Excerpt of Cover The Butter by Carrie Kabak
(Page 2 of 7)
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Above the bins a limp condom hung over a pipe like a
I'd hardly noticed Charlie's transition from child to
. . . to the age when . . .
He peered under the sink. "It's not mine," he said.
"Get rid of it."
I sent him to his room. I didn't want his help. I
needed the time to think. To plan.
As I tidied, disinfected, scrubbed, and bleached, I
drank three double shots of Rodney's Scotch, one for each hour, and
somehow managed to put a meal together afterward.
Charlie ate it, then left.
Sleep, eat, leave. That was the pattern now. Sunday,
April 16, 1995, was the day I realized I could no longer cling to the
reason I'd stayed so long. My son was no longer a child. I'd filled
this home with handmade quilts, chutneys, stripped pine, and wicker
baskets. I'd built this nest twig by twig for Charlie, but he no
longer needed it. Or cared for it. I wasn't sure if he cared for
When the cotton wool left my mouth and the knot at the
back of my neck unraveled after too much single malt, it was time to
taste the musty oak in a glass of Shiraz.
I set wine, a slice of bread, and a wedge of cheese on
the table and sat down to think some more. Then in came Rodney.
"You're back," I said. "How was the golf?"
He slammed his house keys onto the pine table I waxed
every day and walked over to the microwave. "Is this my dinner?" He
peered at the plate inside, then jabbed at the buttons to warm his
Mephistopheles snarled and Marguerite wailed. I'd put
on opera, Gounod's Faust, and I'd turned it up good and loud,
really loud, to help me think. Rodney snapped off my music, switched
on the TV, and proceeded to watch the history of the Wolves Football
He stared ahead at the screen and twirled strings of
pasta around his fork. The starchy ball wouldn't fit into his mouth,
so he gobbled at it.
His hair stuck up in tufts and I tried to find it
I tried to love the sound of his voice. "Kick the ball
into the bloody net, you great fairy," he growled, waving a fist.
I tried to yearn for the touch of those thin lips that
bristled with a moustache the texture of coconut husk.
"Rod, look at me for a second." I searched for emotion
in those milky eyes. "Charlie's party got out of hand."
His eyes floated back to the TV.
"Rod, they drank beer and more besides, and for some reason,
they stacked the cans in the dishwasher and dropped an empty bottle of
vodka into the fish tank."
"GOAL! And about sodding time!"
"At least, I think it was empty. Goldie seems none the worse,
but Fred is swimming in spirals and Mabel is floating belly-up. A
couple of our lamp shades are cracked, the brandy goblets are in
pieces, and should we cut Charlie's allowance to pay for
"The referee's blowing the whistle. Would you bloody believe
"Isn't the game you're watching three years old? I'm afraid I
smashed nine plates. Someone peed in the kitchen and you won't believe
what else I found. Five broken canisters, four exploded light bulbs"
Cover the Butter by Carrie Kabak, pages 1-13, with permission from Dutton, a
member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Copyright © 20054 by Carrie Kabak.
All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be
reproduced without permission.