The Iron Writer Challenge 85
The 2014 Autumn Equinox Final Round
500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements
Learn to train your wife in 5 easy lessons
If you are male, you must write your story from the wife’s negative point of view.
If you are female, you must write the story from the husband’s positive point of view.
Main Character suffers from Pseudobulbar Affect
The poll is below.
Mathew W. Weaver
“Call 555-T-R-A-I-N-H-E-R right now!”
The advertiser’s voice was getting on my nerves. I walked into the living room, broom in hand, and just as I expected, there sat Jim, glued to the screen like the cap on your day old tube of glue.
“Mind turning that down?” I yelled, “I can’t hear myself think in here!”
“Go away, honey,” Jim said sweetly.
I breathed in and held it. With one good whack of that old broom, I could have sent him flying out the door right then, like I should have done all those years ago. He used to be a David Hasselhoff lookalike, but ever since his breast cancer, he resembled a rag doll that had been run over by a garbage truck.
And smelled like it, too.
And for crying out loud, how many men got breast cancer, anyway?
“Just 5 easy lessons, and you’re done! Train your wife today!” the male voice bragged.
“Turn tha… wait, what was that?”
“Nothing dear, nothing!” Jim said weakly, scrabbling at the remote before switching to the game. I marched over to him, and he cowered as I yanked it out of his feeble grasp and switched it back.
Jim sank into the cushions as I watched the obscene commercial. There, in all comfort, a typical man stretched out while a harlot dressed in nothing but cellophane fetched him everything from slippers to pie and jumped up with every snap of his fingers. And all the while, the voice promised that “your wife could be the same… in five easy lessons!”
“What,” I turned around, “is this?”
“Infomercial?” he offered.
I balled my fists and he shrank even further into the upholstery.
“You want me to jump at your snapping fingers?!” I exploded, “Of all the lazy…”
“Don’t yell!” Jim whimpered, his voice ending in a shuddering gasp.
“It’s always about you, isn’t it?” I threw the down the broom in disgust.
The Pseudobulbar Affect kicked in, and I threw up my hands and walked away. Ten minutes into the sobbing was, surprisingly, enough time for me to calm down. I bit my lip, sighed, and turned around.
“Alright, dear,” I said, “I’ll take your training. I’ll be the wife you always wanted me to be.”
Now, the thing about Pseudobulbar’s is that you can’t ever control the crying. So, even as the once masculine, now very effeminate Jim beamed at me in startled, elated confusion, tears continued to roll down his cheeks and his chest still heaved with emotion.
“You’d do that for me?” he stammered, the disbelief so palpable, you could have spread it on bread.
It wasn’t easy, but I had to give in. I sighed, set my jaw, and then nodded.
“I would,” I said, “Call them.”
As he reached for the phone and stared after me with adoring eyes, I turned around and walked back to the kitchen. Reaching into my pocket, I brought out my well-thumbed, dog-eared copy of “Essential Steps To Have Your Man At Your Mercy,” (pocket edition), and flipped over to chapter seventeen.
“To Deal With The ‘Train Your Wife’ Routine,” I read, “Step one…”
Dani J. Caile
“Would you like a cup of tea?”
There were only two of them left in the room, with a woman taking a position by the sofa and a man by the window, speaking into his walkie talkie.
“Where did the others go?”
“They have something to do, Mrs. Worthing,” said the woman.
“Oh, I see. I’ll put these cups back, then.”
“No, no, that’s okay. Please, sit down, rest yourself.”
“Yes, right, that’s best. One lump or two?”
“One, thank you.” The woman sat down and took the cup. The man standing ignored her and looked out of the window, now holding his walkie talkie to his ear and listening to crackles and voices.
“Would you like a Bourbon Cream?”
“No, thank you. Mrs. Worthing. Could you please tell us a little about yourself?” asked the woman.
She laughed uncontrollably, embarrassing herself.
“Me? Little old me? I’m Jon’s wife. Are you friends of Jon?”
“Well, we’re looking after his…welfare,” smiled the woman.
“Oh, good, I’m happy about that. He’s such a good man.”
“Really? Please, tell me more. Perhaps you can tell me something about your life together?”
“Of course, yes, I’d be happy to. He was always good to me, I…I have trouble, you see, I’m…I’m not very good in company.”
Another sudden unexpected laugh. Her face blushed.
“Don’t worry yourself. Please, continue.”
“Well…we’re a model couple, Jon and I. Every day when he opens the door I greet him the way he likes…”
“…well…in my best lingerie, in a simple black silk loose fitting sheath dress with thin spaghetti straps.”
“And I have his pipe and slippers all ready, too…”
The man from the window whispered something to the woman and she nodded.
“It sounds like you’re an excellent wife, Mrs. Worthing,” said the woman, smiling.
“Thank you. Yes, I make sure his TV remote control is sitting on the side of his favourite armchair so he can watch his football matches, along with a beer the way he likes it, chilled.”
“Wonderful, Mrs. Worthing.”
“When he snaps his fingers, that tells me he’s ready for dinner, and I serve him immediately. After all, he is the breadwinner of the household. If it wasn’t for him, I’d be on the street. He tells me that every day. Every day…”
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Worthing,” said the woman, “…but we need to take you down to the station now.”
She laughed again, uncontrollably, and tried to keep a smile on her face. The man at the window took out some handcuffs.
“Of course, of course.” He put them on her and led her past the bloody corpse and into the hallway. She overheard the man whispering again to the woman.
