A knee jerk reaction

September 22, 2011

My mother was a very strong woman. Still is. She will have her way. And if it is not to be by the force of  her personality than she will use manipulation. As a young man I seemed to use all my power to lose myself of her influence. I loved her dearly. But I could not survive in the same house. So I left. As soon as I could. I met other strong willed women. Some were just princesses who wanted their way. Others were extremely interesting, very attractive. But they were in charge in their life. And they weren’t giving it up to any man. Not that I ever asked. I just knew I had to get away. My wife says that I’m negative. My first response is always no to everything that is suggested. That’s true. But its a knee jerk reaction. The need to have time to think things over.



Tom Payne. One of the dullest of God’s creatures. Eyed the grocery cart. In the ailse. For several seconds. He looked around. Abandoned. Orphaned. Left out. In a world cruel to wheeled creations. Tom Payne looked around. No one. In the neighbourhood. Tom stepped up to the cart. Empty. He dropped his purchases. Several boxes of tissue. On sale. A box of laundry detergent. Band-aids. For those blisters on his tongue. He placed his hands on the handle of the cart. Smiled. And began to move down the aisle to complete his purchases.

“Not so fast!” From behind him. Like the apocalypse.

Tom looked behind. An attractive woman dressed for an occasion more formal than shopping began to approach him. Mary Newton. The bank manager’s wife. She was walking like she meant business.

“You took my cart.”

Tom looked surprised. The roughness of her voice seemed out of sync with her appearance. Shapely. Blond hair that cascaded. Aka Lauren Bacal. Shoulders more gentle would have had to be pinched. To see if they were real. But whre was the smoky lilting voice. Instead he got harsh guttural sounds. Hitler on his best day. Promoting a new hair rinse. Tom swallowed deeply.

“I did not.” Squeak. Like a mouse. Tom Payne was a shard. Of the mirror he should have been.

“You did!” She insisted. Her voice seemed to have gained force. The closer she got to Tom. By the time she reached the cart, Tom was totally cowered.

Tom lowered his eyes. His shoulders seemed to cave in at the neck. He’d never been very strong with woman. His own mother continued to brow beat him when he visited her in the senior’s home, even though she was close to 90, half blind in one eye, hard of hearing, with arthritis in 3 of her 4 limbs, and constantly reaching for a respirator.

Tom Payne stuttered.

“I thought it was abandoned.”

“It wasn’t.”

“It was empty.” Tom began to make his case. “And there was no one around. And I waited. And you seemed to come out of. Nowhere.”

“You waited!” Mary Newton leaned over to one side. A smirk attacked the left side of her face. Placing one hand on her hip, she nodded.

“How long?” she added. Waiting for a measurement. Undeniable proof.

Tom thought for a moment.

“A couple of minutes.”

“A couple of minutes?”

“Well,” Tom hesitated. He knew that all was lost. “Maybe not a couple of minutes. But it was at least a minute.”

“Sixty seconds?” Mary closed her eyes. Her head shook dismissively.

“Well, it’s hard to tell. There was no one around.”


“Forty,” Tom shouted. “It was at least forty seconds.”

“Forty seconds isn’t long enough.” Mary stepped up to the cart and put her hands on the handle. “Now get your rubbish out of my cart. Or…”

“Or what,” Tom finally had the courage to ask.

Mary Newton turned to Tom and looked him straight in the eyes.

“You don’t want to find out!” she said.

Tom released his hold on the cart. Defeated. He gathered his things and made his way down the aisle not daring to peek behind him. When he made the turn into the next aisle, he heard the howl of Mrs. Newton’s laughter behind him.

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