Incidence of Love (A Satire)

Incidence of Love (A Satire)

About three incidents occurred that brought me here.

The first happened with my son.

He jumped, he bit, and he swore, not too bad for a four-year-old. His mother laughed and called him her little angel. He kicked her in the shins. She laughed, gave him a grateful slug to the crotch, and said, “I love you too, Brian.”

“You’re going to spoil him,” I said, sitting down to breakfast at our wide blue table. My eyes followed Brian scampering toward the hall. “Do you want him to be like Joan’s kid? That girl’s so rotten mold’s coming out of her ears.”

“Oh, she is not,” my wife sighed, exasperated. “You’re just like your father, no emotion, no…..affection.” She stood to grab two more plates for her and Brian. “I wish you would spend a little more time with Brian. You might like him, you know.” She set down the plates then whirled back to grab the eggs. “Why don’t you go play baseball with him tonight? Throw a ball. Bat him around. Let him slide home.”

“Maybe.”

“What’s the worst that can happen?” She set the eggs next to the plates and wrapped her fingers around my shoulders. “A few broken bones.” Her nails bit my muscles. “A few short laughs.” The skin came off my right shoulder blade. “A happy wife.” On the last word, she wrenched my shoulders down, arching my back, and bit my lip.

I smiled.

“Well, think about it.” She let my shoulders go. “Bri-Bri where are you? Come tell Daddy goodbye!”

Brian dashed in the room, thumped my stomach with one hand and grabbed a fistfull of hot eggs with the other all before I’d fully stood up. His punch, though light and flimsy, tilted me back toward the chair, and I fell with a snort.

“I love you, Daddy.”

“I….love you too.” And I had to admit that the image of Brian and I skidding across the street toward our house on our sure-to-be bloody faces, or sliding home as my wife suggested, brought some feeling to my heart. Pride maybe? I decided I better give my wife’s idea a try.

Before grabbing my car keys, I slapped my wife across the face. She laughed as I walked toward the door.

“See you after work. Don’t forget about baseball!”

On the way to the car, our little Maltese nipped my heels. After making sure my wife was watching through our window, I kicked the dog, who gave a grateful bark. I proceeded to the car, jumped in, and drove straight through my neighbor’s garage door. Weren’t they gonna feel the love?

Driving over trash cans, pets, and the nanny, I arrived late to work. After giving my boss a sucker punch to the kidney, I explained why I was delayed. He laughed and said not to worry about it. After all, someone had to take care of the community.

 

And I have to say, I was the love guru by the end of the week, which brings me to the second incident.

At work, the phones never stopped ringing. And their constant EEERRT EEERRT echoed around our cramped office, but I liked it. The shrill ringing reminded me of the boss’s affection, affection that slowly but surely caused hearing loss.

Each desk had two phones: one for you, one for your partner. A slightly less blaring eert came from the phone across from me, and my partner, Jill, answered it, squealed, and scribbled down a few notes. I leaned forward to see the perfectly stroked words and felt a caressing swish of jealousy as I read, Middle-aged woman mixed bleach and ammonia to disable (kill?) family and neighbors. Two families eradicated in the processes. SPREAD NEWS TO ALL WIVES (try on fiancé). Next to that, an equally enthralling one read, 13-year-old discovered how to skin dog alive. Next to that, Supermarkets spread E. coli to all customers and employees (what a Valentine’s gift!). I couldn’t help but slump. If only my wife tried to kill me on a regular basis. It’d been years since we had a real emergency. How did we become so stale?

I slumped even more when my, hopefully, damaged ears heard Jill say, “911. What’s your emergency?” It was going to be a long day.

I called my wife at least five times before she answered. Ignoring me was a good sign. I took that as a cue to ask her what I wanted.

“Fatty, will you do me a favor?” I asked.

“Yes, honey?”

“Can you have a vat of bleach and ammonia ready when I come home?”

“Hon, I have to take Brian to sawing class. Can’t you go to the store?” Her voice sounded sweet.

“Sometimes you’re a real pain.”

“Mm-hmm.”

No threats. No joking. Nothing.

