written by Ray Flynt and originally published on Life’s a Mystery
Since retiring, my husband kept the same morning routine. Herb would amble from the bedroom around 8:30 a.m. wearing plaid boxer shorts and a ten-year-old wife beater with sweat stains at the armpits that defied detergent. He’d plop down at the table, greet me with a where’s-my-breakfast glare, and thumb through the newspaper hunting the daily crossword puzzle.
Frankly, I missed the days when Herb jumped out of bed at five, left me undisturbed, and grabbed a bagel on the way to work.
“Herb, you never talk to me,” I whined. Silence.
Without looking up from his puzzle, Herb blurted out, “Recondite.”
“Seven letters. Second one’s a B.”
“How the hell am I supposed to know some obscure word?” I said.
“That’s it,” he shouted. “Obscure!”
I hadn’t seen him that excited since our wedding night. To thank me, he shoved his empty coffee cup in my direction.
“We’re out of coffee,” I informed him. “How ‘bout a Colt 45 malt liquor?”
His eyes brightened until I said I was being facetious.
“I put coffee on that shopping list I handed you three days ago,” I chided him. “If you’d done as I asked, there’d be plenty of coffee.”
He merely shrugged.
Whenever I confided to my sister, Joan would say, “Trudy, I advised you not to marry him forty-five years ago.” How could I know Joan had the power of prophecy? She ended our conversations with, “Pray about it.”
Oh, how I prayed.
Then a few Sundays ago, Pastor Jeff gave a sermon based on 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, verse 55. O death, where is thy sting. It gave me an idea. As I exited the church that morning I told Jeff, “I’ve been praying for God’s help.”
Pastor clasped me by the elbow and said, “God helps those who help themselves.” I nodded. That’s exactly what I intended to do.
Herb belched. It was time to call my sister and put my plan in motion.
After a few minutes of small talk I told Joan, in a voice loud enough to draw Herb’s attention, “I spotted a swarm of bees this morning in the snapdragons just outside our kitchen window.”
Herb glanced up from the crossword puzzle, a twinge of apprehension in his eyes.
“You’re right, Joan. I hope they stay outside. You know how allergic Herb is. I added an EpiPen to his shopping list, since we’re all out.” I neglected to mention that I’d destroyed the only one we had. “Oh no!” I shrieked, “One’s buzzing around Herb. I gotta go.” I ended the call.
Herb bolted upright looking first left, then right.
That’s when I jabbed him in the left shoulder with the syringe of bee serum. He slapped his hand over the spot, rubbing it. Herb’s eyes widened like he’d just seen a purple jackalope lumbering through the kitchen. His body convulsed. It all happened so fast.
According to the coroner, death was from anaphylactic shock. I credited the power of prayer.
Ray Flynt is the author of the Brad Frame mystery series, as well as KISSES OF AN ENEMY, a political suspense. Ray was very active with the Erie Playhouse in the 70s and 80s. He is retired and lives in Central Florida.