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Deleted Chapter from Queer Misery

I deleted the character of David Elroy Winters for many reasons, so I had to cut this scene along with him. It’s solid. It just doesn’t belong with the rest of the story.

Chapter 6: Suddenly Sundown Syndrome

David Elroy Winters really wished Roger hadn’t done that.

Calling his wife? That would only make matters worse. After 20 years of marriage, he knew better than anyone, Karen made everything worse. Chaos and drama were kind of her whole deal. And this situation already looked pretty damn awful.

All he wanted to do was sneak in to visit Chrys awhile.

It’s Christmas. I shoulda known I’d get caught. At least they didn’t call the Sheriff.

But what’s a man to do when he’s in love?

Use ongoing furnace maintenance as a cover to get inside, then fake like I got dementia if I get caught wandering around upstairs, that’s what. I’d rather they think I’ve lost my mind than know I’m interested in a man THAT way. But biting the new girl? That was regrettable. I wasn’t thinking. Everything just escalated so quickly.

As he stood to face the man of the purple house alone, his mind raced trying to figure out his next, best move. Even though Dave loved Fox News (he watched it every night without fail) he hated the twins. He hated them because he knew what horrors were happening in their house. He especially hated Roger for what he was doing to Chrys. But Roger didn’t know Dave knew. Roger thought Dave was a bumbling idiot—a walking vegetable.

I can use that to my advantage. So, what next?

This, Dave didn’t know.

I’ll have to play it by ear.

For the longest time, Roger glared at Dave with both pity and contempt.

The house was so silent the two men could hear a faucet dripping.

While staying committed to his befuddled character, Dave wandered into the kitchen, then shouted, “Where’s my monkey wrench?”

Roger followed. “What?”

“Faucet’s leaking.”

“It’s just a drip.”

“I fix this kind of thing. I’m a plumber. It’s what I do.”

“That’s what you did—before you retired.”

Dave muttered to himself as if he didn’t hear the insult, “I should fix the drip.”

“I’d rather you didn’t—“

But Dave was already unscrewing the aerator from the spout of the fancy gooseneck faucet.

Roger went to coax Dave away from the kitchen sink, but the door bell rang, so he spun on his heel and headed for the foyer. “That’s probably your wife.”

Oh, goodie, Dave thought, then yelled, “Here’s the problem! O-ring’s cracked!”

All bundled up in a puffy black parka that could’ve withstood an Arctic winter, Karen followed Roger into the kitchen. She pulled down her hood and loosened the bulky pink scarf she’d crocheted for herself a decade ago. Before saying a word, she fished her long gray braid out from inside her coat and draped it over her shoulder, then she scolded her husband, “Oh, Dave, what have you done?”

“Nothing.” He dropped the O-ring on purpose, and it rolled across the floor to settle in front of her black snow boots.

She bent down to pick up the rubber gasket, then handed it to him. “Put that back together right now. It’s time to come home.”

“I am home,” he said convincingly.

“Sure you are, dear.” She sighed condescendingly, then turned to Roger. “I’m so sorry. His mind is very … disorganized, and he gets more and more confused as the day goes on. Sundown Syndrome, they call it. Unfortunately, holidays only add to the chaos in his head. You can’t imagine how hard it is for me to keep track of him.”

I’m standing right here! Dave screamed in his head but only muttered to himself. “Really need a new O-ring. Old one’s cracked.”

“I’m sorry,” Roger told him. “We don’t have those kinds of parts lying around.”

Karen hustled over, then stood behind Dave with her hands on her hips, hovering, supervising, making sure he did it right. “Put this faucet back together right now,” she badgered him as she handed over the cracked gasket.

But having his wife watch made Dave nervous. He accidentally fumbled the small rubber circle, and it fell down the drain. “Dammit.”

She scolded him, “Well, now you’ve gone and done it!”

I married a drama queen. He growled at his wife. “You’re crowding me!”

The first problem with faking dementia was getting treated like an idiot by the woman he once thought he wanted to grow old and spend the rest of his life with. Dave never thought Karen could ever turn out to be so cruel—not in a million years. The second problem was the more he faked memory loss, the more he actually forgot.

The first problem was on her.

But that second problem created even more problems for Dave. The more he forgot, the more he worried he might really have a problem with his memory. The more he worried about that nagging problem, the more upset he got. The more upset he got, the more he screwed up. And the more he screwed up the more upset he got. It was a vicious cycle that ended in people getting angry with him.

If I do have early-onset Alzheimer’s, I sure as hell don’t trust Karen to take care of me. I need to find a way out of this marital prison while I still have my wits about me.

Karen henpecked him some more. “I told you no eggnog, but did you listen? No. You know you’re not supposed to drink alcohol. It interferes with your medication.”

“Then why’d you buy it?” He asked.

“Well, I’m still allowed to enjoy myself.”

I hate you, woman, he thought. At my age, I never expected to have gay feelings. I’ve avoided that queer nonsense my entire life. I lived the way I was raised. Learned a trade. Found a woman. Got married. Settled down. Bought a house. Had some kids. I was born in this quaint rural village, and I’ll probably die in this same place, and that’s okay. That’s normal. But then I met Chrys over here last summer, and I felt—I don’t know anymore.

April came downstairs to join her brother in the kitchen, and immediately started gushing, “Oh, my goodness, Karen, how are you?”

“April! Merry Christmas!”

“Merry Christmas!”

The two women hugged the way women who run into each other at the grocery store often do—reluctantly and for show.

“Please ignore the mess,” April apologized. “I’ve been cooking all day.”

“What mess?” Karen winked as she offered her neighbor a small red-and-green striped gift bag.

April peeked inside, saw homemade sugar cookies, and fawned, despite her disappointment, “Oh, how sweet of you. Thank you so much!”

“I’m afraid Dave dropped your gasket down the drain,” Karen broke the bad news. “And now he can’t put your faucet back together.”

“Oh, no!” April whined.

“I’m sorry,” Dave said, ashamed. “It was an accident.”

April ignored him and only addressed his wife. “You do such a great job handling him, Karen. You have the patience of a saint.”

“Oh, thank you!” The old woman smiled at the compliment, then shepherded her husband toward the exit. “He a lot, but do I try.”

Dave went to their Chevy truck and rode away with her, because he had nowhere else to go.

But at that moment, he no longer wanted to exist.