It's fiction dontcha know. If you've made it this far, you were probably invited. Enjoy the writing process with me and feel free to leave feedback.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Storm Door Bounced

closed behind me and I swiped the front door closed with my foot. I stood there in the entryway, hands on hips, surveying the living room’s cluttered terrain. A squashed, half roll of toilet paper peeked from under the loveseat only inches from where Stimey’s behind rested. Wads of the paper smeared with Byron’s dried, allergy snot littered the floor near his usual living room parking spot. The potted plant within arm’s reach now sported two popsicle sticks, one toilet paper wad, an unidentified cellophane wrapper, a fork—tines in the dirt, and a scattering of rejected popcorn seeds. I had now surpassed the two week mark. Two weeks I waited to see how long it would take before I started up with my broken record rant about using the potted plant as a convenient trash can segueing into ‘the floor is not for your snot rags’ tirade, and finally, grasping and stammering for an ‘or else’ to tag on the end. Two weeks was more than I could stomach. Before I knew it, I was in an angry cleaning fit. The back of my neck began to perspire more from elevated blood pressure than exertion. I flew around the room collecting two empty glasses, the fork, the popsicle sticks, the handful of popcorn seeds and five dirty socks, delivering them to their respective homes. I ran this relay with every stomping combination of profanity bursting through the membrane of my brain-to-mouth filter. It was like finally farting, loud and long after holding a belly full of gas through a wedding.

When I was satisfied that I’d rid the common areas of everything distastefully Byron, I plunged butt-first onto the loveseat and remoted the TV. I gathered up my sweaty hair and twisted it up into a wrap-around bun and held it there against the back of the sofa. Stimey eased into the living room from where she’d apparently been keeping a low-profile in the kitchen. The coast was clear. Mom was on the couch, the television was on, and the obscenities had subsided.

“Stimey, Girl, who can live in that kind of filth?” I asked her. Stimey trotted the rest of the way to the loveseat taking my tone as a signal that it must have been someone else who had been in trouble earlier. Stimey had good instincts that way.

I flipped through all five channels and on the second round, I fell prey. Pizza Hut had no consideration or mercy for me, the animal-hungry but flat-broke TV viewer. It had been nine hours since my last pancake and black coffee which made the hot pizza cheese I was watching stretch nine times further than it normally does before it snaps into greasy goodness. It made the pepperoni glisten to the ninth power. It made the thought of writing a bad check sound as good as cashing in prize-tickets at the toy counter of a carnival arcade.

“Stimey, we’re having pizza. Medium, deep-dish, pepperoni, extra-cheese.” I told the pug after I hung up with the delivery hotline. “Take it to the grave, Girl. We’ll pay the bank tomorrow and destroy the evidence later.” I said sealing the deal. Stimey rotated her wrinkly, velvet head inquisitively.

“You just eat the pizza, I’ll worry about the rest.” I told Stimey. She seemed satisfied that I had it all figured out, rolled her rump over to the side, and sat down. The man of the hour, the pizza guy, would be here in thirty minutes or less—or my next one would be free. I’d waited nine hours, I could wait thirty-one minutes.

Exactly twenty-eight minutes later, the pizza guy’s steed could be heard half-way down the block begging for a muffler. It was an AMC Gremlin the color of grape soda-pop cut with traditional white racing stripes. I was waiting at the door, hot-check already written and in hand when the Gremlin’s driver’s side door lamented with a squall of dry metal on metal. The pizza guy could have been Freddie Krueger and I would have paid the man as gladly. Once my eyes connected with the vinyl pizza carrier I knew nothing else until I landed on the couch and opened the promising box of on my lap. I tore the crust off my first piece and tossed it Stimey’s direction. Never before had Stimey snatched anything out of mid-air. She chewed it down like a buzz saw and her buggy eyes stared me down while I sunk my teeth into the first sloppy slice.

In fifteen minutes, I was slouched in bloated bliss. I looked down at the pizza box still flapped open on my lap. I’d eaten exactly half of the pizza.

