By Dan Nielsen
Smitty placed the hotdog crosswise atop a slice of white bread. With his teeth, he tore open a leftover ketchup packet. He squeezed it out evenly along the dog’s length. Folded over, a slice of white bread worked as well as a bun. Smitty took a bite, chewed, and swallowed.
“Here,” Del said, placing a dish of sliced beets within easy reach of her husband.
“Thank you, dear.”
Smitty stuck his fork into a beet and brought it to his lips.
Wary of clogging the drain, Del carefully carried the kettle of hotdog water out onto the front porch, down the wooden steps, and onward to the end of the driveway, where she bent over and poured it slowly into the gutter. Straightening and turning, she noticed new leaves on the lawn. Del and Smitty did not have a tree. These were not their leaves.
Back in the house, Del put the kettle in the sink. From the shelf beneath, she chose one of several seemingly empty plastic dish soap bottles. She turned on the hot tap and aimed the spray toward the tiny hole at the top. A little made it in. A couple shakes, and suds enough appeared. The scent of lemons assured Del that plenty was left. She put the bottle back with the others.
“It’s time,” Smitty said from the couch. The remote was in his hand. He pressed Power, and then 7. Del sat down next to her husband to watch “The Guiding Light.”
A commercial came on. Del glanced out the window. There were more leaves now, too many to even count.
“Where are you going?” Smitty asked.
Outside, Del picked up the leaves, one by one, until the lawn was clear, and her hands were full. She carried these across the street to the house with the tree whose leaves matched the ones she’d retrieved. A home-alone Rottweiler lunged against a saliva-splattered storm window.
Later that afternoon, Smitty complained of headache. He felt feverish. He couldn’t stop shaking. He vomited. Del called an ambulance.
The ER doctor explained something to Del that she pretended to understand. He wrote out a prescription that she had no intention of filling. Smitty hated pills. They were back on the couch in time for “Hannity.”
“It must have been the hotdog,” Del said.
“Or the beets,” Smitty said.
Dan Nielsen is a part-time open-mic stand-up comic. Recent FLASH in: Jellyfish Review, (mic)ro(mac), Necessary Fiction, The Cabinet of Heed, and Cheap Pop. Dan has a website: Preponderous, you can follow him @DanNielsenFIVES. He and Georgia Bellas are the post-minimalist art/folk band Sugar Whiskey.