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Ralph Benton
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Never, Ever Bring This Up Again

 

by Ralph Benton

 

 

          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.

          “Yes, dear?”

          “Never, ever speak of this again.”

          “Yes, dear.”

          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.

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