Paul Dickey

Steven, Of Course

Steven of course had been in Cathy’s house before. He had even been here once for a barbeque with his wife Susan and his friend, Cathy’s husband, Jason. He knew the layout well – the oak, curved staircase leading up the second floor bedrooms where Cathy had her study. As he climbed the stairs today, he smiled as he remembered Cathy, fully naked – not even panties, running down these very same stairs last Tuesday, and he chasing her playfully. He knew Cathy and Jason’s schedule also well, knew Jason would not be home for hours, and even Cathy herself would not be here yet, even as he had known the side door would be unlocked.

But today there would be no play and Steven knew he should not be here. But this was important. He had left work early. He had to write Cathy a note and he had to say everything just right. He could not go home to do it. Susan might be there. He had been thinking. Everything could not go on forever. He was willing to make the commitment if Cathy were. Even though it was unthinkable to leave Susan and the boys. He switched on Cathy’s computer and typed her password. Soon he became mindless, engrossed in phrasing the letter just so. It had to be romantic, yet realistic.

Suddenly there was a commotion downstairs. It sounded as if all hell had fallen to the floor from the top shelves of the closet or the pantry. He heard heavy steps coming up the stairs and a man panting like a dog. If he had been in slower time, he might have thought of the phrase “man’s best friend” in hearing such sounds and maybe even the word “faithful” (as people are prone to do when they think of family dogs.) But Cathy had no dog. Under the circumstances of course, he had no time to laugh. Before Steven could figure out what to do, Jason was staring him down from the doorway, pointing a shotgun, and then sighing, letting the gun drop to his side.

“Steven! I thought you were a burglar. Why the hell are you …?”

Steven looked around at all the things strangely enough he just now realized that Jason loved – photographs, the big screen, even the clutter in the corner of Cathy’s study. He thought of his own love for her that was not here at the moment but that he had known in this house. But now he made a promise to himself. If he could come up with some clever words to say and get out of this, he will not ever scare the man again. But Steven was unable to speak and Jason had to figure it all out for himself.

Private Moment With My Sister-In-Law

I was getting out of the recliner that I had been sitting in for two hours while listening to my brother’s new wife: her life, the stories, all the ex-husbands, how once she had been beautiful, her photograph featured for a week at Olan Mills. A studio, she emphasized. One stepson in the Army bought her a hand-carved wooden necklace from – what was the name of that country, oh yes – Kenya, where he was stationed after some embassy bombing. She just happened to find them tonight under the television cabinet. She passed them around for us to admire. She made home-made ice cream for him when he got home, even cranked the handle in front of us tonight, as if we ourselves were still back in the days of station wagons.

I noticed an unfamiliar, loose piece of fabric the same pattern of the chair lay where I had just been sitting. I thought it was that extra flap of cloth for each arm that expensive chairs often come with. I tried to put it back without anyone seeing. But that flap was already there, and so was the one on the other arm. I panicked. I didn’t know what it was. It had to go somewhere. I just put it down anywhere, no place in particular. I thought no one had noticed.

She disentangled herself from my brother’s arms that had been pawing her all night in front of us, and jumped up off the sofa. She descended on me, picked up the cloth and placed it on the top of the back of my chair. She found the pin on the seat and fastened it and patted it down. “It’s a headrest, dear.” Of course. I knew that. Her remark was insensitive. I had listened to her life for two hours. I was tired, had gotten up early this morning. I am not getting old. I am not.

Paul Dickey won the 2015 Master Poet award from the Nebraska Arts Council. Paul Dickey's first full length poetry manuscript They Say This is How Death Came Into the World was published by Mayapple Press in January, 2011. His poetry and flash have appeared in Verse Daily, Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics, Southern Poetry Review, Potomac Review, Pleaides, 32Poems, Bellevue Literary Review, and Crab Orchard Review, among other online and print publications. A second book, Wires Over the Homeplace was published by Pinyon Publishing in October, 2013.

More info is available at the author's new website: https://pauldickey9.wixsite.com/paul-dickey.
previous page     contents     next page


Post a Comment

<< Home