Ever Bring This Up Again
Have you ever kissed another man’s
blood off your wife’s lips? I heartily recommend it.
Penny is not a big nor strong woman.
She hands me every jar that passes our home’s threshold. Once she tried wearing
one of my dress shirts, for that sexy, next-morning look, but it was a tent on
her. We both laughed, so she took it off, and we stopped laughing for a while.
But that night she was definitely pulling her
weight. She grunted as she
staggered backward across the asphalt, dragging the tripled garbage bag behind
her. Her skinny calves strained with the effort, and the muscles in her arms popped
nicely as she gripped the neck of the bag with those thin, powerful fingers.
She let the bag slump at my feet and looked up
at me. Her tongue peeked
out of the corner of her mouth.
That’s when I noticed the blood on her
lips. Oh my.
I grabbed the bag, the last of the three,
and jerked it to my chest before leveraging it up and over the side of the big
dumpster. The still-warm contents sloshed inside the bag.
Lord, don’t let it rip, I thought.
The Lord, mysteriously benevolent, did
not let it rip.
Mick ran twenty red lights in His
honor—I should at least say something. “Thank you, Jesus, thank you Lord.”
“Shut up!” Penny hissed, through those
speckled lips. I could see her nipples poking through her T-shirt. “Christ,
we’re almost there!”
“Oh, I’m there already,” I said, in a
voice I barely recognized.
She looked at me, first angry at my
lack of focus, then a dawning realization, and then that look that says, I know
what you’re thinking, and I’m thinking the
Exact same thing.
Kissing her at that moment was like
kissing her for the first time, all over again. The knowing that, finally, finally,
I had found her.
Except this time I licked another
man’s blood from her lips. I almost popped, right then and there.
After an almost embarrassingly brief
amount of time, we emerged from behind the dumpster.
“Jerry,” she said, in the tone she
used when I needed to be told something that the whole world already knew.
“Never, ever speak of this again.”
That was almost twelve years ago. In a
few weeks, on that day, like I do every year, I’ll mix us each a tall, strong
Bloody Mary, with a dash of vinegar. We’ll sit on the porch swing, holding
hands, and silently sip our drinks. When the glasses are empty, we’ll go into
the house and make love with a special intensity.
Making up for all those days we almost
didn’t have, I guess. We’ve never talked about it.
Ralph Benton finally came to his senses after wearing
for decades the golden handcuffs of a corporate drone. He fled the frozen peaks
of Colorado for the muggy swamps of Florida. Now there is weirdness and mystery
all around him. He is much better for it.