I couldn’t afford to eat at restaurants very much, but Jonathan convinced me that we should try this new place called “Squared.”
“What kind of food do they have?” I asked over the top of my laptop screen.
“I don’t know. It’s something new – farm-fusion or something like that,” he said.
“Okay,” I said. “Whatever you want.”
He came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my shoulders.
“I want what you want, too,” he whispered, warming my ear and sending a jolt through my body.
I flushed with warmth and nuzzled into his cheek. I started seeing Jonathan after our class in post-modern poetry. He wasn’t the kind of guy I normally dated. He wore skinny jeans and fitted flannel shirt like they were a uniform, and his saggy knit cap was always on his head. He was conscientious and well-educated – completely opposite from the dude-bros back home.…
“During this time of misfortune and reflection,” Mr. Leitner said to his sister, Mrs. Box, “I have decided to become a writer. I have already written the name of my novel.”
“Vince! Vince, come here,” Mrs. Box called to Mr. Box. “I have just found out that my little brother is a serious author.”
Mr. Box entered the dining room, expecting to hear something. His raised shoulders and eyebrows asked for an explanation.
Mrs. Box said, “Tell us the name of your novel.”
Mr. Leitner, impressed with himself but trying to appear modest, said, “It is called ‘Something Happens to our Faces When We Get Older.’”
“Is it a crime story?” Mr. Box said.
“No. It is a philosophic novel. It considers the nature of being and the stress of the modern world. In it, a man looks in a mirror and considers his face.”
The Boxes breathed and waited. Finally, Mrs. Box began to nod a little. She stirred just enough to let her brother know she was still alive and thinking it over. Mr. Box’s tongue played around with his partial inside his clamped mouth. Mr. Leitner felt the pressure to go on, but that was all he had so far. …
In my head, a mental timer ticked – eleven hours fifty-two minutes
A half dozen times over the past two weeks I begged, “Nothing special, please.” And today was no different.
“Why so sad?” she asked, dancing across the kitchen floor, a light hum spilling from her lips. After sixteen years of marriage, she was still stunning, and the tactic of using the hum to drown out my pleas. Well, I’m familiar with that ploy. But unbeknownst to her, I spotted the iconic yellow Post-it notes. And when she wasn’t looking I dug them from the trash. Written in her familiar handwriting, were names, numbers, and a recurrent date. That date was today. So, I knew she was up to something. And who could blame her, it was a special day. It was a day for celebration. “See you tonight,” she said, pushing me out the front door with honey-do-list and a soft peck on the cheek.…
“We need more guns,” Teddy Koala said, standing back from the array before them.
Teddy was the more aggressive of the pair while Rudolph, a year older, was the planner and dreamer. He was the one who insisted he’d once read an article that had identified the brothers as the most feared killing machine in Australia’s notorious Northwest Territory in the last hundred years.
Teddy liked the idea that they were men to be feared. His only concern was that, if the newspapers were so determined to help run them down that they might use an old photo that cast the damaged right side of his face in a poor light, making him look less like a predator and more like a victim.
Rudolph knew Teddy was right. “What exactly are we missing?”…
Twelve days after Christmas, prowling the attic for her mother’s prescription pills, Melanie finds beneath the toolbox a prescription bottle filled with finishing nails. Apparently, Ativan and carpentry were so last year. She shakes the bottle, creating a manufactured hailstorm. The noise brings clarification to her New Year’s resolution to hang clothes on her bedroom walls—except for space above the headboard plastered with a 20×40 poster of Tom Selleck’s hairy-chest. She fills the inaugural wall with black pantyhose, a blue bra and lace panties, a gray mini skirt, and a zebra-print blouse and belt. Finding a new way to get high until an old high is reinstated is still a type of high. Ah-ha moment number one.…