Val’s House 02 – The Guest Room

Nixon was on the old Motorola that one of the twins would eventually commandeer for her dorm room at Antioch.  Nixon was quitting.

Val had seen a TV at the mall that was almost as big as a window but no thicker than a dictionary.  How was that even possible?

George was not yet thick in the middle and he had no scar across his chest.  His white t-shirt was flat across his stomach and his arms were hard and strong.  There were still freshly-cut blades of grass stuck to the cuffs of his paint-spotted work-pants and she would no doubt spend a good hour vacuuming up this mess from the kitchen linoleum, but for now Val didn’t care because George looked like Cliff Robertson or Glenn Ford.  She was sure she’d take him into the guest bedroom after he ate his lunch consisting of two baloney sandwiches and a can of cold Dixie.

The TV was  gone and the guest room was uninhabitable. Mold had taken over most of the walls and carpet.  Before the flood, Val had spent an entire month in the guest room closet where she slept standing up.  She relieved  herself into a plastic beach bucket which she emptied into the hallway toilet at three in the morning because that’s when The Vigilantes took a break.  Eventually Val figured out that she could fool The Vigilantes by sleeping under the remains of the screen door she found out in the garage. As long as she had the screen door she could sleep anywhere she wanted.

She never told George that she’d been with two other men before him.  Val didn’t think he’d be mad at her or even love her less if he knew.  The names of the two men and what she did with them  remained locked inside her heart because keeping that secret made her feel strong.  And sometimes she would think of them as she did now, making love to her husband with the perfume of grass and lawnmower oil in her nose.

There were firemen in the room.  Did the twins bring them?

Val was gliding along, the mottled ceiling scrolling past her eyes like storm clouds.

Text and Images © Andrew Auten – All Rights Reserved