Bill and Melinda Get Divorced

📅 Published on August 21, 2021

“Bill and Melinda Get Divorced”

Written by Irving Crane
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 9.50/10. From 2 votes.
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Bill was carrying all of his wife’s baggage after their Sunday at the mall when she decided to have another meltdown. Something triggered her. Nothing major, something small. It may have been the tone in Bill’s voice when he absently remarked about… something. It may have been some piece of information that she didn’t like. Whatever it was, it registered in her senses as unpleasant, and the unpleasantness and her reaction to it would snowball quickly in a vicious cycle.

Mild irritation became annoyance, then became major annoyance, then quickly transitioned to fed up, and then there was the eruption.

“Okay, Bill. This is why I get mad. This is literally why I can’t go out in public with your stupid ass without you doing something to start a fight. I’m sick and tired…” and so she would carry on. At length.

She took a couple of wild swings at her husband, after which she yelled “Stop trying to hit me!”

A physical impossibility considering the man’s arms were full, but it didn’t stop people from stopping and staring with judgment in their eyes.

No sooner had he put her bags in their Cadillac than the engine started and she drove off, leaving him stranded. His demeanor indicated that this wasn’t an isolated occurrence. Surprised, but not surprised. He sighed and reached into his pocket for his phone. He had that at least.

A voice startled Bill from behind. It was just a man in a coat just thick enough to keep the chill in the air at bay. He held up his hands to indicate that he wasn’t looking for trouble.

“Sorry about that, guy,”

Bill gave him a stiff smile.

“I don’t mean to be a pain, but I couldn’t help but notice how much you resemble Bill Bates. The Bill Bates.”

Bill looked around like a man looking for an exit out of a crowded room. Truth was that there weren’t many other people around in the mall parking lot. So he just kinda shrugged.

“Yeah, you got me. I was just out shopping and…”

The stranger gave some sort of signal and two other people approached Bill, armed with big black video cameras.

“Mr. Bates, could you tell me how your relationship with your wife has been lately?”

“Aw c’mon!” Bill wailed, feeling betrayed.

“Is that sort of exchange with your wife par for the course, or was this just a bad day for you two?”

Bill tried to keep his back to the reporters as they jabbed microphones in his face like chicken legs being fed to a toddler that didn’t want to eat his big boy food. He was doing his damnedest to get an Uber on the way.

“Mr. Bates, do you think that Microsnot has a future with only one of you at the helm?”

“Wait, what?”

“I said, do you think that—”

“Nuh-uh, no. Plain English. What was that?”

“Do you think that your billion-dollar facial tissue empire, Microsnot, is eventually going to be headed either by just yourself or just your wife?”

“Are you asking me if you think I’m going to get a divorce?” Bill squealed.

The footage hit the news and Bill watched himself coming at the camera. The cameraman ran backwards, filming Bill and all of his attempted sissy slaps that hit nothing.

Bill could see it, and he imagined that everyone else did, too. A henpecked husband – a helplessly henpecked husband – venting his rage on the next stranger that got in his face. There he was at the pinnacle of his killer instinct and he looked utterly toothless.

He took another pull on the tumbler that contained strawberry Boone’s Farm. He set it down to an identical tumbler full of whiskey. That other tumbler sat under the limp fingertips of a hand that was withered and splotchy like a toad.

The hand was connected to a bony arm that had no muscle mass with its skin wound tight like funeral wrappings. The body belonged to an old man that couldn’t close his mouth and his breath was done for him, mostly, by a small machine to his side. Air whistled in and out of his mouth, and a hole in his throat.

“…and I just don’t know what to do, Dad,” Bill said for the fiftieth time that night. “We’ve done counseling. We’ve done self-help. We’ve gone on vacations around the world. Literally, around the world.

Twenty-seven years and three children and a whole stinkin’ empire, and she’s still the same. Nothing slows her anger down once it gets rolling.

She’s like a thunderstorm. No, a hurricane. I have zero control over the storm’s escalation or its arrival. All I can do is hope I can find shelter in time.”

The withered old man took a drag on an expensive cigarette through the hole in his throat, his rheumy eyes thoughtful and distant.

“I wanted to tell that damn journalist that by all laws of probability, Microsnot should have become a one-captain ship years ago. No marriage lasts this long under this kind of duress. We’re sleeping in separate beds and the number one rule of women is that if they don’t get what they need, they go off and get it somewhere else.

