Yellow Mama Archives

J. Robert Hilson
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castrate.jpg
Art by Jeff Karnick

Castrating the Silence

 

J. Robert Hilson

 

          Jake never understood the term “spousal rape.”  It was to his understanding that once he strapped himself into it, he could get it whenever and wherever. The diamond commitment gave his aggression some slack. So when Sonya threatened him with police intervention that morning, he knew she couldn’t be trusted.

          Jake liked it rough. They both did. It was not unusual for him to jump into bed at 2:00 a.m. drunk or sober, and knock it around in her, while she slept. For years Sonya seemed to enjoy the savagery. But recently, her attitude changed altogether. It was as if she’d aged twenty-five years overnight. The passion was sucked out of her like a newborn on the nipple.

          “You pull that shit again . . . and I can guarantee you’re going away!” Sonya threatened.

          Jake entered the kitchen oblivious to her anger. “Pull what shit? I had a hard-on as stiff as a lighthouse last night! And don’t threaten me! It’s not in your nature.”

          Sonya immediately stormed out of the kitchen.

          Jake grabbed his car keys, slammed the front door, and made his way to work.

          He was so angry, he missed the exit. How could she have turned on him? With no warning at all. The marriage was only four years old, and resentment had already poisoned the system.

          Jake hated his job. He hated the parking garage, and the noise. He hated the silence and his co-workers. He despised the mornings, which seemed to have no end. He couldn’t stand the idiotic lunch break.  But it was the relentless commute that pushed on his soul the most. Every morning, the cars lined up like pill bugs on parade. With the birth of every new day, there was some smiling college puke sitting in line with the rest of them.  

          Cubicles will literally make a person insane over time.  Jake had no documentation to support his thought.  However, he could feel the energy being sucked out of him daily. He stuck a piece of duct tape on the right corner of his computer. The clock tormented people into insanity as well. He was convinced of this.

          He could hear a faint, heavy, breathing coming closer.

            “Jake, you got that offer letter yet?” a voice bellowed.

          Jake turned reluctantly toward the voice. His gourd-shaped boss stood over him. Gavin Gold was the worst recruiter in the business. His father had recently retired, leaving him with the firm.

          “Uhhh, yeah Gavin . . .  I gave it to you last Friday to look over, remember? Isn’t that the policy?”

          Gavin turned red.

          “Ohhh, yeah. I’m sorry Jake. I did read it over,” Gavin said. “It looks like everything is in order. . . . This is a big hit for you, uh, buddy”

          Jake sat stoic.

          “The deal isn’t done until he shows up for work, Gavin.”

          “You got some amazing perspective, Jake, I’ll give you that.”

Gavin stood there, silent, waiting for Jake’s friendship to finally consummate the stale air between them.

          It never did.

          The day finally relented. Jake had made his usual 60 calls, and 60 e-mails. The practice seemed so robotic, so insane, that it scared him.

          The mind becomes almost acrobatic while sitting in traffic. It can go into panic mode, or condescend calmly and silently. What Jake hated most about the commute home, was being so close to the others. He despised them.  Life for them was one giant movie set. They would only audition for the starring role.  It was a cattle call for a generation of idiots, who couldn’t even feel the sting of life’s rabbit punches.  The commute to work broke every one down. It didn’t like attention. The tired road only led them into smaller paths of least resistance and impossibility. It hardened the lucky people, while insulating the weak souls with their own waste.  Jake would try to intoxicate himself with memories of good times during the trip. But, like most people, he didn’t realize just how good they were, till now.

            Sonya was sitting at the kitchen table, plate bare, avoiding her husband.

          “Don’t you even wait for me to get home? It’s only 6:30,” Jake complained.

          “I was hungry.  Besides, I think I will implement the same attitude you have, eat when I want, where I want. Furthermore,” she added, “you are miserable to be around when you get home.”

          Jake fixed himself a plate, and sat down.

             “Listen honey,” he said. “I’m sorry about the other night. I thought you liked it. You never complained before.”

          “Well, I watched Dr. Bill the other day, and well, he had a very educated woman on the show—”

          Jake interrupted violently. “Dr. Bill? Give me a fucking break!! He’s not even a real doctor.”

               “Let me finish,” Sonya said. “this woman had a master’s degree, very accomplished. Anyway, she explained that spousal rape is a growing epidemic in this country.”

                 “Everything is an epidemic in this country! The term ‘epidemic’ is our generation’s Mantra.  An epidemic?. . . Please!” Jake chuckled as he downed his meal.

          Sonya gathered her dishes. Jake continued his rant. “Everybody’s educated in this country babe, everybody!”

