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fantastic JUNE 1959

BEDSIDE MONSTER

By JACK SHARKEY

Laura was surprised by her husband's laissei-faire attitude. Other men would not have been so tolerant... other men would not have been so clever.

I DON'T know when I consciously decided to do something about Jason and my wife. I suppose that from the moment I knew that there was anything to do something about some hidden corner of my mind began to fabricate a grisly revenge. They had done me no real hurt except to my pride—my heart had for many years been out of reach of Laura's claws—but pride was enough. All I really had in life were my pride and my practice. By flaunting her attachment to another man at me Laura hurt my pride, but directly. By flaunting her newfound love to the world, she hurt my practice, if only indirectly.

People grew strange and distant, and appointments were cancelled abruptly. I suppose it only natural that people should doubt the capabilities of a doctor with strangers when he had proven so inept with his own wife.

Perhaps I'm wrong; maybe the slackening of my practice hurt more than my injured pride. If Laura had wanted to run off with another man fine. She should have run off and been done with it. I don't really think it would have affected me very strongly. Such an event would if anything, have helped me in my work. I'd have been the deserted party, the poor betrayed spouse, a magnet to the sympathies of my patients.

As it was, I was a boob, a cuckold, a sucker. No wonder my patients doubted and despised my weakness.

For Laura had not left me. She still bore my name, lived in my house, hostessed my infrequent parties, and in evenway let the world know that she was tied to me legally. On the other hand, she never missed a chance to mention to my friends how poor a mate I was, and how she enjoyed her paramour's attentions much more, in his apartment hardly a mile from my home. As I said, she lived in my house—but only by day. And everyone in town knew where she spent her nights.

I don't know what brought me to the breaking point, eleven just when it occurred, but break I did. I was tired of —how do they phrase it?— messing around this way.

I gave Laura an ultimatum. She could have a nice legal divorce, alimony, and her share of the community property, if she'd just go off and leave me be. She laughed and refused.

I guess that was when I decided to do something about them.


"Laura," I said to her, early one afternoon when she'd just returned from shopping, "I have a gift for you."

"Really?" she said, with elaborate unconcern. Laura set down her purchases— more clothes, more hats, more shoes—and smoothed her already-smooth ash blonde hair at the temples. She wore her hair in an upsweep, to show off the curved perfection of her ears, and their glittering diamond clusters screwed fashionably tight to the lobes.

"Yes," I said, controlling my temper, "really."

I set the box on the table beside my armchair, and determined to mention it no more until she did. I knew she didn't care what I gave her; I al...

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