Emmet sat reading his paper by the light of the morning sun that beamed in the window. Hot coffee held in his hand ready to sip at a moment’s notice.His wife was out in the yard working in the garden and he observed her, a scowl of disgust on his face.
“She is talking to those damned flowers like they were people. "Friggin woman is half crazy" Emmet thought to himself.
He watched her as she moved up the drive past his car. Hose in one dirt crusted hand.
"Better not get any dirt on my baby" He announced out loud and jumped at having startled himself by the sound of his own voice. The scalding coffee slopped onto his hand.
“Shit” he yelled out loud again grabbing the towel from the sink to wipe it dry.
“Friggin woman” he thought again glaring at her as she moved down past the car again.
He watched with an eagle eye to be sure she was gone and around the other side of the house before he relaxed and allowed himself to sit and get back to his morning paper.
He read about some local kids who had gotten themselves killed.
“Stupid fools” he muttered “likely driving too fast” He noticed a name he recognized from down the road a bit then realized one of the children killed was a neighbors son.
“Of course” he thought, “Idiot like his father”. Emmet had never been a fan of Pastor Dan Wilson and his family. And sure as hell, the minute his wife Kate found out she’d be on the phone with all her busy body friends organizing a food chain. That’s what she called them anyway. Anytime there was a death in town she would get all her “nasty ass old cronies” to cook meals for the family and each day one of them would take a basket of casseroles, fruit, and sandwiches over.
Emmet moved onto the next headline as he lifted his now cooler coffee to his mouth.
“Bodies of missing couple found after 50 years”
Emmet’s eyes just about popped from his head. His coffee hand remained frozen half way between his mouth and the table. His eyes scanned the article looking for names.
Naw. Couldn’t be.
Not after all these years.
Then the name leapt off the page.
“Shit!” Emmett spat out
Clarence, they had found Clarence.
“Sweet ride you got there Clarence.”
Emmet coveted Clarence’s Car. A 1956 Buick Centurion. Some rich uncle had given it to Clarence for no special reason. Emmet was envious. The car was a thing of beauty. Sucking the breath out of Emmet’s chest every time he saw it. It had a claret red upper body, a brushed metallic finish on the lower portion and an all glass top and was powered by a 325 horsepower V8 engine. All this was topped off by wing-type" back fenders and the most amazing thing to Emmet was the camera in the rear to report traffic to the driver via a television screen in the dashboard, replacing the rear view mirror. Emmet thought of the car as a woman and secretly named her Angela. He certainly lusted after her the way other men lusted after women. Her hood sloped seductively and Emmet moved forward and lovingly ran his hand over it. Like he was making love to her. He stood back a bit admiring her curves then leaned in and stroked the soft red leather seats. Emmet got a woody every time he thought about being inside her. Emmet was in love. His friend knew of Emmet’s love for this car and Clarence, being his best friend since the age of 6 had promised it to him in his will. That was assuming his wife Betty died first. “Bitch” Emmet thought to himself. She doesn’t appreciate Angela anything like I do. And silently hoped Betty would be the first to go.
One afternoon at the close of the work day, Emmet approached his friend, and putting his hand comfortingly on his friends back in a monotone voice said, “Clarence, I need to talk to you.”
The tone in Emmet’s voice caused Clarence to think something serious was up. Emmet guided him to the back room of the Hardware store they mutually owned and worked at.
“Buddy” Emmet said solemnly,” I think you best sit down” The look in Clarence’s eyes was the saddest Emmet had ever seen. It was difficult to have to tell him of the rumors around town about his beloved wife Betty. “I’m sorry, so sorry Clarence but it’s some guy I never seen before. He was bragging it up in the pool hall last week. I got the idea that he was from over Abbotsford way but I can’t say for sure.” He looked at his friend more deeply now. Watched the tears well up in his eyes as he shook his head like he was trying to shake out what he had just heard and make it go away. “I felt you aught ta know.”
There were several moments of pained silence as Clarence listened to the sound of his best friend’s heart breaking. Then he slowly got up and stood over him. He put his hand on his friends shoulder saying “If there is anything I can do….” leaving the sentence trailing off at the end. Clarence shook his head again and continued to do so as Emmet walked out of the back room door and quietly shut it behind him.
It was several weeks later that Emmet’s wife Kate was trying her hardest to comfort Betty, Clarence’s wife. “I am so sorry to be the one telling you this, but I figured it was best coming from me than anyone else and if it had been anyone but Emmet telling me about this I would not have believed it myself.
” I love him so much” Betty sobbed. “He has never treated me any differently than the day we were married. I have never doubted his love. I don’t understand…. HOW? WHEN?? I can’;t believe he would ever do this to me.”
“Emmet told me he had been missing bowling for weeks now and asked him about it. He said that Clarence just mumbled something and walked away. The he told me he heard from someone that they thought they had seen Clarence over in Newholm at a bar there a couple weeks ago sitting in the back with a woman who did not look like you, so Emmet drove out to check it out this last Thursday. And sure enough there he was all snuggled up in a booth with her. I don’t know what else to tell you Betty. I am just so sorry. Please, I am here if you need me.”
That night at dinner Kate told Emmet about the conversation that had transpired earlier in the day. Emmet sat silent, moving his fork over and around his mashed potatoes but not taking a bite. He did not once look up. “Eat your potatoes dear before they get cold.” She pushed herself away from the table and walked to the sink with her plate in hand. Standing there gazing out at the darkening sky she felt an intense pity for her dear friend and started to cry.
