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When the world becomes a movie studio, bad things can happen to anyone.

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The Bet: About


Welcome to our home.

Marcy and Paul lived with their two children, Billy and Winny (short for Winona) in a quiet neighborhood in a large west coast city. There were trees in the front yards of houses, a few of their neighbors had children, and even though they had been in their home for over a decade, Paul and Marcy were still the "new" people. They liked living there and so did their kids.

In fact, Billy and Winny had grown up in the house. Irish twins, the kids were only about 15 months apart in age and Billy had been born about five months after Marcy and Paul had bought the property. At the time, their new neighbors seemed so excited about having a young couple with a growing family around, but over the years, the neighbors had either died off or grown distant.

This didn't bother Paul and Marcy much, though. Between the kids, their jobs, and a fairly active social life, they didn't mind being the neighbors nobody seemed to particularly like. Well, there was one cool neighbor, an old guy named Jonathan, who lived a couple of doors down. He was friendly enough and liked talking to Paul about cars.

Paul was a car guy. It was baffling to Marcy, most of the time, but she had hobbies of her own and appreciated that Paul didn't let his hobbies overtake family stuff, except on big race days. Paul liked watching cars go fast around a track. This was even more baffling for Marcy, but again, he was usually very supportive of her interests and she wanted to do the same for him.

Marcy even kind of liked it when Paul would walk over to Jonathan's and shoot the shit in the driveway. Usually there was a car or truck with a hood up and before too long, they two men would be drinking a beer, laughing, and getting a little dirty. Paul loved fiddling with an engine. It spoke the engineer part of his mind.

Marcy, on the other hand, loved movies. Paul often said “she was obsessed with movies” but it was also the people who were in them, how they were made, and anything else she could learn. Marcy thoroughly enjoyed reading about new movies coming out and watching the gossip shows on TV. One of her most favorite things was turning people on to a movie she liked.

If someone new came over to the house, Marcy would often corner them to see what kind of movies they liked so she could make a suggestion, or better yet, convince them to sit down and watch one with her. Often it was a cult movie from the early 70s called Jimmy's Brain that she wanted people to watch.

To Marcy, Jimmy's Brain was about the best thing ever.


Jimmy's Brain was an early take on the mockumentary genre. It was set in a hospital, which was probably why Marcy liked it so much, and was supposed to be a true account of the world's first brain transplant. A famous musician, "Jimmy," had a rare form of brain cancer and needed a new brain.

"What could be better than surgeons and rock stars," Marcy always said when she was pitching the movie to unsuspecting friends.

Usually, Paul would just shrug his shoulders and groan when the suggestion to watch Jimmy's Brain was made. Over the years they had been married, Paul had probably watched Jimmy's Brain over twenty times and had seen portions of it at least a dozen more. He liked the movie just fine but could never fully understand why Marcy wanted to show it to seemingly everyone who came over to their house.

One night after their friends, Jim and Stephanie, were over, Paul asked Mary why she wanted everyone to see the film.

"Hon..." Paul said as he sat on his side of the bed and kicked off his shoes.

"Yes, babe?"

"Don’t take this the wrong way and it might seem like a really random question, but why do you try and show everyone Jimmy's Brain when we have people over?"

Marcy let out a "hmmm" sound and didn't answer the question right away.

"I mean, it's a fun movie, and I get that you love it," Paul added, "But it's kind of an obsession, don't you think?"

There was that word. “Obsession.” Marcy didn’t like it one bit.

Another "hmmm" followed, and Paul realized as he swung his legs up onto the bed and pushed himself back into his pillows that he had struck a bit of a nerve. They had indulged in a few cocktails with their friends and Marcy might be a little more buzzed than he thought. That second "hmmm" sounded a little tense to him as he made himself comfortable.

After a few seconds, though, Marcy spoke up.

"I don't know, Paul. Why do you always want to talk about cars or golf?"

Nerves had been struck and return fire engaged.

"Don't be mad, hon. I was just curious. Sometimes I feel like it is almost a game to you or a challenge like..." and he paused here looking for the right word ... "like you want to see if you can get people to do what you want them to do."

"Well, I do. I want them to see my favorite movie."

"That's pretty funny."

"Why do you say that?"

The tone in Marcy's voice was interesting to Paul. He couldn't quite tell if she was really getting irritated with his questions or if she was fucking with him. He stammered a bit when he replied, " is kinda funny, don't you think?"

