Author’s Note: Mature Content Warning – Sex. Violence. Language.
Max Pine sat with rattled and tattered Christine LaBrush in a small room off the kitchen that was kind of like a screened-in porch. He tried to look at her through the glaze of a rhombus evening, a yellow light seeped in from the house. Her eyes were red and puffy from all the crying she had done. He was reluctant to comfort her. He blamed her for the horrible evening he was having, and all Max wanted to do now was escape from this hell. But she started to talk, and he was forced to listen.
“I’m so sorry I put you through this, Max,” she said. I am so humiliated and embarrassed and angry. I just want to have a normal god damn life!”
Max sighed as he pondered a reply. “That’s probably out of the question at this point.”
Christine’s head snapped in his direction, and she scowled at him. “Wow. Wonderful support.”
Max suddenly shot up from his seat. “You know what… Fuck this shit! I’ve tried to be nothing but nice all evening and all I’ve gotten is hateful crap from your father and now attitude from you. You dragged me into this nightmare, and I owe you nothing. I think I will be going now.”
Just as Max was about to leave, Mrs. LaBrush appeared at the precipice to the room. “Everything okay?” she wanted to know.
“I’m actually heading out, mam,” Max said. “Thank you for dinner. Have a pleasant rest of your evening.”
“But you haven’t had your schaum torte.”
Max sighed. “I really should be going.”
“It’s a very difficult dessert to make. I went to a lot of trouble, Max.”
She cocked her head oddly and smiled at him. “Please? It would bring joy to my heart after such a rough and tumble evening.”
Max conceded. “All right. I’ll have some of your schaum torte.”
“Wonderful,” Mrs. LaBrush gushed. “Shall we go into the kitchen. I’ll make some coffee,” she said, and then she looked over at her blubbering daughter / son. “Come now dear and wash up some. Wipe away those tears and pull yourself together.”
The trio sat in a nook with two benches and a table between. Max looked out a large, dark window as he sipped on his coffee — instant Sanka — and ached to disappear from his present situation.
Mrs. LaBrush cleared her throat. “Are you enjoying the schaum torte, Max?”
“I made the strawberry compote myself.”
“It adds a delectable zing to the entire dish,” Max said with a hint of sarcasm.
“I was thinking, Max,” Mrs. LaBrush began as she spooned a wad of whipped cream-dappled schaum into her mouth. “It is getting so late and it’s such a long ride back to Mankato… Why don’t you just stay the night.”
Max nearly choked on his schaum torte. “Well, if it’s all the same to you, mam, I think I may just walk into town and get a room until the bus comes in the morning.”
“Oh no. I won’t let you do that. We have a big house here with plenty of room,” Mrs. LaBrush insisted.
“I appreciate that, but I don’t think your husband will like me being here overnight. He hates my guts.”
Moody Christine finally lifted her head from her bowl of schaum torte, her inflated fake lips white with cream. “He doesn’t hate your guts. He’s just very overprotective and old-fashioned.”
“He’s a hypocritical asshole,” Max blurted out. “No offense to you, Mrs. LaBrush.”
She smiled in agreement. “He is quite the challenging mate,” she said. She sighed and then started licking at her spoon seductively yet grossly, her eyes aimed directly at Max. He caught on to her flirtation and it sickened him, and he squirmed where he sat. “But don’t worry about Herbert. He’ll drink himself to sleep in front of the television and you’ll be gone before he even wakes up.”
Max’s eyes went from depressed Christine to her mother and then to the gaudy walls and finally the stained ceiling. “I suppose one night wouldn’t hurt.”
“Wonderful!” Mrs. LaBrush excitedly exclaimed. “A sleepover! You can use our guest room — upstairs and at the end of the hall. No one will bother you in there.”
“That will be fine. If it’s all right, I’d like to go up and take a shower and turn in for the night. This has been an overly exhausting day,” Max said, and he wiped his mouth with a napkin and got up from the table. “Thank you for dinner and the schaum torte and the accommodations. Goodnight.”
“Wait,” Christine said. “Would you like me to come sleep with you. I mean… In the same bed, tonight? I need to be held.”
Max beamed at her like headlights on bright. “No,” he said, and he left them.
It was uncharacteristic for Herbert LaBrush to wake up in the middle of the night from his drunken stupor and begin to wander around the house, but on that night, something in the walls, the air, shook him and he did.
