The general's wife spoke in saccharine tones that barely concealed her malice. "Oh poor Ramon, is your awful wife embarrassing you in front of your ex and your friends. Poor put upon General "
"I was just saying
forget it, you behave how you like" he mumbled
"Aw are you being henpecked? Poor baby. For god's sake grow a pair, you can take this, I was like this when you married me!"
"Twenty nine years ago today. No you haven't changed much"
She turned to face the others "Why should I care? Huh? Why do I need to remember exactly when we went through some outdated little ceremony
I didn't really want to get married, I just wanted to live together. I wanted to do the humane thing; this dope was the one who wanted to chain himself to me for life. Doesn't believe in divorce either
"Caramba! No, I don't. I still don't! And I didn't want to live together like that, I wanted to marry you
" Peggy wouldn't let him finish
"Yes you wanted to marry me. Tell the nice people why you wanted to marry me."
"El General likes to put on this show, make you all think 'oh poor guy, what's he doing with that nasty harpy? How can he stand it?' Well I'll tell you how. My father's Basil Bazarov of Viking Arms. I used to sit on the supervisory board of the company."
"Just keep going Margret, let everyone know exactly what you're feeling, because that's so god damn important, because everyone wants to know"
She kept going "Also you probably can't tell this but I'm loaded. That means that my husband has no trouble getting armaments for his coups and when he's not in the middle of the power grab he can live off of my money. So don't kid yourself he likes me, putting up with me is how he earns his keep."
"You know what Margret? You are fucking embarrassing!" yelled Alcazar finally snapping "and if you don't cut it out I might just find throwing knives a lot more bearable in comparison to taking your abuse"
"Abuse? You think this is abuse, I can get abusive if you want to see what that looks like."
"So this is you being nice? If so then you belong in a mental institution"
" Finally you show signs of life! Well you know what Ramon, you're a fine piece of work yourself. Running off for years at a time without telling me, chasing skirt all over the place, I don't know how you manage to be such a success with the ladies because when it comes to me you're a
"Don't you dare go there Margret! Don't you bait me like this!" Wagg's wife whispered something and the two of them backed away as if they were dealing with a cobra
"Oh listen to the macho dictator he won't be baited like this, he will not be embarrassed in public
"I'm not a dictator! Of course I run after other women, have you seen yourself in the mirror lately? I could deal with your looks if you were actually nice, you frigid bitch!"
Peggy let out a mirthless laugh "See now he's being honest! Now I get the truth! You know what puzzles me, how come last time you were dictator
"President! I was not a dictator"
"You tell yourself that if it helps you sleep at night. Anyway why didn't you find some trumped up excuse to have me executed and be rid of me! You'd have done us both a favor"
Alcazar drew back his hand as if he was about to hit his wife, but he made the mistake of holding it there a second
"You don't have the guts" Peggy hissed. What would have happened next was prevented from coming about by Martine bursting into tears. The sound caused both Alcazars to turn around surprised. Calculus, who had been miraculously oblivious to the whole fight (he was playing with his pendulum), noticed Martine's tears and begun to berate Tintin for having upset her. While Tintin was trying to explain what was really going on, Bianca Castafiore was quick to come over and enfold the young woman in a maternal embrace.
"Oh for the love of god
"Oh cara mia, it's alright" she glared at the belligerent couple "you two should be ashamed of yourselves, especially you Signora. Upsetting the poor bambina like this"
"How can you too say things like that to each other? You're married" sniffed Martine
"That's it we're married" was Peggy's answer
"Dios de mi vida"
"If a married couple bickering is enough to set her off then she shouldn't watch the news, or go to a third world country, or
you know what honey? Get yourself a thicker skin" said Peggy indignantly
"I need a drink" said the Captain
"You said it amigo" The two men went off, and Tintin decided to find a quiet place to sit, alone. He thought that he probably should have tried to comfort Martine but she seemed to be in capable hands at the moment. 'Poor Martine, It's sweet of her to care about them, even though I don't think they deserve it" he thought. Snowy would have rather been allowed to stay. He had struck up a conversation with Bianca's French poodle. This time he approached her a little more delicately and it worked. The two were now chatting away at the absurdity of human mating rituals when Tintin called him away. He said goodbye and followed dutifully.
The Captain and the General found a bar that was still open. It was an airport bar and therefore depressing and at that time of night absent. But neither of them cared, it contained alcohol and there were no women so it filled their requirements nicely. The two sat in silence for a little bit then Haddock spoke.
"I wouldn't have blamed you if you hit her"
"I don't want to talk about it"
"I'm just saying I don't think anyone would have blamed you. Have you ever hit her before?"
