One day, Jack discovered he could say and do anything so long as he did it with a smile.
“I hate you, Tony. I’ve always hated you.”
“That’s nice of you to say, Jack.”
“I hate you so much that I slept with your wife, who I don’t even find very attractive. That’s how much I hate you and guys like you. Good lookin’ asses who think they’re so cool just because they have strong chins and good hair. You always think you’re better than me, but you’re not.”
Jack dropped his smile, and the barest hint of realization crossed Tony’s face. Jack forced his grin into place, and Tony smiled back blankly.
“I know it’s petty,” said Jack, “and I don’t care. You’ve never done anything to me, and you seem like a genuinely nice guy. But what the hell does that count for? You’ve had everything handed to you. You didn’t earn any of it. The day you were born, everything was already yours. You’re nothing but a shell of a human.”
“A fair criticism,” said Tony.
“It felt good, knowing that I’d screwed your wife. Every time you’ve been with her since, I’ve been there. I’d like to believe you could smell me on her. I know it’s not true, but it’s something I like to tell myself.”
“One of these days, I’m going to kill you. I’m going to walk right up to you with this smile on my face and a gun in my hand. And when the cops come and ask me why I shot you, I’ll tell them everything I’m telling you now, but I’ll be smiling so no one will care. It’ll be so perfect, so simple. You’ll be dead. I’ll be free. Who knows? Maybe I’ll sleep with your wife again. Just for the hell of it.
“But not today. I’m still having too much fun messing with you. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe the day after that.” Jack slapped Tony on the shoulder. “All I can promise is that you’ll see it coming, and there won’t be a damned thing anyone can do to stop me.”
“Sounds good. You have a great day now.”
Jack went into his house. Shirley sat in the kitchen. She had that angry look. All he had to do was smile at her to make everything better. He didn’t care. He didn’t like her. She didn’t like him. It felt good to have someone sincerely dislike him and for someone to know how much he disliked her.
“I know you’ve been screwing around,” she said.
“Yes, I have. I can do what I want now, and I want to have sex with other women. I’m not going to stop doing it, so don’t bother asking.” He turned away.
“That’s it? We’re not going to talk about it?”
“No, we’re not going to talk about it.” He almost smiled at her, just to get her to shut up. “I’m going out for a while.”
“When you get back, I won’t be here,” she said.
“Good. Take that damned cat with you when you go.”
“Drop dead, Jack.”
One day, Shirley she could kill people with her frown.