Has she gone off somewhere else? Has she waved some of that money and power under some other ignorant man’s nose? No! She’s like a plastic potted plant! She doesn’t need what… most women need. She somehow subsists on her misery and driving me insane and…”

I don’t know what to do, Dad. The old man said in his head.

“…I don’t know what to do, Dad! I don’t! I’m lost!”

Bill’s father took a slosh of the whiskey, some of it oozed out of his throat-hole. Then he took up a pad and pen with a trembling hand. A crude map took shape under the old man’s movements. He handed it to Bill whose eyes were starting to cross under the weight of Boone’s Farm. The meaning of it was lost on him and the old man couldn’t talk.

“Part of house,” the old man wrote on another piece of paper. Bill folded the paper up and took his leave. He was utterly spent, mind, body, and spirit.

He staggered through the imposing doors of his mansion. He would have built his own, but his father insisted on handing it over to his son. Melinda had liked the dated feeling of the place. It was like a castle trying to be modern. The décor and all were current, but the actual age of the place bled through in things like stonework and verdigris-encrusted sculptures.

So his dad probably knew the mansion better than Bill did. That was the one clear thought that stuck in his head as he found his way to his bedroom. He could hear Melinda snoring down the hallway. He wondered if there was anything about her that was subtle. Conducive to peace. Both for herself and for the people that had to share any space with her.

He fell into that twilight sleep that often accompanies alcohol. So he roused easily when he sensed that he wasn’t the only occupant of his bed. His first thought was that his wife had him pinned down. But if it were really her, she would have crushed him. The orange glow of the fake fireplace revealed a female figure straddling Bill’s prone body, except it was much slimmer and shapelier than his wife’s. Chiseled, womanly hips gyrated and pressed against Bill, as if he were the recipient of a lap dance.

He mentally reviewed the events of the night before, checking to see if there was a trip to any shady places before or after his visit with dad. His memory gave him nothing. Which made him even more worried.

He wanted to tell his gorgeous rider that she would need to leave immediately if she valued her life. His speech and his movement were still under the spell of sleep. He wondered if he was having a sleep paralysis episode.

The darkly beautiful woman saw that she had his attention and she smiled from under her cascading hair. She got off the bed and fished his father’s hand-drawn map out of his discarded pants. She waved it in front of his face.

She then took it over to the fireplace and tucked it underneath the clock on the mantelpiece. She stood facing Bill just long enough for recognition to penetrate his sleep-drugged senses. The woman was Melinda. If Melinda had been 17 again and dressed to kill. She smiled to herself and stepped into the fake fire and vanished.

Bill trembled, unable to fully process what had just happened. It had to have been the most vivid episode of sleep paralysis he had ever experienced. He would get up, find that the map was still in his trousers, and he’d have a laugh about it to himself.

He sat up in bed and cradled his face for a few minutes before inspecting his pants. The map was gone.

“Impossible,” he grunted, as his eyes shot to the mantelpiece. He staggered over to it where he ran into a cloud of heady perfume. He fished the map out from under the clock with trembling hands. The fragrance seemed to come from the map.

He didn’t know what it meant, but it meant something real.

The map took him to the one room that hadn’t been changed up since Bill and Melinda’s occupancy. He distantly remembered thinking it odd that his father hadn’t left behind anything in any of the other rooms, but here he had left behind an entire library.

“Oh, I just don’t read much anymore. Bad eyes, you know,” had been the old man’s excuse. But Bill still saw his father read. He had gotten himself a Kindle a few anniversaries ago. He joked that he had forgotten that his wife was six feet under, so he may as well get some good from it.

Bill glanced at his phone. It was about 3:30 AM. He sized up the little library and thought about how much time it might take him to find some sort of hidden secret. His father’s map told him where to go but didn’t tell him what to do. Or did it? There was an extra room on the map. Bill looked around him. Where there was supposed to be this extra room, there was a wall of bookcases.

At first, he started pulling books back and waiting for some sort of click or beep or whatever. One by one, row by row he tried each shelf, each book.

One of the shelves in one of the bookcases had a handle. So he gave it a tug. The entire bookshelf swung forward like a great door.

A long and claustrophobic stone hallway greeted Bill with a sigh of cold air.

“This is nuts,” he whispered before pressing onward, his phone his flashlight.

Phoebe Renfield was anxious for her interview. If she landed this corporate job, she would be the stereotype of the highly-paid sexy blonde secretary. Everyone hated her for looking the part. Now she had the chance to play it.

