I couldn’t find the granola bars. I thought they would be with the cookies, but no. The granola bars shared an aisle with the cereal. Why weren’t the breakfast foods and the cookies together? I ate cookies for breakfast. Didn’t anyone else? When I pointed this out to the teenager in the striped supermarket shirt, he looked confused. He said he didn’t eat cookies for breakfast. I couldn’t believe that. He had a large cookie gut hanging over his khaki pants, and his pimply face indicated that he probably consumed chocolate often. I sighed, threw the granola bars in the cart, and I headed to look for the bread. Would it be in the bakery or would it be somewhere unthinkable, like the imitation crab meat section? I knew I shouldn’t have come to the grocery store in this state. I was completely frantic. My hair was in a messy bun on top of my head. My old red sorority sweatshirt was hanging haphazardly over my khaki shorts. I didn’t know why I was wearing a sweatshirt. It was the first thing I saw in my closet. I threw it on, despite it being May, in Florida, and nearly 95 degrees outside. My tennis shoes had a hole over the left pinky toe. I had worn the shoes since I had graduated college almost eight years ago. The Nike check mark on the side was about to fall off, the shoelaces were coated with mud, and a small leaf was hanging off of one of them. I never wore them in public, just when working in the yard or around the house. In my right state of mind, I would have never worn them to the Winn Dixie. Never. As I was searching for a can of tuna, I noticed that my socks didn’t match. One was tall and white, almost reaching my knee. The other was off-white, barely above my ankle, displaying the Ralph Lauren polo player. I must have looked hideous. I must have looked incredibly frightening to small children. I scared myself as I saw my reflection in a freezer door on the frozen food aisle. I hurried to the checkout with the granola bars, bread, tuna and milk in the shopping cart. I must have needed other things, but the only thing I could think about was the tuna sandwich I was craving and the chocolate milk and granola bar I would want as a midnight snack. I didn’t even know if I had chocolate at the house, but I had damn sure gotten the milk. “Mam?” the cashier startled me as I studied the tabloids on the shelf beside me. “Another alien impregnated some lady in Arizona,” I said, throwing my items on the conveyor belt. “Yeah,” she grinned at my outfit. I usually watched the computer to make sure I wasn’t being overcharged, but today I bit my nails, tried to scoot the tall sock down to match the short one with the heel of my tennis shoe, and I fidgeted with my keys. “Your total is $11.57,” the young girl said, still eyeing my messy hair. I threw a twenty dollar bill at her and gathered up my belongings. “Um, Ma’am? Your change?” she held up the dollar bills and pennies. “No,” I shook my head as if getting change back is always an option. “Cool," she nodded, pocketing the money. “Have a nice day.” I scurried into the hot Florida sun and walked to my car. A shopping car had plowed into the back tail light. “Damn it!” I screamed. A woman walking on the other side of the parking lot pull her little girl close to her as if I was about to pull out an AK 47 and start shooting up the place. “Did you see who did this?” I screamed to a young man that was getting out of his truck parked next to me. “I just, I just got here,” he nervously motioned to his truck. “Damn it!” I screamed again as I veered the cart away from my SUV and threw my bag in the passenger seat. I got inside, the leather seats hot and sticky to my legs, perspiration running down the side of my head. My arms were smothered inside the heavy sweatshirt. I turned the ignition, and the hot air from the AC blasted my face. I rested my head on the steering wheel and began to sob. “How dare he do this to me?” I cried to myself. I couldn’t believe that he had turned me into this crazy psycho, causing a scene in the Winn Dixie, screaming obscenities, and wearing a sweatshirt in Florida in May. He had made me crazy. For the past 3 days, I hadn’t left my house. I had been sitting on my bedroom’s hardwood floor, surrounded by wadded up Kleenex and granola bar wrappers, holding onto our wedding picture and plotting to kill the home wrecker that had taken him from me. “I’m leaving you, Carlin,” he had said to me, only 3 days earlier, as I sat on our couch folding clothes. I laughed at him. I thought he was making a joke. A twisted joke, but a joke, nonetheless. What kind of person breaks this news to a woman while she is folding his boxer shorts? “I’m in love with someone else,” he had said to me, reaching out to touch my arm as if it would make me feel better. My laughter turned into rage. I jumped began screaming and sobbing, and I threw the laundry basket at him, demanding