Dante sat on his slightly too big ass, harbouring half cooked anger, nursing a barely swollen lip. He flicked his moderately black hair from his 'ok' looking face and sighed in a voice that was neither interesting nor boring.
Humdrum, grey, dull, normal, some of the very many words you could throw in Dante's face. And he wouldn’t even bite back. Dante doesn't even have a bark. He had the temperament of a freshly neutered dog.
The events that lead to him sitting in his peach coloured room, nursing his kinda swollen lip aren’t that interesting. He got into a car crash. The guy in the other car didn't like something about Dante's face and tried to fix it. This kind of thing happens all the time. Well not often to Dante.
The curse of a name is a bizarre thing. Being given a name as, well, for the lack of a better word, cool, is a curse. Dante's name belongs to some kind of crime fighter, not a used car salesman. Something like Bert, or Norman would have been more suited to Dante. But Dante is Dante.
"This day has been spiteful, like a cuckold. Each second, of each minute cut me deep. They ask why people commit suicide. Having a life like mine's a good reason."
He stopped speaking. Perplexed by something.
"Im speaking iambic pentameter" He shook his head. "At least i think so, this is a bit strange."
A door opens down stairs.
"Dante are you home? I got the shopping, come down. I need your help now." His wife Meryl called for him.
"Of course, just give me a moment my love."
He ran down.
"You won't believe it. It was pouring down with rain. I'm soaked to my skin."
He looked at her. He noticed it. "You are speaking in haikus Meryl dear."
"Don't be so stupid. How could i do that Dante? That would be a pain."
"Meryl, listen, im speaking in poetry."
"You are not Rhyming. Neither of us are Dante. Stop being silly."
"Im not being silly Meryl, listen."
"To what Dante the wind? Im soaked to my god damn skin. And you are for words?"
"Haikus don't make a lot of sense Meryl. The syllables have to be just perfect. The same as iambic pentameter."
"Have you hurt your head? You do not look that well. Is your lip bleeding?"
"I think all i hear is soft poetry"
"Soft poetry, ha! Wait a minute, you are right. Im speaking Haiku."
They looked at each other. Both out of shape. Both slightly too old. Both too lazy to do anything about their sex life, or lack of. Both now speaking in poetry.
"Why do we not rhyme? That does not make any sense. This is annoying."
"I don’t know, im not in control of it. It just happens and i do not know why."
They stared at each other. What else was amiss? If anything. And why had it happened to them, why not someone who actually liked Shakespeare of Japanese poems. Why two people from Oakland with minor education and major failures.
"What should we do Meryl, im pretty scared."
She didn't answer. She just shook her head and un packed her shopping. She thought to herself – not in haiku form – 'maybe its just like the hiccups? Can i make any noises? What if a cough, do i have to cough more to even out the syllables? This is so stupid'.
They silently decided between them to put the shopping away. Dante took the milk to the fridge. Meryl put the cans of sweet corn on the side. Once in a blue moon she buys cans of carrots and peas. Today the moon is far from blue thinks Dante.
When they finish they sit down. Meryl begins to speak.
"Ok Dante dear. This whole speech impediment. What do we do now?"
"I don't know, people will notice sadly. So how do we explain it, i can't think. I woke up this morning feeling normal. Now poetry is spouting my lips. Flood gates cast open, a rip tide flowing."
"Oh shut the hell up. Now that is just so silly. A rip tide flowing?"
"Yes, a rip tide, cutting at my soft skin."
"You don’t have soft skin. Your fat and hairy Dante. Babies have soft skin." She said in scorn.
"Oh well sorry, you miserable old cow. You heathen, heretic, witch for a wife."
"What did you call me? Would you like a divorce dear? If not just shut up."
"Do not talk to me like that you old bitch."
She stood up.
"I don’t have to stay. I could have had any man. I settled for you."
"Any man? No man, half a man? Maybe. If they will have you, let them take you then. I can do whatever i like Meryl. I could write scripture or a stage play."
"So could I Dante. I could write something better. You don’t stand a chance."
"No one wants to listen to haiku, ha!"
She frowns deeply then slaps him across the face. His head whips to the side, like on a film where the camera is positioned that when they turn their head completely they look at the camera and give a look as if to say 'what did i do?'
She walks away from him, goes up to her bed room – yes, this pair of people even have separate bedrooms, they haven’t gotten freaky for weeks – and slams the door shut. He hears her stamping footsteps. Sighing Dante goes back up to try and mend what little left of the marriage there was.
"Come on, can we not work it out Meryl? We both speak in poetry, no one else. We need each other right now, don't you see?"
"I see that you're weak. Im not gone yet and you beg. Im not gonna stay."
"Were will you go, who will have you now?"
"You would love to know." She goes down stairs and when she reaches the door, turns one last time, to finish her haiku. "Haikus don’t always make sense. Dante, Grasshopper." She slammed the front door.
"Gone is she, once bearing shopping, alone. I find myself with nothing but TV. At least the TV doesn’t bitch and moan."
Dante had forgotten about his lip, about his whole day. He got a beer from the fridge and watched a re-run of Cheers.