There was a time when I loved her voice.
“Chucky.” She slapped my thigh; I hate to be touched there.
“Chuck, where’s my blouse?”
I sat up, rubbed the crust out of my eyes and tried to focus on the question.
“What are you talking about?” I asked, my head pounded like a drum.
“The blouse Chuck. The blouse. The one you were supposed to pick up from the cleaners yesterday.”
I mentally slapped my forehead, Shit how can I get ou of this one unscathed? Fuck it, let me throw in the towel and prepare for the worse. “Honey, I forgot. I’m sorry.” Putting on my best puppy look that usually works.
Deanna just looked at me. “Fine, Chuck. Once again you forgot something.I suppose you forgot to get a job to help support us over the past 18 months, too.”
I took the rebuke in silence.
Deanna turned, grabbed an old short-sleeved shirt off our rumpled bed, faced our mirror and began adjusting her clothes, “What are you doing today?”
I sighed, “Nothing.”
“Yeah, I figured. Well, I need you play my numbers today. You remember my numbers, right?”
“Of course not I only play them every week. Here, I wrote them down for you,”
I took the paper from her. I know I messed up. Why does she have to belittle me?
“Don’t forget the ticket, Chuck.”
“You’ve been pissing me off, Chuck,” she said, “the alcohol has gotten way out of hand.”
She raised her hand to interrupt. “I’ve seen you talk to yourself when you think I’m not looking. You’re doing shit that’s got me real scared. Like, well … I think you know and Anesti and Deaira are scared also.”
“Why do I get blamed for everything? I can’t help it.”
Deanna laughed. “Yes, Chuck. You can’t help a lot of things, can you?” Her stare made me shiver. “I’m going to my sisters after work and the girls are staying at your mom’s tonight, so don’t wait up.”
The door slammed. I flopped into the easy chair, partly in relief of her absence, partly out of pent-up shame. I know the drinking doesn’t help, but something had to numb the pain.
Forget that dame
“I know, right.” I take a hit of my friend, Jack Daniel’s. He’s a good ole boy.
The phone rang.
“But maybe it’s that job I applied for last week. An interview might change this hell I’m living in.
“Hey Dawg, did you pick up the pinata for Lil Mikes’s party tomorrow?”
I closed my eyes and clenched my fists.
Why people always asking you for stuff?
I close my eyes and shake my head. “Hey, Mike, I forgot, man, I’ll do it today, I promise.”
“C’mon, this is for your nephew, dude?” I need you to come through.”
Kick that self-righteous tone out of his body, always in your butt.
“Okay, I got it, don’t worry.”
You need to unfriend this conversation.
“You okay bro? The last few month’s you’ve been acting strange, really strange. You can talk to me you know that.”
I did, without any goodbyes. “Who needs to hear that shit?”
Right. Take a hit.
I took a healthy swig of the Jack Daniels, climbed into bed and fell asleep.
Wake up dude.
I sat up. A bolt of pain exploded in my head. “Aggghhh.” My throat as dry as two-day-old cornbread.
I stood, my temples pulsated like a strobe light and pain slammed down either side of my head into my eyes. I stumbled into the bathroom, with my eyes close and sat on the toilet seat, held my head between my hands.
Get the little white pills, dude.
“What white pills?”
In the cabinet, dude.
I managed to stand and opened my eyes. Blue, yellow and red circles floated like soap bubbles in front of my face. I closed my eyes, and reached into the cabinet; searched with my hand like a bull in a china shop. I grabbed the little white pills and popped a handful in my mouth.
You need to sit down and chill, dude.
The bed sagged and the springs sang as I dropped back onto the bed.
Take a hit to wash the pills.
I reach for my friend and noticed the black and white digital clock on the nightstand; 10:00 it read.
I look through the window; it’s pitch dark.
“It’s ten o’clock at night. You losing it.
“Damn.” I tried to recall if anything important needed to be done today. I remembered the pinata. “Shit” I racked my brain for anything else I missed. All I got was fog and pain. “I’m missin’ somethin’.”
My phone again, caused a stab of pain in my ears.
I answered to silence the evil piercing noise.
“Yeah, I’m here honey. What up?”
“Baby!Baby! Baby! Everything is up! How can you sound so calm? I can’t believe this! We need to make plans! This is incredible!”
I laughed. I didn’t know why ’cause it didn’t feel good.
Deanna laughed. “Stop playing! Now tell me what was your first thought when you were watching the drawing?” I can’t believe this you have to keep the ticket in a safe place.”
You fucked up, dude.
“Ticket? What ticket?”
“You bum! The Lotto ticket! I can’t believe my numbers finally hit. Why are you still playing around?”
The first sign of a heart attack, they say, is a tightness in the chest followed by numbness in the left arm. I couldn’t breathe. I slid down the wall. The phone slipped from the useless fingers of my left hand. A curtain of blackness, as complete as a moonless night at sea, fell behind my eyes.
You fucked up. dude.
“Baby! Baby! You still there? I’m coming home right now wait up for me. We’ve got some celebrating to do.”
I think I said “yes, I”m here.” as the phone went silent.
“Damn I needed a drink. I can’t believe this shit. What the hell do I do?
Blow town. Pack your shit in a ditty bag and get the hell out of dodge.
“And live as a coward for the rest of my life?”
That’s the way you been living.
“I don’t need this shit. I needed a plan and a drink.”
You can pray. No, that won’t work. You never prayed in your miserable life.
“Will you shut the hell up and let me think?”
You can kill her.
You heard me. And don’t act like you never thought about it.
I looked into the mouth of the Jack Daniel. “Kill her? I love her.”
You love me.
“No… no I don’t.” I took a hit of Jack. “We can talk this out.”
We are talking.
“No … my wife-”
Your wife? She won’t let you forget this Lotto shit for the rest of your life. You want to be constantly reminded of what a failure you are?
I thought about what Jack had said. “You got a point.”
Sure you right. And you’ll never see the kids again. You right. Look at you sitting on the floor like a mouse. Ain’t you a man?
I struggled to stand. “I’ll never be forgiven. Not for this one.”
She was getting on your nerves anyway. None of this is your fault. All she does is bitch and moan. It’s sickening. She needs to exit.
I massaged the one-day stubble on my chin. “That made perfect sense. I forgot the lotto ticket so what? I am the man of the house and I need respect.”
You the man.
I walked stiff-legged back into the bathroom and held my head under the running water.
Your wasting time. She’ll be here any minute.
The mirror cracked when I looked up. My eyes are bloodshot and a dark ring circled the heavy bags hanging on my face. A part of me pushed back.
“I love my wife.”
We are a team. That’s what a marriage is a team. Me and you.
I heard a car door slam. And seconds later, keys jingled in the lock.
“How’d she get to the door so fast?”
It’s now or never, dude.
I waited with the bottle in one hand; the other made a fist.
She entered; the happiest I have ever seen her. “Do you have a surprise for me?”
© 2016, charles stone. All rights reserved.
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