A man makes a mistake when he marries a hot woman. Especially if the man is an average, no-frills-attached guy.

This is not to say that my wife, Liz, is anything special in the looks department. She’s a bit on the chubby side, and at thirty a few hard miles are beginning to show. But she is hot.

I fell for her five years ago and I fell for her hard. She worked in the same restaurant as my brother Pete’s wife, and when Pete suggested she join us for mixed couples bowling, I thought why not. She was ten years younger than me, so romance was the last thing on my mind.

But when I saw her come into Glow Bowl that night, with those killer brown eyes and that frizzy hair and those huge boobs, I was hooked. I bowled a 188 and a 210 that night, my best series to date, and I dedicated the entire evening to Liz.

We started to go out and after two months I took her to Something’s Fishy for All-You-Can-Eat Night and asked her to marry me. She said she wasn’t sure, but she also admitted she hated her job and wouldn’t mind taking a permanent break. I had a good position as assistant maintenance supervisor with the Parks Department, and a salary that could support two. We were wed six weeks later and I thought life couldn’t possible get any sweeter.

But I’d married a hot woman, and was soon to realize that life has its gravel roads.

Liz never really settled down into married life. She didn’t cook and she was not the best at keeping a neat house. At night, she’d sit at the kitchen table reading romance novels. I tried to get her interested in my complete collection of state quarters—I even challenged her to read the back while I identified the state—but she wasn’t interested.

I didn’t care about any of that. What did bother me, though, was the way she’d act when we were out. We’d go to a restaurant—her in some plunging V-neck sweater that really displayed the goods—and she’d smile at every guy who passed our table. She would bend forward to read the menu and, trust me, waiters would take note. It was like I was putting this woman on a pedestal while the rest of mankind was standing below looking up her skirt.

In the car on the way home, her answer was always the same. “Come on, Lou,” she’d say, “you’re overreacting.” Then she’d turn away and stare out the car window, and I’d know the conversation was over.

Six months into the marriage, stuff really hit the fan. I was laid off in July due to budgetary cuts, so Liz took a job bartending. It was at a place called The Slab, basically a bar and grill with a microwave, and it was run by Jerry Asendorf who the entire town remembered from high school. Jerry, as a senior, had gotten into a fist fight with the gym teacher and practically killed the guy. From that point on he was somebody to be feared, a kid who could beat up adults. Last year, when his parents died of heart attacks only a few weeks apart, Jerry moved into their house and bought The Slab with his inheritance money.

Jerry paid less than minimum wage, but Liz was sure she could bring home the bacon in tips. Especially when she saw the uniform Jerry had picked out for her—a short black leather skirt and a white satin blouse that showed plenty.

At first she let me drive her in—I had nothing better to do in the evenings—so I’d sit at the bar and nurse a beer for six hours until it was time to go home. Customers would come in, and guys being guys there’d be a certain amount of flirting going on. It bothered me to sit there and witness the whole thing, but what got to me more was Jerry. He knew the situation, but that didn’t stop him from sneaking up behind Liz and wrapping his arms around her waist, or saying goodnight with his hands on her hips. And Liz? While she was spending less and less time tending to my, well, needs, she certainly seemed interested in Jerry’s attention.

“I’m going to start driving myself in,” she told me one morning at breakfast.

“How come?” I asked.

“Because having you sitting there staring at me like somebody from a mental institution is having a bad effect on my tips.”

Not long after that I heard somebody banging on our front door in the middle of the night. I was watching an old John Wayne movie on TV—I always waited up until Liz got home—and I figured this was her without her key. She’d been coming home later and later. Business, she explained, was really picking up, so she had to stay longer in order to clean and prep for the next day. It was around 2:00 AM—she’d never come home past midnight—and when I’d called The Slab around one, nobody answered.

But it wasn’t Liz at the door, it was my brother Pete.

“I think you should know,” he said as he stepped into the kitchen smelling like alcohol. “I was driving home from poker and I saw your Saturn parked outside Jerry Asendorf’s place.”

I shrugged. “Liz is probably helping him with something.”

“Oh, she’s helping him with something all right,” Pete said. “Come on. Get in the car.”

“What are you talking about?”

“We’ll drive over there, kick his ass, and get your wife back.”

“I’m sure there’s an easy explanation,” I told him as I got the phone book out.

“Yeah?” Jerry said when I called.

“This is Lou,” I told him. “Liz’s husband. Could you put her on, please?”

“She’s already on.” Click.

I looked over at my brother who was taking a bottle of Bud from the fridge.

“I’ll drive,” I said to him.

Jerry’s house was a raised ranch that his parents had always kept up. Jerry was not so conscientious. Even in the dark I could see that the grass was knee-high, bricks were missing from the front steps, the screen door was hanging by one hinge. The outside light was turned on as if company was expected, and inside the place was all lit up.

Pete pounded on the front door, then a second later tried the knob.

“It’s open,” he told me.

“We should wait,” I said.

“For what?” he said as he pushed the door open. “Christmas?”

Jerry was apparently prepared for this. With one sucker punch he hit Pete square in the face, and sent him tumbling backwards down the steps and into the overgrown lawn. I turned my head to see if he was all right, which was the second mistake. Jerry grabbed me by the front of my shirt, pulled me inside, threw me against wall. At the foot of the staircase Liz stood in a pinstriped man’s dress shirt, one hand over her mouth. She looked very hot.

I wound up with a fractured wrist, three broken ribs, bumps and bruises too numerous to mention. Fortunately, a neighbor called the cops and they were there in about five minutes. They found Pete on his feet, leaning against the house, puking into a bush. Jerry was taken into custody about the same time the EMTs showed up and strapped me onto an aluminum stretcher.

“You might have to work open to close tomorrow!” Jerry yelled over his shoulder as they took him out in cuffs.

“Forget it!” Liz called back. “I quit!”

They kept me in the hospital all the next day and over night. My wrist was pulled back into place and plastered. The doctor said the ribs would heal themselves in time, but he wanted to keep an eye on me to make sure there were no internal injuries.

Pete, broken nose and all, stopped by during afternoon visiting hours to tell me Jerry was being charged with assault and we should probably go lawyer shopping once I was back home.

Liz dropped by that evening. She was dressed pretty conservative in jeans and a baggy t-shirt. She had a shopping bag, and when she reached inside she took out the folding cardboard map that held all fifty of my state quarters. She pulled a chair up to my bedside, unfolded the map carefully on her lap, took one of the coins out of its circular holding.

Spirit of Courage,” she said, and I smiled so hard I could hardly say Alabama.

Read more about ZZ Boone here.

Read more about Brandon Rapert here.


  1. Roxane says:

    I couldn’t love the ending more. What a great story, here.

  2. heavener says:

    I agree, Roxane. Glad you like it!

  3. Bill says:

    A great story which gives us something so few do these days: a flawed hero to root for.

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