"I guess so," Marcy replied, drawing out the word 'guess' as if it had an extra couple of syllables.

"Do I really always talk about cars and golf? Am I that predictable?"

"No, Paul, you're not that predictable. You are capable of discussing a wide range of topics like cars, golf, the cars you drive to go golfing, and sometimes, what music you listen to while driving to go play golf. Apparently, I am the predictable one."

He realized he had definitely touched a nerve. There was no point in pushing it further, but Marcy wasn't quite ready to drop it.

"Do you hate Jimmy's Brain, Paul? Is that what this is about? I heard you telling Jim you were, how did you say it, oh yeah, 'getting ready to hide the DVD.'"

"No...(short pause) no. I don't hate it,” Paul replied, although he was still stinging from her earlier retort. “I'm just super fucking curious why you think everyone has to see it?"

He got up out of bed and headed for the bedroom door.

"Where are you going?" Marcy asked.

"To check on the kids and take a leak. I'll be right back."

As Paul walked out of the bedroom door, he heard Marcy say, "Leave my DVD alone."


Paul chuckled to himself as he walked down the hall. He was a good husband, but he often thought to himself that Marcy got offended sometimes about the silliest things. It was okay, though. She worked hard to make a great life for all of them. Paul loved that she was a fighter and would stand up for herself when she needed to.

He looked in on Billy first. He was worn out. When Jim and Stephanie came over with their kids, of which there were three, Billy lived his best life. Paul loved watching Billy and Josh, Jim and Stephanie's son, race around the backyard. If they did one lap that afternoon, they did a hundred. Billy will sleep well tonight, he thought as looked at his ten year old son.

At eight going on 25, Winny had also lived a very good life that day. Their friends had two daughters, Mabel and Hilary, who were six and nine respectively. The girls played together really well, although Winny often confessed that she liked Mabel a lot more than Hilary.

"Everything is always so serious with Hilly," Winny would always say after they left.

Paul always figured that Winny just liked being the most serious person in the room. She had a wicked sense of humor, but when it was time to focus, she was in her element. He liked to say that she got that from him, but it was something he and Marcy both were able to do.

Winny was sleeping soundly, too, so Paul ambled over through the living room and checked the front door. This was his nightly ritual. Check the kids, check the doors, then pee. Even if it meant just squeezing out a couple of last-minute drops, Paul had to pee before settling down for the night. He had done this since he was younger than Winny.

When he got back to his bedroom, the lights were off and Marcy seemed to be asleep already, so Paul laid down and closed his eyes.


The next morning, which was a Sunday, the family was seated around the breakfast table. Marcy had gotten up early and made a big breakfast. Paul was sipping his coffee when Marcy broke the silence that had overtaken the family as they ate their blueberry pancakes as if they hadn’t had a meal for days.

"Were you serious last night?"

Hmm, hon?" Paul replied after swallowing his medium blend brew. Paul was a medium blend kind of guy. He liked his steaks cooked medium, enjoyed a mellow amber beer, and never got too worked up about anything, it seemed.

"Do I really push people into watching Jimmy's Brain?"

"I don't think I said you were pushy," replied Paul as he laughed a little bit.

"Well, you implied it."

"I did not."

"Kids, is mommy pushy?" Marcy asked.

"Well, you do seem to want everyone to watch that movie, mom," replied Billy with a mouth half full of pancakes.

"I do not."

Marcy didn't like the way Billy said "everyone." She had never really realized how much she liked to share Jimmy's Brain with people.

"When do I get to see it?" Winny asked.

"When you're twelve," replied Paul, Billy, and Marcy in unison.

"But I've almost seen it all already," Winny protested. "I know all the stupid jokes by heart."

"They aren't stupid, Winny. That's mean," said Marcy.

"Sorry, mom."

"Yeah, sorry mom," added Billy.

Marcy looked at Billy.

"Why are you sorry," she asked her son.

"I didn't really get them either, mom."

"You've seen it?"

"Dad showed it to me over Christmas."

Billy shot a look at Paul knowing he'd gone too far.

"What!" Marcy demanded.

"It wasn't that bad, mom. Only some boobs and swears," Billy said.

"Boobs and swears aren't too bad," Winny said in agreement. Ever the litigious one, she was setting up her argument for future, mom-sanctioned viewings.  

"Paul?" Marcy asked.

"Boobs and swears aren't that bad, hon." Paul replied.

He searched his wife's face for her reaction.