          Sonya ignored him and headed down the hall toward the bedroom.            Jake’s headache was relentless. It throbbed with every chew, every thought.

          A few minutes later, Sonya returned. “Don’t forget we’re having dinner with the Clives on Saturday night.”

          “Are you kidding? That’s bullshit, Sonya! I’ve got plans.”

          “What plans?”

          “I don’t know, but I’ll be busy.” Jake slammed his dish into the sink.

          “Jake, I don’t get you,” Sonya said. “You’ve been friends with Ken since college. Don’t you enjoy his company?”

              “No. Not really. I mean, I guess years ago, before the family bullshit. We’re not even that close anymore.”

              Frustrated, Sonya walked away. Jake sat quietly in his hypocrisy. It was true Ken had changed since he became a father.  After the first birth, Ken wore such a tight smile for weeks, that Jake swore it was a tattoo.

          But, Jake still confided in Ken on certain matters. He yearned for Ken’s infinite optimism about life.

          After two years, Jake and Sonya had decided when the inevitable was to occur. They tried to conceive for over a year until the frustration ate at them with the intensity of feeding piranha.

          Children were never a priority for Jake. He left the priorities to the women. But the instinct flooded Sonya’s conscience for years. They figured they were the winners of a diseased lottery. Neither had made the necessary arrangements, to find out for sure which was infertile.

          Jake’s cynicism got the best of him. He realized the term “marriage” was a very conditional approach to life. Both blamed each other for their barrenness. Sonya was absolutely positive Jake’s sperm was either dead, or moved inside her with the velocity of a slug. Jake countered with Sonya’s sub par genetics, and heavy drinking from years ago.

          Over time, they both realized that the fertility subject was being used as a boomerang. A boomerang made of switchblades, thrown at random, to cut each other at a moment’s notice.

         

          The greatest actors resided in overdeveloped bank-owned homes, located in the southern part of Chase County. These new housing tracts sat quietly beneath angry rolling hills, gushing with temporary wildlife. The dwellings were so large, they could house dinosaurs.

          The Clives had purchased one about a year ago. Sonya loved the smell of new construction and four-car garages. She would ask Jake to drive slowly through the neighborhood. As their car wound around the infected structures, she grew more and more intoxicated.

          The Clives’ son, Wilson, had just turned three. Next spring the couple was expecting their second. Jake and Sonya figured since they weren’t members of that club, the Clives had no use for them.  

          The couples would get together about three times a year for dinner. Jake found this absurd. It was much more trouble than it was worth. The two men had grown apart over the years. Growth accelerates for some, but wanes for most. This became more apparent with every passing day of Jake’s life.

                The neighborhood reeked of artificial arrogance.  Superficiality so thick you needed a chainsaw to cut through it.

          “It looks like someone got a new car!” Sonya announced as they parked in the Clives’ driveway.

          Jake ignored her, and walked aggressively to the front door, leaving Sonya in her gaze. 

          Ken answered the door with Wilson in hand. “Hey buddy . . . how are you !” Ken yelled, trying to be heard over Wilson’s crying.

          “Great . . .”

          “Where’s Sonya?”

          “She’s slobbering over your Escalade.”

          “Oh, that . . .” Ken said. “Just picked it up this morning. Need more room for the kids. Come on in.”

          As far as Jake was concerned, three-year-olds were the best birth control method there was. Any temptation of conceiving children melted away once he was in their company.

          “You got any beer, Ken?”

          “Sure . . . It’s in the bar fridge. Come on, I want to show you something downstairs, anyway.”

          Jake followed Ken down to the den.  The house was cold and lonely. It didn’t want to be there. Jake could feel the hatred it possessed amongst its occupants.

          “Here it is!” Ken grabbed a large golf bag from the corner of the room. “Golf Digest’s awarded these the golf clubs of the year!”

          Jake winced.

          “These are the Majesty Prestigio Irons. Jake, feel the strength of the heads of these clubs.” Ken carefully handed the clubs to Jake.

          Jake examined the clubs.  The only thing that he could feel was a headache coming on like a distant train.

          “What’s so great about them? They look and feel like my Calloways.”

          “Jake . . . c’mon,” Ken said.  “Those Calloways you own are for the ladies. These clubs are made out of Nano- Technology material called Fullerene. They’re the strongest irons in the world. I had to order them from Japan.”

          Ken could feel Jake’s resentment. “Let’s go eat,” he said, then. “I can see you’re not interested in this shit.”

          “No, it’s not that,” Jake said. “I’ve got some shit on my mind is all.”

          Ken carefully placed the clubs back in the corner, and grabbed two Molsons out of the small refrigerator.

