They're Red Hot

They're Red Hot

A Story by Brittany

 

 

He would get a letter from her every two weeks. The day was never certain, adding an element of surprise. He hated surprises. His heart would skip a beat, then quicken, like it was trying to compensate for that unsightly pause. He didn't trust his body. He thought hearts were disgusting things.

 

"Hot tamales and they're red hot, yes she got'em for sale."

 

She would never write about herself. Her letters were always about the people who surrounded her. In a way, she thought she could omit herself from existence. She thought of herself as Anne Sexton incarnate, just not as good looking.

 

"Hot tamales and they're red hot, yes she got'em for sale."

 

Her letters were long. Usually six, eight, ten pages. Front and back. She hated odd numbers. There were always an even number of words per line, per page. He knew because he counted them. Counting them made him feel secure.

 

"She got two for a nickel, got four for a dime. Would sell you more but they ain't none of mine."

 

He had a feeling her letter would arrive today. He couldn't explain it, so he knew he didn't like it. He didn't believe in instinct.

 

"Hot tamales and they're red hot, yes she got'em for sale."

 

One o'clock. He sat in his little wing-back chair, at his little table, by his little window. He had an old record player on the table. He only owned one record. He knew any more than that would just be a commitment.

 

"Hot tamales and they're red hot, yes she got'em for sale."

 

He watched the mailman come and go. Waited ten minutes before going downstairs and out to his mailbox. He held his breath. Counted to "ten Mississippi." He liked the way "Mississippi" sounded in his head. Her letter was the only thing that arrived today. He hated this.

 

"I got a girl, says she long and tall. Sleeps in the kitchen with her feets in the hall."

 

In his kitchen he pulled a steak knife from the block. Washed it three times before drying it. He slit the envelope open. Washed the knife three more times before drying and putting it back. He wasn't sure about the credibility of his dish soap.

 

"Hot tamales and they're red hot, yes she got'em for sale."

 

At his little table, by his little window, he sat in his little chair. Held his breath. Turned the record player off. Counted to "ten Mississippi". Turned the record player on. Dropped the needle. He had to start from the begining.

 

"Hot tamales and they're red hot, yes she got'em for sale."

 

Her letter today was short. One page. One hundred and eleven words. This was unsettling. She wrote that she was well, that she was happy. And she would be home soon. He didn't care about this though. He wanted to know how the others were doing.

 

"Hot tamales and they're red hot, yes she got'em for sale."

 

She included a date, a time, her hopes for the future. Exclamation points like someone had sneezed excitement all over the page. The exclamation points scared him more than the prospect of her having hopes did.

 

"I got a letter from a girl in the room, now she got something good she got to bring home soon, now."

 

He had kept every letter she had ever sent him. They were in an old suitcase underneath his bed. That suitcase and his bed were the only things in his room. He felt that this was necessary.

 

"It's hot tamales and they're red hot, yes she got'em for sale."

 

He took all of her letters out of their envelopes. Held his breath. Counted to "ten Mississippi". Arranged them on the floor, in chronological order. Covered his bed in the same fashion. There were one hundred and eleven letters total. He wondered if she knew this.

 

"Hot tamales and they're red hot, yes she got'em for sale."

 

He laid down on her words. Spread his arms out. He had never responded to any of her letters. She had just kept writing them. They both thought it was for the best. He viewed himself as Jesus, just without the self-sacrifice.

 

"You know the monkey, now the baboon playin' in the grass. Well the monkey stuck his finger in that old 'Good Gulf Gas', now."

 

He shut his eyes. There was a pain in his chest. A tinge in his arm. He cursed his body. It was a failure to him. He cursed her, she was a failure to him as well. He had a feeling that in two weeks time she would find him here. Like this. He knew she would regret it. But, then again, he couldn't be too sure.

 

"Hot tamales and they're red hot, yes she got'em for sale.

 Hot tamales and they're red hot, yes she got'em for sale.

 Hot tamales and they're red hot, yes she got'em for sale.

 Yes she got'em for sale.

 Yes she got'em for sale, I mean."

 

 

© 2012 Brittany


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This read well... I could picture him in my mind.

Posted 7 Months Ago


Amazing stuff yet again. I love the way you used the repetition of the song to show some of the innerworkings of the character's mind. Also, brilliant stuff how every little OCD he has, it's never admitted to be an OCD but more he just loves certain things, like the way Mississippi sounds. Or how he doesn't fully trust the dish soap so he has to wash the knife six times. Really enjoyed how he thought he knew this woman -- despite not really be interested in her -- and how she hated odd numbers. Yet, at the end, realizes the entire time she was working towards an odd number of letters and that the last letter was a clue to all of that. To live your life through someone else's is something you would do if you never wanted to leave your house and be forced to live your own life, and, when I started reading, I thought it was all about the woman. But it isn't. He's more interested in himself, the things he finds pleasure in, and the other people around her who are truly more interesting to him. How when she is getting out, he's bummed out because that means he only has her left -- an odd number of people. Great write.

Posted 9 Years Ago



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Added on February 3, 2012
Last Updated on February 3, 2012

Author

Brittany
Brittany

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I don't know me. And, you don't know you. We fit so good together 'cause I know you like I know myself. more..

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