“Stimey, Girl, I was sure I could’ve eaten five of these things.” I said. Stimey looked desperate and began squeaking a gravelly whine. I’d given her the pizza crust from each piece I’d eaten and she now sat at my feet accusing me of holding out on her. I knew better than to feed that dog anything with cheese on it. She was lactose intolerant, as most dogs are, and it generally came out the other end in the form of a clinging, green fog.

The phone rang and I picked up. It was Mr. Sunshine.

“Hey, we just got done eating and I was—my Dad was going to let the girls go swimming here in awhile so, if it gets kinda late I thought we could just let them sleep over here so I could get some work done before I came home.”

“It’s a school night, you know. I think--” He cut me off.

“Well, Jess has some clothes over here and they said they would take her to school in the morning.” He argued. “At least they can have something besides pancakes in the morning, right?” He said laughing.

“Yeah. At least.” I said grinding my teeth.

“Okay, well I’ll be home later.” He said. I hung up the phone and threw the receiver into the couch pillows. Stimey hadn’t moved a muscle and standing at full attention.

What the hell. I sure as hell won’t have him eating it tomorrow.

I slid the entire box onto the floor. Stimey stood on all fours frozen in momentary disbelief.

“Go. Eat it. It’s okay, Stimer, get after it.” I said, egging her on. Our girl Stimey went face down into the rest of the pizza. She had devoured all but the last piece when she dragged her pooched belly from the crime scene. She sat on her behind and carefully lowered her front end to the floor before flopping over onto her side where she laid—legs outstretched, followed shortly by a slow snore.

“Girl, you shouldn’t have.” I said to Stimey. I picked up the pizza box and Stimey opened her eyes half-way.

“Forget it, Girl! It’s going in the neighbor’s trash.” I said to the glutton. I took the box into the kitchen, stripped off the delivery sticker, and slipped out the back patio door. It was dark enough to cross the street that ran along the side of the duplex without being noticed. I did a quick run to the neighbor’s mini-dumpster, hiked the lid and deposited the evidence. I slipped back across the street and through the doorway, slid the thing closed and locked it up with a swipe of my thumb. I wedged a sawed-off broomstick into the track for good measure and made for the living room where the couch and remote were calling my name.

“Jammies first.” I said out-loud to myself. Although I was reluctant to climb the stairs to the bedroom, pajamas were what my over-stuffed belly needed right then and I though I might as well do the face washing, teeth brushing, and potty routine while I was at it, then we’d call it a night.

I changed into my pajamas and shuffled from the bedroom to the bathroom. I was home alone and took pleasure shutting the bathroom door without the threat of the world coming to an end because Mommy closed the door to pee. I dropped my drawers, sat on the pot, and became incensed all over again. Staring at me from the corner of the bathroom was The Pile. His dirty underwear could pile nine-high behind the bathroom door before he’d notice. After nine, he’d either have to buy more or wash what was there. As much as I hated The Pile, I wouldn’t touch it. It was the principle of the thing.

Stimey was snoring like a lumberjack, lips flapping on the exhale by the time I made it back downstairs. I scrunched myself cozy on the loveseat, drifting off somewhere in the middle of Leno’s monologue.

I woke to the sound of a skillet meeting the stove burner in the next room. The living room was dark except for the bluish hue from early morning news yammering on the TV. I thought I smelled coffee. I was sure I was having a lucid dream. Why would anyone be in my kitchen during the 5:30 news, and who was cooking?

I rubbed into my eyelids with the pads of my fingers working out the sleepy crust while deciding to investigate the kitchen. I leaned my elbow into the arm of the loveseat and put one foot in front of the other toward the kitchen. My eyes burned when they met the light blaring from under the stove hood and I shielded with my forearm. My face melted into a cranky grimace.

