Thursday, November 8, 2012

Flash Fiction: Mesquite

Jackie opened and closed cabinets. She peered into the oven. She shifted papers on the kitchen table. “Baby?” she called out. “Baby, I don’t know what I’m gonna do here.” She looked underneath a pot holder.

“What’s the problem?” He leaned on the door frame. He crossed his sweat and grime coated arms in front of his chest. The doorjamb tried to lean away from him. “And don’t fucking call me baby. I’m fucking tired of that gooey shit.” One of his arms slipped away and rested on his gut.

“I can’t find the new jar of Jamaican jerk spices I got the other day. I’m having a barbecue this weekend and I was going to use it on some of the meat.” Jackie opened a cabinet over the sink and stared at the jumble of cups, mugs, coffee filters, and discarded brik-a-brak that had never made its way to the trash. She picked up a chipped bluebird gazed at it for a moment, then returned it to the shelf. “Ba--. Jimmy, do you know where it is?” The top shelf, above her reach without a stool, was littered with stolen salt and pepper shakers.

Jimmy reached behind him and gave his ass a good long scratch. He looked at the ceiling and smiled. “Yeah, I threw that shit out. I told you, we ain’t havin no barbecue.” He pushed away from the door and pitched himself into the kitchen. “Since you’re fuckin around in here anyway, make me something to eat and get me a beer.”

She smiled without parting her lips. A lock of dull brown hair fell in front of her eyes. “Okay,” she mumbled as she pushed the hair away. “Sit on down and I’ll get your beer first.” As he sat, she headed to the other side of the kitchen and opened the fridge. She pulled out a beer, some sliced roast beef, mayonnaise, mustard, an electric knife, and yellow American cheese. She took a plate down from the cupboard over the stove. She placed it upside down on top of the food stuffs. Jackie opened the beer then took it to the table and sat it in front of Jimmy. “Dinner will be ready soon.”

He grabbed her wrist as she turned away. “I don’t want no grilled fucking cheese.” He squeezed her and smiled baring his teeth. “Make me a real fucking meal!” He let her pull away.

“Fine. I’ll make you a meal,” Jackie said. She massaged her wrist as she crossed the kitchen. She reached into the stove’s warmer drawer and pulled out a cast iron pan. “What do you want?”

He sighed and rolled his eyes. “Why the fuck do I have to make all the decisions? Fucking surprise me.” He turned away from her and flipped on the 13” wall mounted TV. “Imma watch some news while you get your ass to cookin.”

An angry blond yelled at an angry dark haired man who was yelling back trying to drown out the blond’s voice. Jackie banged around at the stove and in the fridge trying to drown out the argument. Jimmy raised the remote like a man aiming a rifle at a deer. He fired the volume up and up and up then leaned back and smiled. “Finally,” he yelled over the TV. “I can hear them.”

Jackie watched the back of her husband’s head and shoulders as he laughed at the two people arguing on what he called the news. She didn’t see the difference between what he watched and the Real Housewives of Somewhere or Another. She rotated the cast iron frying pan as she walked toward him. She raised the pan over her head and slammed it into the top of his.

Jimmy cried out in pain and surprise. When he flung his hands to the top of his head, Jackie stepped around and smashed the frying pan into this face. His nose, which was already bent and crooked from more than a few rough nights at the bar, was crushed and collapsed under the iron. Blood ran out of his mouth. Teeth fell out as he cried out in pain.

 He tried to reach out and hit her, but she darted out of the way like a rat. He staggered to his feet. Before Jimmy could clear his head and steady himself, she was behind him. Jackie pushed at the back of his knees with her left foot and pushed his back. He fell forward.

She kicked him in the ribs driving him close to the back door. Each time he tried to get up, she swatted at him with the cast iron pan. When he was almost to the door, she gripped the pan firmly in both hands and hammered at his head with it.

Jackie was surprised at how few blows it took to get Jimmy to stop moving. Not that he moved all that much most of the time anyways. She leaned over him, breathing heavily, and sweating.

She stood up and wiped her face then her hands on a towel. The kitchen was a mess. Jimmy had gotten blood on almost everything. She scanned the room and spotted the electric knife. No point in cleaning up yet: she still had to remove the meat and get the bones ready to make stock.

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