to know her name. “It’s Prudence,” he looked down at his folded hands as shame covered his face. Prudence? His secretary? Oh, it’s always the secretary, isn’t it? I never knew I would get dumped for someone named Prudence. I had always loved The Beatles, but Dear Prudence had never been one of my favorites. And, isn’t prudent supposed to mean something moral? Isn’t the definition of prudence something about being careful and portraying wholesome conduct? Prudent is not the way I describe someone that sleeps with married men. “What an old grandmother name,” I said to myself, as I sat sweating in the grocery store parking lot. But, Prudence was far from a grandmother. Prudence was 23. Prudence had long blonde hair and big, stupid, blue eyes. Prudence looked like she stepped out of a Spiegel catalogue, with her matching necklaces and bracelets, and mix and match skirts and tops. Prudence also had a husband. His name was Bernie. Prudence and Bernie. They sounded like the elderly Jewish couple that lived at the end of our cove with Popsicle stick birdhouses and squirrel feeders in their front yard. Prudence and Bernie sounded like the couple with matching silver Buicks in their driveway and a social security check in their mailbox. But Prudence and Bernie were a young couple. Now Prudence belonged to someone named Hunter. Prudence and Hunter. The sound of their names together made me want to hurl on the tuna and milk in the plastic sack sitting next to me. Hunter didn’t even say he was sorry. He just left me sitting there in our house, surrounded by pictures of our happy marriage, and he went to join Prudence at some hotel. He left me there to cry, throw up, eat, cry, throw up, eat, and somehow, despite all of the throwing up, gain 15 pounds in 72 hours. I reversed out of the Winn Dixie parking lot, as I tore into my granola bars. I pulled into the busy intersection, and waited on the light to turn green. Jim Croce came on the radio, and I wanted to heave. “Leroy Brown, Leroy Brown,” I said to myself, gnawing on the granola. “He’s meaner than a junkyard dog.” I had the urge to become Leroy Brown. I could be meaner than a junkyard dog. I began to think of other Jim Croce songs, and I hated Jim Croce. What was that other Jim Croce song? You don’t step on Superman’s cape? I was Superman at a Halloween party when I was 17. Prudence had stepped on my cape. I turned left and headed to my home, our home, on Maple Street. Maple Street. Anytown, USA. How could the happy couple on Maple Street in Anytown, USA be torn apart by someone named Prudence? We were only 30 years old. I never thought I would get dumped for someone named Prudence Matlock. The sound of her name reminded me of my childhood Sunday school teacher. Prudence’s name was innocent enough, but she had ruined my life. Hunter and I had just talked about trying for our first child. He didn’t give me any signs at all that he was going to leave. Shouldn’t I have gotten some sort of sign? Shouldn’t he have come home with lipstick on his collar or perfume on his clothes? Although he was a lawyer, with long hours, he rarely came home late. He opted to do most of his work at home after 6:00. When were he and Prudence shacking up or doing whatever it is that adulterers and adulteresses do? He was with me on weekends, every night after work. I thought things were fine. Damn Prudence. I pulled into our home near the end of the cove, the front of the house shaded by the palm trees filling our yard. We didn’t have a single Maple tree on Maple Street. Go figure. I grabbed the grocery sack out of the car, slammed the door and headed for the house. I glanced at the end of the street to the house where names like Prudence and Bernie should have lived. A fake wooden butt, painted with pink polka dots, was stuck in the front flower bed. I saw the old man, whose name was Herbert (but he could have passed for a Bernie), washing his fishing boat in the driveway. He looked like a Bernie. My Hunter didn’t look like a Bernie, nor did he look like he should be with a Prudence. I smirked to the old man, who hadn’t done anything wrong to me, and I went inside my house. The house was freezing. The thermostat must have been set to 3. My poor Golden Retriever had ice sickles hanging from his big pink tongue. I walked through the piles of Kleenex, granola wrappers and coke cans on the floor to the hallway to turn off the air conditioner. I had nothing to do. It was Saturday. Hunter and I often went boating on Saturdays. We met up with friends and ate at Gilligan’s by the sea. My poor dog, Sam, hadn’t been on a walk in three days. He knew something was wrong. He knew he usually got on the boat during the weekend. The boat! The boat was still in the garage. I got up from the couch and went to eye Hunter’s pride and joy. Hmmm, spray paint sat on the workbench beside the boat. But I couldn’t