Earl stormed out of the house. "You don't know what I'm capable of, Myrtle. I'm on the friggin' edge here!"
Myrtle stood in the doorway watching him go. "Oh, Earl. You're such a drama queen." She started to move back into the kitchen but stopped. "Don't forget to pick up some milk on your way home."
"I may not be coming home!" Earl yelled over his shoulder. He stopped and spun around, facing her. "Don't you get it? I'm suicidal, Myrtle. Don't be surprised if it's the last time you see me."
She shook her head and went back to the kitchen, letting the screen door close behind her. Earl stood there for a moment, staring at the door with rage in his eyes. He jerked the keys from his jeans and hopped in his late-model Thunderbird and drove off.
About an hour later, the phone rang in the kitchen. Myrtle recognized the number on the caller ID as she picked it up. "Okay, Earl. What's the matter now?"
The voice on the other end was formal. "Hello, ma'am. Are you an aquantance of a Mr. Earl Jay Williby of Benton Way?"
Myrtle's hand fluttered to her chest as her face lost its color. Her voice broke as she spoke, "This is his wife, Myrtle Williby. Who is this?"
"Ma'am, this is Seargeant Trent Galloway with the County Sheriff's department --"
"My God, what's wrong --"
"We found your husband in his car out on Route 24, behind the old train station. Ma'am, I'm not sure how to tell you this..."
Myrtle felt her knees about to give. Her fingers dug into the kitchen doorway for support...
"Your husband suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head." A terrible pause followed. "I'm afraid he's dead, ma'am."
Myrtle released the phone from her grip as her body collapsed to the floor.
Across town, Earl exchanged a crisply folded fifty for his cellphone back from a homeless man. "You did great," Earl smiled.
He hopped in his car and headed home. Part of him felt bad he'd done what he'd done, but he wanted to see some real concern coming from his wife and this was the best way to do that.
When he finally turned on his street, he noticed the ambulance parked in the driveway. His heart racing, he pulled up alongside it and jumped out. A paramedic exiting the house impeded his entry.
"What's going on here? My wife, is she alright?"
"Are you Mr. Williby?"
"I'm afraid to inform you that your wife just suffered a massive coronary, sir." He placed his hands on Earl's shoulders. "She's dead."
Earl dropped to his knees, moaning in agony. The emergency people stood stoically, watching him, their expressions mixed.
Earl pounded the hood of his Thunderbird with his fists. "No!" he cried. "Why'd I have to be such a fool!" His body wrenched with agonizing grief, he opened the car door, entered and locked it. He reclined the seat, disappearing from view.
The emergency personnel looked at each other.
Inside the car, Earl's hands went to the glovebox, fumbled for the loaded revolver. He gripped it in his hands, sucked in a deep breath, and took aim.
The gunshot was loud and piercing.
Inside the kitchen, Myrtle bolted upright. "No!" she screamed.
She ran out of the house, the white sheet cascading off her. "No! Not my Earl!"
She struggled past the EMTs in the driveway, fighting her way to Earl's car. She stood by the driver's side, pounding her fists on the driver's window.
A moment later, Earl slowly sat up, a wide grin formed on his lips.
Myrtle's eyes turned into fiery red coals. She snapped the antenna off Earl's car and wielded it like a weapon. "Heaven help you Earl when you get out of that car. I'm gonna beat the freckles off you!"
Earl's smile widened. He'd finally gotten what he wanted.
One of the younger EMT's stopped his boss. "Shouldn't we -- like, report them, sir. Missuse of emergency personnel?"
The man's hand went to the folded fifty in his breast pocket. "No. Let's just take the woman's money and get outta here."
He looked at the woman with the antenna in her hand circling the car trying to get in. "Something tells me were gonna be back here soon anyway."