That’s what Mama says I should be doing when Dooley Parker hasn’t called.
When he’s gone on his monthly like he does on the regular.
When life gives you lovers, Mama says. I say no Mama, that’s lemons.
Same difference, Mama says. You take a lemon. It’s not at all like a tangerine. You can’t just pop it into your mouth, Fact is, a lemon’s not good for anything. But you squeeze out the juice, mix it up with a little sugar, and man, oh, man.
I love seeing my mama like this, all carefree and happy. Not at all like she was all those poker nights with my daddy disappearing.
Then again, if it wasn’t for my daddy being gone so much, she and I wouldn’t have had the time to watch Wheel of Fortune, fill in what was missing on the letterboard. Those wonderful nights we’d sit together on the couch, Midnight in Paris cologne in her hair, her flowery housedress, and the way she’d snuggle up close. “Now you take that Pat Sajak,” she’d say, “you think he’s like that all the time—all juicy with love, so happy when these strangers choose the right letter. Why, at home, I bet he’s a whole other story.” I thought about Mrs. Pat home by herself while her husband was making a whole country happy. And really, I have to remember that now.
Maybe Dooley Parker is out there somewhere putting smiles on all kinds of folks he doesn’t even know.
I can’t help but look at my phone. I shake it to see if Dooley Parker’s phone call will fly out. I squeeze and squeeze to see if that phone call will ooze out like juice. When nothing changes, when that stupid phone is still lovedumb and useless, I try to think of the great things I can do with the time I now have on my hands.
I think of the mountains I am likely to climb, the diseases I am likely to cure. All those great things I could be making out the heartaches I am likely to have, all that great, delicious lover-ade I could be making until Dooley Parker comes back to his senses, like always, and loves me once
Francine Witte’s poetry and fiction have appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Mid-American Review, and Passages North. Her latest books are Dressed All Wrong for This (Blue Light Press,) The Way of the Wind (AdHoc fiction,) and The Theory of Flesh (Kelsay Books) She is flash fiction editor for Flash Boulevard and The South Florida Poetry Journal. Her chapbook, The Cake, The Smoke, The Moon (flash fiction) was published by ELJ Editions in September, 2021. She lives in NYC. She is on Twitter at @francinewitte
Photo credit: Mark Strodl.