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What Kind of Lonely

1 is the loneliest number since the number 2. I think my ex-wife's sponsor said that.

He didn't say nothin' about the number 3. Then again, he did most of his math in quarts.

What Kind of Lonely by Paul J. Garth




Benny kept dunkin’ my head down the tub even though I kept tellin’ him I don’t know where your money is.
           
I don’t believe you.
           
He punched me in my side and put me under and I did think it was not gonna happen I’d come up. Black started turnin’ round my eyes. I kicked and kicked but he held me down and I was getting sure to die when Benny pulled me out.
           
He let me cry a few minutes. Him smoking a Camel and looking at me like I was trash. God damn it, Vince, you tell me where it is, he said.
           
I got angry. Said, Benny I told you I didn’t take it. Ask Sara. Seems she’d be the kinda bitch that would do something rotten like that.
           
Benny put his cigarette out on my neck. Don’t talk ’bout my wife that way.
           
Well fine.
           
We sat there. Just looking at each other, and I could tell he was tired and maybe scared.
           
I’m sorry I told him.
           
Benny said, What? That mean you took it? But I said no. Just that I was sorry it was gone anyway.
           
You’d tell me? he asked.
           
Yes, I told him.
           
Shit, he said. I’m sorry, Vince.
           
I was wet. My neck hurt from the cigarette and my sides felt like an old bag of soft shit but I stood then. Walked over and hugged him.
           
I knew I couldn’t be mad at Benny for doing what he’d done. And besides I could let the tub stuff go because when I was sixteen and someone on the football team decided they all needed to play some shit they called Vince the Victim, Benny’d helped me. Those fuckers beat on me every day till Benny pulled an old snubnose he’d stolen from his daddy’s drawer and hid in his sock. He put it in their faces. Told them he was giving it to me and if I ever got hit by them again it was okay by him if I shoot them right in the fucking teeth.
           
He let me hug him and told me how sorry he was all over again. It probably was that bitch Sara who took it, he said, while hugging me. We gotta find her.
           
Where you think she is?

Benny said we should drive to Schuyler. Before we was married there was a bar that sometimes Sara found guys to do crystal bumps with and then fuck ’em in a hotel close by. She’s probably at the hotel.
           
He gave me a shirt and I drove. Told him don’t know how you got that money but if people are looking for you it wouldn’t do to be seen.
           
We pulled up to the hotel. There was only one car but three rooms had lights on. I could see the bar that Sara did her bumps and met men to fuck at and I knew it ’cause I’d been there too.
           
Let’s find this bitch, Benny said, fore getting out.
           
Wait. I reached into the glovebox and pulled that old snubnose he gave me all those years back. She might be with someone tough.
           
He looked surprised. Hell. You’re probably right.
           
I tucked it in my jeans.
           
We went to the door of the first room and pounded on it but no noise came from inside but the TV sounds.
           
She ain’t gonna be in that one, Benny said, and we started to walk but then the door opened.
           
An old man stepped out. What you doing knocking? he asked.
           
I didn’t know what to say but Benny said to him, Sir, I am looking for my wife. She’s run off and it’s my duty to bring her home. He pulled a photo from his wallet. You seen her?
           
The old man from the room coughed like he had got it bad in the lung. Finally he said, I ain’t seen no woman all night. He then went back to his room and closed the door.
           
Shit, Benny said.
           
But right then Sara come out another room. She saw us and yelled and started running and Benny run after.
           
He caught up quick and threw her to the ground.

You took it! He was screaming at her and she was bleeding from the mouth saying she didn’t.

You took my money, Benny screamed, and Benny kicked her right in the head.
           
That’s when I pulled Benny’s daddy’s old snubnose from back of my pants and run to Benny and I stuck it to his neck and pulled the trigger.
           
It made me sick. The way I wanted this to happen was not this but none of it had been much good from the start. I never thought I’d be almost drowned when we talked about it ever and I didn’t want Sara’s face kicked again. It was supposed to be done quiet inside the room but quiet and a room I did not have.
           
Benny fell, and when he did, he did bleed on the lot from his neck and he held it with hands but he was gone quick.
           
I did not look but instead helped Sara up.
           
You loved me first, Sara said. And he didn’t love you the way you did him. She kissed me then and her mouth was bloody and it bloodied mine too and made our tongues rough.
           
Go get the bag, I told her, and watched as she ran to the same room we always used.
           
Just then the old man came out of his room coughing. He looked at me and looked at Benny but didn’t say nothing. Just went back to his room and closed the door.
           
I wondered then if maybe I should kill him too.
           
I licked my teeth and tasted her all over again.
           
I could see the old man in the window watching me, but I decided to let it go. He was in that room all alone, and I knew what kind of lonely that could be. 

Paul J. Garth has had stories published at Shotgun Honey, the Flash Fiction Offensive, and has other stories forthcoming in various anthologies. Perpetually in transit between Nebraska and Texas, he can be found on Twitter by following @pauljgarth