Sunday morning sex is rapturous. We slept late, skipped church. At different times, both of us moaned. Even the dog howled. In a way, I guess it’s worship. Song and dance, too. I’m self conscious about my performance—in bed, I mean. I’m superstitious. Like I have to be on top first, then bottom. Part of being controlling, I guess.
Afterwards, we’re floating in the kitchen.
“What do you want for breakfast?” my wife asks.
“Let’s have eggs on toast,” I say.
“Ohh. How about something light. Like yogurt and granola and blueberries,” she counters.
“Eggs on hashbrowns, with bacon?” I wince. I haven’t told her that I need eggs. That this was a good romp and I always have eggs after a good romp.
“Ugh. How about pancakes?” Her shoulders slump, chin drops to one side.
“Veggie omelets?” I squeal. Avoiding eye contact. My voice cracks, almost.
“Why can’t we ever just do it my way!” she flails. Arms in the air. She doesn’t mean to, but her grip slips on the plate. It drops. And shatters. The dog runs to the couch, ears back, tail tucked.
After the plate fell, becoming sharp porcelain puzzle pieces, my wife’s face turned white and I saw my dad’s drunk leather skin. HIs shaky fingers, flush face. My father was an alcoholic. Not violent, but one night when I was a kid he got sloppy after watching Larry King Live and dropped his bowl of spaghetti. Too much whiskey. Oily noodles and porcelain scattered across the wood floor. Things fell and broke a lot during my childhood. My therapist says this kind of waking hallucination is normal. Especially after the death of a parent. When she first said this is normal I laughed and asked what’s abnormal, then? I remember that day well because I rarely laugh but I laughed then. Anyway.
I bent down on all fours and helped my wife pick up the white slivers of post sex superstition. Maybe I bent down too fast, because my head felt heavy and I saw my mom’s beady black eyes, olive skin. At the reception after my dad’s funeral, she dropped a long green serving plate. I saw mom as if I were watching a film playing on the linoleum tile. Even after I picked up a piece of plate and felt it’s edge, the film kept playing itself. But this time an hour before the funeral: me and my mom walking down the baking aisle in the grocery store, looking for canned pumpkin. Flashbacks of the morbidly mundane. The therapist said this too was normal.
I squished my eyes together. The therapist said not to do this. Said to accept what I see and breathe.
After eggs, we brushed our teeth in silence. Slipped on jeans. Zipped up hoodies.
“Want to take a drive?” I asked.
She nodded, petting the dog on his soft furred head. She said sure, but it sounded like shore. At Walmart, she stayed outside, browsing the RedBox selection. I found a new plate set. And a $3 pair of hunting orange athletic shorts. Retail therapy, right? At the self check-out, I waited for my turn. Only one of the four stations had a green light above it. I tapped my foot. I looked around.
Outside the restrooms, two black ski-masks pointed machine guns at the blue vest behind the cigarette counter. I squinted to be sure. There was no scream. Just a wave of choked silence. It felt the throat hush roll toward me. I swallowed. The assaulters moved the tips of their guns back and forth, making demands.
It was too far away to hear or see in detail. But, I heard the shorter one yell, “Why can’t we ever just do it my way.” Then that machine gun pointed skyward, bullets flew, licked like tongues of orange. Then screams. Then sirens.
I slammed my eyelids together, sure this was cerebral concoction. When I opened my eyes, the ski masks were gone. In their place, blue vests with yellow smiley faces gathered like tears. Pale hands clutching, scanning one item after another on the moving black conveyor belt. The sound of beeping. I reached for my pocket to call the therapist, tell her something still wasn’t right in my head.
#altdad #amwriting #fiction #marriage #sex #fear #imagination
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