June 23, 2006

"What are you doing home?" exclaimed my beloved Filthy, almost leaping in the air with fright. He then tried to make his expression more welcoming, or at least unsuspicious, but alas, he was unsuccessful.

"I might ask you what you have under the sofa cushions, dear heart," I purred. Feline indeed did I feel, whenever I caught my hubby doing something he shouldn't. It's bad of me, I know, but part of me relishes the pursuit.

"Nothing," was, of course, the de rigeur reply, but Filthy really didn't put up a fight. I reached under the sofa cushions and pulled out one of Aunt Hecate's embroidered linen napkins and an exhausted tube of cherry Chap-Stick.

"Pray, what project did you have up your sleeve this time?" I held up both objects, while endeavoring not to picture the worst. The napkin (decorated with almost carnivorous looking primroses) was indeed marked with waxy red smears.

Filthy pretended to be ashamed, but that was all part of the game. I provided a modicum of comfort and order in his life; he provided the element of surprise. Tres bien!

"The lip balm smelled good, so I tried to see how much I could put on my face at one time," my dear spouse admitted shyly.

"Oui, mon cheri?" I offered him the dainty napkin, which had been in my family for almost 150 years.

"And then I had to wipe my face. It got a little messy." He paused and waited for my reaction, or as he likes to call it, overreaction. But I had none. It was a napkin, an old rather creepy napkin, and now I had other things on my mind.

"Mon petit chou, have you seen anything strange on our street today?" I said as lightly as I could while disposing of the evidence.

"I swear our neighbor down the street is putting wolf crap on his lawn to scare away the cats."

Okay, okay, I admit it, my sweets. My husband actually spoke more blue than this, but I edit in the name of elegance and aesthetic considerations.

"Might that be dog poop? We all know that Jeff Jeffers never picks up after his little curs." No one gets me off track better than my husband, mes amis.

"Nah. This is big stuff. BIIIIIIIIIIG poop." Filthy held his hands wide apart, as if showing me a prize trout he had hooked.

I really didn't want to spend the rest of the day discussing the large...deposits on our neighbors' lawn. "Sweetie, you haven't seen any unfamiliar people? Or maybe familiar people?"

"The cops were driving really slowly down our street a little while ago." After a significant glance, he yelped, "But I haven't been out of the house all day!"

At that, I turned to see another police vehicle coming, at rather a stately pace. Something in my gut told me not to expect good news, but I went outside anyway.

"Officers?" I called out and waved. They stopped the car and got out, almost like they had planned to do so all along. This did not look good.

This Week, Mrs. Filthy's Reading:

Ghost Story by Peter Straub