“Have another taste of stair carpet, bitch!” Oleo threw her down the stairs for the third time this morning, but she crawled back up once again and shook her fist at his shiny shins.
“You ain’t doin’ me like this, Oleo!” Therese slobbered, every hole in her head oozing. “You’re gonna have to reckon with me!”
“Go shut that gotdamn baby up so I can get some sleep, woman!” He kicked her in the nose and then meandered back to the pallet, cradling his ribs. A pinkish woman + Third Heaven Motor Lodge + four bottles of Night Train = a terrific hangover.
Therese limped into the kitchen and lifted their screaming daughter out of her crib next to the stove. “That’s okay, baby. Sure. That’s okay.” She turned left and right and bobbed. “Shh. Daddy tryin’ to sleep now.” But the baby kept screaming. She wouldn’t take a bottle, or advice.
Oleo thundered into the kitchen and flung a stroller at a round mirror stuck to a bumper sticker that read, Still Pissed at Adam. “What the fuck I tell you, bitch?” He grabbed Therese by the back of her neck and whipped her over the kitchen table. The baby darted headfirst into a recycling bin, momentarily silenced. Oleo snatched Therese’s ankle and dragged her to the top of the stairs and snapped her leg straight. “What I tell you? Huh? What? I got a poker game here tonight and I need some gotdamn sleep.”
“Let go of me!”
He snapped her leg again. “What I tell you?”
“Let go my leg!”
He lifted her off the floor by her ankle, watched his catch flop, then tossed her down the stairs. She didn’t scream this time. He went into the kitchen and collected the baby and looked at her wet screaming face. “What’s the gotdamn problem? Why you cryin’ and shittin’ all the gotdamn time?” He laid her across dirty dishes on the countertop, then turned and looked in the refrigerator—slam, in a drawer—slam, in a cabinet—slam! “Where your bitch mama put that pacifier?” He cursed creation. He pitched stove grates into heavy rain. He crowned a pile of Therese’s keepsakes with a warped skillet. The baby screamed louder. Growling, he picked her up with one hand and reared back his fist. “I said shut your got—”
“Mother fucker, you best put down my daughter,” Therese said, standing behind him with a steak knife in her vibrating fist. “And real easy too. Then you get your black ass out my life and don’t you ever come back.”
Oleo turned his bloodshot eyes on her while tucking the baby under his arm like a football. “And just how you gonna make me do all that, bitch?”
Poker players zombied into the quiet house at sundown, used the toilets, insulted the décor. Augie, stopping halfway down the stairs, dropped his lifted apple. “Brother facedown and palms up with a steak knife in the back of his head!”
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