Marcy smiled her best smile, and everyone enjoyed their breakfast, but as she looked up at the ceiling fan circling above them, wheels were spinning.


Marcy was not upset with anyone. She had just never realized how much she tried to talk people into things. It would be one thing if she was a sales person of some sort or a boss, but she was neither; She was a nurse and, from what she heard from quite a few people, a damned good one.

At work, she was not pushy, she thought, stating her case for/to herself. Like Winny, she enjoyed a good debate and often found herself doing so in her head. She was also a good listener and cared greatly for her patients. In fact, she had won the caregiver of the month award many times at her hospital. Nope, not pushy at all, she decided.

But…her mind yammered on.

What’s with the kids, she wondered. The kids had seemed to jump right in on Paul's side. There was zero hesitation on their parts and that made Marcy pause a bit. She began to take a little inventory.

Sure, she told herself in a calm, cool interior voice, she did occasionally try to convince people to watch Jimmy's Brain. It was a good movie, though, and it seemed like no one had ever seen it. How could she be the only one, she always wondered. It was her mission to let people know of its brilliance.

And everyone always, at very least, liked it. How could she deprive people she cared about of enjoying themselves. It wasn't as if Paul had better suggestions, either. He just wanted to drink his fancy beers and talk all night. Didn't he realize that people wanted to do something when they came over?

Besides, talking about movies was fun. Didn't everyone love it? She knew it was true. 

There was laundry to do and family time to have, so Marcy forgot about Jimmy and his brain and focused on her day. 

The Bet: Text


The first bet

For the next several weeks, things were pretty much status quo for our family of four. Paul and Marcy went to work and came home. Wash, rinse, repeat. Billy and Winny went to school and came home. Whenever possible, they ate together and talked and laughed and did the things they normally did. It was their life, and they were living it.

On the nights Marcy worked late at the hospital, which were a few times a month, Billy and Winny would take turns helping Paul with dinner. They enjoyed this time with their dad and Paul enjoyed the help. While he was a smart fellow and fairly good with his hands, he was not much of a cook.

Paul could turn a wrench on the weekends, of course, and was even half decent on the guitar, but the kitchen was a mystery to him. Even Winny was a better cook at the tender age of eight than Paul was at 39. The three of them had fun in the kitchen, though, and managed to make some pretty delicious things from time to time.

Marcy was a great cook and when she was home, the kitchen was her domain. Paul marveled at how she could come up with new recipes and ideas on a regular basis that kept their meal time both an adventure and a treat. Luckily, the kids were not picky and would, at least, try anything once. They trusted their mother implicitly when she was making a meal and appreciated their dad’s efforts.

That was kind of a family motto. A perfect Christmas gift for them would have been one of the motivational posters that read, “The Try Anything Once Family.” Maybe someday it will magically appear under the tree.

Things were going so smoothly that no one had even thought about the Sunday breakfast discussion from a few weeks earlier about Marcy’s bossiness. Jimmy’s Brain, for example, had not come up in conversation even once. All good things come to end, though, and one night, Paul couldn’t help himself.

Marcy was working late at the hospital, but texted Paul during a break.

Marcy: Hey babe. I’m thinking of inviting Greg and Jenny over this weekend. Do we have anything going on?


Paul: Who are Greg and Jenny?


Marcy: Very funny. Would Saturday work?


Paul: New phone, who dis?


Marcy: STFU. Saturday it is.


Paul: Que?


Marcy: Okay, Funny NotFunnypants.




Marcy: I only have a few more minutes. Is it okay with you?


Paul: Sorry babe. Yes. Sounds good, but I have one question.


Marcy: What?


Paul: Have they seen Jimmy’s Brain?


Marcy: I’m going back to work.


Paul: I bet you ask them to watch it.


Marcy: We’ll talk about the bet later, but you’re on.


Paul: <3

When Marcy got home in the wee hours of the morning, Paul stirred a bit as she kissed the side of his face when she got into bed.

“You awake?” She asked.


“Were you serious about the bet?”

“What bet?”

“The movie bet.”

“Ah, yes. You in?”

“I’m in.”


“So, what do you want to bet?” Marcy asked during the dinner the next night. The kids were eating with Paul’s parents, so it was just the two of them.

Paul laughed. “I was wondering when you were going to bring that up again. I thought about it at work today. I even asked Dave what I should bet you, but he wasn’t much help.”

“He didn’t have any suggestions?”

“Just sex stuff.”

“Sounds like Dave. It could be sex stuff,” Marcy said playfully.