"No, I can't
I don't hit women
I don't ok, let's talk about something else"
"Come on General it's not like she some poor defenseless little creature. Thundering typhoons man she's even as tall as you"
"Look I don't want to talk about it!" Alcazar was looking a little desperate at this point "Ok, I don't have a whole lot of principles but I won't hit my wife."
"Has she ever hit you?" Asked Haddock, a little afraid of the answer
"No, she'd never do that"
"She doesn't have to, women don't you know. They have other methods, why hit them when you can leave deeper wounds with your tongue?"
Alcazar turned around a little "Captain are you speaking from personal experience?"
"I don't want to talk about it"
"Caramba! You don't want to talk now? Well you know what, I'll let you in on a little secret. Women aren't as frightening as you think."
"So says the henpecked husband. What do you think I'm frightened of? It's not any kind of hurt, no there are worse things. There's cataclysm, I mean catastrophe, I mean Castafiore, Thundering typhoons I mean castration!"
"I understand now amigo, you're frightened of Bianca turning you into her henpecked husband!"
Haddock stuttered "Why in heaven's name would I be "afraid" of marring her? What makes you think she'd want me
or I her?"
Alcazar laughed "Because she pays way more attention to you than she ever did to me. 'Oh caro mio!'
"Shut up" interrupted Haddock "anyway you can't talk your married to
you know" He then ordered another drink.
"You make fun of me hombre, but I'm out of work and still wearing designer clothes with a nice apartment in New York
"Is your name on the lease?"
Alcazar shrugged again "No, but I don't care."
"Well I suppose it depends on what's important to you. Me I'd rather throw knives"
"That was a lousy job. It was a living, but I'll take Peggy any day. It's not like I don't like her, I do. She's a tightly wound hypercritical pain in the ass, but...well
I like her"
"I can't even begin to understand that" sighed Haddock
"Hey, everyone has to do what works for them" replied the General. The two men sat at the bar in silence for a while and Haddock lit his pipe.
"So general, how does one first get the idea to become a dictator?"
"President! And I was a colonel under Tapioca before some American businessmen from a banana company approached me and said they'd back my coup, one needs backing. The military in San Theodoros is pretty inefficient and poorly supplied. The heads of state do that on purpose, they realize that the military is more of a threat than an aide."
"And why did you want to do it?"
"The big three hombre; money, power, and women"
"Is that why you keep going back?"
"I thought you just said you were fond of your wife"
"I could be in love with my wife but still want to sleep with Ms. San Theodoros or Ms. Nuevo Rico for that matter. Heck if I were married to Ms. San Theodoros I'd probably cheat on her with that Sao Rican actress. I've tried to explain that to my wife but she doesn't get it."
"Money, power, and women. Well at least you're honest." Alcazar narrowed his already partially closed eyes.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing, I'm just marveling at how deep you are in your priorities"
"Oh and I suppose you want to save the world?"
"No, I want it to leave me alone."
"You know you criticize Peggy but you sound just like her" Haddock had just taken a sip of whiskey but at this he spat it clear across the room
"How am I in any way...blistering barnacles
"No its not, you both spend all your time criticizing what someone else has said so you don't have to put your necks out and say what you care about or believe in."
"I'll tell you what I believe in you revolutionary maniac. I believe in friendship, I believe in not sticking your nose in other people's business , I believe that marriage is ridiculous. Mmm
no that's not nearly strong enough. I believe that women were put on this earth purely to drive men insane"
"How? How? What have women ever done to you? Were you seduced by some ruthless femme fatale?"
"No I married an overweight, shrill voiced shrew who wore hair curlers"
"You better not be referring to my wife like that. I don't know how they do things in your country but where I come from
"Thundering typhoons, If your threatening me I have no problem fighting you"
"I'd rather not, but I don't stand her being insulted"
"Fine. I'll restrict my comments to women in general. Male energies are what creates art, philosophy, systems of government, new technology. We are the ones who make nations and master the elements. And what do women do? Their petty little minds don't go further than their houses. They envy the creative power of the male and long to fetter it with domesticity"
"Are you talking about
what's his name? Freud! That's it. Peggy keeps bringing him up, did he say something about cigars?"
"No, this is my own personal philosophy."
"Well it's misogynistic."
"I bet your wife uses that word all the time. Women like her are the reason it exists"
"I also think it's immature. You sound like you don't know anything about women. Of course Peggy thinks you're gay so that might be it"
"Blistering Barnacles. Listen to you, you can't even think for yourself any more. She just talks away and you listen to all of it and delude yourself that its worthwhile. You realize that you just brought her up twice in just as many minutes."
"Well I haven't had a real conversation with anyone else for about a month now. Besides we've been married for a long time."
"Also I'm not gay!"
"Whatever you say hombre"
Haddock threw up his arms in despair. Luckily it was just then that the bartender came over and announced that it was closing time. The two men paid and went off in separate directions, fuming quietly.