When he got home from work the front door was locked. He frowned as he slid the key in and turned it. They never locked the doors. In the living room all of the drawers were pulled out of the entertainment center and DVD cases were strewn carelessly about on the floor. He took off his boots and jacket, dropped them by the door, and went to the kitchen. She was waiting for him, sitting at the table with her back towards him.
“Hey baby,” he said. “How’s it going?”
He inhaled heavily, sighed, then smiled. “You would not believe the day I had at work. It was insane. God, I’m hungry.”
He opened the fridge. “Where the hell is all the food? You didn’t get to the shopping today? Alright, that’s alright.”
There was a bowl filled with hardboiled eggs. He grabbed two of them and said, “We were completely swamped all day. It was like Black Friday or some shit.” He also took a jar of mayonnaise and a bottle of mustard. “Of course the computers went down at noon, like they do every Friday. Jesus, Martin was pissed, but I’ve been telling him for months to get some IT guys in.”
He peeled the eggs, dropped them into another bowl and spooned a dollop of mayo over them. “We had to start writing orders on slips, which was fine until the heating vents kicked in. Paper all over the place, accountants scrambling around and knocking into each other. Jesus, you’ve never seen such a mess.” He glanced towards her. She was still facing away from him, but he knew she was listening. He got a fork, then slammed the silverware drawer shut harder than he meant to. He saw her jump, and he smiled. “Where is Alex? Usually he comes to see his old man right away. He’s not gone today, is he? You knew I wanted to spend the evening with him.”
Her shoulders tensed.
He used the fork to slowly mash the eggs, mixing them together with the mayonnaise. He relished the sensation of slowly pressing down on the white ovals, feeling them bend and split.
“We need to talk,” she said.
“Yeah, I got the feeling that we do. Where’s Alex?”
“He’s at moms tonight. He’s staying there.”
“Damn it. I told you I was taking him fishing tonight. I told you that.”
She was silent. He picked up the mustard bottle and squeezed a healthy amount over his eggs. He stirred it all together, watching the yellow diffuse through the whole mess, staining it orange. The color and the texture made it look like vomit. “I always hated this shit,” He said, “when I was a kid. So what do you think we need to talk about? Hey, why don’t you turn around. Look at me.”
She turned slowly towards him. Her eyes were red and puffy. She was looking down at the linoleum. “Look up. At me.” She did. Her eyes glittered with moisture. He set the bowl down on the counter and rolled open the cover of the bread box. He took out a bag, pulled the twist tie off and took four slices of whole wheat out, setting them down in a row.
“So. What?” He asked.
“I’m leaving you.”
He was rummaging around in the cupboard over the sink, looking for pepper. His hand stopped. He blinked, then brought the pepper grinder down.
“What the hell did you just say?” He slowly twisted the grinder, sprinkling a heavy black snow of pepper onto the eggs. He held his breath while doing it, a behavior he picked up from Alex. Alex thought that pepper made you sneeze. Saw it in a cartoon.
She repeated, “I’m leaving you. I packed all my shit, and I’m going to go stay with my sister. Alex is coming with me. I’ll let him come back down here every few months. My friends told me to leave before you got home, but I wanted to talk to you. I wanted to say goodbye. I thought I should say thank you for… being so good to me. And Alex.”
He slopped some egg onto two of the pieces of bread and then pressed them all together.
“I figured you would cut and run eventually, being the bitch you are, but what makes you think you can take my kid away? And why thank me for…” He looked up slowly, one of the sandwiches halfway to his mouth. “You whore,” He said.
“I thought he was yours at first. I did, really. He looked just like you.”
“But he’s not, is he?”
“No. I found out last week.”
He took a bite out of the sandwich and chewed it slowly, thinking. Too much mustard. He set the sandwich down, moved forward a pace and backhanded her as hard as he could across the face. She screamed and fell to the floor, sobbing and holding her mouth. Blood dripped from her fingers.
“You should have listened to your friends,” He said.
“I know,” she said between sobs, barely coherent. “I know I should have. But I wanted to give you this.” She lifted her left hand, holding up something that looked like a gun. His eyes widened and he stepped back, holding his hands up.
“Listen, don’t do that. You can just go, ok?”
She squeezed down on the trigger, there was a pop, and two darts shot out. They slammed into his chest. He screamed, a short outburst that was cut off when all of the muscles in his body seized up. He doubled over and his arms starting flailing. He fell to the floor. She stood up and stepped over his thrashing legs. He barely heard the front door open and close. When he could finally stand again he walked to the living room and looked through the window, wiping thrown up egg salad from his face. She was long gone, and she wouldn’t be coming back.