“That’s a little too Indecent Proposal for me. You know I’m a prude at heart,” Paul replied.

“Okay, I got it,” she looked at Paul to make sure he was paying more attention to her than he was to his soup. “If I can convince Greg and Jenny to watch the movie, you have to watch it any time I want for six months without complaining.”

“Define ‘complaining,’” he said with a smirk.

“Nice try, dear. You know what I mean. You like to make your little comments. There can be none. You will watch it and like it and you won’t try to talk me out of it.”

“I do like it. That part won’t be tough.”

“Well, if I win, six months and when I suggest it to anyone, you will support me wholeheartedly.”

“Okay, I can live with that, but…” and Paul paused for a second.


“How do I know you haven’t already talked to Greg about the movie at work and set it up? How do I know you haven’t told him about the bet?”

“You think I would do that?”

“I live with you, babe. You’re competitive.”

Marcy stared at him, and Paul continued:

“You’re probably trying to finish your soup before I do.”

Marcy shook her head but gave him a look that confirmed what he was saying. Paul was used to that look. Marcy didn’t like to admit that anyone was right.

“I promise there will be no set up. I’ve mentioned the movie to Greg before, but he’s not much of a movie guy. Besides, I’m not that good of an actress. I couldn’t pull that off.”

Paul just smirked.

“And if you can’t convince them to watch the movie? What do I get?” he asked.

“What do you want?”

“I want you to admit that you’re bossy.”

Paul laughed out loud at his own comment and even harder when he saw Marcy’s reaction.

“I’m not bossy.”

“Maybe not, but you certainly like getting your way.”

“That doesn’t make me bossy. Tell me what you really want.”

“Not bossy, huh?”

Paul got up and walked over to the oven and refilled his soup bowl.

“How about I cook whatever you want for a month?”

“You do that anyway.”

“No, I don’t. I make what I want to make and you just like it all.”

“I’m easy.”

“I could be easy, too,” Marcy said with a mischievous look in her eye.

“Should I tell you what Dave suggested?”

“I’m pretty sure I know.”

“Well, I’ve given it a lot of thought. If you can’t get Greg and Jenny to watch the movie, I get to point out when you are being bossy and you can’t disagree with me…no matter who is around or watching.”

Marcy looked at Paul for a minute, studying his face for a clue to see how serious he was.

“I could agree to that, but you can’t be a dick about it.”

“When am I a dick about anything?”

“Do you want me to make a list for you? Alphabetical or categorical?”


“Let’s sleep on it. Final proposals tomorrow, okay?”

“Okay…unless you are being bossy right now. I can’t tell.”

“Fuck you.”

“We’ve got an hour or two before the kids get home.”

The Bet: Text


Be careful what you wish for...

When the time came for Greg and Jenny to arrive, Paul thought Marcy looked nervous. Secretly, it made him a little giddy to see her sweat it out a bit, but he would never have admitted it to her. He was enjoying the fun.

Over the couple of days that had passed since they made the bet, they decided to keep it simple. With clear heads and the buzz of having some alone time out of their heads, Marcy and Paul agreed they had overshot a bit with their stakes and settled on something more tangible.

If Marcy was able to convince her friends to watch the movie, Paul would go through his tools and get rid of anything he had more than two of in his collection. This was a point of contention for them as Paul was a bit of a tool hoarder.

If Marcy was unsuccessful, she would go through books and trade in anything she knew she would either never read or never read again. Paul had wanted to add her movie collection, too, but that was a non-starter. Marcy had two or three versions of some movies, but always had an argument as to why she needed them all. It drove Paul crazy, but he loved her and often used this to justify buying a second or third socket set.

The revised bet was agreeable to both, but the competitive side of Marcy was firing on all cylinders. She wanted those tools sorted and gone and she wanted something more, too. She had been pondering it all week and realized something that she hadn’t figured out before. She liked talking people into things. It was like the thrill of the hunt.

What Paul thought was nervousness was actually Marcy’s fierce determination. While she had never openly acknowledged the hunt before, the freedom to pursue and pounce on her prey right out in the open was a bit intoxicating. Paul watched Marcy chopping mushrooms for the salad, completely unaware of the machinations behind her eyes.


Dinner was a big success. Greg and Jenny were delightful conversationalists as usual and the four adults were enjoying themselves immensely. Winny and Billy were back at Paul’s parents for the night and the wine, beer, and cocktails were flowing nicely.

