She was always on his ass about the volunteer firefighter gig, saying it was about drinking with the guys, just another way to get out of the house. Well fuck, he was married to her, wasn’t he? Of course it was about getting out of the house.
But it also meant he had an O2 tank and a mask. Funny how things work out.
So, the El Dorado. A cherry ’64, pink, the wife’s dream car. Her surprise Christmas present a few days back. Totally authentic except for the remote start he put in. Cold up here in the winter, and with the Taurus, the wife always liked to start the car from her office, warm it up. She’d hit the remote from the kitchen, fire it up in the garage in the morning, too, while she got her coffee together.
Shouldn’t do that, he’d told her. Carbon monoxide. Dangerous. Her family was over for Thanksgiving, he worked that into the dinner conversation, her know-it-all brother reaming the wife out over it, telling her what a dumbass she was. Which meant she’d go right on doing it, because if her brother told her not to stick silverware in her eye, first thing she’d do is reach for a salad fork. Her family’d remember that little scene.
Thing is, with the Taurus? Not that dangerous. Catalytic converters, they take something like 99 percent of the CO out of the exhaust. Hell, he’d been called out eight months back, some guy’d tried to off himself by firing up his Jetta in the garage. Burned a whole tank of gas, all he managed to do was wipe out his frontal lobe. Now he was in that long-term care dump out on 47, staring at the ceiling, drooling on himself, waiting for the clock to run out.
But the Caddy? 429 V8, and no catalytic converter on that puppy. Exhaust had CO levels of better than 7,000 PPM. 800 PPM and you’re unconscious in fifteen seconds or so, dead a minute or two after that.
He’d picked up the Caddy while she was off with Christmas shopping with her friends. Gave him a chance to run some tests. Strapped on the 02 tank, took the CO detector out to the garage. With that big engine? Twenty minutes, he got the numbers he needed. He shut it down, put a bow on the roof.
Wife’s morning routine? Hit the remote to warm up the car, make her coffee, grab her purse and go, the car running maybe five minutes before she climbed in. Not enough to kill her, but yesterday was the first day she drove the Caddy to the office, and she called home bitching about a headache. The monoxide would do that to you. If she got in the car and decided to check her makeup, maybe got a call on her cell, then she might get right up to the line. He could picture it now, she’d hang on long enough to drop the car in reverse, Caddy’d roll down the driveway, crash into the Silverado the neighbors parked on the street, and he’d be stuck with a potted plant for a wife.
Insurance didn’t pay off on potted plants.
He was working third shift that week, so she was in the shower when he got to the bedroom – their usual third-shift routine, he’d be asleep by the time she got out to towel off. Not like she wanted to talk to him anyway, not unless she had something to bitch about. After the Caddy, he’d be on her good side for another day or two.
He had the spare set of keys under his pillow. The remote worked from here – he’d checked. Faint sound as the engine caught, nothing she’d hear over the shower.
She was fifteen minutes in the shower, ten to get dressed, ten with the makeup. Before she left the john, he shut the car down.
He heard the car start, heard the hall door close, never heard the garage door go up. Half an hour later, the CO alarm went off downstairs. He smiled.
Down one wife, up one Caddy, New Year’s resolutions all checked off.