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Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Dumb White Husband by Benjamin Wallace (Excerpt 1)

6:30 AM Posted by James Noel No comments

Dumb White Husband vs. The Grocery Store

John sat in his favorite recliner with his feet up even with his shoulders, enjoying the breeze provided by the hole in his favorite pair of socks. Sports were about to start and he had prepared by wearing his old college sweatshirt and covering himself with several bowls of salty snacks that spilled whenever he shifted to scratch himself.

Several shifts later and he had found the optimal viewing position. He could see the game between his feet while still blocking the view of the kitchen with his left foot. His weight was distributed across the faux-suede so that no knap rubbed him the wrong way.

The fanfare began and his team took the field. He was comfortable.

“Honey,” his wife, Jenny, called to him from the kitchen.

The game was loud. He could pretend not to hear. He inched down into the faux-suede. The announcers were saying something. He ignored them too. They were idiots.

“Honey? Did you hear me?”

No, he didn’t hear her. He chose not to hear her. It was one of his super powers—like heat vision, but more practical and was less likely to start a fire.

A hand grabbed his favorite sock. Touch was his Kryptonite. His super-not-hearing was rendered useless by physical contact and it was too late to pretend to be napping.

“Honey.” Jenny was still beautiful. After all of these years it was as if she had aged only a fraction compared to him. Long red hair draped over the light fabric of the gray hooded shirt that she always wore around the house. The hoodie was only a shade lighter than her yoga pants.

“I’m sorry, dear. I didn’t hear you.” His lying was less super-powered. He tried to use it less since its effectiveness was iffy at best.

“I need you to run to the store.”

“Sure, yeah, okay, after the games.”



“I need you to go right now. I’ve got to take Sarah to practice later and I won’t have time to get what we need for dinner.”

A protest rose in his throat, but it knew better and receded behind a grunt.

“Just pause the game,” she said.

Damnable technology. Once man’s friend, it had turned against him with the advent of DVR. The ability to pause and record live TV had come into his life bearing promises of instant replay, non-stop entertainment and consequence-free beer runs. Now, it was an enabler of endless errands, honey-dos and trash runs.

“It’s just a couple of things.”

He shifted to look around her. Had sports started yet?

“Or you can take Sarah, to practice.”

A light coat of oil and an occasional vacuuming kept the recliner in pristine shape. It also enabled him to spring to his feet before she had finished the word practice. The game was paused and the shopping list was in his hand.

“I put everything in the order it is in the store.”

He scanned the list. There were a lot of words but only four items: lemons, tomatoes, chicken breast and pasta. Good. It was short enough that he could run to the store, get back, zip through two commercial breaks and be caught up to real time sports. He set the list in the chair. “It’s just a couple of things. I don’t need a list.”

“Please take the list.”

“I don’t need the list.”

With practiced precision he stepped into his house shoes and snatched his car keys from the kitchen table. “I’ll be right back. Don’t let Jimmy change the channel.”

He was two steps from the door when she said it.

“You’re not going dressed like that, are you?”

Though her inflection portrayed a question, he knew it was a statement.

He surveyed his clothes; they were awesome—collegiate pride, comfortable sweats, the best socks? Check. “Sure, why not?”

“What if you run into someone we know?”

“I’ll say hi?”

“John,” she shrugged, gasped and pretended to give up all at once. “You’re wearing slippers.”

“These,” he pointed to the plaid-flannel footwear, “are house shoes.”

“Fine, then they belong in the house.”

“They are in the house.”

He had some fight in him today. It was unexpected. He wasn’t sure where this long forgotten feeling of resistance had come from. He raised his finger to begin counting the differences between slippers and house shoes, but thought better of it. She could have this one. To debate would take longer than finding his sneakers. He shut his mouth and walked to where he had left them.

“Where are my sneakers?”

“I put them away.”

“Why? I was going to wear them again.”

His beautiful wife folded her arms and turned away. “They’re in the bedroom closet where they belong.”

Distance! The fight could have saved him time after all. He sprinted up the stairs, kicking off his house shoes as he ran, shaving valuable seconds off of the time it would take to change footwear.

He rounded the corner at the top of the stairs with the aid of the newel post. Through the bedroom and into the closet he ran. He grabbed his Nikes from the shelf and dropped them to the floor. They landed perfectly—flat on their soles, toes forward, no bounce separated them.

“While you’re in there, change your pants.”

“There’s nothing wrong with my pants.”

“You mowed the lawn in them.”

“And, you didn’t have a problem with them then.”

“Honey, please.”

He looked at his watch. He was losing time. He could make a break for it, but she would be at the door and defending his pants, while totally possible, would take time.

Light blue jeans soon replaced the comfortable sweatpants. But, he wasn’t changing his shirt. That’s where the line was drawn … right down his shirt.

Dashing from the closet he almost knocked over his wife as she was walking into the room holding his house shoes.

“Honestly, John, your house shoes were on the stairs.”

Moving faster than the speed of criticism, he kissed her as he rushed by.

“Don’t forget the list.”

“I don’t need a list,” he yelled back as he swung around the newel post. This time it did not hold. The oak banister came off in his hand and he swung wide into a wall.

His wife ran into the hallway. “Oh, my … John, are you okay?”

He looked up from his place on the floor. He held his head and tried to blink away the pain. Through the blinks he could see her holding one of his shirts.

He bounced to his feet. “I’m fine. Really, fine.”

“What happened?” She saw the newel post in his hand. “Oh, Honey, I told you that the newel post was loose.”

He looked at the post in his hand. “Yep, you were right. How about that?”

“Maybe, while you’re out, you can run by the hardware …”

He was down the stairs before she finished, and at his size gravity worked with him. Bounding through the kitchen, he grabbed the keys from the table without stopping and threw open the door to the garage.

In the garage was a ’67 Mustang that he would, one day, use to teach his son Jimmy how to change oil. He moved past the antique pony car and jumped into the seat of the family minivan.

The garage door was opening. The four-cylinder engine was purring. He put it in reverse when his wife appeared at the window and plastered the sheet of paper to his window. “You forgot the list.”

He rolled down the window. “I don’t need a list.”

She lowered the list. “What’s on it?”

“Lemons, tomato, chicken breast and … shit!” What was the fourth thing?

“Here you go,” she leaned into the van and pinned the list to his college sweatshirt. She kissed him on the cheek. “Thanks for going to the store, honey. Just get what’s on the list. I’ll do the rest of the shopping tomorrow and pick up anything else we need.”

He sighed. “Make sure Jimmy doesn’t touch the TV.” He pulled the minivan into reverse and backed into the suburban street.

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Genre – Comedy / Humour

Rating – PG

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Benjamin Wallace on Facebook & Twitter

Website 1

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