It was decided early on that their guests would either Uber home and Paul and Marcy would drive their car back to them the next day or they would just crash in the guest room. Marcy was feeling confident in her winning the bet, especially as her friend and co-worker, Greg, started to get a little tipsy. He would be a lot easier to convince with a buzz.

After dinner was over, Paul tried to throw a little blockade up by suggesting they play cards. It was a nice try, but Marcy easily outmaneuvered him by suggesting they put a movie on while they played.

“Just for background noise,” she had said but Paul thought he saw her wink at him.

Greg and Jenny had no idea they were about to be the ones getting played.

“What do you guys want to watch,” Marcy asked slyly.

Jenny piped in. “I’m in the mood for a comedy. I haven’t seen anything good in a while.”

“She’s always in the mood to laugh,” Greg added. “I guess that’s why she married me.”

“Greg, I love you, buddy, but you’re not that funny,” Marcy said sarcastically.

“Hey now! What about that one movie you’re always talking about, Marcy?” said Greg.

“I don’t know what movie you mean, Greg.”

“You know. The one you said ‘everybody should see at least once.’”

Paul shot Marcy a look, but before he could say anything, she shocked him a bit with what she said next.

“Oh yeah, but that’s not a comedy, Greg-O. It’s pretty intense and a little rape-y,” Marcy replied.

Paul knew what she had done immediately.

Marcy loved Dustin Hoffman and had been on a Straw Dogs kick for the last several months.

Two could play at that game, Paul thought.

“I’m in the mood for intense,” Paul said, thinking he was about to win the bet.

“Rape-y,” Jenny asked. “Uggh. No thanks. Let’s put something light and fun on while we play cards.”

“YES!!! Cheers to that!” added Marcy with a smug grin only for her husband.

Sensing the inevitable, Paul went the only route he had left. It could have been the beers kicking in, but Paul’s gut told him to go for it.

“How about Jimmy’s Brain? It’s Marcy’s favorite. Hon?” he said with a grin.

Without skipping a beat, Marcy said, “You know what, Paul? Fuck you.”

She stared at Paul with a look that backed up her words. Greg and Jenny looked at each other quickly as if to say, “What the fuck?” because Paul was clearly shocked by Marcy’s word choice.

“I’m not going to subject our friends to that one, Paul,” said Marcy, clearing the air.

She figured two could play the reverse psychology game.

“What’s Jimmy’s Brain,” asked Jenny.

“It’s brilliant,” Paul said, before he added, “and Marcy loves it. She tries to make everyone watch it.”

Greg started laughing at this notion.

“Marcy does what?” he asked Paul.

Paul looked at Marcy before continuing:

“She loves making people watch it. We even had a bet about it this evening. I think I just fucked it up. Sorry, babe. You win.”

Marcy looked at Paul with a mixture of disbelief and disgust. She had wanted to win the bet, but he made it a joke and screwed her out of her victory. She took a breath, though, and collected herself.

“He’s just kidding you guys. It’s a joke between Paul and I. I’m sorry. I was just fucking with Paul,” Marcy said.

“Well, hell! If you love it so much, let’s watch it,” Jenny added, wanting to break the tension, even if it was more of the manufactured variety.

“No, let’s just play cards,” Marcy said.

“Can you convince me to watch,” asked Greg with just a hint of sarcasm in his voice.

Paul looked at Marcy to see her reaction and Jenny looked at Greg, too. She wanted to see why her husband was poking the bear. Jenny thought Marcy seemed on the verge of getting pretty pissed off.

“Greg… buddy... pal… (she sighed dramatically), I stopped trying to convince you of anything after you insisted on trying to talk me into staying in the ER when the oncology job came up a couple years ago,” Marcy responded briskly, but she knew what she was doing. She could fight fire with fire with the best of them.

“I want to watch Jimmy’s Brain,” said Jenny.

“Me, too,” added Greg.

“Well, hon. I guess you win,” said Paul and he walked over to the DVD shelf and grabbed the box.

Marcy sat there feigning a bit of indignation, but pretty pleased with herself internally. Paul was in for it later, though, she thought. She was going to rub this in his face for a long time.

“It is my favorite movie,” she said.

“Let me see the cover,” said Greg.

Paul handed the cover to Greg after he fished out the disc. Marcy stole a look at the cover as Paul handed it to her coworker.

It might have been the booze, but Marcy was certain that the picture of “Jimmy” on the cover winked at her.


