Grampa Clears his Throat
by Regis Boff
The doorbell made him unclench his g armpit loosening the grip on the warm severed hand he had wedged there. Hovering in the air the hand’s index finger motioned as if it had a question then tumbled down the stairs towards the floor of the basement. He now used his free hand to hold on to the slippery leg.
Mother would not have heard the bell from the kitchen. He deserted the hand in the dark and the leg on the stairwell and turned back up to find her.
Tugging his shirt over his head, he threw it behind a chair, and then did the same with his gloves. He shoved the swinging kitchen doors.
“There’s someone at the door,” he said.
She was too tall for this kitchen, a head and a half higher than the refrigerator. Her Betty Crocker apron, elbow length turquoise rubber gloves, and her bone spattered protective glasses made the defrosting Thanksgiving turkey on the plate seem like it was calmly waiting its turn. She pushed the goggles up onto her forehead.
He shrugs before she can ask who it is. “Well, go find out for heaven sakes,” she was looking around the room for something, likely her skinning knife to continue her work without the racket of the bone cutter. To his back she added, “and don’t forget to be polite.”
He put his ear to the door while messing up his blond hair to look as if he had been asleep. He jumped when the bell rang again.
The fragile old man looked up at him. His large ears doubled forward like baseball mitts ready for fly balls. He had snowy, expensively cut hair. His eyelashes floated like kelp in the mucus pools in his eyes. Both cheeks crucified into enormous dimples.
“My name is Everett Corcoran,” he said, staring dumbly Harper’s young shirtless chest. He raised his eyes, “I am your grandfather, your mother’s father. And you, of course, are Harper?”
The man traded his cane hand and offered the newly freed one to his grandson. Harper didn’t take a hand, instead putting his on the man’s shoulder nudging him through the door into the foyer. Everett pushed easily inside and stood and waited. Harper took his coat and went back to the door. He saw an old Cadillac parked in the driveway and slightly on the grass. He closed the door.
Everett saw mother coming. He tried stepping backward, but she took him by his suit lapels pulling him forward and up to her face.
“Hello Everett “ she said beaming. His eyes were wide now. She dragged him towards the kitchen, hauling him through the door. Everett saw the bloody torso on the kitchen floor. He began to panic in her grip, and she slapped him hard across the face. He stood still as she lifted him like a child onto the counter beside the sink. His hands sat palms up in his lap, and he started to cry. She reached behind him and brought out the skinning knife and held it under his nose.
“You remember this smell?” He was trying to pull his head back, but her left hand on the back of his neck held him tight. His eyes followed the hand that brought the knife down between his legs. He bawled like an infant, nearly vaulting from the counter.
“Ready dad?” she whispered to him in almost a man’s voice, her smile firm and her mouth an inch from his eyes. She slowly cut his throat, floppy ear to floppy ear, straight through the old man’s jowls like they were borders of icing on a birthday cake. He fell into the sink.
“Shit Julie, ” her son wheezed at her. She whirled with the knife still in her hand. Her goggles had shifted over part of her mouth. “ No swearing,” she purred as she put her empty hand behind his neck like she had her father. She pulled his mouth to hers, banging his lips off the plastic eyewear and kissed him. The kiss finished; he reached into his mouth and pulled out what he hoped wasn’t a piece of bone.