by Curtis Ippolito
He’s just asking for it.
Balancing on the back legs of a cheap wicker chair, grubbing on a cheap
sandwich, his sandy locks blowing in the breeze.
I heel between his glistening
knees. Send him and the baloney on white careening into a potting bench,
raining down a mess of soil and succulents. I yank him into the sun, his faded
pink Hurley shirt knotted in my fist. He’s already
shell-shocked. Whimpering, cowering. We haven’t even
“Stop sniveling,” I bark. His
leathered face folds on itself. I shake him, dusting my forearms with soil.
Typical. My wife always takes up
with men who haven’t grown up. Never serious affairs. Always temporary flings
charged to me to end like it’s in our vows. Each of us playing our roles, I
suppose. This time, it’s a surf dude owner of an oceanside succulent nursery.
Last time, our karate instructor neighbor. Sparring with six-year-olds didn’t
keep him primed for a surprise fist when he opened his front door.
This idiot’s going to be even
easier to handle.
“Stay away from my wife,
douchebag,” I growl, inches from his teary eyes. I give him a solid punch to
the gut. Doubles him over, then falls to his knees. He’s gasping for air. I
look around. What will drive the message home? I shimmy a terra-cotta pot off a
stack and slam it full-stride into the side of surfer man’s head. Clay shards
“You hearing me, dude?” I yell,
into his bloody ear.
“Yes,” he says, holding hand to
leaky skull. “Pl-please. What are you talking about?”
“Don’t give me that shit. My
wife. Val. You’re banging her. I want you to stop. Seems easy enough to
Struggling to a knee, eyes welled,
he extends a palm. “Please. I’m not—”
“Do I look stupid? You don’t
think I see all the credit charges from this place, see your tan, smiling ass,
and not put two and two together? Surprise, asswipe. I know my wife better than
I don’t let him respond, instead
jab his mouth. Hard. His lips crumple, and shattered teeth stab my knuckle. He
scoops at the blood pouring from his mouth, frantic like a child trying to
rebuild a sandcastle in the surf.
I step back to take it in. Tears
stream down his cheeks. Iron and fear hang in the air between us.
Then, someone rushes up through
the rows of plants to my left. A fresher, spitting image of surfer man.
“What the fuck are you doing?”
“Who the fuck are you?”
“That’s my dad,” he says, bodying
“Watch it, kid. Me and your dad
had a score to settle and it’s settled. So, why don’t you back the fuck up?”
Surfer man flashes a failed, red
smile, waves for his son to step back. He does.
“You OK?” Freshy whispers, eye
“He’ll survive,” I say.
“What’s this all about, anyway?”
Surfer man gets to his feet.
“Nothing. He’s right.” Blood trickles down his chin with the words. “It’s
It is, but I need the final
word—I crave it—so I say, “Remember how your pops looks right now, next time he
hits on a married woman.”
“What are you talking about?”
“He was banging my wife.”
Freshy looks at his wide-eyed
pops and back to me. A spark.
“Is your wife Val?” he asks,
“Bruh. I’m tagging your wife.
The admission stuns me. True,
but not long. I snap to and punch surfer man square in the nose as hard as I
can, sending him back to the ground in a heap.
“What the hell, man?” Freshy
yells. “Why did you do that?”
I don’t owe him or any of the
rest of them jack shit. When I’m finished here, all will be set right. My work
this afternoon will be its most productive. The belts at the bar before going
home, the most comforting. And when I regale Val with how her latest one fared,
her devotion to me will rekindle, and she’ll be mine again. For a few months,
anyway. Each of us playing our roles.
Fists cocked to Freshy, I smile
and say, “He raised you, didn’t he? Now, come here.”
Ippolito has had several short stories published, most recently in Mystery
Tribune and Shotgun Honey.
a newspaper reporter and many other things, he’s now a development writer for a
research facility in San Diego, California.
Darren Blanch, Aussie creator of
visions which tell you a tale long after first glimpses have teased your
peepers. With early influence from America's Norman Rockwell to show life as
life, Blanch has branched out mere art form to impact multi-dimensions of color
and connotation. People as people, emotions speaking their greater glory.
Visual illusions expanding the ways and means of any story.
Digital arts mastery provides what Darren
wishes a reader or viewer to take away in how their own minds are moved. His
evocative stylistics are an ongoing process which sync intrinsically to the
expression of the nearby written or implied word he has been called upon to
View the vivid energy of IVSMA (Darren Blanch)
works at: www.facebook.com/ivsma3Dart,
YELLOW MAMA, Sympatico Studio - www.facebook.com/SympaticoStudio,
DeviantArt - www.deviantart.com/ivsma
and launching in 2019, as Art Director for suspense author
intrigue promoter Kate Pilarcik's line of books and publishing promotion -
SeaHaven Intrigue Publishing-Promotion.