Chubby Hubby

fihHe lowered himself into his leather recliner. Looked at the liver spots dotting the hand holding the bottle of cold Schlitz. The chubby hubby thought if he connected the dots they’d make a picture. So he did, in red ink. On the ball of his right hand was the shape of a red tennis shoe. On his left, a red fish.

He went to the can, looked at the bags under his eyes, stuck his tongue out to look at the grey coat there. He waxed his mustache, just a little. Thought he’d like some ice cream. Vanilla Fudge. So he got out the old Chrysler with the Jesus stickers he never could scrape off. Called it the Jesus Chrysler half the time. It was a miracle every time that old heap made it out of the driveway, a big bomb of a car, automatic transmission slipping and sliding. He kept a few cans of transmission fluid in the trunk. Every now and then he admired the tenacity of the beast. They could really build them back then, he’d say.

 chrysler He drove down the road, slowly.  At the stop light, he looked down at the tennis shoe on the back of his hand. He couldn’t remember why he went out. Memory loss. Geritol. Doesn’t think it was for paint. Wife’s been bugging him. Lose some weight. Paint the house. At least paint the house, so when you die from a heart attack at Burger King the house will be halfway decent for the wake. He was trying to figure out who she’d be inviting to his wake anyway.

Waiting at the stoplight, he looked at the freckles on his left arm. Took a pen out of the ashtray, connected the dots. Now he had a blue fish below the red fish, swimming the other way.

“This one has a little car, this one has a little star,” he said to himself. “I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them, Sam I am.”

He whistled through his teeth. The anti-Chrysler shuddered through the intersection. He decided against the freeway, chose instead a more avoidant route, back streets with stop signs he could coast through and not much traffic, knee high chain link fences and dogs lying on their sides in the late afternoon haze.

“I do not like them, Sam I am,” he said to himself again. He missed the kids. When they were little, how they went on and on. Remembers when Tina was three or four, how she was still small enough to straddle his leg, and he’d lift her up and down, up and down. How she’d laugh, laugh so hard she’d fall off and roll on the floor like a puppy.

He pulled into the parking lot at the Piggly Wiggly and stopped. Swung his leg out the door, felt the pull of the supp hose against his calves. Thought Geez, couldn’t give the kids a lift now if I wanted. Probably bust a blood vessel. That Tina. Her and Micky. Good kids. This one had a little car. This one had a little star.

Got his ice cream. Vanilla Fudge. Pleased he remembered. Drove home again. Bottom of the Chrysler scraped on the driveway as he pulled in, the way it always did. Betty hollered at him for pulling in too fast, the way she always did. Scolded him for the ice cream, but he just didn’t like frozen yogurt and wasn’t going to try liking it now.

After dinner, he dished out the ice cream, one generous bowl for each of them. Betty complained, but she had her ways too. Put chocolate syrup on both. A few pecans for Betty. When he carried them into the living room, she’d have set up the TV trays, turned off the overhead lights, flipped on the standing lamp with the three heads on it. Her chubby hubby sat back down in his easy chair and slid off his shoes. He sighed.

Betty turned on the radio, their station, the one that played music from WWII. On Sundays, old radio theatre. Betty tucked her legs up under her. They ate their ice cream. Listened to Red Rider. Held hands when they shuffled off to bed. Betty dreamed of Orson Wells, back when he was young and handsome. The old man dreamed of green eggs and ham.

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February 2007
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