Thursday, August 15, 2013

Around Here They Use Words Like "Ghastly" & "Dreadful": New Fiction from Robb Todd

The old pop star rubbed my ankle with her toe under the table. Her fame had faded before I was born. Her boyfriend was a professional killer from another country. He was sitting next to her. He had a heavy accent. He was her son's age, my age. Her son was a dear friend. 

The toilets in her country home were unfucking real. They did not have handles on the side. You had to pull a silver rod up from the top of the tank. Immaculate flush. The toilet bowl was so clean and big you could bathe a child in it. 

Two children were running around. They smashed the keys on the grand piano. The old singer wrote some of her worst songs on that piano. Those same songs bought this house and a few others. The children screamed. Their mother said something about pharmaceuticals. The old pop star said, "Oh, dear, please beat them before you resort to drugs." 

A plastic tube connected the singer's even older brother to a hissing oxygen tank. He told tales about formerly-famous people, all dead, who only ever had careers in black and white. 

A little boy bounced against my chair. He cupped his hands around my ear. He whispered, "Motherfucker, tittie-sucker, two-ball bitch." He laughed. He ran away. My dear friend taught him that phrase to torture his cousin's wife. 

His cousin's wife put the kids to bed. She came back to the table. She told all of us about how much she hates fucking her husband. Her husband was sitting next to me. He said something back. They smiled while they ripped each other apart in front of family and strangers during the holiday. It was amazing to watch. 

There was still food on the plates but nobody was eating. More drinks made it more ruthless. My dear friend changed the subject by stripping down to his underwear to show off his new yoga body. He was ripped. He had been fucking his yoga instructor for a few months. He cranked up the stereo. He danced around, tugging his shirt back and forth between his legs, rapping the song's lyrics: "The bridge is over! The bridge is over!" He interrupted the performance to tell his cousin's wife that she is a ball-breaking cunt. He actually said "cunt" and "ball-breaking." 

The bridge is over. 

The trained killer from another country spoke five languages and said “nigger” in each of them. He also expressed dislike for homosexuals. The old pop star's brother wheezing on the oxygen tank was gay. She told the trained killer: "Shut the fuck up." 

My dear friend asked me to tell his family the story about the threesome I witnessed between my father, my father's then-wife and a hooker. I put my hands over my eyes. He insisted. I told the story and he scolded me for skipping over what he said was the best part. He told it for me: "His dad was fucking the hooker from behind while the hooker was eating his dad's wife's pussy, and his wife was staring into his dad's eyes and kept saying, 'Fuck her harder. Fuck her harder! Fuck! Her! Harder!’" My dear friend shouted, "Yesss!" and pumped his fists and started dancing again, still in his underwear. Everyone laughed. But the story was not true. My father did not do that. My wife and I divorced not long afterward. 

The old pop star fingered the hummus. She was drunk, like everyone else. She licked her finger clean, sloppily. She nodded off into a small pile of mashed potatoes. The trained killer lifted her out of her chair. He carried her beautiful old bones back to her room like a fireman in a house that was not burning. 

Everyone talked shit about him when he left. My dear friend mocked his accent. We all laughed. My dear friend's cousin said, "I don't see anyone else taking care of her." 

The old pop star's gay brother took off his oxygen mask and said the trained killer was a fucking dolt. I had never heard someone call another human a "dolt" in real life, only in old movies. My dear friend said the trained killer's cock is a fire hose. He said his mother goes through a bottle of vodka‚ and a bottle of lube‚ every day. His cousin's wife said, "Good for her and her ancient pussy!" 

My dear friend told us that the motherfucker tittie-sucker two-ball bitch with the even bigger estate down the road is an heir of the man who invented felt. This cannot be true.

Everyone went to bed except my dear friend and me. He opened the fridge and drank the last beer in one tilt of the bottle, and said, "Let's get more."

It was dark and the roads twisted and we sped through a covered one-lane bridge and around curves lined with bare trees and along cold creeks, and a song I never really cared for came on the radio, and my dear friend turned up the volume and sang every word and drummed the steering wheel and closed his eyes as we cornered, and it is, yes, funny how the night moves. I sang with him. We sang the entire way, even after the song ended. 

Robb Todd, author of the collection Steal Me for YourStories, has worked as journalist, columnist and editor, and his photography has been exhibited internationally. But all he really wants you to know is that he has never seen a pigeon walk backwards. Visit him at