MONDAY: Old Spice

BY LARRY BROWN

This story was previously published in the author’s story collection Satellite. Copyright is held by the author.

tires crunch our gravel driveway let it be nobody, nobody wrong, my husband Calvin leaves his crusts-cut-off-for-him sandwich and his beer, Calvin shoves the curtain looks outside I keep busy watching my hands fold clean towels from the basket, the screen blank, TV no not today, the why it’s no not today is all Calvin’s why, far away from his whys is where you better believe I keep my nose, now mustard on his chin he tells me quit folding get over here, apologize I’m about to for the laundry the sandwich for any-every-thing, but into the room I call the sunroom for my own ears only Calvin rushes me orders my face smack up against the window the glass warm, Calvin’s voice screwdriving into my ear, I swear Calvin my eyes they are open, Calvin smelling of salami and Old Spice, outside in the yard the pup The Sweet Calvin’s surprise for me last month the pup strains at the rope tied to the clothesline pole its happy stubby tail go-go-go as into the yard from the gravel driveway walks Calvin’s brother, Calvin softly at my ear saying the barking the shitting all over the place it’s whose fault, Calvin’s brother his round plain face his trick face, moustache like a furry bug, he cracks open the shotgun, Calvin whispering you’re spoiled with all the extra chances I give you, and the pup sniffs the barrel of the shotgun but I am a lie who sees sky and white clouds when we need rain the grass all brown, beg is needed, needed now, I haven’t more beg anywhere in me, a very long time ago, before he showed me his real storms, Calvin said he didn’t want to share me and I believed I saw and felt a heart reach out to save my own but doubt is the devil’s work, and listen, hear the other bark

7 comments

  1. Gloria Jean Hansen

    Holy Smokes! I slopped my coffee initially over the non-capitalized beginning of the story and the seeming non-sensical first line, but rest assured I GOT it by the end of the second line and had a good hate going for Calvin (not to mention a renewed dislike of Old Spice) by the end of this gripping piece.

  2. Walter Giersbach

    Life is essentially absurd, and when you finally figure out what it’s all about, it ends. Bummer. This is — thank you! — a good example of absurdist literature. I enjoy seeing the all-too-occasional treatment of
    human behavior under circumstances (whether realistic or fantastical) that appear to be purposeless and philosophically absurd. Absurdist fiction posits little judgment about characters or their actions. That task is left to the reader. Initially, there’s the reader’s shock that absurdist works won’t necessarily have a traditional plot structure (i.e., rising action, climax, falling action, etc.).

  3. Harry Posner

    Really like this piece. Wonderful turns of phrase, poetic, and powerful. My only difficulty with it is that it’s somewhat stock in terms of the abused wife scenario. I sometimes catch this in my own writing, where I’ll automatically assume the husband is an alcoholic womanizer, when I think our job as writers is to offer up characters who are more complex and unique than this. Having said that, I do very much like the story, how it builds to a great last line.

  4. Peggy Jayne

    This a great, an excellent, piece of stream-of-consciousness writing. I am probably a potential murderer, because I felt such a rage building in me as I read it that I could have cheerfully — and with huge enthusiasm — have ended Calvin’s reign of terror in the most hideous way possible. Why do women put up with this? Why did I?
    I can’t say I enjoyed reading this — I’m still shaking with rage — but I do recognize Larry’s craftsmanship. And he certainly did what writing is supposed to doÚ arouse emotion in the reader. Thanks a lot, Larry.

  5. m. h.

    You have vividly conveyed a life time of emotional and physical abuse and pain in so few words! I can hear and feel her face shoved against that glass. The terror, the pathos, the reality for so many. Powerful writing.

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