The Dumb White Husband by Benjamin Wallace (Excerpt)
Dumb White Husband
vs. The Grocery Store Cont.
John scared the neighbor’s cat as he pulled into the driveway. He opened the
mini’s gate, slid his wrist through the handles of the plastic bags, hefted the
dog food on his shoulder, grabbed the kitty litter and carried the groceries to
the house, hurting himself only a little.
Inside the door was his recliner, his snacks, his sports and his beer—he’d be
damned if he was going to make two trips.
He shuffled past the Mustang and up to the back door.
Carefully balancing the dog food on his shoulder, he reached out with his
left hand and fumbled with the knob. Tension started to build within him. He
could picture his son wandering into the living room, seeing the TV “open” and
changing the channel to something stupid.
The door opened and he grabbed the dog food just as it was slipping off of
his shoulder. He rushed inside to the kitchen and let the kibble fall to the
floor. He tried to slide the bags off of his wrist, but they snagged on his
watch. His hand turned purple as he tried to undo the knot of plastic straps on
his wrist. It wasn’t easy. If he could recreate the puzzle that now constricted
his arm, he could sell the thing at Cracker Barrel.
Every time he moved a handle another one took its place and seemed to hold
tighter. The two gallons of milk now dangled from his arm. He couldn’t feel his
hand. Grimacing, he worked his way around the island. The milk caught on the
corner and pulled tight against his progress. Was his hand fuchsia?
With his free hand he pulled open the utensil drawer and blindly dug around
for scissors or a knife or anything but a rubber spatula. His hand found a
handle. He smiled and pulled the tool from the drawer and set to work on the
The pizza cutter wasn’t the optimal instrument for cutting plastic bags from
an ensnared wrist but it was easier than finding something else. The blade kept
spinning as he sawed furiously at the straps. Placing his thumb on the wheel he
was able to make better use of the pizza cutter’s edge and began to free himself
from the bags.
The last strap gave way and his hand popped free. It tingled. The contents of
the bags spilled across the floor. Thankfully, the milk jugs didn’t leak. They
just rolled in two separate directions.
Free at last, he placed the pizza cutter in the sink and ran cold water over
his numb hand.
“Jimmy,” he called for his son. There was no answer.
He turned the water off and found a dishtowel.
His oldest child entered the kitchen from the living room.
“I need you to put the groceries … What were you doing in there?”
“In the living room.”
“Did you change the channel?” John ran past the boy into the living room.
“No. I didn’t touch the TV.”
John stood before the TV. It was off.
John glared at his son. He tried to say things: “I was watching the game.
But, the game was on. Your mom promised.” But, only sputtering sounds escaped
from his mouth as he stared blankly at the dark screen.
Jenny stepped into the room as words were finally beginning to form. She
spoke before he could.
“Relax, John. I just turned the screen off.” Jenny grabbed the remote from
John’s favorite chair and powered the TV back on.
The screen hummed to life and revealed the game, just as he had left it. He
kissed his beautiful wife, rustled his teenage son’s hair and kicked off his
shoes. He felt the carpet through the hole in his sock.
Jenny handed him the remote. “Come on, James. Help me with the groceries.”
The pair left the room with only a little attitude from the teenager.
John hit play. His sports team roared to life. He dropped the remote in the
chair and quickly gathered his snacks and his drink. He backed up to the
recliner, straddling the extended footrest and collapsed into the La-Z-Boy.
That’s when his ass hit the remote and changed the channel, hurting him only a