Widower | Flash Fiction | Chicago Reader

Widower 

Flash Fiction 2018

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RACHAL DUGGAN
  • Rachal Duggan

It happened in the store before I got there. Paul was cleaning already and badgered me until I gave up my smoke break and clocked in early too. The man was a regular, weekly refill of his toilet paper, applesauce, rye bread. Fell into an end cap of cans. A pyramid of corn and beans busted onto the floor and rolled into produce. "They called it a 'widowmaker,'" Paul said, "but they said his wife died last year, right? So he was a male widow—with a widowmaker?"

"Widower," I said. "A male widow is a widower."

We work overnight shift and always have to clean up some sort of crap. Mostly dumping out stinky diapers from the back bathroom or finding a whole bunch of caps and needles and then spray-bleaching the hell out of everything. Every once in a while, something like this happens out front. Two years ago, a girl who looked like Mr. Johnson's daughter ran out the back door as the alarm was going off, and by the time Paul called me to get there, a crowd had formed around the puddle of blood and what looked like pus. Discharge, they said, a miscarriage. "I don't get paid enough for this," Paul shouted at no one, as we put on our heavy-duty gloves.   v

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