MA'S FAVORITE WIFE - KEITH RAWSON
“You can have what’s left of me.”
Gina starts to pull her white and blue check hospital gown over her head. I can’t help but involuntarily flinch; the guilt of it washes over me and I can feel my ears turning a bright, burning red.
I don’t notice that she’s peeking through the gauzy material of the gown.
She lowers it back down across her protruding shoulder blades, and starts in with that cackle of hers that always made me want to punch her in the face until she’s unconscious and missing most of her teeth. The cackle was just one of the many reasons why I left Gina fifteen years ago; the laugh topped the list, though. Gina was my first of three wives and my Ma’s favorite. Gina was a neighborhood girl, fair-skinned, freckled, red-headed, Irish-Catholic, and a member of our Parish. She was everything my mother wanted in a daughter-in-law because she was basically my Ma. The two major differences between them being that my mother could never shoot a convenience store clerk in the face for not emptying the register fast enough nor could she hit a deflated, blackened vein with a hypo loaded with a sweet mixture of coke and smack at twenty paces.
Me and Gina were together ten years, and I can’t say there was ever really a dull moment. Neither one of us was cut out for the straight world like our parents. We lived hard, but maintained a public face of a content, working-class couple, choosing to remain in the neighborhood we grew up in and pretended to go to work every day when, in reality, we were commuting to outlying cites, earning a living heisting gas stations, liquor stores, restaurants and drug dealers. It was a decent enough life; shit, it still is a decent life, at least for me. In our ninth year, something began to shift and change in Gina. I won’t say it was subtle, far from it. She wanted to hang it up; she wanted the same thing most women want when they reach a certain age: a baby.
When she told me, I wanted to laugh in her face. She was a junkie piece of shit stick-up artist. I asked her if she could really see herself having a little bundle of diaper rash and shit sucking on her tit all day? She said she did; I said I couldn’t. The riff started. Things started happening in our lives that had never gone on before: screaming matches lasting for hours on end; sleeping in separate bedrooms afterward; me staying out all night or not coming home for days and nights on end. I left 3 days shy of our tenth anniversary and moved in with Heather with nothing but the clothes on my back and a sizable wad from the jobs I’d been pulling solo since Gina decided she wanted to get fat with a kid.
Heather was the exact opposite of Gina, and my good old Irish Ma hated her with a fucking passion. Life with Heather was good for a time; at the very least, our marriage got me out of the old neighborhood and cross-country to the commie pinko shores of California and a whole new world opened up for me. I developed business partnerships with colleagues who needed inroads to the east coast; I was their man for the job. Things came to an end with me and Heather after I found her in the sack with our twenty year-old wheelman’s cock jammed halfway up her ass. I stomped his skull into a fine mush, which was a shame; the kid was a hell of a driver. I didn’t do anything to Heather. I figured watching the kid die and leaving her broke with a raging habit was enough.
Thanks to my new endeavors from out west, I found myself back in the old neighborhood. I met and married another neighborhood girl and moved into Ma’s old place. I think Ma would’ve liked Sandy a lot. She’s another red-headed Catholic girl who I met at Mass. She’s a hard ass and a good girl. She’s never had a thing to do with the life and more or less keeps a blind eye to how I keep the money rolling in. I even gave her what Gina wanted from me for such a long time. There are five of us total. Four women and me; I’m about as whipped as they come.
Gina stayed in the neighborhood, too. Married some faggot cost accountant who moved to the neighborhood a few years after I left. Gina thought he was nice suburban husband. They tried having a family right away, but found out a few years in that Gina’s insides were shot. The cancer showed up a couple of years afterward. The cocksucker stuck it out with the first round, which ended up with the docs taking Gina’s left tit. He split once they took the other one and with him gone, so was the medical insurance. I’ve been paying for the treatments since I found out about Gina’s troubles; I even took care all her other medical bills so she could just worry about getting better. Sandy would kill me if she knew what was going on. She’s the jealous type, but if she saw Gina with her no hair, no tits, and 75 lbs. of skeleton and paper thin skin, she’d probably have second thoughts about me trying to fuck the ex.
Gina’s finally starting to settle down, her cackle turning into a slightly menacing chuckle. I shake my head, stare down at my shoes and look back up her smirking.
“You’re one crazy bitch.”
“Yeah, but you love me for it.”
“Yeah. Yeah I do.”
We spend another couple of minutes chuckling and then I get up and leave. I promised the girls a movie tonight, so I’ve got to get going.
BIO: Keith Rawson lives in the Phoenix, AZ suburb of Gilbert with his wife and the coolest 2 year-old daughter, ever. He has been writing for the past fifteen or so years, but has just recently started sending his short stories out for possible publication. Over the past year, he has completed and sent out 18 short stories ranging in size from 1000 words-to-10,000 and has been fortunate enough to have found homes for at least ten of them in such publications as the late, lemented DZ Allen's Muzzle Flash fiction, Powder Burn Flash, Flashshots, Darkest Before The Dawn, and Yellow Mama. He also recently completed the first draft of a hard-boiled crime novel tentatively titled, Retirement.
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