She looked up at the overawing mansion, thinking that it was a strange place for getting a job. She almost wondered if she had gotten the wrong address when the door opened and Bill smiled at her.

“Miss Renfield, I presume?”

“Yes! Yes, I’m here for my job interview!”

“Well, I’m here to give it. Right this way, please.”

“How should I address you, sir?”

“Bill Bates,” he said, extending his hand. The dear girl was pale already, but she grew a few shades whiter.

“I’m being interviewed by the CEO of Microsnot?”

“I miss the old days when I was just another guy helping run the company. I’m trying to get back to that. Besides, who really wants to interview in a stuffy skyscraper, eh? If you really want to get to know a person, there’s no place like home.”

Phoebe squeaked in agreement.

She was so starstruck that she didn’t question why she was being led through a passageway that was behind a bookcase. She didn’t voice any concerns about the long, dark, narrow hallway.

She had some concerns by the time she found herself in a tall, circular room where a gigantic, wicked-looking symbol was painted on the floor. It was some variation of a geometric star and a black candle burned at each point.

She was cuffed and thrust into the iron cage at the center of the floor, the stiff cage hatch screamed as it was shut behind her.  Phoebe screamed as well.

Bill’s friendly voice waxed ominous as he opened a messy hand-bound book that was full of his father’s handwriting and he began chanting in some language that wasn’t English. Sickly green flames began to spark to life around Phoebe’s cage.

It was when she saw eyes in those flames that her screaming reached a new level of sincerity.

Bill had almost forgotten how to use the surveillance system he had installed in the mansion. They never caught any criminals skulking around their home. In later years, he used it to keep track of where his wife was so that he could sneak around however he pleased. And then it just fell into disuse the more his hope and his faith in anything was buried alive under her temper.

He kinda started hoping that someone would break into his mansion and put him out of his misery. Never happened.

He tapped into the camera that was in his wife’s room just as she was getting out of bed. Before last night, it was like watching a pink Walrus greet the day.

But no… something was different. What used to be amorphous folds of skin were now discernible as breasts. The body they were attached to no longer looked like a stack of pancakes. The face didn’t have a whisper of a mustache, nor did it look like the giant that awoke to find Jack in his home after climbing the beanstalk.

No, it had to have been a trick of the camera.

Bill rushed to where he could watch his wife from a distance. The camera hadn’t lied. She had changed.

She actually looked good.

At the breakfast table, she did something that she hadn’t done in years: She smiled at Bill. And her smile was radiant. Her eyes were like gemstones that had gotten a long-overdue polishing.

She giggled a little. You could have sworn she had become more like Phoebe Renfield, the buxom blonde who was reported as missing a few days later. But nobody made any comparisons. The only thing that occurred to Melinda was to give her dietitian a raise. The regimen was finally working.

The following is an ad that appeared on Craigslist:






Melinda Bates looked at herself in the mirror, puzzled. She stepped on the scale. She had another cheat night last night. Cheat nights caught up with her like a freight train the next morning. But she hadn’t gained a single ounce. She had actually lost weight.

The mirror showed her something she had forgotten. Like her husband, she got used to seeing an ogre for so long that she couldn’t remember ever seeing anything else. But there she was. The woman that had been buried underneath all the sediment of time and chemical imbalances and hormone disorders and health complications brought on by stress that stemmed from being married to a billionaire.

She could see her toenails again and she started painting them herself.

Muscles were starting to show in her mid-region.

And her boobs. They were like the steel bearings that clack-clack-clacked away on the desks of many of her office workers. Just as round. Just as hard.

Bill had been getting hard again. For her. She thought those days were gone forever. She thought she would spend her remaining years as a pile of angry, pasty dough that would never get love or affection no matter how much she acted out. Just like that, life was sweet again.

It wasn’t all good. There were things that tugged at her brain. Like the way her eyes were changing color. She swore that one eye was a different color than the other for a week. When she mentioned it to Bill, the condition somehow corrected itself.

She caught herself saying and doing things that just weren’t quite… her.

She didn’t remember ever holding her wrist like that when she laughed. She didn’t remember using the phrase “Doncha know?”

She and Bill had been screwing each other’s brains out every night for the last two months. The sex was more and more in territory that she had found disgusting. But her senses were saying yes to all of it. Yes, Bill, that’s horrible and base and atrocious and I want to do it until one of us passes out!

She asked Bill if she had always been like that. He said she had.

Those inklings never got in the way of enjoying her new life, but they never went away either.

