Me and Mrs., Mrs. Jones
“Let me go ahead and perpetuate the stereotype,” said Gilbert, pouring himself another Johnny Walker from the podium beside him.
“And what stereotype would that be?” asked Vera from the front row.
“That at heart, all writers are souses. Probably because of our mothers.”
He had already read too long and it looked as though he was about to read yet again. Vera stood and faced the dozen or so in attendance.
“Please, everyone, give a big hand to Gilbert Capkovic!”
The look on Gilbert’s face was one of unadulterated hatred, although only Vera would have recognized it.
After, as everyone cozied up to the bar, there was the ubiquitous blushing co-ed, her arms full of her parents’ dogeared books: “Mr. Capkovic, would you mind signing these?” Or worse: “Mr. Capkovic, your books changed my life.”
And yet. And yet. Later, as they began to make love, Vera paused.
“What is it?” asked Gilbert.
“Nothing. I was just thinking. Do you remember that time, you were on book tour for Dwarf in a Helium Hat, and we had to stay at that horrible little motel under the freeway in Oxnard.”
“And whoever was in the room next to us played, over and over again, that Billy Paul song.”
“What about it?” asked Gilbert.
“Oh, nothing really. It just…it just made me giggle a little tonight.”
“When you read that new story. Feral When Wet.”
Gilbert took a decided posture on his elbow. “What about it?”
“Well, it’s clearly that song, right? I mean, you just took the song and made it into a story. My God, you even used the phrase ‘we’ve got a thing going on’ over and over.”
“You are accusing me of plagiarism?”
Vera paused. “Of course not. I know you get inspiration from a lot of different places. You probably weren’t even aware of it.”
Gilbert got out of bed, angry enough that he forgot to suck in his gut.
He threw open the mini-bar and pulled out any liquid that was brown.
“Well, there’s a hundred-dollars in booze,” said Vera.
“Stop!” he yelled, opening a bottle of Captain Morgan and downing it.
“Not to perpetuate the stereotype,” said Vera. He gave her such a look. “Oh, it’s funny only when you say it?”
He downed the Jameson and then sat on the end of the bed and began to cry.
“Christ, Gilbert. What?”
“My wife told me I’m washed up.”
There was a long silence. “Anne’s a bitch.”
“But she’s right, isn’t she? Isn’t that exactly what you’re saying?”
“Far be it for me to agree with anything Anne has ever said.”
“Feral When Wet is not plagiarized!”
“OKAY! Forget I ever said anything.”
Gilbert looked in his hand to the remainder of the brown booze. “Fucking Jack Daniel’s,” he said as he twisted off the cap.
“Leave me alone, Goddammit!”
“You know, the dialogue was brilliant.”
“It is, it is! And that’s all you. You’ve always been brilliant at dialogue. What did that nice young lady say to you after the reading? ‘Mr. Capkovic, when Harry said to Judy: “The best we can do is hold on tight and hope that we’re taken where we need to go, even if we’re jonesing up the wrong tree,” I felt like you were looking in through my bedroom window…”
Gilbert wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and then smiled. “She did say that, didn’t she?”
“She did. And she was quite a looker.” His smile blossomed. “Come back to bed, Gil.”
“Don’t want to.”
“Yes, you do. Come on. Gil. Come on. Look,” she said, lowering the sheet to expose her breasts.
“The dialogue. That really is all me, you know.”
“I know, I told you!”
“Come to bed. Gil. Gil.”
Gilbert threw the empty Jack Daniel’s bottle toward the wastepaper basket but missed.
“Gil,” she said. Come back to bed.” Finally, he did. “Good boy,” she said, and she lay her head on his hairy chest and after a moment of listening to his racing heart, she sang to him softly.
“We’ve got a thing…going on…”
J. Edward Kruft received his MFA in fiction writing from Brooklyn College. He is a Best Short Fictions nominee, and his stories have appeared or are forthcoming in several journals, including Back Patio Press, Cabinet of Heed, and Crack the Spine. He was once fired from a McDonald’s (Billions Served!) for refusing to wear polyester pants. He lives with his husband, Mike, and their adopted Siberian Husky, Sasha, in Queens, NY and Sullivan County, NY. His recent fiction can be found on his website: www.jedwardkruft.com and he can be followed on twitter: @jedwardkruft.
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