just spray paint his boat. I was mad enough to do something like that. I think I could have shot a bullet between his eyes or cut the crotch out of his slacks, but I was too good for that. The hell I was. I spray painted dirty words on the side of the sparkling pearl Bayliner. I felt like a child. I was getting a thrill out of saying and writing bad words. I felt like a rebel. I didn’t feel so bad girl-ish anymore when I noticed that, in my excitement, I had misspelled “asshole”. The word looked French. “Asholle”. How could I have misspelled asshole? I had said it a million times in the past 72 hours. I put the paint can down and went back inside the warm, almost hot, house. I switched the AC back on and walked to the bedroom. Most of the wedding pictures on the bookshelves in the bedroom had been smashed against the wall. I still got little pieces of glass stuck in my foot when I walked through barefoot. Thank goodness for the ragged Nikes I was wearing. I crawled into the bed, among the heap of little Debbie wrappers and snotty tissue, and I curled into a little ball. Damn that Prudence. I had invited her and Bernie to dinner at our house only a few months earlier. I slaved over parmesan chicken that night. I fed the stupid tramp that was sleeping with my husband. Poor Bernie laughed at her dumb jokes and stories all night long. Come to think of it, so did Hunter. I was growing madder and madder as I lay in the bed, Sam looking at me as if he were genuinely worried about me. I patted his head and rubbed his ears. The poor dog had had soaking wet ears for the last three days. I found it comforting to rest my head on his head and cry. I had even tried to brainwash him into biting Hunter the next time we saw him. But, Sam loved Hunter too much. He wouldn’t bite him, even if he had hurt his momma so badly. I couldn’t sleep. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to do a lot of things, but I couldn’t. I didn’t have the energy or the passion to even get out of the bed. I was amazed that I had made it to the Winn Dixie, even though I looked like something off of a documentary about the homeless. I really wanted to kill this Prudence whore. I sincerely had the urge to drive to Bernie’s house, demand to know where she and my husband had gone, and then bust into their skanky hotel room to shoot her. I seriously contemplated this. The thought of causing her physical pain brought me joy. I even thought about jail being a punishment for my crime, and I decided that I could deal with living in solitary confinement for the rest of my life as long as she wasn’t sleeping with my husband. If I couldn’t have him, some 23 year old with a 75 year old name wasn’t going to have him. Damn Prudence. And, damn the temporary agency that sent her to Hunter’s law office. Maybe I could sue them. Maybe I could waltz into their agency, cuss the manager, and have some law put in effect where they could no longer send 23 year old girls with long blonde hair and a 26 inch waistline to work for married men. I would be a hero. Married women all over the Florida panhandle, all over the world, would send me letters and gifts, and the new law would be named “The Carlin Compromise.” It would be taught in universities, I would make my television debut on Oprah, and I would save marriages across the world. Who in the hell names a child that was born in 1981 Prudence? Shouldn’t she have been called Chrysalis or Labyrinth? Prudence? It sounded like I was such an ugly hag that I got tossed aside for a 300 year old gray haired granny. Prudence. Damn Prudence. After an hour or so of lying in the bed, uttering obscenities and plotting Prudence’s demise, I went to the kitchen to eat a granola bar. I noticed I had left the milk setting on the counter. It was probably ruined. I didn’t care. I would save it for when Hunter came home to apologize and beg for my forgiveness. A little curdled milk would be good for him. I knew Hunter wasn’t really coming home. What was I going to do? I had never been alone. I didn’t have a job; I relied solely on my big shot lawyer husband. Now I had nothing. I knew I was doomed to work at the Winn Dixie with the acne guy that sported the junk food gut. My first priority would be to move the granola bars to the cookie aisle. Then, maybe I could set up a special lane for women who had been dumped. The sweatshirt, un-matching socks, and dirty hair would give them away. I would keep snack foods and tubs of cake frosting available while they waited in my line. I would be a hero. The sun was setting. I knew there was a beautiful view on the deck at Gilligan’s overlooking the bay. What if he had that home wrecking Prudence sitting in our spot right that moment? I would kill him. I would throw her over the deck railing to the sharks, and then I would kill him. I didn’t know how- maybe by stabbing or shooting, or something fun