“Sush up woman” Emmet said sternly. “Life happens. There’s nothing you or me can do about it.” At which point he got up so abruptly his chair fell over. He stormed out of the room leaving it where it fell and a full plate of food to get cold.
Months went by. Clarence’s sadness grew to rage at his wife’s betrayal. Her hurt festered and poisoning her thinking as she thought of his. The rest of the community had no idea how bad things had gotten between them. They kept to themselves. Then one evening a loud knock shook the front door. Not expecting visitors Betty jumped up from the sofa and peered through the curtain on the sidelight. Rushing back to the living room she whispered loud enough for him to hear,
“Emmet, There’s a police constable at the door.”
Emmet rose from the sofa, squared his shoulders and opened the door.
“Good evening Sir” the squarely built man in uniform said. “I understand you and your wife are friends of Clarence and Betty Roberts.”
“Yes we are. Is there a problem?”
“They have been reported missing by Mrs. Roberts’s mother. She said they were due for a visit 2 days ago and never turned up or called her. She has not been able to get an answer on their home phone so called us.”
Kate gasped behind him and Emmet turned and gave her a stern look. She walked back down the hall to the kitchen and waited for him at the table.
“I went to their home and his car is shut away in the garage but I got no answer at the door.” The officer continued. “Have you spoken to either of them recently?”
“No, I am afraid I have not”, Emmet answered. “I just assumed they had taken a weekend trip” Well it would seem not” the officer answered. “Please, if you think of anything don’t hesitate to call us. Thank you for your time and good night sir.”
Emmet closed the door and watched through the sidelight as the officer walked down the lane and over to the next house on the block. Moving away only when the officer looked back at the house.
That was about 50 years ago and it had been a long time since he had even thought about Clarence and Betty…Until today.
Emmet reread the line on the coffee stained paper before him.
They were found locked in an embrace.
The story would be the talk around town for days afterwards. Everyone would speculate. How sad, people would think. Sad and romantic. Such love and devotion. And thinking that in their final minutes they held tight onto each other, each trying to comfort the other. Not allowing the other to die alone. Locked in an embrace, going into death together and remaining in that embrace underwater for 50 years.
Betty had gone shopping and Emmet headed to his friends. He put a thought to them. He figured that maybe it was a good idea that they have some time for them, away from everything even if just for the evening. How about a row in Clarence’s old wooden boat out on Drag Lake he suggested. A favorite lovers location from the time they were all back in High School. Secluded and well off the beaten path. Maybe bring back some wonderful memories. Heck he even offered to drive them out. “Take a romantic ride” he said to them both. “Maybe things are not as bad as they seem. Enjoy the night, listen to the call of the loons, relax. Clear your head and remember how much you love each other. I will drive you out in my truck with your rowboat in the back and just have a snooze and wait for you on shore” Trust me he said.
So Betty and Clarence loaded themselves into the truck while Emmet retrevied a couple of Cokes out of the cooler in the back of the truck. They all drove in silence the 46 miles to the lake and as Clarence and Emmet unloaded the boat Emmet quietly said to his friend.
“I saw it for myself Clarence, your wife in the back seat of that man’s car, humping like a teenagers."
As his friend slid the wooden rowboat into the murky lake Emmet walked to Betty and gave her a hand out of the cab of the truck. He whispered so only she could hear,
“I know what I know and I am sure she meant nothing to him, but that woman did things to him any man would find hard to resist, I can hardly blame him.”
Emmet gave the boat a shove with his foot and sent it gliding out into the water. The knock of wood against wood as the oars banged against the side of the boat echoed across the still lake and off the shores along the way. Clarence and Betty sat facing each other in dead silence until he picked up the oars and started to row away from shore.
Emmet turned and went and sat in his truck for an hour or so then going to the tool box under his seat he removed the binoculars and wandered back to the shore. In the distance he could hear their voices rise. And without hearing the words he could tell they were arguing. He watch, as way out on the lake now they both stood wrestling, arms wrapped around eachother as they and thrashed back and forth, the boat rocking wildly. A loud splash resonated across the lake and Emmet watched for some time waiting to see if anyone surfaced. Another hour passed without any sound other than the lonely call of a loon.
Emmet then got back in his truck and drove the 46 miles home.
He opened the door and put his bowling bag in the hall closet. Kate watched as he walked to the kitchen and she got up and poured him a beer.
Glancing up from the paper he thought to himself. “50 years is a long time… there should be no evidence by now. The sedative he had laced their cokes with would no longer be present. Why would they even test them for anything? It was 50 years. It had already been determined as an accidental drowning and they had been buried. The crack he forced between the boards of the boat would be swollen shut. Heck, they never even found the boat; possibly it just drifted away, washed up on shore somewhere and rotted away. All he knew was that one way or another they were both gonna die out there, He figured that one would be murdered and and the would pass out in the sinking boat and drown.
Emmet sat and reflected on a job well done until he heard the sound of his wife coming back around to the front of the house. He got up and walked to the open window as his wife walked past the car again.
“Jesus Kate,will you keep the fuck away from Angela, you’ll get dirt all over her
True to his word Clarence had left the 1956 Buick Centurion to Emmet.
Credit is due to K. Husley for this amazing photo of this car. It was the only photo I found that did justice to the lines of this vehicle.
Maybe I am wierd but I think its beautiful.