Bill simply couldn’t hide the fact that he was salivating. The clock was ticking down to another interview. Boy-oh-boy, what an interview.

His ads on Craigslist had pulled in some mighty hot women. But in his eyes, they were all like used cars. No matter how new they looked, he could just tell that they were used.

Not this number. Nosiree.

This incoming package was as hot as you could get without getting obvious surgery involved. Perfect, tight, smooth lines everywhere, and she dressed for maximum exposure. His grin of anticipation was also a grimace. His nether regions were begging for a night off. He had developed an acute waddle.  Urination was impossible without some screaming.

But his lust drank the breath of the billows and he couldn’t wait to throw this new girl into the ritual chamber. The sooner her body was a papery ruin like a smashed wasp’s nest at the bottom of the iron cage, the sooner he would have his wife in pigtails and in tears calling him Daddy. No more calling him “Potato Buns.”

He knew he had chosen well when the girl cooed with delight at the handcuffs. Her final cries in the cage straddled agony and ecstasy.

He couldn’t just dive headlong into the debauched hedonism that awaited him in his wife’s embrace. He wanted to savor the anticipation.

Every table Bill and Melinda walked past in the restaurant emitted a slap as one woman after another chastised her man for looking at Melinda. She was the very essence of every orange-hot coal that burned in the darkest pits of the minds of men. She was the embodiment of every unspeakable fantasy that no sane male would confess to imagining. Were Venus real, she would have felt the sting of an inferiority complex that night.

And she was all Bill’s. The sordid things that every man in that restaurant fantasized on impulse, Bill would be doing. Shortly. After a good meal and fine wine. And more wine. And more wine.

When they made it to their exclusive suite at the top of the luxury hotel, they cracked open one last bottle of White Zinfandel before the carnal rodeo of sweat and spit could commence. They both swayed. They both brayed with laughter up until one critical moment.

Bill felt like he was back in high school, meeting Melinda for the first time all over again. The face that smiled at him in his swimming vision had changed a lot. He recognized the subtleties of each of the women that he had led into that ritual chamber. But the light in those eyes, that was his Melinda. This was the time of his life he had been waiting for.

Being able to both love his wife with wild abandon and punish her for all the years of anguish she raked him through. Speaking of which.

“Hey, Babe,” he slurred as he stumbled towards her. “What’s better than being a billionaire’s wife?”

“Being a single billionaire,” she said, smiling.

Ooh, that wasn’t the right answer. He was hoping she’d say something dirty. That stung a bit. Not as much as the empty wine bottle that came crashing down on his head.

He was kept in a hole in the floor and he was kept good and drugged. It was something psychoactive as hell, since he talked and acted like a grapefruit on the verge of self-awareness.

His hair and nails got long. His clothes got rough. Then he was thrown outside someplace where he blacked out. When Bill woke up, he wasn’t Bill anymore. He had Bill’s face, he had Bill’s clothes, he had Bill’s thoughts.

But he didn’t have Bill’s identity. Not on paper. Not on file.

He discovered this when his mind finally came back to him. Just in time for him to realize that he had been a drifting zombie vegetable that hung around a homeless shelter. He found a greasy public-access terminal and scraped the bottom of the internet for anything that would connect him to his name, Bill Bates. There was nothing. Bank accounts, social media, email, all gone.

This was enough to make him sit around the shelter for another few months before he’d do some more digging. That time, he did some research on the last girl that went into the ritual chamber.

She was another missing person in the news, so finding her digital presence wasn’t difficult.

Her social media gave him just enough to give him anxiety.

Like any other Perfect Ten, she had lots of pictures of herself. But she was with a different man in each picture. More often than not, there was a crazy expensive car in the background. So what, lots of girls monetizing social media take those kinds of pics.

But they were all engagement pictures. All captioned with some form of “I said yes!” followed by a tag of the man in the picture.

Bill spent days researching each man. Each of them was rich and powerful.

A third of them were in the news for scandal and divorce. The relevant articles each had some mention of an ex-wife or an ex-fiancée that was gunning for a large sum of money.

One word congealed in Bill’s mind and he formed it with silent lips.

“Gold digger.”

He repeated it over and over.

There were only a few minutes left on his use of the web. He got onto Twitter to check the account that he shared with his wife. Somebody had been posting in his stead.

The most recent tweet read as if it was from him and Melinda both:

“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage. Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a business and a way of life that we are proud of, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”

Rating: 9.50/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Irving Crane
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

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Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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