Thursday, 25 February 2010

Getting Even edited by Mitzi Szereto

Described as the book for anyone who has ever been betrayed, Szereto has gathered together a range of new and established authors in a glorious celebration of revenge, proving that it’s not only unfaithful husbands who should beware. The stories in Getting Even avoid easy categorisation, including psychotic dolls and murder by cakes and kindness, along with the more usual jilted spouses, and alcohol certainly plays its part in some of the stories. However, it’s the particularly ingenious method of removing an abusive husband using drink in Tony Fennelly’s How To Kill An Aries that prompted me to pop it into a post.

Fiery, pig headed bigot Ronald treats his wife Myra like a slave while he drinks his life away. Although he’s successful at work, Myra effectively does everything for him:

When he filled out our tax forms, in the blank labelled ‘Spouse’s Occupation’, my husband always identified me as a ‘housewife’. But what I really was is what rehabilitative counsellors call a ‘co-alcoholic’. That is, a faithful helpmeet who enables her partner to spend all his leisure time drinking, without care or interruption.

She reminisces about when they met; how he wowed her when she was aged seventeen when he rode up on his fast red motorbike. Thirty three years later, his good looks have gone, the once-handsome face was bloated after decades of heavy drinking, and Myra is truly sick to the back teeth with him. Unable to leave without being cut off without a cent, she looks to the stars and realises that his sign, Aries, is just about to come up.

Myra begs some money from her sister in California, then goes out to buy Ronald a surprise present to celebrate their anniversary. First things first, though; she has to feed him his supper and get his beer when he comes home from work:

I served him small portions of the food but kept the beers coming.

Once his tanked up with booze, she takes him to the garage to show him his special gift. It’s a motorbike. A red one. Faster and more powerful than the one that he had when they met. Sadly, there isn’t a helmet to go with it, although Ronald isn’t bothered. Myra tells him not to take it out for a spin, but it’s a red rag to a bull, or Aries:

“And most important, you can’t go out riding after you’ve been drinking.” “Don’t try to tell me what I can’t do. I ride better when I’m drinking because I’m more careful.”

Needless to say, the inevitable happens and Myra reaches the nirvana of widowhood. And Ronald? Well his heart goes on to save someone’s life, but as Myra remarks to herself, I shouldn’t think the good doctors would like the liver much.

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