The Kinks’ “Sunny Afternoon” played on the portable speaker and John, smiling, tilted his head back and shut his eyes. Today was his Sunny Afternoon; his day for rest and relaxation.
The sun sparkled on the calm lake and small waves rippled on the pebbles where John had set his chair and fishing equipment. He hummed along with the verse and bellowed out the chorus: “Save me from this squeeze!” His voice echoed over the water. John inhaled deep and let the sun warm his face.
“I’m free!” He yelled after a moment. Birds in the trees fluttered their wings as if applauding him. He reflected on the past years; not all so bad. And then the mother-in-law had moved in.
“I tell ya,” he said to the duck that waddled out of the water beside him, “there never was such a witch. Cleaned me out, both of ‘em, but I’m happy now. No amount of money is worth losing your freedom.”
The duck quacked and waddled on. John gazed at his watch and smiled.
“Three, two, one!” He counted down as the hands met at noon. As of now, Tiffany and her ‘Smother’ were no longer a problem; they were out of his life forever. This freedom had cost him a fortune, but it was well worth it.
“Both witches,” he murmured and cracked open a can of beer. It was cool on his tongue and slid down his throat like a salve over the acrid memories of the past few years. That life was over and done.
“Nevermore, nevermore!” He said to the ravens cawing on the branches above him.
The fishing line tugged and John reeled it in. Just like they reeled me in, he thought as a perch appeared on the surface. It wriggled and squirmed, hooked on the line. John unhooked it and threw it back, watching content as the water rippled with the fish’s escape. He was not a catch-and-release fisherman, but today was different. Tiffany and her mother had caught him, but today, a merciful soul released him back into the water. Someone was taking care of that problem.
Geese waded past him, their honking added texture to the cacophony of cicadas and birds.
“Maybe I’ll fly away this winter, too,” he said to the geese and raised his beer in a toast to them.
John’s phone pinged, and he smiled at the text message.
“The deed is done,” it read, “freedom is yours.”
John laughed and clapped his hands, whooping like at a football game.
Another ping told him he’d received a video.
John beamed as Tiffany told the poor devil with a much fuller bank account that she’d “love and hold, in sickness and in health, till death do us part”. The priest smiled as the sucker slipped a ring on her talon. The mother-in-law sneered in the background.