My ex wife is a tricky bitch. I’ll give her that. Thought I had gotten away from her. Maybe there’s no escape from Samantha. She’s like that hot sauce sitting on the table over there. I’ll put it on my chicken burrito — if it’s ever ready. Fast food. Bullshit.
Yeah, she was hot. She made my mouth water, spiced things up. And now that I’m trying to get her out of my system…pain. Excruciating pain.
“Order 68! You want hot sauce?”
“Yeah. I’ll take three of the red ones.”
Don’t I feel like quite the asshole. She knew I was gonna leave. She must’ve known I was gonna leave and then she set me up. Made me a murderer.
This booth is the tall kind that you can lean your head back against. So I do. Air hisses out of the cushion. The air conditioning feels good on my sweaty brow. The inside of my helmet is soaked.
I wonder how she knew Sherman. It was too good to be true. Twenty thousand dollars to kill a loser like Sherman.
Man, rest stop food has certainly changed. Served on a plate instead of Styrofoam. This chicken actually tastes kind of fresh. Used to be that your options were burgers, fries or both.
I’m supposed to call the guy when it’s done. The man who I happened to meet one night at my regular bar. Hell, Samantha even told me to go to the bar that night. She said that it might do me some good. I remember thinking that she had finally smartened up. That she finally understood me.
Lukas was his name. I remember thinking that he didn’t look comfortable. Then he said he was in trouble and that seemed to make sense. He was supposed to kill a guy. He said he had been paid to do it but his dad was sick—dying. Any day now. His dad was dying and he couldn’t be by his side because he had already taken the money. It had to be done in two days.
I walk up to the soda fountains and refill my water cup. They give you the dinkiest cups for self serve water. It has to be clear plastic. The kid watches me to make sure I don’t get lemonade or Diet Coke. If I did, what would he do? Is he gonna come and take away my drink?
I plop back down and listen to the hiss. I lift and bite my burrito. Now that the hot sauce is in there, I can’t imagine eating it without.
“This is Lukas.”
“Who is this?”
“We met at the Ho. The bar. The Tally Ho. It’s done. I took care of your bird. I want my money.”
His voice wavers. “I’m sorry I don’t know who this is. You have the wrong number.”
I hang up. This phone booth stinks like urine anyway.
There was a Greek or Roman that said that only after you travel the length of the world can you see your home for what it is. Well after traveling three hundred miles and back, I see that my house—I guess Samantha would call it her house—is more of a squash than marmalade. I think the realtor just liked saying marmalade. No it’s definitely more of a squash.
From my perch, I can see right into every window in the house. Sherman isn’t the only guy that can climb a tree. I’ve been up here since mid-afternoon. Samantha’s been home for about ten minutes.
I watch as she undresses right in front of our bedroom window. I almost lose my balance messing with the focus on my binoculars. She’s been dressing, trying on different underwear for what seems like a while. Crazy how those seconds looking at a naked woman feel so much longer than they are.
The only window not covered by periwinkle blue drapes is the one she’s in front of. Still like the periwinkle blue. I like that the carpet matches the drapes. Seems pleasantly natural. The only thing natural in that cookie cutter house of ours.
If I still had my .38 pistol, I could aim across the street and blow her away. I could but I wouldn’t. They always look for the husband. We were a loud couple. Neighbors would recall arguments. Police would suspect me and the bullet would match the one in Sherman’s skull.
No, the pistol is safe and sound—buried in the smoking ashes of Sherman’s house. I hope that the investigator can tell that Sherman got drunk on tequila shots and margaritas, then turned to doing shots of Bacardi 151. Sherman, drunk, spilled 151 all over himself. He forgot about the pizza in the oven. As he tried to put out flaming pizza, he caught fire and the pain of burning alive was too much. So he shot himself in the back of the head. Any investigator worth a damn will put that together.
She’s changed her underwear eight times already. I guess now that she’s wrecked my life, she’s taken to making the dreams of every fourteen year old boy in the neighborhood come true. She got back into shape after the pregnancy. I’ll give her that. She always had a body. Maybe she’s waiting for that Lukas character. I hope so.
I’ll wait until they start getting it on in my bed. I’ll use my key. I’ll be quiet. I’ll creep up those periwinkle steps and burst into the room. I’ll turn his head into oatmeal with this wrench. Temporary insanity they’ll say.
That’s my favorite bra of hers. There’s a part of me that wants to go over there and talk to her—yell at her at first. Get yelled at. Then with both our blood up, sex Olympics until we pass out on the carpet. Yeah, I still like the Periwinkle blue.
Those days are over. I reach into my pocket and find the Oatmeal bar. The crinkling noise of the wrapping. I take a bite and watch my wife check out her own ass in the mirror. The raspberry filling is just sweet enough to compliment the bland oats.
A car pulls up to the house. She disappears and Lukas gets out of the car and heads up the walk towards the door.
I swallow the last bite of the cereal bar with a gulp.
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Portland Fiction Project
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