The quartet played cards and Marcy enjoyed watching her friends enjoy the film she loved so much. In fact, after about 20 minutes, there was a lot less card playing than laughing along with the clever comedy.  By the halfway mark, they were all focused on the film and the cards lay abandoned on the table.

The drinks continued to flow, though, and Marcy forgot about her irritation with Paul. He had to tried to pull an ‘end around’ on her, which was a term her uncle Bob had taught her as a girl. It meant trying, as he said, “trying to be sneaky as fuck.” Uncle Bob had a way with words, that’s for sure.

After the movie was over, Greg and Jenny opted to Uber home to the comfort of their own beds.

“I can’t believe you’ve been hoarding that movie, Marz,” Greg slurred while they waited for their driver.

Marcy laughed.

“She is a bit of a movie hoarder,” Paul said as he waved his hands toward their shelves of DVDs and Blu-Rays.

“I loved it,” Jenny chimed in.

“And I love you, Jen,” Marcy said, flirting a little. She was ready to pay Paul back for his earlier shenanigans. She pulled Jenny in for a long hug.

Jenny picked up on it and played along.

“I could just stay here, and Paul could go home with Greg. They could talk about putting all night.”

The women looked at their husbands and then at each other before bursting into a giggle.

“That’s it,” Greg roared. “We’re waiting outside” and then he burst out laughing, too.

A few minutes later, Greg’s cellphone chirped and after a few more decidedly platonic hugs, they were out the door.

Paul started to clean up the bottles and glasses on the table, but Marcy stopped him.

“Oh no you don’t,” she said.

Paul stopped what he was doing and pretended to look surprised.

“Whatever do you mean,” he asked.

“You can’t weasel out of this by being nice and cleaning up.”

“I’m not the only weasel in this room.”

“Oh, yeah,” Marcy protested.

“Yeah. I know what you were doing when you grabbed Jenny.”

“What was I doing?” The flirtation was back in her voice.

“Torturing me.”

Marcy laughed and said, “You know me too well. I figured that would get you.”

“It did.”

“Want to clean up tomorrow?”

“Are you going to forgive me for the whole ‘Bet’ thing? I really am sorry for…I knew you were trying to win fair and square…and you were going to, too, you know.”

“Oh, I know,” Marcy replied. “Come here, my love, and I’ll tell you what I was going to do with Jenny.”

They both laughed and in an instant were making out like teenagers on the couch.

The Bet: Text



A bit bleary eyed, Marcy walked downstairs and surveyed the “mess” while Paul showered. He woke up chipper as a jaybird as usual, but she needed to have some coffee, straighten up, and then they could go and get the kids.

Paul loved picking up the kids together. She was fine with him just going over to his parents’ house without her. It wasn’t as if she didn’t see them all the time and she loved them dearly, but on a day like today, she wanted to just curl up on the couch and watch a movie. He insisted, though, and the couch would be there when they got back. Maybe today was a good day for Winny to see Jimmy’s Brain.

She wandered into the kitchen and started some coffee. The kitchen itself did not look bad at all, although Paul had left some gouda cheese out that really should have been put away. They had been snacking on it last night with some grapes and crackers.

Marcy heard Paul coming down stairs.

“Coffee’s just about ready,” she called to him as she went back in to start on the living room.

“Awesome,” Paul replied as they passed each other.

There he was, bounding across the house like he hadn’t packed on just as good a buzz as she had the night before. It had really been a lot of fun, too. She would have liked for Greg and Jenny to have watched Jimmy’s Brain a little more closely, but the seed had been planted and she had won the bet.

Marcy straightened a few things up but decided to leave the DVD box right where it was on the coffee table. She went upstairs and washed her face, threw on a t-shirt and a pair of sweats, and put her hair in a pony tail. By the time she was back down stairs, carrying her blue Nike joggers, she could hear music coming from the kitchen.

Paul had grabbed his acoustic guitar and was playing some riff or another at the kitchen table. He did this a lot when he had his morning coffee.

Marcy sat down on the sofa and started to put on her shoes. There was something odd about the cover of the DVD.

Oblivious to Paul calling from the kitchen if she was almost ready to go get the kids, Marcy picked up the box and stared at it.

This can’t be happening, she thought.

“It is,” said Jimmy from the box, making eye contact with a clearly troubled Marcy.

Jimmy even winked at Marcy again.

“Did you like that one last night?” he asked.

Marcy shook her head from side to side. She had thought it was the booze, but apparently it wasn’t.

