In the middle of having sex with his girlfriend Syd turns to the night table to answer the telephone. Calling is Troy Grandowski of Mitchell Carpet Cleaners, who quickly tells Syd about their discount offer of the week.
"Hold on Troy," Syd says mulishly.
Troy grins and sucks at his pen while studying the key players in the Civil War for his next test before prom. On the other line he hears a bit of excitement. Then a woman howls and howls like her body blooms and rises into the air. In the background Syd mumbles something. Then he repeats it more clearly, "I give my whole life to you empress, my life."
At this point Troy's eyes are locked on a photograph of General William Tecumseh Sherman. He can't remember the last time he pissed in his pants, but his hand squeezes tirelessly so it won't happen now.
Breathless Syd gets back on. "It is essential you know how we finish Troy, but you must know these flourishes aren't for you. Every time I repeat that vow to my woman. We are young, but no less noble. It doesn't matter that Rashmi is from Bangalore. It doesn't matter that her ass fits snugly in one of my hands. Only one thing matters," he pauses. "Are you listening Troy?"
Troy makes a noise like two raindrops falling on a stainless steel pan.
"What matters is flow."
"Flow," Troy repeats like it is a Russian word. He would like another photograph to help him but Sherman's hairy, oily mug is all that's available on pages 168 and 169.
"You are in this with us now. Through thick and thin, till death do us part Troy, we are all lovers and you are now part of our family."
"Hi Troy," Rashmi adds in a ferrety voice.
A rope of spit unfurls from Troy's mouth. He wipes it away and it sticks to his hand before he kicks at it. "Um—my mom just quit smoking and our car's been in the shop. She says the child support is laaaaate. That's why I work at-at carpet store." Sweat has fully dampened the portrait of Sherman before him. "It's been a bad month."
"There are no bad months in our family Troy."
Rashmi comes closer to the phone. "Only good. Sogood, sogood," she says clapping her hands.
"Um Syd, if I join the family will you guys let me play video games after ten on a school night?"
About the author:
Greg Gerke currently lives in Buffalo. His work has appeared in Fourteen Hills, Pedestal Magazine, Pindeldyboz, Hobartpulp, elimae, and others. He will soon publish a book of short fiction at Blaze Vox Books. His website is www.greggerke.com
© 2013 Word Riot