By Judy Berman
Jenn is far too honest. Always telling more than she should – like now, for instance.
I look around the kitchen. Something is out of place.
“Jenn, where’s the toaster?”
A long silence follows before she speaks quietly, hesitantly.
“It’s in the back yard. Under the porch. Along with the body,” Jenn says.
The memory chip in my brain is about to explode. While I am busy computing what one has to do with the other, I can only say …
She nods her head, her blue eyes downcast and brimming with tears.
I begin to measure out the coffee grinds and water. The answer is sure to be extensive and complicated. I prepare for a long night.
Earlier, when I returned home, I saw her ex-boyfriend’s car in our driveway. The hood is cool. Not a good sign. That means Johnny has been here for a while. I decide to make myself some toast, tea, and escape to my bedroom until he leaves. The fewer words we exchange, the better.
Now, Jenn slumps over the kitchen table. Her head is propped between her hands. The usual nagging questions race thru my head while I retrieve the coffee mugs, spoons, milk and sugar.
“Who” and “why,” I already know the answer to. “How” is still kind of fuzzy.
“Maybe,” I say gently, “you better, as they say in those cliché-ridden novels, start from the beginning.”
As if there is an alternative. Jenn shakes her head. She wants me to go out and examine the body. Admire her handiwork? I balk. She insists.
Outside, the view is like any other where there’s a body and a toaster under the deck. Dusk or dawn? Flowers in full bloom? Or, trees, stripped down to their bare limbs?
Nothing registers. Except for those inevitable, awful, taped-silhouettes police always make when they try to recreate the crime scene. And, those annoying flashing lights on patrol cars at the edge of my driveway.
Only the feet are under the deck. Johnny’s body is in full view. My eyes dart nervously to see if anyone is watching. Then, I walk down the deck’s steps for a closer look.
“Well, we can always get another toaster.”
Jenn shoots me a dark look.
Let’s face if. Of all of her beaus, Johnny is my least favorite. He has been stalking her ever since they broke up several months ago. The odd thing is, he broke up with Jenn to date another girl.
He’d borrowed Jenn’s brand-new car without asking. Then, he cleans out Jenn’s checking account to buy the other girl a diamond ring. Then she ditches him for another guy.
If I’d known Jenn was going to dispatch him, I’d have offered to help.
“It was an accident, Mom,” Jenn protests.
She explains that she had been sunning herself, and brought the toaster out to the deck to have lunch. Suddenly, Johnny barges around the corner and runs up onto the deck. He is yelling at Jenn, blaming her because the other girl jilted him.
Startled and frightened, she picks up the toaster.
“I don’t know why. It was just the nearest thing to me. It was like the toaster had a mind of its own and I … I,” here, Jenn falters, recalling what she did.
“When I threw it at him, the toaster struck his head and he fell backward off the deck,” she pauses.
Our silence is jarred by a groan. When the “body” moves, Jenn screams.
Johnny raises himself, leans on his left elbow. His right hand gingerly touches the bruise left by the errant toaster. When he sees Jenn and me, he cringes. But he makes a quick recovery.
“How could you?” Johnny shouts as he leaps toward her with his fists raised. “You could have killed me.”
Jenn freezes. I step in between them.
“Maybe, the next time, her aim will improve,” I smile as I reach for the unplugged toaster.
It begins to spark. Johnny backs away. Slowly, at first. Then, he takes off in a dead run.
A malfunctioning toaster is the least of Johnny’s problems. Just wait until he sees what’s in store for him when he gets that car going. I hear the pop-pop-pop of that contraption he calls a car as it backs out of the driveway. Then, I hear the engine roar and Johnny yelp.
“Mom, why are you smiling?” Jenn asks.
“Oh. I wasn’t aware that I was.”
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-12. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Photo: Crime Scene2 – Crime scene in Central City, New Orleans. Photo by taken Sept. 26, 2010, by Derek Bridges. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/33/Crouching_Policeman_1st_Street_Crime_Scene.jpg/640px-Crouching_Policeman_1st_Street_Crime_Scene.jpg
Photo: Crime Scene tape – Do Not Cross – CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS / @CSI?cafe, Uploaded by Diego Grez, Taken by Yumi Kimura, Yokohama, Japan on March 25, 2009 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3d/Do_Not_Cross%2C_Crime_Scene.jpg/640px-Do_Not_Cross%2C_Crime_Scene.jpg
Photo: Toaster – a two-slice Sunbeam toaster. Photo taken April 24, 2005 by Donovan Govan http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8f/Toaster.jpg/566px-Toaster.jpg