Smith is an eccentric genius when it comes to solving crime. Early draft.
I learned so much about Smith during our time together, yet I only scratched the surface of the mysterious man. Bullied often while growing up for being such an odd duck, Smith taught himself a hodgepodge of martial arts and began standing up for himself in an almost masochistic way. That’s why he didn’t flinch about fighting a man eight inches taller.
During college, Smith’s restlessness moved him away from more reckless behavior to solving petty crimes both on and off campus. He eventually moved on to bigger cases, catching the eye of the city police department, which began seeking him out for when they found themselves stuck. But Smith never stopped solving smaller cases. Any time he grew bored, he’d pick something out of the newspaper and solve it in anywhere from a matter of minutes to a few days at the most. That’s how we ended up working a series of robberies in high-end boutiques throughout town.
Today, Smith’s boredom earned him a black eye and split lip, the latter of which he would occasionally dab at with a tissue. Though bruised and battered, he considered the case a success. A smile stamped my husband’s face like a banner of triumph as he sat slouched in his lounge chair. His head bobbed in time to a tune that only he could hear, and those wide coal eyes darted about the room, seeing everything and nothing at the same time. I couldn’t even begin to know what was going on in his head.
Smith had been sitting in silence more or less since we had returned from the police station about four hours earlier. His only break coming when I encouraged him to eat dinner. Smith was content to sit in silence. I, however, was bored out of my mind. The case had been just enough excitement that I didn’t want to end my day sitting on the couch. It wasn’t often that I wanted to seek out adventure, but today had unlocked something within me. I wanted to go out and experience something new, something I wouldn’t have otherwise. But there I sat, draped upon the couch in my pajamas, flipping alternately between a battered copy of a satire on Armageddon that usually entertained me and a Katharine Hepburn film. Neither the book nor my namesake stimulated me.
“Smith?” I decided I’d try to encourage him to go out for ice cream or a coffee, anything to get me outside for a few minutes. He, of course, didn’t hear me.
“SMITH!” I yelled, tossing my book at him.
Smith shot out of the chair, shoving the book to the ground as though it were a disembodied head. Had I not been annoyed, I probably would have fallen off the couch laughing. He looked at me, body trembling in confusion. “Kath, what was –”
“I’ve been calling your name, but you’re so lost inside yourself you don’t even notice I’m here!”
My annoyance morphed into anger, a rare occasion even where Smith was concerned. I wanted to yell and let loose the anger that swirled throughout my body. With a quiver, I held back the desire to shake Smith while screaming, “PAY ATTENTION TO ME!” Instead, I ground my teeth before stating, “I’m going to bed.”
I marched toward the bedroom, taking the long way around Smith so I didn’t have to force myself not to smack the back of his head.
“Kath,” he said quietly, “you look really nice now that you’re not so dressed up.”
I knew it was not intended as an insult, but I continued walking away wanting to both laugh and scream. I really do love my husband in spite of all of his quirks, but he had found a nerve tonight, even though he hadn’t really done anything different. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. On occasion Smith would want to go to the theater or to a concert, and if I asked, he would tag along with me to see a movie, even though he would pick apart its shortcomings afterward. Sometimes, Smith would even surprise me by taking me out for a romantic dinner. He was a good husband, not perfect, but then again, I’m not the perfect wife as evidenced by my tantrum.
By the time I had gone into the bedroom, first stopping in the bathroom to splash cold water on my face, I had calmed down enough to feel guilty for my outburst. The water washed away the last of my anger but failed to quell my creeping embarrassment. I crawled into bed wanting to cry and resolved to apologize to Smith when he came to bed. I was far too ashamed to face him now.
I knew it would be a few hours before Smith came to bed. I wouldn’t call him an insomniac, but he needed fewer hours of sleep than I did. While I slept, his mind continued processing. Sometimes he’d read or flip on a documentary if there was no case to ponder. He’d crawl into bed anywhere between two and six a.m., if he came to bed at all. I could think of more than one occasion where he had fallen asleep in his chair or while working on some theory in his office, located in our basement.
Minutes ticked past, and just over an hour after climbing into bed, I fell asleep. It felt as though I had slept only a few minutes when Smith joined me in bed. Glancing at the alarm, though, showed that the time was closing in on five a.m. Smith didn’t realize he had woken me, as another of his uncanny abilities was being able to fall asleep in a matter of minutes. That was probably the one thing I envied most about him, especially on nights when I tossed and turned for hours.
I lay beside my husband, listening to his breath deepen into soft snores. I longed to wrap my arms around him, whisper “I’m sorry” and fall asleep. Instead, I closed my eyes and waited for sleep to creep back in.