Sunday, June 27, 2010

Winter Pride

Originally published in Storyglossia

Tanya Berdoff is trudging back and forth through the snow in front of my house. A straw hat shields her face, and Christmas lights flicker all over her body. Other than that she isn't wearing a thing.

When she notices me peering out through the window, Tanya stops pacing and faces me. Her breath steams, rises skyward. As she shivers, her pale, puppy-dog-ear breasts and her heavy thighs wobble beneath the myriad of shapes and colors coming off the lights strung around her.

Across the street the Berdoff's porch light flicks on. The front door swings open. Tanya's husband, Henry Berdoff, steps out and lights a cigarette. Scowling in my direction, he raises a fist in the air and shouts, "Beat that, you fucking pork chop!"

I let the curtain fall and turn away from the window.

My wife, Myra, who'd been reading in bed, sets her magazine in her lap and looks my way. "What's going on out there, Roy?"

"The Berdoffs' are pissed," I reply.

Myra raises herself up onto her elbows. Her magazine falls out of her lap and onto the carpet. "What's their problem now?" When I don't answer right away, Myra climbs out of bed and joins me at the window.

I pull the curtain aside just in time for Myra and me to catch sight of Tanya Berdoff's broad blinking backside lumbering past the life-sized, mechanical Santa Clause that decorates their front lawn. When Tanya reaches her porch, Henry kisses her.

Myra says, "I can't believe that crazy woman's outside naked."

Standing quietly at the window, we watch Henry drop to a crouch on his porch. He reaches an arm past his wife's legs and unplugs a cord. The lights covering Tanya flicker off. Slowly, shrouded beneath the blotchy glow, Tanya spins herself free of the cord she'd been wrapped in. Henry rises to his feet. He glares our way, then flicks his cigarette toward our house. Before they disappear through their front door, both Henry and Tanya raise a finger to give Myra and me a not so neighborly gesture.

We remain at the window, silent, staring across the snow-coated road, watching the Berdoff's mechanical Santa waves its arm and bends at its waist. Finally, I release my grip on the curtain, turn to Myra and pull her close against me.

Softly, I whisper into her ear,"Myra?"

She pushes away from me with her palms and studies my face. Her head begins to move from side to side.

"Please, Myra?"

Retreating, backing toward the bed, a disgusted scowl stretching across her face, Myra says, "Not a chance, Roy. Not a chance in hell." Her right hand, with its jabbing finger, rises into the space between us. "First thing in the morning," she says, "your ass climbs that roof and each of those damn reindeer come down."

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