YOU BE FRODO
Published Luna Review – September 2016
“Todd? What’s that you’re wearing?”
“Read in the Times this can, you know, spice up a marriage.” His voice is muffled. “So what do you think?”
“The Times said to wear an Elmo costume to bed?”
“Not specifically Elmo. It’s called role play. Got you Oscar the Grouch.” He holds up a furry gray onesie in one hand, a heavy-eyebrowed head in the other. “We could do Bert and Ernie?”
Kate sets her book on the nightstand next to the baby monitor. “I know what role play is. You have it confused with cosplay. Totally different, more like a twisted orgy thing for people with daddy issues.”
He takes off the furry red oversized head. “Explains why the guy at the costume shop gave me a flyer for a convention in Jersey. So, I guess no costumes?”
“Not those costumes.”
“My bad.” He sits on the edge of the bed. “This role play thing. How do we, uh, play?”
“It’s late, Todd. Just want to finish this chapter and go to sleep.”
His shoulders slump. “Sorry, sorry. Things have been a little slow in the bedroom since the baby came. Wanted to make you happy.”
Poor guy. He has the same look he had when his remote-controlled robot was decapitated by a flywheel spinner in last year’s RoboGames semi-finals. “Okay, Sweetie. But we need to rethink the roles.”
He brightens. “How about Captain Kirk and a Romulan?”
She shakes her head.
“Henry the Eighth and Anne Boleyn?”
A more vigorous head shake.
“Vernon and Petunia Dursley? Marie Curie and –”
“Todd, stop!” In a softer voice: “Those aren’t really sexy roles.”
“Right, right. Okay, you pick the characters.”
Kate reaches into her nightstand and pulls out the toy stethoscope her mom sent for the baby’s first Christmas. “How ‘bout naughty nurse and patient?” She winks.
“Wow, Kate, you’re good at this.”
She jumps out of bed and disappears into the walk-in closet. “Gimme a minute.”
“Thanks for being such a sport. Afraid you’d laugh at dorky old me. You went to Smith. You lived in the Village. All I know about sex I learned from you. I mean, besides reading Origin of Species under the sheets with a flashlight at Science Camp.”
She can hear Todd struggle to get out of the Elmo costume.
“Need help, Sweetie?”
“No, no, I got it.”
She kicks off her sweats and pulls a box from the top shelf. The sexy nurse costume she wore the Halloween before she met Todd. She zips herself in, smiles. Still fits. She slips on a pair of patent leather pumps, pulls her hair into a loose bun, hangs the plastic stethoscope around her neck. “Here I come . . .” she trills.
She stops at the foot of the bed. “Todd, why did you drape the shower curtain over yourself?”
“I’m the patient, right? I have Ebola. Highly infectious, better stand clear.”
“I think you’re missing the point.” She slides the plastic curtain onto the floor.
She walks her fingers up his chest. “How ‘bout you come in for a physical, the doctor is gone, so I take care of you?”
“Wow, that’s even better. Okay, I’ll go out in the hall.” He runs into the hallway, closes the door behind him.
Several seconds tick by.
“For the nurse to call my name.”
She bats at the toy stethescope. “Mr. Todd Robertson, please report to exam room one for your physical.”
He shuffles in, a shy smile on his face.
In her best breathy voice: “Sit on the examining table, Mr. Robertson.” She tilts her head and twirls a loose strand of hair around her finger. “Doctor was called away on an emergency, so I’ll do your physical today.”
“Don’t think my insurance covers unlicensed providers. I’ll have to check my policy.” He starts back out the door.
“Todd! Get back in here.” She pushes him backward onto the bed, climbs on top of him.
“This is highly unprofessional! I’ll call the Board of Health!” He scrambles to sit. She lands with a thud on the floor. A wail comes over the monitor.
“Sorry, sorry. Messed up again.”
“God’s sake!” Kate stalks out of the room.
When she returns a few minutes later, Todd is under the covers, back to her.
She peels off her costume and shoes, slides into bed, presses her body against his. “Don’t need all that stuff, Sweetie. Wanna play old married couple?”
He answers her question with a loud snore.
She kisses his shoulder, rolls over and picks up her book. “Let’s see what Mr. Gray has in mind for Ana tonight.”