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December 25, 2018 Fiction


Joseph Grantham

Gauchos photo

He writes a bad poem and it’s a love poem and it’s for her and he sits down on the floor and then he stands up and goes into the kitchen and opens the refrigerator door and sees that there’s an apple in the bottom drawer.

He slides open the bottom drawer with his shoe and then he reaches down and grabs the apple and closes the bottom drawer with his hand and closes the refrigerator door and goes to the sink and turns on the water and rinses off the apple and then turns off the water and bites into the apple.

He’s chewing and he sees his phone on the kitchen counter and he picks it up and he calls her and he says, “I’m sorry,” and she says, “For what? And also, I’m at work right now, you know that,” and he says, “I’m sorry. I know you’re at work, I’ll keep it short, but I just wanted to call and say I’m sorry.”

And she says, “Yes, but for what? What are you sorry about?”

And he says, “I wrote a poem. I wrote a bad poem. I wrote a bad poem for you.”

And he can hear her rustling some papers on her desk and maybe she’s pretending to work because she’s afraid of her boss and she’s whispering now and she says, “Why would you write a bad poem for me? And what are you eating? You’re eating something.”

And he stops chewing the apple and swallows and puts the apple down on the kitchen counter and says, “I didn’t set out to write a bad poem for you. It just turned out that way. And so I’m sorry. I’m sorry about that.”

“Well, all right,” she says and he can tell she’s about to hang up her phone so he says, “And one more thing,” and she says, “What?” and she’s still whispering and he says, “It was a love poem. A bad love poem.”

She sighs and he imagines her pulling the phone away from her head and giving it an exasperated look because he’s seen her do this before when she’s been on the phone with her mother or her boss and then she says, “Are you going to read it to me? Because it sounds like you want to read it to me and that’s fine, but if you’re going to, do it now, because I have to go.”

And he does want to read it to her so he runs into the living room and picks up the piece of paper off the floor and he says, “Okay, here it is, it doesn’t have a title yet:

‘this is gonna

sound stupid

because i saw you 

this morning

and i’ll see you 

in a few hours

but i miss you’”

Neither of them speak for a moment. 

“Was that the poem?” she says and he says, “Yes. That was the poem,” and she says, “Okay. I have to go. Let’s go out to eat tonight. I’m hungry. We’ll go straight from my office. Please bring my red gauchos with you when you come to pick me up,” and then she hangs up.

He hangs up his phone and he stands in the living room looking at the poem on the piece of paper in his hands and then he lets go of the piece of paper and it falls to the floor like a leaf and then he says, “Gauchos.”

 He doesn’t know what gauchos are. 

He goes to his computer and he types ‘gauchos’ into the search bar and clicks ‘enter’ and he sees what they are and he remembers that he was in the dressing room with her when she tried them on and he was standing next to her when she bought them and the store clerk made some comment about how they looked like something out of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel.

And then for a few minutes he forgets about the red gauchos.

He thinks about what he should eat for lunch because all he's had to eat is the apple and the apple isn't enough. 

He's hungry and he thinks he'll make a sandwich but then he remembers that there isn't sandwich stuff in the refrigerator and he doesn't want to go to the grocery store because he doesn't have much money and he knows he'll end up buying things he doesn't need, things like graham crackers.

He doesn't want to make eggs because he doesn't have hot sauce and he can't eat eggs without hot sauce.

And then he remembers where the red gauchos are. 

The red gauchos are in a brown paper bag in the dining room and he pulls them out of the bag and he smells them and they smell like her and then he’s embarrassed that he smelled them and then he’s embarrassed that he’s embarrassed because no one will know that he smelled the red gauchos unless he tells someone.

He puts the red gauchos on the kitchen counter, next to the front door where the car keys hang from a nail, and he goes into the living room and he sits down on the couch and then he lies down on the couch and then he falls asleep. 

When he wakes up he sees on his phone that he has to pick her up in five minutes and she works ten minutes away so he knows he’s going to be late and so he jumps up and runs to the front door and grabs the car keys off the nail and locks the door behind him and runs across the lawn and the lawn is wet and muddy and makes suction sounds on his shoes.

He gets in the car and his shoes are covered in mud and he drives the ten minutes to her office and when he gets there he sees her waiting for him in front of her office and she looks annoyed and she opens the passenger door of the car and gets in the car and he smiles at her and she looks less annoyed and she smiles and she says, “Where are my gauchos?” and he’s surprised to hear that word again and then he remembers that he left them on the kitchen counter and he hits the steering wheel with his fist and says, “I’m sorry.”



image: Bruno Scramgnon