The forecast is calling for rain on Opening Day—not showers, but a holy-shit-the-sky-is-pissing April downpour. He packs his books into the boxes he picked up at the liquor store while his wife stands in the doorway to their bedroom, her arms crossed. “Will you be out of the house by Thursday?” she says.
“It’s Opening Day for the Red Sox,” he says and reaches onto the shelf for another handful of books, the McCarthy novels he read in a college course. “I’ll be out by the weekend.”
“Why doesn’t your girlfriend help you move?” She says “girlfriend” like she’s spitting poison from her mouth.
He rolls his eyes. “I don’t have a girlfriend,” he says. “She’s a friend, and we were talking at a bar. She grabbed my cock, and I told her to quit it.”
“I hate you.”
“I know.” Calm and deliberate, he takes a box cutter from the pocket of his jeans. He’d like to slice a handful of her hair from her head, maybe scalp her a bit—nothing life threatening. Instead he slices the duct-tape and tosses another box of books into the corner of the room.
With her back again now turned to him, his wife says, “Why can’t you be out by Thursday? I can’t stand seeing your lying ass around this house anymore.”
“It’s Opening Day.”
“I just remembered that our son has baseball practice on Thursday,” she says. “You said you’d bring him.” Though he can’t see it, his wife grins.
“It’s supposed to rain,” he says and imagines the crack of a bat, the slap of ball hitting a glove, the rustling of the stadium crowd, everyone waiting for nothing and everything. He imagines his son catching a pop fly and dying to tell him. He imagines the skinny kid staring into the stands and seeing only his mother’s scowl, her bitter lips and slightly-scalped head. “I’ll take him to practice,” he says and starts packing another box of books.
Sure, the girl grabbed his cock, but he wasn’t surprised and she wasn’t his girlfriend. She’s just some girl he invited to a ballgame, if it doesn’t rain.
Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire. He is the author of three collections of poetry—Not So Profound (Green Bean Press, 2003), Teaching Metaphors (Sunnyoutside Press, 2007) and After the Honeymoon (Sunnyoutside Press, 2009)—a collection of short stories, Frostbite (GBP, 2002), and several chapbooks of fiction and poetry. He has an MFA in fiction writing from The University of New Hampshire and teaches high school. A memoir Hangover Breakfasts will be published by Bottle of Smoke Press this summer. For more information, visit his website at www.nathangraziano.com.