          “Sounds serious, here take this.” As he placed the beer in Jake’s hand, he noticed Jake trembling.

          Jake downed the bottle in four gulps, while Ken nursed his.

          “Listen,” Jake said. “You can’t tell anybody about this. Sonya doesn’t even know.”

          “OK . . . OK, I won’t. Jake, what the hell is going on?”

          “Well . . . I got some bad news this morning. . . . WE –uh, . . . I mean I, can’t have children.” Jake’s confession soothed his nerves.

          “What are you talking about?”

          “I took a fertility test a couple weeks ago. They called this morning. I’m infertile according to the technician, or whoever the hell it is that does the calling.”

          “Jesus, Jake . . .” Ken took another pull.

          The two men sat in silence. Echoes of Wilson’s shrieking shook the walls. Jake shook it off. He was upset, yet relieved. This was reality’s first step. The journey could now take its course.

          Ken was in mild shock. “A fertility test, uh . . . How the hell does that work?”

          “How?” Jake didn’t know whether to be embarrassed or annoyed. “You whack off into a specimen container, and then you have 60 minutes to get it to the lab.”

          Wow . . . I didn’t even know you guys were trying”

          “Well . . . How could you? Sonya doesn’t like to talk about it,” Jake admitted.

          Ken put his arm around his part-time buddy. “Listen,” he said. “There are a lot of options nowadays. My district manager’s secretary had the same problem with her husband. They went to a sperm donor. It’ll work out.”

          Jake wasn’t sold on the idea. “You don’t know Sonya. She wants it her own way, the fairy tale ending. You know what I mean. I’m not even sure if I want kids, to be honest.”

          Ken stared at his beer, while immersed in thought. It was the first time in his adult life that he really appreciated family. It was unfortunate that someone else’s ugliness chiseled away at a man’s soul, in order to recognize beauty.

          Linda couldn’t cook. It was the only part of her motherly landscape that eluded her. She had a sweet disposition, soft round face, handsome figure, and soothing voice. All the ingredients needed to make a man comfortable in his mature years. She was very patient and appreciative. After her first meeting with Ken, she knew she’d won the yuppie lottery.  He came from very good stock. Recently his father sold his venture capital firm to a group of investors. He was 76, but looked 176. Ken and Linda slept well at night, knowing that it was a short walk to the inheritance.

          “I hope you guys like chicken cacciatore . . . I’ve been working on it since noon!” Linda announced, as the men strolled into the dining room.

          The evening stuttered to continue, as the couples engaged in mindless chitchat. Jake felt like his skin was trying to crawl out from under itself.

           Sonya did most of the talking. She was very comfortable in that setting. Jake felt her mannerisms were elegant, confident, and phony.

          “I understand the Escalade is one of the safest SUV’s on the road,” Sonya said.

          “Ah, that’s true. But we really needed more room with the baby coming,” Ken said.

          Linda interrupted. “Ken is constantly trying to justify his purchase. The only reason he got is because Handrahan, the President of the company, recently got one.” Ken was embarrassed.

          Well, that’s partially true. I mean who doesn’t want to score points with the big guy. Right JAKE?”

 Jake’s beer buzz was starting to fade.

          “Say Jake. I got this call from Scumberger and Associates.  Do you know these guys??

          “Yes, good firm. They specialize in very high level executives.”

          “Yeah well, this guy Parsons calls me six times on Wednesday. SIX TIMES!!! Ken continued.

          “He says I would be perfect for a VP of sales position at some start-up company. So I tell him to rattle off some numbers. Turns out, it’s half of what I’m making now.” Ken began laughing almost spitting out the chicken.

           “Imagine that!!! I make more than VP’s.” Linda smiled proudly.

          “Well, you got to understand Ken, that VP packages often include stock options” Jake explained.

          “Anyway. I guess you will have to guide me through that process, buddy.” Ken replied.  The meal finally ended.   As the coffee was being served, Ken asked for everyone’s attention.

          “I want to make an announcement everybody. I have some amazing news.” Ken paused.

          “You are looking at Century Oak’s newest member!!!!!” Linda ran around the table to hug and kiss her hero.

“OH SWEETIE THAT’S WONDERFUL!!!!CONGRATULATIONS!!!!” Linda squeezed him so hard he nearly fell out of his chair. Jake let the scene subside.

          “What is Century Oak?” Sonya asked. Ken threw Sonya a condescending stare.

          “You have to be kidding. Jake hasn’t told you?  Century Oak Country Club! It’s only the premier private course in the state. It’s basically the reason we bought in this neighborhood. I know at least five of our neighbors who are members. Maybe they will invite us over now!” Jake hid his face in the coffee cup. He’d had enough. Best to continue to stay quiet and let the night drain out.