He fumbled for a familiar switch in the kitchen and clicked on a light. He opened the refrigerator door. He peered inside and the glow of the appliance bulb reflected against his slick dome. He looked for something to eat. He picked a few things up, sniffed at them and then put them back. He opened a carton of egg nog, drank from it, and then wiped at his mouth with his hairy arm.
After he closed the refrigerator, he thought he heard a noise coming from upstairs. He went to the bottom of the stairs and pointed an ear upward. There were noises drifting in the air. Something out of place was indeed going on. Mr. LaBrush tip-toed halfway up the stairway and then stopped. Again, he pointed an ear upward and it was then that he realized what he heard were the sounds of lust being played out in real time. Some sort of lovemaking was happening, live.
Herbert LaBrush gritted his teeth and clenched his fists in a silent rage that turned his face red and caused steam to swirl from the top of his head like in a cartoon.
“That bastard!” he seethed quietly to himself. “He’s having his way with my son… And in my very own house! I’ll kill him! I’ll kill him to death!”
Herbert LaBrush went to the garage. He was fuming and out of his head with debilitating anger when he retrieved an old baseball bat buried in a corner. He held it in his hands. It was heavy and solid. “I’ll knock that sinful fornicator straight to hell,” he said aloud as he took a swinging stance and swayed the bat in the air a little bit. “He’ll never see the lights of Heaven when I’m through with him.”
Once back inside the main part of the house, he quietly crept up the stairs, the filthy moans and groans blurping forth like rapid heartbeat elevator music in a snobby office filled with lonely orifices. He rattled like a fake plastic tree in a turbulent wind.
Herbert LaBrush held the bat high and slowly moved down the dark hallway toward Christine’s old bedroom. It was then, as he got closer and reached for the doorknob, that he became aware his hearing had deceived him, and that the sex noises were not coming from Christine’s old room, but instead, his very own bedroom.
A symphony of confused wrath choked his mind and body as he got closer to the room and suddenly realized that it was his very own wife from whence the sounds of animalistic passion were percolating from. He trembled with pain and anger as he pressed his head against the door and listened to her moist and guttural ramblings as the bed squeaked and the headboard smacked against the wall.
Herbert LaBrush looked skyward, his eyes penetrating the ceiling and beaming straight to Heaven. He shook a fist in the air. “Why have you brought this demon into my house!?” he whispered through clenched teeth and spit. “Why have you allowed my own wife to be speared by such a sinful wretch!? What have I done to deserve this, Lord!?” He panted as he waited for a sign, an answer, but there was nothing besides the orgasmic cries of his wife beyond the doorway.
Herbert LaBrush slowly stretched his sweaty face with his taut fingertips and then kicked the door in and switched on the ceiling light. And there it was, all splayed out in a naked, twisted and jungle steamy mess. The air soaked with the scent of unfathomable love. It was his own son, or the one who used to be his son, an unrecognizable creature now grinding groins with his own mother and drooling like a hell-fired fiend all over her.
Herbert LaBrush let out a horrifying howl and went at Christine with the bat. He first brought it down against her sweaty back and then went for her head and hit a blood-spangled all-American home run across the room. Mrs. LaBrush got splashed in red and then tried to scream as he came at her next and her yellowed teeth soon started to flow down her esophagus and into her guts.
Herbert had completely lost it. He dropped the wet with blood bat on the floor and went down with it when the full scope of what he had done hit him. He stayed like that for a long time, bent over, panting, weeping until finally the sun began to creep up and tap the new day on the shoulder. The smell of death began to rise more forcefully as he went to the phone on the bedside table and called in his confession as if he were ordering a pizza.
Max Pine sat on the curb outside the bus station somewhere in Minneapolis smoking a cigarette and feeling a bit sad. He looked up into the sky and saw birds. Then he thought he heard sirens screaming toward the burbs and he felt somewhat relieved and calm about the fact that he had snuck out of that madhouse around midnight and hoofed it downtown. He had a sense about things like that.
People were crazy, he concluded most days of his life. People were fucking nuts and that’s why he felt it was a wise decision to steer as far away from them as possible whenever he could. This devastating brush with Christine LaBrush and company solidified that fact for him. It felt better to be alone, he knew. It felt better to be alone all right.
Max enjoyed a stale cup of coffee by himself before he boarded the bus. He took a seat in the back by a window and the bus hissed and lurched forward and soon it was out of Minneapolis and onto the open road and back the 80 some miles to Mankato and then the unlocking of the gallery door and releasing the curtains and letting the sun in and sitting at the cash counter and polishing glass doorknobs and feeling good about being fucking independent.
It was another quiet, sunny day… And Max Pine liked that for sure.