It’s just us girls in the kitchen on a hot summer day. I’m sipping one of Jay’s mojitos, which taste as sweet as his cock. Anne, that chunked-out cow, is chop-chopping away on her butcher block, mincing basil and parsley and whatever the hell she grows in that garden of hers, looking to put the rest of us neighborhood ladies to shame. Truth is, I’d rather be out on the deck right now, smelling the meat on the grill. Jay has a way with meat.

Anne says, “That funny man in the supermarket, the one behind the meat counter, told me the funniest joke. You want to hear it?”

Like I have a choice.

“I guess he’s from down south and they have these hillbilly jokes down there? There are two hillbillies on the porch whittling and rocking, and the one hillbilly says to the other, ‘Say, if I came to your house and slept with your wife, would that make us kin?’ And the other hillbilly, quick as a wink, says, ‘No, but it would make us even.’”

I’m already laughing.

Anne flicks her knife off the board and nicks me in the boob. I jump back, spilling my drink all over myself.

She’s holding the tip of the steel right on my left tit, poking at one of the freckles I wish weren’t there. But shit, past a certain point a girl can’t help most things.

Her face gets ugly. “You think that joke’s cute, do you? Because I’ll tell you one thing right now, Connie. We are not even. I’m a mother. You’re a slut. What do you do but lie around all day, making time with other people’s husbands? I’ll never be even with you. I read.”

What the fuck is she talking about?

The knife is carbon steel, sharp, and spattered with black stains. Green flecks of chopped herbs stick to it. She isn’t going to cut me again, I figure. I mean, Christ, our kids are outside running around on her lawn. My lardass husband is dozing on her deck.

“What do you read?” I say to her. “Bruschetta books?”

The knife bites again.

“Jesus, Anne!”

“Jesus, my ass. I read texts, emails, credit card statements. I may not have a college degree but I know a whore when I see one. Would it kill you to wear a decent shirt over here?”

I’m wearing a green crepe thing, the bottom tied in a knot above my middle. The kind of top Anne hasn’t been able to wear since she was twelve, if ever.

Quick as all that, she goes back to chopping. I’m pretty sure we’re gonna be picking splinters out of that bruschetta; that’s how deeply her knife’s biting into the block.

I don’t know how Jay ended up with this insane bitch. When he comes in the back door a minute or so later, I’ve got a paper napkin clapped over the two pinholes in my boob.

“What’s with you?” he says, smiling.

He’s trying to hide it, but I notice the way his eyes look me over. There’s no way he can see the tiny drops of blood on my blouse.

“Damn,” I say, “you made this strong. I spilled mine. I’m gonna have to go change my shirt.”

“Well, make it quick,” he says. “The grill’s hot.”

“Was there something you wanted?” Lady Bovine says.

“Yeah,” he says. “I’m putting the sausage on next.”

Anne peers through the window over her sink. She can see the grill from here, gray smoke rising over the top of her deck.

“You keep that sausage where I can see it,” she says.

She looks at me and winks. Her upper lip wears a sweat mustache.

Chop-chop, you knife-slinging bitch.

~ fin ~

Joseph D’Agnese’s nonfiction appeared in Best American Science Writing (HarperCollins) two years in a row. His crime fiction has appeared in Shotgun HoneyPlots With GunsBeat to a PulpAlfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and the annual anthology, Best American Mystery Stories 2015. He won the 2015 Derringer Award for flash fiction for a piece (“How Lil’ Jimmie Beat the Big C") that first appeared here at Shotgun Honey. He’s the author of three popular history titles, a children’s picture book on the Fibonacci Sequence, and some novels. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina.