February 7th 2016: Best break up ever
It’s Taken Care Of
, by Margaret Karmazin

When I first met Melissa, she looked like someone who sang in the church choir.   Not my type, but I had run into an old college buddy and he insisted I check her out.

It’s kind of a pain when married people start this pity party thing after you pass thirty and look at you with this particular expression while they try to fix your “problem.” The look says, I have become a mature adult with all that entails – marriage, child, expensive tropical fish, ladder climbing job and a protruding belly, while you, old pal, have remained basically a teenager with your sloppy apartment, giant flat screen, immature job (I am a Messenger) and pizza dinners. You need to get your ass in gear and become saddled with responsibility so you too can have blinding migraine headaches and look prematurely middle aged.

I sighed. There was no arguing with Brett Myers. “All right, whatever. Give me her number.”

She played hard to get, which was annoying since I didn’t care if I got her or not. Busy, busy woman apparently, but we set a date two weeks ahead. I met her for lunch on a Sunday at this currently trendy place where they write the menu on a chalkboard propped outside on the sidewalk. When I see one of those, I experience an urge to either kick it or draw an obscene cartoon on it. She told me she would be wearing a white blouse with a light blue sweater. There she was when I walked in, at a table in the back. All the tiny tables were lined up along a brick wall covered in wooden abstract art. A plant was hanging over her head and my immediate thought was: what if it falls and bashes her brains out? Odd that I would be having those kinds of thoughts so soon in the relationship.

“Nice to meet you,” she said, holding out a neatly manicured hand. No long talons though, just French tipped pink nails. “Hello,” I said.

We ordered, her being pleasantly shy and me being annoyed at the choices, which all seemed to be vegetarian when what I wanted was a thick, juicy, blue cheeseburger with steak fries. In spite of my annoyance, I was becoming hooked on her delicate cleavage.

She was, let me say here, attractive. Short, slender hipped (I would see this when she stood up), about a C cup, smooth peachy skin, perky looking with thick, short dark hair and big gray-blue eyes. Her clothes were conservative and pastel in color. Not my usual type, but I could see where she could possibly stir the loins.

“Brett thinks we’d get along,” she said. “Actually, it’s his wife. Shelly’s very good at matchmaking.”

“Really?” I said. “She has a long history of successes, does she?”

Melissa shot me a look. “Actually, she does,” she said firmly. While we ate, she filled me in on her job as an elementary school reading specialist and I told her about mine riding a bike all over town.

Her face expressed her view of this revelation. “A messenger?”

“Actually, it’s quite stimulating. I meet fascinating people, get inside of interesting places and enjoy a lot of exercise.”

“But there is nowhere to go in the job,” she said. “I mean, what will you be doing when you’re forty-five and no longer physically up to that sort of thing?”

I bristled, but tried not to show it. “I imagine by then, I’ll have published my novel,” I said. “I might be wildly famous and people who write about me will enjoy describing my former physically dangerous job.”

She didn’t smile, let alone laugh. “I think,” she said, “that it would behoove you to think about your future in a more serious manner.”

She actually said behoove.

She proceeded to tell me about her family, her students and pets. Then she talked about her political views, which surprisingly, I agreed with. She followed by bringing up religion. I let her go on, not bother to agree or disagree. She picked up the tab, which surprised me, saying, “I’ll get it this time, you can next.” I figured “next time” would be some high-end restaurant, but she surprised me again by wanting Chinese. After that, we fell into a relationship, a romance of sorts. The sex was good. Her underwear and grooming were like her outer appearance – conservative, pastel and clean. No funny stuff, no Brazilian waxes or tattoos, which was okay with me; au naturel is nice.

Brett and his matchmaker wife smiled and nodded smugly; apparently imagining they’d soon be attending a wedding when something happened to me that you normally see only in movies. While delivering a package to Brisbane & Duke, a relatively new to the city publishing company, I experienced a cute-meet with one of their editors, a tall, athletic woman with long, swinging, black hair arriving back to work from lunch and dressed in a crisp, professional looking suit. We crashed into each other as we attempted to enter the building. It was love/lust at first sight. I had not really believed this existed, but clearly it does. Within forty-eight hours, I understood that I needed to dump Melissa. It was the only thing I could do.

“Do you want me to help you in some way?” asked my true love, Kara.

“How could you possibly help me?” I asked her. “This is something I need to do myself.”

“I could pretend to be your controlling ex-wife.”

“I told her I’ve never been married,” I countered. “No, let me take care of this. I’ll call you later.”

I had worked up exactly what I wanted to say. Melissa agreed to meet me after school in a small park near my work headquarters. “Why the park?” she asked. “Why not just come to my apartment or I to yours this evening?”

I insisted on the park and of course, this clued her in on what was about to happen.

She showed up in a large, black, SUV with tinted windows. (Her own car was a white Prius.) While she stepped out, an over six foot tall man climbed out the driver’s side. He resembled a wiry, sinister ape. “Aaron,” she said. “I brought my cousin along.”

“Cousin? Why?” My voice sounded high and somewhat squeaky.

“Yeah,” she said. “Marky, this is Aaron. Aaron, this is Marky.”

“Marky? Good to meet you.” I held out an icy hand.

He didn’t take it, but subtly nodded. I couldn’t see his eyes through the mirrored glasses.

“So, what did you want to talk about, Aaron?” asked Melissa with a lilt to her voice.

My mind raced. “Um, I just wanted to surprise you. I was going to take you for a fun overnighter somewhere, but now that I think about it, you’re in the middle of a school week and you’ve got your cousin with you. So maybe I was premature. I think we’ll do it another time.”

She smiled. “Oh, I can take off. Parent conferences are over and I haven’t used any personal days, so what time should I be ready?”

Damn, damn, damn. Marky’s expression didn’t change one iota. Either he was in deep thought about issues of his own or hadn’t been paying attention. “Okay, then,” I chirped, “I’ll pick you up at six, how about that?”

“I thought we were leaving from here, right now,” she said.

“Um…uh no, now that I think about it, I didn’t pack enough. Not sure what I was thinking and of course you’ll need to pack too. How selfish of me.”

She smiled a big one. “What kind of clothes?”

“Oh, a little mix of everything,” I said. I was frantic to get back to Kara and have her help me figure this out. “See you soon!” I waved and saw her smirk before she climbed back into the drug-dealer-dream-car. Marky got in with his usual expression of emotion.

“Wow,” said Kara ten minutes later. “What are you going to do? Are you sure you don’t want me to be that crazy ex?”

“Absolutely not,” I said. “It could possibly get you killed! We’re dealing with bad shit here.”

Kara laughed

“No seriously. You should have seen that guy. He looked like he ate babies for breakfast. With a side of fried kittens.”

“Tell her you have a disease,” she said. “Take her to a bed & breakfast somewhere and at dinner, tell her.”

“What kind of disease – sexual? She might have Marky kill me because I’ve already infected her. It can’t be sexual.”

“Okay then,” said, Kara, “very debilitating. And inherited. It’s gotta be inherited. You’d pass it along to your kids, like they have a fifty-fifty chance of getting it.”

“Huntington’s disease!” I said. “That’s the very thing. It’s fifty-fifty.”

So I was all set. “Call me when you get home,” Kara said.

My next forty-five minutes were spent online, setting up a night in a B & B thirty miles away and dinner at some hopefully decent restaurant. I grabbed random clothing and crammed it into my gym bag. There remained another half hour before I had to pick up Melissa, so I skimmed medical sites for information about Huntington’s Disease.

Melissa was chirpy on the drive north. At this point I was starting to detest everything about her. The stupid way she wore her hair, the way she cleared her throat before starting a sentence, her boring shoes that looked like something a librarian would wear, even her cleavage. I internally recoiled from the idea of ever touching those particular breasts again.

“Is Marky following us?” I couldn’t help asking, possibly risking my life.

“No, why would he be?” she asked innocently.

“I thought maybe you were bringing him along. Maybe he’s folded up inside your suitcase?”

She didn’t seem to think this was funny. “You’re weird,” she said.

I didn’t dare look at her face.

We dressed for dinner and headed to the restaurant, which wasn’t as fancy as it had looked on its website. “Hmmmm,” said Melissa as we sat down.

“Not quite how I thought it would be,” I said, “but we’re here, so let’s see how the food is.”

As it turned out, it wasn’t bad. As the waiter placed a small, chocolate torte in front of Melissa, I cleared my throat and delivered my news, even managing to get a realistic quiver into my voice and to fill my eyes with tears. “So,” I finished up, “I have decided to avoid relationships, to never even tempt myself to marry or have children. I’m so sorry.”

She set down her fork. “But your parents are fine. They’re both in their fifties and healthy.”

“You’ve never met them,” I said.

“A month ago, you said your mother still ran three miles two times a week. You said your father worked out at the gym every other day and could jump from the floor to a small table. And your sister has three kids.”

“I’m adopted,” I said. “So is my sister. We’re both adopted.”

She rolled her eyes. “Aaron, you have said more than once that you take after your mother’s side of the family and that you inherited your green eyes from her. You said that you worry about your sanity sometimes because your paternal great-grandmother was crazy and burned all the rugs in the house.” She gave me a long, hard look.

I swallowed. “What I meant was my biological parents. I inherited my green eyes from my biological mother. And my biological father’s great grandmother burned the rugs.”

“How did you know these things about your biological parents? They don’t tell you stuff like that.”

“I met my bio mother once. I just didn’t tell you. I don’t tell you everything.”

“Well, you never mentioned the Huntington’s thing. I find that kind of odd.” She was looking at me steadily, as if waiting for something to give.

“I didn’t know about it till two days ago. I just found out. Apparently, my biological father just came down with it. He didn’t know either or so they tell me.”

“Who told you?”

“My parents.”

“Your adoptive ones?” She said this snidely.

“Yeah,” I said.

There followed a long silence while she picked her fork back up and resumed eating her torte. “So,” I said, “I don’t want us to see each other anymore. It’s hard for me to break away, but it’s best for both of us. It’s just better if I make a clean break now and get used to being without romance or sex.”

She didn’t say anything.

“We can still stay overnight at the B & B if you like, but I don’t think we should risk having sex. I mean the condom could break. God forbid.”

She was silent so long, I felt like jumping from the table and running around yelling at the top of my lungs, or something equally expressive. Finally she said, “I never wanted children anyway. I’m on the pill. I might even have my tubes tied. If inheriting is fifty-fifty, you might be okay. Even if you aren’t, I don’t mind taking care of you. That’s what wives are for.”

Wives? Had I died and gone to hell? For surely, this was what hell was – an inescapable situation of unbearable misery! Would I have to move clear across the country in the middle of the night? Would I have to shoot myself in the head?

“I don’t think so,” I murmured.

“You don’t think so what?” she said.

“I have some say in this, since it’s my life too! I do not want a relationship and the last thing I am going to do is marry in my condition!”

“We’ll see about that,” she said.


After I dropped Melissa off, I called Kara. Her voice was a bit chilly. “Apparently, you had to spend the night with her? And, I assume, screw her brains out?”

I was contrite. “I managed to get out of that. Told her I was having a colitis attack. She sniffed the bathroom and didn’t believe me, but I said I had odorless poop, that I was just lucky that way.”

“But you couldn’t get out of the B & B thing? You didn’t break up with her.”

I nervously told her what had ensued.

“You might have to kill her,” Kara said. She sounded serious.

“I don’t know what to do.”

