What would you have done?
What would you have done? I saw the belt buckle on the table and the underwear in the window and called the police. I suppose I was panicked, but who wouldn’t be? Have you any idea how embarrassing it can be to have underwear in your window and belt buckles on your table? At the very least, it’s unsanitary. I doubt there are very many people in the world today who would refute this.
She had an expression like a graham cracker dipped in orange juice, soggy, but not good-milk-soaked soggy. She wore a crooked halo like a glue-sniffing angel. Her socks rode her ankles like four year old colts on the back stretch of the Derby, but not the Kentucky Derby, the actual hat the derby. In other words, her socks clung to her legs like hats to heads, nails to fingers, apples to pie, and my eyes to her belly button, which was an innie if there had ever been an innie (and there had, trust me).
I had an urge to put my tongue on her face and pretend she had a beard, but I knew better. She wore her heart on her sleeveless dress. She was a heartbreaker, a jawbreaker, a bonecrusher, and a substitute teacher. She was almost always late to class, but you had the feeling that with molars like hers, she’d be forgiven. She had a habit of taking up addictions and then quitting them suddenly. I was a liar, but if anybody could make an honest woman out of me, it was her, a surgeon, and an estrogen supplement. I knew from the moment I laid eyes on her that she would slap me across the face.
“I like your ferret,” I mumbled to her, guessing that with tits like hers, she no doubt had pet ferrets.
She blew smoke in my face, but not cigarette smoke. No, she sucked on the tailpipe of an idling bus and blew gas fumes into my nostrils. “How do you know my ferret?” she purred.
“I met him on a cruise for two that I won from a mail-order sweepstakes,” I lied.
“Oh really?” she slapped me across the face and then turned her back to me: “I didn’t think anybody ever won those things.”
“They don’t. But I’m not just anybody,” I countered, my palms rubbing my stinging cheeks.
“I don’t know you,” she replied factually and then pulled a banana from her purse.
“No, you wouldn’t, but you have a banana,” I spoke and then realized it was anything but seductive.
She looked at the banana, looked up at me and then back at the yellow fruit. She had a penchant for purple pendants, I could tell from the eggplant around her neck. She must have loved orangutans, the way she held that banana with conviction. I lay on the ground in front of her, took my shirt off, and practiced my diction. “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over…”
“That’s a typing exercise you moron,” she interrupted and stepped over me. “If you want to practice your diction, try enunciating syllabled words.”
I wondered how she knew I was trying to practice my diction, and I noticed that when she stepped over me, she was wearing golden underwear under her dress. I reached for my clothing and sat up, but she already had the shirt in her mouth, tugging like a golden retriever.
“Good girl, get the shirt! Get the shirt!” I screamed in joy as she growled and barked and spun her jaws side to side before releasing for a moment to get a better hold with her teeth. I took the opportunity to pull the shirt from her mouth and put it over my shivering nipples. She looked so cute just then that I had to pet her, but she recoiled immediately from my touch.
“What the hell do you think I am, a dog?” she yelled at me, before doing a perfectly symmetrical cartwheel.
“No,” I lied, “but to a casual observer, your behavior is just a little bit canine.”
“There’s nothing casual about observation,” she learned me good. I nodded ruefully, and she took that as a sign of surrender. “I supposed you never play growl when you’re anxious, lick your gonads and sniff people’s butts? Like you’re just the opposite of a dog I suppose, like you don’t love a good chew on a raw pig-snout or a sofa cushion for fun?”
I guess I might have continued agreeing with her, to appease her in the hopes I could sleep with her, but even as much as a liar I was, I said, “No.” Then I added an addendum: “Maybe on occasion I’ve howled at the moon and imagined I was chasing rabbits in the sunlight. But for the most park, I’m happy with my bipedaled self, opposable thumbs, regular teeth, and wrinkled corduroy pant-legs.”
“Pant legs? You’re telling me about pant-legs?” she was a portrait of disbelief, painted by a madman with his own blood and a walrus tusk for a canvas.
I didn’t know how to answer her question at all, I was stuck in the irises of her eyes. She had the kind of stare that could cut a baseball game in the third inning and take a flag off a lunar surface and tie it to a kite. She had so many different qualities, it was kind of hard to love her, but then, she was my wife, and so I guess that for the most part I accepted her.
“Casserole tonight?” I proposed, to which she nodded.
“Yes, but you’ll be cooking,” she warned me, and knowing my un-chef-like abilities, I just hung my head in shame and crawled with guilt into the bathroom, put the oven on pre-heat and prepared to bake.
But what would you have done? With the belt buckle on the table and the golden underwear that she wore, casually displayed right in the window and the peeled banana on the floor? She must have known the cops were coming, she must have sensed that I had called them, she must have had nerves of aluminum siding and the temper of a peace pipe lit inside of a Tee-pee. She took a bow.
“And to what might you be bowing?” I asked as sirens in the distance grew slowly louder.
“It’s not for you, dear, it’s for my ferrets,” she politely reminded with a smile, and then she dipped and did a curtsey and the ferrets must have loved it, for when they took her away in handcuffs with her million dollar bloomers, there was a sound I’d never heard that came in softly from the basement.
It was the sound of furry paws against each other, the sound of fuzzy claws lightly tapping-
And, indeed, if you believe in math, then you can imagine that the ferrets all were clapping at the same time.
And it hit me: these weren’t her ferrets. They were ours.
This piece was read as part of “Action Fiction!”, sponsored by Fiction365 and Omnibucket.
Other stories in this series include:
- Destroy the Rich, by Daniel Roche
- A Moment of Weakness, by Olga Zillerbourg
- We Are All Wearing Jackets, by Ben Black
- Dandelions, by Nona Caspers
- The Black Metal Barreled BB Gun, by W. Ross Ayers
- Re: Sugar, by Scott Lambridis
- Pilgrimage, by Benjamin Wachs
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