He lounged in the kitchen wearing boxers and t-shirt.  She dropped the Help Wanted section before him.  He harrumphed, said, the same old, same old, woman, eh?  She opened the refrigerator, shook her head, said, there’s nothing here, just like yesterday, the day before.  He shuffled through old newspaper on the table, asked, now where’s yesterday’s crossword, I wasn’t finished yet.  She ruffled through papers on the counter, moved an old paint can, bug spray cans, said, all we got’s beef jerky.  Six-letter word for swarming insect, he said, second letter “o.”  A job, you, she said, pointing a jerky stick, so we can eat.  He looked at her, pointed his pen at her, a job, you, I’ve worked all my life.  But not this part you haven’t, her teeth tearing at the jerky.  Pen us a country tune, why don’t you, he said, but mind your dental work there, we can’t afford more work.  I’ll die if this is all I eat, she said, but what do you care?  He rolled up the Help Wanted section into a tight ancient scroll, used it to swat at a buzzing lumbering fly.  These flies, she said, they’re eating something, as she swatted at it with her free hand.  He followed it, paper aloft like a sword, as it landed on her forehead.  Don’t you dare, she said, as she watched him grin, his arm held high.


Christian Bell lives near Baltimore, Maryland. His fiction has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Wigleaf, JMWW Quarterly, and Feathertale, among other places. He blogs at I’m Not Emilio Estevez.