Sandi doesn't like Dan much, but loves his house. She comes over before he's home from work, to gaze into its window-eyes. She wheedles her own key. ("That's good," Dan thinks. "We're getting close.") Now she can visit when he isn't there to interrupt as her bare feet caress the hardwood floors, as her hands linger on gleaming knobs and faucets, as she strokes the long, smooth balustrade, and explores every chamber of this heart she adores. Though Dan's frog-belly makes her wince, his slobbery kiss makes her shudder, the feel of him inside her can only be endured if she is drunk or stoned, she marries him, pretending it's the house on top of her, the house into whose ear she cries, to whom she whispers, "I love you. Good night." How awful when, after a year of bliss, Dan wins promotion to a better town. The "For Sale" sign in the yard pierces her heart. She makes phone calls. She hires workmen and machines. Dan comes home with two First Class tickets, to find wife and house gone. "We'll move from state to state," she mouths through the rear window of the truck that tows her love. "We'll paint, remodel, whatever it takes." When rain begins to fall, she climbs from the truck to the house, and as asphalt hisses by, kisses the wet windows one by one. "It’s hard for me, too, Sweetheart," she whispers. "Please don’t cry."
Charles Harper Webb
Prayer for the Man Who Mugged My Father, 72
May there be an afterlife. May you meet him there, the same age as you. May the meeting take place in a small, locked room. May the bushes where you hid be there again, leaves tipped with razor- blades and acid. May the rifle butt you bashed him with be in his hands. May the glass in his car window, which you smashed as he sat stopped at a red light, spike the rifle butt, and the concrete on which you’ll fall. May the needles the doctors used to close his eye, stab your pupils every time you hit the wall and then the floor, which will be often. May my father let you cower for a while, whimpering, "Please don't shoot me. Please." May he laugh, unload your gun, toss it away; Then may he take you with bare hands. May those hands, which taught his son to throw a curve and drive a nail and hold a frog, feel like cannonballs against your jaw. May his arms, which powered handstands and made their muscles jump to please me, wrap your head and grind your face like stone. May his chest, thick and hairy as a bear's, feel like a bear's snapping your bones. May his feet, which showed me the flutter kick and carried me miles through the woods, feel like axes crushing your one claim to man- hood as he chops you down. And when you are down, and he's done with you, which will be soon, since, even one-eyed, with brain damage, he's a merciful man, May the door to the room open and let him stride away to the Valhalla he deserves. May you—bleeding, broken—drag yourself upright. May you think the worst is over; You've survived, and may still win. Then may the door open once more, and let me in.