“There’s no code. How much have you had to drink?”

Today's Story


Ginger Root

By Noah F. Grossman

Jodie is furious. “I know all about it. I know about the code,” she says, “I hear you on the phone with Clem. Pit bulls, dachshunds, retrievers…”

“There’s no code. How much have you had to drink?” I say.

“And don’t think I don’t know about last night. I know. Cantaloupe? Honeydew? Crenshaw? You’re both idiots. You think you slipped that German Shepherd’s pie by me. You didn’t.” She’s referring to Wednesday night at Ponderosa.

“You’re all mixed up,” I say. “I got prime rib and a potato. Remember? After dinner we watched TV in bed? I insisted on Telemundo?”

She shakes her head, tearing up, starts packing a bag. If she leaves tonight she’ll spend a month at her sister’s and then be back snooping around, reading my checkbook, spying on me down at the plant.

“Jodie,” I tell her, “stay. Please. Tomorrow after work we’ll go see that movie with all the Dalmatians.” She wallops me in the mouth and is halfway down the stairs.

“If you leave you know I’ll just make a watermelon sandwich!” I shout from the carpet where I’ve landed. “Maybe I’ll reread Jack London!”

This stops her.

“I know you and Clem watched the girls’ under-19 slow-pitch softball qualifiers in Chelby last night,” she says. I’d told her we’d be riding the Hightstown go-carts.

She stands in the doorway, tears rolling down her cheeks and says in a whisper, “I’m not going to Ruth’s. I’m going to toss Labradors down at the—” she can barely get the word out, “Casaba.” It was no bluff.

She’s broken Ginger Root.

By the time I get myself up off the ground, rubbing my jaw, she’s gone. Over the phone I talk to Nate, who works the front desk at the lanes, and then Fitzpatrick at Barcade. They’ll let me know if they see her.

The one time I let Jodie tag along to the Bowl-O-Drome she rolled a fifty two. Everyone had had to look away. Twelve frames. Fifty two.  And she’s never played laser tag, never seen it played!  What was she wearing when she left, flip-flops? She’ll be eaten alive.


Noah F. Grossman has published work in McSweeny’s and InDigest. He lives in Brooklyn,
where he sculpts and tweets. You can see more of his work here.


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