There are times when no matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, we can’t seem to do anything right. For Miranda, those times came often. It was always something. She tried, oh how she tried to do right, but it never failed. She would always do something stupid and her husband, Bruce, would get mad.
She had done something stupid.
She hadn’t paid attention in a while, and her van was way past due for an oil change. Bruce was going to be so angry. Miranda didn’t want him to be angry.
When he had come home he had mentioned he was out getting serviced. A moment later, Miranda had remembered her van. But he was on the phone. She didn’t want to eavesdrop, but if she didn’t talk to him as soon as he was off again, she might forget about the van. She knew there would be hell to pay if she interrupted. There was always hell to pay.
She knew she was doing wrong, but sometimes you had to do wrong to do right.
“Yeah the ball and chain tried to give me some shit about being out late,” Bruce said. Miranda wrinkled her face in anger at his words, but she didn’t dare say anything.
Bruce paused for a moment and said, “I told her truth, I was out getting a lube job. It takes time to do it right, ya know. I went to that place over on Elm Street. Yeah, the one with the red doors.”
Bruce spoke again, “Shit man, it costs more but it’s worth it. Very thorough.”
He went silent as the person on the other end spoke. Then Bruce said, “If your wife wants to go, sure man. My wife doesn’t really do that kind of stuff. She’s worthless.”
Miranda felt a pain in her stomach at his words, but she knew he was right.
She felt guilty. She did make him take care of too much. But not anymore, she was a grown woman. She could do it herself. She wouldn’t even mention it to him, no sense getting him worked up.
Miranda hadn’t realized it was going to be a private residence, but it was the only building on Elm with red doors. There was a two-car garage though, so that was probably where the guy did the work.
Miranda almost turned around, but no. She was going to be brave. She was going to be a better wife. She wasn’t going to make Bruce angry anymore.
She pulled into the driveway.
No one greeted her, so she walked to the front entry and rang the bell.
A beautiful woman opened the door. She was only wearing a pair of shorts and a tank top, but Miranda was stunned by her radiance.
“Can I help you?” the woman asked.
“Uh. I dunno,” Miranda asked in a confused voice. “Maybe. I think I might be in the wrong place.”
The woman smiled, “Don’t worry, I think you’re in the right place.”
“My husband was here yesterday, and he recommended it.”
“Bruce? He gave me the impression that I would never meet you.”
“Well, he couldn’t stop talking about what a good job you did. And then he was complaining about how he always had to take care of things for me.”
The woman smiled again. Miranda couldn’t help but be distracted by her mouth. The woman said, “And so you decided that you’d let me take care of things instead?”
“I mean… if you can? I don’t know how busy you are or whatever.”
“Oh no, I don’t have any appointments today. I don’t get many women in here normally. I’m Ashley by the way.”
“Nice to meet you, I’m Miranda.”
Miranda did find it strange that a woman did oil changes, but she wasn’t going to say anything. In fact, she thought it was awesome. She figured Ashley’s looks were the real reason Bruce came here, but that was fine. He deserved to look at this goddess instead of her frumpy self.
Ashley looked Miranda over and said, “Why don’t you come on in. It’s hot out today and you’re standing there in long sleeves.”
A flash of fear crossed Miranda’s face for a moment, “Oh, I just get cold is all.”
“Nonsense, you’re sweating. Come in.”
Miranda looked at the house around her and nodded approvingly. “I love your house. It’s so much nicer than ours.”
“Oh, really? I would have thought with the Mercedez…?”
“Bruce always says money is too tight to fix up the place.”
“Really? You know my services aren’t cheap. Hmmm…well I tell you what…” Ashley looked Miranda over, “…why don’t I just waive the fee today?”
“What? No! At least let me pay for any oil you use.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that. I buy it in bulk so it’s really just pennies. Plus I think we’ll both have a lot of fun together today.”
“You find it fun?” Miranda didn’t see how changing oil could be fun.
“Not always. But it can be with the right person.”
“I always just thought it was a lot of work. Oil gets all over the place. You have to climb underneath and probably end up hurting your back. I don’t know. That’s what Bruce says anyway, that’s why he never wants to do it himself.”
“Oh honey, I’m so sorry. Some men really don’t know what they’re doing. And trust me, Bruce is an idiot when it comes to this stuff.”
Miranda didn’t really know what to say to that, so she went with, “So…do you have somewhere I can sit while you take care of things?”
Ashley grinned, “Eager to get started? Well, some people like the living room or even the kitchen. A few prefer the library, but most-”
“Wait, you have a library?” Miranda interrupted excitedly. “Can I see?”
“Big reader?” Ashley asked.
“Not as much as I would like. Not much time with work and all the chores and cooking. Bruce is always yelling for me to do something. He says reading is a waste of time.”
“Bruce is a waste of time.”
Ashley took Miranda’s hand and led her through the house into a room filled to the brim with books. The shelves were overflowing. Books were lined up in front of each other, stacked on top of shelves, and jammed anywhere there was space.
“Oh wow, this is amazing. I would literally kill to have a room like this.” Miranda noticed that Ashley was still holding her hand, but it didn’t bother her. In fact, she kind of liked it.
Ashley said, “Feel free to look at the books. You can even read something while I’m working if you want.”
Miranda’s face lit up, “You wouldn’t mind?”
“No, I wouldn’t mind. Today is for you. Can I be honest though?”
“I feel like you and I could become close. Do you feel that way too?”
“I do honestly,” Miranda blushed a little. “I don’t know what it is, but I definitely do.”
“Good. So how about this…today we just talk and take our time with everything. You can always come back.”
Miranda agreed, “Okay. So should we go to the garage or something?”
“If that’s what you want. I just want you to feel good about everything.” Ashley looked at where their hands were still connected, “Oh, Miranda! Did Bruce do this?”
Miranda didn’t have to look at the bruise on her arm to know what Ashley was referring to. She gave a brief, embarrassed nod and asked, “Can we just go to the garage?”
“Okay,” Ashley smiled. “Nobody ever goes in there.”
“Really? Seems like people would be in there all the time.” Miranda said with a quizzical look on her face.
Ashley froze, “Miranda. What is it you think I do here?”
The officer stood under the overhang facing a sobbing Miranda.
“I’m sorry ma’am but dental records confirm the body is your husbands. We think he might have been drinking and drove off the road. He probably died on impact, he wouldn’t have been in pain very long. I’m truly sorry for your loss.”
The officer walked back to his car with his head bowed and threw it in reverse.
As he drove away, Miranda stopped crying and said, “Actually officer, he was in pain for quite a while. But don’t worry my new girlfriend helped me clean up.”
“In my line of work you get used to dealing with messes,” Ashley said.
Miranda didn’t feel guilty. She had always felt guilty before. But Ashley made her see that the only person doing wrong in her relationship was Bruce. And maybe what they had done to him was wrong, but sometimes you had to do wrong to do right. At least Bruce wouldn’t be getting angry ever again.
Miranda looked Ashley in the eyes and said, “Lucky thing you had all those handcuffs, gags, and rubber sheets. I’m just sorry we still got so much blood in your garage.”
“First of all, it’s our garage now. But don’t worry, nobody ever goes in there.”