by Meg Tuite
I owe my ex-boyfriend who has a dresser drawer filled with twenty-dollar bills for lifting a fistful every morning. His globular non-working entrepreneurial-ass sponges off the work of his employees at his nightclub. He unloads his wads of twenties out of his jean pockets every weekend night and every weekend morning I stuff a pile in my purse while he snores away. His spongy stomach rising and falling like the national debt or a mattress stuffed with cash, dreaming of becoming a millionaire by the time he’s thirty.
He owes me for putting up with his eye-humping every time some tropical scent of a girl shimmers in his periphery. He wants to nail everything he hasn’t. I open the door to his home office. I find mounted heads–blondes, brunettes and redheads all leering down from the walls on wood planks. Whenever we’re out and he’s lusting after something that sashays, I act like I care. He flusters, quickly smothers me in a hug, yells for champagne dragging out his cash-pile, drowning the table in it. The world hungers for it and ultimately, for him, he believes.
One night, I surprise him, unlock his front door and tiptoe up the stairs. He has converted the top two floors of a brownstone into a duplex apartment with winding staircase and all. Nothing but cliché here. I catch his luminous, bare ass in bed with another girl. I am angry in a seething-quiet-got-to-have-retribution kind of way. He has a love-thing with his clothes. He even takes his jeans to the cleaners each week. I go to his closet and grab handfuls of plastic. I walk across the room and dump them all off the third story balcony. He is screaming. I find beauty in the way they drift and fly before landing. I hear him running downstairs. The stumbling girl snatches up her outfit, swearing behind me. He is outside in his underwear racing around, attempting to grab items before they hit the ground. He isn’t successful.
I’m at my desk six months later when the phone rings. I hear his voice. “Baby,” he says. “I’ve got to see you. Listen, I got tickets for “The Cure.” I know you love them. First row center, baby! Only the best for you.”
I tell him, “The Cure” is not even on tour right now. He sweats this one out with his babbling, “Can’t live without you,” and “Let’s make this a real commitment,” campaign. I am about to hang up.
He says, “Baby, I’ll take you anywhere you want to go. Anywhere in the world. Say the word, I’ll book those tickets and we’ll be on our way!” I hang up. I think about his drawer filled with cash. It’s February in Chicago and I’m sick of the blustery face-blast of icy winds. I know nothing comes for free, but I’m no fool. I pull out the atlas.
Meg Tuite‘s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals including Berkeley Fiction Review, 34th Parallel, Valpairaso Literary Review, One, the Journal, Monkeybicycle, Hawaii Review and Boston Literary Magazine. She is the fiction editor of The Santa Fe Literary Review and Connotation Press. Her novel “Domestic Apparition” (2011) is now available through San Francisco Bay Press. She has a monthly column “Exquisite Quartet” up at Used Furniture Review. Visit her blog here.
Hey…Love is big business.
You got it, Alex!!! Love can be big business like everything else! Thanks for the comment!
Oh man, this is great! I love the open ending, too. I used to play a game as a kid where I’d open a USA map, twirl two or three times or more, and plop my finger on a place. Imagine what Mississippi or North Dakota or Lanai was like. This speaks to that same principle- what are we willing to “put up with” in order to have some exotic experience? A week in some resort that will head south on the plane ride there. Excellent short fiction, Meg! Has all your signature touches.
Thank you so much, Robert! I still play that game, except now its with the world map! Hhaahaa! I so appreciate your reading and always love your comments! xoxo
The voice, Meg. Sooooo good. I even got a Chicago shiver when she pulls out the atlas. Terrific.
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Very well done, Meg, in every aspect of fiction writing. Loved the story and loved this line in particular: “some tropical scent of a girl shimmers in his periphery.”
Thank you so much, Susan, for reading and your comments!!!!
Meg I died laughing when those heaps of freshly cleaned dry cleaner clothes went sailing out the window like billowy plastic birds!!! These two are both a “trip” and definitely belong together, so it’s a most perfect ending when she reaches for the Atlas! Loved it! Fresh and funny story of modern love in these times! Brava!!!
Hhahahaha!!! Susan!!! I’m so glad you were cracking up reading that!!! So appreciate your comments, always!! oxxoox
Classic Meg. Wonderful to the last drop 😉
Thank you so much, Stephen!!! You are a classic!!! Cheers!
Really good one meg! Well done. I can visualize everything perfectly in my mind’s eye. A tale well told. Loved the way it ended.
So glad you could see the visual on this scenario, Michael!!! Thank you so much for reading and commenting!!!
Excellent story, Meg!
Can’t thank you enough, Bill!!! So appreciate your reading and commenting!
Another great one, Meg. Wonderfully visual and thigh-slappingly funny. Love it.
good one, Meg. “You will believe that a shirt can fly!”
I was there… no, not there, but I can feel it.
Meg, this is brilliant, I love it!
I had to re-read that opening sentence because I hadn’t quite clicked with the style straight away. But after that I was hooked. What a fantastic narrative voice and you execute this story with such control. Excellent, loved it! 🙂