The Shirt Off His Back
quitting work, I got used to doing whatever I wanted, and I didn’t want to answer
the door. But whoever was outside wouldn’t quit ringing the bell.
finally answered it but nobody was there, just a shirt floating in mid-air
above my porch. A long-sleeved, dark blue work shirt. The red embroidery on the
pocket spelled “Douglas.” My ex-husband. He said I took the shirt off his back
in the divorce settlement.
funny, Doug.” What was he bothering me for? Granted, I’m sure his little skank closed
her busy legs once she got to know him. Didn’t we all. I felt around for the
strings holding the shirt up but didn’t find any. I searched the hedges for a
blower or something. Nothing.
shirt held out its cuff for me to shake. It raised its sleeves as if to impress
me with its biceps. It clasped its cuffs together, begging.
all right,” I said. “Come in, then. But one word about the messy house and I’ll
get out the ironing board.”
don’t usually have shirt visitors, so I forgot it didn’t have a mouth or
anything. I fixed two bourbon and diet Sprites, like I used to when Doug came
home from work. The shirt hovered above Doug’s place at the kitchen table. It
rested its cuff on the drink, maybe to smooth over my gaffe. More likely,
knowing Doug, to show off somehow.
was ready. I made friendly conversation while serving myself. “So,” I said,
“How’s your sleazy ho?”
shirt landed face down on the table.
quivered all over. I couldn’t tell if it cried, laughed, or pleasured itself at
the mere mention of its sleazy ho. Her name was Hester. Really. Like Hester
you move?” There wasn’t enough room to put down my plate of spaghetti. I felt
weird not offering him any, but what would he do with it?
guess what? I had a pool put in.” I opened the vertical blinds. My Caribbean
blue, built-in swimming pool sparkled, beyond the umbrella clothesline. It took
up nearly the whole small yard.
shirt’s shoulders slumped.
mean glow warmed my heart and spread through my chest. I paid for the pool out
of my fat, tasty divorce proceeds. You’d think divorce would make you poorer.
After all, you are dividing assets, not multiplying them. But Doug had an
inheritance, which would have been divorce-proof, except that he made the
mistake of mixing in with marital accounts rather than keeping it separate. So,
I got half. He deserved it. In fact, if he got smart with me, I’d march him straight
out to that clothesline and hang him out to dry again.
dinner, we moved to the living room to watch TV like we used to. I curled up in
a corner of the couch. Doug’s shirt hung above his recliner.
God. Why would anyone put a hundred grand into opening a restaurant without
even working in one first? Ha ha, the Chef Enforcer is right. Look, he’s made
the man cry!”
lapels tipped forward, nodding. Doug and I had talked about opening a restaurant.
Alaska reality show was next. A family poked around in the ruins of an ancient
village, picking up artifacts. The father found a stone mask.
that be neat, to find something like that and hang it on your wall? Here we get
so used to our regular life, we forget so much more is possible.”
and I had discussed tossing it all and running off somewhere exotic. But then he
ran off with an exotic dancer instead, Hester the Molester.
came around. It had been a lovely evening. I didn’t know what to say so I just
went to bed.
shirt lurked in the bedroom doorway.
closed my eyes, not giving it the chance to turn me down.
shirt settled on top of me. Doug’s delicious man scent carried me off to sleep and
I slept straight through until morning for a change.
the alarm went off, I made coffee and poured two cups before remembering. The
shirt waited above Doug’s customary kitchen chair.
collar descended for my morning good-bye kiss, then Doug’s shirt sailed off
down the street.
some chores calmed me, putting away dishes, making the bed, taking out the
kitchen trash. The house would be tidy when Doug’s shirt returned from work
that evening. I was glad we had managed to work things out after all.
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