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Sunday Morning Laundry

By James O. Youngcliff

As practical, mundane, and boring a task can be, Sunday morning laundry turned life upside down for Clare. No, she didn’t find a love note, or a hotel-motel rendezvous receipt in her husband’s pants pocket as she inspected his clothes. Undoubtedly, she’d welcomed a broken heart over finding a pair of socks soaked in blood in her laundry basket on top of the washer! And let’s say this right out, he wouldn’t dare cheat because she did all the laundry in their household.

Anyway: incredible that he’d dropped the stained socks ruining the rest of the clothes in the first place, but he did it, regardless of the trouble it caused, both to her with removing the stains or replacing the garments, not to mention the many unfolding questions of sanity, idiocy, and blatant, stupidity for such a mindless act, and to him, for not thinking she wouldn’t turn him into the authorities; in the event, he couldn’t give her a reasonable explanation for his actions.

Immediately and with utmost care not to drip any of the blood out on the white carpets, she rushed upstairs to their bedroom and opened the door to find Charley still sleeping the morning away. Now, left with the arduous task of controlling her temper and coming up with a straightforward question that conveyed her anger, she realized better to ask him right off, “Did you kill someone?”

Knowing her husband, and getting him to wake up early on Sunday and admit to anything, particularly anything incriminating, came with a ridiculous amount of, “I don’t knows,” or “Why do you ask?” or evasive excuses, many that would frustrate a moose’s bowel movements, stressed out on the first day of hunting season.

“Charley, wake up!” she shouted.

“Not now, dear…” he mumbled and turned over to avoid getting up.

“Get your fat ass up and explain these bloody socks in my laundry basket right now!”

As usual, nothing ever filtered through the accumulated amounts of dead brain cells packed into his head overnight, especially, after the midnight pilfering of the refrigerator in search of snacks, or Heaven forbid, he’d find the leftover chicken, she kept hidden with many obstacles in front to discourage his night raids. The cold, disgusting meal lay buried in his stomach, making him toss and turn and snore, keeping her awake, and for that very reason, she seldom made his favorite dinner of fried chicken, white rice, and gravy.

“Charley, wake up this moment!” she screamed at the top of her voice.

“What is it now, my sugarplum fairy?” Clare turned the light on in the room and kicked the bed with her knee to rouse him up. Granted, during the week, the man worked hard nights, and when doing overtime, he dragged his butt in, just as she was taking off to work herself. So on weekends, it seemed fair to let him linger a bit before getting him up to do his chores.

“Didn’t you hear me? What the hell are these bloody socks doing in my laundry?” she repeated, “And please, think about what you will say before you answer, or I’m calling the police!” she threatened.

With all the deliberate acuity of a possum perched on a chain-link fence caught prowling at night, Charley denied knowing anything about any bloody socks as Clare had expected.

“Clearly, they’re mine,” she snapped back, “I must be having senior moments now that I’m in my twenties. Look, Charley, I’ve had it with you! You don’t take anything seriously, and if they’re not yours, then someone broke into our home last night!”

Charley got up and put his pants on and checked the evidence. “Yep, they’re bloody, all right!”

“For Heaven’s sake, Charley, what’s wrong with you? I’m warning you, not one more fried chicken and white rice dinner for you. Understand me,” she poked him in the back with her finger, “Your matter-of-fact attitude about things has gone too far.” Clare’s frustrations with Charley went viral.

“Would you calm down, if I admitted they’re mine?” he said, walking over to the bathroom to brush his teeth.

Clare followed and planted her laundry basket in the sink, exasperated with her husband, “That’s it; I’m calling the police.”

“Yep, they’re mine; these are Alpine Swiss cotton dress socks, dear, they’re mine alright. If you haven’t forgotten, you bought them for my last birthday. A bit too pricey for my dogs, when I go hunting but don’t get me wrong, they’re appreciated,” he amused, trying to defuse her anger.

“Who cares what kind of damn men’s sock these are – they’re full of someone’s blood. My God, Charley, are you sleepwalking?”

“OK, look, if it makes you feel better, I’ll have a look around and check out the windows and garage to see if there’s been a break-in, and if someone’s been in the house, I’ll call the cops myself. But please take the body basket downstairs, and I’ll join you in a minute. OK, my sweet bun cake?”

Reluctantly, Clare took it back to the laundry room but not before saying, “‘Bun cake’ or ‘sugarplum fairy’ me one more time and I’ll send a fairy wand up your cupcakes, Sweetie pie!”

Clare didn’t wait for her husband to have a look around, she set the basket down on the kitchen table and cautiously entered the garage and inspected for anything suspicious. Continuing from there looking for red stains throughout the house, but kept coming up short on clues for the mysterious bloody socks.

She sat and watched as Charley make his way into the kitchen, looking for coffee and found the pot empty. “Make it yourself, Inspector Clouseau,” she mocked him for his easing going attitude.

“I guess you already had a look around yourself,” he asked her.

“Well, yeah, if I waited on you, Mr. Brave Heart, and I’d be dripping out of an intruder’s suitcase next.”

“That’s funny,” he smiled and kissed her on the forehead and started making coffee.

The phone rang, and Clare picked it up, “Yes, who’s this? He is, just a minute, it’s Joe for you.”

“Hi, Joe, what’s up? Ah, I see, well, let me get back with you on that,” Charley’s face lit up with a smile.

“What did he want?”

“Oh, Joe wanted to let us know that while we were away food shopping yesterday, he dropped off a couple of jars of deer blood, leaving them on the upper shelf in the laundry room. And he wanted to remind us to be sure and put them in ice. He also added to be on the lookout, some of the jars contain small cracks and bound to leak!”

 

THE END

 

 

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Published by James O. Youngcliff

James O. Youngcliff is a YA fiction writer, credited with several exciting “telling stories” for adolescents with his BluBerrie Series. His works never fail to impart wisdom for those willing to take the time to go down the “road less traveled.” So, prepare yourself for the strange and twisted. The Pickled Man is more than a horror piece for young adults, it came about from wants in the author to change creative direction. Excited to weave social and political maladies around a classic American past time as a summer vacation, this tale will resonate in the hearts of those not satisfied with the ordinary. “It was fun to write, and I’m sure young teen readers will appreciate the surreal aspects of this new story,” the author states. Originally from New York City, he lives in Dade City, Florida now and when not writing, he oil paints, draws and exhibits in art galleries throughout his home state. Currently, he is working on a series of adult novels, the first soon to be available: Lost Stars in Winter’s Limelight, tracing the fictional saga of the Holidays, a Druid family, living in the mountains of Washington state. It is a journey into the whimsically bizarre and surrealistic origins of this abnormal family through each generation, and their strug-gles to keep their mysterious town called Chrisma-La alive.

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