by Than Pence
Following "Angel Hair", discover what makes Fred tick, and get ticked-off.
|Fred sat there for several minutes. Tina had just had a small episode about her hair that had concluded with her cutting off her ponytail, flinging it at Fred, and then she left. He didn’t know what to think. When her hair hit him, he was shocked because he didn’t like to touch her hair. Or anyone’s hair. But it wasn’t something he liked to talk about because he felt foolish when disclosing such a peeve.
Several moments passed after he heard the garage door close, after Tina had driven away. He wondered when she’d be coming back, never thinking for a moment that she’d never return. She’d forgotten her purse. It was on the kitchen counter, next to the microwave.
Fred decided to make the most of the time he had with himself: he did the dishes. He actually enjoyed cleaning. He found it to be relaxing. The spaghetti was still very warm and Fred bundled up the leftovers and put them in the fridge.
He went into the dining room to pick up the drinking glasses – his own, empty while Tina’s was more than half full – and he looked at the hutch. It was a simple wooden cabinet with glass panes that displayed the couple’s fine wedding China. Dinnerware that they’ve never eaten upon or even removed from the cabinet ever since putting it in there over two years ago.
Focusing on the China made Fred’s insides stir. He remembered how Tina had forced him to allow the expensive plates to be used for their wedding. In the end, they’d been purchased and then Tina changed the wedding theme and the plates because obsolete: she decided they would have a cheaper buffet-style banquet. Fred had been happy about the cheapness of the buffet but not about them having to keep the plates.
And so they sat in the cabinet. Six months after putting them in there, he had suggested they use them for the upcoming Thanksgiving feast. Tina basically had a coronary over the idea, her red hair nearly matching the fire in her eyes over such a suggestion. Fred had wanted to pull them out anyway but knew it’d only receive a wildly harsh reaction.
Moving closer to the China hutch, Fred peered inside and noticed a thick layer of dust setting on top of the expensive wares. A twinge settled onto his gut and he felt a rush of heat course through his face. The plates had never been touched but were still just filthy! Fred left the glasses on the table and went to open the cabinet. But it was stuck or fastened shut. He pulled harder and noticed that it shook the entire piece of furniture: some of the standing plates rattled.
Fred gave the cabinet one final tug and the small door flew open. One large plate fell out and hit the floor, shattering. Dust fluttered up to blanket the shards. Fred felt himself go pale as he reached down to grab as many of the large pieces as he could. His hands were getting grimy but he knew he had to clean up the mess. One of the shards cut him and the blood quickly mixed with the dust and dirt. Fred felt his blood pressure rise about this and only knew that would make his fluids spurt more quickly.
He went to the garbage can and dropped the large shards into it, tearing the bag in the process. The bag, half full, dropped its contents into the waste can proper and Fred shouted “Fuck!” before going to the sink to rinse his hands.
After that, he wrapped his cut fingers in a drying towel and just stood there in the kitchen, thinking of what needed to happen in the next few moments: the trash would need to be changed out completely, his wounds bandaged, the mess in the dining room cleaned up, all probably not in that order, and before Tina got back from wherever the hell she went. Fred didn’t want her thinking that he had gotten upset about her temporary exit. He wanted to talk to her when she finally got back.
He put on two Band-Aids and then carried the waste can outside and dumped the entirety into a larger dumpster. He then got the broom to sweep up the shards and dust on the floor in the dining room when Tina came into the kitchen with a silence about herself that he’d never known before. Was she embarrassed? Had she returned for her purse, only to leave for good? Was she still hungry?
“What happened?” she asked while looking at his fingers.
“I dropped one of the China plates.”
The words had come out hollowly to land flatly on the kitchen cabinets as if to hold them back from Tina’s pert little ears.
She’d heard all too clearly though as her eyes widened and her cheeks colored themselves as red as her chopped up hair. Tina then let out a deep groan, turned towards the microwave, and grabbed her purse. Seconds later, Fred felt the front door slam as it vibrated into his feet.
He didn’t know what to do so he went into the dining room and looked at the China cabinet. It wasn’t a second more until he decided to take all the plates out and wash them up in the kitchen. Then he dried them and took them in groups to the front door where he then smashed each plate against the front step, knowing that the mess would be the first thing Tina would see when she got back – if she got back.
Fred didn’t know if he cared about either outcome. He just knew that he felt almost happy that the China had finally been put to use: as a means of telling Tina that he wasn’t going to take her shit anymore.