like cramming fish bones down his throat until he choked. But, if he had that slut Prudence sitting with him at the table we always requested, I would kill them both. What was I saying? I couldn’t kill a fly. But, then again, a fly never strung me along for eight years, just to leave me for a younger fly named Prudence. Damn Prudence. Before I thought it over rationally, I had gotten into my car and driven down the beach front boulevard to Bernie’s house by the sea. Why would Prudence leave Bernie? Bernie was still in his twenties and making tons of money in real estate. They lived in a cute yellow house near the ocean, and she left him for a thirty year old man. I pulled behind Bernie’s shiny SUV and walked to the door. I realized I still had on my painful-to-look-at outfit. The doorbell chimed, a dog barked, and I attempted to fix my hair. The door flung open, and Bernie stood before me, soft blonde hair blowing in his eyes. “Carlin?” he asked, looking at my shoes. “Forget the shoes, Bernie. Where is your whore of a wife?” I asked, picking at my nails, craving a cigarette. I hadn’t smoked in 4 years. Maybe that’s what I needed. Yeah, a cigarette. Maybe that would keep me from having the urges to commit murder. “She’s with your whore of a husband, I guess,” he replied. “Where are they?” I asked, shifting my weight. “Well, I drove by and saw them in the Tom Thumb parking lot last night. I noticed Hunter carrying a case of beer and Pru eating a stick of beef jerky. They were gone by the time I made a U-turn to go back and give them both a piece of my mind,” he replied, scratching his clean shaven face. Why did such a cute specimen have such a bad name? I couldn’t love someone named Bernie. I would think of grandpappys and shaggy dogs and that dead guy that danced in that movie the entire time. “Beef jerky?” I asked. “Prudence loves the stuff,” he replied. “Good gravy!” I said, throwing my hands in the air and turning away from Bernie. I put my hands on my hips, shaking my head, and turned back to him. “She eats beef jerky?” I couldn’t believe I had been left for a woman that ate beef jerky by the yard. Good Lord! Was I that hideous? “Am I hideous?” I asked Bernie. “What?” he seemed confused. I looked passed Bernie and noticed an English bull dog in the living room sniffing around a pizza box on the floor. Bernie’s pizza was the equivalent to my granola. We both needed comfort food in this horrid time in our lives. “Do I look like she-devil or what? “I asked, turning around, and pointing to my back. “Do I have a hump?” “No,” he chuckled, shaking his head. “You are a very attractive woman.” “Woman? Good Lord, I’m a woman. I am no longer a young 23 year old vixen like I once was. Prudence is the vixen. I’m a woman.” I muttered to myself, rubbing my forehead. “Huh?” he asked. “Would you like to sleep with me?” I looked to Bernie. “What!” he exclaimed. “Oh, never mind, Bernie. Never mind. If you find out where they are staying, please let me know.” I turned to walk to my car, the breeze from the ocean combing my messy hair. “Are you sure you don’t want to come in?” he called to me, obviously still pondering my question. “Bye, Bernie,” I got in the car. I cruised the strip crowded with summer tourists. I searched the beach front resort parking lots, looking everywhere for my husband and the beef-jerky eating Prudence. Her description was sounding more and more like a geriatric woman wrestler. I did not spot Hunter’s Jeep or Prudence’s Honda anywhere on the hotel strip. Who knew where they were? All I knew is that I was sweating bullets in the sweatshirt. I decided to ride through the Gilligan’s parking lot. And there it was. Hunter’s navy blue Jeep Wrangler was parked on the front aisle, his golf clubs poking out of the back. As the heartache set in, I began to conjure a plan that I was going to take him for everything. I was going to milk him dry. I would make sure that poor beef jerky eating Prudence would be eating plenty of beef jerky---for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Damn Prudence. I threw open my car door and made my way to the restaurant. Then I stopped. I knew I couldn’t go inside Gilligan’s in an old University of West Florida “1993 Beach Beer Bash” sweatshirt full of holes and sweat. My khaki shorts were the only decent piece of clothing that I was wearing. I could not let Hunter see me like this. I couldn’t let him know that I had fallen apart. I went back to my Blazer and searched in the back seat for a decent shirt. There, in the parking lot of my favorite seafood restaurant, I changed into a pink cotton tank top that I usually wore when I went jogging. I ran a brush through my long, brown, greasy hair until it looked somewhat presentable. I found my white flip flops buried underneath a beach bag, and I headed for the front door. “How many?” the hostess asked me. I must have looked