“Rise and shine workin’ girl! I thought you might want to get an early start on the day of your big job interview. I brought a banana and an orange from my Dad’s and I made you some coffee. Brought a couple of eggs too.” Byron said standing at the stove glowing-white and naked by the light of the bald sixty-watt bulb. He was casually stirring and turning a pair of his underwear in the skillet.

“What--” I stammered trying to start. I could not be awake. I closed my eyes and shook my head trying to escape the scene. When I blinked them open again, he was still standing there poking at his underwear in the Teflon skillet.

“Are those your fucking underwear?” I said having not yet flipped on the profanity filter for the day.

“Yeah-p. I was out of panties so I threw a load in when I got home and just wanted a dry pair real quick. Thought I’d fry me up a pair.” He said with his hands on his inner-tube hips. The image burned. His concave chest sprouted as much hair as a fifteen year-old boy. His legs bowed backward at the knees and his butt cheeks were dimpled like golf balls. Thankfully, his unmentionables were hiding in the shadow of his fish-belly paunch.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

"You Girls Wanna Go To Grandpa's House?

Grandma’s making chicken, and potatoes, and macaroni and cheese!” He sing-songed.

“Yay!” Jess cheered. Chloe rubbed her baby fist in her eyes having just come out of the nap, hair ruffled into a blonde puff.

“Jess is ready to go,” I said. “and I’ll change Chloe and brush her hair. They’re ready for dinner.”

“Well, I just got here. Can I sit down or is that against some new house rule?” Byron poked.

I was tired of boxing with him. If I could have just clicked my heels together three times and he would turn into a nice wingback chair, it would be a better day. Instead of wasting another mouthful of words, I gave him an exaggerated, “Oh, won’t you sit down?” gesture with a sweep of my right arm and scooped Chloe up on the finish.

Twenty minutes later, the kids were fresh and ready to go. I rounded the past the entryway and found Prince Charming draped across the loveseat in a slack-jawed, sleeping heap. The remote was still in his flacid hand as the local newscaster predicted rain for tomorrow afternoon. I snatched the remote from him and clicked the TV off. He pushed both arms over his head and groaned through a sleeping dog stretch.

“Man, what time is it? I must’ve fallen asleep.” He said squinting into the kitchen at the microwave’s digital clock.

“The kids are waiting on you, I’m getting them into the car.” I said.

I tucked the girls into the back seat of the car, buckled them in, and faked my way through a happy send-off to Grandpa’s house. I’ve never been a fan of his parents for reasons greatly numbered and just the sight of his father triggered a bad taste in my mouth. His lack of common discretion was near the top of the list. Speedo’s on a fifty-six year old man with the body shape of a slovenly, Silverback Gorilla is something no person should be subject to view unless they suffer from some sort of obscure fetish. Even then, I think it should be federally regulated.

I waved to the girls as he sped away down the street and thought about how much better things would have to be tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I Covered The Mouthpiece

on the phone and cleared my throat of the thick, angry spit.

“Jess, Hon, could you sit next to Chloe and watch Sesame Street with her while I get your fruit cocktail?” I needed her out of earshot in case I couldn’t contain the f-word, in case I ground my teeth into a mouthful of grit, or in case I busted a blood vessel in my right eye. Jess bounced butt first onto the couch next to the baby. Thankfully, she could still get engrossed in Elmo’s World if it’s all she had in front of her.

I yanked open the refrigerator and pointed my voice toward the chilled light bulb.

“I’m gonna say this one time.” I said slinging a Dirty Harry drift. “In one hour, I want you to pick up these girls, make sure they get a decent dinner over there, and then bring them home. I don’t care what you do the rest of the night but I’ve got a job interview in the morning at eight-thirty and I’m going to be on time. And no, you’re not dropping me off and you are getting up early to take care of these kids.” I clicked the phone off, shut the refrigerator, door and with all my might, I resisted throwing the handset across the room. I walked the ten feet to the phone’s cradle hanging on the opposite kitchen wall and snapped it in place. My grip lingered on the phone and I leaned into the wall forehead first. The rest of me drooped. I realized I was holding my breath and l let the air out. Three fat tears fell straight down and spatted on the dingy linoleum next to Stimey’s front paws. Our eyes met and Stimey’s were bulging with empathy. I could always count on that pug for moral support.

