Dark Days

“The Brewer’s Backstory”-Episode 23

October 2011

TBJ final cover

Coming January 2016!

Brad took a sip from the Coke can beside his laptop, squinted at the computer screen and rubbed his unshaved jaw. His three partners had done a great job on their PowerPoint slides for tomorrow night’s presentation in Business Stats class, but his section still needed a good two hours of work. He glanced at the time in the corner of the screen. Maddy would be home soon. He typed in a few words, played with font size and background color. It would take him way more time than he had to design slides as polished as the ones Carlos Echeverría had contributed.

He heard the garage door start to go up. The cat skittered by, anxious to greet her primary feeder. He rubbed his jaw again. He needed a break. The door opened and Maddy walked in looking gorgeous. He whistled and stood up. “Wow, why so dressed up?”

“The photo shoot, remember?” she answered, kissing his cheek.

Brad hugged his wife lightly and searched his memory. A while back, she had mentioned that 5280, the Denver monthly magazine, was planning an article about the law firm. They wanted a group photo for the cover of the issue. “Have I seen that dress before?” he asked.

“You like it?” Maddy asked twirling around. The black dress, slightly above her knees, showed off her thin figure without being excessively tight. Her legs, thanks to kickboxing classes and the pair of stilettos, looked long and toned. “They told us to dress well for the shoot. I went shopping last Thursday, when you were in class. I got the dress and shoes on sale, and the necklace and earrings really pull the outfit together, don’t you think?” she asked, fingering a silver necklace with a red stone in the pendant. The earrings appeared to be smaller versions of the pendant. Everything looked expensive. “And the shoes, oh my God, they’re Manolo Blahnik’s. They were reduced to just over three hundred!”

All Brad saw was dollar signs. He struggled to restart his breathing. He was going to get mad. Maddy was going to cry. He was going to feel like shit, again. “You spent three hundred dollars on a pair of shoes?”

“On a pair of Manolo’s. I’ve dreamed for years of owning one.”

“Maddy, Coors only paid a hundred twenty for these steel-toe work safety shoes that I’ve practically lived in for the last year and a half. In the next three weeks we’ve got to make payments on the house, your car and your law school debt. We can’t afford three hundred dollar shoes.

“Hello? Do you even have a clue what my reality is these days? I work with women—and men—who think nothing of spending four or five hundred dollars on shoes. Besides, I’m the one in this marriage making more money. I should be able to buy a nice pair of shoes that I need for work without your permission.”

Jesus Christ! She was hitting below the belt. “This isn’t a courtroom, and I’m not some criminal on trial. I’m the guy who, for three years, helped pay your way through law school and commuted from Boulder to Golden for your sake. You’re sure as hell right that I don’t get shelling out that kind of money on shoes.” His words practically ricocheted off the walls. Why did every other conversation they have these days end in an argument? “Maddy, are you honestly happy working with people like that?”

“What you don’t get, Brad, is my level of ambition and how far I intend to go. You’ve been unsupportive since the day I started this job.” She was pacing around the kitchen, the pointed Manolo heels clicking against the floor. Her face looked so harsh she barely resembled the Maddy he had married. Hell, he barely recognized himself.

“Your problem,” she said, turning and pointed a finger at him, “is that I’ve eclipsed you and you’re scared as hell.”

“What the fuck?” He grabbed the table and dug in his nails. “I put up with a lot of sacrifice and crap, and now you have the nerve to say you’ve ‘eclipsed’ me? That’s pure bullshit, and you know it!”

“What I know is that this marriage was a mistake!” Maddy shouted. She pivoted and ran out the door to the garage.

Brad dropped his head into his hand. He listened to the garage door go up. Maddy’s car started and pulled out. The garage door went down. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to calm his raging mind. Had his wife just walked out on their marriage? Who the hell was this woman spending hundreds of dollars on new shoes and outfits and jewelry? And could he love her? His head ached ferociously. His shoulders felt like cement.

Abby let out a sustained meow. “Crap, you haven’t been fed, have you?” Brad asked the only other resident of the nice little suburban starter home where dreams began. And died.

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