When we first met I shaved my pubes so it looked like the state of Texas. We called fucking “Heading to San Antonio” and he wore a cowboy hat that always fell off.
I put chicken cutlets in my bra to impress him and he took them out and threw them on the grill with a little zucchini and summer squash. It still tasted like boob sweat and we pretended we were surprised.
I held his hand while he dug a bullet out of his own thigh with a switchblade the night of the Christmas pageant, after he and Rascal Rick and the other wise man decided to set up shop down by the train tracks and ran into some old rivals. Their rivals fired on them even though they had a truce agreement, written on a napkin that was framed over the bar at Sharky’s and everything.
That night he called out for some girl named Junebug, and I didn’t bring it up until years later, when I found the checking account he still shared with her.
He brought me home a bouquet of daisies the next day and said, “I meant to say your name.” He even scraped the price tag off the cyclophane.
Then we made out in a booth at Denny’s and the waitress had to tap me on the shoulder so we could order. They were playing Free Bird on the stereo system and I told him I didn’t want him getting any ideas.
He listened, up until he started gambling away the rent money to pay for private school for Junebug’s children, which he said were test tube babies and not his, which I believed, until one day I came home and found three curly headed little girls sitting on my sofa drinking milkshakes out of straws, their feet dangling over the ground like they didn’t have a care in the world. One of the girls took the top off her milkshake and dumped it on the head of the one sitting next to her and that’s when he said, “They shot her behind the laundromat.”
I said the only thing I knew to say, “Looks like I’m a mommy now.”
Madeline Hanley is a native of Syracuse, NY. She currently lives in North Carolina where she received her MFA from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her work is forthcoming in South Dakota Review and Milk Candy Review.
Lead image: “Grilled Zucchini” (via Flickr user Breville USA)