“It’s okay, Stime.” I laughed through a sniffle. I swiped the melted mascara mess with index fingers under either eye and did a once-over the eyelids with the ring fingers for good measure. The girls didn’t need to know and he sure as hell wouldn’t be given the pleasure. I pulled two ceramic bowls down from the cabinet and went back to the fridge for the fruit cocktail. I divided what was left in the can between the two bowls, inserted spoons, and called to Chloe and Jess.

“Shhhh, Mommy!” Jess whispered a little authoritatively. “Chloe’s sleeping.”

“Ohhh, okay.” I whispered back. “Come have some fruit, it’s on the table.”

Jess always ate the lone half-cherry first, then the green grapes, followed by the peaches. She usually left the pears. By the time I’d slid Chloe’s bowl into the fridge, Jess was tipping the bowl back to drink the syrup.

“Jess, Hon, use your spoon, okay?” I said only momentarily wondering who in the hell taught her to slurp from a bowl.

“Is there any more?” She said handing up her bowl. Damn eighth-grade English Literature. I wish I’d never heard of Oliver Twist.

“Sure, Honey.” I said producing Chloe’s bowl. “But only if you’re going to eat the pears in this one too.”

“Uhhh, no, I think I’m full. I just wanted more grapes.” She admitted. I was relieved because I really didn’t want to offer her Chloe’s fruit, but more than that, I didn’t want her to notice the food shortage. If I had to, I could feed the baby with the two-dollar bill I still had in my purse. I could make it to tomorrow morning and neither of them would feel so much as a growl in their tummies. I’d already swallowed bitter pride when I applied, and financially qualified for, the “Free Lunch” program at Jess’s school last month. At least she didn’t know the difference in the lunch line and the cafeteria served both breakfast and lunch each day.

I fished the two grapes from Chloe’s bowl and poked them into Jess’s mouth.

“Mmmmm!” She squeaked and scampered back to the living room for more TV.

Mr. Sunshine casually strode through the front door like Barney Fife after a hard day in Mayberry. The girls were happy to see him as they usually were and he was lapping up the attention. Oh, the bliss of childhood's innocent ignorance.

“Daddy’s home, Ladies!” He announced. I swallowed back hard against my gag reflex and my thumb restrained the tight spring on my middle finger.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I Rounded The Driveway

just as Jess’s bus groaned its brakes and flapped its doors open. My little Jess bounced down the big bus stairs, backpack in one hand, a partially rumpled school paper in the other. She made for the front door, pig-tails bouncing.

“Hi Mommy! Did you and Chloe go for a walk?”

“Yes, we sure did! How was your day?” I said unlocking the front door.

“Pretty fine. I made you something, and we had the fire truck at school, and Miss Bernstein showed us a lizard, Sam Bellows throwed up on the playground, and I ate chicken nuggets, and I got two stars, and—I’m hungry! What can I have to eat? Is there any apples?” she said incindentally poking the two-starred school paper into my hand as she made for the door.

“Sorry, Sweet-ums. Mommy’s out of apples. I’ll get you a whole bag at the grocery store tomorrow morning, ok? I have some fruit cocktail in the fridge if you want that!” I said with as much mommy-enthusiasm as I could feign.

“Yummy!” she said dropping her school luggage. She was hopping around like a top, holding both hands tight to her zipper area. “I have to go potty now!” she announced galloping off into the house through the living room toward the bathroom.

I unbuckled Chloe from the stroller and clicked PBS on again. I picked up the phone and dialed The Genius.


“Hey, it’s me. You need to come back over here in an hour and pick up the kids. I think you should manage to get them some dinner over there.” I said hating to concede to his earlier dinner plans.