I let the walls of our mediocre building distract me from family worries, and now, I can recall so clearly the swirls of red that were imbedded in the pattern of the walls. It’s pointless, I suppose, to cling to those hypnotic swirls. But they were so beautiful, mimicking roses, in a way, with chopped off buds that bled their color toward the floor and blossomed. That seemed significant, these blossomed ends.

Looking at those walls, I could almost smell itchy summer grass and feel the searing sunshine, and there was—an ache?—something in me to go out and appreciate everything I could feel and smell and taste and do. This ache is gone now, out of fulfillment I hope.

Eert. The phone closest to my left ear buzzed, disappointment filled my chest—sound meant my hearing was improved.

At around too-bloody-to-care, the news report sent a cheer through the office. Luckily, with all the phone calls I’d received, my day had slightly turned around, so I’m sure my screams and yells reached their way to the small wigs upstairs along with everyone else’s.

“Over one thousand new arrests today!” the newscaster said. I could see his jawbone sticking out of his skin. What a lucky guy. “And we have reports that another twenty thousand will be caught tonight, which breaks the Utah state record for the most arrests within a twenty-four-hour period. I tell you, it’s an exciting time to be an officer of the law. Back to you, Carson.”

Pictures of newly built concentration camps right in our small town warmed my heart. I watched the brave millions and millions from all over the world be carted off, taken out of the blue or the black—depending on the time of day. The lucky ones were sold by their closest neighbors and friends.

Unfortunately, family members couldn’t sell family members—some stupid equal rights law or another.

I watched the children go first, then women, and last men. It was a little biased, I thought, to let American citizens go first, like we were better than the Canadians or Mexicans. Some things still needed to change.

Shortly after this, Stacie, one of my bosses, sent our coworkers after me. My wife is already gone—at my request. And here I am writing on my soon-to-be death bed.

 

I suppose what I’ll write next can be termed The Third Incident, but I consider it more of a private matter. Something I write for myself because white death cannot yet seem to find me.

After receiving my Christmas bonus, a quaint number of lashes and a few small slivers of bamboo shoved under my fingernails, I went home a little early from work. With a spring in my step, I opened the white gate surrounding our yard, and I vaulted up the porch using our handrail.

When I reached the door with its brown color splashed and smeared everywhere, I saw my wife waltzing around the kitchen, humming softly to some Christmas carol I can’t remember. Our tree, a yellow beacon in the blue and red house, stood opposite my wife and the kitchen. My wife used to brag that it complemented our poinsettias in the window.

After stepping inside the house, I more clearly heard her soft singing, perhaps Handel’s Messiah or “Jingle Bells” or the song from Charlie Brown where your lips pucker like you’re kissing the air, and you whisper, “ooo-oo-ooo.”

I closed the door, and she called out, “Charles, fathead, is that you?” Good, fathead was good. “I have something for you! Wait for me in the living room.”

“All right.”

I walked toward our Christmas beacon and sank into the rough couch. The December 23rd newspaper, which sat next to me, contained a gluttonous Christmas paunch of ads and good-feeling stories. I flipped through a few, and they brought back that same longing I’d felt at work earlier in the year but not a longing for grass and sun. No, a longing for hot chocolate, adrenaline-filled sled rides, and crisp night walks, hand-in-hand with…with…something. Something on my tongue’s edge.

Before I’d fully tasted or understood what my tongue held, my wife walked into the room, a large red and green package pressed to her heart.

“I know we’ve had issues, and I know I’ve accused you of no feeling,” she said as she sat down. Tears filled her eyes. “And I know you don’t love me as much as I love you, but I…I…I love you. I love you.” She relinquished the package and placed it in my lap.

But I do love you, I thought and ripped open the package.

Black hair sticking straight up, eyes full of some emotion I couldn’t name, skin cold and covered in blue and black marks from the last time his mommy had and would wrap her arms around him, Brian’s dead face looked at me. His bone and skin tissue dangled from the purposely painful hacks made on his neck. Part of his spine flowed gently from his head, and my wife cradled it in her hand, pulling it every which way as soft waves of blood spread over both of us.

Ranae Rudd is a graduate student at Brigham Young University, a part-time ESL teacher, and a full-time little sister and favorite aunt. Along with copy editing, Ranae enjoys writing short stories.

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