:: Article

He Was So Clean Otherwise

By Kim Chinquee.

He took her to the bakery, then to the meat place to get sausage, handing out his card. He laughed with all the people, sending them good mornings. With each stop he’d tell her: this is the life of Carlos. They went to the market and got carrots, beets, tomatoes, and he said he made the eggplant. He signed his name left-handed. “I didn’t know you were left-handed,” she said, and he pointed to himself.

She hadn’t planned to sleep there, and she didn’t plan this either.

It had started with a night of wine and skipping the movie she’d brought over. He’d cut up some peaches and she fed him, and then they moved it to the bedroom.

Now he was driving back to his place. She watched the veins throbbing in his forehead, and he asked her to reach into the glovebox. She pressed the knob, and she could hardly get it open. Then, it was like exploding: papers falling, old napkins and some wrappers, something unrecognizable and plastic. There was a picture of a girl in a toga. He said, this is the life of Carlos. He said he needed aspirin.

She couldn’t find the aspirin and he told her to forget it. He called her a Sweetie and she called him one back, and she tried to jam all the stuff in. He said, “Honey, do you like me?”

She was still jamming, trying to make it all fit. She said, Uh-huh, and he said, What now?

She said, Yeah. She had to force it.


Kim Chinquee is the author of Oh Baby (Ravenna Press), the forthcoming Big Cages (White Pine Press), and is co-editor of the forthcoming anthology Online Writing (1996-2006): The Best of the First Ten Years (Snowvigate Press). She has received Henfield and Pushcart Prizes, and her work has appeared in Noon, Denver Quarterly, Conjunctions, elimae, Mississippi Review, Notre Dame Review and many other fine journals.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Thursday, February 12th, 2009.