          Jake knew the battle was over before he put the key in the ignition. Sonya was cold and distant sitting next to him.

          “Well, that wasn’t so bad, hey babe?” Jake asked. Sonya continued to stare out her window.

          “Sonya…….. You okay?”

          “Yes, I guess.”

          Jake wasn’t convinced.  She seemed real disappointed with having to leave. Jake’s thoughts grew into a storm. He had to tell her. The headache was torturing him.

          Jake’s tone grew dark and intense.

          “Sonya, the hospital called this morning. It looks like I’m sterile.” Sonya sat quietly. Her face suddenly contorted. Then the tears came.

          “I knew it. I knew it all along” she blurted. Sonya’s voice became void of emotion.

           “Sweetie, we can work this out…I love you…………that’s all that matters” Jake pleaded.

          “Work what out Jake, the only thing I want to work my way out of is this marriage. I can’t do this anymore. I simply don’t have that much time!”

Not one word was uttered the entire ride home. The production was closed. She was walking off the set. It would be their last night together, forever.

         

          Realtors are shit. Jake discovered this when they bought the ranch house three years ago. The process was worse when selling a property. He interviewed five of these worthless maggots, and got nowhere. He explained to them that the house needed to be sold fast. All five realtors unanimously decided that the best strategy was to lower the price. Although Sonya was only a hostess, her income helped the couple survive. Now that she’d left, Jake was holding the bag. He couldn’t do it alone, nor did he want to. Business was off. Nobody was hiring. Jake feared the worst when Gavin took over, and his feelings were accurate. He was through with Chase County, and wanted out before the scars formed. Jake finally settled on a realtor. Shirley Curtain was an independent broker with roots in the community. After multiple attempts, he finally got her on the phone.

          “Listen Shirley, don’t give me any of that B.S about a soft market. You people were order takers for the last 3 years. Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and work.” Shirley knew how to handle him.

          “Mr. Coyne, I really don’t appreciate your tone, maybe you should look elsewhere for a realtor.”

          “I’m sorry Shirley, it’s been hell the last few weeks. I’m under enormous pressure. I tend to lose my temper at times.  I can’t keep up with these payments!”

Shirley reassured him that her approach was unique. She had a real network of buyer agents in the community. Jake hired her immediately.

          “Just get it on the market.  Price it low. I want out!!”

          Weeks went by at glacial speed. No offers. No showings.  Jake’s drinking became more consistent. The loneliness seemed to gang up on him at night. He missed work several days during this period. The desperation was sucking him dry. He contacted Shirley at least three times a day, to get a status report. A few weeks later, they decided to meet at the local Starbucks, to discuss the problem.

          “Listen Shirley, What the hell is going on? I mean no showings in seven weeks!!”

          “Jake, I’m glad you called. I have some information you are not going to like.” Jake sighed at her. She continued.

          “I have done some extensive research on your property, and I think I know why there is no interest”. Shirley took a sip of coffee. “Are you familiar with the Hyman residence?”

          “Yes, they live two doors down. Friendly people, although I really didn’t speak to them much.” Jake admitted.

          “Yes, well are you familiar with Frank Hyman, their son?”

          “No…I didn’t even know they had kids. We’ve only lived there for four years.”

          “Well, he moved in with them last year.” Shirley paused. Her voice lost its pitch. “Jake, I’m afraid he is a registered sex offender.” They both sat quietly.

          “He has to report to the state and local authorities his place of residence and place of employment. I’m assuming that is the reason for the poor showings. In fact, I know that’s why. The other agents won’t even present the property to buyers.”

          Jake pleaded with her. “Shirley, come on, there must be something we can do here.” Shirley avoided eye contact.

          “I’m sorry Jake, unless he moves out of your neighborhood, you’re stuck.” Jake’s desperation grew into a quiet rage.

          “Goddammit! I can’t believe this.” Jake looked around as he listened to the yuppies panting into their cell phones.  Their disease spread through the café like tuberculosis. Every footstep, every exhale infected those around them.

          “You maybe want to consider renting the house, Jake. But I don’t know if you want to go that route.”

Jake slowly stood up from the small table.

          “I’m going to fix this, Shirley. Just get your buyers ready.”

          Jake’s demons never rested that night. He had discovered that Frank Hyman did five years for statutory rape and sexual battery. After his release his parents took him in. He worked nights at a gas station in town. Jake laughed to himself when he discovered Frank’s occupation. Jake had worked as a service station attendant a thousand years ago. The best job he ever had. 

