Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Standard Pack by Kristin Fouquet



(click image to enlarge)

“No TV,” my wife said. “I want this week to be just about us as a family.”

That’s how my vacation started, with a television ban. We never seemed to have any money to actually go anywhere for it, so we’d just cocoon, you know, become mad reclusive types and not even answer the phone. Before my son was born, I’d take my week of vacation and we’d rent around twenty videos, buy bottles of booze and comfort food, and prepare to shut out the rest of the world.

Back before my son, she and I would get drunk watching whatever was on the tube or maybe a movie. Then, if we were in the mood, we’d just have sex right there on the sofa, maybe on the rug, but you know, right there, right then when we wanted to. After, I’d fix us some refresher drinks and we’d sit nude in the blue glow of the set. It was the best, like a hedonistic marathon. Sometimes, we’d forget what day it was. Oh Man, how I looked forward to that week off.

That Friday before my vacation was the greatest; I would be so psyched. We’d run our errands: video store, liquor store, drug store, and grocery store. We called it getting our supplies. We had no real plans but we’d try to set a festive mood. Like one year, we did this Mexican theme where we drank margaritas and did tequila shots…licking the salt and lime off each other’s lips. The two of us have these crazy straw hats we call fajita hats for no better reason than we wore them while eating fajitas during our Mexican vacation. Then there was our Greek vacation when we got stupid on Ouzo and ate gyros. The Italian one sucked when I blacked out on Strega and cut my foot wide open on a piece of glass on the kitchen floor. And the vacation themes weren’t limited to just a place. One year we did the 007 thing and watched every single Bond film out on video, even Casino Royale. My wife shook vodka martinis wearing nothing but a white tuxedo shirt. Man, that was one great week.

Well, it was just the two of us for ten years, one wild decade. After my son, there was no more booze because she breastfed him for a couple of years. She’d loosen up sometimes and have a glass of wine but she never really let go like in the old days. What we ate changed too. God-awful rice cakes one year; trail mix the next. Holy crap, carob.

So, we got our supplies of healthy snacks and red wine but, instead of videos, she told me we’d “read about other places, locate them on the globe…play games, tell stories, you know just talk- as a family.” She got her way, alright, for a few days, until the outside world came knockin’. It was our neighbor Stan wanting to know why we hadn’t boarded up yet.

He asked, “Y’all are headin’ outta the city, aren’t ya? I mean they’re sayin’ this could be the big one. Category 4, maybe 5 by the time it gets here.”

By nightfall, our street is abandoned. We decided to ride out the hurricane. We had food and wine but, no money or place to go. We boarded up. My wife made X’s with masking tape on the little windows. We filled the tub. In light of the situation, she even lifted the ban on the tube so, we watched the coverage of the mass exodus. The dismal fact was that many would be trapped in traffic when the storm hit. The rain and wind really picked up but we were fine, even after we heard the boom of the transformer blowin’ out. We listened to the radio and got by with flashlights. My son thought it was kinda fun till the batteries started burnin’ up. He took the last working flashlight and put it under his pillow before he went to sleep. We decided to conserve the radio batteries so, we shut it off.

It was pitch dark and all we had left were birthday candles. She came in the bedroom with three little swirled candles stickin’ out of a slice of bread. We sat cross-legged on our bed, the plate with the bread and candles between us. We sipped some wine. My wife stared at the little flames. She was beautiful; it was like I hadn’t really looked at her in years. I entwined my fingers with hers and she rewarded me with a smile. Damn, it had been ages since I’d seen that. I kissed her and ran my hand down her hip.

She said, “What’ll we do when these burn out?”

I said, “Light the rest.” I tried to lose my face in her chest.

“Those are it,” she said.

“Standard 24 pack?” I asked stupidly.

She answered, “Yeah, why?”

Then what I said next ruined everything. “Well, if he’s five, then there should be six left, right? I mean with these three and…”

She cut me off and yelled, “Patrick is six, Ron.” My wife spat, “Six.”

“I know that, just got confused.”

She didn’t buy it. Her face was eerie looking. “I can’t believe this.” She screamed, “It’s like you’ve missed an entire year of your son’s life. Where were you, Ron?”

I tried to defend myself. I said, “It’s not like I just took off for a year or something. Goddamn, Pam. I was here. I just forgot, right?”

So, we just sat in the dark. All I could hear was her breathing and that’s when it hit me. I flicked the radio back on. The storm turned. It went east of us. They said we had been spared. They said it would’ve been the big one.

Photo by Kristin Fouquet

Kristin Fouquet, a native of New Orleans, was born an anachronism. Having reached adulthood but, not necessarily maturity, she is also a writer and fine art photographer. Her work has been published both in print and online. Fortunately for Kristin, she lives in a city rich with mystique, offering up many intriguing subjects. More about her can be found at Le Salon: http://kristin.fouquet.cc


Le Salon

2 comments:

Scot said...

interesting work--ending worked for me and was not what i thought was coming--love the other pics--as well

Rebecca said...

excellent flash fiction. I was captivated the whole time...