“I didn’t mean to freak you out. I’ve been wanting to talk to you for a long time, but the timing…” Jimmy trailed off as if lost in thought.

“What is this? I don’t get it,” Marcy said out loud.

“Sssshhhh, Paul will hear you. Just think to me.” Jimmy laughed at his own comment.

Just ‘think to you’, Marcy thought. How could that be? Paul was going to think she was crazy.

“He will think you’re crazy, Marcy, and no, he can’t hear me. Not yet at least. You might be able to convince him, though. You can talk anybody into anything.”

‘Shut up, Jimmy,’ screamed Marcy in her head. ‘I need time to think.’

“That’s okay, Marcy. I’ll be right here. I’ll also be right there. I’ll be everywhere you are from now on. I’m inside you.”

Ever the rock and roller, Jimmy started singing, “Im inside of you. In-siiiiiiiiiiiiide you. And I can read – your – mind” which he drew out like it was the last line in a country song. Jimmy could do it all apparently.

Marcy didn’t notice that Paul had walked into the living room.

“Marcy are you ready?” he asked with a hint of indignance in his voice.

To Paul, it looked as if Marcy was waiting for the picture of Jimmy to start talking. He almost chuckled, too, but he was more concerned about Marcy ignoring him. Had she gone deaf overnight, he wondered? He decided to tap her on the shoulder.


There is an old expression related to people being scared that people use that talks about jumping out of one’s skin. Both Paul and Marcy would have described what happened when Paul tapped Marcy on the shoulder as such. To say both were unnerved would be an understatement, but Marcy screaming at his touch left Paul as shaken as his wife clearly was in that moment.

“What happened?” Paul asked.

“You scared the shit out of me, that’s what happened,” Marcy replied.

She flopped back hard against the back of the couch and Paul picked up the DVD box that Marcy had thrown on the floor when he had startled her. Paul studied the cover to see if he could see what he had seen Marcy staring so intently at just a few seconds before. It was just the same old cover he had seen a hundred times if he had seen it once.

“What were you looking at? You were staring at the box like you had seen a ghost.”

You don’t know half of it, she thought. Inside her head, she could hear Jimmy laughing.

“You scared me,” she repeated.

“Is everything okay, babe? You look rattled.”

“I’m fine. I think I was… I don’t know. I think was kind of lost in my thoughts, you know? Daydreaming.”

“Well, let’s put the movie away and go get the kids.”

“Okay, Paul. Sorry babe. I didn’t mean to freak you out.”

“No worries,” said Paul as he touched the eject button on the DVD player.  He looked into the player, but there was no DVD.

“Did you already grab it?”

“No. It’s not in there?” Marcy asked.

“That’s weird. I don’t remember touching it last night and the box is empty. It’s not like you to let that out of your sight,” he said.

“Don’t worry, babe,” Jimmy said sarcastically in Marcy’s head. “I’m in a safe place. I have a question for you. Tell him you need to pee before you go.”


Marcy locked the bathroom door behind her.

“Where are you?” she asked.

“I’m right here. In your head. Good job out there,” Jimmy replied.

“What the fuck is going on?”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re not real.”

“I’m not?”

“You’re an actor. There is no Jimmy. You’re Aidan Mann.”

“Who is Aidan Mann?”

“You. Get the fuck out of my head.”

“Hey, Chickadee, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I thought you were my biggest fan?”

Flustered, Marcy realized that Paul would soon be wondering why she was taking so long in the bathroom. He was clearly ready to go. He didn’t like being away from the kids for too long.

“What is it you want? Why are you talking to me?” Marcy asked the visitor in her head.

“I want to help you win your next bet.”

“That’s not happening again.”

“Wanna bet?” Jimmy laughed in Marcy’s head. It hurt her a bit, too. Both her feelings and physically.

“Stop it.”

“That’s not me, Marcy. That’s the booze from last night. It tasted so good.”

“You could taste the wine?”

“I feel everything you feel. That red was taaaaaaaaasty.”

Marcy shook her head violently.

“Get out of my head, Jimmy!” she shouted under her breath.

“No. And you can’t make me,” he added. He sounded like a child. Kind of like when she heard Winny and Billy arguing over the remote.

Marcy looked at herself in the bathroom mirror. She didn’t look crazy, she thought.

“Hey, Marcy,” Paul called. “You ready to go?”

“Babe, you go ahead, okay? I’m not feeling well.”

