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Dorene O'Brien
The Unspeakable

Photo by Amy Handler

She walked into the room. She wasn't having any of it. "I'm not having any of it," she said. "Get your stuff."

"You're crazy," he said.

"That's right, I'm crazy. Now get the hell out."

"Sure," he said, "I'll get out. I'll get out of this crazy house and away from a crazy woman."

But he didn't move. He sat on the sofa staring at the blank television screen as if seeking direction from it. "I'll go," he said, "you better believe that." He took a long pull from his beer bottle and continued to stare at the screen, as if hypnotized.

"Move it," she said, kicking the ottoman from under his feet.

"Be nice," he said.

"Go to hell."

"Sweetheart," he said, "I've been in hell for the past six years."

"Well, then, here's your chance to rise."

He never looked at her; instead he gazed at himself in the TV screen. He saw something both familiar and unsettling, something odd in the way his reflected image seemed skewed yet real, a parody of his former self, someone even he didn't like.

"I'm going upstairs," she said. "I'm counting to ten. Then I'm doing the unspeakable."

She mounted the stairs on the counts of one and two and entered the bedroom on the count of three. He heard drawers slamming, something being dragged across the wood floor, the whine of the window creaking open. The clubs hit the ground first—he'd been hiding them from his bookie in the bedroom—that he saw through the front window. He couldn't make them out at first, the sticks raining from above. But when he heard the Ping! of his five iron as it struck the metal railing below, he knew. He watched his reflection smile. He knew the clothes were next. He imagined them sailing across the front yard, pants hanging from the pear tree, shirt arms flapping in a downward breeze, underwear streaming from the eaves. His belts would hit the concrete with a thunk, his shaving kit smack the asphalt.

"Ten," she shouted from above. Then she did the unspeakable.