Excerpt for Twenty Dollars by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Twenty Dollars


Jeremy Perry

Sunrise Publishing

This story first appeared in Cowboy Jamboree Magazine.

I wasn’t drunk when I came through the front door, but I still had a good buzz. I guessed the time to be around three in the morning. I glanced at the clock on the wall and it read 4:30. The kitchen light shined into the living room, which told me Sara was up drinking coffee, as she always was at this time before heading to work. Normally, I would slip in, come out of my work boots and uniform and crawl into bed without disturbing my wife. There was no use trying to sneak in this time. I locked the door behind me and joined Sara in the kitchen.

She sat at her end of the kitchen table. A burning cigarette lay on the bald eagle ashtray that our son Tripp made in sixth grade art class ten years ago. She sipped from her cup, set it down. “Good morning,” she said, as if she meant it.

“Morning,” I said. I fetched a cup from the cabinet above the sink, poured it full, and joined her at the opposite end of the table. I tried not to…I didn’t want…but I asked anyway.

“When did you start smoking again?” I pushed the words out with a concerned tone.

She picked up the cigarette from the tray, tapped off a loose ash, and said, “About a month ago I guess.”

“A month ago?”

“Saw no reason to hide it anymore,” she said. “No reason to hide anything anymore is there?”

I blew on my coffee. “Guess not.” I sipped, swallowed, and then said, “What do you want to do? I mean about all this?”

Exhaling smoke, she sat the cigarette back into the ashtray. “I think I want a divorce, Kurt. I’m serious this time.”

The topic of divorce had come up the week before and fizzled out. But this time she had a different look about her. A hardened, stale appearance with no life left behind those muddy eyes.

“Okay then,” I said. “So where we go from here?”

“I’ll go stay with my sister until it’s final, the divorce, I mean.”

“You don’t have to do that,” I said. “Just stay here. I’ll leave.”

“Where will you go?”

“I’ll figure it out. You stay here.”

“I have to get ready for work,” she said.

She stood from the table and walked away leaving me there to drink my coffee and ponder my future.

We’d been married going on twenty-two years. We’d had our share of disagreements, as any married couple does, but we’d never separated or even mentioned the word ‘divorce’ until a week ago. It seemed the passage of time had butted in on our once happy home and made us forget why we were together in the first place—or maybe that was just happening to me.

I swallowed the last bit of my coffee, pushed up from the table, and headed toward the bathroom to piss. Steam floated from under the door when I turned the knob and walked in. “Hello?” said Sara.

“Taking a piss,” I said. “Be out in a second.”

“Okay, but don’t flush. I don’t want my skin melting off.”

“I won’t.” I raised the lid, pulled out my dick, and pissed beer and coffee. I finished, shook, zipped up, and before I realized it I’d flushed the toilet.

“Jesus Christ, Kurt! I told you not to flush the damn toilet!”

“Sorry, honey! Just habit, I guess.” I slid the shower curtain over so she could see my sincerity. “I’m really sorry,” I repeated. “I really am.”

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