Latest Flash

Football Widow

The weekend is a time for sports. For some of us, that's ALL it is.

Basketball, hockey, golf. It doesn't really matter what your flavor is, if you're attention is on the tube, then it ain't on your wife.

Football Widow by Rory Costello

Janie Paradis padded into the garage and pulled out the compact generator. She tugged the starter cord – slowly at first, until she felt resistance – then rapidly. As the engine warmed up, she marveled at the unit’s easy quiet function.

Above, in his “man cave”, Bill Paradis had the game on at his usual blare. His screams peppered the din. “Son of a bitch!” he yelled as another catchable ball bounced off a receiver’s hands and became easy meat for the free safety, who ran it back all the way. “Another pick-six! Fuck!”

Being a football widow was Janie’s only respite from Bill’s meanness. He’d never laid a hand on her, but over 30 years (and her gain of 80 pounds), his joshing had soured into a slough of verbal abuse. The worst were the nicknames: “Clunker” and “Heap” and the odious “Pisspot” (or just “Pissy”). Plenty of women her age had stress incontinence. It wasn’t funny at all – it was embarrassing. And being called “Leaky” in public? Mortifying.

Even more dismaying, she couldn’t cut him loose. North Carolina’s divorce laws were quirky – a couple had to live apart for 12 months. Janie had no intention of leaving her family’s property. Paradis mulishly refused to move out either. “Do your damnedest,” he said, with a nasty chortle.

She did. When the process server laid the papers on Paradis, he was taken aback. “A divorce from what?” he demanded.

“A divorce from bed and board,” Janie said. “If you won’t move out, the court will make you.” She made her case that Paradis, with his indignities, had made her life intolerable. He dragged it out with frivolous counter-claims, but at last came the order to vacate.

Yet just when she thought she’d scraped him off her shoes, Paradis parried. “Your Honor,” he said, winking brazenly in open court, “we have resumed marital relations.” It was blatant perjury – the last time they’d slept together, the Carolina Panthers didn’t even exist – but the judge (an ancient redneck who made Jesse Helms look progressive) bought it. The bed-and-board divorce was nullified. “Till death do us part, Clunky,” Paradis crowed.

So that’s what it had come to, Janie mused. As the generator purred, she retreated through the mudroom and into the house, a faint grin flickering. The gathering emissions had no color or odor – but for Janie, they were savory.

As the first quarter ended, Paradis cracked his second beer. He felt dizzy, headachy, and queasy, but shrugged and took another slug. During a replay challenge, he drifted off, overcome by the fumes.

Janie ventured back into the garage, holding her breath as she turned off the generator. She yanked the pull-down staircase and pressed the automatic door opener. She aired it all out for a few hours.
Janie stepped up gingerly – the stairs were little more than a ladder. She got to the top and hoisted her bulk through the hole with a grunt.

Paradis was sprawled on his Schlitz-soaked sofa, pallid, a fine froth at his mouth and nose. But damn it, Janie thought. His lips weren’t the right color – with CO, cherry red meant dead. She took a closer look. Fucking hell! He was still breathing.

Janie grabbed Paradis by the armpits, dragged his skinny body over, and dumped it through the hole and onto the paint-spattered dropcloth she’d laid down. She clambered down, puffing. The plan had not changed – into the compost heap he was going. She’d had reservations about this means of disposal – like the sign in her daddy’s machine shop said, 
                                                  “GOOD * CHEAP * FAST * 
                                                              PICK TWO.” 
But time was on her side – nobody expected shiftless unemployable Bill Paradis anyplace soon.

Plus, it was hard to screw up composting. It was a forgiving process. In a few months, the cycle would be complete; Paradis would have returned to the earth. Then forgiveness could be hers.

Janie pulled the dropcloth into the back yard. There stood the large pile of wood chips from the local electric utility. She stripped Paradis, jabbed his guts with a garden fork to prevent bloating, and layered him into the pile. All the exertion made her leak. Yet once the job was done, she took a leisurely shower and was clean and dry once more. She had a tot of apple brandy and slept blissfully in the absence of sniping.

A few days later, though, there was a problem. Janie looked out and saw 10 big brown shapes scratching and tearing at the pile. Jesus…wild turkeys. Janie hated and feared turkeys. What in hell were they doing?

Janie didn’t want to go anywhere near the pile. She got out binoculars and zoomed in. The turkeys were pecking as they foraged. There had to be insects in there, maybe maggots. If so, there was good news: Paradis was dead. The bad news: the loathsome brutes had him partly uncovered. Wasn’t that a foot?

There was nothing else for it – the turkeys had to go. Armed with the garden hose, Janie approached with trepidation to disperse the rabble. A tom stepped forward. It stared insolently, disdainfully at Janie. It strode toward her, head bobbing, wattles shaking.

Janie squeezed. Nothing came out – she hadn’t turned on the water. She dropped the hose, turned and ran for the house. The alpha tom gave chase.

Inside the mulch, Bill Paradis groaned and stirred. He was naked, filthy, and his stomach hurt like hell. And what was all that screaming and gobbling? Paradis spat out a pillbug, brushed off the debris, and sat up. Despite brain damage, one short-term imperative was clear. Who’d won the game? He hoped he’d set the DVR.

Rory Costello doesn’t watch nearly as much sports as he used to, but the outlook is good – his six-year-old son enjoys watching with him. Rory also enjoys writing about sports but has been itching to try his hand at crime fiction too.