Chuck loved hot showers. Beyond hot. So hot that his skin would actually burn, maybe almost sizzle. The bathroom would fill up with a think cloud of steam and Chuck never, ever turned on the overheat vent.
Hot showers washed things away. An aching muscle could be soothed and relaxed. A bad day could be easily erased by putting his head under the water for a few minutes. Then of course there was dirt, the whole point of showers. And once in a while, only once in a while, some blood.
“Number four,” Chuck said wiping the mirror with his yellow towel. Yellow was his favorite color. Some of his towels though had orange spots on them where colors mixed.
As Chuck was plucking a few nose hairs, panic set in.
“The damn sheets!” he yelled and threw the tweezers into the sink.
He stormed out of the bathroom, down the short hall to the laundry room, and ripped open the doors. He dug through the one shelf to find he had three sheets on it.
“Blue, green, white,” he said. “White? I hate white. White doesn’t absorb.”
Chuck left the laundry room and went into his room. Suzie was on the bed, peacefully resting. Chuck quietly snuck to the computer desk and found pen and paper.
More sheets. No white.
He clicked the pen shut and shuffled his feet over to Suzie.
“You asleep?” he said slapping her foot. “Ah, come on, don’t be so quiet. You couldn’t shut up ten minutes ago.”
Suzie lay on a dark green sheet, Chuck’s favorite. It showed nothing but wet spots. And the untrained eye wouldn’t realize those wet spots were blood.
Suzie lay with her head titled to the left, mouth open, eyes shut. Chuck could still hear her talking. . .
“There’s something wrong with you. I touch the closet door and you scream like that? You think I’m going to stand for that kind of treatment?”
Chuck had no choice at that point in time. She had touched the closet door AND had talked back. In Chuck’s baseball game there were only two strikes . . . then death.
The funny thing about blood is that it doesn’t take much to stain things. Chuck knew he had to move Suzie because if she bled through the sheet, she’d hit the bed set and then things would get bad. Chuck didn’t have a spare bed set . . . he pointed at Suzie: “Don’t move,” he said smiling. He walked back to the desk and wrote bed set – dark green – maybe – not so dark.
“Suzie, oh Suzie,” Chuck said lying down next to her. “What could have been for us.”
He moved the bloody hair from her face behind her ear. He kissed her forehead and then licked his lips. The rough taste of iron tasted so good.
“Well, no use crying over spilled milk here,” Chuck said rolling over and looking in the mirror.
He stood up straight and turned sideways. He slapped his “half-kegger” belly as he lovingly called it. It shook. It was never this big. Time was winning. From the smells from the closet to the fat hanging off his stomach, time was definitely winning.
“Okay Suzie, let’s go,” Chuck said grabbing a shirt.
He wrapped Suzie up in the sheet and picked her up. He felt his hands and forearms getting moist. He smiled – another hot, super hot shower would be needed.
“You know what Suzie? I thought of a great name for you.”
Suzie didn’t respond, she just bounced with each step Chuck took towards the closet.
“Eh, hold on,” Chuck whispered as he reached out for the door knob.
He twisted it slowly and the closet door opened.
The light from the room was enough to cast a shadow on the other three bodies in the closet.
“I’m going to call you the four calling birds!” he yelled.
With a soft grunt, Chuck threw Suzie on top of the other bodies.
“The four calling birds because none of you would stop talking . . . unless I did something about it.”
The door bell rang.
Chuck looked at the clock.
“Fifteen minutes early,” he said shutting the closet door. “Not a good way to start a new relationship.”
Chuck rubbed his arms and hands on his dark pants and grabbed the knife that was next to the pen and paper. He took a deep breath and began to walk down the steps as the doorbell rang again.
“When will I ever find the right one?” he said with the knife behind his back and his hand on the door handle.
BIO: Jack Roth lives in Shelby, Nebraska. With his dog, Boomer. He reads and writes.