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A Suburban Story. By Martin Green.


A shooting in our nice quiet suburb just outside of California’s capital, staid Sacramento?

Yes, it happened.

Well, maybe our suburb wasn’t that nice or that quiet. It was the seventies; we were all young couples; the sixties had ended all sexual inhibitions. Consider one of our many summer barbeques. The women were all made up, nicely tanned, wearing light dresses or shorts. The men eyed them appreciatively. Husbands danced with wives, not necessarily their own. Looks were exchanged; maybe notes were passed. There was a buzz of gossip. Who was seeing whom? After the barbeque, there’d be arguments; at the end of the summer there’d be break-ups. Before year’s end possibly there’d be a divorce. No, a shooting wasn’t that impossible. Maybe it was inevitable.

I myself tried to keep clear of our group’s flirtations, maneuverings and gossip. I’d been married to Sally for six years. We had two small children. Our sex life had dwindled, but that was as expected. I was working hard to get a promotion at my office. We needed the money to take care of our house and the kids. My time of playing around was over; at least that’s what I told myself.

Much of our group’s gossip centered around my next-door neighbor and tennis partner Sidney Edwards. This was first because Sid was an unattached male, divorced the year before. He was also tall, ruggedly handsome and, as far as women were concerned, a charmer. And he was a successful lawyer. It wasn’t that Sid boasted of his exploits; he was quite discreet. But several times, when I was up early to get the morning paper, I caught a glimpse of a woman hurriedly leaving his house, undoubtedly to return to her own home and husband.

The latest rumor going around was that Miranda Fairchild was having an affair. Miranda wasn’t a beauty but was attractive in a quiet way, or so I’d always thought. She was tall, slender, dark with raven-black hair and eyes that suggested a depth beyond her usual suburban housewifely exterior. I especially liked her quiet voice. Her husband Kenneth would seem to be a likely cuckold, pale, prim, nerdish-looking with glasses, some kind of accountant, absorbed in his work. They were childless. You might say this was a pairing where the wife was almost certain to become the object of some other man’s desire.

I won’t go into the details of all the speculation about Miranda and Sid, which went on for some months. Everyone in our group was sure they were having an affair. At one of our get-togethers, one of the other wives was blunt enough to corner Sid and ask him outright. He denied it. No one believed him.

On this autumn Saturday, I was at Sid’s. We’d finished a morning’s tennis and I’d stopped in for a beer. We were sitting in his living room. The TV was on, a college football game. Someone came through the door (Sid always left it open) and burst into the living room. It was Kenneth Fairchild. He was even paler than usual and shaking. Pointing a finger at Sid, he said, “I know about you and Miranda.”

“Calm down, Kenneth. There’s nothing to know.”

“You lying bastard. You’ve been screwing my wife. Don’t try to get out of it.”

“I assure you, Kenneth, that’s not true. Come on, I’ll get you a beer.”

“You think you can talk your way out of anything. Not this time.”

This wasn’t the nerdish Kenneth Fairchild we knew. He had a crazy look in his eyes. Then he pulled out a gun and pointed it at Sid.

“Kenneth, don’t be foolish. Put that down”

Sid started to get up out of his chair. Kenneth fired, one, two, three times. Then he dropped the gun and started crying.


* * *


I won’t keep you in suspense.

Ken was shaking so badly that only one shot hit Sid, in the shoulder. It went clear through. The other two shots went into the wall.

Sid recovered in a few months and is back playing tennis. He refused to bring charges.

The Fairchilds moved away and no one knows where they are. Sid of course was, as he’d said all along, not the one having an affair with Miranda.

As you’ll have guessed, I was the guilty party. I didn’t mean to be unfaithful, but I couldn’t resist that soft voice telling me everything would be all right as I poured out my troubles to her. My wife Sally, I’m happy to say, never suspected anything. I got my promotion and things were easier after that. Sid never again went near any of the other wives. I think he might get married, to another attorney in his firm.

The shooting made a big stir in our neighborhood for a while, but now things have calmed down, and life in the suburbs goes on.



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