Pet Peeve

 

Ted walked into the kitchen, then suddenly halted. He glared at the countertop. Of all the bowls Jenn could use, why his? It was the only bowl big enough for his breakfast cereal, yet there it was, stranded on the dish rack, peppered with dried specks of Jenn’s cornflakes. One “speck” as big as his thumbnail! Ted remembered how, when he was a kid, his mother had been a slovenly dishwasher too. Had been, before his dad...
     He grabbed the bowl, wheeled, hurled it at the kitchen’s stone-tiled floor. Jenn, in her cotton nightshirt — where the hell did she come from? — gasped as she pulled up short, as the bone-white bowl exploded right before her bare feet and legs, one ceramic shard grazing her shin.
     Cherry, who’d been cowering by her dog bowl waiting for her breakfast, scrambled out of the kitchen, slipping and sliding on the tile floor.
     Jenn clenched her fists as she stared at the red trickle inching down her shin. “You prick!” she screamed. “Are you fucking crazy?” She spun and ran through the dining room, then back upstairs. “Prick!” Ted heard her scream again just before she slammed the bathroom door.
     “Shit!” Ted exhaled, long and loud. Creeping up on him like that? What the hell did Jenn expect? If he’d known she was right behind him, he could have saved that bowl, popped her instead. “If only,” Ted muttered, then snorted. Now he’d have to eat his cereal out of one of those stupid little bowls. “Fuck!” Jenn knew better. She always knew better. Why’d she have to make him do that?
     Halfway to the stairs Ted noticed Cherry hunched, trembling, by the living room sofa. She couldn’t help it, he realized. Miniature schnauzers were famously high-strung. He turned back to the kitchen, then poured out Cherry’s breakfast kibbles, added a few extra to make up for the trauma. “C’mon, girl. That’s it, c’mon.” When Cherry got to the bowl, he stroked her head as she gobbled, added, “Sorry ‘bout that, girl.” She hadn’t done anything wrong.
     Then Ted trudged up the stairs, drifting further back in time with every step, back to middle school when his mother learned her lesson. Ted’s old man hadn’t stopped at just one bowl either, hadn’t stopped with the bowls. Old-school maybe, and hard as nails when he had to be, but there was a guy with standards. Ted’s Mom, who looked as hot as Jenn back then, wore over-sized sunglasses for weeks after that. But from then on she kept the new bowls and dishes she bought spotless.
     Before he moved up to management in the union, Ted’s dad had done real, physical work. He never had to go to any “pansy-ass gym” to keep in shape or let off steam. Got all the exercise he needed on the job and in the sack, he liked to brag. Sure, money was often tight back then, but things were a lot simpler too. People knew their places, knew what was expected of them. And if they didn’t, or they forgot, they got straightened out, and quick.
     When Ted got to the upstairs bathroom, he jiggled the doorknob. Locked, of course. “Why use my bowl?” he shouted at the closed door. “Why’d you have to make me do that?” Ted took a long breath, then exhaled. “Look, sorry about your leg, okay? I didn’t see you...”
     “Go fuck yourself!” Jenn’s voice sounded piercing, even through the door.
     Ted clenched his jaws, but then he took another breath. “Look, how was I supposed to know you were right behind me? The way you sneak around...” Ted shook his head, sniffed, remembering how Jenn’s leg was barely scratched. But by now she’d probably lavishly doctored her “wound” with antiseptic ointment, even applied one of those giant band-aides she kept in the medicine cabinet.
     Ted took another breath, then let his mind’s eye roam its way up the rest of Jenn’s leg, both her legs, admiring the curve of her calves, her creamy thighs, and oh, the incredible way she could spread them! Her flimsy nightshirts — like the one she was in now! — barely covered her ass. And the way they draped over her tits, highlighted their every jiggle, roused her nipples! Ted felt the heat, and the swelling, in his groin again. As he liked to tell his buddies when one of them bitched about a tiresome wife, adrenalin isn’t just for anger.
     “C’mon, baby,” he crooned. “Lemme kiss it, okay? I’ll make it better.”
     “Go fuck yourself.” But now Jenn sounded more petulant than angry.
     Ted grinned to himself. “Would if I could, babe. Now c’mon, open up for daddy. Lemme kiss it for you. C’mon, baby.”

 

Jenn took a deep breath. She loved the sound of Ted’s voice when it got so deep and hungry, especially when he wanted to make up. After a few more seconds of his pleading, she unlatched the door, creaked it open, peeked out at him. He was wearing only his baggy chinos and a bleached-cotton work shirt. Since it was Saturday, Jenn figured Ted was planning to mow the lawn or tinker in the garage. The moist morning glow of his skin, his fresh-out-of-bed smell, his ripped abs lurking in the shadow of his unbuttoned shirt...
     “Come here, babe. C’mon now,” Ted barely more than whispered, then eased open the door. His hands snugged her hips, pulled her to him as he pressed his lips to hers. When his tongue slid between her teeth, she met it, invited it, with her own.
     Of course it’d been her fault, she realized. Why did she use his bowl? She did know better. As he tugged her toward the bedroom, she ripped the silly band-aid off her leg, flung it over her shoulder....

 

Copyright 2020 A. R. Gregory