“Are you coming over too because I have so much work to do I can’t watch them you know.”

“Just get over here in an hour so they don’t have to notice we’re--” the phone squealed in my ear and then went quiet. I closed my eyes in a counting-to-ten-Serenity-Now kind of way. The phone rang in my hand.

“What was that?” I snarked.

“Whell, I dunno, Little Lady.” It was either Tom Newman or Foghorn Leghorn answering back and I was only dodging calls from the former.

“Mr. Newman! I’m sorry! I thought you were Byron calling right back.”

“Whell, ain’t that a co-incidence. I’ve been tryin’ to get aholda that boy all week. Tell you what, why don’tcha just give me that number he’s at and I’ll ring his dinger myself and save you the trouble of passin’ on the message.”

“Uhm, well, alright, give me just ooone moment and--” he cut me off.

“Now don’t you go tellin’ me you have to fish around for that number, Darlin’. I just need to give that ol’boy a holler because I have Father Schmidling crawlin’ up my derrière about his project and parishioners threatenin’ me with everything short of a torch carryin’ lynch mob. The Catholics ain’t like the Baptists y’know.”

The call-waiting beeped.

“Mr. Newman, I think that’s Byron calling me on the other line. Just give me one moment.” I said without giving him an opportunity to protest.


“The fucking phone fell in the hot tub. My dad is going to be so pissed. So, what was the plan?”

“The hot tub?! What the hell are you talking about? Hot tub? Are you freakin’ out of your ever-loving tree?! I have Tom Newman on the other line asking for this phone number and--”

“For your information, I was testing the chemicals in the pool and the hot tub for my dad. He called and asked me if I could go out there and take care of it real quick. You know, it’s the least I can do, this is his house you know. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have a place to work and our kids wouldn’t be eating dinner tonight so you can just knock it off with the smart-assed attitude.”

“Byron, you little bastard! This here’s Tom Newman, pardon my French. Your Little Woman was kind enough to patch me through.”

Ohp! I’d hit “3-way” instead of “flash”.

“W-what?” Byron scrambled.

“Glad to hear you’re alive but it ain’t gonna be for long if we can’t get this project finished. If these people don’t get their windows scheduled to install by June 15th that Father Schmidling is calling his diocese to black ball my ass. So, look’a here Boy, if I don’t have Jesus feedin’ the multitudes on my workbench by this time next week, I’m sendin’ you down the river, y’hear? Them sonsabitches ain’t playing around. I thought I hired a painter and I got a pool boy. I gotta business to run here and the train ain’t waitin’, pardon my French.”

“Mr. Newman, I am just putting the finishing touches on the Jesus’ robe. It’s absolutely gorgeous and I just can’t wait for you to see it. I’ve just been so buried in this project I’ve been a little out of touch with everyone. Don’t worry about a thing. Would you like me to give Father Schmidling a call personally?” Byron said swimming in bullshit.

“Well, now I don’t know if that’s all necessary, I think we’ll just call it on time. Listen, Son, we got to keep some communication flowin’ back’n forth. You’re about to drive me to drinkin’, Son.” Newman said sounding like he was exhaling a belly full of cigar smoke.

“No problem. Thank you, Sir!” Byron quipped.

Newman hung up, but I wanted to make double sure.

“Mr. Newman?” no answer.

“Are you happy now? I got my ass chewed off by Boss Hog. That was really shitty CeCe. Now I’ve got three weeks of work to do in 7 days. Thanks a lot.” Byron scolded.

I was tongue tied with fury. I just could not believe his nerve. It must be his only survival instinct. Audacious nerve and indignant inconsideration. He was a walking blaspheme. I must have been turning red starting from my feet moving straight up my body. My soul became possessed by Yosemite Sam. I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t have a brain aneurism right there in the kitchen.

The toilet flushed and Jess came bounding out of the bathroom. The door bounced when it hit the springy door stop and Jess’s hands were still dripping water from washing her hands.