It was 5:00, Frannie’s husband Gus would be home from work soon. Frannie checked on the pot roast in the oven and set the table. She added a little more butter to the mashed potatoes on the stovetop, then poured herself a glass of wine. Frannie kept a giant box of Chardonnay in the fridge. Every evening at precisely 5:00, she poured herself a large goblet-full and continued to re-fill it throughout the night. As Gus would ramble on about his day at work, Frannie would sip from her glass and respond appropriately. When needed she would gasp, other times shake her head, but more often than not she would simply nod approvingly at Gus.
From 7:00-10:00 pm Gus watched television, back-to-back episodes of those cop shows featuring tough talking NYC policemen solving heinous crimes. At 8:00 Frannie would bring Gus his dessert, which he would eat while lying down on their brown leather couch. He would balance the plate on his soft round belly and slowly shovel forkfuls of sweetness into his small mouth. On more than one occasion Frannie had asked him to eat his dessert while sitting up, she was afraid he would choke. He always refused, saying he worked hard and deserved to relax when he was home. Frannie didn’t know the Heimlich manoeuvre and she had no intention of learning it, so he was on his own.
Tonight’s dessert was fresh pecan pie and vanilla ice cream. The pecan pie was fresh because she had bought it fresh from the bakery. Although Frannie knew how to bake, she didn’t see the point. A man like Gus didn’t know the difference between a home baked pie and a grocery store one, so why waste her time? Sometimes Gus would even comment on how sweet the house smelled: “nothing like the smell of freshly baked brownies!” he had said last week. The brownie smell was actually from a Vanilla scented home fragrance spray. Frannie had several home fragrance sprays which she kept under the sink and rotated using: apple spice, berry delight, peach breeze, tropical coconut and one that was called sweet bliss which smelled like caramel.
While Gus watched television Frannie would tidy up and lay out clean clothes for him for the next day. Then, after refreshing her wine, she would go to the desk in their spare room and turn on the computer. Frannie collected garden gnomes – she currently had 39 gnomes displayed throughout their backyard – and she put aside an hour a day for searching online for new and unique ones. Last summer Frannie had suffered a horrible loss to her gnome collection. A few days before July 4th she had put out her Fourth of July gnome on their front lawn and someone had stolen it. It had taken Frannie days to recover from that loss. What kind of a low-life steals a patriotic garden gnome? The world was clearly going to Hell in a Hand-Basket.
Frannie was busy scrolling through various websites when she heard Gus call out to her: “Frannie, a little more please! It’s one of your best pecan pies ever!” Ha! thought Frannie. She went and retrieved the plate off of Gus’s belly and re-filled it with another piece of pie and a large scoop of ice cream. She then placed the plate back on Gus’s belly. “Thanks Frannie,” he said with his eyes glued to the television screen. Frannie returned to the computer and was delighted to find a bright turquoise gnome on sale for $19.99. She quickly typed in her credit card information and address. The turquoise would be a lovely pop of colour in the back left hand corner of her garden, which was mostly a green leafy area. Satisfied with her purchase she shut down the computer. “Frannie, I’m finished!” yelled Gus. Frannie went and took the empty plate off of Gus’s belly, rinsed it and placed it in the dishwasher. She then went outside, turned on the sprinkler and watched as her gnomes enjoyed their nightly bath.