“Her doctor said she’s riddled with cancer, recently diagnosed with a brain tumor and has suspected breast cancer. She also suffers from PBA. The doctor pushed her to tell her husband the good news tonight.”
“Would’ve loved to have been a fly on that wall…”
Danielle Lee Zwissler
Clyde stood at the podium wearing a grin. “Before I begin, I would like to let you know that I have a condition that causes uncontrollable bouts of laughter or crying at times.”
Uneasy murmurs traveled through the crowd before Clyde continued. “I want to thank all of you for coming to my lecture tonight on How to Train Your Wife in Five Easy Lessons. I would like to show you the subject of my book, my wife, Elaine Evershaw.”
“Stand up, Elaine.”
“Yes, Dear,” Elaine said, then stood. She was the only woman in the hall. Her shoulders were up, back and down, breasts out, back straight—posture perfect. She wore a sexy, pinup-type dress with polka dots. She was beautiful.
The men in the audience smiled, and Clyde knew that they appreciated her appearance.
“As you can see, she is trained to please, as all women should be. She is perfectly coifed, and ready to serve her man. Elaine, sit.” Clyde started to laugh.
The audience watched, pleased at how “the wife” was following commands.
“I will outline a few of the steps for you, that way you can understand the process. I won’t give everything away tonight, because you need to read the book and apply the steps to your own relationships.”
“Teach your wife how to fetch.” Clyde laughed. The audience looked at him curiously, as he continued. “Folks, don’t be put out by lazy wives. You can train them to do the things that you want them to do. It isn’t hard; if you would like warm feet at night, tell your wife to fetch your slippers, but don’t forget, just like a dog you have to reward your bitch with a treat, perhaps a trinket. Sooner than later you will have her at your feet with your slippers, and she will wear a smile on her face as she awaits her prize. Don’t forget to praise her. Positive reinforcement is the key. Say things like, atta girl, or great job! This will only get things going faster.”
The men in the audience were eating up Clyde’s instruction, even though it was a little unorthodox.
“I know what many of you may be thinking, that this will not work for you, that your wife may not be susceptible to the steps. Fear not, brave men, these steps work!”
Clyde held up a copy of his book. “Today you can get this for only $19.99! This also includes a chapter on how to get your wife to follow non-verbal commands, and how to serve you ice cold beer and snacks! And because you are here today, I will throw in a free Breast Cancer Apron! There is nothing sexier than an obedient wife at the stove wearing an apron. So step right up and get your copy!”
The night had been a success, and Clyde felt satisfied as he walked with his wife to the train station. As the train approached, Elaine pushed her husband onto the tracks, killing him instantly.
Elaine smiled and said, “And that’s how you train a husband!”
A. Francis Raymond
“You followed the steps in the booklet?” asked Mr. Stumpbottom.
John looked at the image on the cover. It was part of his welcome kit when he joined the very secretive Men’s Associative Committee for a Better America (MACABA). The club, and the booklet, ‘Train Your Wife in 5 Easy Steps’ promised solutions to his problems.
“Yes. The only thing I managed out of her was a ‘Yes, dear” to my requests – none were actually followed through.”
“If you read the details on our warranty,” said Mr. Stumpbottom, “You’ll remember we don’t offer a traditional refund.”
John skimmed the details when he joined. At the time, he never believed he’d need to file a claim. Things usually went his way, and when they didn’t, he didn’t worry much. It took a lot to bring this naturally upbeat man into Mr. Stumpbottom’s office this morning.
“Mr. Stumpbottom,” said John, “I simply want my wife to be happy, like me. Her smile is beautiful; I want to see it more. Her laugh is infectious; I want to hear it more. Is that too much to ask?”
“Not at all.” Mr. Stumpbottom took out a large book and plopped it down on his desk in front of John. He started flipping through it.
He clearly had a specific page in mind. While Mr. Stumpbottom was looking for it, John continued: “I really never needed her to obey my every command or anything like that.”
“I understand. Ah! Here we are!” He tapped his finger on the page and made sure John could see. “Our warranty specifies that if you’re not satisfied, we’ll try something else. We of course wouldn’t want to lose you as a member, you see.”
John followed Mr. Stumpsbottom’s finger to the text on the middle of the page in front of him. “Turn tears into laughter, laughter into tears.” That sounded about right to him.
“You can do that? That would be a miracle! How do you do it?”
“Oh, we have our ways. You needn’t worry about it. But there could be side effects, some pretty severe…”
John cut him off, smiling. “Let’s do it. Where do I sign?”
Mr. Stumpbottom replied “My secretary will draw up papers and you’ll be on your way. You’ll start seeing the change in a few days.”
* * *
As promised, John’s wife, Nancy, became the laughing queen as her naturally negative reactions to everything turned positive. For three months, she laughed at everything. Anything that would have put a normal person in tears, Nancy was laughing. Hysterically and often. She laughed right through her sudden and unexpected breast cancer diagnosis, much to the surprise of the oncologist.
John suspected the cancer was the side effect Mr. Stumpbottom mentioned, but never said anything about it.
He was at a MACABA meeting and ran into Mr. Stumpbottom.
“How’s your wife?”
“In remission,” John said. “I presume the original ‘treatment’ has worn off.”
“Oh, no no,” Mr. Stumpbottom chuckled. “That was a permanent alternation.”
“But she’s getting better! Why is she still laughing?” John said to no one since Mr. Stumpbottom had disappeared into the crowd.