When I got home from work the next day, Melissa was in my apartment making dinner. The kitchen counter was full of healthy stuff – salad makings, stir-fry veggies, a pound of fresh Pacific salmon. “I’m making sure you eat right,” she said. “And I want you to have the gene test to see if you’re got it.”

She was wearing a frilly, pink blouse. How refreshing it would be, I thought, too see a tattoo spattered girl dressed in black with a dog collar around her neck. I closed my eyes and considered what Kara had said. How would I dispose of the body though? There was no incinerator in my building and even if there was, someone might see me trying to shove her in.

I claimed that my colitis was acting up again to get out of sex later. In the bathroom, I frantically called Kara.

“Help me,” I said desperately. “She’s here cooking. I so miss you. I miss making mad love to you. I miss smelling your ebony hair. I miss-“

She cut me off. “Well, I wish you could handle this yourself. But if you can’t, I’ll do what’s necessary.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I’ll handle it,” she said.


Next evening, I came home to a blessedly empty apartment. After checking the closets and under the bed to make sure it was empty, I popped open a beer and sank into the couch. “Ahhhhhhhhh,” I said. I enjoyed the ensuing luxury of contemplating what to have for supper – Chinese or pizza? Maybe Thai? A phone call away, then an evening of glorious, mindless drivel on the wide screen. Alone, all alone.

Someone rapped on the door. I scrambled to grab a weapon, some kind of primitive reflex, no thought involved. Was I going to bash Melissa over the head with a hockey stick? I stood in the center of the living room, silent, stick held aloft, ready to strike. The door was locked, however.

“Aaron?” said a female voice. Took me a moment to grasp that it was not Meliissa’s.


“Let me in.”

Still holding the hockey stick, I unlocked the door. She strode in, tall and commanding and wearing a low cut, silky red blouse, skinny jeans and probably extremely expensive black leather boots. “It’s been taken care of,” she said.

Why did I feel a sudden stab to my solar plexus?

“Um, how exactly did you do that?”

She laughed, flashing very well cared for teeth. “You know that cousin Marky she brought with her?”

“Yeah,” I said, shuddering slightly.

She plopped down on my sofa with a proprietary air and stretched her long legs out on the coffee table.

“Well, I know the guy. He’s her cousin all right. Her father runs numbers. He’s very small time. Marky there is lucky he’s allowed to continue walking around, the way he acts. Really, he’s a would-be actor. I think he was in a couple of community theater deals and a commercial or two. Meantime he waits tables at a second rate Italian-American restaurant in Queens. I told my father what was going on and he sent one of his soldiers over to see Melissa at work. Scared her so bad, he says she had to excuse herself to use the toilet.” Kara chuckled. “Maybe it’s colitis?”

“Don’t worry,” she went on. “You won’t be hearing from her again.” She sighed happily. “Got any wine?”

I walked to the kitchen and opened the cupboard. My limbs felt like lead. That expression about falling from the frying pan into the fire? Apparently, it was invented for the likes of me.


Margaret Karmazin’s credits include 130 stories published in literary and national magazines, including Rosebud, Chrysalis Reader, North Atlantic Review, Potomac Review, Confrontation, Mobius, Absent Willow Review, Pennsylvania Review and Wild Violet. Her stories in The MacGuffin, Eureka Literary Magazine, Licking River Review and Words of Wisdom were nominated for Pushcart awards and Piper’s Ash, Ltd. published a chapbook of her sci-fi, COSMIC WOMEN. Her story, “The Manly Thing,” was nominated for the 2010 Million Writers Award. She helped write the introduction for and has a story included in STILL GOING STRONG, stories in TEN TWISTED TALES, PIECES OF EIGHT (AUTISM ACCEPTANCE), ZERO GRAVITY, COVER OF DARKNESS and CIRCLING URANUS and a novel, REPLACING FIONA, published by eTreasuresPublishing.com.

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