by Michael Krumboltz
Why do we have earwax? We do dogs love to sniff ass? Why do baseball players spit so much? Why did Lucinda leave me for a 56-year-old magician with albino eyes?
As I sat cross-legged on the floor, those questions poured out of my soggy brain and into the back of my mouth. I decided to give voice to the only question I could hope to answer. I stood up, fell back down, and then crawled to the madam’s office where the phone was.
“Hello,” said Lucinda.
“Why’d you end it, why’d you drop me? What’s the problem?” I yelled into the receiver.
“Who is this?” she said. “Is that you? Stop calling me, you turkey. You stupid, goddamn dumbbell.”
“What did I do, huh? What did I do? I did it all, didn’t I? You bet I did. I did it all, but nobody was looking.”
“Where are you? Are you in jail? Call your lawyer, don’t call me. I don’t have to listen to you anymore, the law made that point clear as day.”
“Where’s Marty? I want to talk to Marty. Put that phony of a half-fagg magic man on the horn.”
“Marty’s sleeping, and you’re a dumbbell if you think I’d wake him up to listen to you.”
I took a breath. The room was spinning, and I was sweating. “Remember how we used to talk,” I said. “Remember how we used to ask each other questions, and then we’d try to figure ‘em out. Remember that?”
“Sure I remember,” she said.
“Right, right. So I got one for you — why do we have earwax?”
Just then the madam walked in. She was drunk like usual. “Hank,” she said, slurring her words. “Hank the stank!” She laughed.
Lucinda heard her. “Who is that? Are you with another woman?” I told her I had to go but we’d talk more about earwax, maybe next week.
“What are you doing in my office? That better not have been long distance.” She stretched out the last word interminably.
I told her I was calling my ex-wife. She laughed again and said that sort of thing was common. Men are stupid, she said. They like to confess before they commit the crime, she said.
I told her I wasn’t a criminal, I was just drunk, and I needed another shot of something before I fell down like a huckleberry.
She poured me something brown with just a sliver of ice. I drank it all at once, closed my eyes, opened them again, and looked at her false eyelashes, which appeared to be falling off her face, fluttering toward the ground like black snowflakes. And then I was, too. I dropped face first onto the velvet love seat where we’d first fucked, seven years ago, a week after I got back from my honeymoon.
Mike Krumboltz lives in Oakland, California with his wife and three daughters.