He sucked at the electric amuse-bouche of blood and sweat and wondered when he had last eaten. This was a barbeque after all, but he hadn’t grabbed more than a passing nibble off his wife, Jane’s, plate. Lunch was hard to picture, too. Casualty of a late wakening, no doubt. Liquid bread. That was all he needed. He smiled and swished away his banquet beer.
Time to join the parental units. He wondered if he still had the chops to jump into their serious conversations about babysitters, PTA indignations and hashtagged opinions on the current state of the economy. He chuckled to himself. Of course he did. He was the chops. He was the unregulated lawn mower these people needed for the weeds that had overgrown their lives. All he needed was a few pulls from the ol’ starter cord. He placed his hand on Jane’s shoulder, who smiled warmly at his periphery, and let tilt the magic into his soul.
Suzanne held court at the moment. As she often did. “I’m not complaining. It’s just so hard. Basically everyone else got lucky and found their partner already. So now I’m stuck trying to decide why a guy will be all friendly in person and then not text back for a week.”
The effervescent potion had worked and his lips fizzed free, “Well, you know how it goes. Some people dream of being astronauts—others just want a little space.”
Dear god, he loved how the words sometimes managed to tumble from his mouth. He needed to keep it up, though. Quicker. Rapid fire. Collect the little laughs like kindling. Burn, baby, burn.
Rick snorted back another sip. “It’s pretty easy to find a man who will come for you. The trick is finding one who won’t leave! Am I right, Suzanne? Ay-yo!”
Dear god, it felt good to be alive.
“Dear god, Rick, you’re going to get blood all over Janie’s blouse! Come here; come here before you ruin it. We have band-aids in the kitchen.”
Rick hemmed and hawed and brayed, but allowed himself to be collared into the home. A moment later, another shout arose from inside. Apparently Graham had moved the med-kit. Rick imitated Trudy’s cry and berated Graham as well.
Jane hadn’t been worried. Not about the blood. The grin of skin had mostly dried and a stain was easily washed. It was the man behind the claret flow that worried her a bit, even if she would never let it show. Those hands, so strong and nimble during most days, were left with another marking of the weekend. Like so many other weekends before. Cuts and cuticles and burns and bruises: mysterious in their causes, persistent in their timely appearance.