She crushes out a cigarette on the patio. Shakes her head.
“Trent’ll call soon,” I say. “You’ll see.”
But we both know he won’t. The plane went down in the Hindu Kush.
Over a week ago. Still missing. A celebrated pilot in the air force. That’s where we’d all met, Pensacola boot camp in 2005.
Then Debbie and I both got pregnant. Return tickets home. We were lucky to score jobs at the Wal-Mart in Keene.
She still doesn’t know it was the same guy.
She lights another Marlboro.
I grab it from her. Extinguish it.
“It’s all I have,” she pleads.
“Debbie don’t,” I say. “Think of your kid.”
Category Archives: Robert Vaughan
The moment I opened the door, I knew something was wrong. He paced in the kitchen, told me how, not why.
“Let’s sit down,” I said. I turned off Entertainment Tonight. My hand shook as I set down the remote.
“She came at me with a knife. I had to do it. She was gonna kill me.” He covered his face with his hands.
He stood up as if to go. Sat back down. “I buried her.”
Shocked, I knew what we had to do. “Does anybody else know?”
Shook his head no.
“We have to call the police.”
“NO-” he protested. “Mom, please.”
“I’m sorry, Mark. But you told me.” My voice shook. “Now I’m implicated.” I waited for him to respond, but he just sat there, head hung. “When you’re ready, make that call. Don’t force me to.”
While he dialed, my heart nailed itself to the cross. Everything we’d worked for, poured ourselves into. Gone. I couldn’t breathe. Our only son.
After he hung up he said, “Do you have any chocolate milk?”
Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley says, “Call me Peg.”
Has a lifetime supply of Aqua Net.
“She was a bitch,” her maid, Opal recalls.
Daphne says, “A gem, a true-blue friend.”
The way those Hot Wheels track welts felt on my ass.
Before I fucked every member of the Coalition of the Willing.
Eight years later, the telephone rang. I heard that familiar husky voice.
Hung up. Backed away from the kitchen, my heart leading the way.
Shrunk down the hall toward the bedroom. What could I say? I was done, finished.
Thought I was resolved.
My husband came into the room. “Who was it,” he asked. Then he looked at me, bent over the dresser. And he knew. “No way.”
“Get the fuck out. Seriously?”
The phone rang again.
“You want me to answer it?” he asked.
I shook my head no. Picked it up, jittery. “What do you want, Dad?”
The two lovers recline, sweaty, exhausted, bodies entwined.
He clears his throat, says, “That was great. You’re really something, ya know?”
She arches her back, moves her leg off his. Whispers, “You too.” Now is not the time to get into it. She forces a smile, says, “I’ll be right back.”
“I’ll be here,” he says. Pats her butt as she stands up.
She stares into the bathroom mirror above the sink. My god, how you’ve changed. It’s not the deepening lines. Or her marble green eyes, getting weaker, fuzzy. It’s not the minute scar on her neck, her last melanoma removed.
Nothing will appease the growing pit in her stomach. It gnaws at her from the inside out. No longer a blind spot, it defines her.
I notice the finches have returned to our feeders today. I miss Dad; he would have been the first to notice. He adored swapping stories about birds. Who are the newcomers, any returners, which peckers.
Jimmy was on his tenth game of xBox. And Donna lay on the couch, glued to the tv. Glomming down a bag of pretzel rods. I switched it off. “Enough,” I said.
“Mom,” she complained.
“You can practice piano, do schoolwork, anything but vegging out on the couch.” I felt hypocritical, recalling those scores of after-school movies I watched at her age.
“Yeah, whatever.” Donna shuffled off to her room, her 5 foot 2 frame carrying enough weight for both of them.
I sighed. Back out the window, I notice the Blazer in the Wilkinson’s driveway, our snowbird neighbors are back from Florida. I hope I’d remembered to put Jack Wilkinson’s porn DVDs back in alphabetical order. By title, just like he prefers them.
A robin flies past, an assortment of twigs in her beak, building a nest in the lilac bush. Her mate is perched, at attention.
Do they watch them together? Those movies?
I was going to tell my husband, then I decided it would be my secret. I’m sure he has some. He doesn’t even know the Wilkinsons asked me to watch their things.
Actually, what Alice said was, “Keep an eye on the house.”