okay, because she didn’t eye me like I was the plague. “I’m looking for my cheating husband,” I replied, looking inside the restaurant to the deck where we always sat. “Uh, oh,” she muttered to herself. “Anna?” she called to another hostess behind her. “Can I help you?” Anna walked up and asked me, a cheerful grin on her face. “So, you get a lot of these, huh? You get a lot of women looking for their husbands and their husband’s girlfriends?” I asked, matching her cheerful grin with one of my own. “I’m afraid so, Ma’am. We can’t let anyone cause a scene inside the restaurant,” she quietly explained as she ushered me to the side of the lobby. “I understand,” I nodded. “I know your husband. You usually come here together on Saturday nights, right?” she asked me, laughter from inside the restaurant blaring over her voice. “Yes,” I said. It was Saturday night. Only, I wasn’t inside with Hunter. Damn Prudence was. “He is inside. Would you like for me to get him for you?” she looked at me sympathetically. “I would appreciate that,” I looked at her nametag to refresh my memory, “Anna.” “Would you like for me to ask his lady friend to come outside as well?” she smiled. I could sense she had been cheated on before, too. “I don’t think I should see her right now. You can just throw her over the deck if your policy allows,” I smiled and walked back outside to wait on the son of a bitch I had called “dear” for eight years. A matter of seconds passed, and I had bummed a cigarette off of an adolescent boy walking in with his girlfriend. I told him thank you and to never cheat on the girl hanging on his arm. He smiled at me, his girlfriend gave me a sheepish nod, and they left me alone to wait on Hunter. Hunter walked out of the restaurant wearing my favorite shirt. It was the light blue Ralph Lauren that I had given him last Christmas. His jeans were neatly pressed and his cologne was heavy. “Carlin? What is going on? The hostess said someone was lurking around my Jeep trying to get my golf clubs,” he said. “She did? That’s nice. I do plan on taking them sooner or later,” I replied, smoke coming out of my nose. “You are smoking? What’s gotten into you?” he asked, reaching for the cigarette.. I jerked it away from him. “What’s gotten into me? My husband left me three days ago for some slut that eats beef jerky!” I shouted. “What?” he shook his head, his forehead wrinkled by confusion. He looked so good. He was so handsome. I was always so proud to be seen with him. I noticed the way women always looked at him, even in high school and college when every girl wanted to date him, and I would take pride in knowing he was mine. Sometimes I didn’t understand what he wanted with me because he was so attractive and successful. But, I had lost him. Damn Prudence. “What do you want, Carlin?” he asked me, crossing his arms. “I want an explanation, you asshole!” I screamed to him. “Carlin Elizabeth! Quiet down!” he said, looking around to make sure no one had heard my potty mouth. “You aren’t my daddy. Don’t tell me what to do. I have a right to yell as loud as I want!” I exclaimed, waving the cigarette around in the air. “How can you bring that whore to our place? We ate here every weekend, you son of a bitch!” “Give him hell!” a girl yelled to me from a convertible parked at the Tom Thumb gas station next to the restaurant. I threw my hand up and gave her a wild wave, as if all cheated-on women had a secret salute. “Carlin, you have gone crazy. You are smoking, raising all kinds of hell, using profanity.” “What do you expect me to do? Let you leave without any emotion at all?” I asked. “I’m sorry, Carlin. Look, I was planning on getting together with you in a few days. We can discuss this. This divorce doesn’t have to be messy,” he said calmly, reaching out to touch my hand. “The hell it doesn’t. You really screwed up, Hunter. I hope Slim Jim was worth it,” I flicked the cigarette towards him, and it bounced off of his jeans. “Dammit, Carlin,” he said, brushing ashes and fire from his knees. “You will be hearing from my lawyer, Asholle,” I said. Hunter was my lawyer. Damn, now I had to hire a new lawyer, too. “What? Are you cussing me in French?” he asked. “Your boat knows what I’m saying,” I walked to my car. “Don’t touch my boat, Carlin. Carlin, do you hear me?” he followed me. I got in the car and began to reverse out of the parking lot. “Carlin, you are crazy. Don’t touch my boat!” he yelled to me. I left him yelling about his precious boat in the parking lot. I was glad that damn Prudence hadn’t come outside with him. I know I would have flicked the cigarette in her hair, then pulled her to the ground and kicked her in the head. That was one of the reasons I had bummed the cigarette in the first place. I stopped at the Winn Dixie on the way home. I bought a pack of Marlboros, some fresh milk, and a new can of black spray paint.