The Bukowski Agency - The Wife's Tale - Excerpt
The Wife's Tale

a novel by Lori Lansens

EXCERPT

“HAVE YOU GOT SOMETHING to wear for the thing tomorrow night?” Gooch’s voice was erotica. He could arouse Mary with the merest stroke of tenor on her hot inner ear. She wondered why she’d never told him so, and felt sorry it no longer mattered.

Frowning, Mary’d tugged at the waistband of her uniform, the largest of the ladies’ plus sizes so she’d have to go into the large men’s sizes now, and Ray Russell Junior, the owner/manager of the drugstore would have to place the order for her. The thought burned her cheeks, since she’d recently overheard Ray and Candace making unfunny comments about her ass — Candace suggesting they take up a collection for gastric by-pass, and Ray remarking that it was so big it should have its own blog. Now she had to clear her throat or cough before entering the staff room.

Mary had assured, “I’ll find something.”

“What about the green thing you bought?” Gooch had asked carefully.

“The zipper was broken,” she lied.

“Remember what happened the last time you had to improvise? Buy something if you don’t have anything, Mare. This is important. Find something nice.”

Shrunk an inch over the years, standing at the door in his custom-made work shirts and brown corduroy coat and dusty blue jeans from the Big Man’s store, ball cap plunked down on his wavy grey head, complexion worn like a catcher’s mitt, Gooch looked handsome, but weary. Mary wondered if he seemed more or less tired than any forty-four-year-old man in any small town. She cocked her head, asking, “Are you sorry we’re doing this dinner tomorrow, Hon?”

He’d paused, with that look on his face, and said, “Twenty-five years, Mrs. Gooch. That’s a hell of a thing. Right?”

“It is,” she agreed. “When you gonna be home?”

“Ten or so. But don’t wait up.” Gooch said the last after the back door banged shut.

It was a hell of a thing to have been married for twenty-five years, but no one ever asked Mary her secret to a long marriage. She might have said, “Don’t call your husband at work.”

Of course, throughout the years, Mary would have called Gooch’s pager or cell phone if there’d been an emergency but her life was fairly predictable and her tragedies rarely sudden. She’d nearly called Gooch at work when she’d gotten the news about her father’s passing, but had decided that like everything except her raging hunger, it could wait. She’d thought of calling Gooch at work just recently, the night she tipped the scale over three hundred pounds, but had instead collected the pain medications from the bathroom cabinet, remembering her vow to kill herself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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