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Like a Fox

They say the Eskimos have 37 words for snow. It’s a lie of course. But you can appreciate the sentiment.

Watercolors are a little like that. I mean, expression through varying shades and gradation. Sounds nice. Except there’s not enough red to paint some revenge right.

Like a Fox by Rose Lee-Delgado



Sensing Roger’s presence, Angela looked up from her book and turned toward him. “I’m calling it a night,” he said. 

She nodded, smiling faintly. 

“Coming?” he said. 

“In a bit,” she said. 

“I guess I’ll say goodnight then.”  

“Before you go,” she said, catching him mid-stride. “Before you go, I wondered if you’ve read it yet.” 

“Read what?” 

“My story,” she said. “I gave it to you last week, remember?” 

“’I remember,” he said, “and yes, I’ve read it.”

“What did you think?” 

“Now?” he said, glancing at his watch. 

“Please,” she said. “I’d appreciate it.” 

Nodding, he crossed the living room and positioned himself behind a large easy chair opposite her. Gripping the back of the chair as though it were a lectern, he gazed in her direction. It was his preferred professorial stance, one Angela had seen many times during the past twenty-five years. She smoothed her skirt, folded her hands in her lap and looked up at him. 

“I’m sorry to say it, but I’m afraid your story has problems.” 

“Problems?” she said, still smiling. 

“I’ll try to explain,” he said. “As I recall, a man and a woman are in bed together. It wasn’t clear whether they were married, but anyway, sometime during the night while he’s asleep, she slits his throat. Afterward, she doesn’t attempt to hide what she did, or to escape. Instead, she goes outside and sits on the front steps until daybreak, blood all over her. A passerby notices, and calls the police. When they arrive, she admits what she did, and when asked why, she shrugs and says only that his number came up. That’s basically it.” 

“You remember it well.” 

“The problem is, readers will want to know why she killed him,” he said, “but you don’t give them anything to go on. You refer to him as narrow-minded and judgmental, but is this reason enough to kill him?” 

“Hmmm.” 

“If she stood to gain financially, or if there had been abuse or infidelity on his part, I could understand, but nothing like this was mentioned.” 

“True.” 

“It doesn’t make sense. How could any sane person do what she did, and then shrug it off?” 

Angela nodded. 

“To be fair, I suppose there are people who would appreciate the gruesome details you provided, like the part where she nudged him so that he rolled over and exposed his throat, or the part where she positioned the tip of the knife just below one of his ear lobes before driving it in and slashing him from ear to ear, as you put it. But even people who like this sort of stuff would expect more than just blood and gore.” 

Angela nodded again. 

“What you’ve written is simply a description of a woman who seems crazy. If there’s a story here, I couldn’t find it.” 

“I see.”    

“Let me make a suggestion,” he said, stroking his graying goatee. “Take a course on creative writing. Study the subject, learn the fundamentals.” 
 
“That’s an idea.” 

“It’s possible, of course, that writing isn’t the best creative outlet for you. Have you considered anything else?” He hesitated, then added, “What about watercolors?” 

“Watercolors?” 

“Why not,” he said, warming to the subject. “Do you remember when Rob was what, five or six, and we gave him that watercolor set? You showed him what to do, and I remember how well you could paint, how easily it came to you.”  

“You’re bringing up Rob now?” she said, eyes flashing. “The son I haven’t seen in four years, the son who avoids us like the plague?” 

“Let’s not start, okay?” Roger said. “It’s late, and besides, how many times do I have to say I was wrong? It was a poor choice of words, and I’ve already told you that I’d apologize to Rob if I knew how to contact him.” 

“A poor choice of words, you say? Calling him a fairy, a little faggot, a fucking queer, that’s what you’re calling a poor choice of words?” 

“Please, you’re acting like you’ll never see him again, but you know he’ll come home sooner or later, if only to see you.” 

“No, he won’t. When he walked out, he said I was no better than you, otherwise, I’d leave with him. Remember that?” 

“Sweet Jesus, can’t we drop it, at least for now? I have an early faculty meeting.”

“Ah yes, a faculty meeting,” Angela said, her voice heavy with irony. “Ever wonder what your colleagues would think if they knew the truth about why Rob has been away so long? I’ve never told anyone what you did, you know. I’m too ashamed.”    

They stared at each other for several long moments before Angela’s face softened.  “You’re right, this isn’t the time,” she said. “Any more thoughts about my story?” 

“No, that’s all. I’m sorry I had to be so negative.” 

“Don’t apologize,” she said. “You’ve been very helpful. Go on to bed, get some sleep.”

Two hours later, Angela peered into their bedroom. Roger was curled up on his side of the bed, and seemed fast asleep.  

She moved on to Roger’s study and rummaged through his desk until she found his copy of the story. She glanced at his red-penciled comments before tearing each page into small pieces, which she flushed away in a nearby bathroom. She next entered the kitchen and went to the oak block that held their cutlery. Without hesitation, she withdrew the six-inch chef’s knife. Well-balanced and razor-sharp, it was her favorite. 

Holding the knife at her side, she returned to their bedroom and stood in the doorway, watching Roger sleep. After several minutes, she took a deep breath and approached the bed. Her right hand gripped the knife, its gleaming blade now raised and poised for a downward thrust. Her other hand was extended toward Roger, ready to give him a little nudge, just enough to make him roll over and expose his throat. 

The author is a social psychologist living in the Pacific Northwest, now writing short fiction. Her previous work (“Amber Learns to Drive”) has appeared in Out of the Gutter. Rose Lee-Delgado is a pseudonym.