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Love You

"Until death do us part."

In The Gutter, you better be ready to take that vow all the way to the grave.

Love You by Beau Johnson

For better or worse. In sickness and health. This is what I remember agreeing to, Babe. After what I saw, I think you have decided to renege on this part of our union.” 

She looks at me from the couch. Him too. It’s okay. I get it. I mean, if the shit is broken and it can’t be fixed then what the fuck are we even doing here, right?

I can almost hear her thinking this too, sitting there as she shakes her head, and only because I know her as I do. Hell, once we get down to the floorboards and remove the nails, I probably know her better than I know myself.

“What I can’t let go of is the blame for what you did, Lori, and now for what you’ve done.” 

Those pretty green eyes are partially obscured by a hairstyle now hours in the making. She leans forward and gags, but her gaze never loses what it’s trying to convey. It’s too late, sure, but I applaud her tenaciousness. Perhaps this brings me down to their level? Agreed, it was me on the receiving end but it must be known it was her who initiated. She took me from my pants and into her mouth the night I ended up in this chair.

“I’ll agree it was exciting. I can’t deny you that.  My mind alive with thoughts of Stephen King and John Irving as you went and did what you do best. Little could I know life would come to imitate art with the help of not only a Caravan but a goddamn Prius as well.” 

There ended up being less lockjaw and gypsy curses by the end of our thing, yes, but still a price was paid.

“You were good at the beginning too. Not at that, no, but at sticking by my side as a wife is meant to do. Things end though. More so, they fall apart.”  I stop here, pause, and wheel myself up to the shotguns angled into their mouths.

Took some doing, getting them hogtied and leaning forward onto the barrels like that, but if I’m anything, it’s a man who’s able to get things done. It brings forth gobs of saliva and I watch, entranced, as it flows from barrel to stock like colorless honey.

I go on. The words I say are the thoughts of a person who has nothing but time to think. I tell them I should have known from the start. After considering our options, the both of us thought it best to go with a physiotherapist strong enough to handle my frame.

“And you, Martel. You I truly thought well of. You’d just hoist me up, rub me down, and your enthusiasm about building up my arms was more contagious than I wanted to let on.”  I pat his head and rub it.

Only when he begins to vomit down the steel do I understand my anger has gotten away from me. I turn, roll forward, and let the man continue as best he can.

“What I remember most, I suppose, is when it became clear I had lost you. Not physically but in your mind, I mean. We were in Bradbury’s office when he told us my equipment south of the equator had a less than one percent chance at ever working again.” 

She’s crying full-on now and the tears I see are as fat as they are full. I imagine they contain regret, pregnant with all the things she wished she could erase.

I imagine she wishes I’d died.

“Wasn’t until last week that everything fell into place, though. As is your way, Lori, you did this in style. The question which lingered was, did you know I could see what you’d chosen to do?” 

I don’t hold back, not being so close to the end. I tell her how slow she went to her knees. How slow she took him into her throat. She shakes her head at this. Martel too. I tell each of them to suck it on up, the pun certainly more than intended.

“I think it was my wheels which gave me away. They aren’t the quietest, I know. But sometimes it’s the angle of the mirror I recall. The very one I have seen you redouble your efforts in whenever I told you I was close. And this, right here, I think this is what did it, Babe. You doing him the same way you have always done me. Seems a logical step to make. But I don’t know. Not for sure. Either way, it has finished what we are. What we were. And that is something I do know.” 

I bring out my own gun, a sawed-off, and run it down the sides of my face as I have so many times before. 

I place the gun on my lap, roll forward, and reach down to pull Martel’s trigger first. I look up into Lori’s eyes as I do this to make sure we are finally seeing each other as we should. She is the opposite of what marriage is. My father and her mother all rolled into one.

“For better or worse,” I repeat.

For better or goddamn worse.

In Canada, with his wife and three boys, Beau Johnson lives, writes, and breathes. He has been published before, on the darker side of town. Such places might include Underground Voices, the Molotov Cocktail, and Shotgun Honey. He would like it to be known that it is an honor to be here, down in the Gutter. A collection of Beau's shorts is due out in 2017 from Down & Out Books.