         

          The empty ranch house grew almost unbearable to live in. Houses slowly decay and wilt when women leave. Jake realized this the first week without Sonya. Colors fade, mold forms, and the inexorable silence swallows up the rooms. Sonya’s smell still haunted their bedroom where they tried so hard to create the dream. After years of marriage, Jake realized that the only thing he had left to offer her was a lifetime of solitude. Sterility confirmed his theory that men were only good for their potent glaze and their wallet; nothing more.

          The timing was perfect. Jake left his house early that Monday morning. He walked slowly past the Hymans’ residence. Clouds started to move in. The distant thunder sounded as if God was rearranging furniture. The rain began softly. Jake cased the Hyman house thoroughly. The garage was open. He could see that it was empty. Jake hustled out of the rain to the front porch, peeked through the window of the front door, and knocked. A rail-thin man with long blonde hair answered through the door chain.

          “Can I help you?”

          “Uhhh yeah …did you see an orange cat in your yard?”

          “No, I can’t say that I have.”

          “Ohh, okay…sorry to bother you.” Jake replied.

Frank began to close the door. Suddenly Jake screamed.

          “THERE HE IS!!! THELONIOUS COME BACK HERE!! HE JUST WENT IN YOUR BACK YARD...I’LL MEET YOU AROUND BACK. THANKS!!”

Jake ran around the side to the back yard, waiting for Frank. Frank slowly exited from the back sliding glass door.

          “Did you find him?” Frank yelled.

          “I think so! He ran into your shed.”

Frank crept over to where Jake was standing. Jake grabbed the hunter’s knife that was hidden in his jacket pocket.

          “Not another move, motherfucker!!” Jake grabbed the back of Frank’s head, digging the blade into Frank’s throat.

          “You see this….this is my new girlfriend.”

Frank was scared and confused. He was sickly thin, and ugly as a possum.

          “Listen Mister.…please…I don’t have your cat, honest!!” Frank pleaded. Jake calmly looked Frank over and smiled.

          “Isn’t that what you scum degenerate pedophiles say to your victims?”

          “Listen, I understand you’re upset…Please, just put the knife down!!!”

          “You like to fuck little boys and girls uh…you sick fuck. Well, take a deep breath, because it may be your last asshole!!!”

As soon as the last syllable reached Jake’s tongue, he plunged the knife into Frank’s crotch. Effortlessly he carved into his scrotum releasing the guilty parties.    

“OWWWWWWWWWO HOLY SHIT YOU MOTHERFUCKER!!YOU CUT OUT MY BALLS!!HOLY SHIT!!!!!

          Frank’s hands were covering his crotch. It looked like a river of blood gushing over two boulders. The thunder was right overhead drowning out the screams.

          “FINISH ME OFF YOU HERO, FINISH ME!!! Frank begged. Jake studied Frank like a painting.

          “Listen Frank, let me explain something. I’ve been trying to sell my house for weeks. My old lady left me, see. It’s been just sitting there, nobody is interested!!!! NOBODY! I’ve got to get out of here. Do you understand?” Frank nodded.

          “Do you know the reason?” The thunder persisted.  

          “DO YOU!!!!! Jake shouted. Frank was starting to feel faint.

          “BECAUSE A PIECE OF SHIT SEX OFFENDER LIVES NEXT TO ME!!!!” answering himself.

Frank’s bellows were becoming fainter.

          “Now Frank, I will call the paramedics on one condition. You leave the county by tonight. You got that?” Frank tried to nod.

          “If you come back here, I will finish the job!!!!! I promise you that” Frank’s moaning continued, he was only a few minutes from leaving the game.

          “Ohh yeah, you mention this meeting to the cops or your parents, I won’t kill you. I’ll kill them….do we understand each other?”

Frank fell to the ground.  Jake noticed that his face expressed relief, not terror. Some men just aren’t cut out for the game. It was one of the few things Jake understood about people.

          Jake walked slowly across the yard, and made his way home. The violent storm had blown over, destroying memories of the past along with it. A majestic calm had come over him. His thoughts shifted to Sonya. He remembered how her heart was as fragile as butterfly wings. How she just wanted the best for the both of them, not just herself. His heart buckled and fell into sections, as thoughts of Sonya grew more intense. Frank was right. He was a hero. The sun was peeking through the cracks of the dark sky, giving its approval. Jake’s eyes filled up, and the tears fell down like an I.V. drip, slow and accurate.

 

         

This is Robert Hilson’s first published short story. He is honored to be featured in Yellow Mama, and hopes his submissions will continue to be published amongst so many talented writers.

In Association with Fossil Publications