"Your drive?" she said.
"Long like always!" he said. "I'm thinking maybe I should trade my pickup for Elwin's old crop duster and do belly rolls all the way home. Least that way I could stay awake."
Out in the hall Clifton gave the closed bathroom door a good kick and sang, "I'm dying out here! I'm dy-ing!"
Beverly nodded, didn't look up. Normally he would have waited her out, but Clifton wasn't the only one on the brink of a serious accident.
"I, uh, is thereis there something going on?"
"There's a lot going on, Golden, there always is."
"Everything seems a bit, you know, crazy."
"Well, that's how it is around here, in case you've forgotten."
"Not the normal crazy, that's not what I'm talking about. Something seems, I don't know . . ."
Beverly looked squarely at him for the first time, and his mouth moved silently as he searched for the word he wanted. Words: they were dif?cult for Golden in the best of times, and nearly impossible when he was under the gun like this.
". . . awry," he said, finally
"Awry." She took special care with the pronunciation. She held his gaze for a second more and went back to her work. "Okay, awry. Awry it is. And you're right, there's a lot that is awry tonight. For example, your dog, who has found it necessary, for the third time in two weeks, to piddle in my shoes."
"Cooter?" Golden said.
"Unless you keep another dog I don't know about. I locked him in the utility closet, and if he's piddled on something in there I'm going to let the neighbors use him for target practice."
For a second or two, Golden felt a twinge of optimism. Could this be what it was all about, Cooter doing a number on Beverly's shoes? Beverly and Cooter had been carrying on a feud for years, but the other wives tolerated the little dog, even had shown a fondness for him, which was probably why he had never piddled in their shoes. No, the other wives had no reason to be upset by Cooter's misdeeds, and even mighty Beverly did not have the power, by herself, to make things go this awry.
"By the way," Beverly said as she tied off a length of thread, "you've got something on your lip."
Excerpted from The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall. Copyright © 2010 by Brady Udall. Excerpted by permission of WW Norton. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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