At a recent writing workshop I attended in Ohio, our instructor led us through a number of fruitful exercises, including the 20-minute stories popularized by McSweeney’s. I’ll be sharing the results for my mid-week posts over the next month or so. These stories have been edited since I wrote them, but minimally… particularly this one!
WARNING: These are strange. Please don’t worry about me.
Bob rubbed chicken fat under his arms. It was something he’d always done and never said so. Since he’d married Claire, he’d thought repeatedly about confessing. “Listen Claire,” he’d say, or “By the way, Claire,” or “Claire, you want to hear something funny about me you don’t know?”
Claire was his first, his only love. They met one moonless night at the Dairy Queen lot. She dropped the chocolate-coated dome of her cone to the asphalt and cursed a streak of colorfully jimmied words. Then she spied him leaning on the hood of his car.
She looked at him dolefully, “Fate cooperates once again to bring my dismay, alas.”
Because she’d spent her last dollar, he bought her another ice cream, and they talked. As they conversed he felt the ooze at his sides like loosening worry. He noticed the smell for nearly the first time.
“I could really use some fried chicken,” Claire said, idly.
Chicken fat does nothing for perspiration, nothing for hygiene in general or well-being. Bob didn’t even regard it as fetish anymore, just routine.
7:35 am: chicken fat.
After marrying Claire, however, he created a ritual. The tub of fat needed obtaining, needed hiding. It’s application needed timing and perfect privacy. Every day Bob feared discovery.
Though he succeeded in decreasing the amount, he couldn’t do without chicken fat altogether and told himself every marriage should have secrets. “It’s my mystery,” he whispered to himself.
The day Bob came home to discover Claire’s dresser drawers open and empty, he ran first to his clandestine spot under the sink, but there it was, the tub of chicken fat still hidden, its contents untouched.
Bob cried for a time at the kitchen sink before relief flooded in.