“A little well-hung this morning?” Paul asked with a laugh.

“Yeah, babe. I think I need to puke.”

“Liar,” Jimmy hissed playfully.

And that was that. Marcy threw up.


After he and the kids got home, Paul was concerned. Even though he knew Marcy probably had a hangover, this wasn’t like her. She was listless and withdrawn and had barely reacted when the kids said hello when they got home from their grandparents’ house. He let it go until bed time.

“What’s going on with you?” he asked as he pulled back the covers on his side of the bed.

“Nothing, babe. Just feeling my years and beers today.”

“Are you sure? Something’s off with you.”

“I’m okay. Really.”

But she was not okay. When she had slept during the day, Jimmy was there in her dreams. No matter where she turned, there he was. While she was awake, she kept waiting for his voice to pop back into her head, but he had stayed silent. The dreams must have been enough.

Around 2AM, Marcy woke up. She had been asleep for much of the past 12 hours or so and was feeling well rested. She didn’t have to work until 6PM, so she was going to need to get some more sleep to make it through her night shift, but right now, she needed to check on something.

Jimmy had said the DVD was in a safe place. What did he mean? Where would she have put the DVD?

Marcy slipped out of bed as quietly as she could. Paul could be a light sleeper and Marcy didn’t want to wake him. She loved Paul with all her heart, but she was not ready to tell him that Jimmy was talking to her.

“You’re a peach, Marcy,” Jimmy whispered in her head.

“You shut up,” she thought.

“Will not.”

Marcy was beginning to hate Jimmy. She decided she would get rid of the DVD when she found it.

“You won’t be able to do it,” he said, then added: “You love me too much.”

“I don’t love you. I love a movie.”

“No, you LOVE me. Besides, I haven’t told you the best part of all this yet.”

The word “Love” was spoken so forcefully. It made Marcy shudder.

“Just shut up. There is no ‘best part’ of being crazy.”

Marcy was losing her nerve and wanted to crawl back in bed with Paul.

“You know where to find me,” Jimmy said with a more pleasant tone.

“I have no idea where you are.”

“You put me there, dear Marcy. You hid me from Paul and Jenny and Greg.”

“Why did I hide you? I don’t remember that at all.”

“Because of what I told you.”

Marcy stopped midway down the hall.

“I’m trying to remember. Help me, please,” Marcy pleaded with the voice in her head.

“I’m not going to help you kill me just yet.”

“What do you mean? I can kill you?”

“No, Marcy. Don’t get your hopes up, but I will be gone soon enough. You have to find me first, though.”

“Where are you going?”

“To hell.” Jimmy let out a short laugh.

“Very funny. There is no hell.”

“Oh, yes, there is. How do you think it feels to be trapped in a movie forever. That’s hell.”

Marcy considered Jimmy’s words carefully. This was a trick. This was her brain fucking with her.

“Your brain isn’t fucking with you, Marcy, and neither am I. Now let’s get on with it. Go to the kitchen.”

Marcy’s feet betrayed her, and she started walking toward the kitchen.

“Look in the pantry.”

Marcy opened up the pantry and saw what she normally would see. Cans and boxes and jars and bags.

“Look on the top shelf behind the Captain Crunch.”

Marcy pulled the half-empty cereal box off the shelf. She couldn’t quite see what as on the shelf, so she scooted the stepladder over to her with her foot and stepped up on the first rung.

She felt around on the shelf where the cereal box had been and felt the DVD.

“How in the hell?” she thought.

“I told you to hide me here. I love Captain Crunch.”

“But you’re not real.”

“I can still dream. I dream with you, you know.”

“What do you want?”

The voice was quiet for a minute.

“I want to give you something,” Jimmy said slowly.

“What? Please just tell me whatever it is you want to tell me. What do you want to give me?”

“You’re different now, Marce. You’re never going to be the same. I’m giving you a gift.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about your birthright.”

“That’s the stupidest shit I’ve ever heard, Jim. You’re going to have to do better than that.”

“Bet me something.”


“Bet me something. Anything. Just say, ‘I bet you…’ and finish the rest.”

“Jesus. Okay. I bet you can’t fuck off.”

Jimmy remained silent.

Marcy stood in the pantry waiting for something to happen, but nothing did. Eventually she put the Captain Crunch back on the shelf and walked out to the living room with the DVD in her hand. She grabbed the box and put the DVD inside.

Tomorrow, she thought, I am going to throw this fucker away, but no retort came.

The Bet: Text
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