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R. Thomas Brown
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deadtired.jpg
Art by Noelle Richardson 2012

Dead Tired

 

R. Thomas Brown

 

 

“Mom, it’s Dougie, I got a problem.”

 

“What is it, baby?” She still called him baby at forty-six.

 

Dougie looked down at the lifeless figure in the bed. “It’s Becky. She’s dead.”

 

“Dead? Did you call the police?”

 

“Hell no, Mom, fuck. I’m not exactly popular with them, you know. That’s why I called you.” Dougie wondered why shit like this always happened to him.

 

“Settle down, baby. Do you know what happened?”

 

“I think I did it.”

 

#

 

Two days before, Dougie was tired. It was a long day at the body shop after yet another April hailstorm in Texas. Overtime was nice, but he was beat.

 

“I’m home, baby.”

 

No answer. Dougie figured she’d be asleep. He popped the can on a Lone Star and grabbed another for the walk to the bedroom. Becky was sleeping, so he figured he’d just sleep in his work clothes, she could yell at him tomorrow.

 

Two beers in and he drifted off. Not for long enough, though. The damn snoring started in. He shuffled to the kitchen for another can, hoping he could pass out hard enough to ignore it. Half an hour later, and he knew all was lost. He stared at her. Just sleeping there. Bitch.

 

He thought about all the times she asked if he wanted her to lose weight. Really, mostly he didn’t care. She had put on forty pounds since high school, but he still got hard every time he saw even a hint of naughty bits. So, he always said no. Truth was, he would cut the pounds off her ass on his own if it would stop the snoring.

 

#

 

Dougie looked at Becky’s eyes. There was nothing there. He wished she would at least looked pissed at him for fucking it all up again, but she just had that same look as those stupid ugly goldfish she made them buy last year.

 

“Dougie, you still there?”

 

“Yeah, Mom, sorry.”

 

“What happened?”

 

“I was just so tired, Mom. I had to get some sleep.”

 

“Dougie, baby, you’re not making sense here.”

 

#

 

Next day at work was a mess. He got maybe an hour of sleep here and there before getting up at five. He screwed up everything he touched when he did anything.

 

Frank told him to get out. Said if it happened again he’d fire his sorry ass. Frank may have been his brother, but his other brother had fired him before for bringing meth to work, so he figured Frank was serious.

 

After work he went to Eight Ball Willy’s and hit it hard. Beer may not have done the trick, but he was determined to fight with the big guns. Nothing but vodka shots for an hour. Frank always said the clear liquor didn’t give you a hangover, and he figured if he downed them all fast enough, he could get home before he was completely hammered.

 

It almost worked. He only hit a couple of parked cars on the way home. He stumbled around in the dark of the house, tripped into bed and was out.

 

Then he was up. Head pounding. He looked at the clock. “One o’clock. Son of a bitch.” He glared at her. Face so peaceful, but hell coming out of her mouth.

He shoved her over. Hoped the pillow would muffle the sound. Not enough. With the alcohol and lack of sleep, the sound beat on his head. Over and over. He rolled her over some more, onto her stomach, her face completely in the pillow, but still the noise was like a damned lumberjack competition was going on next to him.

 

He pushed her head into the pillow. Still heard it. Pushed more. Quieter, but still heard it. Pushed more. Silence. He exhaled and kept his hand there. When he pulled his hand away, she wasn’t snoring or breathing.

 

#

 

“What did you do then, baby?”

 

“Aren’t you fucking paying attention, Mom?”

 

“Sorry, baby, but that was last night, and it’s six o’clock in the evening.”

 

“Yeah, right, I was tired and Frank was gonna fire my ass.”

 

“So?”

 

“So? So, I went to sleep, Mom, Jesus, do I have to spell it out. I. Went. To. Sleep. I had to work today, dammit.”

 

“Dougie, baby, no.”

 

“What. I did better today. Frank said all’s forgiven. Now, I need some help.”

 

“Sure, Dougie, sure. Listen, you stay there. I’m gonna make a call and this will be taken care of.”

 

“Thanks, Mom. Love you.”

 

“You too, baby.”

 

Dougie hung up and went out to the living room. He hated looking at Becky like that. He flopped down onto the couch. It was early, still, but he knew whatever Mom had planned, it was going to be a long night. He needed to take a nap.

 

Probably would have been easier without those damned sirens that just kept getting louder.

 

 

R. Thomas Brown has published stories in The Flash Fiction Offensive, The Molotov Cocktail, and Futures Mystery Magazine and Shotgun Honey. His crime novel, Hill Country, is being released by Snubnose Press in early 2012.

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